Bob McDonnell Cites Study By Global Warming "Skeptic"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

According to the Appomattox Area News, Bob McDonnell is citing a "new non-partisan, independent report on Virginia’s offshore energy resources prepared by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy." According to McDonnell, "This report demonstrates that offshore energy exploration and development is clearly in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our citizens." He adds, "We can utilize our offshore oil and natural gas reserves in an environmentally safe manner, leading to thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new revenue, and a further step towards energy independence and security."

A few points on all this:

1. The Thomas Jefferson Institute is a libertarian/right-wing think tank committed to "free markets, limited government and individual responsibility." It is funded heavily by the Roe Foundation, a South Carolina-based which provides "financial support to free-market policy groups across the country" and which gives out its annual Roe Award to the likes of Grover Norquist and to others from right-wing groups like the Independence Institute (proud global warming deniers), the Reason Foundation (for years, global warming deniers who received funding from ExxonMobil), and the big-time global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. Sensing a pattern here? :)

2. The author of the report, David Schnare, is a a Senior Fellow of the Thomas Jefferson Institute. Schnare runs a blog where he has some interesting things to say. For instance:

*Environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people."

*On global warming, he constantly belittles concerns over it and questions the science. For instance, in August 2007 he wrote, "In a paper soon to be published, Scott Barrett explains why we are not facing a global emergency, why we need not act precipitously and without sufficient regard to the economic consequences, and why we will never reach, nor need to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases." Schnare also claims that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km" and concludes, "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year."

*Also on global warming, Barrett writes, "When it comes to global warming, I’m a skeptic because the conclusions about the cause of the apparent warming stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain data and models." Regardless, he writes, "a strategy of relying exclusively on reduction of greenhouse gases is doomed to failure."

*Barrett also claims that "reliance on, and vigorous implementation of greenhouse gas reduction is basically a racist approach with progressive tax-like implications that will further divide the rich from the poor."

3. The report claims that "reserves off the Virginia coast may likely be 900 billion barrels." That's right, 900 BILLION BARRELS, which is almost equivalent to the entire world's proven crude oil reserves. Let me repeat: this report claims that we may have the equivalent of the ENTIRE WORLD'S OIL RESERVES off the Virginia coast. Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo. (the report also claims that this oil "would supply Virginia’s needs for more than 4,000 years.")

4. The report itself admits that "The Federal government has estimated that Lease Sale 220 could contain 130 million barrels of oil." That's 130 million barrels, or 1/6,000th of the 900 billion barrels claimed in this "study," enough to "supply Virginia’s needs for 7.5 months." Close! :)

5. Under current law, Virginia would receive no royalties from oil or gas produced under in lease area 220. Congress has to act first in order for Virginia even to be eligible for royalties from offshore drilling in federal waters (outside 50 miles offshore).

6. When McDonnell says the report concluded we can drill “in an environmentally safe manner,” he fails to mention that this conclusion is based on scientific reviews conducted in Australia. Environmental impact studies have yet to be completed on the Virginia lease area.

Bottom line: If this is the type of "science" that Bob McDonnell relies on to formulate his policies as governor, we're all in big trouble. Sort of like the way George W. Bush relied strictly on the (twisted, distorted, etc.) "science" that gave him an excuse to enact the pro-corporate policies he wanted to enact. We saw what 8 years of this attitude did to America. Why would we want to allow Bob McDonnell to do the same thing to Virginia?!?


  1. Dear "Blue Virginia":

    On my mother's behalf, my last name is spelled Schnare.

    Regarding the estimates in the fact sheet we prepared, we clearly stated the "high end" estimates were just that and that they should be viewed as having no more credibility as the low end estimates. Notably, the Federal government admits their (low end) estimates are surely wrong.

    One of the purposes of the fact sheet was to ensure the debate reflects the extreme uncertainty in the numbers. I guess we succeeded in making that point, since you grasped the unlikelihood of the high end estimates.

    The remainder of your comments constitute little more than a ad hominem attack. I refer your readers to the website of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and the papers found there, especially those representing the Center for Environmental Stewardship. Those papers are peer-reviewed and reflect a non-partisen, balanced, sound-science approach to environmentalism. We do endorse free-market solutions to environmental challenges, and believe a robust debate on off-shore drilling will best serve the decision-making process.

    David Schnare, Esq. Ph.D.
    Center for Environmental Stewardship
    Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

  2. I've fixed the spelling of your last name, sorry about that. As to "ad hominem attacks," if quoting your own words constitutes "ad hominem," well then I guess that means you attacked yourself.

    By the way, since you corrected my spelling, please note that it's "partisan" not "partisen."

  3. "On my mother's behalf, my last name is spelled Schnare."

    Otter from Animal House strikes again....

    I can't believe you'd insult the man's mother Lowell! How could you?! ;)

  4. Chris - Yeah, and in doing so, I also insulted all mothers everywhere, not to mention apple pie and the flag. :)

  5. Among the members of the Board of the Directors of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy:

    Sandra D. Bowen: Secretary of Administration for Governor Mark Warner, Secretary of the Commonwealth, campaign director for Governor Baliles, and Special Assistant to Gov. Charles Robb.

    James W. Dyke, Jr.: Secretary of Education in Governor Douglas Wilder's Administration.

    Eva S. Hardy: Secretary of Health and Human Services for former Governor Gerald Baliles and advisor to McAuliffe for Governor.

  6. Four points:

    1. Terry McAuliffe's energy plan does not take its numbers, facts or figures from a global warming "skeptic." To the contrary, Terry McAuliffe's energy plan is based on real science and real facts.

    2. If you really want to play this game, we could go back and talk about all the Dominion money Brian Moran has accepted, his vote for Dominion's Wise County coal-fired power plant, etc., etc. But I doubt you want to play that game.

    3. Are you arguing in favor of David Schnare and Bob McDonnell? I sure hope not.

    4. People sit on boards and advisory groups for all kinds of reasons, but since I don't know any of the people you mention, I have no idea why they're part of the Thomas Jefferson Institute. Maybe you should contact them since you're obviously curious. :)