James Taylor - Writer, Policy Analyst, Radio Host, Public Speaker

Video: Taylor Debates Florida Solar Power Carve-outs

James Taylor debates new preferences for solar power in Florida. Taylor’s rebuttal begins at 25-minute mark – video appears here.

Video: Taylor Discusses Renewable Energy on Fox Business Channel

James Taylor appears on the Fox Business Channel in November 2012 explaining why renewable energy subsidies and mandates harm the economy and the environment. Video appears here.

Video: Taylor Discusses Global Warming on PBS Frontline

James Taylor discusses global warming on PBS Frontline in October 2012. Video appears here.

Video: Taylor Discusses Global Warming on PBS NewsHour

James Taylor discusses global warming on PBS NewsHour in May 2012. Video appears here.

Video: Taylor Debates Global Warming on MSNBC

James Taylor debates global warming in February 2010 on the David Shuster shown on MSNBC. Video appears here.

Video: Taylor Debates Global Warming on Hannity & Colmes

James Taylor ticks off Alan Colmes in an October 2007 global warming debate on Hannity & Colmes. Video of the program is available here.

Video: Taylor Discusses Global Warming on Glenn Beck

James Taylor discusses global warming on the Glenn Beck show in July 2007. A link to the video is here.

Tampa Trib Falsely Smears Atwater on Bond Votes

The Tampa Tribune presented a misleading narrative on state borrowing in order to smear Florida’s Republican Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jeff Atwater and provide cover for prominent Democratic politician and former state CFO Alex Sink.

The Tribune published an article Wednesday claiming the Florida Republican Party engaged in hypocrisy when it sent out a press release this week “blasting Alex Sink for voting as a Cabinet member in 2008 to borrow money for school improvements.” The Tribune singled out Atwater in the title of the article, “GOP bashes Sink over decisions by Republicans – including Atwater?”

The article correctly noted the Republican press release criticized Sink for voting to issue two bonds in 2008 totaling $1.2 billion. The article also correctly noted the Florida Cabinet, consisting of the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and agriculture commissioner, has sole decision-making power on whether to issue bonds – effectively borrowing money – to finance state spending programs.

In March of 2008, the Cabinet voted to issue bonds totaling $586 million to construct government buildings. Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum, CFO Alex Sink, and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson voted unanimously to authorize the bonds.

The Cabinet voted in June of 2008 to issue bonds totaling another $625 million for similar building projects. Crist and Sink were the only two Cabinet officials attending the meeting, and both voted to authorize the bonds.

Jeff Atwater was not a Cabinet officeholder in 2008. He was a member of the Florida Senate in 2008. The Senate plays no role in decisions to issue bonds.

The Tribune claimed, “Starting in 2008, when Atwater became state Senate president, he would have had substantial influence over the shape of the state budget.” Implicitly, the Tribune argued Atwater could have exercised his power as Senate president enact a leaner 2008 budget such that the Cabinet would not have to issue bonds to fund desired government building programs. The Tribune, however, failed to mention the legislature crafted the 2008 budget in 2007, before Atwater became president. As Senate president in 2008, Atwater could not unilaterally rewrite a budget the legislature passed a year earlier.

Atwater did, however, exercise his authority as Senate president in 2008 to make substantial cuts in 2008 and 2009 government expenditures. As the Sun-Sentinel pointed out in March 2008, within two months of Atwater becoming Senate president, the Senate slashed $500 million in spending for the duration of 2008 and similarly began paring 2009 expenditures.

To be fair, three Republican Cabinet members voted for the March 2008 bond and one Republican Cabinet member voted with Alex Sink for the June 2008 bond. However, the one Republican who voted with Sink in June was Charlie Crist. During Crist’s term as governor, Democrats often referred to Crist as “one of the best Democratic governors Florida has ever had,” and Crist has since become a Democrat. The two other Republicans who voted for the March 2008 bond are no longer active Republican political candidates, largely because they were perceived as politically left of the GOP’s center of gravity. McCollum, who pundits assumed would be elected governor in 2010, lost the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary to conservative favorite Rick Scott. Bronson is no longer involved in state politics.

