March 10, 2012

Obama's Policies Slow Energy Production Part II

Liberals try and blame Bush or other factors for high gas prices, but the plain truth is that Obama's anti-energy policies are hurting us now and will for some time in the future. As Mario Loyola shows, President Obama is personally responsible for choking off the flow of oil:

How Obama Is Choking Off U.S. Oil Production
By Mario Loyola
March 9, 2012

The news wires are reporting that President Obama actively lobbied Senate Democrats to defeat the Keystone pipeline yesterday. The effect of blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline is to defer 700,000 barrels of oil per day. And as I reported at The Weekly Standard recently, the president's policy of choking off oil production under federal leases will prevent another 1 million barrels of oil per day this year, and even more next year.

Obama will soon be personally responsible for preventing some 2 million barrels per day of possible North American crude oil production from reaching the American economy. The U.S. currently produces only about 6 million barrels of domestic crude oil, so that would be more than a 30 percent increase in domestic production.

The president likes to say that America is producing more oil than ever before, but that's due entirely to shale oil (e.g., fracking) and oil sands. The boom in production from private sources is currently shielding the administration from the political consequences of taking such a huge amount of oil off the market.

Two millions barrels per day of oil production would affect not just the price of gasoline in North America, but also the economics of world oil production: The president is preventing the U.S. from increasing oil production by an amount nearly equivalent to Iran's total oil exports. He insists that gasoline prices are rising because of "fears" about a disruption in Iranian supply, but he wants you to believe that gasoline prices would be unaffected by a 30 percent increase in domestic U.S. oil production in the next two years.

If you're gullible enough to believe that, consider this: The recession drove world oil demand from a peak of 86 million barrels per day in 2007 to a low of 85 million barrels per day in 2009. In the same period, the price of gasoline fell by half. We are once again entering a period of scarcity, where slight fluctuations in demand or supply will have a disproportionate impact on gas prices -- but this time the scarcity is largely the product of Obama's policies.

-- Mario Loyola, a senior analyst at the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment, is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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March 9, 2012

Obama's Policies Slow Energy Production

The results of President Obama's anti-energy policies are predictable to everyone but the kool-aid drinking left; less energy. Less oil and gas. More expensive prices at the pump. Worse, given the lead time to production, even if a Republican is elected in November it will take time to get us back on track. Just yesterday the Democrat controlled Senate confirmed Obama's rejection of the much-needed Keystone pipeline.

The following article on the Heritage Foundation's website has details of the results of these policies:

Under Obama, Oil and Gas Production on Federal Lands Is Down 40%
by Rob Bluey
January 18, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced on Jan. 27 that data used for its study of oil and gas production on federal lands was "incomplete." The EIA is currently reviewing information from the Department of Interior and will correct its report upon completion.

In his announcement rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline today, President Obama boasted that under his administration, "domestic oil and natural gas production is up." Obama, of course, failed to mention that his administration can't actually take any credit for the increase.

The vast majority of America's new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

It's not that Obama is devoid of responsibility. His administration oversees oil and gas production on federal lands by issuing leases. But when measuring oil and gas production in areas under Obama's jurisdiction, the numbers tell a different story.

Citing publicly available federal data, the House Natural Resources Committee noted these figures:

* Oil and natural gas production on federal lands is down by more than 40 percent compared to 10 years ago.

* Under the Obama administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.

* The Obama administration held only one offshore lease sale in 2011.

Despite the Obama administration's restrictive policies for oil and gas production on federal lands, overall production still increased thanks to the pro-energy policies in states like North Dakota.

"North Dakota has been the poster child for what can happen when we unleash free enterprise and allow states to develop and commercialize their resources," Heritage's Nick Loris wrote recently on The Foundry. "North Dakota is drilling at record pace."

The result: North Dakota's unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the lowest in the country. According to a recent report from IHS Global Insight, North Dakota already returned to pre-recession employment along with energy-rich Alaska. Texas is expected to do so in the first quarter of 2012, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota next year.

Those states all have something in common: energy production.

That policy aligns with recommendations from Obama's own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which yesterday issued a report calling for more energy production that includes drilling and pipelines. Here's the language from the Jobs Council report:

As a nation, we need to take advantage of all our natural resources to spur economic growth, create jobs and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. First, we should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands. Where sources of shale natural gas have been uncovered, federal, state and local authorities should encourage its safe and responsible extraction. While the administration has supported holding additional lease sales and evaluating new areas for drilling, further expanding and expediting the domestic production of fossil fuels both offshore and onshore (in conjunction with more electric and natural gas vehicles) will reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and the huge outflow of U.S. dollars this reliance entails. In addition, policies that encourage rapid lease development while emphasizing the highest safety standards will ensure companies responsibly drill for natural gas or oil and mine for coal or other our minerals in federal areas in a timely manner.

With the Keystone XL decision, Obama rejected that advice. "At a time when unemployment remains unacceptably high, Iran is threatening the Strait of Hormuz, and Canada is looking to take this oil elsewhere, it is difficult to understand how the President could say no to thousands of jobs and an increase in energy supply from our ally," Loris wrote in reaction to the decision.

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February 27, 2012

Energy Policy: We Cannot Afford Four More Years of Obama

President Obama's anti-energy policies are not just costing us now, they will cost us far into the future. It takes time to build pipelines and drill for oil; a long time between giving the green light and when construction and drilling actually starts. No, drilling alone will not solve our energy problems, but that's a straw man the left likes to knock down. But it will help, whereas fantasies about "green energy" will only harm us. Joseph Curl at The Washington Times has it about right:

Can you really afford four more years?
by Joseph Curl
The Washington Times
Sunday, February 26, 2012

In January 2009, when President Obama was sworn in, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $1.68.

Today, it's more than double that: The price has reached $5 in parts of California and $6 just outside Florida's Disney World. In fact, prices have set a record, being so high so early in the year. By Memorial Day, America's first big travel weekend of the year, gas nationwide will average $4 and above, industry analysts predict.

Candidate Obama made political hay of the issue throughout 2008, boldly asserting that he - and he alone - was most able to bring prices down. He repeatedly said there was "no silver bullet" and "no quick fix," but on the campaign trail in Indianapolis, he told Americans, "You shouldn't have to accept any more excuses as to why it can't be done."

More than three years into office, that's all Mr. Obama offers - excuses. He blames oil companies for making a profit; blames "speculators" for pushing up the price of oil; blames Congress for not doing away with oil-industry tax breaks; blames world producers for limiting outflow to drive up prices.

But this past weekend, the president made a startling claim: "Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years."

The claim is true, but as always, a very crafty lie of omission. America is producing more oil than eight years ago, but not because of anything the president has done. In fact, production is up only because Americans are resourceful and have battled past the obstructions Mr. Obama has erected.

"Since taking office, he has declared 85 percent of our offshore areas off-limits, decreased oil and gas leases in the Rockies by 70 percent, rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and has 10 federal agencies planning more regulation of hydraulic fracturing, which is key to oil and natural-gas development," says Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

The administration's own Energy Information Agency "estimates that oil production in the Gulf was down 22 percent in 2011 and projected to be down 30 percent in 2012" after Mr. Obama's Gulf moratorium policies were put in place, the API said.

So, how on Earth is America producing more oil? Because of action taken by President Bush, and even his predecessors.

"That production is a direct result of leases issued before this administration and as result of development on private and state lands," Mr. Gerard said, according to Fox News.

"On private lands, oil production is booming," wrote Fox reporter Jim Angle. "In North Dakota, the oil and gas are on private or state land and beyond the president's control. The state has gone from producing a small amount of oil to some 450,000 barrels a day. Unemployment is 3.3 percent, the lowest in the country. And the state has a budget surplus in the billions."

In this weekend's speech, Mr. Obama made more excuses. "There are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Wrong. In fact, just saying America is going to drill for its own oil has a dramatic effect on prices. In July 2008, when gas was $3.28 a gallon, Mr. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling and urged Congress to lift the federal moratorium. Crude-oil futures plummeted nearly $10 the next day, the largest decline in 17 years.

What's more, early in Mr. Bush's tenure, debate raged over opening a tiny part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling (just 8 percent of the more than 19 million acres in the reserve). Democrats killed the Republican proposal, saying the billions of barrels of oil wouldn't come to market for a decade.

In 2012, that oil - estimated at 1 million barrels a day for 30 years, nearly the amount the U.S. imports from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela - would be flowing.

Just last year, Mr. Obama said, "Our energy policy still is just a hodgepodge." It is just that today. Yet the president continues to push "green" energy, claiming the only answer to America's problems is to pursue an "all of the above" strategy. Last week, he said his administration is forging ahead with alternative-energy sources such as "a plant-like substance, algae."

Yes ... pond scum. Mr. Obama is officially out of ideas.

But one claim he made this weekend is absolutely true: "In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in more than a decade."

The reason? Americans can't afford to fill their cars up anymore.

A few months ago, exactly a year out from Election Day 2012, Mr. Obama pleaded for support: "I'm going to need another term to finish the job."

But America can't afford four more years of trying to turn a community organizer into a president. They'd be better off trying to turn pond scum into fuel.

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February 9, 2012

The Gospel of Global Warming, er "Climate Change," Takes Another Hit

From Powerline:

And the House of Cards Starts to Come Down
by Steven Hayward
February 9, 2012

As John noted here Tuesday, and I have noted several times over the last few weeks, the climate campaign is suffering body blows on an almost daily basis. The latest is the report, based on new and more comprehensive satellite data, that the ice melt in the Himalayas has been nil--zip, zilch, nada--over the last ten years. Here's how the left-wing Guardian newspaper in Britain reports it:

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."

