The Wire

  • Fmr US Rep Jo Bonner named Kay Ivey chief of staff as Steve Pelham takes job at Auburn University


    In a move that had been rumored for the last few weeks, former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner has assumed the role as chief of staff for Gov. Kay Ivey.

    Last November after Ivey was elected to a full term, Bonner was named a senior adviser to Ivey.

    Bonner is replacing outgoing chief of staff Steve Pelham, who will become Auburn University’s vice president for economic development and the chief of staff to Auburn University President Steven Leath.

  • Historic Inauguration Day in Montgomery heralds continued growth for Alabama


    It was a day of celebration, unity and tremendous optimism as Governor Kay Ivey and other statewide elected officials were officially sworn into office on Monday.

    The weather played into the symbolism of the occasion, as a cold, overcast day – a storm almost certainly imminent – gradually became sunnier and sunnier as the afternoon pushed on, much like the outlook of the state under Ivey’s steady guidance.

    Political insiders and everyday Alabamians from every nook and cranny of the state gathered in front of the Alabama State Capitol steps for the inauguration ceremony, which began promptly at 10:00 a.m. From the state’s richest man to the single mom who checked her little girls out of school just to see Ivey’s historic oath of office, it was a day that transcended the lines that divide us.

    Because Ivey’s inauguration message of “Keep Alabama Growing” is a theme meant for all. It is a message of hope – that even a little girl from Camden, Alabama can rise to be duly elected as the state’s chief executive through hard work and perseverance.

  • Ivey orders flags lowered to half-staff to honor fallen police Sgt. Wytasha Carter


    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday.

    “I am directing flags be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Birmingham Police Sergeant Wytasha Carter who was killed in the line of duty early Sunday, January 13, 2019,” Ivey said in a statement. “Sergeant Carter laid down his life protecting the people of Birmingham, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.”

7 months ago

SCIENTISTS: 30 years of data show the ‘godfather’ of global warming was wrong


Cato Institute scientists Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue compared Hansen’s temperature predictions to real-world observations and found his supposedly “highly unlikely” forecast with the least amount of warming was the most accurate.

“Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16,” Michaels and Maue wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect,” the two scientists wrote. “But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong.”


“Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago,” they wrote.

Climate model accuracy has become a major source of debate as scientists realized predictions diverged greatly from observations over the last 15 years or so. Governments often rely on climate models to justify climate policies or regulations, meaning inaccurate models can yield bad policies.

Hansen laid out three global warming scenarios in 1988 at an iconic congressional hearing: a high-end one where the world warms about 1 degree Celsius by 2018, a middle-range of 0.7 degrees of warming and a low-end estimate with only a few tenths of a degree of warming. The hearing was held on a hot summer day and was organized by none other than former Democratic Rep. Al Gore of Tennessee.

Hansen wished he hadn’t been so accurate in predicting future warming, contradicting Michaels and Maue, he told the Associated Press on Monday. AP claimed Hansen’s predictions had “pretty much come true so far, more or less.”

“I don’t want to be right in that sense,” Hansen said, adding he wished “that the warning be heeded and actions be taken.”

Many other scientists the AP spoke with raved about Hansen’s predictions. Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather tweeted: “Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out.”

Hansen’s 1988 projections have largely been borne out, though he predicted modestly higher climate forcings and warming in Scenario B than what occurred. His model’s climate sensitivity (4.2C/doubling of CO2) is also on the high end of current estimates.

— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) June 18, 2018

However, Michaels and Maue said Hansen’s predictions only look correct because of the strong El Nino effect, a naturally occurring warming event, that began in 2015. Global temperatures have actually come down quite a bit since El Nino subsided.

“The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models — and the U.N.’s — is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures,” the two wrote. “The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.”

The two Cato scientists also took on Hansen’s other failed predictions, including those about the Greenland ice melt, temperatures in the U.S. Midwest, hurricanes and tornadoes.

“The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious,” Michaels and Maue wrote.

“These corrected climate predictions raise a crucial question: Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?” they wrote.

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7 months ago

Upcoming research will buck the ‘consensus’ and show Antarctica is still gaining ice


Is Antarctica melting or is it gaining ice? A recent paper claims Antarctica’s net ice loss has dramatically increased in recent years, but forthcoming research will challenge that claim.

NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally first challenged the “consensus” on Antarctica in 2015 when he published a paper showing ice sheet growth in eastern Antarctica outweighed the losses in the western ice sheet.

Zwally will again challenge the prevailing narrative of how global warming is affecting the South Pole. Zwally said his new study will show, once again, the eastern Antarctic ice sheet is gaining enough ice to offset losses in the west.


Much like in 2015, Zwally’s upcoming study will run up against the so-called “consensus,” including a paper published by a team of 80 scientists in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The paper estimates that Antarctic is losing, on net, more than 200 gigatons of ice a year, adding 0.02 inches to annual sea level rise.

“Basically, we agree about West Antarctica,” Zwally told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “East Antarctica is still gaining mass. That’s where we disagree.”

Reported ice melt mostly driven by instability in the western Antarctic ice sheet, which is being eaten away from below by warm ocean water. Scientists tend to agree ice loss has increased in western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula has increased.
Measurements of the eastern ice sheet, however, are subject to high levels of uncertainty. That’s where disagreements are.

“In our study East Antarctic remains the least certain part of Antarctica for sure,” Andrew Shepherd, the study’s lead author and professor at the University of Leeds, told TheDCNF.

“Although there is relatively large variability over shorter periods, we don’t detect any significant long-term trend over 25 years,” Shepherd said.

However, Zwally’s working on a paper that will show the eastern ice sheet is expanding at a rate that’s enough to at least offset increased losses the west.

