SF judge orders first-ever hearing on climate change science

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what could be the first-ever U.S. court hearing on the science of climate change.

The proceeding, scheduled for March 21 by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland — California cities that have accused fossil fuel interests of covering up their role in contributing to global warming.

“This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date,” said Michael Burger, a lawyer who heads the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Experts on both sides say Alsup’s call for a climate change “tutorial” is unlike anything they’ve heard of before. …

Click here to read the full article from McClatchy

Climate Change: Local Governments Tell Different Stories in the Courtroom and on Wall Street

Global WarmingBy 2050, because of climate change, Oakland officials insist that the city faces dealing with “100-year” type floods every two years – or maybe it won’t have those floods. Apparently, that forecast all depends on who city officials are talking to – whether you are an energy company being sued by the city of Oakland demanding money because of the dangers climate change supposedly bring or you are an investor interested in buying an Oakland municipal bond. In the latter case, Oakland officials attest that the city is unable to predict the impact of climate change or flooding.

This contradiction should be a concern to taxpayers and is worthy of the panel discussion scheduled at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy on Tuesday, February 27.

The panel, which includes the Reason Foundation’s Marc Joffe and Chapman University Law Professor Anthony T. Caso, will focus on the lawsuits potential impact on municipal bonds and the ultimate effect on taxpayers. “The Unexpected Consequences of Climate Change on Government Finance” is scheduled to begin at noon at the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu.

Within the past year, eight California jurisdictions have filed public nuisance climate lawsuits against a slew of oil and gas companies demanding millions of dollars to offset the certain dangers facing the jurisdictions because of climate change. At the same time, these local governments have reached out to investors to back local bonds, declaring in the bond prospectus that they cannot predict risks related to climate change.

As law professor Caso suggested in an Orange County Register op-ed last month, “One could hardly be criticized for concluding that the cities and counties involved in these lawsuits have either lied to the courts or to their bond investors. If they have lied to either, there is big trouble ahead.”

The trouble for taxpayers comes if the Securities and Exchange Commission seeks million dollar penalties from the governments for making false statements to investors. When a local government must pay a penalty it falls on the backs of taxpayers. Such a consequence could also lead municipalities being required to offer more disclosure and result in higher borrowing costs for future bonds.

ExxonMobil has filed a counter action pointing out the discrepancies in the California jurisdictions’ actions—some would say hypocrisy—when discussing the effects of climate change—a different approach in the courtroom versus Wall Street. ExxonMobil argues that the lawsuits are designed to force companies to align policies with those “favored by local politicians in California.”

The integrity of the local governments and ultimately taxpayers’ financial responsibility is hanging in the balance.

ditor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

San Francisco Politician Wants to Outlaw Gas-Powered Cars

Electric CarSacramento is threatening to outlaw a freedom Californians have enjoyed for more than a century through a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, of San Francisco. If it’s passed and signed, new gasoline-powered cars will become the state’s new undocumented immigrants. Government will refuse to register them.

Should it become law, Assembly Bill 1745 would, beginning Jan. 1, 2040, “prohibit the department from accepting an application for original registration of a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is a zero-emissions vehicle.” Commercial vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more when fully loaded are exempt as are vehicles brought in from other states.

While the San Francisco Democrat insists a transition to electric vehicles is necessary to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions, the argument has more smoke than fire. Speculation that man is overheating his planet due to Industrial Age atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is far from settled science.

The latest research shows how the science continues to unfold. An academic study released just last week reported that the doomsday, worst-case scenario, the most extreme projection that global warming alarmists commonly cite, isn’t credible. The climate’s reaction to CO2 simply isn’t as intense as they claim. Lead researcher Peter Cox of Exeter University said both the low and high sensitivities had been all but ruled out.

The virtues of “zero-emissions” vehicles are overhyped, as well. There are few bona fide zero-emission vehicles in California or elsewhere. Their batteries aren’t charged by the dynamos of political rhetoric. Unless 100 percent of the state’s electric power is generated by sources that emit no greenhouse gases nor pollutants by 2040 — Sacramento’s goal is 2045 — a sizable portion of zero-emissions vehicles will be charged by electricity generated at power plants whose smokestacks vent the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion. Electric cars don’t have tailpipes, yet most still have a carbon footprint.

