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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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Twenty 9-0 Supreme Court Rulings Against – Obama Prepares Even More Power Grabs

July 09, 2014, 12:27 PM

Unanimous Supreme Court rulings are certainly noteworthy.  When a case lines up every single Justice – appointed by Democrats and Republicans both – the decision must be unbelievably clear cut.

Nine-to-nothings don’t happen very often.  The ever-overreaching Barack Obama Administration, however, is in historic fashion racking them up.  And they ain’t in its favor.

So there is bipartisanship in Washington – against this Administration.

When even the two Justices you just appointed – Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – are voting against you, just how far from the Constitutional path have you strayed?

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is no stranger to cases before the Court – though his record is more than a little better than the Administration’s.  And he has compiled the list of the unanimous-es against Administration over-action.

Obama’s 20 Unanimous Supreme Court Losses

Twenty – in under six years.  There should in fact have been more, what with all the fundamental transforming going on.  But that’s still a lot.  And it doesn’t fully capture the breadth of the Administration’s rebukes.

“This tally does not capture all of the Obama Administration’s losing arguments, as it does not include unanimous rejections for more governmental power made in the Obama Administration’s friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs supporting non-federal parties, which would put the Obama Administration’s losses much higher,” Cruz wrote.

Some of these 9-0 rulings have rejected Obama’s overreaches in the Technology Sector – the latest frontier for the Fourth Amendment.  Here is but one 9-0 – but frighteningly close – call:

United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012):

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sought the right for the government to attach a Global Position System device to a vehicle and monitor its movements without cause, unsuccessfully arguing that the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure, does not extend to electronic tracking devices.

…Thus, according to DOJ, police could attach a GPS to a car and monitor its movements in public without a search warrant or any cause to believe a crime would be committed.

Why does this sort of Administration Tech Sector overreach sound familiar?

Court Strikes Down FCC Net Neutrality Rule

The court (unanimously) noted that the FCC simply lacked the authority to impose those kinds of regulations….

Oh yeah.  And why does that sound familiar?

Court: FCC Has No Power to Regulate Net Neutrality

Panel of three federal judges unanimously tosses out Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality sanctions…, saying the agency has no legal authority….

Oh yeah.  But is that stopping them?

FCC Plans to Issue New ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

Of course not.  Twice bitten – not shy.

And to fundamentally transform America – you have to steamroll a lot of states.  But in another pesky unanimous Supreme Court decision:

Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492 (2012):

In Arizona v. United States, DOJ tried to take away states’ rights to create their own laws on the basis that the federal government had different…priorities.

So why then is the Administration saying this?

State Laws That Ban Municipal Internet Will Be Invalidated

But can the FCC preempt all 20 state laws that limit public broadband?

Given the Arizona v. United States decision – it doesn’t look like they can.

But as we’ve seen time and time again, this Administration never allows facts – or the laws of the land, or the Constitution – to get in the way of a good beating.


Originally published at RedState.

Categories: On the Blog

Misguided Beliefs in Political Leaders

July 09, 2014, 10:22 AM
This is an election year and as in all past election years we are inundated with promises and proposals from candidates, each hoping to attract our votes. For the most part what they are promising is “leadership” and political solutions to our personal, social and economic problems. They almost always fail to remind us, however, that in the political arena there is nothing they can do for us unless they have coercive power over us.

We need to remember that whenever political leaders undertake to “guide” America it always means a reduction in our freedom to peacefully solve our own problems and improve our own lives as we think best. Rather than each of us having the autonomy to decide what matters to us, those in political control make us all march to a single government drummer.

More Government Means Less Freedom

Are the American people to be guaranteed government-provided or subsidized health care? The only way government can do this is to tax some members of society to cover the full costs of providing it to the targeted beneficiaries, as well as prohibiting under threat of fine and/or imprisonment all attempts to choose one’s one preferred medical service and insurance.

Is government to guarantee every “working American” a decent living through a higher minimum wage? There is no way for government to impose this than by denying individuals under the threat of penalty and imprisonment the freedom to peacefully and voluntarily agree among themselves at what remuneration one person shall hire the labor services of another.

Will government undertake management of “climate change” both with in the United States and around the world? How can the political authorities even attempt to do this – however impractical and impossible – other than by abridging people’s rights to determine the use of their own property in matters of production and the pricing of goods and services they offer to the consuming public.

Besides which, whatever significant environmental problems that may be confronting the world are invariably the results of earlier government regulations over the marketplace, as well as infringements on private property rights that normally serve to limit people’s legal ability to damage others in society. Recognized and enforced private property rights minimize the negative spillover effects of one person’s actions on the property and well being of another, and all without heavy-handed government oversight and control.