It's fun watching these guys fall on their face in real time. The whole circus is falling apart much faster than I expected. I can tell you that around Washington the whole climate change angle is slowly being dropped from conversation about everything. It's almost like talking with normal people again.

It'd be funny but for the eco-tyranny they're trying to force on us.

Update

Go now to this must-read post over at Mike's America - Three Charts Debunk the Manmade Global Warming Myth: Sadly, there is too much money at stake for the alarmists to accept other scientific views! Yup, it's mostly the sun that's to blame.

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January 31, 2012

Do Wind and Solar Work? No

No time to write a proper post, but this piece over at Powerline caught my eye:

Do Wind and Solar Work?
by John Hinderacker
January 30, 2012

Everyone knows that wind and solar energy are inefficient sources of energy compared to fossil fuels. But, as the Science and Environmental Policy Project points out in the current The Week That Was, the extent to which "green" energy actually works is surprisingly opaque:

Someone experienced in analyzing potential investments in innovative industries may be surprised by the lack of hard data on the performance of solar and wind in generating electricity. Certainly, it is understandable that solar and wind companies may wish to keep certain trade secrets from the public, such as manufacturing design and techniques. But if the results are as solid as the promoters claim, than one would expect the promoters would give the hard data on performance. Yet these are being withheld on the claims that such data is proprietary - confidential.
Slowly, information is leaking from nations that have spent heavily on wind and solar, such as Germany. This information should give pause to those touting solar and wind, including politicians. England is pulling back from wind, Germany has announced drastic cut-backs on its subsidies to solar, and Spain has announced the elimination of subsidies for renewable power. These actions are not the result of success. The erratic nature of these sources is well established. Further, electricity is rather unique among energy types - it cannot be stored on an affordable, commercial scale.

The leaders of countries that have spent heavily on solar and wind assumed that the erratic nature of these sources, and that the lack of storage, can be compensated by installing the facilities over a broad geographical area. They were wrong. A winter high pressure system can cover a broad area of Europe, rendering wind turbines useless when solar panels can generate little electricity, and none at night. Reports are indicating that at least 80% conventional back-up is needed. [One exception may be Denmark which relies on pumped hydro storage from Norway and Sweden, selling excess wind generated electricity to pump up reservoirs when possible and buying the hydroelectricity when needed. The pricing should be quite interesting.]

A further complication is that fast back-up from conventional sources, such as coal or natural gas, is very demanding on the equipment, inefficient, and polluting - the pollution control devices do not work properly when heat output varies. According to reports, no coal plants have been de-commissioned in northern Europe rendering the claim of lower carbon dioxide emissions questionable.

Those proclaiming the virtues of wind and solar should be compelled to reveal actual output data from these sources, the required back-up, and data on the actual reduction of carbon dioxide and other emissions when alternative sources are used.

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January 20, 2012

Obama Kills the Keystone Pipeline
Panders to the EnviroCrazy Left

When the Washington Post tells Obama he blew it, you know he's really gone off the deep end.

Obama's Keystone pipeline rejection is hard to accept
By Editorial Board
Published: January 18

ON TUESDAY, President Obama's Jobs Council reminded the nation that it is still hooked on fossil fuels, and will be for a long time. "Continuing to deliver inexpensive and reliable energy," the council reported, "is going to require the United States to optimize all of its natural resources and construct pathways (pipelines, transmission and distribution) to deliver electricity and fuel."

It added that regulatory "and permitting obstacles that could threaten the development of some energy projects, negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure need to be addressed."

Mr. Obama's Jobs Council could start by calling out . . . the Obama administration.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced that it recommended rejecting the application of TransCanada Corp. to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and Mr. Obama concurred. The project would have transported heavy, oil-like bitumen from Alberta -- and, potentially, from unconventional oil deposits in states such as Montana -- to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Environmentalists have fought Keystone XL furiously. In November, the State Department tried to put off the politically dangerous issue until after this year's election, saying that the project, which had undergone several years of vetting, required further study. But Republicans in Congress unwisely upped the political gamesmanship by mandating that State make a decision by Feb. 21. Following Wednesday's rejection, TransCanada promised to reapply -- so the administration has again punted the final decision until after the election.

We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen -- with long-term trends in the global market, it's far too valuable to keep in the ground -- but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude -- just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn't do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.

Environmentalists and Nebraska politicians say that the route TransCanada proposed might threaten the state's ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region. But TransCanada has been willing to tweak the route, in consultation with Nebraska officials, even though a government analysis last year concluded that the original one would have "limited adverse environmental impacts." Surely the Obama administration didn't have to declare the whole project contrary to the national interest -- that's the standard State was supposed to apply -- and force the company to start all over again.

Environmentalists go on to argue that some of the fuel U.S. refineries produce from Canada's bitumen might be exported elsewhere. But even if that's true, why force those refineries to obtain their crude from farther away? Anti-Keystone activists insist that building the pipeline will raise gas prices in the Midwest. But shouldn't environmentalists want that? Finally, pipeline skeptics dispute the estimates of the number of jobs that the project would create. But, clearly, constructing the pipeline would still result in job gains during a sluggish economic recovery.

There are far fairer, far more rational ways to discourage oil use in America, the first of which is establishing higher gasoline taxes. Environmentalists should fight for policies that might actually do substantial good instead of tilting against Keystone XL, and President Obama should have the courage to say so.

Ok, so if killing Keystone was dumb, why did he do it? Post columnist Robert Samulson gives us the answer; to placate the envirocrazy left:

Rejecting the Keystone pipeline is an act of insanity
By Robert J. Samuelson
Published: January 19

President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn't often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and -- beyond the symbolism -- won't even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won't get much. Stopping the pipeline won't halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama's decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.

Now consider how Obama's decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

Finally, Obama's decision forgoes all the project's jobs. There's some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to "job years," meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it's in the thousands and thus important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

The big winners are the Chinese. They must be celebrating their good fortune and wondering how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy. There's no guarantee that tar-sands oil will go to China; pipelines to the Pacific would have to be built. But it creates the possibility when the oil's natural market is the United States.

There are three things to remember about Keystone and U.S. energy policy.

First, we're going to use lots of oil for a long time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. oil consumption will increase 4 percent between 2009 and 2035. The increase occurs despite highly optimistic assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and bio-fuels. But a larger population (390 million in 2035 versus 308 million in 2009) and more driving per vehicle offset savings.

The more oil we produce domestically and import from neighbors, the more we're insulated from dramatic interruptions of global supplies. After the United States, Canada is the most dependable source of oil -- or was, until Obama's decision.

Second, barring major technological breakthroughs, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will rise for similar reasons. The EIA projects that America's CO2 emissions will increase by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035. (The EIA is updating its projections, but the main trends aren't likely to change dramatically.) Stopping Canadian tar-sands development, were that possible, wouldn't affect these emissions.

Finally, even if -- as Keystone critics argue -- some Canadian oil were refined in the United States and then exported, this would be a good thing. The exports would probably go mostly to Latin America. They would keep well-paid industrial jobs (yes, refining) in the United States and reduce our trade deficit in oil, which exceeded $300 billion in 2011.

By law, Obama's decision was supposed to reflect "the national interest." His standard was his political interest. The State Department had spent three years evaluating Keystone and appeared ready to approve the project by year-end 2011. Then the administration, citing opposition to the pipeline's route in Nebraska, reversed course and postponed a decision to 2013 -- after the election.

Now, reacting to a congressional deadline to decide, Obama rejected the proposal. But he also suggested that a new application with a modified Nebraska route -- already being negotiated -- might be approved, after the election. So the sop tossed to the environmentalists could be temporary. The cynicism is breathtaking.

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June 27, 2011

The Global Warming, Er, "Climate Change" Witchhunt

Via Powerline

(CNSNews.com) - Former Democratic Sen. Tim Wirth of Colorado, now the president of the UN Foundation, said the flooding and forest fires in the United States this year are evidence of "the kind of dramatic climate impact" climate change models have predicted and that those in the know on climate change must "undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers."

In a UN Foundation conference call about climate change, from Svalbard, Norway on Thursday, Wirth said, "[W]e have to--I think, again as I've suggested before--undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they're doing and make a battle out of it. They've had pretty much of a free ride so far, and that time has got to stop."

"Free ride?" He's either smoking crack or he's an environmental kook, take your pick.

As Steven Hayward of Powerline points out, "The easiest way for Wirth to end the "free ride" would be to debate climate skeptics." But in fact they rarely if ever consent to such debates. Former Vice President Al Gore has famously refused to offers to debate.

But just so we're all clear as to Mr Wirth's ultimate objectives, this is the man who once said that

We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing--in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.

Any questions?

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June 8, 2011

Germany Commits Economic Suicide

Update: Japan follows suit

From Instupundit:

RATHER A LOT, REALLY: What Will A Nuclear-Free Germany Cost? Economic suicide by policy-fad? "Blackouts are a near-term concern because, under Merkel's plan, Germany's eight oldest reactors--seven of which she ordered offline for safety inspections in March, and another undergoing maintenance--would never run again, and ramping up supply from other sources could prove difficult. Germany's Federal Network Agency has determined that southern Germany, which stands to lose five reactors producing 5,200 megawatts, could run short of power this winter. During cold snaps, demand for power is at a peak, and output from Germany's more than 17,000 megawatts' worth of solar capacity is also at a minimum. Electricity imports are also harder to come by during the winter, as neighboring countries confront their own power peaks."