The ice sheets are “very close to balance right now,” Zwally said. He added that balance could change to net melting in the future with more warming.

So, why is there such a big difference between Zwally’s research and what 80 scientists recently published in the journal Nature?

There are several reasons for the disagreement, but the biggest is how researchers make what’s called a glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), which takes into account the movement of the Earth under ice sheets.

Scientists use models to measure the movement of land mass in response to changes the ice sheet sitting on top. For example, Zwally said eastern Antarctica’s land mass has been going down in response to ice sheet mass gains.

That land movement effects ice sheet data, especially in Antarctica where small errors in GIA can yield big changes ice sheet mass balance — whether ice is growing or shrinking. There are also differences in how researchers model firn compaction and snowfall accumulation.

“It needs to be known accurately,” Zwally said. “It’s an error of being able to model. These are models that estimate the motions of the Earth under the ice.”

Zwally’s 2015 study said an isostatic adjustment of 1.6 millimeters was needed to bring satellite “gravimetry and altimetry” measurements into agreement with one another.

Shepherd’s paper cites Zwally’s 2015 study several times, but only estimates eastern Antarctic mass gains to be 5 gigatons a year — yet this estimate comes with a margin of error of 46 gigatons.

Zwally, on the other hand, claims ice sheet growth is anywhere from 50 gigatons to 200 gigatons a year.

Shepherd’s recently published paper found Antarctica lost 219 billion tons of ice from 2012 to 2017, about triple what annual ice mass loss was in the previous decade.

“There are several potential reasons for the remaining disagreement among the various satellite techniques, such as the models we use to account for snowfall and glacial isostatic adjustment,” Shepherd told TheDCNF.

“But the ice losses we detect in West Antarctica are highly accurate, and outstrip by far the signal or uncertainty in East Antarctica,” he said.

Zwally said the ice sheets are reacting to climate warming, the question is when receding started and how far it would go.

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8 months ago

‘No more dogs’? GOP lawmaker chastises ‘solutions’ to global warming


California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher asked a panel of economists and one scientist if they agreed with rather comical solutions some studies proposed to combat man-made global warming.

Rohrabacher, a skeptic of catastrophic man-made warming, cited studies calling for the banning of pets, frequent flier miles and raising of energy taxes as solutions to climate change.


“I have read a number of studies that have indicated there are certain solutions that are being advocated,” Rohrabacher, a Republican, said during a Wednesday hearing on technological solutions to warming.

“One study is that we should be eliminating pets — dogs. Dogs should be eliminated and that’s part of their solution, that we’re going to do that,” Rohrabacher said. “There was one that talked about ending frequent flier miles” and others suggesting a “major increase in parking fees and gas taxes.”

Rohrabacher’s concern was that many proposed solutions to global warming rely on controlling human behavior, instead of market-driven ones. Rohrabacher has previously called global warming a plot “to create global government to control all of our lives.”

“Do any of you on that panel agree that, that approach — no more dogs … no more frequent flier miles?” Rohrabacher asked. “Do any of you support that type of human control in order to come to grips with what you’re telling us is undebatable, the man-caused global warming?”

The only panelist to answer was economist Ted Nordhaus, who said he did not endorse those policies to fight global warming. Nordhaus said he supported some tax and regulatory policies, but said technological change would play the biggest role.

Also on the panel were Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center. Climate scientist Judith Curry was also invited to testify, but “extreme weather” prevented her from travelling to D.C.

However, Curry did post her testimony on her blog. Curry’s testimony stressed “that we cannot know exactly how the climate will evolve in the 21st Century, we are certain to be surprised and we will make mistakes along the way.”

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10 months ago

Evidence mounts of full-scale Russian campaign to undermine American energy

President Vladimir Putin speaks to the Russian Federal Assembly, 2018 (Official Photo/Kremlin)

The U.S. government for the first time ever blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure. The Trump administration action comes a little over two weeks after a House committee detailed Russian attempts to influence energy markets.

U.S. officials said a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” that began in March 2016, possibly earlier, is part of a campaign to target critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear and aviation facilities.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said hackers targeted small facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks,” Reuters reported.

It’s the first time the U.S. has directly called out Moscow for infrastructure hacking. It’s still unclear whether or not the hacks were successful or led to any damage, and the security alert did not name the companies targeted.

The Trump administration condemnation comes more than two weeks after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology found Russian agents used social media outlets to embolden opposition to American energy production.

“Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” reads the committee’s report on Russian activities.

The committee found accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, published 9,097 social media posts from 2015 to 2017 targeting energy policies and projects. Thirteen Russians connected to IRA were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.,” the House committee found.

For years, Republicans and energy industry experts have worried Russian money was being used to undermine U.S. energy policy.

Intelligence officials confirmed in early 2017 in a declassified report on election meddling that the state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT) ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”

The House committee began the investigation in 2017 and asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to investigate whether or not Russians were using an offshore Bermuda-based law firm to funnel money to U.S. environmental groups.

Lawmakers asked Mnuchin to investigate whether or not the U.S.-based environmental group, the Sea Change Foundation, took $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oligarchs in 2010 and 2011.

Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. All of those groups oppose hydraulic fracturing.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

3 years ago

Congressman forces EPA chief to watch video of unemployed Alabama coal miners


(Video above: Alabama coal miners discuss the hardship they are enduring as a result of EPA regulations)

Rep. Gary Palmer took time in a congressional hearing to respond to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy’s claim there is no evidence EPA regulations are killing jobs.

The Alabama Republican showed McCarthy, and everyone else at the hearing, a video featuring coal miners who had lost their jobs, as the industry buckles under the weight of federal regulations and poor economics.

“Administrator McCarthy, if you don’t remember anything else out of this hearing today, I want you to remember the faces and the voices of the people who’ve had their lives absolutely destroyed by the EPA’s policies,” Palmer said after showing McCarthy the video.