Political Control Equals Fewer Personal Choices

Are various selected industries and trades to receive special protection and support from tariff walls against foreign competition, or subsidies to maintain domestic prices and stimulate foreign sales? Then American consumers will pay higher prices for the goods they wish tobuy and have less money to spend in ways that would have been available on an unhampered free market. Government, and not the free choices of buyers and sellers on an open, competitive market, then influences and directs what is offered to consumers and under what terms.

Are the youth of America to be provided with “better education” through greater government involvement in determining school standards, curriculum, and testing around the country? Then parents and children will have even fewer personal choices concerning the content and quality of education, as a government-imposed guidebook of regulations emanates from Washington, D.C., and the state capitals.

Government Commands Require Obedient Individuals

Often the imagery conjured up with the concept of “leadership” is that of the military. The leader is the commander in charge not merely of rallying but also of directing the troops to attain “victory” over a common enemy. A single strategic plan is designed and imposed on the rest of us through a chain of command.

But the very notion of such leadership implies subordination and obedience. What you or I may want must be made subservient to what the political leaders have decided for us. Unlike the totalitarian systems of the last century, such subservience in contemporary America does not involve the direct heavy-handed use of brute police power—at least not in most instances.

It is done in the United States and most Western countries more lightly through taxation, regulations, and legal prohibitions or mandates. Also, there is not one overarching central plan, as used to be imposed in the former Soviet Union. Rather there is an intricate web of different political plans, each the result of the corrupting and often contradictory interactions of politicians, bureaucrats, and special-interest groups in the modern interventionist state.

The Hubris of the Political Power-Lusters

But the fact remains that practically all those politicians running for office are selling themselves as leaders into whose hands we should place some corner of our life, since they assure us that they can take care of us and our problems better than if we tried to handle them ourselves.

Friends of freedom have long warned of the dangers from ceding authority over such matters to political leaders. Adam Smith’s words ring as true today as when he wrote them in The Wealth of Nations more than two centuries ago:

“The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals [wealth and resources], would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which can safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”

Concerning how to apply his time, resources, and energies, Adam Smith said, “Every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him.”

In more recent times Adam Smith’s warning has been echoed by the Austrian economist and Nobel Laureate, F. A. Hayek, who warned of the “pretense of knowledge” on the part of those who wish to direct the affairs of society.

And the German free market economist, Wilhelm Röpke, long ago lamented the “hubris of the intellectuals,” who arrogantly presume they know enough to redesign the social order. We need to remember that the people who offer themselves to us at election time are mere mortals like ourselves. They possess no special wisdom, no Olympian powers that provide them with capacities above the “common man,” whom they claim to want to represent in political office but in reality over whom they wish to rule and command.

Political Parents and the Perpetual Citizen Child

Candidates motivated by various forms of collectivist ideology assume that when men are free, outcomes will be undesirable and that only government can set things right. These candidates view themselves as the political parents who must oversee the citizen-children (the rest of us), who perpetually are never grown up enough to be free and responsible adults.

But whether they are guided by ideology or simply a baser desire for the power that political office can provide, the reality of politics in the modern interventionist state is that “leaders” use their authority to advance special interest plundering at the expense of the rest of society.

To continue with the metaphor, these office holders are in fact abusive political parents who hurt and manipulate many of the citizen-children in their “care” to benefit themselves and favored groups that help maintain them in office. They then use various propaganda devices to persuade the abused citizen-children that it’s all being done for their own good. And, alas, too many of our fellow citizens fall victim to this psychological manipulation and cannot imagine a world without political parents who watch over and “care” for them.

In the free society – in which government is confined to the essential but limited functions of protecting life, liberty, and honestly acquired property – politicians and bureaucrats have no assigned “leadership” role. Their function is far more modest, though a useful one: seeing that each of us is left free from violence and fraud to direct his own life, as he considers best and most fulfilling.

Freedom means for each of us to be “captain of his own fate” and not to be a docile subordinate waiting for those in political authority to decide his fate for him. Indeed, those who advocate political leadership to get the nation moving, to steer it in the right direction, or to impose government cures on supposed social ills at home and abroad are the gravediggers of liberty.

The Real Political Question: Liberty vs. Power

That is why we must always beware, and most especially in election years, of those who offer themselves as our political leaders. Their triumphs mean more nails hammered into the coffin of freedom.

The friends of freedom must remind their fellow citizens that the only fundamental political question in any election is whether or not those running for political office unswervingly declare their allegiance to the philosophy of individual rights to life, liberty and property and its accompanying social system of free market capitalism?

It they do declare such allegiance, then such candidates may be worthy of the citizen’s vote on election day, and if elected they should be constantly challenged to practice the principles of freedom and limited government that they preached when running for political office.

Otherwise, we shall continue down the dangerous path of political paternalism and plunder that ends with neither freedom nor prosperity.