Give the Obama Administration credit for avoiding such flightiness.

UPDATE: Reader Robert L. Crawford writes:

Economic Suicide is exactly it, and the first case I'm aware of by a dynamic western democracy. Communist 5-year plans, starving the kulacs, Great Leaps Forward, etc., can be explained considering the sources, but for Germany in 2011? They are sacrificing their economic future and standard of living for political correctness. Stunning.

Indeed.


Update: From an AP story in The Washington Post:

The disasters have renewed a national debate on nuclear power in Japan, which has few natural resources. Japan relied on nuclear energy for 30 percent of its electricity before the disasters and planned to raise that to 50 percent by 2030, but the government has announced it will abandon that target and promote renewable energy instead.

Some nuclear plants across the country remain shut in the wake of the disaster, leading to fears Tokyo and other areas may not have enough electricity for the peak summer months. Residents of the capital are reducing their use of lights and air conditioning, and some companies are moving crucial operations like computer centers to parts of Japan with more stable power supplies.

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April 2, 2011

"Smart Meters" are Enviromental Totalitarianism

Not being happy telling you what type of light bulbs to use and what type of car you have to drive, the envirocrazies also want to control the temperature in your house. They think you're stupid, they're smart, and how dare you object.

This letter to the editor appeared in last Monday's Washington Times and is typical of that sort of thinking:

The United States has always been a country that embraces technological change, but perhaps The Washington Times didn't get the memo ("Smart meters are a dumb idea," Comment & Analysis, March 18).

The smart grid transition now under way will provide positive new choices for our homes and businesses. While some have jumped to conclusions, the reality is that the transition is essential to manage our changing energy needs, a competitive global economy and an information-hungry population.

Our utility systems are just like any other piece of infrastructure: They need to be upgraded to improve safety, reliability and choice. This is like moving from telegrams to smartphones. Our utility system is finally moving into the 21st century and bringing with it an array of benefits, efficiencies and new consumer capabilities.

California utilities launched meter rollouts without adequate customer education, but the hysteria about "skyrocketing" bills is based on misinformation. The California Public Utilities Commission confirmed the meters operate and bill accurately. Some critics worry about privacy - the same concerns people had about the Internet, mobile phones, GPS and other technology rollouts. But the tech industry has been vigilant in developing safe and secure products. Just as the private sector worked with government to develop Internet protocols, the same process is under way with technology experts at the forefront in developing cybersecurity, interoperability and privacy measures for the smart grid.

The smart grid transition also means billions of dollars in private-sector investment. When did job creation, informed buyers, global competitiveness, entrepreneurial startups and customer service become negatives?

The smart grid is the key to growth for U.S. technology companies, the means to achieve environmental goals at a manageable cost, and the path for consumer empowerment. It's time to cut through the hysteria and hyperbole and embrace our role as the world's leader in this wave of innovation.

PHIL BOND

Get it? They're smart, you're stupid, and if you object you need to be educated. Anyone who objects is spreading "misinformation;" they can't possibly just have another point of view.

So What is the Problem with "Smart Meters?"

From the Washington Times editorial Mr Bond is complaining about:

Smart meters also give the highly regulated utilities the ability to adjust and restrict the flow of electricity to customers. Some residents are wary that the ability to measure their energy consumption could be used to create a profile of their activities. Patterns of garage door opening, for example, could indicate when a home is empty and unprotected from burglary. In California and Texas, other consumers have seen their electric bills rise rather than fall after smart meter installation, belying the promise of savings. Energy audits have discovered some meters are defective, leaving utilities red-faced and offering refunds. The California Public Utilities Commission on March 10 ordered PG&E to come up with ways for customers to opt out of the meters and Maine's Office of the Public Advocate on Tuesday chastised Central Maine Power for "bullying and intimidating" customers who don't want the devices.

On the one hand, the administration is agitated over "cybersecurity." On the other, it is creating a network that would allow malefactors to shut down air conditioners in the midst of a scorching summer day. Those malefactors might even work for the government. Obama energy czar Carol Browner told U.S. News & World Report last year, "We need to make sure that ... eventually we can get to a system where an electric company will be able to hold back some of the power so that maybe your air conditioner won't operate at its peak."

So there it is, folks, straight from the horse's mouth. Ms Browner herself admits that the purpose of these meters is to shut down your air conditioning if they think you're using too much.

Here is the USN&WR article if you want to check her quote for context. Go ahead and look, you'll see it doesn't change anything.

Now, I'm well aware that liberals consider it a myth that they will use these meters to control the electricity to your house and that oh no it's just an innocent program that will make energy use more efficient. Knowing the left like I do I don't buy that argument for a second, as the enviro left is all about control of your life down to the most minute detail.

The Suspicious Language

Here is the relevant language from section 112(c) of the California Energy Commission's proposal mandating use of these devices:

Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.

So what counts as an emergency and who gets to decide? It all starts out so innocent, but once these meters in place the enviros will get other ideas. Especially since....

A Shortage of Power?

...in the wake of the near-disaster at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant the enviros will stop us from building any more of them, no matter how safe the new designs. Enviros are also against coal and oil because you can never make the emissions safe enough for them. There are no real emissions from burning natural gas... except for carbon dioxide, which they have now decided is a pollutant. There are no more viable sites for hydroelectric plants, and the enviros don't like dams anyway.

This leaves wind, solar, geothermal, and the supposed "renewables." The first three are outright jokes, and the latter will only help in a limited fashion.

So unless something changes, we could be facing a shortage of electricity in the near future. And if those "smart meters" have already been installed, the temptation to use them to scale-back energy usage will be irresistible.

Bad Economics

Mr. Bond's letter also typifies the enviros misunderstanding of basic economics. He claims that "the smart grid transition also means billions of dollars in private-sector investment." But this is simply the broken window theory of economics stated in a slightly more sophisticated way. Every dollar spent changing our thermostats is a dollar not spent somewhere else. Yes, if you have to spend money to replace your thermostat you'll give someone a job. But that money you spent to replace your thermostat is money that you could have spent at the store on a new suit, and so the tailor will see a reduction in revenues.

I hear conservatives do this sometimes with regard to the military. They'll claim that some weapons program provides jobs. But again, every dollar spent building that weapon is one more dollar taxed out of your pocket that could have been spent on something else. Further, that weapon doesn't produce anything itself, whereas at least a bridge provides a transportation solution.

If you think we need "smart meters," fine. But do yourself a favor and base your argument on environmental grounds, not fake economic ones.

I know, I know

Because I'm against so-called smart meters I am against all regulation, I don't care about pollution, yada yada yada. I've gotten that sort of comment after these posts and they're tiresome.

I like the new energy-saver light bulbs and will replace the existing ones in my house when they burn out. But don't pass a law telling me I have to use them because I'll object and seek to have you thrown out of office.

Likewise, if you want a so-called smart meter at your house fine, put one in. But don't tell me I have to have one because I will fight you on it.

And if I want to drive a big, energy inefficient car (which I don't) that's my right and I object to your CAFE regulations.

This is not like smokestack emissions where regulations are needed. These are legitimately in the arena of public choice and the enviros should keep their hands off.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 17, 2011

A Few Quick Comments on Some of the Issues of the Day

Not having much time to blog these days, I won't be able to do my usual in depth analysis of the issues of the day. It's a terrible confluence of events; I get involved in some big projects just as the world goes nuts. On the other hand, while it bugged me greatly for a while to be away from the blog, pretty soon you get used to it. About three of four years ago I decided to just up TV entirely because it was just taking up too much time. For a few weeks I missed my shows, but now I can't imagine going back to it.

The Japanese Nuclear Crisis

Yes the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is serious. Let's also recall that it was hit by not only an earthquake that registered a whopping 9 on the Richter scale, but a tsunami as well. This is not Three Mile Island... which oh by the way didn't kill anyone.

The bigger question is what the effect will be on nuclear power as a source of electricity. One can only despair after looking at the news, which is in full meltdown over the situation. The extreme environmentalists are licking their chops, figuring that (finally!) they can stop new plants from being built and shut down existing ones.

Amazingly, over 50 percent of Americans still think that nuclear power is generally safe. Unfortunately, another poll shows that half of all voters see Obama as being serious about reducing the deficit, so I guess we shouldn't put too much faith in either polls or the intelligence of the American people, take your pick.

The bottom line is that there is no energy source that is free of pitfalls. Nuclear plants run the risk of meltdown. Coal, oil, and natural gas emit greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, which the enviros now tell us is a pollutant (who would have guessed?). There are no more locations for hydrodynamic dams, and solar and wind are a joke. Biofuels based on sugar products, grass, or waste hold some promise, but only barely. Only nuclear and fossil fuels can produce enough electricity to matter, and of course the enviros are against both.

Yes let's make nuclear plants safer. Yes let's learn from this and make sure that if they're in earthquake zones they are more survivable. But we either need them as a power source or the enviros need to stop complaining about fossil fuels.

And yes I would be perfectly fine if they built a nuclear power plant in my neighborhood.

The Libyan Revolution

The unrest started on Feb 15, and within a week or two it was clear that a revolution was under way. Unlike his Egyptian neighbor Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi has decided to stay and fight it out. No doubt the Mubarak left because he lost the support of the army, whereas Ghaddafi has cobbled enough of a force from mercenaries and his own army to put up a good fight. In fact, some say he's winning.

"The world," has mostly told Ghaddafi that shooting his own civilians isn't so good, which is kind of ironic since the government in most of those nations would do the same thing if they felt their rule threatened.