Since the 2008 Cabinet bond votes, one Republican became a Democrat, another Republican lost a primary to a conservative challenger, and the other Republican has dropped out of politics. Jeff Atwater played no role in the bond decisions, and affirmatively used his power as Senate president to slash state spending. Since Atwater became Florida CFO in 2010, Florida has reversed its perennial deficit borrowing and posted consecutive budget surpluses.

For publishing an article titled, “GOP bashes Sink over decisions by Republicans – including Atwater?” the Tampa Tribune has some explaining to do.

Common Core Hearings Coming to Tampa Oct. 15

The Florida Department of Education will be holding hearings on subjecting Florida students to the Common Core national education standards favored by Barack Obama and his liberal allies. Florida state officials say they plan on subjecting Florida to these national standards despite strong concerns expressed by Gov. Rick Scott, grassroots conservative groups, and Florida Republican legislators. A public hearing will be held at 5:00 pm October 15 in Tampa at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus, Student Services Building, Auditorium, Room 111, 4001 West Tampa Bay Blvd, in Tampa. Concerned citizens will have an opportunity to provide comments at the hearing.

FL Ag Commish Putnam Champions Felon Voting

Convicted felons should have an easier time regaining the right to vote, according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Putnam, an ambitious Republican politician who many believe is the front-runner for the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, shared his concerns about convicted felons’ voting rights in an interview Friday with the liberal Tampa Bay Times.

Under Florida law, the Florida governor and his or her cabinet oversee convicted felons’ requests to have their voting rights restored. Former Gov. Charlie Crist restored nearly 40,000 convicted felons’ voting rights during his first year in office, while current Gov. Rick Scott restored less than 100 during his first year in office.

“I don’t think that going all the way back to full, automatic restoration is the way to go,” Putnam told the Times. “But for certain classes of crimes, I think an expedited restoration process is appropriate. For more violent classes of crimes, I think they should still have to come before us.”

The voting rights activist group Who Can Vote, funded by the leftist front groups Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, highlighted the sort of non-violent convicted felon for whom Putnam would like to more quickly and easily restore voting rights. In a feature article on Florida’s voting restrictions regarding convicted felons, touted a crack cocaine dealer who served time in federal prison. After release from federal prison, the crack cocaine dealer became a writer advocating leftist political causes. Who Can Vote championed the crack cocaine dealer as the sort of non-violent convicted felon who should more easily regain voting rights.

Putnam’s advocacy for convicted felons continues a longstanding track record of championing leftist causes. Liberal establishment Republicans worked behind the scenes last year touting Putnam as a potential primary opponent for Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial elections. Putnam’s long history of tacking left on issues such as prescription drug entitlements, renewable energy subsidies, cash for clunkers, and the Obama stimulus endeared him to liberal establishment Republicans and the Florida media who felt Scott was too conservative for Florida. The extremely liberal Tampa Bay Times published a 2012 article titled, “Putnam, the pol who proves refreshingly sane.””

Climate Alarmists Deny Their Own Arctic Ice Predictions

Arctic sea ice experienced record 60-percent growth in August 2013 compared to August 2012. Global warming alarmists now tell us they predicted this, despite our collective memories to the contrary.

Remember all those claims last year about accelerating Arctic ice loss and an ice-free Arctic by 2015 or 2020? Well, actually you don’t, because nobody ever made those claims. In fact, you heard exactly the opposite. You may think you heard claims about accelerating Arctic ice loss and an imminent ice-free Arctic, but they were merely figments of your imagination. You were merely hallucinating. How do I know this? Global warming alarmists just told us so.

Writing in Monday’s UK Guardian, alarmists John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli claim global warming alarmists predicted this year’s record growth in Arctic sea ice. And all those claims of doom-and-gloom predictions about Arctic sea ice in 2012? They were apparently just figments of our collective imagination.

So when you click on this article published by the very same UK Guardian last September 17, you really aren’t reading the article title that you think you are reading:

“Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years.”

You really aren’t reading this gem of a quote from the story’s central “expert,” either.

“This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates.”

When you click on this New York Times article, you also aren’t seeing what you think you see, because global warming alarmists apparently told us last year the 2012 Arctic ice season was unlikely to be repeated in 2013.