Also conveniently missing from the electric vehicle discussion is the environmental damage unleashed by their assembly. Even before their tires hit asphalt, they are belching emissions. Building a Tesla Model S P100D, for example, produces more than 12,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This includes emissions discharged in the mining and transportation of rare earths needed to produce electric cars’ hulking batteries.

Meanwhile, production emissions from a gasoline-guzzling BMW 750i — 17 mpg city, 25 highway — are only 8,190 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. Building a gasoline-powered subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage emits a mere 4,752 kilograms of CO2 equivalent.

Though the BMW’s use emissions are about twice as high as the Tesla’s, the Mirage’s are less than the electric car. The Mirage is also cleaner over its entire lifecycle, which includes emissions produced when an automobile is scrapped. If the electric-vehicle campaign were more about actually cutting emissions and less about virtue signaling and raw politics, wouldn’t Sacramento be pushing us into subcompacts instead of EVs?

Not that that is an acceptable alternative. A nation of ostensibly free people should not be saddled with a 21st century Trabant, the 20th century “peoples car” of the captive East German population.

Given our rich car culture that delights in cubic-inch displacement, and the hum and roar of combustion, it’s reasonable to believe that most Californians would not be terribly interested in EVs if it weren’t for the interventions of political nags. As Pacific Research Institute fellow Wayne Winegarden says in his upcoming electric vehicle study, without the taxpayer-funded subsidies, “a robust EV market will not develop.”

Winegarden’s research proves his point.

“After Hong Kong eliminated its tax break for EVs in April 2017, registrations of new Tesla electric cars in Hong Kong fell from 2,939 to zero,” he says. “Similarly, after Georgia eliminated its $5,000 EV subsidy in 2015, EV sales fell 89 percent in two months.”

Even with as much as $42 billion in spent and promised federal subsidies, and billions more issued by the states, fewer than 352,000 EVs have been sold in the U.S., according to Winegarden. That’s less than one percent of the entire market.

Despite EVs’ thin popularity, policymakers have determined that those are the cars we have to buy. It’s a policy decision sure to create electric-car dissidents who will resent the day they lost their power to choose. The fact that the law is a wholly unnecessary stunt will only make it hurt more.

Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Brown’s Budget and Legacy Priorities

Governor Brown released his 2018-19 Budget last week and the OC Register was kind enough to publish my first impressions in their commentary section.  Here is a link:

The good and bad of Jerry Brown’s budget

I also sent out an immediate reaction:

Governor Brown admits that the “last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending” and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento. We have to acknowledge that the $9.3 billion in pension payments won’t go to pay for more teachers or cut college tuition or build roads right now. And yet, we’re hoisting these liabilities on future generations at a higher cost unless we do more to address them now. I was wondering how seriously Governor Brown would be in his last budget about addressing our liabilities. It looks like he’s kicking the can down the road to the next governor. Oh well.

The primary focus for Governor Brown has not been that California has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Just look at the city of Oakland’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that being deep in a fiscal hole is not one of Jerry’s worries.

Brown’s focus has been climate change and converting California to an electric car state, relying on solar and wind to provide the energy. It’s covered in a lengthy and thorough manner by CALmatters here:

California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars

The irony is that electricity needs to be carried by power lines. These power lines have caused many of the wildfires in California. And, wildfires create more greenhouse gases than our state’s cars, by a long shot. So, where is the effort to address the cause of the biggest greenhouse gas source? It’s nonexistent. See: MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns.

Worse, being totally dependent on electricity for travel, communication, preserving food supplies, and dealing with occasional inclement weather, this state will shut down in a matter of days without it. This is also a scary proposition in a world where terrorism is the new norm. I’m just sayin’.