On March 10 France even went so far as to recognize the rebel National Transitional Council as the legitimate government.

Most recently, the UN Security Council has approved a no-fly zone over Libya. "The world" seems to see that something needs to be done. Unlike, that is, our own president. But more on that below.

Gasoline Prices

Gas is about $3.50 a gallon where I live. From what I can see there are two general reasons for the rise; the crisis in the Middle East and our own refusal to exploit our own reserves.

Yes we risk spills if we drill. And no it won't solve all our problems. But if you don't like drilling then come up with your own energy source... and please don't embarrass yourself by talking about electric cars, wind, or solar.

I hear Obama and his advisers want to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Big mistake. One, the reserve was meant for a true crisis, and we're not near that. Two, it's only a short-term solution.

The Federal Budget Standoff

Democrats want to spend, Republicans want to make a few tepid cuts. The entire federal budget is about $3.8 trillion. Republicans want to cut a measly $61 billion, and the Dems a pathetic $6 billion.

Put in context, the Republicans want to cut 61 cents of a budget of 380 dollars, and the Dems 6 cents on the same.

Guess what? The Dems tell us the world will come to an end if we cut any more than $6 billion.

Oh and the deficit is about $1.5 trillion, and by his own projections Obama will have doubled the national debt. But no one aside from those crazy Tea Party types seems to want to do anything about it.

Wisconsin

Chris Christie is getting some competition for status most admired governors among conservatives. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has rode the storm in his state admirably and refused to back down in the face of an unprecedented level of threats and intimidation from union thugs. He kept his party together, and as a result they have achieved the unthinkable; a serious rollback of union abuses.

You don't have to believe everything muckrackers like Upton Sinclair wrote to know that abuses in the workplace were horrendous a hundred or so years ago. I would have been a union organizer myself in the 19th and early 20th centuries. When it comes to coal mines I'm still sympathetic to unions.

But today over 50 percent of union members are white collar workers. The only reason unions were or are needed is to ensure workplace safety and obtain more than starvation wages. There is no reason for labor unions in most work environments today, let alone in white collar environments.

Public sector unions are especially odious, especially so if they have collective bargaining power. The reason is pretty straightforward: The people elect legislators to determine the salaries of public employees. When public sector unions put forth a special representative to bargain with these legislators, they've effectively elected their own special legislator. Worse, they're doing it all with our tax dollars.

This is an usurpation of democracy. The "seat at the table" for public sector employees is and must be only through normally elected legislators. They don't get another seat, or a special representative. If they don't like their salaries they need to work to elect different legislators.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the incredible thuggish behavior of the unions in Wisconsin foretold of what will happen around the country if we do not get a handle on this situation now. As mentioned earlier, while union membership is declining among blue-collar workers it is increasing among public-sector white-collar workers. While workers everywhere should have the right to form an organization (provided they do it on their own time and not at the workplace), the absolutely must not have collective bargaining power.

In the old days there was an implicit agreement in the trade-off of benefits between private and public sector employment. You got higher wages in the private sector, but your job was always somewhat at risk. Public sector employees made less, but had more job security, to the point where in some professions such as teaching you basically have a guaranteed job for life.

Public sector employees now want it all. They want wages equal to or greater than their counterparts in the private sector. The latest rationale is that public sector employees are supposedly more talented and thus deserve more. Besides being arrogant and condescending, such an argument ignores the fact that public sector employment enjoys better job security.

The NPR Scandal

That a few big shots at NPR have whacko leftist views and are willing to take money from the world's biggest Jihadist-terrorist organization is in a way not news. Conservatives have known this for years.

If the big media - "mainstream media" - did their jobs NPR would have been exposed long ago and their funding eliminated. As it is they don't care because with the exception of Fox News and a few other conservative outlets they are only different by degree, not by kind.

The NPR scandal comes on the heals of other citizen-journalist pieces by James O'Keefe and Lila Rose exposing ACORN and Planned Parenthood. What's amazing, and irritating at the same time, is that all three of these; NPR, ACORN, and Planned Parenthood, were ripe targets just waiting to be picked. Everyone who is not drinking the liberal cool-aide knows they're corrupt. And it was so easy to trip them up. If a few ordinary young folks could do it with cheap store-bought equipment, why can't the big media with their millions of dollars in resources?

Instead of introspection on such questions, though, we are treated to idiotic pieces about how "There is no ethical canon or tradition that would excuse such deception on the part of a professional journalist." Yeah that's the important part.

What's scary is what the liberal media must have gotten away with in the days before the internet.

Where's Obama?

So where's our president? Dithering, of course. Playing golf. Going to fundraisers. Consulting with Michelle over this year's vegetable garden. Having fun being president, I guess, but whatever he's up to the issues of the day don't seem to concern him.

His supposedly pro-nuclear power secretary of energy is mostly silent on nuclear power.

He doesn't seem to care a whit about Libya. He and his SecState are always "consulting," but this is a process, not a policy. We have no policy. The UN can pass any resolution it wants about no-fly zones, but we all know that only the US can enforce it.

Worse, he seems to treat foreign policy problems as annoyances, not concerns that should be at the front and center for any president. The only thing that seems to bother him are Israeli "settlements" on the West Bank.

Union thugs? He's behind them. Some on the right say it's all about the money and donations to the Democrat Party, but it's more than that. Public sector unions are integral to his plan to bring European-style socialism to this country.

Before the election Obama told us that "under my plan... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." If that's his plan for electricity, why should he think any differently for gasoline?

And the budget? He's AWOL on that too, letting the Dems in Congress do the negotiating for him.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 1, 2011

Episode #75 and the Confusion of the Scientists

In Twilight Zone episode #75 of the original series, "The Midnight Sun," Norma and her friend Mrs. Bronson are awaiting the end of the earth in an apartment building in an unnamed American city. For reasons scientists are unable to explain, the earth has been moving closer and closer to the sun. This has sent temperatures on earth skyrocketing, in their case to over 120 degrees. Everyone else in the building has left for the polar regions, and only these two women remain. They are visibly perspiring throughout their ordeal.

Photobucket

A man comes to their apartment door and tries to break in, demanding water. Norma threatens him with a gun, and the man breaks down, apologizing and saying that thirst and the general situation have driven to the brink of madness.

The camera the shows the thermometer, which bursts as it goes over 120 degrees. Norma's paintings start to melt, and it is clear that the end is near.

The scene then immediately goes to the apartment, but at night. Norma is lying on the couch, obviously ill. A doctor tells Mrs. Bronson that she will be fine now that her fever has broken. Mrs. Bronson asks the doctor about the latest news reports, about whether the earth will stop moving away from the sun, which has caused worldwide blizzards. Outside it is snowing heavily, and the thermometer shows -10 degrees. As Norma awakes she says "Isn't it wonderful to have darkness, and coolness?" Mrs. Bronson replies with a sense of dread in her voice, "Yes, my dear, it's....wonderful."

The Belmont Club post below prompted my memory of that Twilight Zone episode. Follow the link and read the comments, some of which are quite good. As us usual with most of what Richard Fernandez writes, this one is worth reprinting in its entirety:

Unseasonably cold weather in the UK has spurred speculation the earth may be entering a new Ice Age. This flies completely in the face of last decade's strident warnings about Global Warming. "Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue. Is he barmy?"

Piers Corbyn is about as "barmy" as Time Magazine when it predicted in 1974 that another Ice Age was right around the corner.

Telltale signs are everywhere --from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.
The same tone of impending doom; the same portentous omens; the same catastrophic language was used not long ago -- but to warn about a new Ice Age. Today the same tenor is being used to caution against Global Warming. How did the "science" turn 180 degrees around in that time? How could the data have suddenly done an about-face? Who knows?

What is common across the decades was the assertion that weather is generating a political crisis which forces governments to act. Back in 1974, the scientists who looked at Global Cooling believed it would cause the world to starve from freezing crops unless of course, something was done. Today their scientific descendants are claiming the world will starve to death from wilting crops unless something is done. What exactly the crisis happens to be seems less important than acting. Just don't stand there. Do something.

University of Toronto Climatologist Kenneth Hare, a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, believes that the continuing drought and the recent failure of the Russian harvest gave the world a grim premonition of what might happen. Warns Hare: "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row."

And the direction of that required action always flowed one way. America had to change. Strange as it may seem to people who've watched television for the last ten years, a major concern of the 1980s was that burning vast amounts of carbon from nuclear fireballs would cause a "nuclear winter." "In 1982, a special issue of Ambio devoted to the possible environmental consequences of nuclear war included a paper by Crutzen and Birks anticipating the nuclear winter scenario."

Crutzen and Birks showed that smoke injected into the atmosphere by fires in cities, forests and petroleum reserves could prevent up to 99% of sunlight from reaching the Earth's surface, with major climatic consequences ... Around this time, interest in nuclear war environmental effects also arose in the USSR. ... Russian atmospheric scientist Georgy Golitsyn applied his research on dust-storms to the situation following a nuclear catastrophe. ... In 1984 the WMO commissioned Georgy Golitsyn and N. A. Phillips to review the state of the science."

They found that a nuclear war destroying half the world's cities would create "large quantities of carbonaceous smoke - 1-2 × 10^14 grams being mostly likely, with a range of 0.2 - 6.4 × 10^14 grams (NAS; TTAPS assumed 2.25 × 10^14). The smoke resulting would be largely opaque to solar radiation but transparent to infra-red, thus cooling by blocking sunlight but not causing warming from enhancing the greenhouse effect."