According to our collective hallucination in the September 19, 2012 New York Times:

“‘The Arctic is the earth’s air-conditioner,’ said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the snow and ice center, an agency sponsored by the government. ‘We’re losing that. It’s not just that polar bears might go extinct, or that native communities might have to adapt, which we’re already seeing — there are larger climate effects.’”

“Now, some scientists think the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice as soon as 2020,” the Times continued, according to our collective hallucination.

“Scientists said Wednesday that the Arctic has become a prime example of the built-in conservatism of their climate forecasts. As dire as their warnings about the long-term consequences of heat-trapping emissions have been, many of them fear they may still be underestimating the speed and severity of the impending changes,” the Times apparently never reported.

Of course, the UK Guardian and the New York Times are just two of many publications that warned us about rapidly accelerating Arctic ice loss and an imminent loss of the entire polar ice cap. Er, I mean, the UK Guardian and the New York Times are just two of many publications that we falsely think warned us about rapidly accelerating Arctic ice loss and an imminent loss of the entire polar ice cap.

These hallucinations are strikingly similar to when we erroneously believe alarmists warned us about less snowfall, more hurricanes, shrinking Antarctic sea ice, the Gulf Stream shutting down, etc. When the earth’s climate reacts exactly in the opposite manner as predicted by global warming alarmists, they pretend they never made such scary predictions in the first place.

No, alarmists never predicted Arctic sea ice would recede this year. They all predicted record Arctic sea ice growth, instead. Any such memories to the contrary are mere hallucinations. We know this because if the alarmists ever had made such doom-and-gloom predictions, it would prove to be yet another epic fail in the annals of silly and disproven global warming predictions.

USF Takes Lead Role Implementing Obamacare

The University of South Florida is playing a key role in Obamacare propaganda and implementation efforts, applying for and receiving more than $4 million from the Obama administration to sign people up for the controversial federal program.

The federal government contracted with approximately 125 organizations throughout the nation to serve as Obamacare “navigators.” The navigators will tell people about Obamacare and sign them up for the federal program. Leftist activist groups and controversial organizations, such as abortion provider Planned Parenthood, comprise many of the groups receiving taxpayer money to spread the word about Obamacare.

In Florida, the University of South Florida applied for and successfully attained key status in the Obamacare propaganda and signup efforts, receiving more Obamacare grant money than all other Florida groups combined. USF will keep much of the money for its Obamacare outreach efforts and also farm some of the money out to other groups for the same purpose.

The University of South Florida is a public university dependent on Florida taxpayer funding. Government watchdogs expressed concern, but no surprise, that the state taxpayer-funded university is so eagerly assuming the role of hired Obamacare advocate.

“Educational elites lean liberal and now they get money to help advance a liberal cause such as Obamacare,” St. Petersburg attorney and public policy expert Kerry Brown told Media Trackers Florida. “This is delicious dining at the public trough by USF. No surprise here.”

Colorado Voters Recall Renewable Power Zealots

Two of the Colorado legislature’s most aggressive advocates of renewable power mandates lost their Senate seats last night in a historic recall election. Gun control legislation took center stage in the national media coverage of the recall election, but Sens. John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) strongly alienated voters earlier this year championing costly renewable power mandates.

Legislators’ Activist Credentials
Morse, the sitting Senate President, sponsored Senate Bill 252, which doubled the percentage of costly power rural electric customers are required to purchase. The bill, which the Senate passed on a party-line vote, pleased environmental activist groups and liberal elites in Denver and Boulder while alienating Democratic, Republican, and independent voters in the rest of the state. Even the very liberal Denver Post urged the Colorado legislature to reject the bill.

Giron took Morse’s bill and ran with it, frequently championing the electricity restrictions and related global warming claims in public events. For example, Giron spoke in favor of electricity restrictions and posed for photographs last month at a rally held by the environmental activist group I Will Act on Climate.

Strong Message Delivered
The recall of Morse and Giron sends a particularly strong message given the strong Democratic majorities in their respective districts. In Morse’s Senate district, registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republican voters by a 56-to-44 percent margin. In Giron’s Senate district, registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republican voters by a greater than 2-to-1 margin. Blue collar Democrats in large numbers joined independent and Republican voters to defeat Morse and Giron.

