Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are the Obama Administration and the US Congress Foolish Enough to Impose the Harsh Costs of the European REACH Regulation on America?

The following article confirms prior ITSSD research about the exhorbitant costs associated with the European Union's regional adoption of the European Precautionary Principle-based REACH regulation, and its global efforts to export this philosophical and legal requirement abroad, including to the United States.

[See: Lawrence A. Kogan, The Extra-WTO Precautionary Principle: Once European 'Fashion' Export the U.S. Can Do Without, 17 Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review 491 (Sept. 2008) accessible at: ; Has Barack Transformed Himself into EURObama Given His Interest in Adopting as US Law the Well-Known EU REACH Green Regulatory Trade Barrier??, ITSSD Journal on Disguised Trade Barriers (June 12, 2008) at: ; WTO 'Fever' Necessary to Stem Advance of Precautionary Principle 'Virus', Says ITSSD, PR Newswire (March 27, 2007) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, REACH: The fight must go on, Viewpoint: Specialty Chemicals Magazine (March 2007) at: ; Precautionary Principle Will Run in Place in 2007, Trade Expert Predicts, Interview With ITSSD President Lawrence A. Kogan (Jan. 2007) at: ; ob Spiegel, American Trade Groups Call REACH Misguided, DESIGN News (Dec. 27, 2006) at: ; EU REACH Adoption Likely to Trigger WTO Action, ITSSD PR Newswire (Dec. 15, 2006) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, REACHing for Your Wallets or Your Lives, ITSSD (Dec. 15, 2006) at: ; Chresten Andersen, Will Bad EU Policies REACH America? Brussels Journal (Nov. 19, 2005) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, Exporting Precaution: How Europe's Risk-Free Regulatory Agenda Threatens American Free Enterprise, Washington Legal Foundation (Nov. 2005) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, Precautionary Preference: How How Europe Employs Disguised Regulatory Protectionism to Weaken American Free Enterprise, International Journal of Economic Development Vol. 7 No. 2-3 (2005) at: and ; Lawrence A. Kogan, Exporting Europe's Protectionism, The National Interest Journal (Sept. 2004) at: ;Lawrence A. Kogan, Claims of Improper U.S. Lobbying Quite a REACH, EU Reporter (May 2004) at p. 18, at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, 'Enlightened' Environmentalism or Disguised Protectionism: Assessing the Impact of EU Precaution-based Standards on Developing Countries, National Foreign Trade Council (April 2004) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, Unscientific "Precaution": Europe's Campaign To Erect New Foreign Trade Barriers, National Foreign Trade Council (Sept. 2003) at: ; Lawrence A. Kogan, Looking Behind the Curtain: The Growth of Trade Barriers that Ignore Sound Science, National Foreign Trade Council (May 2003) at: ]


REACH Program May Carry Six Times the Expected Cost

Sep 3, 2009

By: Stephanie Sutton

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Implementing Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program will require a massive increase in animal testing and cost six times more than previously estimated. The findings come from an analysis conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore, MD).

"REACH expected that 27,000 companies would submit 180,000 preregistrations on 30,000 chemicals,” Thomas Hartung, a Doerenkamp-Zbinden professor, chair for evidence-based toxicology, and director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, explained to Pharmaceutical Technology Europe (PTE). “The big surprise, however, was that at the end of December 2008, 65,000 companies had submitted 2.7 million preregistrations on 143,000 chemicals." Hartung co-chaired the 7th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use held in Rome earlier this week.

In a press statement, Hartung described REACH as the "biggest investment ever into consumer safety." However, he also believes that the scale of the challenge may have been underestimated. REACH could require 54 million research animals and EUR 9.5 billion ($13.5 billion) during the next 10 years. Approximately 90% of the projected animal use and 70% of the projected cost would come from research into reproductive toxicity testing. Usually, data must be collected from two generations of two species of animals.

Hartung explained to PTE that the second species is rarely used when testing chemicals because few new chemicals are produced at quantities high enough to trigger testing. "This is now different with REACH where the high-production chemicals are tested; so while only 70 two-generation studies were conducted over 25 years for industrial chemicals in the EU, we calculated 14,000 for REACH if the guidance to industry is followed," he said.

He added that, "European regulators need to understand that this is not only about animal numbers, but mainly about feasibility. It is not possible to create the test facilities. We do not have the toxicologists—a two-generation study assesses 80 endpoints, including complex histopathology. Our analysis should not be misread as a pure ethical or financial concern—it is about a bottleneck identified for a program we want to happen."

So what are the alternatives? Hartung suggests testing only suspicious chemicals. "Currently, the main trigger is production volume; at least prioritize the suspicious substances and leave the others for later when high-throughput strategies are developed," he says. He offered additional options, including the use of an extended one-generation study and in vitro approaches.

According to Hartung, 80–90% of the classifications of chemicals in two-generation studies are based on testing toxicity for which promising tests do exist.

"We hope that our study helps to gain momentum for a revision of current practices in regulatory toxicology," Hartung told PTE. He also explained that Europe could benefit from a development similar to the US Environmental Protection Agency toxicity testing strategy, which came into force in March 2009.


New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and California Congressman Henry Waxman Wish to Adopt EXPENSIVE EU REACH Regulation as U.S. Federal Law
Obama Administration Suspends CHAMP Chemical Assessment Program
By Christine Lepisto
June 21, 2009
Only a few months ago, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration would pick up the pace of the Chemicals Assessment and Management Program (CHAMP), partly in response to the barrage of activity in the EU under REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals). Now the EPA has thrown Industry and Citizens into confusion with an announcement that all activity to screen and prioritize hazardous chemicals under CHAMP is to be suspended, effective immediately. How is it possible the EPA finds doing nothing better than doing something -- especially in the face of increasing concerns about the chemicals in our bodies, and even in the everyday products sold for our kids? And how long before EPA is doing something again?

Insiders Mulling Over ImpactsThe insiders, BNA and ChemicalWatch, are both reporting that EPA has released an announcement on the end of CHAMP. But even industry professionals are left in the dark, as no announcement has been made publicly available at the websites of CHAMP, the EPA, nor the White House blog.

