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Monday, August 22, 2011
Can Abercrombie Administration impose Billions in Carbon Fees without Legislative Vote?
By Andrew Walden @ 3:02 AM :: 10839 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics, World News, Family

by Andrew Walden

Hundreds of European financiers are under investigation—and several are already in jail—as a result of multi-billion dollar carbon trading scams such as those which have closed down carbon trading exchanges in the UK. Across Europe, 2,500 police officers were mobilized in early 2010 to arrest over 170 carbon traders involved in a $7.1B tax evasion scheme. The New York Times January 31, 2011 reports wholesale theft of another $6B in carbon credits from European carbon registries. Carbon traders pitching a non-existent forest in Hungary even defrauded the Vatican.

Since the mid-2000s, tribal peoples in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Peruvian Amazon, Colombia, Uganda and Kenya have been fighting efforts by environmental “entrepreneurs” armed with “air contracts” who are attempting to drive them from their ancestral forests through Carbon Trading fraud. (see dozens of links below)

The “scientist” whose 2006 paper sparked the claim that polar bears were drowning because of global warming is now under investigation by the US Department of Interior and has been put on leave due to “integrity issues”.

So what does a worn out and debunked fraud scheme do when it has exhausted its welcome around the world? It comes to Hawaii, of course.

In a report issued December 30, 2009, the Hawaii Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force created by Act 234 of 2007 outlined its plan for a Carbon Tax in Hawaii:

The Task Force unanimously recommends that the Legislature strongly support…the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) with additional specified policies (hereby called HCEI+). HCEI+ meets and surpasses the GHG emissions reduction target by an estimated 39% providing that its elements are met on time….

And the Carbon Tax is front and center among those “additional specified policies”:

The majority of Task Force members (seven of ten) strongly recommend there be additional assurances, incentives, and policy mechanisms for HCEI+ to become a reality on time. This set of the Task Force recommends that the cost of HCEI+ be more explicitly identified (see section 4 of this report, Additional Questions and Research Needs) and that the Legislature arrange for the funding of HCEI+ both in terms of staff/coordinating efforts and large infrastructure projects. Funding may include a variety of mechanisms such as private investment, user/consumer fees, and state and federal taxes….

The majority of Task Force members (seven of ten) suggest that a variety of assurance mechanisms be explored in order to act as a “backstop” (i.e. ensuring HCEI+ becomes a reality). For example, enforceable penalties could be added to the ACT 155 (2009) energy efficiency portfolio standard and renewable energy portfolio standard; greenhouse gas emissions limits that achieve the Act 234 target could be imposed via rules developed by the Department of Health on sources and categories of sources.

Four Task Force members suggest that a carbon tax could act as a “backstop” mechanism, i.e. it would take effect if HCEI+ does not meet identified conditions (triggers). For example, if a condition were not met, the law would impose a price floor on carbon or a carbon tax. Similarly, a “barrel tax” could also provide a funding mechanism for projects and implementation.

Four Task Force members strongly recommend that there be a carbon tax in order to: 1) Provide incentives and a funding source to achieve HCEI+ goals; and 2) Help mitigate impacts to disproportionately burdened households. The level and scope of tax should be determined by further study. This set of Task Force members recommends that a state-level carbon tax be implemented promptly (not to wait for federal policies). This is seen as beneficial because there 1) is an urgent need to support HCEI+ objectives, 2) is uncertainty about the future (particularly in timing) of federal greenhouse gas emissions policy and 3) establishing a statewide accounting system will help with future compliance.

The four Carbon Tax/Barrel Tax backstop advocates are:

  • Mr. Mark Fox (The Nature Conservancy),
  • Dr. Makena Coffman (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and a Pierre Omidyar operative on the Board of Kanu Hawaii),
  • Professor Maxine Burkett (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Richardson School of Law and advocate of “social entrepreneurship”), and
  • Mr. Jeff Mikulina (Blue Planet Foundation).