The implication was clear. If the world wanted to avoid nuclear winter, then nuclear disarmament would have to be imposed. And that meant disarming America above all. Jonathan Schell's, The Fate of the Earth, "helped focus national attention in the early 1980s on the movement for a nuclear freeze. The Fate of the Earth painted a chilling picture of the planet in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, while The Abolition offered a proposal for full-scale nuclear disarmament."

Just how exactly cows farting can cause "Global Warming" while exploding thousands of artificial suns on the surface of the planet freezes it is a mystery to me. But the physical process itself may be irrelevant. Whether the world is cooling or warming, or whether burning down every living tree and wooden house on the planet actually cools or heats the earth appears to depend on one political constant: It will always be America's fault. Back when the US had the preponderance of nuclear weapons, "nuclear winter" was the great danger. When it had the preponderance of cars, Global Warming was the universal peril. The process is apparently this: light a match, any match. To the question, does it heat or cool the world, look at where the match is made or failing that, who is striking it. Is it made in the USA? There you have your answer.

To the question: is the world entering a new period of cooling, perhaps Piers Corbyn should ditch his datasets and statistical analysis programs and focus on one single variable. Can a New Ice Age be blamed on America? If it can, then it's real. Otherwise it is false. Over the coming years and beyond my lifetime, historians may wish to apply this formula: V = American Policy multiplied by the absolute value of any variable. It's always America's fault.

One of the great achievements of the Enlightenment was the emergence of Reason as the primary source of authority. The most worrisome thing about the recent history of climate change "science" is its apparent arbitrariness. Perhaps the world is entering new climatic age -- whether of fire or ice is uncertain -- but that is not as worrisome as the mental epoch to which it seems to be returning. The Dark Ages were a time when belief -- or to use another word, ideology -- was the arbiter of truth and social position the determinant of legitimacy. Between Marxism and the Islam, what odds would you give Galileo?

Arbitrary is about right. Environmental scientists have a habit of making botched predictions.

The Questions


  1. Is the earth warming, cooling, or in a sort of "steady state?"
  2. If it is warming or cooling, is it natural or is mankind playing an appreciable role in the change?
  3. If yes, then is there anything we can do to reverse the change?
  4. if yes, then would the recommended solution be more gain than pain*?

* "pain" in terms of economics and loss of liberties to government regulation

The Answers


  1. The earth has probably been warming, but how much is in dispute, and even that may be turning around into a cooling period
  2. Possibly, but this is uncertain
  3. No realistic proposal would have an appreciable effect
  4. All recommended solutions, such as the Kyoto Treaty and Cap and Trade, would be far more pain than gain

What We Will Be Told

Based on the Belmont Club post and the comments following it, this is what I believe we will be told


  1. Whatever is happening, it must be America's fault
  2. Whatever is or is not going on, the left will insist that they be in charge*
  3. More government regulation is necessary
  4. And, of course, taxes** will have to be raised

* Everyone else needs to just shut up and do as they're told
** If not direct taxes, then through various regulations and cap and trade schemes.

There, I think that about sums it up.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 11, 2010

The "Pseudoscientific Fraud" of Global Warming


You know the global warming crowd is losing the battle when they resort to this:

You must sign in to Youtube to view it there, but I googled around and found it at NewsPublic.

As the world knows, the video, No Pressure, was "made available" last week by a group called 10:10 Global. It generated such a huge outcry that they removed it from their website and issued a sort-of apology. The group's stated goal is to start "An ambitious project to unite every sector of society behind one simple idea: cutting our carbon by 10% a year starting now."

Uh huh. I guess they got a little... overenthusiastic.

No Pressure was made by one Richard Curtis. Wikipedia describes him as a

New Zealand-born British screenwriter, music producer, actor and film director, known primarily for romantic comedy films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, and Love Actually, as well as the hit sitcoms Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Vicar of Dibley. He is also the founder of the British charity Comic Relief.

Seems like a pleasant chap, doesn't he? Who would guess that someone who specialized in romantic comedies could be so bonkers?

Yes yes, I'll be told by the global warming crowd, "No Pressure was terrible and I reject it, but the scientific consensus is that Anthropogenic (man-caused) Global Warming is real and we need to take action to stop it."

Er, no.

To take just one example, we have the resignation letter of Professor Hal Lewis, in which he takes to task American Physical Society of which he had been a member for sixty-seven years (h/t neo-neocon, a former Democrat who has one of the few truly must-read blogs). Here are a few key excerpts:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago)....

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it.

Obviously the good professor is only one person, and one person doesn't prove the case... yada yada yada. So please don't waste pixtels making that comment. But you can't dismiss ClimateGate, as some environmentalists I know have tried to do by calling it a "tempest in a teapot." I rather think that Professor Lewis was right; it exposed the AWG crowd for what they really were.

From all that I have read my bottom lines are these: One, AWG is at best unproven, and the warmers use so much politically correct intellectual terror to enforce their orthodoxy that in the current situation we can't get at the truth if we tried.

Two, the measures promoted by the AWG crowd are so extreme that they must be instantly dismissed regardless. The Kyoto treaty was a nightmare. Cap and Trade is a travesty. Environmentalism in general has a totalitarian bent. I am somewhat involved in fighting their extreme measures where I live, so I know a bit of what I write. Protect our air and streams, yes. Adopt extremist environmental proposals, no.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2010

The Moral Failure of the Environmentalists

Turns out the oil spill in the Gulf may not have the dire consequences we thought it might have. This from the liberal-left Time magazine, no less:

The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?
By Michael Grunwald / Port Fourchon, La
Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it's no leak; it's the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It's also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far -- while it's important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago -- it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. "The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared," says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana. (See pictures of the Gulf oil spill.)

Yes, the spill killed birds -- but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago. Yes, we've heard horror stories about oiled dolphins -- but so far, wildlife-response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region's fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana's disintegrating coastal marshes -- a real slow-motion ecological calamity -- but so far, assessment teams have found only about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.

The point is not that we can be careless with off-shore drilling, or that perhaps more regulation and/or oversight isn't needed. Nope, that's not where I'm going with this at all.

After all, the article makes clear that the reason why this isn't an eco-tragedy was due to reasons that won't be replicated elsewhere; the type of oil was a lot lighter than what came out of the Exxon Valdez, it's hot in the Gulf of Mexico so oil evaporates faster and there's more bacteria to eat it, and finally, a constant influx of water from the Mississippi River washes it away.

But still, there are two lessons here.

Keep Drilling

The BP spill is no reason to stop drilling. It is simply inexcusable for the Obama Administration to go to court to try and put a moratorium on drilling.

As soon as the scale of the leak became known, the anti-oil left went into overdrive, hyperventilating about how this "proved" that off-shore drilling was dangerous and must be stopped immediately. All this would achieve, though, is to increase drilling in other countries who have less environmental scruples and who hate us anyway, like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

So let's be cognizant that not all spills are the same, and some areas are safer to drill in than others for various reasons. It looks to me that the Gulf regions is one of the best, so let's step it up down there.

Blind in One Eye

Abe Greenwald of Commentary (both articles in this post h/t TWS) asks ""Where is the outrage?" ... but not about BP:

In 1991, Saddam Hussein dumped 8 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. Two years later, an international team of scientists determined that there was little if any evidence of environmental damage to show for it. The BP spill, by comparison, put an estimated 5 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not, and should not be, surprising to learn that the area's wildlife is already testing clean and fishing restrictions are steadily being lifted.

The Saddam comparison raises an additional thought. If BP's accidental spill had the left-wing enviro-catastrophists calling for Tony Hayward's head and for a million-man protest to bring down the global denialist superstructure, why did Saddam's intentional and more egregious act of ecological sabotage (which was the least of his heinous crimes) elicit nothing of the sort? After all, when the time came to depose that polluter, the left got its street marches -- in favor of leaving him be. But then, no one should look for moral direction from a movement that cares more about the potential damage done to seaweed than the actual deaths of human beings.

"This should be a rocket-boost for the environmental movement, a time to finally put to rest the notion that environmentalists are misguided alarmists," wrote Daou, the misguided alarmist, back in May. Now, with the half-summer of self-righteousness behind us, the environmentalists will begin composing their own narratives of denial. Thomas Friedman and others are cautioning that the real danger lies in what we cannot detect, see, or test for. This is faith inverted and misapplied -- believing in the existence of unseen material evidence and calling it science. Let's do as the great drilling proponent Sarah Palin advises and refudiate it.

I'm not familiar with what Sarah Palin advises but Greenwald's certainly got the rest of it right. The BP Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez spills were at least accidents, whereas Saddam's were deliberate. Yet the left, which demands criminal charges in the cases of the BP Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez spills, ignored Saddam's deliberate actions. Why?

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2010

05/20/10 News and Headlines Update

Sorry, sorry, not much blogging as I've been so involved in local projects I haven't had time. When I do get to this thing I've been spending my time working on a book review of Kimberley Kagan's The Surge: A Military History. Unfortunately it's going to take another week or so to finish it but if you are interested in that sort of thing make sure to check back.

In the meantime, there are quite a few stories of diverse nature below the fold, so comment away!

Second Amendment

First up is this

Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on Congress Thursday to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons that he said are ending up in the hands of violent drug cartels south of the border, using a highly contentious estimate of U.S. guns seized in Mexico when addressing Capitol Hill lawmakers.