Palmer was reacting to comments McCarthy made in April when talking about agency regulations and how they impact the economy. McCarthy said she couldn’t find “one single bit of evidence that we have destroyed an industry or significantly impacted jobs other than in a positive way.”

Apparently, thousands of out-of-work coal miners across the country would beg to differ, according to Palmer, and just a few of them were featured in the video he made Obama’s top environmental regulator watch.

“You know it’s really easy to sit here and have this discussion about these regulations and try to deny they have an impact on people, but, you know, you are having an impact on people and unnecessarily so,” Palmer said.

“You’ve destroyed thousands of jobs,” he added, “and I don’t look at them as collateral damage. Here’s a guy who, one of those families who sat their and he cried through the interview.

“You got another guy whose wife’s diagnosed with cancer right after he lost his job. You got two daughters having to drop out of college,” he said, referring to miners depicted in the video.

Indeed, nearly 13,000 coal miners have lost their jobs in the last year as the coal industry continues to contract. Coal companies have blamed, to varying degrees, EPA regulations for making it basically illegal to build new coal plants and too costly to keep older plants open.

Joblessness in coal country has gotten so bad, coal miners unions, which are traditional democratic allies, have thrown their weight behind Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump has promised to repeal EPA regulations blamed for castrating the industry, while Democrat Hillary Clinton has promised to increase environmental regulation and provide mining towns with welfare.

“We’re going to get those miners back to work,” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. “The miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which was so great to me last week, and Ohio and all over, they’re going to start to work again. Believe me. You’re going to be proud again to be miners.”

This article appears courtesy of the Daily Caller News Foundation

5 years ago

Report: EPA’s global warming agenda will cost the economy $2.23 trillion


The Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rules aimed at phasing out coal-fired power in favor of low-carbon fuels will come at a high cost, according to a newly released report.

Over the next two decades, the EPA’s rules to fight global warming will cost the economy $2.23 trillion, raise energy prices and lower families’ incomes.

Using economic models based on the federal government’s National Energy Model System, the conservative Heritage Foundation found that, by the end of 2023, EPA climate regulations will cost the U.S. nearly 600,000 jobs and reduce a family of four’s income by $1,200.

EPA rules would also raise energy prices and cost the economy $2.23 trillion from 2015 to 2038.

“Higher energy prices as a result of the regulations will squeeze both production and consumption. Since energy is a critical input for most goods and services, Americans will be hit repeatedly with higher prices as businesses pass higher costs onto consumers,” writes Nick Loris, a Heritage Foundation economist and co-author of the report.

“However, if a company had to absorb the costs, high energy costs would shrink profit margins and prevent businesses from investing and expanding,” Loris adds. “The cutbacks result in less output, fewer new jobs, and less income.”

Last summer, President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan, which heavily relied on capping carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Federal regulators moved quickly to craft rules that would limit power plant emissions, eventually publishing such a rule earlier this year.

Obama doubled down on his climate agenda this year, saying that he would continue his push to move the country away from fossil fuels and towards low-carbon energy.

“The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way,” Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union Address. “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say, ‘Yes, we did.’”

But the EPA’s power plant emissions limits faced intense criticism for setting emissions limits for new coal plants impossibly low, effectively banning them unless they used carbon capture and storage technology (CCS). Such technology, however, is not commercially proven and the only known projects in the U.S. are federally funded.

Related: Rogers urges Congress to pass bill to stop EPA’s ‘War on Coal’

House Republicans have questioned the legality of requiring new coal plants use CCS, when the Energy Policy Act of 2005 specifically prohibits the EPA from using federally-funded projects to prove that a technology is commercially proven.

“No credible basis exists to state that CCS is adequately demonstrated today, since no large-scale power plant in the U.S. has CCS,” reads the Heritage report, adding that one large-scale CCS project under construction in Mississippi has gotten $400 million from the federal government.

The Heritage report urges Congress to block the EPA from imposing such strict standards that would cripple the coal industry. Congress has made several efforts to block the EPA from regulating carbon emissions — the most recent one being a bill proposed by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield.

The Manchin-Whitfield bill limits the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions by requiring that any such regulation must be proven to be economically feasible and have a positive environmental impact.

“To truly ensure that the technology is cost-effective, Congress should strip away all subsidies and Department of Energy spending for CCS in order to prevent the federal government from presenting a handful of fundamentally uneconomic CCS plants as proof that the standards are legitimate,” Heritage notes. “However, the most effective policy solution would be to prohibit the EPA and all agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.”

5 years ago

Sessions blisters Obama Science Czar: Don’t advance a political agenda, tell us the facts!

(Above: Sen. Sessions tells Obama climate scientist to stick to the facts and quit promoting a political agenda)

White House science czar Dr. John Holdren wasn’t in the mood to be contradicted on whether global warming was causing “extreme weather.” Holdren described climate scientists whose work contradicts the White House’s global warming claims as outside the “scientific mainstream.”

Holdren was asked by Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions to cite scientific data that supported claims that droughts and other weather events were being made worse by global warming. Sessions then cited contradicting evidence from climate scientists, including former NASA scientist Dr. Roy Spencer and University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr.

Holdren countered that the likes of Pielke and Spencer “are not representative of the mainstream scientific opinion on this point.”

After Holdren made his remarks about Pielke, he took to Twitter to call the White House science advisor to task.

Pielke’s research found that “extreme weather” events like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires have not increased in frequency or intensity, in contrast to what Democrats and environmentalists argue.

“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,” Pielke told the Senate last summer. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Holdren may disagree, but Pielke’s research mirrors the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — often touted by liberals as the global climate authority. The IPCC also concluded in its most recent climate assessment that there is little evidence to suggest that global warming is causing “extreme weather” events to increase.