The four advocates of an immediate Carbon Tax are:

  • Dr. Makena Coffman (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and a Pierre Omidyar operative on the Board of Kanu Hawaii),
  • Professor Maxine Burkett (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Richardson School of Law and advocate of “social entrepreneurship”),
  • Mr. Robbie Alm (The Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.), and
  • Mr. Jeff Mikulina (Blue Planet Foundation)

A total of five of the ten Task Force Members supported some form of Carbon Tax—including the representative from monopoly Hawaiian Electric. This is likely due to the fact that Europe has proven that the inevitable buying and selling of carbon credits could be immensely profitable to anybody with the integrity of the average Hawaii political/business operator. The Carbon Tax burden would become a key argument forcing public support for wind farms and solar energy scams. The additional costs, estimated as high as $17 per barrel of oil, would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electric rates.

Some Task Force members argue that the Carbon Tax does not need legislative approval. By re-labeling it as a Carbon Emission License Fee they claim to be able to impose it and rake in billions of dollars under the regulatory powers given the Department of Health under Act 234. Pierre Omidyar’s Civil Beat August 18 reports:

…whether the state has the authority to implement the tax without approval by the Legislature has come under debate.

“It’s an item we are wrestling with,” said Priscilla Ligh, a DOH environmental engineer writing the rules. “According to lawyers, we might not have authority because some sort of constitutional law that only allows the legislature to [approve] taxes.” ….

In part, the possibility of a carbon tax comes down to whether it’s structured as a fee or a tax, according to Ligh, who said she had been consulting with outside attorneys on the matter. She also said that it was unlikely to be part of any initial rules, as it would probably face challenges. DOH has the power to revise the rules later.

But others, including Mikulina, believe that the legislation does afford DOH these powers.

“In the Act, it contemplates them establishing some sort of carbon fee,” said Mikulina. “It may be semantics in terms of whether it’s a carbon tax or fee. The question may be what the money can be used for.”

It also could be a matter of how the department structured it, according to Doug Codiga, an environmental lawyer who represents Blue Planet Foundation.

“The taxing authority is reserved for the Legislature, so it would depend on how the carbon tax is structured and how broadly it was applied,” he said.

What rules, if any, will be enacted by the end of the year is also up in the air. Ligh said it was unlikely that the department would meet the deadline.

Federal indecision may buy the people of Hawaii some breathing space to develop a resistance to their overlords and the false eco-religion which deifies them. Although the 2009 Democrat controlled US House passed the Waxman-Markey Cap and Tax bill, the US Senate has not, leaving Federal GHG policy in limbo. This creates a valuable opportunity for delay while intelligent people chip away at the Environmentalist Religion and its debunked Global Warming scam:

Some Task Force members recommend there be flexibility in the treatment of the carbon tax depending on the form of future federal greenhouse gas emissions legislation. For example, depending on the federal program’s impact to Hawaii, it may be possible that the scope of the carbon tax be redefined so as to avoid “double-taxation.”

One member strongly believes that achieving HCEI goals will be difficult if Hawaii needs to pay for HCEI as well as “pay into” a national cap-and-trade system. This member strongly urges avoiding “double-taxation” (as discussed above) and, more specifically, that a state-level carbon tax, in place of rather than in addition to a federal cap-and-trade program, is the fairest way to spread costs and address specific groups such as low-income households and perhaps agricultural activities.

The only Task Force members with any sense of reality are

  • Mr. Frank Clouse (Refinery Industry Representative),
  • Mr. Gary North (Maritime Industry Representative), and
  • Mr. Gareth Sakakida (Transportation Industry Representative).

But they were forced to fight a rear-guard action against the majority of eco-religious fundamentalists and fanatics:

(These) three Task Force members support HCEI+ if it proceeds without additional intervention or implementation of “assurance measures,” as discussed above, and strongly object to a carbon tax or price floor on carbon. These members note that the goals of Act 234 would be achieved under the reference case and that Act 155 (2009) standards have already updated the reference case.

One member of this set would be willing to explore the possibility of a state level carbon tax after the resolution of federal greenhouse gas emissions policy, depending on its future form and impacts to Hawaii.