Morse and Giron benefited from a massive advantage in campaign funds, outspending recall supporters by a 6-to-1 margin. Wealthy out-of-state liberal activsts such as Michael Bloomberg donated heavily in support of Morse and Giron, but the Democrats’ wealth disparity over recall supporters did them little good at the polls.

With the defeat of Morse and Giron, Democrats now hold a razor-thin 18-to-17 majority in the Colorado Senate. Prior to the recall elections, the Democratic 20-to-15 edge gave the party a substantial cushion to ram through controversial legislation such as stringent gun control laws and costly renewable power mandates.

Sun-Sentinel: Taylor Giving Liberals Heartburn

I am pleased to see that my ongoing work with Media Trackers Florida is giving liberals “heartburn,” according to the Sun-Sentinel. In an article published earlier this week, the Sun-Sentinel documented some of our successes. My favorite is liberal Democratic Rep. Joseph Gibbons saying Media Trackers Florida “really have been beating Democrats down very badly.”

In a separate article, the Sun-Sentinel reported on Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith similarly complaining about our effectiveness beating down liberals. Smith stretches the truth in many of his complaints, so we published a follow-up article, available here, setting the record straight.

More Global Warming: A Silent 2013 Hurricane Season

This week marks the halfway point of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, yet not a single hurricane has formed anywhere in the Atlantic. This year’s lack of hurricanes continues an ongoing, beneficial trend of fewer hurricanes coinciding with moderately warming temperatures as the planet continues its recovery from the Little Ice Age. The decline in hurricanes also coincides with global warming alarmists ramping up a deceptive public relations campaign designed to convince the public that global warming skeptics are causing more hurricanes.

In my weekly Forbes column, available here, I explain several remarkable aspects of the ongoing decline in hurricanes. I also call out global warming alarmists for making false hurricane claims and launching personal attacks against people who tell the truth about hurricanes.

Global Warming Is Making Drought Less Frequent

Global warming alarmists frequently assert that drought is becoming more frequent and severe as a result of global warming, but objective data show the opposite to be true.

Over 100 years of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data, presented by University of Alabama at Huntsville climate scientist John Christy, show no trend toward more drought or exceptional wetness.

A 2004 study in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Climatology finds growing conditions are improving as the earth modestly warms. “The terrestrial surface is both warmer and effectively wetter … A good analogy to describe the changes in these places is that the terrestrial surface is literally becoming more like a gardener’s greenhouse,” states the peer-reviewed study.

A 2006 study in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters reports, “Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the country over the last century.”

A 2006 study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology reports, “Evidence indicates that summer soil moisture content has increased during the last several decades at almost all sites having long-term records in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “A number of tree-ring records exist for the last two millennia which suggest that 20th century droughts may be mild when evaluated in the context of this longer time frame. The evidence from long tree-ring records is augmented with paleodrought records from other proxies, such as lake sediments that reflect changes in salinity and precipitation/evaporation balances.”

Even a 2011 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on extreme weather events states there is “a lack of direct observations and a lack of agreement in the available scientific studies” regarding global warming and drought.

Sure, droughts will continue to occur from time to time in various places, just as they have always occurred. However, scientific evidence shows droughts are becoming less frequent and less severe as our planet modestly warms. If droughts are becoming less frequent and less severe, how can one logically say global warming is causing drought?

The decline in drought and other harmful severe weather events is also apparent in crop production. Since 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. farmers have set record per-acre crop yields for barley, beans, canola, corn, cotton, flaxseed, oats, peanuts, potatoes, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflowers and wheat.

Global crop yields also are registering impressive gains as our planet modestly warms. Global grain harvests have nearly tripled during the past 50 years and nearly every important global crop has attained record productivity during the past five years.

Droughts have always occurred and will always occur. If global warming is having any influence on droughts, however, it is making droughts less frequent and less severe.

Polar Sea Ice Showing No Sign of Crisis

Global warming alarmists frequently claim receding Arctic sea ice demonstrates an ongoing global warming crisis. These alarmists conveniently forget to mention that Antarctic sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been steadily growing for several decades and sets new records virtually every year.