Mr. Calderon said he respects the Second Amendment but argued that violence south of the border spiked in 2004 after the expiration of a U.S. ban on semiautomatic weapons. Echoing statements made by President Obama Wednesday, Mr. Calderon said the U.S. bears some responsibility in propping up the drug trade with its demand for narcotics and supply of guns.

Of course, they don't have a Second Amendment in Mexico, and although the Mexican Constitution allegedly guarantees the right to own firearms, legislation has made it nearly impossible to do so. So it's all a lot of nonsense for him to say he respects it.

But there are a few larger points.

One, liberals are always telling us that we can't sacrifice our civil liberties for the sake of reducing crime. In this case they are mostly right. Once those gun-control freaks an inch and they'll take a mile.

More, the problem has little to do with guns per se. The problems are demand for drugs in the U.S. and the fact that Mexico is just about a failed state. It's run by an oligarchy that has rigged the system to keep the rich people rich and give no one else a chance. They callously boot their poor over the border and then complain when we object.

The simple fact is that any gun ban won't make the slightest dent in the drug trade. Calderon is using it to cover up the corruption of his own government, and liberals in the U.S. will use it as cover for their anti-Second Amendment agenda.

Illegal Immigration

You just can't talk about Mexico without talking about illegal immigration and the story of CNN's Wolf Blitzer's interview with Mexican President Felipe Calderon has just about gone viral

Ouch!

Here's a summary of some of the interview:

Citing a Washington Times article explaining Mexican immigration laws that incriminated those who willfully participated in illegal immigration or helped illegal immigrants, Blitzer asked President Calderón to contrast those laws with Arizona's. Calderón replied that, while the Times assessment used to be true, it is no longer, and immigration cannot be illegal in Mexico. "Of course, on the border, we are asking people 'Who are you?'" explained Calderón, and "Once they are inside the country, what the Mexican police do is, of course, enforce the law, but any means immigration is a crime anymore in Mexico... if someone does that, we find them and sending [sic] them back."

In response to that, Blitzer noted that many in the US do not know that Mexico does not criminalize illegal immigration, and reference the older, harsher laws to argue that border states are only trying to do what Mexico does in its lower half, as well.

Blitzer later asks if Mexico checks papers at the border, and Calderon says yes, but when then asked if Mexican police do not go around asking for papers to prove residency, Calderon of course answers no. The coup de grace is when Blitzer follows up by asking him if a Guatemalan who is illegally in Mexico can just go and get a job, and Calderon is forced to answer no.

Yet he demands that we allow Mexicans to come illegally into the U.S. and get jobs.

Illegal Immigration II

Here's a headline good for a laugh Obama urges passage of immigration law
Fears racial profiling by states

Who are all these people kidding who claim that they object to Arizona's law because it allegedly profiles? We all know they're just in favor of illegal immigration.

Here, I'll prove it. My challenge to anyone who claims that they object to Arizona's SB1070 over civil rights issues is this; write your own law that enforces our immigration laws and gets reduces the number of illegals in the country. They never do it.

Leftist Intolerance

Here's a story that struck me today, Scientist booted off oil panel over writing

The Energy Department removed a St. Louis scientist from a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because of writings on his website about homosexuality and race relations.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Mr. Katz is a leading scientist, but his website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings include defenses of "homophobia" and doubts about the value of racial preferences and similar diversity efforts.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu was not aware of Mr. Katz's writings before selecting him for the panel, spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller told the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear how the department became aware of the writings.

"Dr. Chu has spoken with dozens of scientists and engineers as part of his work to help find solutions to stop the oil spill," a statement from the Energy Department said. "Some of Professor Katz's controversial writings have become a distraction from the critical work of addressing the oil spill. Professor Katz will no longer be involved in the Department's efforts."

Mr. Katz, reached by phone by The Washington Times, said he had no comment and referred a reporter to official statements.

"There's enough mud being thrown around. I think it would be better if I just referred you to the public record," he said.

The extent of work he performed on the oil-spill recovery effort was not immediately known.

In a website posting titled "In Defense of Homophobia," Mr. Katz wrote that "the human body was not designed to share hypodermic needles, it was not designed to be promiscuous, and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts."

"Engaging in such behavior is like riding a motorcycle on an icy road without a helmet. It may be possible to get away with it for a while, and a few misguided souls may get a thrill out of doing so, but sooner or later (probably sooner) the consequences will be catastrophic. Lethal diseases spread rapidly among people who do such things," he said.

In another posting, Mr. Katz questioned the value of universities' diversity efforts, saying they show no intellectual diversity and merely ingrain race-based thinking.

"The diversity movement is racist at its core," he writes. "When dealing with people, we should be concerned with intellect, talent, character and accomplishment. People aren't dogs or cattle; race matters only to racists."

When I read the things that Mr Katz wrote I thought "yeah, I believe most of that too."

Just remember, the left loves diversity! And don't you dare say otherwise.

Elena Kagan

We're supposed to believe that Elena Kagan is a moderate, that she's oh-so-smart, yada yada. Well, I don't know about the second part but anyone who believes the former needs to let me know because I've got a nice bridge to sell you.

She'll turn into another proponent of the "living constitution" theory which basically says make it up as you go along to fit your political agenda. Yep, it's Queen of Hearts time, folks, conclusion first, Constitution second. Want to take bets on how may penumbras she'll find over the course of her time on the bench?

Don't believe me? From her masters thesis: "Judges will often try to mold and steer the law in order to promote certain ethical values and achieve certain social ends.... Such activity is not necessarily wrong or invalid."

"Anti-Incumbent? Try Anti-Obama"

Fred Barnes says it's nonsense to think that the mood in this country is anti-incumbent:

The idea that anti-incumbent fever, striking equally at Democrats and Republicans, is the defining feature of the 2010 election is as misguided as last year's notion that President Obama's oratory would tilt the nation in favor of his ambitious agenda. Yet the media, echoing the Obama White House, has adopted anti-incumbency as the all-purpose explanation of this year's political developments...

What demolishes the notion of anti-incumbency as a scourge on both parties are the calculations of credible political analysts--Democrats and Republicans from Charles Cook to Jay Cost to Nathan Silver to James Carville--about the outcome of November's general election. They believe dozens of congressional Democrats either trail Republican challengers or face toss-up races, while fewer than a handful of Republicans are in serious re-election trouble...

If there's a Republican wave in November, Republicans will capture the Senate seats in Kentucky and Arkansas and probably in Pennsylvania as well. The most important political event of the week may have been the revelation that the Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut, the state's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, had falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran. That gives a Republican a chance to win in Connecticut, too--and maybe even a Senate majority.

We'll see. I'm not taking anything for granted. We've got a very good Republican congressman where I live in Frank Wolf (VA-10) , but he did vote for TARP which won't play well. I'm going all out to support him this year.

A Bomb South of the Border

Not in Mexico, thank heavens. But Brazil? Who do they have to worry about?

Turns out they've "extending over $1 billion in credit to Iran, in order to boost Brazilian exports to the country" . There goes the sanctions regime.

Above all, there is reason for doubt because of numerous signs that Brazil is working on its own secret nuclear program. The evidence is discussed in a recent paper by German nuclear security expert Hans Rühle. The paper is available in English from the German Council on Foreign Relations here. One point in Rühle's paper is of particular interest in connection with the policies of the current American administration. Rühle notes that in its December 2008 National Defense Strategy, Brazil confirmed its status as a member of the NPT, but also stated that "Brazil will not agree to any additional NPT restrictions until the nuclear weapons states make more progress toward nuclear disarmament." Concretely, Rühle points out, this meant that Brazil would not sign on to the 1997 additional protocol to the NPT allowing for expanded IAEA inspections and, in particular, would refuse to be more forthcoming about its suspect nuclear submarine program.

Brazil's conditioning of NPT cooperation upon the progress made by the existing nuclear powers toward nuclear disarmament reveals how the global "nuclear zero" campaign, of which Barack Obama has made himself the spokesperson, plays into the hands of would-be proliferators. After all, Iran itself has used similar arguments. Moreover, the stated condition for cooperation is entirely vague and flexible. How much "progress" is enough progress?

Another story with additional details here.

Lamest Mascots Ever

We end on a lighter note. Recently unveiled are Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the 2012 Olympics in London

Wenlock and Mandeville

Video and story at The Guardian:

In the end they were neither animal, vegetable nor mineral. Nor, as some cynics had predicted, did they resemble white elephants.

Instead, Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots, elicited mostly baffled reactions as to just what they were at their unveiling today.

With a metallic finish, a single large eye made out of a camera lens, a London taxi light on their heads and the Olympic rings represented as friendship bracelets on their wrists, they resemble characters dreamed up for a Pixar animation.

Perfectly androgynous, they represent what the UK has become. No wonder the British Empire fell.

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May 3, 2010

The BP Gulf Oil Spill - Let's be Adults, Please

What a mess.

BP Oil spill April-May 2010

CNN has a video tracker of the spill so you can see how it's grown and where it's headed.

Aol News has the latest

Another week of oil pouring from the seafloor. That is the best-case scenario for the Gulf Coast, where dead sea turtles washed ashore and a massive rust-colored slick continued to swell from an uncontrolled gusher spewing into the water.

BP PLC was preparing a system never tried before at such depths to siphon away the geyser of crude from a blown-out well a mile under Gulf of Mexico waters. However, the plan to lower 74-ton, concrete-and-metal boxes being built to capture the oil and siphon it to a barge waiting at the surface will need at least another six to eight days to get it in place.

Crews continued to lay boom in what increasingly feels like a futile effort to slow down the spill, with all ideas to contain the flow failing so far.