Major organizations have responded cautiously to the announcement. Some statements published in Chemical & Engineering News:

"We are confident that any changes to ChAMP do not signal a reversal of the U.S. government's commitment, but rather further strengthen the program." -American Chemistry Council.
"It is extremely disheartening that the administration would abandon its priority-setting chemicals management process before it is even given the opportunity to work." -National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association

"We urge EPA to not delay the forward progress it has been making under ChAMP." - Society of Chemical Manufacturers.

CHAMP for Better or WorseCHAMP represents a largely "voluntary" effort by the chemical industry to provide information on High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals. "Voluntary" in quotations, because such programs have become the preferred way for industry to avoid the burden of regulation by stepping up to the plate first. So the response of industry can be understood in the context of fears that the program which succeeds CHAMP may very well require a bit more -- meaning more cost and more bureaucracy in the pursuit of more protection of American citizens.

The Environmental Defense Fund and others have criticized CHAMP for an insufficient standard of protection, pointing out that the data submitted voluntarily by industry shows large gaps in knowledge about the chemicals currently on the market. Worse, according to EDF, is the process EPA applies to the incomplete data. CHAMP throws chemicals with no evidence of a high hazard into the "don't worry" or "don't worry too much" boxes. EDF argues that in the face of incomplete data, EPA should flag chemicals for priority research whenever the data is incomplete.

As is often the case in the complexity of the real world, both sides are right. The chemicals which have incomplete data are most often the ones that industry knows are not too bad, based on years of handling these chemicals without observing any clusters of illness related to them. So the assumption that these chemicals are "safe" is not groundless in spite of a lack of specific animal studies. Perhaps hiding behind the PETA issues, industry makes a strong case that testing should not be done simply so that check-boxes can be ticked.

What Comes After CHAMP?
But EDF can rightly point out concerns that are not addressed by industry's stance that some chemicals are simply "recognized as safe." Changes are occurring in our bodies and the environment that are not sufficiently explained nor attributed. More study is needed, or we are effectively using ourselves, and our only planet, as a giant laboratory.

And no matter who is right, the key fact is that the US EPA has to do something. Clearly the Obama Administration is committed to environmental protection. So the message behind the suspension of the Bush era CHAMP program can only imply a finding or anticipated finding, perhaps under cost-benefit analysis, that CHAMP is grossly, indefensibly ineffective. Subtext: US citizens have been inadequately protected for years in spite of money being thrown at the problem (EPA requested a hefty increase in its 2010 budget for more hiring in CHAMP).

The anticipated successor to CHAMP is the Lautenberg Kids Safe Chemical Act. This law would update the decades old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In the wake of European REACH, EPA will be under pressure to expect more, much more, from industry. A battle looms. Will industry be able to maintain its stance that "responsible care" can protect people and the environment most cost-effectively? Or will they face an era of regulatory control championed by a public confused and fearful as they confront daily a chemical soup.
National Association of Chemicals Distributors
June 2009

Modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act without disturbing the delicate balance between protection of human health and the environment, and sustainment of a vital industry and its customers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates chemicals through authority granted by a number of federal statutes, most notably the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA.) Over the years, EPA has used TSCA to review more than 47,000 new chemical submissions and lists 83,000 chemicals on its current TSCA Inventory. Since 2007, EPA has been working to enhance TSCA through the Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP). ChAMP was created to implement commitments that the United States made at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) Leaders Summit to complete screening-level chemical prioritizations and initiate action as appropriate on an estimated 6,750 chemicals being produced or imported in high and moderate volume quantities. Despite these efforts, the current legislative climate and action taken by other governments worldwide have driven some in Congress to re-examine the authority and scope of TSCA and potentially expand its power to "better protect the public from chemicals."
Based on weak scientific data, individual states and Congress have taken action to ban certain types of chemicals in the name of consumer safety. In September of 2008, California became the first state to enact a comprehensive chemicals management program. As individual states take action, a major concern is that federal and state programs may be duplicative or conflicting. This could make chemical distribution across state lines extremely difficult. In July 2008, Congress overwhelmingly approved a measure to ban certain types of phthalates from children’s products. This legislation, as well as other legislation being introduced, has called for use of the "precautionary principle," which is the basis for the European Union REACH regulation.
Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a 2006 European Union (EU) regulation that addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment. It took seven years to pass and has been described as the most complex and strictest legislation in EU history and will impact industries throughout the world. When REACH is fully in force, it will require all companies manufacturing or importing chemical substances into the EU in quantities of one ton or more per year to register these substances with a European chemicals agency in Helsinki, Finland. Because REACH applies to some substances that are contained within other products, any company importing goods into Europe could be affected.
Last year, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Kids-Safe Chemical Act of 2008, S. 3040. Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA,) also introduced the measure for consideration, H.R. 6100. The bill was cosponsored by Henry Waxman (D-CA,) now the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over EPA. The existence of REACH and the chemical ban proposals pending in Congress and the states along with the new Chairmanship for Mr. Waxman have pushed this issue higher on the priority list for the 111th Congress.

While TSCA reform has yet to solidify into real legislative proposals in the current Congress, Senator Lautenberg has indicated that he will reintroduce the Kids Safe Chemicals Act in 2009. This legislation would inject the "precautionary principle" into the chemicals management process and shift the burden of proof away from the government and to the chemical company. Critics say this approach is like altering our judicial system toward the philosophy that a defendant is "guilty until proven innocent."

Meanwhile, on February 26, 2009 the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held the first of what is expected to be a series of hearings on the potential overhaul of TSCA. Committee Members and their witnesses expressed a strong desire to explore the possibility of REACH as an appropriate model for the U.S. while industry witnesses criticized REACH and similar programs, favoring instead a "true risk-based system" to align economic and regulatory regimes. However, even the chemical industry has indicated it is not opposed to updating or modernizing TSCA. American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) testimony echoed this point but were very clear on the principle that the U.S. should not go the route of Europe and completely change its philosophy regarding chemicals management.