The amount of new sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is almost exactly the same as the amount of sea ice that has receded in the Northern Hemisphere. For most of 2013, global sea ice has been above the average extent of sea ice tracked by NASA satellites since the satellites began precisely measuring polar ice extent in 1979.

The Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and global sea ice history can be viewed here.

Data Show No Rise in High Temperature Records

Global warming alarmists often make the claim that global warming is causing a rash of dangerous high temperature records. Objective data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) tell a completely different story.

Climate scientist John Christy, who oversees the NASA satellite instrument program that precisely measures global temperatures, recently posted a chart showing the USHCN record high temperature data going back more than a century. The chart, linked here, shows quite clearly no increase in recent high temperature records. Indeed, many more high temperature records were set between 1900-1955 than were set between 1955-2013.

Video: Taylor Debates Proposed Carbon Taxes

Heritage Foundation senior fellow David Kreutzer and I debated the issue of a carbon tax against former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis and R Street senior fellow Andrew Moylan.

No matter how a carbon tax is presented, it would be a nightmare for consumer living standards and the American economy. Importantly, I backed Inglis and Moylan into a corner where they conceded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must repeal all carbon-related regulations and Congress must repeal all “green” subsidies before they would support any carbon tax.

The debate took place June 13, 2013 and appears in its entirety here.

Video: Taylor Debates Ethanol, Energy Issues on Stossel

John Stossel has posted full video of my May 23, 2013 appearance on Fox Business News’ Stossel show. In first segment of the show I discuss energy myths. In the third segment of the show I debate Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, on the topic of ethanol. In the fifth segment of the show I answer audience questions.

Video of the full show is available here.

Studies Show Danger of Shorter Yellow Traffic Lights

Traffic studies in Florida and throughout the nation contradict Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) on his claims that shorter yellow lights do not cause an increase in motorists running red lights.

As Media Trackers Florida reported Monday, WTSP-TV in Tampa St. Petersburg aired a news segment revealing Florida Department of Transportation officials encouraged local communities to shorten the length of yellow lights at intersections with red light cameras. The shorter yellow lights, without any notice given to motorists, caused twice as many people to run red lights at the intersections with cameras. This allowed the state government, local governments, and red light camera manufacturers to reap more money in fines for red light violations, but it also caused more dangerous driving conditions and at least one death.

Clemens, who receives campaign contributions from red light camera manufacturer American Traffic Solutions, defended the surreptitious shortening of yellow lights in the state. Clemens told WTSP that similar numbers of motorists will run red lights regardless of the length of yellow traffic lights.

A number of studies contradict Clemens’ assertion. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reported last fall that drivers often face an immediate dilemma between slamming on their brakes or continuing through the intersection. The best way to enhance safety in these situations, the researchers found, is to make yellow lights longer, not shorter.

“The dilemma zone occurs when the driver has no feasible choice,” explained Virginia Tech researcher Hesham Rakha. “In other words the driver can neither stop nor proceed through the intersection before the light turns red. This can also occur if the approaching vehicle is traveling faster than the posted speed limit and/or if the driver’s perception and reaction time is longer than the design one-second value.”

The website Motorists.org, administered by the National Motorists Association, presents several additional studies showing shorter yellow lights increase safety risks at traffic intersections.

Researchers at the University of South Florida report government officials use red light cameras primarily as a tool for raising revenue rather than enhancing traffic safety.

“Cities and counties install red light cameras as a ‘hidden tax’ on motorists. RLCs [red light cameras] are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the study,” the researchers explained.

“Motor vehicle safety is advanced through evidence-based methods. Attempts to generate revenue through traffic citations are directly contrary to public safety,” the researchers observed.

Yellow Lights Secretly Shortened at Red Light Camera Intersections

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials shortened yellow lights at intersections with red light cameras to enhance revenue from red light fines, a WTSP-St. Petersburg 10 News investigation discovered. The shorter yellow lights are catching motorists by surprise and played a key role in a recent traffic death, WTSP explained.

State and local transportation officials in 2011 reduced yellow light times at various intersections in Florida below federal guidelines and without issuing any warnings to unsuspecting motorists. Intersections with red light cameras were specifically targeted for shorter yellow lights, WTSP found.

