By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, the White House released its much anticipated, National Climate Assessment (NCA). The report said that the globe has been getting warmer since 1895 and that it has been getting warmer at a faster rate over the last twenty years and called for radical action by the powerful U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address what it calls the “Social Cost of Carbon.”
According to the NCA, “Planning for adaptation (to address and prepare for impacts) and mitigation (to reduce future climate change, for example by cutting emissions) is becoming more widespread, but current implementation efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.” For this reason the NCA is recommending that President Barack H. Obama empower the EPA to implement draconian new rules on the American economy that will raise energy prices for most Americans and discourage what the EPA considers excessive energy use. The rules like the NCA report itself remain very controversial. The White House has tasked John Podesta from the Center for American Progress (a left leaning advocacy group) with leading the charge on implementing their campaign against carbon.
On Monday, May 5 John Podesta told reporters during a briefing at the White House that President Obama is committed to moving forward with controversial Clean Air Act regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions for all new coal and gas-fired power plants and said that Congress can do nothing to stop the President…..even though when the President asked for these radical new powers to limit carbon dioxide emissions during his first term a Democratic Congress balked at giving the EPA and the President such enormous new authority.
Podesta said however that Congress can not stop this President. “So they may try, but I think that there are no takers at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue. And I think — with respect to the commitment of Democrats to support a cleaner energy future, I think there’s a strong sentiment there,” Podesta said. “They’ll find various ways, particularly in the House, to try to stop us from using the authority we have under the Clean Air Act. All I would say is that those have zero percent chance of working. We’re committed to moving forward with those rules,” Podesta said.
State Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale who is a candidate in Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District said that Congress has the power to stop the President from implementing this proposal if he has the backbone but too many in the President’s party don’t seem to be bothered if our electric bills go up.
Senator Beason told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ on Tuesday that higher costs of energy will affect every industry not just the energy companies. It will cost us jobs in manufacturing and even in service industries. This affects everyone and is terribly detrimental, particularly for those of us in the South who have low electricity rates now. Beason said that this massive seizure of power by the administration, “Absolutely can not be tolerated.”
Scientists Kevin Dayaratna and David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. disputed the NCA findings in a report released to the ‘Daily Caller.’ The pair wrote “Since these policies are likely to impose trillions of dollars in compliance costs and economic losses, the EPA will lean pretty heavily on its SCC estimates to justify its actions. We tried out the computer models employed by the EPA — except for the one whose proprietor does not allow independent use and evaluation — and found them unfit for regulatory application.”
Dayaratna and Kreutzer wrote, “Like the EPA, we ran the DICE model (created by William Nordhaus) and the FUND model (by Richard Tol). But we used more recent peer-reviewed estimates of CO2’s impact on world temperature (here and here), and we ran the models using a 7 percent discount rate (that is, the rate at which we value short-term effects over long-term effects), as stipulated by the OMB and curiously ignored by the EPA, which used 2.5 percent, 3 percent, and 5 percent. The simple substitution of the discount rate drops the SCC estimate by more than 80 percent in the DICE model and pushes it to zero or even negative for the FUND model. (Here it might be appropriate to observe a moment of sympathetic silence for Richard Tol, a lead and convening IPCC author, who was recently excoriated by his former brethren for publicly stating the painfully obvious: Some impacts of warming are good.).”
Dayaratna and Kreutzer wrote, “Updating the estimates of CO2’s impact on temperatures drops the SCC estimates by 40 to 80 percent. When the 7 percent discount rate is used in conjunction with the updated CO2 impacts, the FUND model indicates a better-than-even chance the SCC is negative. That is, using more up-to-date numbers renders a range of estimates so broad that it is not clear whether CO2 emissions should be restricted or subsidized. Are these changes debatable? Absolutely. Is the debate on these topics over?
Absolutely not. We cannot calculate how today’s trip to the grocery will harm humanity in three centuries.
