Archive for December, 2009

Carbon cap and fade: questions all around

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The new year could well ignite fireworks anew over the Anne Sholtz caper, a story we showcase in our book Smogtown and in Chip’s freelance articles about her intriguing case. It’s a tangled, air-pollution market story involving fraud, red flags, the CIA, a secretive prosecution and much more, with sticky lessons for the carbon market Pres. Obama wants enacted nationally. So far officials at Southern California’s smog-fighting agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, hasn’t wanted to acknowledge that their cap-and-trade, known acronymistically as RECLAIM, has been vulnerable to white-collar troubles, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice-L.A. office still probably wishes their mixed-bag prosecution of Sholtz went the way of Compuserve. As George Bush I would say, “Not gonna happen.” Probably.

From the Wall St. Journal/Dow Jones New Service story:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. legislators have obtained a court order unsealing documents in a case involving a multi-million-dollar cap-and-trade fraud.

Republican legislators say the records–due to be opened to the public in early January–could shed light on the potential challenges of policing a new, trillion-dollar commodities market that would be created under climate legislation that Congress is considering.

In a rare filing by House lawyers, Reps. Joe Barton (R., Texas) and Greg Walden (R., Ore.), the ranking members respectively of the Energy Committee and the Oversight Subcommittee, asked a federal district court in California to unseal all the closed records regarding the successful prosecution for fraud of Anne Masters Sholtz, a former California Institute of Technology economist.

Lawmakers say Sholtz’s case could expose the weaknesses of a federal cap-and- trade system because it involved the same market mechanism meant to cut emissions …”

Be forewarned there are a lot of errors in these Republicans’ understanding of Sholtz’s case. It involved cap and trade for two smog-forming chemicals unrelated to global warming, and did NOT involve counterfeit credits. However, the federal case against Sholtz did NOT even mention an earlier action involving 500,000 in RECLAIM credits that allegedly bankrolled a CIA-associated currency repatriation effort. See here for that.

For more on this story, here is Rep. Barton’s comments about it and the judicial order lifting the veil of secrecy thrown over many of the case’s key documents.

Meanwhile, some European shenanigans … story link

“The top cops in Europe say carbon-trading has fallen prey to an organized crime scheme that has robbed the continent of $7.4 billion — a massive fraud that lawmakers and energy experts say should send a “red flag” to the U.S., where the House approved cap-and-trade legislation over the summer amid stiff opposition.

In a statement released last week, the Europol police agency said Europe’s cap-and-trade system has been the victim of organized crime during the past 18 months, resulting in losses of roughly $7.4 billion. The agency, headquartered in the Netherlands, estimated that in some countries up to 90 percent of the entire market volume was caused by fraudulent activities.

“These criminal activities endanger the credibility of the European Union Emission Trading System and lead to the loss of significant tax revenue for governments,” Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director, said in a statement …”

So you think smog is yesterday’s news in the age of climate change? Wrong!

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

“In the first global assessment of the impact of ozone on climate warming, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, evaluated how ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere (the troposphere) changed temperatures over the past 100 years. Using the best available estimates of global emissions of gases that create ozone, the GISS computer model study reveals how much this single air pollutant and greenhouse gas has contributed to warming in specific regions of the world.

Ozone was responsible for one-third to half of the observed warming trend in the Arctic during winter and spring, according to the new research. Ozone is transported from the industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere to the Arctic quite efficiently during these seasons. The findings will be published soon in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres …”

Article link

We’ll have more about this soon.

Of course, we tease this subject in Smogtown.