The IPCC found that there “is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century.” The UN climate bureaucracy also noted that current data shows “no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century. … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”

“In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale,” the IPCC notes, adding that “that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends.”

Dr. Spencer also testified before the Senate last summer that weather has not become more severe in the last century.

“There is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50, or 100 years, irrespective of whether any such changes could be blamed on human activities, anyway,” he told the Senate committee last year.

Holdren has been criticized for being outside the “scientific mainstream” as well. He wrote books and essays advocating government-imposed population controls, forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water.

Holdren partnered with fellow scientist Paul Ehrlich on several works advocating for population control, including a 1969 essay entitled “Population and Panaceas: A Technological Perspective” that argued “man’s present technology is inadequate to the task of maintaining the world’s burgeoning billions, even under the most optimistic assumptions.” The essay goes on to argue that technological advancements to increase food supplies would would be fruitless until “the population growth rate drastically reduced.”

Holdren and Ehrlich also coauthored a textbook with one another. One book’s passages argued that coercive population control methods could be constitutional.

“Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” Holdren and Ehrlich wrote. “Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.”

5 years ago

US Supreme Court hears arguments on Obama’s global warming agenda

United States Supreme Court
United States Supreme Court

President Obama’s plan to fight global warming was on trial Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over whether the administration had the authority to require that industrial facilities get permits when they emit large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Thirteen states, industrial groups and utility companies have petitioned the Supreme Court to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from these facilities. Such a ruling would imperil Obama’s plan to fight global warming, the lynchpin of which is to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

“This case marks an extremely critical point in clarifying just how far the Obama Administration can extend their regulatory overreach, including by rewriting the Clean Air Act to suit its needs,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter in a statement.

“This Administration has led a far-left agenda driven crusade to circumvent Congress at every opportunity, and this case could permit an unprecedented power grab by expanding how far it can go to regulate greenhouse gases,” Vitter said. “Legislative attempts like ‘cap and trade’ have failed because the American public knows these regulations could strangle our economy, and the implications of this case could cripple the democratic process.”

The EPA, environmentalists and public health groups argue that the agency’s requirement of permitting for facilities that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases is within the authority granted to it by the Clean Air Act.

“We need all available safeguards under the Clean Air Act to address the urgent challenge of climate change — including the advanced pollution control measures required as an essential protection in construction permits for large industrial sources,” said Vickie Patton, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund. “These measures are vital if we hope to minimize industrial climate pollution.”

Patton and others have also tried to downplay the importance of the case by arguing that while the case does have major policy implications, it is not challenging the EPA’s underlying authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

“What is not at stake in this case is the EPA’s determination that six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride — endanger the health and welfare of current and future generations,” Patton added.

The background

At the center of the case Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA is the question of whether the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles allows them to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.

The case follows the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the court ruled that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions if it was determined that they were harmful to human health and that the agency needed to begin the process of making such a determination. In that case environmentalists, twelve states and several cities sued the EPA to compel them to begin the so-called “endangerment finding.”

It wasn’t until President Obama was in the White House that the EPA finally came out with its endangerment finding, saying that greenhouse gases from motor vehicles were harmful to human health and, therefore, could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA moved quickly to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions, first limiting emissions from motor vehicles with its “tailpipe rule.” This rule limited emissions from light-duty trucks and set new fuel efficiency rules for cars and trucks. Soon after, the EPA argued that because the Clean Air Act applies to “any air pollution agent,” they had the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.

The problem was that the Clean Air Act Title V permits that the EPA is now applying to greenhouse gases, were created before global warming was viewed as a serious policy issue. Under the Clean Air Act, Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) preconstruction permits are required for stationary sources that emit at least 100 or 250 tons per year of traditional pollutants — not greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. Stationary facilities that could potentially emit at least 100 tons of pollutants per year need a Clean Air Act Title V permit.

Sounds simple enough, but since greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are much more common than traditional pollutants and are emitted in much larger amounts. Applying Clean Air Act permitting rules in this way meant that the agency would more than six million facilities across the country, including schools, hospitals and even some large households.

So the agency tweaked its rule so that only large facilities, like refineries and power plants, which emit more than 75,000 or 100,000 tons per year would need permits for greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s really at stake?

While this Supreme Court case won’t completely prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, it will define what the agency can and can’t do in terms of fighting global warming.

“With the president announcing in his State of the Union address that he plans to expand the use of executive authority, the question of just how far the courts will let administrative agencies go in substituting what the executive wants over what Congress legislated will increasingly come to the fore,” writes attorney Pete Glaser, who helped the the Washington Legal Foundation file two amicus briefs in support of Utility Air Regulatory Group. “If the EPA can ignore numerical statutory permitting thresholds, what else can federal agencies do?”

“While the rule at issue is just one example of the president’s broader executive overreach, the Supreme Court must act to curb abuse of power by the president and his EPA before it escalates any further,” said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“Millions of American jobs and the livelihoods of communities and families across the country will be jeopardized if President Obama is granted authority to proceed with his Climate Action Plan, the most radical components of which haven’t yet even been enacted,” Sheehan added.

5 years ago

Analysis: The truth about Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy

President Barack Obama delivering the 2014 State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama delivering the 2014 State of the Union Address

President Obama’s State of the Union Address laid out his agenda for the next year: the same failed policies as last year.

Despite his soaring rhetoric, Obama will continue to cripple the coal industry and cut off oil and natural gas development while promoting costly renewable energy.

In his speech Tuesday night, Obama was not shy about touting the energy boom occurring under his watch — one of the few bright spots in the economy. The president took credit for the oil and natural gas boom which is helping to revitalize the country’s manufacturing prowess.