Red light cameras caused Florida drivers to hand over $100 million in fines to last year. Just over half the money goes to the state, with local governments and the red light camera manufacturer splitting the remaining half. WTSP found half the fines issued last year would not have been issued if yellow lights had been left at their prior lengths. In effect, surreptitiously shortening the yellow light times caused a doubling in the number of people running red lights at traffic intersections with red light cameras, creating more dangerous driving conditions.

WTSP began its investigation after a driver ran a red light in Hernando County last December and killed a woman in a resulting accident. WTSP discovered the yellow light had been shortened at the intersection, with no notice given to motorists, and the driver who ran the red light would have been going through a still-yellow light had the yellow light time not been shortened.

“Red light cameras are a for-profit business between cities and camera companies and the state,” National Motorists Association executive director James Walker told WTSP. “The [FDOT rule change] was done, I believe, deliberately in order that more tickets would be given with yellows set deliberately too short.”

“You’re basically punishing safe drivers with deliberately improper engineering. That’s not moral to me,” said Walker.

WTSP reported that studies show shorter yellow lights force people to make more panicked decisions about abruptly stopping or accelerating to speed through an intersection, which increases safety risks.

Eight Republican state legislators and one Democratic state legislator responded to the investigative report by calling for changes in how FDOT sets yellow light timing, WTSP reported. Also, Hillsborough County officials said they will look into restoring yellow lights to their prior lengths but Tampa city officials indicated they intend to leave their yellow lights at the shortened lengths.

American Traffic Solutions (ATS) makes the red light cameras in Florida intersections and ATS lobbyists support shortening yellow light times at intersections with red light cameras. State Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), who cashed multiple campaign contribution checks from ATS, defended the shorter yellow lights to WTSP.

“Clemens says drivers will just get used to the longer yellows over time and keep speeding through intersections. It’s the same talking points the red light camera companies use themselves,” WTSP reported.

Putnam Hypocritically Declines to Review Nuclear Power Costs

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency oversees state energy policy, told Rep. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) today he does not have the resources to perform an economic analysis to determine whether a proposed nuclear power plant would end up costing electricity customers more than a new natural gas facility. Putnam’s refusal to conduct the requested economic analysis stands in stark contrast to his commissioning of an economic analysis of renewable energy last spring when his proposal for $100 million in subsidies to renewable energy companies faced a gubernatorial veto.

Fasano requested Putnam perform the economic analysis after a Tampa Bay Times analysis concluded construction of a proposed Duke Energy nuclear power plant in Levy County, west of Ocala, would force electricity customers to pay twice as much for electricity than would be the case if a natural gas power plant were built.

Taking Duke Energy’s projected construction, fuel and operations costs at face value, the Times found the nuclear power plant would be substantially more expensive than a natural gas power plant. The Times estimated electricity customers would pay at least twice as much for nuclear power than natural gas power.

“What building a new nuclear power plant does really well, the analysis showed, is fatten a utility’s bottom line. Duke Energy would pocket as much as 10 times the profit from the Levy project as it would from a natural gas facility,” Times reporter Ivan Penn noted.

Putnam’s Department of Agriculture oversees state energy policy, while the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has authority to approve or decline particular electricity projects. Consumer groups frequently assert the PSC is in the pocket of utilities and simply rubber-stamps utility proposals without subjecting them to rigorous, objective economic analyses. Expressing a lack of trust in the PSC’s inclination to conduct a balanced economic analysis regarding the proposed Levy County nuclear power plant, Fasano asked Putnam to perform an economic analysis.

In a letter issued earlier today, Putnam told Fasano he does not have the resources to study the issue. He also claimed developing more nuclear power benefits Florida consumers.

“Your loss of confidence in the PSC’s ability to do their statutorily mandated job is a larger issue that only you and your colleagues in the Florida legislature are equipped to address,” Putnam wrote.

“As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, I have consistently made clear that I believe increasing diversity in Florida’s energy sources is critical to securing a stable, reliable and affordable supply of energy for Florida consumers.”