Categories: On the Blog

The Idiocy of “Environmental Justice”

July 09, 2014, 10:21 AM
A news item in late June caught my eye. It was in the Washington Free Beacon and the headline was “EPA spends $1.6 million on hotel for ‘Environmental Justice’ conference.” The event will occur in the fall and the location is the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. By its own description, it is located “Just one mile from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, this Arlington hotel features a chic lobby and indoor swimming pool. Rooms come with 37’’ HDTVs and plug-in connectivity panels.” A room for one night will cost approximately $349. The EPA is booking 195 of them for 24 nights! The environmental movement began as the conservation movement. Its early leaders were concerned about preserving our great forests and other landmarks. President Teddy Roosevelt was enthusiastic about that and used his powers to initiate national parks and reserves. These days, however, Clinton and Obama used those same powers to close off access to vast energy reserves. So what is “environmental justice”?  According to the EPA, it is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” In other words, it is another justification for the EPA’s existence. But there’s more. “It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” Aside from the fact that you can attend the next zoning board meeting in your town or city, this is just sheer rubbish. By what level of insanity can the EPA achieve the “same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards…”? Can it protect Midwesterners from tornadoes? The Gulf and East Coasts from hurricanes? What is its policy regarding blizzards in the winter or droughts in the summer? None of this has anything to do with “justice.” How does the EPA propose to ensure that “everyone enjoys the same degree of protection”? Answer: It cannot. So, instead, it devotes its time to punishing a landowner who gets local permission to build a pond on his farm, but who did not also check in with the Corps of Engineers. On July 2, the EPA put a notice in the Federal Register asserting the right to “garnish non-federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts own the United States without first obtaining a court order.” ( Emphasis added) That is a definition of tyranny and lawlessness that defies the protections afforded by the Constitution. Along with the global warming hoax, the term “environmental justice” comes out of the early 1980s where the liberal loonies saw it as a new social movement to ensure, according to Wikipedia, “the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.” As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Life is not fair.” Everyone’s life depends in part on the cold reality of numerous factors over which they had or have no control, and choices they made regarding their lives. Some might think that EPA’s spending $1.6 million on luxurious hotel rooms where their “Environmental Justice” conference is held is “unfair”, especially if the cost of attending is being picked up by the taxpayers. Again, Wikipedia: “Environmental justice advocates frequently make the argument that minority populations disproportionally undertake or are subjected to environmentally hazardous activities because they have few economic alternatives and/or are not fully away of the risks involved.” The Green ideology of environmentalists blinds them to reality and the reality is that we are all born into different levels of wealth, different lifestyles, and different challenges, but we are all born in a nation where studying hard in school, hard work and a positive outlook can help us achieve as much as we aspire to. America is the home of millions of success stories. The environment has nothing to do with social issues of poverty, race, or sex with which Greens want to associate it. Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, opened its ninth International Conference on Climate Change earlier this week by noting that “In Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. federal government spent $22.5 billion on ‘global warming.’ It spent $200 billion over the past twenty years. By one estimate the world is spending $1 billion a DAY on projects that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for global warming alarmism.” When one contemplates how such an exorbitant expenditure could have funded the building and repair of U.S. highways and bridges, how it could help equip our nation’s military, or how it could help provide housing for the poor, the global warming/climate change agenda of the EPA and other U.S. agencies is an obscenity. The EPA should be eliminated and its functions returned to the individual states, all of which have their own departments of environmental protection. At the very least, we would save billions. Originally published at Warning Signs. 
Categories: On the Blog

Garth Brooks in Ireland: A Tale of Bureaucratic Insanity

July 09, 2014, 10:06 AM

A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of bureaucratic incompetence played out in Ireland over the last several days. American country music star Garth Brooks was scheduled to play five concerts in the Croke Park arena, one of the largest venues in the country. In all, 400,000 tickets were sold. That is an astonishing number, considering Ireland’s population is just under 4.6 million. Close to one in ten citizens was planning to attend!

Everything was going ahead smoothly until a few residents in the area around Croke Park filed a complaint with the Dublin City Council citing a rule buried in the statute books that special events could not run more than three concurrent nights. Rather than try to make an exception, the unelected city manager initially stated that two of the nights would have to be cancelled. This decision was obviously unpopular with the more than 100,000 people who were put out by the bureaucratic decision. It was also unpopular with Garth Brooks and his crew.

When confronted with the mandate to truncate his shows, Brooks responded by saying he preferred to do all five or none. This statement threw not only the Dublin city government into turmoil, but the whole national government as well. This may seem like an extreme reaction over a concert, but when bureaucracy scuppers the desires more nearly 10% of your population, you have a reason to get involved!