In considering TSCA reform, NACD urges Congress to support approaches like ChAMP, which has the potential to quickly test and provide public information on more chemicals than a REACH type of framework. NACD is concerned with approaches such as REACH which follow the "precautionary principle," create a cumbersome bureaucracy, and stifle innovation. In addition, NACD believes that there should be one uniform federal system for chemicals management rather than a patchwork of 50 different state standards.

NACD members are committed to the distribution of products that can be used safely and without harm to the environment as well as meeting or exceeding governmental safety requirements. Any evaluation of TSCA must recognize that the chemical industry’s innovation has played an integral role in the U.S. economy, and that sweeping revisions could prove highly detrimental to Americans’ way of life with no measurable benefit.

NACD Government Affairs staff will continue to participate in the discussions with industry groups as well as Capitol Hill and Committee staff as this issue continues to develop in the 111th Congress with an eye toward chemicals management policies based on sound scientific data and an adherence to the risk-based approach which has served the public well.
EU chemicals law REACH inspires US bill

Published: Monday 18 July 2005
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg has introduced a bill to regulate chemicals in the US after a government report criticised current legislation for failing to protect Americans from toxic substances.

US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg introduced draft legislation aiming at better protecting children, mothers and workers against potentially hazardous chemicals.
Introduced on 13 July, the 'Child, Worker and Consumer Safe Chemicals Act' is largely inspired by the hotly debated EU proposal for the registration, evaluation, and authorisation of chemicals (REACH) now at final stage of adoption before the European Parliament.
The draft US bill would force chemical manufacturers to provide health and safety information on chemicals used in consumer products like baby bottles and food wrapping instead of presuming a substance is safe until proven dangerous.
The principle, know as the reversal of the burden of proof, is the cornerstone of REACH.
Senator Lautenberg's proposal follows the publication in June of a US federal report detailing the failures of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in protecting Americans from hazardous chemicals.
The report , by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), recommended that the US congress consider providing the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with additional authority to assess chemical risks.
According to Lautenberg, procedures under the TSCA are so daunting that, in 29 years, only five toxic substances have been regulated by the EPA. Currently, the EPA has to demonstrate a chemical poses an "unreasonable risk" to restrict or ban it.
"Most Americans believe their government is making sure that chemicals used in the market place are safe. Unfortunately, that simply isn't true," said Senator Lautenberg. "Study after study has shown we have dozens, if not hundreds, of synthetic chemicals in our bodies, yet we have very little information about how they impact our health."

The bill is sponsored by Democrat political heavyweights including 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
In a separate development, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on 14 July published analyses of the blood from the umbilical cord of ten newborn babies. Performed by an independent laboratory, the tests revealed the presence of 287 industrial chemicals in the blood samples tested, leading the EWG to conclude that "industrial pollution begins in the womb".
However, the correct interpretation of blood tests - a practice know as biomonitoring - and their use in policy-making is still subject to controversy (see related LinksDossier).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Danish Energy Minister Has Gone Gulag Over Climate Change!

The Danish minister for Climate and Energy and her misguided views on humankind

By Simon Espersen

8. august 2009

The Danish minister for Climate and Energy and her misguided views on humankind Connie Hedegaard is the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy. Along with her fellow Danish colleagues she is hosting the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen. Being a member of the Danish conservative party for decades you would not expect the minister to hold radical or extreme viewpoints regarding the relationship between man and nature. However in February 2007 the Minister said the following:"We cannot act like an enormous swarm of locusts, settling, feeding and leaving nothing to our descendants. We are obliged to act and the [UN] reports tells us to act now."

The likening of people with locusts is not a new one. Thomas Malthus considered people similar in some respects to a pack of animals - expecting people to consume blindly enough to ensure starvation and leading finally to a decreasing population more suitable for any given amount of stock. Industrialization, trade and prosperity however proved Malthus wrong in the developed part of the world.

It is also a sad fact that targeted people in Europe and elsewhere have been treated like beasts of burden by people in power – in the shape of slavery or repression - culminating in the horrors of Nazi-Germany - who also used analogies with animals in trying to eradicate particular creeds or races of humankind. - And along with the environmentalists the Nazis also did not consider production, innovation, creativity or industriousness a significant let alone defining human trait.

[See also: Eureka!! British Media Finally Realizes Seriousness of Threat Posed to Freedom by Green Socialists and Green Fascists, ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom (7/31/09) at: ; How Close Is Euro-Environmentalism to German Neo Eco-Fascism? VERY! But is Virulent Socialist Eco-Pacifism Any Better?, ITSSD Journal on Economic Freedom (April 5, 2008) at: ].

However the ability to change the environment and shape it so that it becomes a life-promoting value to the creators are exactly what sets man apart from consuming animals. Humans do not consume as animals do. They transform what exists using their comparatively powerful minds to ensure a more viable result. The earth may be considered a gigantic ball of “resources” or an almost infinite combination of chemicals - that nevertheless have no value in it self – but does become valuable because the human mind is able to see a potential usefulness in that matter (live or inanimate) and furthermore because they are able to realize that potential through productive action. Thus it is people who assess value to what surrounds us, and makes the potential value into something of genuine value.

Capitalist society (or industrialization) is in this respect the societal pinnacle of this creative human trait that sets us apart from the brutes of nature including swarms of locusts which Mrs. Hedegaard likens us with, killer bees or a marching army of ants. Thanks to capitalism production is now more complex, sophisticated and yielding higher results than ever before. The pace within which human life has been extended and improved is staggering.

Growth is therefore all about production and transformation and not about consumption. Growth is the same as an improved rearrangement of inanimate or animate matter. More growth is similarly not the equivalent of more consumption, – it is a further rearrangement of what is given in nature. And because humans have common needs, a very sizeable amount of what is made by every productive generation in capitalist society is left over to the next generation, who are thus free to move onwards with new challenges and a fuller and richer life.