Putnam has repeatedly asserted Florida’s electricity mix has too much inexpensive natural gas and should include a larger share of electricity from other, more expensive electricity sources. Putnam claims electricity diversity trumps electricity affordability.

Although Putnam told Fasano he does not have the resources to perform Fasano’s requested economic study, he found the resources to conduct a similar study regarding renewable energy last spring. In April 2012, Gov. Rick Scott indicated he was planning to veto legislation handing over $100 million in taxpayer subsidies to renewable energy companies.

On the morning Scott planned to issue his veto, Putnam presented a study he commissioned from a renewable energy activist on the payroll of renewable energy associations claiming the $100 million renewable energy subsidies would actually save taxpayers money. Relying on the assertions contained in the last-minute analysis, Scott withheld his veto pen and allowed the legislation to become law.

To secure Scott’s tacit approval of the renewable power subsidies, Putnam agreed to produce an annual report documenting the economic costs and benefits of the subsidies. Putnam promised to produce the first report by March of 2013, but has yet to produce it. As Media Trackers Florida reported last fall, a study by objective, university-affiliated energy economists determined the subsidies will cause substantial net economic harm in the state. Media Trackers Florida also discovered that Putnam refused to disclose that the author of his study was on the payroll of the renewable energy industry and had irrefutable conflicts of interest.

CO2 Approaches 400 ppm Yet Temps Remain Flat

Global warming alarmists are breathlessly filling the media with sensationalist reports of carbon dioxide levels approaching 400 parts per million (that’s 4 parts per 10,000, or a 0.0004 share of the atmosphere, versus just under 300 parts per million, or a 0.0003 share of the atmosphere, prior to the Industrial Revolution). The central message of alarmist global warming theory is that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will cause catastrophic global warming. A real-world look at how global temperatures are responding to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide increase tells a different story.

Although atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were much higher for much of the earth’s history, 400 ppm is arguably the highest level in at least several hundred years and perhaps thousands of years. Global warming alarmists assert atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were approximately 280 ppm prior to the Industrial Revolution and up until the year 1900 or so, meaning atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose a little more than 40 percent during the past hundred-plus years.

Assuming for the sake of argument the alarmists’ dubious claim that global temperatures rose by as much as 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900, and also assuming for the sake of argument the dubious assertion that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are entirely responsible for the gradual warming since 1900, this reveals that a 40 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels created merely 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming since 1900. This shows much lower climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than claimed by global warming alarmists.

Nor is there any sign of a recent increase in the pace of temperature rise. Global temperatures have been flat for approximately 15 years now, even though atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose more than 40 ppm (or more than 10 percent) during that time.

Rather than being a harbinger of doom and gloom, the approaching 400 ppm carbon dioxide threshold presents still more evidence that humans are not creating a global warming crisis.

Pacific Islands Growing Despite Global Warming Sea-Rise Claims

Islands in Tuvalu and other Pacific regions that served as poster children for global warming and sea level rise are actually growing, scientists acknowledge. Scientists report 80 percent of South Pacific islands are either growing or remaining the same size.

“Some of those islands have gotten dramatically larger, by 20 or 30 percent,” according to Australian climate scientist Paul Kench, as reported in Australia’s ABC News.

Tornado Activity at All-Time Record Low

The next time you see an assertion by global warming alarmists or the leftist media that global warming is causing more extreme weather events, consider the following.

Fewer tornadoes have struck the United States during the past 12 months than in any other 12-month period in U.S. history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.

The past 12 months not only broke the previous record, it blew the old record away. During the past 12 months, merely 197 tornadoes struck the United States. Prior to this past year, the fewest tornadoes striking the United States during a 12-month period occurred from June 1991 through July 1992, when 247 tornadoes occurred.

The new tornado record is particularly noteworthy because of recent advances in tornado detection technology. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is able to detect more tornadoes in recent years than in prior decades due to technological advances. Even with such enhanced tornado detection capability, the past 12 months shattered all prior records for recorded tornadoes.