There’s the legacy. He’s funded the required Rainy Day Fund. He’s exposing residents to a different danger in the potential loss of power.  And he’s flown around the world to preach climate change. But, our balance sheet sucks and our wildfire zones went up in smoke this year and are now suffering from the damages that rain can cause.  Sometimes I just want to weep.

California pension funds likely to face new pressure to divest from fossil-fuel companies

Calpers headquarters is seen in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for his state’s biggest government pension fund to stop new investments in fossil-fuel companies and phase out existing investments is likely to lead to renewed calls for the Golden State’s two massive pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – to do the same.

The Common Fund – New York’s pension fund for state and local public sector employees – has $200 billion in holdings. Cuomo, a Democrat who is expected to run for president in 2020, said it was time to craft a “de-carbonization roadmap” for the fund, which “remains heavily invested in the energy economy of the past.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger agreed with Cuomo and called for changes in the investment policies of the city’s five pension funds, with holdings of about $190 billion.

The announcements were hailed on social media as a reflection of the mission statement of the 2015 Paris Accord outlining international efforts to address global warming.

It’s possible Brown could use his State of the State speech later this month to reveal his call for CalPERS and CalSTRS climate-change divestment. The pension giants have already been forced to end investments in coal companies because of a 2015 law signed by the governor, selling off shares worth less than $250 million, a tiny fraction of their overall portfolios.

But selling off stakes in energy companies would be a much more impactful event. Giant firms like ExxonMobil are among the most common holdings of pension funds around the world.

Some unions worry divestment will hurt CalPERS finances

And while the California Democratic Party has been largely unified behind Brown’s and the state Legislature’s efforts dating back to 2006 to have California lead the fight against global warming, such unanimity is unlikely should Brown follow Cuomo’s lead because some public employee unions are worried about divestment damaging the finances of CalPERS and CalSTRS.

As of July, CalPERS had $323 billion in assets and said it was 68 percent funded – meaning it had about $150 billion in unfunded liabilities. As of March, CalSTRS had $202 billion in assets and said it was 64 percent funded, leaving unfunded liabilities of about $100 billion.

CalPERS’ steady increase in rates it charges local agencies to provide pensions and the heavy costs facing school districts because of the Legislature’s 2014 CalSTRS’ bailout have taken a heavy toll on government budgets.

Corona Police Lt. Jim Auck, treasurer of the Corona Police Officers Association, has testified to the CalPERS board on several occasions, imploring members to focus on making money with investments, not making political statements.

According to a July account in the Sacramento Bee, Auck said public safety is hurt when police departments must spend ever-more money on pensions.

“The CalPERS board has a fiduciary responsibility to the membership to deliver the best returns possible,” Auck testified. “Whatever is delivering the return they need, that’s where they need to put our money.”

The International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents 12,000 state maintenance workers, has taken the same position, according to the Bee.

In New York, Gov. Cuomo also is not assured of success. The sole trustee of the Common Fund is State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. While he agreed to work with Cuomo in establishing a committee to consider possible changes in its investment strategies, his statement pointedly emphasized that there were no present plans to change the fund’s approach to energy stocks.

While DiNapoli cited his support for reducing global warming and the Paris Accord, his statement concluded with a sentence emphasizing his priorities: “I will continue to manage the pension fund in the long-term best interests of our members, retirees and the state’s taxpayers.”

Jerry Brown Blames Climate Change for California Fires

VENTURA, CA - DECEMBER 5: A home is destroyed by brush fire as Santa Ana winds help propel the flames to move quickly through the landscape on December 5, 2017 in Ventura, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

California Governor Jerry Brown blamed climate change for the California fires that have devastated the state this fall during a visit to assess the damage in Ventura County on Saturday.

“This is the new normal,” he said, as quoted by the Orange County Register. “We’re facing a new reality where fires threaten peoples’ lives, their properties, their neighborhoods and cost billions and billions of dollars. We have to have the resources to combat the fires, and also have to invest in managing our vegetation and forests and all the ways we dwell in this very wonderful place — but a place that’s getting hotter.”

However, climate scientists are more skeptical, noting that climate change could be one of a variety of factors.