The opposite of what Mrs. Hedegaard claims is happening is in fact happening: We leave more and more of value to the next generation! By improving our own life through trade and production, we also liberate the next generation as may be seen in the ability to reduce work hours, hard work, time of transportation, obstacles to communication etc. etc., that may be identified during the last two hundred years.
The bells are therefore tolling for Mrs. Hedegaard whose viewpoints are entirely misguided (if not wilfully chosen by sheer malice regarding the producers to whom she does not belong). There are of course people who simply consume what others produce [i.e., they are parastic] - apart from taxpayer salaried politicians: Some get handouts from the welfare state. Others in the third world are victims of rulers who will not allow their respective countries to become members of the group of productive (westernised) nation-states. In the last category we find real plundering and little viable production or transformation. Here Mrs. Hedegaards sinister words would be in place. (Sadly however, she would recommend anything but free trade and genuine industrialization.)

The Danish Minister of Climate and Energy has confused the pinnacle of civilisation that productive society is with a society of raw consumption. If she and her fellow regulators succeeds in halting the human ability to transform the environment to serve a variety of human needs, future generations will find that the horrendous comparison of people with locusts may suddenly have become true.

Thanks to the no-growth policies of our political leadership we may in time return to the brutal state of nature that capitalism and industrialization relieved us from: "At first we wanted to call the agreement [the environmentalist Kyoto-protocol] a kind of international GOSPLAN," [former advisor to Russian President Putin, Andrei Illiaronov] added, referring to the agency that repeatedly created disastrous results in its efforts to run the old Soviet economy. "But then we realized that GOSPLAN was much more humane and so we ought to call the Kyoto Protocol an international gulag. "In the gulag, though, you got the same ration daily and it didn't get smaller by the day," said Illiaronov. "In the end we had to call the Kyoto Protocol an international Auschwitz."

[See James M. Taylor, Europe to Russia: Ratify Kyoto or Else, Heartland Institute (June 1, 2004) at: ].

["Under party guidance, the State Planning Committee (Gosudarstvennyi planovyi komitet - Gosplan) was primarily responsible for creating and monitoring five-year plans and annual plans. The name was changed from State Planning Commission in 1948, but the acronym was retained. The Five-Year Plan was a comprehensive plan that set the economic goals for a five- year period. Once the Soviet regime stipulated the plan figures, all levels of the economy, from individual enterprises to the national level, were obligated to meet those goals...Economic planning, according to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, was a form of economic management by the state, indispensable both during the transition from capitalism to socialism and in a socialist society. Soviet economic theorists maintained that planning was based on a profound knowledge and application of objective socialist economic laws and that it was independent of the personal will and desires of individuals. The most general of these laws, commonly referred to as the basic law of socialism, defined the aim of economic production as the fullest satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the population, using advanced technology to achieve continued growth and improvement of production. Centralized planning was presented by its proponents as the conscious application of economic laws to benefit the people through effective use of all natural resources and productive forces. The regime established production targets and prices and allocated resources, codifying these decisions in a comprehensive plan or set of plans." See Gosplan, Federation of American Scientists website at: ].

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama's New Green Collar LAWYER Jobs Initiative Will Suck the Lifeblood Out of American Free Enterprise

EPA Climate Change Ruling Would be a Stimulus for Lawyers--And No One Else

By Glenn G. Lammi

Posted June 22, 2009

With debate raging in Congress over how to reduce greenhouse gases, it is easy to overlook the critical developments on this issue that are simmering in federal agencies. Federal rulemaking is certainly far less entertaining than the pageantry of politics, but one proceeding now coming to a head at the Environmental Protection Agency will have profound implications for climate change and the conduct of everyday commerce.

While nearly every sector of our economy will be bracing for its negative impact, one sector—the litigation industry

—can look upon the EPA's action as a job-creating government stimulus.

Empowered by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the EPA proposed a finding last April that greenhouse gas endangers public health and welfare and contributes to climate change. The proposal is undergoing a regretfully abbreviated 60-day comment period that ends tomorrow. But EPA statements and related actions clearly indicate the agency intends to ultimately find "endangerment."

Such a finding triggers regulation of sources of greenhouse gas emissions under the federal Clean Air Act, a law written over 30 years ago to address local and regional environmental problems. One legislative leader on climate change, Rep. John Dingell, has remarked that it would be "insane that [Congress] would be talking about leaving this kind of judgment ... to a long and complex process of regulatory action," affecting "potentially every industry and every emitter and every person in this country." From cars to cows, energy plants to neighborhood dry cleaners, landfills to restaurants, the regulation would encompass American businesses of all types and sizes.

A formal government proclamation that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare, and are thus subject to the Clean Air Act, is a dream come true for plaintiffs' lawyers and litigious professional activists. Up to now, litigation has thus far, thankfully, played a minor role in addressing climate change. Courts have largely rebuffed lawsuits by state attorneys general alleging that greenhouse gas emitters were a "public nuisance." (A $400 million nuisance and conspiracy suit filed against 23 energy companies by an entire Alaskan village remains undecided.)

But the slow drip of climate change lawsuits is about to become a deluge, drowning the judiciary and thousands of businesses, in a tsunami of litigation.

Swiss Re, a leading insurance company, recently opined that global warming suits will explode and expand faster than asbestos litigation. The EPA's endangerment finding will be cited in countless class actions and other suits alleging that productive economic activity caused health problems or led to damaging heat, flooding, drought, wildfires, or the spread of pathogens.

The EPA's proposal makes no effort to quantify the risk of any of these potential outcomes of global warming, or to specify a direct health effect from them. This won't, of course, stop creative plaintiffs' lawyers from using EPA's finding to sow fear or prevent judges and juries from favorably noting the government determination in liability suits. Just as with asbestos liability, exposure to climate change litigation will be spread throughout the economy, with the small scale rancher or farmer, the corner restaurant, and the community nonprofit hospital bearing the brunt of the burden.

In addition to civil liability suits, EPA's endangerment finding will allow activist organizations to file citizen suits against businesses whose greenhouse gases emissions allegedly violated the Clean Air Act. These "private attorney general" actions can be very lucrative and activists regularly deploy them to expand the boundaries of laws like the Clean Air Act to create even more litigation opportunities.