Even with the leaders of all the major political parties lining up behind an effort to allow the performances to go ahead, the city manager upheld the rule. Garth Brooks has since cancelled all five concerts, as he promised. One hired bureaucrat scuppered the whole show!

The cost of this unmitigated bureaucratic madness is estimated at 50 million euro ($68 million). For a cash-strapped country just coming out of a grueling recession to spit in the face of so much income is just crazy. It seems like a lot of Irish people are also aghast at the ineptitude of the political class to deal with what ought to have been a simple problem to resolve.

The lesson to be learned from the sorry Garth Brooks affair is that allowing any bureaucracy to develop and entrench itself to the point where the elected representatives of the people have no power to challenge its decrees is not only anti-democratic, it is directly harmful to people’s lives. Rules and regulations are like plaque in the body of the economy. Only by cleaning them out can it hope to survive. Hopefully this case will serve as a wake-up call to Ireland and as a cautionary tale for other countries as well.

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC9 Panel 6 – The Right Climate Stuff

July 09, 2014, 9:39 AM

The 6th Panel of the International Conference on Climate Change was based around three men who worked with NASA. The group called, The Right Climate Stuff, focused on the actual facts and data related to the climate change debate. This information filled panel is a can’t miss for ICCC9.

Thomas Wysmuller – Tide Gauges/Satellites; Different Measures – Same Ocean! Will the REAL Sea-Level Please Rise???

The first speaker of this panel was Thomas Wysmuller who worked for NASA for five years. Wysmuller started his speech with a picture of Manhattan partially under water stating this “will never happen.” He reassured the audience that the projected rate of sea-level rise was falling incredibly short of the predictions. The rise in the sea-level that has been measured is miniscule and can be attributed to other factors.

One example, stated by Wysmuller, is the fact that some of these sensors that are detecting water rising are placed in areas where skyscrapers are being built. These large buildings are in effect pushing the land down ever so slightly. Another interesting factor examined by Wysmuller is the flaws in satellite measurement. He explained that when the atmosphere is heated up by solar activity, orbital degradation occurs. This means the satellites that are measuring the sea-levels fall lower slightly which causes errors in the readings.

Dr. Hal Doiron – On Bounding GHG Climate Sensitivity

Former engineer with NASA Dr. Hal Doiron was the second speaker in this panel. Doiron used many statistics to explain the errors often cited when discussing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Doiron discusses how we will never see a rise in CO2 levels that would threaten life on earth. These levels would have to exceed  6-8 thousand ppm to be considered harmful to humans. Doiron predicts earth will peak around 600 ppm in the next century.

Walter Cunningham – The Global Warming War

The last speaker in this panel was American astronaut Walter Cunningham. Cunningham tackled the logical flaws seen in many alarmists’ arguments. He started off by stating the sun and orbit are the principle drivers of our climate. Another example explained by Cunningham is the correlation fallacy. He showed the flaw in this by showing a graph that showed a strong correlation between UFO sightings and ocean temperatures. These data points were correlated and also completely meaningless.

Cunningham said this global warming war is being fought on many fronts. He said we are winning the battle on the scientific front but losing on the media, public and political front. To counter this, we have to improve our communications. Cunningham said the best way to persuade others is by saying, “look at the empirical data.”

To see Panel 6 in its entirety, Click Here.

Categories: On the Blog

ICCC9 Panel 3 – Combating Climate Myths with Science Facts

July 09, 2014, 9:06 AM

Day Two of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was stacked with qualified speakers discussing a wide range of subjects relating to global warming. Panel 3, titled “Combating Climate Myths with Science Facts, featured three speakers, Tom Harris, Anthony Watts and James Taylor. These three men spoke about the causes of the hysteria that swirls around the topic of climate change and how to push back against it.

Tom Harris – Expanding the Tent of Climate Realism

Tom Harris of ICSC started the panel off by talking about the ways to convince people of the truth about global warming. He warned that simply poking fun at key figures like Al Gore will win nobody over from that side. He said the best way to “convince people to be sensible” is to use logical reasoning. He explained that it is silly to invest massive amounts of money to solve a hypothetical problem in the future when it could be used to help people today.

For example, Harris mentioned that we spend $1 Billion a day on climate finance. According to the information available, 94% of that money is used to mitigate the effects of global warming in the future while only 6% is used to help people here and now. Harris said we can appeal to more people when we explain that we are letting people starve today in order to possibly help a future problem.

James Taylor – Check the Source!

The second speaker in this panel was The Heartland Institute’s own James Taylor. Taylor discussed ways to battle against the unfounded claims that are often cited by climate alarmists. He said we must simply check the facts. When debating about global warming topics, Taylor said that alarmists make claims that often go unchallenged. This can be very harmful. Taylor said, “The facts are available to everybody.”