One member of this set additionally objects to a “barrel tax.”

A “Barrel Tax” was pushed by Pierre Omidyar operatives under the aegis of “Kanu Hawaii” during the 2009 Legislative Session. As this writer explained October 20, 2009:

In testimony submitted to the House Committee on Agriculture February 18, 2009 (Kanu Hawaii boss James) Koshiba complained that the Barrel Tax proposal was a measly $1 for every barrel of crude oil and other petroleum products imported into Hawaii. Joined by Olin Lagon, Kanu Hawaii's "Director of Social Ventures", and Kanu Hawaii board member Makena Coffman, Koshiba demanded that "the barrel tax should be structured to set a 'floor price' on oil of $100 per barrel." Kanu Hawaii member and green activist Josh Stanbro chimed in on line with a suggested $125 per barrel floor pointing out helpfully: "So right now at $45 barrel, the tax would be $80, but when oil goes up to $100, it will only be $25". Contrary to their predictions, during 2009 the price of crude oil on the NY Mercantile Exchange has so far ranged between $35 and $78 per barrel.

That’s the same Makena Coffman who is now pushing for a Carbon Tax as a member of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force. What a coincidence!

In their testimony, Koshiba and the other Kanu Hawaii leaders acknowledged that the barrel tax is "highly regressive--hitting the poor hardest because they spend a larger portion of their small incomes on things like gas and electricity." They did not provide any estimate of how many more middle and lower income Hawaii residents would be forced to move to the mainland by the direct and indirect economic damage wrought by the proposed tax. But they did enthuse, "Setting a floor on the price of oil is the best way to sustain incentives that shift ... investor dollars toward renewable energy projects." Setting "the ($100 floor) barrel tax would generate $3 billion in its first year."

Driving gasoline prices and utility bill through the roof in order to “shift investor dollars toward renewable energy projects" -- who could benefit from that?

In a posting on the group’s website, one Kanu Hawaii member chirped, "I am in Maui right now working with an associate that is introducing sustainable technology to the David Murdock group on Lanai."

Forbes Magazine lists Murdock, CEO of Castle and Cooke, as the 80th richest American with a net worth of $3.7 billion. But apparently Kanu Hawaii leaders think mom and pop in Waianae should be forced to pony up to "sustain" Murdock's latest "sustainable" energy scheme.

But Murdock is not the only billionaire whose pockets might be lined by thousands of “small income” people paying $6/gallon for gasoline and $400/month utility bills. From the October 20 Hawai`i Free Press article:

$100 per barrel oil was not the only cause championed by Kanu Hawaii last session. Kanu Hawaii boss James Koshiba testified April 2, 2009 to Sen. Roz Baker's (D-Maui Memorial) Committee on Economic Development & Technology 'in support of another bill--HB1503--relating to Limited Liability Companies.

Citing his experience with "a consulting firm"..."a loan fund"..."a venture capital fund"... (and) "a technology company", Koshiba gushed, "many trusts, foundations, and high net worth individuals in the islands are interested in investments that produce both a social (or environmental) and financial return....HB 1503 would provide an important tool to double-bottom-line businesses, and dual-dividend investors to participate in ventures that do well (economically)...."

And what is a "double-bottom-line" company? Koshiba explains, "companies that were founded to pursue a social or environmental mission and which generate a profit...."

That sounds a lot like Omidyar's Kanu Hawaii is lobbying for laws to create the kind of company which would be backed by Omidyar's “Ulupono Initiative” which PBN described as, “a social investment organization that makes nonprofit grants and for profit investments aimed at addressing issues critical to Hawaii's sustainable future — renewable energy, local food production and waste reduction.”

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force member Maxine Burkett is also an advocate of this type of “social entrepreneurship”. That’s two amazing coincidences!