Nevertheless, the EPA is forging ahead with regulations employing a SCC of about $40 per ton for the near term.” “While some might apply such squishy estimates cautiously and narrowly, our government is not so timid. The breadth of the intent to regulate energy is exposed by the title of the very first rule that uses the new SCC: “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Mode for Microwave Ovens.” “That’s right. Washington now regulates how much electricity microwave ovens use when they are not being used. Those four-watt energy-hog digital displays need to be swapped for two-watt models, which in the Department of Energy’s own lab tests caused a 50 percent failure rate for the ovens. The SCC will “nudge” dishwashers into longer and longer wash cycles, minivans into something more like a Priuses, and coal miners to the welfare office. Proponents will say even that’s not enough. Why use flawed models to justify economically harmful regulations? Unless, of course, more accurate estimates undercut your case. Perhaps it’s time someone asked the EPA what it’s got against appliances that work.”
Scientists Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger were even harsher in their criticism writing, “This National Assessment is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science.” They charged that this administration, “Clearly believes that virtually everything in our society is tremendously dependent on the surface temperature, and, because of that, we are headed towards certain and inescapable destruction, unless we take its advice and decarbonize our economy, pronto.”
The NCA is claiming that the U.S. average temperature has risen between 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, with most of that increase occurring since 1980 and is linked to increased extreme weather, like hurricanes and droughts, as well as ecosystem imbalance. The NCA is warning that the average temperature could climb another 4 degrees Fahrenheit in this century and is proposing massive new regulatory solutions from cap-and-trade to green energy subsidies to mitigate global warming.
Michaels and Knappenberger wrote that the NCA was written, “To provide cover for a massive regulatory intrusion, and concomitant enormous costs in resources and individual liberty. History tells us that when scientists willingly endorse sweeping governmental agendas fueled by dodgy science, bad things soon happen.” Michaels’ and Knappenberger charge in a 75-page critique of the NCA that the are flaws in the government’s analysis and allege that non-peer reviewed work from environmental activist groups contributed to what they allege is a suspect report by an agenda drive Obama administration.
Michael and Knappenberger write that the report was written so that, “The uninformed reader (i.e., the public, reporters, and policy-makers) upon reading this report will be lead to believe that a terrible disaster is soon to befall the United States from human-induced climate change and that almost all of the impacts will be negative and devastating. Of course, if the purpose here is not really to produce an unbiased review of the impact of climate change on the United States, but a political document that will give cover for EPA’s decision to regulate carbon dioxide, then there is really no reason to go through the ruse of gathering comments from scientists knowledgeable about the issues, as the only science that is relevant is selected work that fits the authors’ pre-existing paradigm.”
Michaels and Knappenberger also denounced the Obama administration’s claims on extreme weather and says that this claim is refuted by even the United Nation who in their own report wrote “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.” the IPCC said in its latest climate assessment.
Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. testified before a Senate Committee last year that, “It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases. Hurricanes have not increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970.”
These views are not shared by many on the environmental radical left. Ken Berlin the President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, in response to the release of the National Climate Assessment wrote, “The National Climate Assessment drives home both the reality of climate change science and the impacts Americans are experiencing right now. As we pay more for groceries in the midst of record-breaking droughts, or rebuild after increasingly extreme weather events, or foot the healthcare bill for worsening air quality, it is clear that the cost of carbon pollution is real and growing.”
Berlin wrote, “We are not resigned to a future the NCA warns us about – one of increasing costs and risks to our economy and ways of life. Solutions exist today that will result in cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy, while creating jobs, strengthening the economy and making the U.S. more competitive. The choice is clear: we must act now to support the communities, businesses and elected leaders implementing those solutions and putting us on the path to a healthier, more sustainable future.”
For decades renewable energy research was justified by dire warnings of us running out of fossil fuels. This argument has been shattered by new exploration and new technology such as fracking which makes more and more energy deposits available for extraction than we once believed possible.
The conservative Institute for Energy Research wrote recently that, “The Energy Information Administration recently reported that U.S. crude oil proved reserves  rose for the fourth consecutive year in 2012, increasing by over 15 percent to 33 billion barrels.[i] U.S. crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves on January 1, 2013 were the highest since 1976, and the increase of 4.5 billion barrels in 2012 was the largest annual increase since 1970. The increase in crude oil reserves was due to increased exploration for liquid hydrocarbons and improved technology for developing shale oil plays incentivized by relatively high oil prices. The average price of oil remained relatively constant in 2012 at an average daily spot price of $95 per barrel. Natural gas reserves, on the other hand, declined in 2012 by 7.5 percent from a very high level the year before. Lower prices for gas meant businesses were dis-incentivized from exploring and drilling for natural gas when compared to oil.”