When climate change is talked about in the media, it is regularly stated that storms are getting stronger, forest fires are getting more frequent and crop yields are falling. When these stats are checked, they are found to be untrue. Taylor said that when we check the facts we are looking under the hood of these claims; and when we check under the hood, we find there is no engine.

Anthony Watts – Digging Deep – Beyond Science by Press Release

Anthony Watts, from the website Watts Up With That?, was the final speaker of this panel. This information filled talk explained the difference between the real science and what is covered by the media. Watts mentioned that pieces of information are skewed to add shock value to a segment. “Overly exaggerated presentation of research findings” are used to grab viewers attention while non-attention grabbing information is ignored.

Watts said we can help minimize this by challenging the claims that are reported. He said when we come across a claim that is misleading or skewed, we should go to the source with our concerns. This will help prevent the information from continued manipulation from its original form.

To watch the panel in its entirety, Click Here.

Categories: On the Blog

More taxpayer dollars for green energy?

July 08, 2014, 4:47 PM

There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out—a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.

This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.

The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to fix a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave.

Today, Americans know better.

Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up—as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gathered to discuss what the real data shows.

With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.

Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at

Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.

On June 26, wind energy proponents—including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit—sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”

On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.

Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”

He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions”—when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected—to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions—like any other business—that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.”  It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.

In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”

Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.

As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.

It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives—as Barton did—and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”


The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.



Categories: On the Blog

Holding Greenpeace accountable

July 07, 2014, 11:20 AM

Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change,” Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.

Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious,” as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands.

These are novel tactics. But the entire exercise might be little more than a clever attempt to distract people from developments that could create problems for thus far unaccountable Big Green organizations.

I don’t mean Greenpeace International’s $5.2 million loss a couple weeks ago, when a rogue employee (since fired) used company cash to conduct unauthorized trades on global currency markets. Other recent events portend far rougher legal and political waters ahead for radical eco-imperialists, especially if countries and companies take a few more pages out of the Big Green playbook.

India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security,” noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.

The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.

Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.

Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity or must rely on little solar panels on their huts, a single wind turbine in their village or terribly unreliable networks, to charge a cell phone and power a few light bulbs or a tiny refrigerator.

These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.

The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.

As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”

Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? As the Indian government said in banning foreign NGO funding of anti-development groups, poor nations have “a right to grow.”

Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO computer models. Real pollution from modern coal-fired power plants (particulates, sulfates, nitrates and so on) is a tiny fraction of what they emitted 40 years ago – and far less harmful than pollutants from zero-electricity wood fires.

Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable.” Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral.

Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.

In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale. Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.

Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.

But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.

India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.

Actions like these would improve billions of lives and bring some accountability to Big Green(backs).

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.


Categories: On the Blog

LIVE STREAM for Skeptics: 9th International Conference on Climate Change

July 07, 2014, 10:27 AM

If you could not join the hundreds of scientists, policy experts, and interested citizens in Las Vegas this week for The Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate change … you are still in luck.

The entire conference is being streamed live!

Visit the conference website to watch, starting at 7:45 p.m. PDT today, and through the close at 4 p.m. PDT Wednesday.

Click here for the schedule. Click here for a list of speakers. Click here for a list of award winners.

And CLICK HERE to watch the live stream.

Categories: On the Blog

For the Love of the Weather

July 07, 2014, 10:11 AM

I will be in Las Vegas for the 9th International Conference on Climate Change July 7-9. I enjoy attending these because everyone I come in contact with is someone I can learn from. My father and mother taught me to surround myself with people I could look up to. I adapted that attitude in my training, in my work, and in the person I married. And when I go to these events, I am in awe of the people I get to talk with. I bring some of them up quite often in these pages.

One has to be careful, given the situation today, to not let your reasons for doing what you do stray. I often feel bad for a lot of people in the anthropogenic global warming camp. How can they possibly walk back their position? It’s the reason why, no matter what metric goes the other way, they either ignore it or create a reason they never had before because they did not forecast it to happen. But what else can they do? Look at the people from their camp that have started to disagree. They are chastised and demeaned. There is a simple reason: Their goal, whatever it is – be it self-esteem, money, power, control, or all of the above – is their god. It’s what they are forever in pursuit of. And when it becomes your god, you can not defy it.

I constantly analyze anything that is important to me. (I drive my wife nuts. If I have a bad workout, or get a cold, or anything, I have to figure out why it happened.) And I always analyze my motives. For years I felt like Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire. This line hits me hard because I know exactly how he feels:

I’m forever in pursuit and I don’t even know what I am chasing.

I try to be more like Pastor Eric Liddle, the other character of prime importance in the movie. To paraphrase: God made me for a purpose, but he also gave me a love for the weather. And I see his majesty in it every day.