In litigation, there is no occasion for the parties, the judge, or the jury to weigh the costs, benefits, feasibility, and both short- and long-term consequences of different potential legal outcomes. This concern is significantly amplified when the overarching matter before a court is as complex, or as global in nature, as global warming.

As one federal judge prudently wrote in dismissing California's climate change lawsuit against auto manufacturers, "injecting [this court] into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government."

EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the antiquated Clean Air Act would create, as Representative Dingell put it, "a glorious mess." Add to that the disparate patchwork of court decisions and jury verdicts that would emerge from years of EPA-inspired greenhouse gas litigation, and you have a recipe for stagnating commerce.

There would, however, be a hiring boom in the litigation industry. Are these some of the "green jobs" we've all been hearing about?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Al Gore's Call for Climate Change Disobedience, UK Court's Climate Change Ruling and Lewis Gordon Pugh's North Pole Kayaking 'Do Monty Python Proud'!

Climate change chicanery

By Christopher Booker

The Independent UK


Recent events have seen the scare campaign over global warming descend to the level of a Monty Python sketch.

Much publicity was given, for instance, to Lewis Gordon Pugh, who set out to paddle a kayak to the Pole to demonstrate the vanishing of the Arctic ice. At 80.5 degrees north, still 600 miles short of his goal, he met with ice so thick that he and his fossil-fuelled support ship had to turn back.

But this did not prevent him receiving a congratulatory call from Gordon Brown, nor boasting that he had travelled "further north than anyone has kayaked so far".

It took the admirable Watts Up With That blog, run by the American meteorologist Anthony Watts, to point out that in 1893 the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen found the Arctic so ice-free that he was able to kayak above 82 degrees north, 100 miles nearer the Pole than our hapless campaigner against "unprecedented global warming".

Then there was the much-publicised speech to Compassion in World Farming by Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pleading for people to give up meat, on the grounds that the digestive methane given off by cattle contributes more to greenhouse gases than all the world's transport.


Although hailed by the BBC as "the UN's top climate scientist", Dr Pachauri, who holds PhDs in economics and engineering, is nothing of the kind, but just an apparatchik.

A vegetarian Hindu, Dr Pachauri not only used highly tendentious figures to promote his cause but said nothing about the contribution made to global warming by India's 400 million sacred cows, which presumably would still be free to vent wind even if the rest of humanity is converted to eating veggieburgers.

There has also been an acclaimed new paper by Michael Mann, the creator of the iconic "hockey stick" graph, purporting to show that the world has recently become hotter than at any time in recorded history, eliminating all the wealth of evidence to show that temperatures were higher in the Mediaeval Warm Period than today.

After being used obsessively by the IPCC's 2001 report to promote the cause, the "hockey stick" was comprehensively discredited, not least by Steve McIntyre, a Canadian computer analyst, who showed that Mann had built into his computer programme an algorithm (or "al-gore-ithm") which would produce the hockey stick shape even if the data fed in was just "random noise".

Two weeks ago Dr Mann published a new study, claiming to have used 1,209 new historic "temperature proxies" to show that his original graph was essentially correct after all. This was faithfully reported by the media as further confirmation that we live in a time of unprecedented warming. Steve McIntyre immediately got to work and, supported by expert readers on his Climate Audit website, shredded Mann's new version as mercilessly as he had the original.

He again showed how selective Mann had been in his new data, excluding anything which confirmed the Mediaeval Warming and concentrating on that showing temperatures recently rising to record levels.

Finnish experts pointed out that, where Mann placed emphasis on the evidence of sediments from Finnish lakes, there were particular reasons why these should have shown rising temperatures in recent years, such as expanding towns on their shores. McIntyre even discovered a part of Mann's programme akin to a disguised version of his earlier algorithm, which he now calls "Mannomatics".

But Mann's new study will surely be used to push the warmist party line in the run-up to the IPCC international conference in Copenhagen next year to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, temperatures continue to drop. The latest Nasa satellite readings on global temperatures from the University of Alabama, one of four officially recognised sources of temperature data, show that August was the fourth month this year when temperatures fell below their 30-year average, ie since satellite records began. The US National Climatic Data Center showsis showing that last month in the USA was only the 39th warmest since records began 113 years ago.
It is high time, however, that we took all this chicanery and wishful thinking seriously - as was evidenced in Maidstone Crown [Kangaroo] Court last Wednesday, by the acquittal of six Greenpeace campaigners tried for criminal damage to Kingsnorth power station.

They were attempting to stop a new coal-fired power station being built, to produce 1,600 megawatts of electricity (two and a half times as much as is generated by all the 2,300 wind turbines so far built in Britain).

As gleefully reported on the front page of The Independent, and at length by other promoters of warming alarmism such as the BBC and The Guardian, the jury agreed that the damage they had perpetrated was lawfully justified - because the damage done by the new power station, in raising global sea levels and contributing to the extinction of "a million species", would be far worse.

The court was swayed to this remarkable verdict by the evidence of two "expert witnesses" for the defence: Zac Goldsmith, one of David Cameron's envrionmental policy advisers and a prospective Conservative MP, and James Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Dr Hansen, who has been the world's leading global warming campaigner for 20 years (along with his ally Al Gore), claimed that the proposed Kingsnorth power station alone would be responsible for the extinction of "400 species".

It is extraordinary that two such partisan witnesses were accepted by the court in this role, since the rules, as defined by Mr Justice Cresswell in 1993, insist that the function of an "expert witness" is only to give "objective evidence". He must not be an "advocate" for one side or the other on any issue on which experts are divided.

This should have ruled Dr Hansen out at once. Question marks are raised over his institute's temperature data. Last year he was forced by Steve McIntyre to revise his figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as Hansen claimed, but the 1930s. He has also campaigned tirelessly for the scrapping of all coal-fired power stations.