The Washington Post says that the spill is five times bigger than first thought, and might even be bigger than the 11 million gallons that leaked from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

CNN has the best timeline of events, follow the link for photos.

Ok, so what of it? Does or should this spell the end of off-shore drilling?

The short answer is; of course not. You don't ban air travel when a 747 crashes, and you don't drydock all ships when one sinks. There have been aircraft crashes and ships sunk that have cost hundreds or even thousands of lives, but no one would think to stop either.

Oil spills are different, not because of their nature but because of the politics. The left wants to end the use of oil so will and are seizing on this as "proof" that off-short drilling is unsafe and hazardous to the planet. Survey shttp://www.theredhunter.com/mt/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&id=1573&blog_id=1&saved_changes=1ome of the liberal blogs and they are fairly chortling over the disaster.

Nevermind that just two months ago President Obama himself opened up more waters to off-shore drilling. Don't look for the left to lambaste him for that.

Here's the bottom line; we should continue and even expand off-shore drilling.

The fact is that we need the oil for our economy to function properly, we're not going to reduce it's use anytime soon no matter what we do, and buying it from countries whose rulers hate us isn't exactly helpful.

This editorial at Aol News provides some useful perspective:

In addition, the size and number of oil spills from offshore oil rigs have declined substantially over the past three decades. Prior to the Horizon's destruction, the last substantial spill from an offshore rig was in 1969. And very little oil spilled into the Gulf after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and none damaged shores or wildlife. Unfortunately, the safety systems that prevented massive spills after Katrina and Rita seem to have failed in the case of the Horizon.

By comparison, since 1991, oil tankers have still spilled three times as much oil as offshore platforms and more than twice as much as pipelines.

Of all the sources of petroleum released into the ocean, including natural seeps of oil, offshore platforms put less oil into the ocean than any other. Since 1990, less than one-one thousandth of 1 percent of the oil produced in U.S. state or federal waters has spilled. Furthermore, when tankers leak, run aground or founder and sink, they tend to do so in port or near shore, resulting in more severe environmental damage.

And even if the oil spilled from the Horizon eventually equals the amount spilled by the infamous Exxon Valdez -- and it has so far leaked less than 14 percent of that -- it will still amount to multiple times less oil than spilled in any of the largest 35 spills from oil tankers since the 1970s.

In addition, while the damage and cleanup costs may eventually top billions of dollars, it will still equal only a small percentage of the royalties and taxes paid by offshore oil production to governments each year. It will equal an even smaller percentage of the overall net contribution the industry makes to the economy in terms of jobs and spending.

So yes, let's investigate the accident fully. If there was negligence, let's bring the full weight of the law to bear on those who are responsible. If we need additional regulations, let's put them into place.

But let's not use this as an excuse to rant against 'big oil."

Steve Hayward has it about right, and gives much food for thought , in a post over at NRO's The Corner today:

Judging from the triumphant tone of the e-mails I'm getting from indignant environmentalists about the oil spill in the Gulf, I'd have to say they are having the most fun since the ExxonValdez. After all, the greens were slowly losing ground to expanded domestic oil and gas production, and now they have a catastrophe to reinvigorate their philosophy of No. As many have observed, this spill is the Three Mile Island/Chernobyl of offshore drilling, and will likely set back further offshore drilling for decades, unless we find out there was some truly extraordinary human error, negligence, or unprecedented equipment failure. Even sabotage wouldn't get Big Offshore Oil off the hook; after the 1984 chemical catastrophe in Bhopal, India, was determined to have been an act of sabotage, the political hysteria over chemical plants was unabated.

What is clear is that the overall risk of environmental harm will likely increase from the reaction to this. Why? In the first place, it means we'll import more oil -- by tanker. Over at that other conservative magazine, I offer some thoughts on how the risk of oil spills from tankers is still much larger than the risk from offshore drilling:

If we were truly concerned about minimizing risks of oil spills in the ocean, we'd cut back on shipping oil by tanker. The amount of oil spilled in tanker accidents dwarfs the amount spilled from drilling rig accidents. (The long-term global trend of oil spills from all sources is down, despite the increase in both offshore drilling and oil shipped by tanker.) The Deepwater Horizon spill is on course to match or exceed the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. But the Exxon Valdez spill was only the 35th largest tanker-related spill over the last 40 years. Since the Exxon Valdez, there have been seven larger tanker spills; the ABT Summer disaster off the Angolan coast in 1991 spilled seven times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez, but received hardly any media coverage in the United States. And while it is too early to know how extensive will be the damage to Gulf Coast shoreline ecosystems, it is not too early to expect that many dire predictions will be proven wrong.

"This has been the pattern since the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. A hastily assembled White House panel of experts concluded that it might take 10 to 20 years to stop the still-seeping oil in the Santa Barbara Channel. It took only a few weeks. Another group of experts forecast that with the number of rigs operating in the channel, a similar blowout could be expected to occur on average once a decade. There hasn't been another one in the channel since. Dire predictions of the permanent loss of wildlife and damage to the channel's ecosystem became a daily refrain. But as Time magazine reported five months after the spill, 'dire predictions seem to have been overstated. .  .  . Now, four months later, the channel's ecology seems to have been restored to virtually its natural state.' A multi-volume study by the University of Southern California two years later concluded that 'damage to the biota was not widespread.'

"No energy source is risk-free or environmentally benign; just ask West Virginia coal miners, or check up on the avian mortality of wind power, or the potential disruption of desert ecosystems from proposed large solar power projects, or, indeed, the additional pollution of the Gulf coast from ethanol production. The greatest risk of all is the inability to weigh trade-offs."

Despite what environmentalists wish, this oil spill isn't going to make American quit consuming oil. In the aftermath of this spill, there will over the long term be increased demand for oil from Canadian tar sands (and ultimately from our own huge oil shale deposits out west), whose environmental footprint is much higher than the Gulf spill, and much of the additional oil we will now import will come from nations that are expanding their own offshore drilling to sell it to us. Think Angola is likely to inspect its offshore oil platforms as often as we will?

Let's just be adults in our reaction to this disaster, please.


Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 15, 2010

What I Wish I'd Said About the Audi "Green Police" Ad

The ad that aired during the Super Bowl

And what I wish I'd said in my first post on it

The New Conformo-radicalism

Groupthink compliance has never felt so right!

by Mark Steyn

A man asks for a plastic bag at the supermarket checkout. Next thing you know, his head's slammed against the counter, and he's being cuffed by the Green Police. "You picked the wrong day to mess with the ecosystem, plastic boy," sneers the enviro-cop, as the perp is led away. Cut to more Green Police going through your trash, until they find . . . a battery! "Take the house!" orders the eco-commando. And we switch to a roadblock on a backed-up interstate, with the Green Police prowling the lines of vehicles to check they're in environmental compliance.

If you watched the Super Bowl, you most likely saw this commercial. As my comrade Jonah Goldberg noted, up until this point you might have assumed it was a fun message from a libertarian think-tank warning of the barely veiled totalitarian tendencies of the eco-nanny state. Any time now, you figure, some splendidly contrarian type -- perhaps Clint lui-même in his famous Gran Torino -- will come roaring through flipping the bird at the stormtroopers and blowing out their tires for good measure. But instead the Greenstapo stumble across an Audi A3 TDI. "You're good to go," they tell the driver, and, with the approval of the state enforcers, he meekly pulls out of the stalled traffic and moves off. Tagline: "Green has never felt so right."

So the message from Audi isn't "You are a free man. Don't bend to the statist bullies," but "Resistance is futile. You might as well get with the program."

Strange. Not so long ago, car ads prioritized liberty. Your vehicle opened up new horizons: Gitcha motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure. . . . To sell dull automobiles to people who lived in suburban cul de sacs, manufacturers showed them roaring round hairpin bends, deep into forests, splashing through rivers, across the desert plain, invariably coming to rest on the edge of a spectacular promontory on the roof of the world offering a dizzying view of half the planet. Freedom!

But now Audi flogs you its vehicles on the basis that it's the most convenient way to submit to arbitrary state authority. Forty years ago, when they first began selling over here, it's doubtful the company would have considered this either a helpful image for a German car manufacturer or a viable pitch to the American male.

But times change. As Jonah Goldberg pointed out, all the men in the Audi ad are the usual befuddled effete new-male eunuchs that infest all the other commercials. The sort of milksop who'll buy the TDI and then, when the Green Police change their regulatory requirements six weeks later, obediently take it back to the shop and pay however many thousand bucks to have it brought it into compliance with whatever the whimsical tyrant's emissions regime requires this month.

Indeed we are trading our liberty for illusory environmental gains.

I've noticed a few things about this entire matter, especially surrounding the topic of global warming climate change.

One, the same people who screamed and hollered that the Patriot Act was the ultimate violation of our civil liberties have no problem regulating the most minute aspect of our lives when it's in the name of environmentalism. They will create the most gargantuan bureaucracies with the most vast powers, and which are largely unaccountable to lawmakers. But mention that maybe we shouldn't treat would-be airplane bombers as common criminals, and you'd think the world was about to end.

Two, if you're against any part of the environmentalist agenda, you must also be against any sort of regulation whatsoever and in favor of air and water pollution. Don't believe me? Here are the two comments left at my blog after my first post on the Green Police ad:

Are you saying there are no environmental problems severe enough to warrant government intervention? There are limits to what voluntary civic action can achieve. Actually I think these low-emission light-bulb campaigns etc are good examples of how calls for voluntarist action so often wind up irritating people, creating a backlash.