So what strikes me most about the Heartland Conference is that I am with people that are in love with weather, climate, and their country, and many of them have loved these longer and stronger than I have.

For me, above all, my stances on global warming are a product of my love for the weather. There is no goal for me. It’s about having another chance to do what I was made to do. And somehow, when I’m with people who I sense have the same ideas, it makes me stronger and more able to run toward what I was made for.

As one gets older, one can get tired. But only when your heart gives out does your strength give in. For me, all this is an affair of the heart.

Its for the love of the weather.

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

Originally published at The Patriot Post. 



Categories: On the Blog

Opening Remarks by Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change

July 07, 2014, 8:10 AM

LAS VEGAS — Below are the prepared remarks by Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast to open the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change on the evening of July 7, 2014 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

The conference runs from 7:45 p.m. PDT tonight until 4 p.m. PDT Wednesday, July 9. You can view the entire conference via the live-stream at the conference websiteClick here for a full schedule, click here for a list of speakers, and click here for list of publicly announced award recipients.

For more information about the conference, or to schedule an interview with one of the speakers, contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at or via cell phone at 312/731-9364.




Good evening! Welcome to the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change.

Thank you for the introduction, James. James Taylor, a Heartland senior fellow and editor of Environment & Climate News, once again recruited most of the speakers for this conference, so a big round of applause, please, for him.

We will hear from some 64 speakers from 12 countries, 13 if you count the Moon as a country and figure Walter Cunningham can claim residence there, 14 if you think Washington DC is its own planet.

Scientists, economists, and policy experts from around the world are skeptical about the claims of global warming alarmists, not just those here in the U.S.


And it isn’t just The Heartland Institute in the U.S. that thinks the threat of man-made global warming is being over-blown. This year’s ICCC is cosponsored by 32 organizations –  their names have been scrolling on these screens while you were eating. Many of them agreed to pay $150 and some even more to help us offset the cost of hosting the conference and sponsoring awards to some outstanding individuals.

In particular, I would like to recognize and thank the Media Research Center, Cornwall Alliance, Science and Environmental Policy Project, Heritage Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, CFACT, and the George C. Marshall Institute, for their help.

Please give all the cosponsors a big round of applause.


Speaking of funding and for the record, except for $150 from the Illinois Coal Association and another $150 from Liberty Coin Service, a great little coin shop in Lansing, Michigan, owned by my old friend Pat Heller, no corporate money was raised for this conference. And no, not a nickel from the “Koch brothers.”

About the conference

This conference will have panels featuring prominent scientists discussing the latest physical science such as the Apause@ and the failure of models to predict it, the IPCC=s fifth assessment report and NIPCC=s Climate Change Reconsidered II, polar ice caps, and much more.

Also on the program are economists and policy experts explaining the social BENEFITS as well as the social COSTS of fossil fuels, the futility of spending trillions of dollars attempting to stop uncertain and perhaps unknowable climate changes a century from now, and the need to repeal the bad energy policies and other policies that were adopted at the peak of the global warming scare and are now understood to be unnecessary, costly, and counterproductive.

You will also hear from bloggers, meteorologists, elected officials, and some of the most effective public speakers on earth about how to communicate the truth about climate change in a world in which most people are content to believe in climate change, rather than understand it.

This is a scholarly conference that many professional scientists are attending, and the speakers are prepared to handle their tough questions. But it is also entertaining and a little provocative, because unlike many alarmists, skeptics can take a joke.

Some speakers can’t help themselves but make fun of such leading proponents of global warming alarmism as Al Gore, Prince Charles, John Kerry, and even our new climate-scientist-in-chief, President Obama.

We have an Austrian rapper who going to entertain us tonight with a remarkable song he wrote about global warming following dinner tonight. It’s not a full-fledged Broadway play, but then again, we didn’t get $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to pay for it.

Missing from the program this year are any prominent global warming alarmists. We wish to debate those who disagree with us, but once again none of the alarmists we invited to speak showed up to defend their faith. So tomorrow’s headline may read “Global Warming Skeptics Refuse to Debate Their Opponents.” It’s not our fault. It’s hard to have a debate, over even a civil conversation, when the other side refuses to show up.

The Heartland Institute

This conference is a project of The Heartland Institute’s Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, which produces an ambitious program of research and educational projects in defense of free-market environmentalism. The world needs voices devoted to sound science and market-based, rather than government-based, solutions to environmental problems. The Heartland Institute helps find and amplify those voices. The nation’s air and water quality, the safety of its food, and the health and productivity of its forests all depend on bringing the best-available science and economic research to bear on protecting the environment.

We have brought together a team of leading scientists and economic experts to participate in the production of books — including four volumes in the Climate Change Rconsidered series, produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change — plus policy studies, videos, a monthly public policy newspaper, events like this one, and other educational activities.