Yet we are critically dependent on coal-generated power: it supplies 35 per cent of Britain's needs and 50 per cent of America's. Thanks to EU rules, we will be forced to close six coal-fired power stations before long, and without new ones, such as that proposed for Kingsnorth, our economy will judder to a halt.

David Cameron could well be prime minister by then. That one of his closest advisers believes that criminal damage is justified to stop coal-fired power plants being built is just as alarming as that the British courts now seem to agree with him.

Gore urges civil disobedience to stop coal plants
Sep 24, 2008 3:29pm EDT

By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmental crusader Al Gore urged young people on Wednesday to engage in civil disobedience to stop the construction of coal plants without the ability to store carbon.

The former U.S. vice president, whose climate changedocumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Academy Award, told a philanthropic meeting in New York City that "the world has lost ground to the climate crisis."

"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative gathering to loud applause.

"I believe for a carbon company to spend money convincing the stock-buying public that the risk from the global climate crisis is not that great represents a form of stock fraud because they are misrepresenting a material fact," he said. "I hope these state attorney generals around the country will take some action on that."

The government says about 28 coal plants are under construction in the United States. Another 20 projects have permits or are near the start of construction.

Scientists say carbon gases from burning fossil fuel for power and transport are a key factor in global warming.

Carbon capture and storage could give coal power an extended lease on life by keeping power plants' greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere and easing climate change.
But no commercial-scale project exists anywhere to demonstrate the technology, partly because it is expected to increase up-front capital costs by an additional 50 percent.

So-called geo-sequestration of carbon sees carbon dioxide liquefied and pumped into underground rock layers for long term storage.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Christine Kearney and Xavier Briand)
Al Gore Urges 'Civil Disobedience' Toward Coal Plants

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Al Gore called Wednesday for "civil disobedience" to combat the construction of coal power plants without the ability to store carbon, Reuters reported.
The former vice president, whose efforts to raise awareness of global warming have made him the most prominent voice on that issue, made the comment during a session at the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan.
"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said, according to Reuters.
It wasn't clear what specific action he intended by "civil disobedience," which calls for the intentional violation of laws deemed to be unjust.
Since leaving the White House after losing to George Bush in the 2000 presidential election, Gore has turn his focus to environmental issues, a longtime passion. The 2006 documentary based on his lecture, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Oscar. In addition, he received a Nobel Peace Prize for his climate change work.
See, e.g., Liz Veazey, NC Youth Stop Coal Plant Construction: 8 arrested!, STUDENT ENVTL. ACTION COALITION, Apr. 1, 2008, available at: (“Shortly after activists locked themselves to construction equipment, police arrived on the scene and used pain compliance holds and tazers to force them to unlock themselves. 8 young people were arrested. We’ve talked to one of them from jail and they seem to be ok.”); Steven Mufson, Coal Rush Reverses, Power Firms Follow: Plans for New Plants Stalled by Growing Opposition, WASH. POST (Sept. 4, 2007), available at: ].

["What is most disturbing about these legal and illegal grassroots initiatives, as the Mayor of Missoula, Montana and the Florida Public Service Commission had previously found out, is that they were encouraged overwhelmingly by current and former high-level U.S. politicians of predominantly one political persuasion. In the case of Montana and Florida, local popular doubts over the wisdom of going forward with new coal plant builds arose as the result of strident public opposition voiced (a “warning shot fired”) by U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid while, in North Carolina, illegal student protests were triggered by statements made by Former Democratic Vice President Al Gore."
See: Lawrence Kogan, The Extra-WTO Precautionary Principle: One European “Fashion” Export The United States Can Do Without, 17 Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review 2 (2008) at pp. 586-87, at: ].

Greenpeace Kingsnorth trial collapse is embarrassing for Gordon Brown

Earthlog - Charles Clover's weekly column that takes an inside look at the environment

Telegraph UK

Whatever you may think of the anti-nuclear environmental group Greenpeace, the collapse of the case against its activists for causing criminal damage to a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent is embarrassing to the Brown Government, for it leaves it looking, well, browner than ever.

Six activists admitted trying to shut down the station and painting "Gordon" down the chimney in a protest at EON's plans to build an even bigger coal-fired station next door.

But a jury of nine bought the activists' argument, supported in person by James Hansen, the US climate scientist and director of Nasa, that Greenpeace were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.

The jury, in other words, took at face value pronouncements by ministers such as Hilary Benn, David Miliband, and Gordon Brown himself, and by Sir David King, the former chief scientist, that that global warming is with us and that the proliferation of coal-fired plants in China, at a rate of two a day, risks dangerous climate change. Proliferation of coal fired plants in China is damaging, but not apparently proliferation in Britain.


John Hutton, the Business secretary, who is expected to take a decision on whether Kingsnorth should go ahead after the party conferences, is absolutely right that Britain needs coal to keep the lights on and give stability to its electricity grid.

But he has got himself into an incredible muddle over when and how carbon capture technology should be fitted to coal fired stations.

Hutton's department and the power utilities believe they must build unabated coal plants and let them pollute for years in order to push up the price of permits to pollute to a level sufficient to make carbon capture and storage commercial. This is madness.

The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Governor Schwarzenegger in California are all right, there should be no new coal plants without carbon capture.
If you hold the views the Government has expressed on global warming (and there are plenty of people in the world, for instance Sarah Palin who don't) then it should be a matter of principle. Now a jury appears to think so, too.

Greenpeace activists cleared of damaging UK power plant

By Eoin O'Carroll

Christian Science Monitor


A British court cleared six Greenpeace activists Monday of causing more than $50,000 of criminal damage to a coal-fired power plant. The court ruled that, by shutting down the plant, the activists were preventing greater property damage from climate change.

Five of the activists scaled the 650-foot smokestack at Kingsnorth power station with the intention of painting “Gordon bin it” on it (that would be British English for “Prime Minister Gordon Brown, throw it out”). They got as far as writing “Gordon” before someone climbed up there to serve them a court injunction.