The United States is sitting on massive reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas that makes an energy boom easily achievable if the political powers decide to allow private companies to pursue that course of action.
The Institute for Energy Research slammed the NCA report writing, “This climate report bears a strong resemblance to the IPCC report, only with less science and more rhetoric. This IPCC ‘mini-me’ is just another attempt to justify more government intervention in Americans’ lives and more attacks on affordable energy and economic growth. Americans have been hoping that in this so-called ‘year of action’, President Obama was talking about action on creating jobs. This report, combined with his inaction on Keystone XL, shows he is using his pen and his phone to kill more jobs.”
The Institute continued, “Throughout his entire presidency, Obama has promoted polices that have discouraged the use of our vast energy resources, including blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, slowing energy development on government lands and waters, and forcing new restrictions on all forms of energy that Americans have used to become the number one economy in the world. Under this Administration, even cows are not spared as emission sources that must be controlled in Washington. We are told that this is all done to combat global warming. But the President’s agenda is not about global warming at all, and the fact that they’ve changed the name of their campaign to increase government intervention to “climate change” is all we need to know. This is their project to put Washington in charge of our energy supplies and our economy. This document is less a look into the climate than it is a scare tactic designed to excuse the President’s agenda of centralizing power in Washington and making energy more expensive and jobs harder to find.”
The Institute for Energy Research continued, “With this report, the White House has continued its legacy of being one of the least transparent administrations in history. Instead of having an honest and open debate about climate change and energy policy in Congress, where the President’s Cap-and-Tax plan failed, the administration continues to make their decisions behind closed doors. And as has become standard procedure in Obama’s White House, this document is intentionally confusing and misleading. In fact, the original draft was so large and convoluted that it came with a disclaimer that warned against downloading it. The only transparent part of this whole process was finally making John Podesta’s influence in the White House official by bringing him over from the Center for American Progress to head this campaign against American progress.”
Sen. Beason is among seven Republican candidates vying for Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District seat currently held by Rep Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia who is retiring after this term.
Jefferson County health officer, UAB head say COVID-19 numbers are improving but flu season is near
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said Friday that the county’s COVID-19 numbers are improving, but with schools reopening and flu season approaching, it’s critical for the public to continue wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
Wilson and Will Ferniany, the CEO of the UAB Health System, held a press briefing on Friday to discuss the state of coronavirus and what’s being done to mitigate the disease that has killed 1,825 people in Alabama and infected 102,196.
In the last few weeks, the number of new daily COVID-19 cases and the percent of tests that are positive in Jefferson County has begun to decline, Wilson told reporters, but he put that decline into perspective.
“Keep in mind though that this is a slight improvement from being at a pretty bad place with really high numbers, so we still have a long way to go,” Wilson said.
There have been 13,682 confirmed coronavirus cases and 262 deaths in Jefferson County as of Friday, and 939 cases were added within the last week. The county’s seven-day average of new daily cases fell from its peak of 295 on July 18 to 156 on Thursday.
Wilson said there is good evidence that the county’s face covering order is making a difference in the spread of the disease, and that he thanks the public for making that difference, and asked that they keep doing so.
“We have four levels of surge,” Ferniany said, referring to UAB Hospital’s process of temporarily adding hospital bed capacity for COVID-19 patients by removing beds from other areas. “We’re on level two capacity.”
Ferniany said the hospital is running at 90 percent capacity, which he said is a “very full hospital” and that between March and around July 20, the hospital was caring for between 60 and 70 coronavirus patients daily, and reached a peak of 130 patients a little more than a week ago.
“Today we’re at 97 patients in-house, and roughly 40 percent are in the ICU,” Ferniany said.
Ferniany said the hospital’s ability to care for COVID-19 patients is now limited by the numbers of nurses and other staff, and that UAB is “down several hundred nurses” and burnout from long periods of caring for coronavirus patients is common.
Both Ferniany and Wilson said they’re very concerned about the upcoming flu season and the impact it could have on hospital capacity, as physicians continue to care for COVID-19 patients.
“The 2018-2019 flu season was the worst flu season we have seen in 40 years, and we actually asked the governor back then to declare a state of emergency because our hospitals were full then with influenza,” Wilson said.