If you aren’t already a donor and supporter of The Heartland Institute, I hope you’ll decide to become one over the next three days. More information and donor forms are on your table.

Theme for ICCC-9

As some of you know, we devoted a lot of effort to coming up with a theme for this year’s conference. This conference is scholarly but also a little entertaining and provocative. It offers contributions by scientists, economists, public policy experts, and professional communicators, and the audience includes all of the above plus elected officials, grassroots activists, and (it seems) about 1,000 retired engineers.

How to capture all that in a few words? I solicited ideas from a network of interested folks, and got an amazing number of suggestions, not all of them appropriate. Some of my favorites, though, in alphabetical order, were:

A lie repeated is still a lie

Beyond alarmism

Beyond the IPCC

Climate science vs. climate consensus

Climate change for dummies: A primer for Gore, Kerry, and Obama

Earth to Man: I barely notice you


Flogging a dead horse

And that was just some suggestions starting with the letters A through F!

We settled on “don’t just wonder about global warming, understand it!” I think that captures in just a few words the key difference between alarmists and skeptics in the global warming debate.

Alarmists see what they believe, while skeptics believe what they see. Alarmists think every change in the weather is evidence of a human impact on climate, and a human impact is necessarily bad. They believe only government can solve big problems, and man-made climate change would be the biggest problem ever discovered.

Skeptics believe what they see. They look at the data and see no warming for 17 years, no increase in storms, no increase in the rate of sea level rise, no new extinctions attributable to climate change, in short, no climate crisis. They ask how that could be, since humans obviously emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and affect climate in other ways, such as through agriculture, coastal development, and damming rivers.

They study the data – not the models, which just assume much of what is unknown – and come to understand climate They conclude – many of them, anyway — that climate is a chaotic system that makes reliable long-term forecasts impossible, that natural variability swamps whatever effect humans might have, and that trying to control the weather by controlling how much carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere is folly, plain and simple.

That’s what I’ve come to understand to be the truth about climate change. One of the neat things about global warming skeptics is that they seldom agree on anything, so I dare not speak on behalf of anyone else. But I think most skeptics would say this is pretty close to it.

Climate Science Awards

Global warming has been called the most important public policy debate of our age. Those who believe in man-made global warming call for draconian reductions in the use of fossil fuels that would destroy millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth, and impoverish millions of people. Rather than defend the science behind their cause, global warming alarmists typically claim “the debate is over” and demonize their critics.

Global warming “skeptics” question whether the scientific debate is truly settled and ask for real data to support the claims of the alarmists. For this, they have been viciously attacked in the press, by politicians (including President Barack Obama), and on countless blogs and Web sites.

Some of the world’s most distinguished scientists, such as S. Fred Singer, Frederick Seitz, Sherwood Idso, Richard Lindzen, and Freeman Dyson, are global warming skeptics. They have been accused of dishonesty, incompetence, and worse.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. federal government spent $22.5 billion on “global warming.” It spent $200 billion over the past 20 years. By one estimate, the world is spending $1 billion a DAY on projects that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for global warming alarmism.

All this spending has created a global warming industry that marginalizes, demonizes, and sometimes outright attacks the thousands of scholars and other professionals willing to speak out against a popular delusion. Scientists, economists, journalists, politicians, civic and business leaders – have had their careers ended or ruined by daring to speak truth to power.

The voices that ordinarily would speak out against crimes against free speech – we used to call them liberals, or free-thinkers — are silent, either because of ignorance, ideological bias, or financial conflicts of interest.

Seven organizations have stepped forward to nominate award recipients and organize the award ceremonies to honor the brave men and women willing to speak out against global warming alarmism. Two of these awards will be presented tonight.

These awards deliver long-overdue recognition and encouragement to their recipients.

They also increase public awareness of the global warming realism movement and send a signal to the academy and other elite institutions saying if they won’t recognize our heroes, we will.


Categories: On the Blog

It’s Time to Ratify the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

July 05, 2014, 1:26 PM

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) outlaws the testing of nuclear weapons. So far, 183 countries signed the treaty, but it cannot become a binding international law until it has been ratified by all states capable of developing nuclear weapons, of which there are 44 specified in the treaty. Of these states, three (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) have not signed the treaty, and a further six (China, Egypt, Israel, Iran, and the United States) are yet to ratify it.

The United States signed the treaty in 1996, as soon as the language was agreed upon, but the Senate rejected it by a tiny margin. While the idea of the CTBT is quite simple, implementation is immensely complex. One of the greatest concerns of the treaty, and of the international community, is with monitoring countries so as to verify their compliance with the ban. To this end the treaty sets up the International Monitoring System (IMS), a network of hundreds of scientific facilities spread across the globe that monitor seismic activity, radioactive fallout, atmospheric noise and oceanic waves to pick up evidence of a nuclear explosion. If the IMS detects a suspected nuclear test then an on-site inspection can follow.