A comprehensive look at the question by Southern California Public Radio — hardly a conservative outlet — found that there was considerable debate about the factors that made this year’s fires particularly bad.

One factor was high winds, whose connection to climate change is “still up for debate.” Another factor was the state’s recent drought, which persisted in the part of Southern California where the Thomas fire — now in excess of 150,000 acres, with only 15% containment — struck. (Ironically, last winter’s heavy rains caused brush to grow rapidly, giving fires plenty of fuel to burn.)

An important factor in the fires of the past week was that people are building homes in areas that are naturally prone to wildfires, or where naturally dry conditions mean that the kinds of building materials and vegetation that people prefer to use in cities and suburbs are a fire hazard.

Brown has frequently cited climate change as the cause for natural disasters before, only to be corrected by scientists, who suggested he was guilty of “noble-cause corruption” — i.e. distorting science in service of a cause that many scientists support.

Last year, both Brown and then-President Barack Obama falsely linked wildfires across the western United States to climate change. And last month, Brown told a conference at the Vatican that the world needed “brain washing” on climate change.

Aside from the Thomas fire, firefighters have made significant progress in their struggle against some of the other fires burning across the region. The Skirball fire near the 405 Freeway, which brought traffic to a standstill in Los Angeles on Thursday, was at 75 percent containment as of Saturday afternoon, according to Southern California Public Radio. The Lilac fire, which killed several dozen horses on Thursday, was fully contained by Saturday evening, according to the Register.

“The Creek Fire was now 80% contained, and the Rye Fire was 65% contained” as of Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials say there have been no deaths associated with the Southern California fires.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

NY Times blames climate change for NorCal inferno

Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall.

The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier. “That is a pretty key parameter for fire risk,” said Alex Hall, a climate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The winds, known as Diablo winds in Northern California and Santa Ana winds further south, have their origin in the high desert of the Great Basin of Nevada and parts of Utah. High-pressure air that builds over that region flows toward lower-pressure air over California and the coast.

Along the way the air descends to lower elevations, which causes it to compress and become hotter and drier. The air picks up speed as it descends and funnels through canyons or across peaks that are lower than their neighbors. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Times

California Cities Sue Oil Companies over Climate Change

Global WarmingCity attorneys in San Francisco and Oakland, California, sued five oil companies in two coordinated lawsuits on Tuesday, arguing that the courts should hold these companies responsible for climate change, and force them to financially compensate the cities for harm the plaintiffs claim those companies are causing to the planet’s environment.

The two cities are suing five of the top petroleum companies from around the world: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobile, and Royal Dutch Shell. These local municipalities are suing them under California law for being a public nuisance.

The lawsuits use virtually identical language, like accusing the oil companies with language such as, “For decades, Defendants have known that their fossil fuels pose risks of ‘severe’ and ‘catastrophic’ impacts on the global climate through the works and warnings of their own scientists or through their trade association.”

The cities’ complaints impugn the worst possible motives to the oil companies, comparing their actions to a sustained “propaganda campaign to deceive the public” to encourage “fuel consumption at levels that (as Defendants knew) [were] certain to severely harm the public.”

The lawsuits are demanding money from the companies on a scale to offset all of the effects of climate change in those cities. While the lawsuit does not provide specific amounts, the plaintiffs could advance theories that would claim that those numbers are in the billions of dollars.

By bringing these claims in the county courts in San Francisco and Alameda, the cities’ attorneys are setting them on a legal course where the justices of the California Supreme Court—a reliably liberal court—would ultimately decide the financial liability of the oil companies.

One immediate step the oil companies could take is to remove these lawsuits to federal court. They could invoke a federal district court’s “diversity jurisdiction” under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the plaintiffs are from different states or nations than all of the defendants and the amount being sued for exceeds $75,000.

Such a move would take any appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where critics would fear the chances of a leftwing outcome, but would also preserve the option that the final word on this case would ultimately come from the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the California Supreme Court.

The first lawsuit is The People of the State of California ex rel. Herrera v. BP, No. CGC-17-561370 in the Superior Court of the County of San Francisco.