Wilson urged the public to get their annual flu shots once available on Sept. 1 to help prevent additional strain on hospitals statewide. Public health officials worry that the combination of flu and COVID-19 could be difficult to handle — both on a system-wide level and the level of an individual person.
“We have no reason to think that somebody can’t get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could be a deadly combination,” Wilson said.
Wilson said while he isn’t certain what Gov. Kay Ivey may decide about the statewide mask order, but “in Jefferson County, it’s very likely I’m going to be pushing to continue face coverings through the flu season,” Wilson said.
Wilson in July advised school superintendents in Jefferson County that middle and high school students should attend school virtually only for the first nine weeks, a stronger recommendation than most superintendents elsewhere have received.
Wilson told reporters Friday that his recommendation for virtual-only classes to start was done to keep kids, teachers, staff and families safe.
“We’re probably going to have some cases. It’s inevitable, but what we want to do is everything we can as kids go back to school to reduce the spread within school so that schools can stay open.”
There are also preliminary plans for a new testing site for children as schools reopen, Wilson said, but those plans continue to be developed.
Ferniany said UAB Hospital on Thursday got initial approval from the hospital’s board to expand COVID-19 testing capacity.
“Our goal is to try to expand it significantly by the end of December. We probably can’t get it up faster than that, but this pandemic is not going away by the end of December so I think we will have a significant increase in our ability to have rapid tests in place by the end of this year,” Ferniany said.
Seventeenth Alabama inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19
William Edward King, 65, is the 17th Alabama inmate to die after testing positive for COVID-19.
King tested positive for COVID-19 on June 1 at a local hospital, where he was being treated for an end-stage preexisting medical condition, the Alabama Department of Corrections announced on Thursday.
King’s condition improved, and he was released, but his health worsened, and he was returned to the hospital on July 26. He was discharged from the hospital on Aug. 11 and was taken to a hospice care area inside the Kilby Correctional Facility, where he died later that day.
Six more inmates and another staff member have also tested positive for COVID-19, ADOC said Thursday.
There have been 296 confirmed coronavirus cases among inmates and 340 self-reported cases among prison staff. Two prison workers at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Ivey urges Alabamians to complete census or risk losing federal funding, seat in Congress
Gov. Kay Ivey urged all Alabama residents to complete the 2020 census before the Sept. 30 deadline in a 30-second video released on Friday.
In the video, Ivey said, “Complete your 2020 Census today. We only have until Sept. 30th. Without you, Alabama stands to lose billions in funding, a seat in Congress and economic development opportunities.
“It only takes minutes to complete. Go to my2020census.gov or participate by phone or mail. Be counted – if not for you, for those in Alabama who depend on you for a brighter tomorrow.”
Jones says Mitch McConnell failed country by adjourning without COVID-19 aid
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Friday expressed his concern over the Senate majority leader adjourning the Senate without passing another round of COVID-19 relief aid.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, adjourned the Senate until Sept. 8 without passage of relief aid that Jones said is critical for struggling citizens and businesses.
“Mitch McConnell’s decision to adjourn the Senate without any further efforts to fulfill the Senate’s obligation to the American public during a healthcare and economic crisis demonstrates an unconscionable failure of leadership. Congress acted swiftly in March as the pandemic took hold and every American who put their lives on hold and stayed home for weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 did so out of a patriotic duty and a belief that it would give our government leaders time to implement a plan to get this virus under control.
“Now, it’s been five months and not only do we still have no national strategy, our nation is facing some of the highest rates of coronavirus spread in the world, over 167,000 Americans dead, unprecedented housing and eviction crises on the horizon, and we are slowly coming out of the worst economy since the Great Depression and the highest level of unemployment ever recorded.
“The House of Representatives passed a relief bill on May 15th – three months ago – because it was clear even then that this virus would be with us longer than we had hoped and that more support to American businesses and American citizens would be needed to save lives and save livelihoods. Sadly, however, instead of using this legislation as a framework for a bipartisan relief package, Mitch McConnell buried it in his office and sat on his hands, letting vital programs expire without even participating in efforts to reach agreement.
“His decision to send the Senate home for the next three weeks is an insult to every sacrifice made, every job lost, every small business that has had to close its doors, every person who had to say their final goodbye to a loved one over Facetime, and every graduation or wedding or birth celebrated over Zoom instead of in person. The American people have done their duty, and today Mitch McConnell has thrown in the towel and given up on doing his.”