The treaty does not detail the action that would be taken against a state that has broken the treaty, but the Charter of the United Nations does empower the Security Council to take “appropriate steps”. Although the treaty has not yet come into force, most of the IMS is now in place and working.

President Obama has consistently stated that he is in favor of reducing nuclear proliferation. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize for his speeches on the matter. Yet he has done little to materially change America’s position on nuclear weapons. In a dangerous world, nuclear weapons are a necessary component of the American defense. However, it is also in America’s interest that the world’s supply of nuclear weapons be kept within controllable bounds.

It is time for Obama to pursue the CTBT. It is time for the Senate to ratify the treaty.

Fighting Proliferation

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons ever created and it is right that they should be limited; something that the test ban treaty will be a step towards. An internationally ratified treaty comprehensively banning the testing of nuclear weapons would serve to hamper attempts by countries currently not in possession of nuclear weapons from acquiring them. This is particularly important in the cases of Iran and North Korea. Iran is getting closer and closer to having a working weapon and North Korea already have simple nuclear weapons. These countries’ possession of such weapons can only serve to diminish security in the world and the security of the United States.

Of course, a country could just develop a nuclear weapon without testing, but little faith can be put in a weapon that is entirely untested; all countries that currently possess nuclear weapons conducted tests. A comprehensive and internationally ratified treaty against testing would serve as an important signaling device to countries considering developing nuclear weapons. Just as a taboo has formed around the use of nuclear weapons due to international accords denouncing their use, so too would a ban on testing generate a norm against it.

Countries rely on their reputations in international relations; states will fear loss of credibility should they be seen flouting the ban, either by testing weapons themselves or by supplying materials to countries seeking to perform tests. Some politicians and commentators say that rogue nations do not care at all about how they are perceived. But all countries rely to some extent on reputation to engage in international affairs. Most states do not like being pariahs, especially when that status carries with it heavy political and economic sanctions. The United States could leverage international law in such a way as to further deter nuclear testing in potentially hostile countries.

Trust, But Verify

Scanning and detection technology has become so advanced in recent years that it is virtually impossible for a country to detonate a nuclear device without it being detected. Compliance with the treaty can be monitored through the means of seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound, and radionuclide monitoring. The technologies are used to monitor the underground, the waters and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. The monitoring network consists of 337 facilities located across the world. The system is so sensitive that it was able to detect the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia. Furthermore, the treaty’s system of inspection will reveal any suspicious activity regarding testing.

Clearly, efficacy in terms of determining who might be testing weapons is not an issue. When countries are found to be violating the CTBT, heavy political and economic sanctions can be imposed that will serve to force countries back into compliance with the treaty. A ratified CTBT gives a greater power to the world’s democratic powers, the United States in particular, to take action against those states that would develop nuclear weapons. Ratification would give a much greater moral justification to a decision to take economic or political action against

Securing America’s Interests

Some countries have been reticent to sign the CTBT for fear it would limit their ability to either expand or to begin their nuclear arsenals. The United States stands as one of the only such non-ratifiers, in the company of such countries as Iran, China, and North Korea. The United States fears the limiting of the ability for it to defend itself with nuclear armament. However, in reality the United States will benefit politically and militarily by ratifying, and the world will be benefited by a greater chance for peace without nuclear proliferation.

American accession would benefit the United States politically by increasing its credibility as a responsible international player with a respect for international law. Often America is viewed by the rest of the world as a cowboy pursuing its own aims and only paying lip service to the international community’s opinion. If the United States were to show a degree of respect to international law, particularly through signing CTBT, it will be more able to gain support from other countries for its goals.

If the Senate ratifies the treaty, it will encourage other states to sign, such as China, which has said that its signature is contingent upon that of America. American involvement in the CTBT, and the Chinese involvement expected to follow from it, will give the treaty far greater weight, and will generate greater obedience to it, as countries recognize that it is binding on all states, not just the weak.

Nothing to Lose

From a military standpoint, the United States has nothing to lose from signing as it may still retain its present nuclear stockpiles, as well as to develop new delivery and guidance systems, provided they are not tested with live nuclear warheads. Also, it has much to gain, as the ratification of the treaty will prevent other states from developing nuclear weapons, keeping the club of nuclear powers small and influential. Clearly, it is in the interest of the United States to sign the treaty, in order to benefit not only itself, but also the international community.

As Barack Obama’s presidency approaches its final decline, he should be considering what he can call his legacy. Fulfilling the mission for which he was prematurely given the Nobel Prize might go some way to restoring him in the eyes of history. And maybe that gold medal could be placed on his mantelpiece without shame.

Categories: On the Blog