The activists argued that they possessed a “lawful excuse” for trying to shut the plant down, because they were trying to prevent the coal plant from causing greater property damage around the world by way of global warming. An example of lawful excuse, as cited by the prosecution and quoted in a Greenpeace blog, would be breaking a window to rescue a child from a burning car.

The Guardian details the expert testimony marshaled by the activists:
The court had heard from Professor Jim Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, that the 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted daily by Kingsnorth could be responsible for the extinction of up to 400 species. Hansen, a Nasa director who advises Al Gore, the former US presidential candidate turned climate change campaigner, told the court that humanity was in “grave peril”. Somebody needs to step forward and say there has to be a moratorium, draw a line in the sand and say no more coal-fired power stations.”

It also heard [opposition leader] David Cameron’s environment adviser, millionaire environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, and an Inuit leader from Greenland both say climate change was already seriously affecting life around the world. Goldsmith told the court: “By building a coal-power plant in this country, it makes it very much harder [to exert] pressure on countries like China and India” to reduce their burgeoning use of the fossil fuel.

The court was told that some of the property in immediate need of protection included parts of Kent at risk from rising sea levels, the Pacific island state of Tuvalu and areas of Greenland. The defendants also cited the Arctic ice sheet, China’s Yellow River region, the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, coastal areas of Bangladesh and the city of New Orleans.

The jury was told that Kingsnorth emitted the same amount of carbon dioxide as the 30 least polluting countries in the world combined – and that there were advanced plans to build a new coal-fired power station next to the existing site on the Hoo peninsula.

The jury – nine men and three women – found the testimony compelling, and found the six activists not guilty.

Greenpeace is delighted at the ruling. “This verdict marks a tipping point for the climate change movement,” said Ben Stewart, one of the six defendants, as reported by Reuters:

“If jurors from the heart of Middle England say it’s legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm it does to our planet, then where does that leave government energy policy?

“We have the clean technologies at hand to power our economy, it’s time we turned to them instead of coal.”

Emily Highmore, a spokeswoman for E.ON, the German energy firm that operates the plant, told the BBC that she was less than thrilled at the outcome.
She said: “We respect people’s right to protest, but what Greenpeace did was hugely irresponsible. It put people’s lives at risk and that is clearly completely unacceptable.”

Ms Highmore called for an “open and honest debate” about the challenges of energy and climate change, but added: “That’s a debate that shouldn’t be taking place at the top of a chimney stack.”
Cleared: Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

The Independent UK

11 September 2008

The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.
Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a "lawful excuse" to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change.


The defence of "lawful excuse" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

The not-guilty verdict, delivered after two days and greeted with cheers in the courtroom, raises the stakes for the most pressing issue on Britain's green agenda and could encourage further direct action.

Kingsnorth was the centre for mass protests by climate camp activists last month. Last year, three protesters managed to paint Gordon Brown's name on the plant's chimney. Their handi-work cost £35,000 to remove.

The plan to build a successor to the power station is likely to be the first of a new generation of coal-fired plants. As coal produces more of the carbon emissions causing climate change than any other fuel, campaigners claim that a new station would be a disastrous setback in the battle against global warming, and send out a negative signal to the rest of the world about how serious Britain really is about tackling the climate threat.

But the proposals, from the energy giant E.ON, are firmly backed by the Business Secretary, John Hutton, and the Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks. Some members of the Cabinet are thought to be unhappy about them, including the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn. Mr Brown is likely to have the final say on the matter later this year.

During the eight-day trial, the world's leading climate scientist, Professor James Hansen of Nasa, who had flown from American to give evidence, appealed to the Prime Minister personally to "take a leadership role" in cancelling the plan and scrapping the idea of a coal-fired future for Britain. Last December he wrote to Mr Brown with a similar appeal. At the trial, he called for an moratorium on all coal-fired power stations, and his hour-long testimony about the gravity of the climate danger, which painted a bleak picture, was listened to intently by the jury of nine women and three men.
Professor Hansen, who first alerted the world to the global warming threat in June 1988 with testimony to a US senate committee in Washington, and who last year said the earth was in "imminent peril" from the warming atmosphere, asserted that emissions of CO2 from Kings-north would damage property through the effects of the climate change they would help to cause.

He was one of several leading public figures who gave evidence for the defence, including Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park and director of the Ecologist magazine, who similarly told the jury that in his opinion, direct action could be justified in the minds of many people if it was intended to prevent larger crimes being committed.

The acquittal was the second time in a decade that the "lawful excuse" defence has been successfully used by Greenpeace activists. In 1999, 28 Greenpeace campaigners led Lord Melchett, who was director at the time, were cleared of criminal damage after trashing an experimental field of GM crops in Norfolk. In each case the damage was not disputed – the point at issue was the motive.

[See: Lawrence Kogan, Economic sabotage a form of free speech?, New Zealand Rural News (6/28/05) at: ].

The defendants who scaled the 630ft chimney at Kingsnorth, near Hoo, last year were Huw Williams, 41, from Nottingham; Ben Stewart, 34, from Lyminge, Kent; Kevin Drake, 44, from Westbury, Wiltshire; Will Rose, 29, from London; and Emily Hall, 34, from New Zealand. Tim Hewke, 48, from Ulcombe, Kent, helped organise the protest.

The court heard how, dressed in orange boiler suits and white hard hats bearing the Greenpeace logo, the six-strong group arrived at the site at 6.30am on 8 October. Armed with bags containing abseiling gear, five of them scaled the chimney while Mr Hewke waited below to liaise between the climbers and police.

The climbers had planned to paint "Gordon, bin it" in huge letters on the side of the chimney, but although they succeeded in temporarily shutting the station, they only got as far as painting the word "Gordon" on the chimney before they descended, having been threatened with a High Court injunction. Removing the graffiti cost E.ON £35,000, the court heard.

During the trial the defendants said they had acted lawfully, owing to an honestly held belief that their attempt to stop emissions from Kingsnorth would prevent further damage to properties worldwide caused by global warming. Their aim, they said, was to rein back CO2 emissions and bring urgent pressure to bear on the Government and E.ON to changes policies. They insisted their action had caused the minimum amount of damage necessary to close the plant down and constituted a "proportionate response" to the increasing environmental threat.

Speaking outside court after being cleared yesterday, Mr Stewart said: "This is a huge blow for ministers and their plans for new coal-fired power stations. It wasn't only us in the dock, it was the coal-fired generation as well. After this verdict, the only people left in Britain who think new coal is a good idea are John Hutton and Malcolm Wicks. It's time the Prime Minister stepped in, showed some leadership and embraced the clean energy future for Britain."

He added: "This verdict marks a tipping point for the climate change movement. When a jury of normal people say it is legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm it does to our planet, then where does that leave Government energy policy? We have the clean technologies at hand to power our economy. It's time we turned to them instead of coal."

Ms Hall said: "The jury heard from the most distinguished climate scientist in the world. How could they ignore his warnings and reject his leading scientific arguments?"
Not guilty: the Greenpeace activists who used climate change as a legal defence
Protesters cleared of damaging power station · Rare defence may boost other environment groups

by John Vidal, environment editor

The Guardian UK

September 11, 2008

Kingsnorth trial: Coal protesters cleared of criminal damage to chimney

The trial of the six Greenpeace UK activists was the first case in which acting to prevent climate change causing damage to property formed part of a 'lawful excuse' defence

by John Vidal, environment editor

September 10 2008

Six Greenpeace climate change activists have been cleared of causing criminal damage at a coal-fired power station in a verdict that is expected to embarrass the government and strengthen the anti-coal movement.

The jury of nine men and three women at Maidstone crown court cleared the six, five of whom had scaled a 200m tall chimney at Kingsnorth power station at Hoo, Kent in October 2007.

The activists admitted trying to shut down the station by occupying the smokestack and painting the world "Gordon" down the chimney, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.
It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a "lawful excuse" defence in court. It is now expected to be used widely by environment groups.

The court had heard from Prof James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, that the 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted daily by Kingsnorth could be responsible for the extinction of up to 400 species.

Hansen, a Nasa director who advises Al Gore, told the court that humanity was in "grave peril". He said: "Somebody needs to step forward and say there has to be a moratorium, draw a line in the sand and say no more coal-fired power stations."

It also heard David Cameron's environment adviser, millionaire environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, and an Inuit leader from Greenland say that climate change was already seriously affecting life around the world.

The court was told was that some of the property in immediate need of protection included parts of Kent at risk from rising sea levels, the Pacific island state of Tuvalu and areas of Greenland. The defendants also cited the Arctic ice sheet, China's Yellow river region, the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, coastal areas of Bangladesh and the city of New Orleans.

Goldsmith told the court: "By building a coal-power plant in this country, it makes it very much harder in exerting pressure on countries like China and India to reduce their burgeoning use of the fossil fuel."

The jury was told that Kingsnorth emits the same amount of CO2 as the 30 least polluting countries in the world combined – and that there are advanced plans to build a new coal-fired power station next to the existing site on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent.

Greenpeace used the court's decision to pile pressure on government to abandon plans for a new generation of coal-fired plants.

"Today's acquittal is a potent challenge to the government's plans for new coal-fired stations from jurors representing ordinary people in Britain who, after hearing the evidence, supported the right to take direct action in order to protect the climate," said Ben Stewart, Greenpeace's communications director who was one of the six acquitted.

The others were Will Rose, Kevin Drake, Tim Hewke, Huw Williams and Emily Hall.

"It wasn't only us in the dock, it was coal-fired power generation as well. The only people left in Britain who think new coal is a good idea are business secretary John Hutton and the energy minister Malcolm Wicks," said Hall.
"It's time the prime minister stepped in and embraced a clean energy future for Britain."
Power station protesters cleared

BBC News

September 10, 2008

Six Greenpeace activists have been cleared of causing criminal damage during a protest over coal-fired power.

The activists were charged with causing £30,000 of damage after they scaled Kingsnorth power station in Hoo, Kent.

At Maidstone Crown Court Judge David Caddick said the jury had to examine whether protesters had a lawful excuse.

The defendants said the protest was lawful because it aimed to prevent damaging emissions. Energy firm E.ON said lives had been put at risk. [????]

Five people who scaled the chimney - Huw Williams, 41, of Nottingham; Ben Stewart, 34, of Lyminge, Kent; Kevin Drake, 44, of Westbury, Wiltshire; Will Rose, 29, of London; and Emily Hall, 34, from New Zealand - were all charged with causing criminal damage.

'Gordon, bin it'

Tim Hewke, 48, from Ulcombe, Kent, accused by the prosecution of organising the protest from the ground, also faced the same charge.

Jurors heard how protesters painted the name "Gordon" on the 200m (650ft) chimney on 8 October last year, in a political protest against the redevelopment of the plant as a coal-burning unit.

They had planned to daub the words "Gordon, bin it" on the stack in a reference to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but were threatened with a High Court injunction and arrested.

After the hearing, E.ON spokeswoman Emily Highmore said the firm, which is planning to build a coal-fired unit at the plant, was "hugely disappointed".

She said: "We respect people's right to protest, but what Greenpeace did was hugely irresponsible. It put people's lives at risk and that is clearly completely unacceptable."

Ms Highmore called for an "open and honest debate" about the challenges of energy and climate change, but added: "That's a debate that shouldn't be taking place at the top of a chimney stack."

She added: "Our men and women who work at Kingsnorth have a right to go to work to do their lawful business and to do it safely, so we're very concerned indeed about today's outcome."

This is a huge blow for ministers and their plans for new coal-fired power stations [said] Ben Stewart

Outside the court, activist Mr Stewart said the verdict was "a tipping point for the climate change movement".

He said: "When 12 normal [???] people say it is legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm it does to our planet then where does that leave government energy policy?"

Mr Stewart called for "clean technologies" to be used instead of coal.

And he said: "This is a huge blow for ministers and their plans for new coal-fired power stations."

There has been no government response to the verdict.

Activists scaled Kingsnorth power station in Hoo in a protest over a coal-fired power plant.