“The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades,” Obama said in his address to Congress and the American people.

What he failed to mention is that the oil and gas boom is happening on state and private lands, not federally owned lands. In fact, most federally-owned lands are off limits to energy development, and an increasing amount are being dedicated to wind, solar and geothermal power.

“President Obama’s energy and climate messages contradict one another,” said William Yeatman, an energy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). “In one breath, he incorrectly takes credit for growing U.S. oil and gas production, which, in fact, took place despite his administration, rather than because of it.”

Oil and gas production on state and private lands has boomed in the last few years, all while production on federal lands has plummeted. Oil production shot up 35 percent on non-federal lands from 2007 to 2012, while production on federal lands in 2012 fell below 2007 levels. Natural-gas production in the states and on private property has shot up 40 percent since 2007, while falling 33 percent on federal lands.

On top of falling production, Obama’s ordered agencies to slap hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations with more regulations — increasing the costs of the very drilling technique that has caused the oil and gas boom. He is also promising to put more lands off limits to energy production.

“He has tried to impede that boom,” said Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at CEI. “There is the fantasy that we must protect more federal lands from resource production. Most of the federal lands are already locked up legally or de facto. The environmental consequences are appalling.”

With one breath Obama praises energy production, and with the other he bashes it. The president promised to give more support to solar and renewable energy companies while taking away the so-called $4 billion in tax benefits the oil and gas industry gets every year.

“Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced,” Obama said. “Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.”

Industries shouldn’t get special handouts, but the oil and gas industry’s supposed benefits pale in comparison to what renewable energy gets. The Congressional Budget Office found that green energy got $7.3 billion in energy tax subsidies last year, nearly double what oil and gas supposedly got.

This is on top of the billions the Obama administration spent on failed green energy companies like Solyndra and Abound Solar. In fact, the Department of Energy spent more than $11 million per job created in their green loan programs –yielding only 2,308 permanent jobs. This is all while the oil and gas industry have created 162,000 jobs in drilling, extraction and support activities since 2007, according to federal data — with no taxpayer dollars.

If Obama is serious about fighting income inequality and raising the living standards of Americans, he might do well to facilitate energy production rather than stymying it as these jobs pay seven times the minimum wage, according to industry statistics.

“The president has the opportunity to seize this moment by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, opening up new areas for responsible energy development, and pulling back unnecessary and costly new regulations,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute. “These pro-growth energy policies would create millions of stable, good paying jobs, which is the American people’s No. 1 priority.”

Despite the huge potential of U.S. energy development, Obama has given a nod to environmentalists that he will continue to stymie oil and gas where he can and continue to burden the coal industry with regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. All this in the name of stopping global warming, which hasn’t been seen in 17 years.

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeBastasch

5 years ago

Sworn testimony from EPA official: We plotted to alter ‘the DNA of the capitalist system’

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

The Environmental Protection Agency is out to change the very foundations of capitalism, according to sworn testimony from a former agency official.

The EPA had been working on a project to make capitalism more conducive to environmentalism.

Former EPA official John Beale told House investigators in his sworn deposition that while at the agency he worked on a project meant to find ways the government could “kind of modify the DNA of the capitalist system.”

“This is the smoking gun,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president with the free-market Institute for Energy Research. “For years, we have been saying the real agenda behind this administration’s energy and environmental policies is the just what President Obama has said it is: to fundamentally transform America.”

Beale was sentenced to 32 months in prison last year for defrauding the EPA out of nearly $900,000 while pretending to be working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He convinced co-workers, friends and even his wife that he worked as a CIA agent, but his deception was discovered 18 months after his retirement when he continued to get paid.

“I own this. This is on me,” Beale told Judge Ellen S. Huvelle last December, expressing regret for the shame he brought upon himself and other public officials.

Beale’s fraud brought a political firestorm to the doors of the EPA. Republicans took aim at Beale as an example of the agency’s lack of oversight and accountability.

“The case this morning highlights a massive problem with the EPA, and figuring out why this corruption occurred with apparently no one the wiser needs to remain a priority of our Committee,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter last month. “This sentencing and the recent reports release begin to shed light on something perhaps far larger than even the initial investigations indicated. At minimum, $900,000 of the taxpayers’ money was stolen right under Administrator Gina McCarthy’s nose. We need to know just how vulnerable is this Agency.”

According to one of the EPA’s internal reports, Beale’s fraudulent activity was discovered as early as June 2010 and as early as January 17, 2011 current EPA administrator Gina McCarthy was aware of the excessive payments. McCarthy was then head of the EPA’s air and radiation office, which she was brought on to lead in 2009. She told investigators that she suspected Beale in March 2012.

“In his testimony under oath, Beale, perhaps unwittingly, has laid bare the administration’s end goal,” Kish said. “The President’s policies are not about carbon, they are not about coal, they are not even about energy and the environment. They are about fundamentally altering the DNA of the capitalist system. These policies are not about energy, but power.”

Here is what Beale said in his deposition:

Beale: “I’d been working in the environmental business for a long time, and although generally the western world has made good progress, and the United States has been particularly successful in improving the environment in terms of things like water quality and air quality, we’re reaching the limits of the traditional regulatory process to do that, largely because the fundamental dynamic of the capitalistic system is for businesses and individuals to externalize all costs. That’s the way the system and individuals can maximize profits and minimize costs.”

“In addition to that, pollution is being transported globally around the planet, and we’re reaching the limits of what we can do technologically to protect our citizens without having more impact on other countries. In other words, we need to get reductions from some of these other countries. This is the type of project I wanted to work on. That’s what [Beale and McCarthy] talk about.”

Investigator: “Did you ever indeed work on that project?”

B: “I certainly did.”