The second lawsuit is The People of the State of California ex rel. Oakland City Attorney v. BP, No. RG-17-875889 in the Superior Court of the County of Alameda.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

‘Cap and Tax’ Would Slam High-Tax, High-Poverty California

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

The craziest story of the moment is the Governor’s insistence on passing even more draconian legislation on the topic of climate change in the form of extending what is known as cap and trade (or, in this iteration, cap and tax) (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017).

Gov. Brown believes that “climate change is real” and that California has to be the guinea pig in the world stage on addressing it. Therefore, Californians have to make certain financial sacrifices now to protect those who follow us 100 years from now. And that is only if his postulation that “climate change is real.”

With “quiet dignity and grace” (a line from “Young Frankenstein”), the Governor claimed that on Monday the Legislature would be making “the most important vote of our lifetimes.”

Is the vote to disallow collective bargaining a la Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?

Is the vote to abolish the California Rule, and modify pension formulas going forward?

Is the vote for establishing a hybrid pension plan that includes a defined contribution component?

Is it a plan to make state government more efficient, since California has the highest tax rates and still can’t deliver decent services and roads to its residents?

Is the vote to address the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation?


It’s about one man’s personal crusade to supposedly “save the planet,” when the science may not support his claims.

His comments culminated with the hysterical claim no one else in the country seems to believe enough to enact mitigating policy: “Climate change is a threat to organized human existence.” Pop some corn and enjoy his harangue.

No doubt, everyone is concerned about our planet.  But, at a cost of some 90 cents per gallon of gas? Most people don’t think so.

tate Senator representing the 37th Senate District

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

How Trump’s Paris Climate Agreement Decision Will Affect California Businesses

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12155315The issue of how business will fare, respond to or be affected by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement received much attention after Trump’s announcement yesterday. Responses to the move in California often highlighted the business issue in both supporting and opposing the president’s move.

Trump argued that his decision would help preserve jobs and businesses in the United States. But many business leaders, especially in California, opposed Trump’s move. The Wall Street Journal reported that many companies will not change strategies that are designed to reduce greenhouse gases because of the announcement. According to the Journal, these companies are responding to shareholder or customer demands to reduce greenhouse gases; are on the path to converting to renewable energies; or businesses in states like California are responding to state mandates to reduce their carbon footprint.

While some energy companies, particularly coal companies, applauded the president, other company leaders expressed disappointment. Business always likes certainty and many business leaders complained that they want to follow a consistent set of rules to face the challenge of climate change. One such company urging a consistent message was ExxonMobil, the country’s largest oil producer. General Electric’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt said, “Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

In California, both foes and advocates of the president’s decision used the business issue in commenting on Trump’s move.

Two prominent California based business leaders, Tesla and Space X head Elon Musk and Disney’s Robert Iger announced they were resigning from the president’s business advisory council because of Trump’s decision on the Paris accord.

Gov. Jerry Brown said California’s growing economy and new jobs were created under the state’s strong climate change mandates. “California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has advanced its nation-leading climate goals while also growing the economy. In the last seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs – outpacing most of the United States – cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and has seen its credit rating rise to the highest level in more than a decade.”

NextGen Climate president Tom Steyer went from the farcical calling Trump a “traitor” to urging “courageous action from American business leaders, who know clean energy is simply the better way to clean the air, protect our health and create jobs.”

California Manufacturers & Technology president Dorothy Rothrock said, “California has a new reason to provide meaningful leadership by adopting a market-based approach to reduce emissions that will protect manufacturing jobs and keep costs affordable for consumers.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Trump made the right choice by relieving a burden on the United States and freeing private enterprise to create more jobs. “The American energy renaissance has been good for our country and the world. It created American jobs, freed the United States and our allies from OPEC price controls, and helped to reduce emissions at the same time…President Trump made the right call in leaving a deal that would have put an unnecessary burden on the United States.”

Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council business association, said California’s businesses will continue to pursue a clean-energy future. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative.”

ditor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily