Archive for the ‘exxon capture’ Category

Bob Murphy on James Hansen and the "Civil War on the Left" over Waxman-Markey; where is criticism of pork for coal?

July 15th, 2009 No comments

James Hansen, a leading climate scientist at NASA (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and Columbia University, last week`published a scathing criticism of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the Huffington Post, and Bob Murphy noticed.

Bob offers a rather schizophenic view, expressing both:

  • admiration of (a) Hansen`s insistence – despite pressure from others on the left to dampen his criticism – that, given the risks posed by emissions of greenhouse gases, the Waxman-Markey bill is far from adequate and (b) Hansen`s criticism of the driving role provided by rent-seeking fossil fuel interests; and
  • amusement at the “fireworks” on the left that Hansen`s criticims will set off.

Oddly, it doesn`t seem to occur to Bob that Hansen`s criticism, despite flack from others, that Waxman-Markey is too weak in in the face of the risks that Hansen perceives, lends further credibility to Hansen and his concerns.  If Hansen takes his concerns THIS seriously, then perhaps othes should take him more seriously as well.  (Though to his credit, Bob does link to Hansen`s latest attempt to explain his understanding of climate risks).

It`s also odd that Murphy completely fails to explore Hansen`s criticisms of all of the subsidies to coal that the Waxman-Markey bill gives away, and ignores Hansen`s strong recommendation of a much leaner carbon-pricing strategy, rebated carbon taxes, of the type actively supported by Exxon and many others (not solely on the left).  Why is that libertarians refuse to criticize the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, while refusing to support carbon taxes?  For some at least, it appears that there is a decided lack of interest in biting the hand that feeds them, but wouldn`t a push against subsidies for coal and for a more transparent and less-burdensome climate still be salutary?  In a blog post that addresses Hansen`s stance, the Wall Street Journal asks the same question.  The NYT covers Hansen`s position as a news story.

I copy below a few remarks that I left at Bob`s blog (light editing):

Bob, it`s nice to see you respect Hansen for sticking to his gunds, but
it sounds like you`re mainly expressing schadenfreude, with the hope
that he might forestall W-M.

But Hansen is not taking his own
“rhetoric” seriously, but his own views of the SCIENCE. And those
views, while they hopefully turn out to be wrong, are no laughing
matter. (Presumably you know how to check Hansen`s website directly for
his scientific publications.)

On policy, as I have pointed out a number of times, Hansen has come out strongly in favor of pork-lite, rebated carbon taxes;
too bad that libertarians have showed so little interest in pushing for
carbon policies that are least damaging, but instead, but fighting
everything tooth and nail have instead contributed (inadvertently?) to
massive subsidies for coal.

You might also enjoy the sight of Dennis Kucinich, for reasons similar to Hansen, voting against Waxman-Markey.

But pork aside, I think that Joe Romm, in his response to Hansen, has the better arguments. On the question of pork, I note the continuing lack of criticism of old King Coal [by yourself and by Rob Bradley].

In which I try to help Bob Murphy figure out just what the heck I’m talking about (when I say he’s entangled in a partisan, rent-seeking game)

May 12th, 2009 4 comments

I recently posted a copy of a comment to Bob Murphy, trying to explain Roe Romm’s attack on Bob’s effort to explain some of the stupidity behind “green” or “clean” jobs, and how it is that Bob just doesn’t seem to be (and is in fact not) above the fray.

Well,  Bob has professed that he just doesn’t “get it”, so I copy here both his question and my further attempt to explain why hired guns tend to be treated as if they are hired guns:


Blogger Bob Murphy said…


I am being serious, I have no idea what your point is. Are you truly asking me why I didn’t go into IER’s funding at my Heritage talk? Of course you can’t possibly be saying that.

But then, I don’t know what you are saying. It seems with you I cannot win: Even if you agree with everything I say in a particular op ed or panel appearance–and even if I don’t take an issue on whether AGW is serious–you still devote 95% of your post to all the things I “conveniently” left out.

And what is particularly interesting is that I didn’t have the time to make the points you mention.

So, given that I was under the gun because others went long, which sentence(s) should I have taken out of my 5-minute remarks, and what should I have replaced them with?

I am not being sarcastic or “in your face.” I really have no idea if I am supposed to take your criticisms on this seriously, as if you are actually saying I should have said Y instead of X.

May 9, 2009 2:40 AM

Blogger TokyoTom said…

Bob, thanks for the response – but I’m puzzled that you’re not following me.

1. I often agree with you and occasionally give you a full thumb’s up comment. If you need more pats on the back, I’m happy to try harder on that. But I generally comment when I disagree with you, and think I have something to offer. YMMMV.