I: “Did any work product ever get produced as a result of that work, any tangible –”

B: “It depends on how one defines work projects. There were several phases of this project as we had outlined it. There’s an enormous body of literature on the subject. Sometimes it’s referred to as sustainability literature, sometimes it’s referred to as green economics. And so phase 1 of the project was for me to become very familiar and transversant with that literature. Phase 2 would have been going out and interviewing academic experts, business experts, people in other countries that are doing things.”

“And then phase 3 have been coming up with specific proposals that could be — could have been proposed either legislatively or things which could have been done administratively to kind of modify the DNA of the capitalist system, which is not new. It’s happened tens of times through the history of the capitalist system being there. It’s not a God-given system that was created once and never changes. It changes all the time.”

“So I had repeated meetings and discussions about the progress with various of the AA’s who were involved in this. If you’re asking if there was ever a set of proposals developed, no, because the project was scrapped before we got to that point.”

I: “So you were really just in the planning phases of the project the whole time.”

B: “Oh, planning, and then in the execution of the first phase.”

I: “Okay, and so Ms. McCarthy was aware of this project?”

B: “Yes.”

I: “Did she ask for status updates on the project?”

B: “We met frequently to talk about it and had actually quite deep discussions. She had good insights into it, but the other thing you need to know is this project began under Jeff Holmstead, so this began in a Republican administration.”

Former EPA assistant administrator Jeff Holmstead, however, told The Daily Caller that he had no idea what project Beale was referring to, let alone one to change the DNA of capitalism.

“He never told me about any project about changing the DNA of the capitalist system,” Holmstead told The Daily Caller. “I don’t know what he means by that or what he thought he was doing. It was certainly nothing that I approved.”

Beale was one of three deputies Holmstead inherited from the Clinton administration. Since he was a senior employee, he couldn’t easily be moved around.

“When I was there, he only worked on the international, non-regulatory stuff,” Holmstead said. “He was expected to be gone and had very little oversight because he was a senior career guy.”

5 years ago

EPA employee steals $1 million from taxpayers by pretending to be CIA agent

Former EPA official John Beale
Former EPA official John Beale

If federal prosecutors have their way, former Environmental Protection Agency employee and climate expert John Beale could get 30 months in prison for pretending to be working for the CIA in Pakistan to avoid doing his actual job.

EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan told NBC News that he doubted such fraud could occur at any other federal agency.

“There’s a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing,” Sullivan said. “They don’t think like criminal investigators. They tend to be very trusting and accepting.”

Beale plead guilty in September to tricking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and benefits for more than a decade while he pretended to be working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Beale’s attorney has urged the court for leniency and has said that the former EPA employee has come to realize the error of his ways.

“With the help of his therapist,” wrote Beale’s attorney, “Mr. Beale has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior.”

Republican lawmakers have been hammering the EPA for allowing such fraud to be committed. The EPA inspector general’s report on the fraud found that lax internal controls allowed Beale to steal taxpayer dollars while posing as a CIA agent.

“It’s very apparent that there were significant failings within the EPA because fraud to this extreme isn’t by pure accident,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. “These reports begin to shed light on something perhaps far larger than even the initial investigations indicated.”

NBC News reports that one of the inspector general reports found that “Beale took 33 airplane trips between 2003 and 2011, costing the government $266,190. On 70 percent of those, he travelled first class and stayed at high end hotels, charging more than twice the government’s allowed per diem limit.” Beale’s extravagant expenses were routinely approved by another EPA official who is now being investigated by the agency.

Beale retired after realizing he was caught, but kept drawing his salary for another year and a half. Beale’s retirement party was even attended by chief administrator Gina McCarthy, who then learned six months later he was still getting paid.

“I thought he had already retired,” McCarthy wrote in a March 29, 2012 email. She initiated a review that was sent to the agency’s inspector general’s office — which was not alerted to the fraud until February 2013.

“[Beale] is a convicted felon who went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the U.S. government over the span of more than a decade,” said EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson. “EPA has worked in coordination with its inspector general and the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Agency has [put] in place additional safeguards to help protect against fraud and abuse related to employee time and attendance, including strengthening supervisory controls of time and attendance, improved review of employee travel and a tightened retention incentive processes.”

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeBastasch

5 years ago

EPA preparing to unleash a deluge of new regulations


Happy holidays from the Obama administration. Federal agencies are currently working on rolling out hundreds of environmental regulations, including major regulations that would limit emissions from power plants and expand the agency’s authority to bodies of water on private property.

Last week, the White House released its regulatory agenda. It lists hundreds of pending energy and environmental regulations being crafting by executive branch agencies, including 134 regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency alone.

The EPA is currently crafting 134 major and minor regulations, according to the White House’s regulatory agenda. Seventy-six of the EPA’s pending regulations originate from the agency’s air and radiation office, including carbon-dioxide-emission limits on power plants.

Carbon-dioxide limits are a key part of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. The EPA is set to set emissions limits that would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they use carbon capture and sequestration technology. Next year, the agency will move to limit emissions from existing power plants — which could put more older coal plants out of commission.

“The proposed standards, if finalized, will establish achievable limits of carbon pollution per megawatt hour for all future units, moving the nation towards a cleaner and more efficient energy future,” the agency said in its agenda. “In 2014, EPA intends to propose standards of performance for greenhouse gas emissions from existing and modified power plant sources.”

Hundreds of coal plants that have been closed or slated for early retirement due to Environmental Protection Agency regulations, according to coal industry estimates.

“Already, EPA regulations have contributed to the closure of more than 300 coal units in 33 states,” said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

However, the agency isn’t just working on limiting emissions from coal plants. The EPA is also working on a rule that would expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act to include water on private property.

Republicans have hammered the EPA’s draft water rule as the largest expansion of agency power in history.