NOAA posted a list of the five “lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present.” Notably, each of these low-tornado periods occur since 1986, precisely during the time period global warming alarmists claim global warming is causing more extreme weather events such as tornadoes. According to NOAA, the lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present, with the starting month, are:

197 tornadoes – starting in May 2012
247 tornadoes – starting in June 1991
270 tornadoes – starting in November 1986
289 tornadoes – starting in December 2001
298 tornadoes – starting in June 2000

Read my full article here at the Heartland Institute.

Liberal Media Blasts Bill Excluding Ineffective Teachers from Pay Raises

The liberal Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald blasted Florida lawmakers for passing a funding bill excluding ineffective teachers from receiving generous pay raises.

Earlier this year, the Florida Education Association, a statewide union of Florida teachers, applauded Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a $2,500 across-the-board pay increase for all Florida teachers. The Florida legislature passed compromise legislation this week tying teacher raises to performance standards.

Under the legislation, all teachers who receive an “effective” evaluation will receive at least a $2,500 pay increase. Teachers who receive a “highly effective” evaluation will receive a $3,500 pay increase. The vast majority of Florida teachers receive either an “effective” or “highly effective” evaluation. Teachers who grade out as ineffective will not receive a pay increase.

Blasting the legislation for excluding pay raises for ineffective teachers, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet urged Scott to veto the entire education budget, including the $3,500 raises for highly effective teachers.

Acknowledging the legislature’s 2013 budget provides $480 million for teacher pay raises, Bousquet nevertheless wrote, “The pay raise is tied to pay-for-performance plans not yet in effect in most school districts. That’s not the across-the-board increase Scott has sought for months.”

“What he should do is congratulate his fellow Republicans who wrote the budget on a good first try, then veto the entire education budget and tell lawmakers that he’s dead serious about an across-the-board raise for teachers,” wrote Bousquet.

“Republican lawmakers would be appalled by a Scott veto of the education budget, which is all the more reason why Scott should do it,” Bouquet argued.

Scott should “then invite hundreds of teachers to a rally on the steps of the Capitol,” Bousquet asserted.

Read my full article here at Media Trackers Florida.

Florida Teachers Union Criticizes Pay Raises for Non-Teaching School Employees

The Florida Education Association (FEA), a statewide union of Florida teachers, criticized Florida lawmakers for passing an education budget providing $480 million in school employee raises but requiring teachers to share the raises with non-teaching school employees.

If signed by Gov. Rick Scott, the 2013 Florida education budget will be the largest in state history. School employees will receive $480 million in pay raises, which would set teacher and school employee salaries at their highest levels in state history. Nevertheless, the FEA issued a press release criticizing the plan for making teachers share the $480 million in pay raises with non-teaching school employees, such as guidance counselors, media resources specialists, and teachers’ assistants.

“We are also disappointed that the Legislature, without making additional funds available, has required that the money allocated must be distributed to school administrators in addition to the instructional personnel who actually deliver education to our students,” FEA argued in a press statement sent to Media Trackers Florida.

The education budget also includes $300 million in additional funding for retirement benefits for teachers and other education employees.

The website Teacher Salary Info reports Florida teachers make an average of more than $50,000 per year in salary, with benefits worth an additional $15,000 per year. The average salary for all jobs in Florida is $40,000, the South Florida Business Journal reports, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Read my full article here at Media Trackers Florida.

James Taylor Debates Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project

Al Gore and his trained global warming presenters almost never agree to participate in public debates on global warming. Nevertheless, one of Al Gore’s trained presenters, Florida State University instructor Ray Bellamy, was apparently feeling his oats earlier this year when he accepted a Tallahassee group’s invitation to debate me on global warming.

What happens Al Gore’s trained presenters step up to the stage to debate me in a public forum? You be the judge!

Watch video of the debate here on climate scientist Anthony Watts’ website or here on YouTube.

Activists Hide the Truth about Renewable Power

The Colorado House Transportation and Energy Committee advanced a bill Wednesday to expand the state’s renewable power mandates after renewable power advocates presented deceptive arguments to hide the mandate’s costs to consumers. In an article I wrote for Media Trackers Colorado this week, I explain how the activists hid the truth about rising electricity prices. Unfortunately, renewable power activists employ similarly deceitful tactics in Florida and elsewhere.

Read my full article shedding light on these deceitful arguments here at Media Trackers Colorado.