2. Presumably you understand well the Austrian and public choice perspectives on how government is frequently misused by favored insiders for private gain, or, when opposition is more organized, on how government becomes a public battleground between opposing interests with respect to resources that are not privately owned (so the expression of private preferences in the market is not possible or is frustrated).

3. Given this, can you see that while you might think you’re being even-handed, others see you as a hired hand for the long-dominant rent-seekers (the investors & industries for whom it is profitable to use our largest shared, open-access commons – the atmosphere – as a free dumping ground, while shifting risks on an uncontracted-for manner to others)?

4. And given such a perspective, can you understand that others – particularly others like Joe Romm who have been deeply involved in the rent-seeking battle – have a hard time actually listening to what you have to say, since they tend to see you as a wolf in sheep’s clothing? (Indeed, they may be so convinced that they’re “right” that they may not even notice that, like Joe, they are spokesmen for a little Baptists-bootleggers coalition of their own!)

5. As for your own position, have you really failed to notice that when speaking for IER you’re in the pay of the biggest “skeptic” rent-seekers left with respect to our largest open-access commons – the coal lobby? (Not oil, as Romm has overlooked that Exxon has stopped funding IER.)

And have you noted that Rob Bradley never talks about rent-seeking by coal (including their desire to have government fund billions for “clean” coal), while happily blocking from the “Master Resource” blog guys like me who point out these inconsistencies and some of the nonsense comming from his co-bloggers and readers?

6. Note that this point is not, as [other commenters deleted] would have it, an ad hominem; rather it is a fundamental, Austrian meta-argument about the misuse of government and the frustration of preferences when squabbles over government take place in the stead of private transactions (for clearly identified and defendable private property.

7. Of course I don’t expect you to mention in your Heritage talks your funding by IER/coal, but since you’ve brought it up, perhaps you might wish to consider – particularly if you wish to actually influence those who now have their fingers in their ears – how to address this issue. Here`s hoping that you strive to step above the fray and aim for more transparent balance.



May 9, 2009 7:24 AM


Bob Murphy, the Heritage Foundation and "green jobs" – ignore coal! We only pay attention to rent-seeking from greens/the left

May 8th, 2009 6 comments

Bob Murphy has recently noted that he is busy at work, doing yeoman`s work in fighting the good battle against stupid “green” or “clean” jobs that the Obama administration and some enviros are pushing.

This is fine as far as it goes, but in his struggle to be fair and even-handed, it seems to me that Bob has made a rather significant omission, as I noted in the following comment on his related blog post:

Bob, the comments you made on the Heritage panel were generally fine, but I`m surprised that you didn`t note that the clean/green jobs thing is to a large degree classic pork wrapped up in a nice moral package – and so differs very little from other government pork packages.

Was it because you prefer not to edge to close to the point that, if CO2 and soot really do create serious climate risks, then those who who produce fossil fuels (and their primary customers) have been getting a free ride off the back of the public for years, aided and abetted by both parties (but most noticeably recently by big government Republicans)?

This, of course, is the chief reason why greenies argue that the fossil fuel/auto/power industry has been buying political influence – not industry generally, as you asserted in your talk. Such rent-seeking is in fact undeniable, indeed readily apparent. 

A case in point is your own institution, IER. You should know this, but even Joe Romm has apparently also missed that IER is no longer funded by ExxonMobil, which deliberately cut off funding to IER after 2007, on the grounds that they had decided not to fund “several public-policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion about how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”

ExxonMobil has now decided that climate risks – and the risk of bad policies – merit then public changing their stance to SUPPORT CARBON TAXES, as their CEO Rex Tillerson noted recently:

“It is rare that a business lends its support to new taxes. But in this case, given the risk-management challenges we face and the alternatives under consideration, it is my judgment that a carbon tax is the best course of public policy action. And it is a judgment I hope others in the business community and beyond will come to share.”

So who is left to fund IER, and Rob Bradley`s shiny new blog, Master Resource, which has collected luminary policy wonks like you, Marlo Lewis, and Ken Green? Inquiring minds want to know!

But it`s pretty clear that the only major fossil fuel funding left in the “skeptic” policy camp is coming from coal. 

And while Rob is now very diligently explaining why his Enron connection has nothing to do with the current stance of IER and MR, it`s a puzzling contrast to his unwillingness to acknowledge Exxon`s prominent change in position. 

In fact, in this regard his only dilgence has been expelling me from the blog, for pointing out what Tillerson now has to say, and for criticizing some of the bone-headed, non-libertarian positions some of the bloggers and visitors at Master Resource have taken:

Rot at the Core: Rob Bradley at “free market” MasterResource blog shows his true colors as a rent-seeker for fossil fuels (with links to the quotes above).

How good`s the Big Coal “death train” gravy train?

And when is Joe Romm going to note that Exxon is now his ally?