“The EPA’s draft water rule is a massive power grab of private property across the U.S. This could be the largest expansion of EPA regulatory authority ever,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith. “If the draft rule is approved, it would allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds and streams.”

The EPA’s rule is heavily supported by environmentalists who argue that it’s necessary to protecting water quality. Smaller water sources, they argue, eventually affect larger water sources that people use for recreation or their livelihood.

“It’s taking the way the Clean Water Act works back, so that it works the way water works in the real world,” Bob Wendelgass, president and CEO of Clean Water Action, told Fox News.

The EPA says the rule is needed to clear up uncertainty left in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the agency’s regulatory authority over bodies of water.

“The [Clean Water Act] does not distinguish among programs as to what constitutes ‘waters of the United States,’” the agency said. “As a result, these decisions affect the geographic scope of all [Clean Water Act] programs.”

Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeBastasch

5 years ago

Obama official testifies against EPA’s global warming agenda

Charles McConnell, former Obama Administration assistant secretary of energy
Charles McConnell, former Obama Administration assistant secretary of energy

A former Obama official is undercutting a key aspect of his former employer’s plan to tackle global warming by arguing that carbon capture and sequestration technology, or CCS, is not commercially viable for industry-wide use by coal-fired power plants.

“[I]t is disingenuous to state that the technology is ‘ready,’” said Charles McConnell, who was the assistant secretary of energy until January. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and now serves as the executive director of the Energy & Environment Initiative at Rice University.

The EPA has mandated that new coal-fired power plants use CCS technology to lower carbon dioxide emissions. The agency and environmental groups says the technology is ready for commercial use.

However, testimony in front of the House science committee on Tuesday by the former Obama administration official undercuts the EPA’s argument.

“Studies have verified that implementation of [CSS] technology is necessary to comply with EPA’s proposed [EPA carbon-emissions limits] regulation and meet the [greenhouse gas] targets necessary for limiting CO2 emissions to our atmosphere,” McConnell said in his prepared congressional testimony. “However, commercial [CSS] technology currently is not available to meet EPA’s proposed rule. The cost of current CO2 capture technology is much too high to be commercially viable.”

This testimony backs up what energy experts have been arguing: that CCS is unproven technology, and lends credit to the coal industry’s legal argument against the EPA’s carbon dioxide emissions limits for power plants.

There are currently no coal plants that use CCS technology on a commercial scale. However, this has not stopped the agency and environmental groups from arguing that the technology is viable.

“The idea that pollution-control technology is too expensive to implement is a familiar theme,” Megan Ceronsky, attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, told The New York Times. “It’s not a novel response to an environmental regulation.”

The Department of Energy, ”in partnership with industry, is pursuing a research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) program to address all of these issues, especially CO2 capture cost reduction, but affordable solutions may be decades away with the current level of funding and resultant R&D strategy,” McConnell added.

“What we have seen implies that EPA will rely on carbon capture and sequestration as the basis for establishing their limits,” said Scott Segal, director of the industry-backed Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. “Basing standards on highly-subsidized, non-commercial scale and even non-built facilities is contrary to the spirit and plain language of the statute.”

The EPA justified mandating CCS technology by citing four facilities that are using types of CCS technology. However, the agency admits that none of these facilities have gone into service yet.

The EPA writes that “since April 2012, there has been significant progress on two CCS projects (Kemper County and Boundary Dam), and they are now both over 75 percent complete. Two other projects have continued to make progress toward construction (Texas Clean Energy Project and Hydrogen Energy California Project).”

These CCS projects under construction are near oil and natural gas fields and can sell the carbon they capture to oil companies for enhanced oil recovery — an option not available to many coal plants.

Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeBastach

5 years ago

Could the Supreme Court derail Obama’s climate agenda?

United States Supreme Court
United States Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will meet later this week to consider whether it will review the Obama administration’s regulations aimed at fighting global warming.

States and industry groups have petitioned the the high court to begin a legal review of the Obama administration’s first round of regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the most contentious of which was the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions caps for new power plants.

Reuters reports: “For the second week running on Monday, the nine justices took no action on the cases, but the court later in the day listed them on its online docket for its next private meeting on Friday. That is when they will decide what new cases to take.”

“The significance of the term will increase if the greenhouse gas case is taken,” John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council told E&E News.

“It’s very rare to have two Clean Air Act cases on the Supreme Court’s calendar in the same term.”

The court is expected to reveal on October 15 whether or not it will take up a broad review of Obama’s effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The first major move the administration made on the issue came last month when the EPA issued emissions standards that effectively banned the building of new coal plants.

The coal industry vowed to challenge the emissions limits and 17 states made ready to challenge the next salvo of EPA rules that would target emissions from already built and running power plants.

“EPA, if unchecked, will continue to implement regulations which far exceed its statutory authority to the detriment of the States, in whom Congress has vested authority under the Clean Air Act, and whose citizenry and industries will ultimately pay the price of these costly and ineffective regulations,” wrote 17 state attorneys general and one top state environmental regulator in a white paper.

The Obama administration is already finding itself on the defensive, being embroiled in legal battles over past EPA clean air rules.

In one high profile case, the Supreme Court will look at the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) program, which required 28 states to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants, including coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. One estimate put the rule’s cost at costing $853 million annually.

CSAPR was thrown out by a federal appellate court last year after judges ruled that the program was outside the EPA’s authority as it required states to reduce hazardous emissions by more than what they contributed to other states’ pollution. The EPA was also hit by judges for vetoing state implementation plans in favor of federal ones.

The air rule has been attacked by Obama’s critics for contributing to the decline of coal-fired power in the country.

study done last year by the Institute for Energy Research found that CSAPR and another costly EPA rule — Mercury Air Toxics Standards — would shutter more than 10 percent of the country’s coal-fired power generation.

However, the EPA argues the CSAPR would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths a year as well as generate up to $280 billion in economic benefits.

The court will hear oral arguments surrounding the CSAPR in December.

Follow Michael on Twitter @MikeBastasch

5 years ago

The Fed Govt. is broke, but spends billions on animal testing anyway

YH Monkey

Would you be surprised to learn that the biggest funder of animal testing in the country is the federal government?

The government spends as much as $14.5 billion per year on animal experimentation, with some projects siphoning off taxpayer dollars for decades and resulting in the cruel treatment of an unknown number of animals.

According to an analysis of government data, the National Institutes of Health spends between $12 billion and nearly $14.5 billion on animal testing every year. According to NIH documents, about 47 percent of research grants have an animal research-based component. This number has been fairly stable over the last decade.

“$14.5 billion could provide a lot of tax relief for Americans. It could help pay down national debt or help prevent a shutdown,” says Anthony Bellotti, founder and executive director of the watchdog group, White Coat Waste Project. “Instead, it’s paying for experiments in which small dogs are forced to run on treadmills until they have heart attacks at schools like Wayne State University, and to study the effects of crystal meth on monkeys at UCLA. How can we justify government waste like this?”

The controversial nature of government-backed animal testing has actually created an unlikely coalition of fiscal conservatives and animals rights activists who usually don’t share common ground. Both sides argue that NIH funding for animal testing should be cut.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged House Speaker John Boehner to “expand the planned 7.8 percent cuts to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) budget by cutting all funding for studies involving animals.”

PETA also argues that NIH grants go towards experiments that “involve cruel and expensive experiments on animals that will not save human lives.”

In the name of science?

One professor at the Oregon Health and Science University got $9.5 million in grants in the last few years to test the effects of obesity and diabetes on monkeys. Researchers would fatten up pregnant monkeys to see if their offspring to test for health problems and anxiety problems, like if the baby monkeys were afraid of a Mr. Potato Head doll. PETA noted that the baby monkeys were also taken out of the womb, killed and had their brains dissected.

Another professor with the University of Minnesota has been given $3.6 million over the past decade on research that involved forcing monkeys to do drugs like PCP, METH, heroin and cocaine to study their behavior. The study also looked at how using these drugs affected female monkeys’ menstrual cycles.

“At the University of Minnesota, Professor Marilyn Carroll has been funded for nearly 30 years by taxpayers,” Bolletti said. “She tests illegal recreational street drugs on monkeys by forcibly addicting them to heroin, Crystal Meth, and Angel Dust and then painfully withdrawing them. When she first got on the dole, the #1 album in America was Michael Jackson’s Thriller and #1 movie in America was Return of the Jedi.”

For more than 20 years, an Ohio State University professor got funds from the NIH to conduct research that included forcing small dogs to run on treadmills to induce heart attacks. Taxpayers put up $1.9 million for these experiments.

In another NIH-funded experiment, University of Wisconsin researchers were given funds to cut into the brains of cats, drill holes in their skulls, place wire coils in their eyes, deafening them and starving them to death. The researchers didn’t even justify the cat deafening based on its benefits to humans, instead saying that the NIH funds were meant to “keep up a productive publication record that ensures our constant funding.”

“As a physician and expert in human brain research,” writes Dr. Lawrence Hansen, professor at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, “I can tell you that research to better understand how the brain processes sound can be conducted ethically on human volunteers using sophisticated brain imaging and recording techniques.”

“Funding the UW-Madison’s violent and unnecessary experiments on cats means $3 million less is being spent on research that can actually improve human health and well-being,” Hansen added.

What’s the benefit?

Despite criticisms of using taxpayer dollars to fund animal testing, the NIH argues that testing on animals help scientists identify new ways of improving peoples’ health and lives.

“Through research involving both humans and animals, scientists identify new ways to treat illnesses, extend life, and improve health and well-being,” the NIH said in a statement. “New thinking about diseases and treatments must be evaluated very carefully so that benefits and risks from the proposed approach are clear. When necessary, new hypotheses are tested in animals first in order to gather sufficient evidence of these benefits and risks before considering possible use in humans.”

“Researchers often apply the results of their findings to the benefit of animals,” the NIH added. “For example, research on viruses has led to the development of the dog parvovirus vaccine and the cat leukemia vaccine. Surgical research has led to the development of dog heart valves and hip replacements. Research on reproduction has led to breeding programs for endangered species (like pandas and white tigers).”

The Institute’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Sally Rockey said that in 2009, intramural laboratories used more than 1.3 million animals — about 20 different species — in research projects. Mice represented 81 percent of NIH intramural animal studies.

The NIH says that all animals used in taxpayer-funded research are protected by rules to ensure that researchers use the fewest amount possible and are committed to their welfare.

However, scientists and animal right activists argue that animal testing is not as beneficial for humans as NIH researchers argue.

“We have moved away from studying human disease in humans,” said former NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni in June. “We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included. … The problem is that it hasn’t worked, and it’s time we stopped dancing around the problem. … We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans.”

“I made the case that the reality of experiments on animals is largely hidden from the public and that many would consider what routinely happens to cats, dogs and monkeys in labs to be torture,” Hanson wrote. “I explained that many current experiments on animals have a tenuous link to improving human health. I also offered that an oversight system in which animal experimenters are charged with reviewing and approving the work of other animal experimenters is seriously flawed.”

Earlier this year, the NIH announced that it would end the use of most chimpanzees in government research. The Institute announced it was retiring about 310 chimps form government research in the coming years and would keep 50 on retainer for crucial medical studies that can’t be done without them.

The move came two years after the National Institutes for Medicine said that it could no longer justify the use of chimps in invasive medicine.