Meanwhile, House Speaker Calvin Say, (D-Palolo) at the beginning of the 2011 Legislative session began to push back against this scam by introducing HB1068. (The companion bill is SB1295.) In the Justification Sheet, Say’s authors make the case for amendments to HRS 342B-72:

Act 234…created the requirement and deadline for the rule adoption based on the presumption that the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force would generate a plan that would require DoH to develop and implement a regulatory program to reach its GHG reduction goals. Instead, the Task Force agreed on a plan to reduce GHG emission by aggressively pursuing energy reduction strategies set forth in the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Hawaii Clean Energy initiative (HCEI). Since that strategy not only reduces Hawaii’s dependence on foreign oil, but also has the additional benefit of achieving the future GHG target levels, the rules, which would have placed an additional burden on Hawaii businesses and residents, are unnecessary at this time.

But the eco-religionists have already weakened Say’s bill. Jeff Mikulina of the Blue Planet Foundation, in February 3 testimony, opposed HB1068 for precisely the reason it deserves support: “Put simply, the policy before you would eliminate the requirement that Hawaii implement rules to achieve the maximum practically and technically feasible and cost-effective reductions in GHG emissions.”

The Sierra Club in February 3 testimony against HB1068:

“While we appreciate more time may be needed, we believe it a mistake to leave the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions solely upon the discretion of the Department of Health…. (Act 234 of 2007) was not a “goal” to reduce greenhouse gasses, it was not a study of our greenhouse gas inventory. It was an enforceable limit and a directive to the Department of Health to implement an action plan to achieve it….

“We suggest this HB1068 be amended to strike the word “may” and to keep the current language of “shall”. While we appreciate we may need to push back the date of December 31, 2011 to allow the new administration time to propose a regulatory framework, we suggest the legislature move it back by one year (December 31, 2012) and give firm guidance that the Department is to proceed forthwith.

Reporting the bill from the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection, Committee Chair and Anti-Superferry protester Rep Hermina Morita (D-Kauai) kept the future requirement for a Carbon Emission Fee but amended the bill into HB1068HD1 delaying DoH rulemaking (which would establish the Carbon Fees) until January 1, 2016. Her report reads:

Act 234, SLH 2007, created the GHG Emission Reduction Task Force (Task Force) to develop a plan and strategy to reduce GHG emissions and which DOH would implement through rules and a regulatory program. However, in its final report to the Legislature, the Task Force did not specify a regulatory air pollution control scheme for DOH but recognized the need for DOH, to coordinate state efforts with ongoing United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developments. As the EPA is continuing to adopt new regulations with regard to GHG emissions and a regulatory scheme has still not been developed by the State, DOH needs flexibility in adopting the rules governing GHG emissions. This measure attempts to address this issue.

Nevertheless, while your Committee understands the need for more time for DOH to adopt rules regarding GHG emissions, it also concurs with concerns raised that leaving the regulation of GHG emissions solely to the discretion of DOH may result in inaction. Rather, it would be more prudent to extend the deadline by which DOH would need to adopt rules regarding GHG emissions. Accordingly, your Committee has amended this bill

Morita has since been appointed by Gov Abercrombie to head the Public Utilities Commission where she steers approvals of the so-called Clean Energy Initiatives such as Molokai and Lanai wind farms and residential and industrial solar installations. Naturally, wind and solar—neither of which produce reliable base load power--are both doomed to failure as the necessary federal subsidies run out. That failure should be apparent at or about January 1, 2016. Meanwhile Hydropower projects on Kauai are being fought by the State—opposing the FERC process--and by Kauai’s Luddite contingent. And geothermal projects on the Big Island and Maui are being strangled by hordes of cartoonish OHA grifters seeking baksheesh as the price of their approval.

If Act 234 remains in effect, the DoH has the legal authority to impose any fees it sees fit on Hawaii ratepayers in the name of reducing CO2. If Act 234 is amended by HB1068HD1, the DoH has this authority effective January 1, 2016—right about the time the abject failure of the solar and wind projects built under the so-called Clean Energy Initiative becomes readily apparent to all.

They are just timing the strokes of their whip on our back.

---30---

Documents:

 

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