Shouldn't there be laws on the books preventing companies from dumping hazardous chemicals into water supplies, for example? And if environmental regulations are sometimes necessary, why is it so absurd that the government should enforce them? If a company is caught dumping illegally, shouldn't the CEO be arrested? Call this the "green police" if you want, but I doubt you'd want to live in a society where government didn't intervene to protect drinking water standards.

I know that we disagree about climate change, but seeing as you have ridiculed my country of birth I will at least say this. The UK government has decided that CO2 is a pollutant (as has your own, for that matter). If they want to regulate it, good for them.

Posted by: Mylne Karimov at February 10, 2010 1:27 PM

If you look at the website for the NY "Green Police", their enforcement covers petroleum spills, illegal burning, dumping oil in storm drains, and chemical spills.

Those crazy greens!!!! Next they will have notions about not letting me cut down tree on my own property!!!

To protest this we could have our own tea party. I'll dump oil in the storm drain, and you can crap directly into the river that provides water supplies for your neighbors. That will put an end to this green madness!!!

Posted by: jason at February 10, 2010 1:37 PM

It'll be interesting to see what I get this time.

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February 10, 2010

"Climate Change" Comes to Leesburg Virginia Part II: Blizzard!

Updates and new photos at bottom

NOAA: Blizzard - def: "Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm which contains large amounts of snow OR blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for an extended period of time (at least 3 hours). When these conditions are expected, the National Weather Service will issue a "Blizzard Warning". When these conditions are not expected to occur simultaneously, but one or two of these conditions are expected, a "Winter Storm Warning" or "Heavy Snow Warning" may be issued."

Ok, so what we're getting in northern Virginia is not what those of you in more northern climes get, but it is fairly unusual for us. As it is the worst of the storm is passing to the north, so Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston will really get hammered this time.

This was the view from my front door this morning at maybe 7:30. The door faces almost directly east, so normally I'd see the sun coming up. Mind you, I live in a townhouse development and there are times when you can not even see across the street.

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And these from my back door

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Evening Update

Like many offices in the area, I suppose, mine follows the Federal government as to whether they're open or closed. Given that the Feds have been closed all week and probably tomorrow as well, we are too.

The good news is that with laptops we can vpn in and work from home.

The bad news is that with laptops we can vpn in and work from home.

With modern technology there is no escape.

Although there is no way I am going anywhere tomorrow, I grew stir crazy late in the afternoon and decided to venture out to do some digging. As you can see, the pile in my yard is just about at the height of the front door, which I haven't been able to open since Friday.

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Record Snowfall Levels

The Times is reporting today that

As a result of Wednesday's snowfall, all three Washington-area airports now have set records for snowfall in a winter season: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport reached 54.9 inches as of early afternoon, by which time Washington Dulles International Airport had reached 67 1/2 inches for the winter and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport had 65.6 inches.

RR airport is in Washington DC, and Dulles to the west out near where I live. I just heard on the radio that Baltimore has had 72 inches.

Thursday

Dug out! I'm not going anywhere today, but it's nice to know I could if I had to.

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Here's the view in the opposite direction

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Posted by Tom at 11:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Green Police in Fiction and in Truth

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the "green police" ad by Audio that aired during the Super Bowl


Pretty well done, I think. I see it as satire criticizing the worst tendencies of the environmental movement. Oddly, the makers don't see it that way More on that later, though.

If you do think the idea of an Orwellian "Green Police" to be a total right-wing fantasy, check out this MasterCard commercial that is most definitely not satire:

John Dewey would be proud.

Green Police Not Satire?

I don't have time to do a whole lot of investigating, but the "Green Police" are apparently a concept dreamed up by Audi, and they've set up a Green Police website. Here's what they say about themselves:

Green Police: Who are they? Here is a quick primer.

Every day consumers around the globe are faced with a myriad of decisions in their quest to become more environmentally responsible citizens. Paper or plastic? Bottled water or tap water? Gas or electric? Compost bucket or recycling bin? So many questions; yet so many conflicting answers. It can be overwhelming.

Now consumers have help, from the Green Police.

As part of the lead up to their third consecutive Super Bowl ad, Audi has created a fictional Green Police unit that are caricatures of todays green movement. The Green Police are a humorous group of individuals that have joined forces in an effort to collectively help guide consumers to make the right decision when it comes to the environment. They're not here to judge, merely to guide these decisions.

Coincidentally, there are numerous real Green Police units globally that are furthering green practices and environmental issues. For example, Israel's main arm of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Audi strives to help protect the environment in all aspects of our vehicle manufacturing.Environmental Protection in the area of enforcement and deterrence is called; you guessed it, the Green Police. New York has officers within the states Department of Environmental Conservation that are fondly called the Green Police. The Green Police is also the popular name for Vietnams Environmental Police Department and the UK has a group who dresses in green as part of the Environment Agencys squad to monitor excessive CO2 emissions.

This is just wrong.

Look, I'm all for responsible conservation. I'm also somewhat of a local activist on the matter, specifically enhancing, preserving, and protecting our tree canopy cover. But today's environmental movement goes too far.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 6, 2010

"Climate Change" Comes to Leesburg Virginia

It's no wonder they've abandoned "global warming" in favor of "climate change." Despite the change in terminology, we're all aware they still mean to scare us with the notion that "our planet has a fever."

Some fever. I live in Loudoun County, northern Virginia, and t =his is our fourth significant snowfall this year. Mind you, this is an area where we're lucky if we only get one where the trucks have to do any plowing. Six inches is a big deal around here. They've already closed schools for Monday and Tuesday. Our local paper says the area got between 24 - 30 inches, depending on where you lived. Other media reports said some areas got 33 inches.

Here's the view that greeted me as I opened my garage door in preparation for hours of shoveling

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Earlier this morning:

A record 2 feet or more was predicted for Washington. As of early Saturday, 10 inches of snow was reported at the White House, while parts of Maryland and West Virginia were buried under more than 20 inches. Forecasters expected snowfall rates to increase, up to 2 inches per hours through Saturday morning.

Turns out the snow continued for most of the day, finally tapering off at 4 or 5pm.

I dug a path to to the street and took a photo of my townhouse

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The storm, which started in the midwest a few days ago and has been moving east ever since, hit northern Virginia at about 10am yesterday. It's been snowing steadily ever since. The center, and thus heaviest part of the storm, is passing right through our area, so we're getting the worst of it.

This is the fourth snowstorm we've had this year in an area where we usually only get one, and sometimes not even that.

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Word from my connections is that our town budgeted enough to cover snow removal through this storm, but one more and we'll have a shortfall. I haven't checked but I'm sure my homeowners association (HOA) is way over budget.

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From Weather.com earlier today

* ACCUMULATIONS... TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 18 TO 24 INCHES... WITH SOME LOCATIONS POSSIBLY RECEIVING LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ACROSS WESTERN MARYLAND AND THE EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA PANHANDLE.

THIS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS STORM IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE RECORD SNOWFALL FOR THE BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON DC METROPOLITAN AREAS. TRAVEL CONDITIONS TONIGHT ACROSS THE REGION WILL BE EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS AND LIFE-THREATENING. HELP YOUR LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT FIRST RESPONDERS AND TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES BY STAYING OFF THE ROADS.

Virginia Governor McDonnell said that snowfall records are "fast approaching the highest accumulations in the 103 years that these statistics have been kept,"

Before all of you who live in states that get this much snow on a regular basis tell me I'm a wimp... give us a break. We don't live prepared for this stuff.

I keep a bird feeder out back and enjoy watching and identifying the birds. Not being dumb, they know where the food is and flocked my backyard today since they weren't getting anything from the ground. Unless you enlarge this photo you can barely see the male Cardinal at the feeder

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Deciding to make the most of it, I also put out a tray with birdfood. Most of the birds that swarmed the feeders where Dark-eyed Juncos, but today we also had male and female Cardinals, a few House Sparrows, European Starlings, and even one Blue Jay, which is like an eagle compared to those other small species. The birds in this photo are all Dark-eyed Juncos

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Mocha just about went nuts looking at them just a few feet away

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This was in the morning, before I cleared off the deck. We got about another 6 inches from when I took this photo.

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After over 3 hours I had the driveway shoveled. I didn't realize how tired I was until I got into the house and sat down at the computer.

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From our local paper, here's a picture of our downtown area at about 6pm

The view from King Street at about 6 PM.


Monday Evening Update

Good grief! Another 10 - 20 inches are on the way tomorrow and Wednesday. I don't know where I'm going to put the stuff, as the pile in my yard is over 5 feet now. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow or Wednesday.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 3, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill

While reading Sarah Palin's autobiography, Going Rogue, which I got for Christmas, I was reminded of an article that she wrote for National Review a few months ago. I'll review her book in a week or two, but today I want to discuss the thesis of her article, which is that we need to exploit the energy reserves we have in this country.

Industry and housing energy needs are met with electricity and natural gas. The former can be produced in a variety of ways, and as I think it best we don't put all of our eggs in one basket, but diversify, I think we are out of balance ans so in a recent post I suggested that we need more nuclear power plants.

Personal transportation and truck freight, however, require use of the the internal combustion engine. We may eventually get to the point where electrical cars, or those powered by hydrogen, become widespread, but it will be a long time, if ever, before these become feasible.

One of the things we can and should do is open more areas of the United States to petroleum production. Sarah Palin explains (excerpted, full article subscription only) in the November 2, 2009, print edition of National Review:

Drill
Petroleum is, and will remain, a major part of America's energy picture. Shall we get it here or abroad?
by Sarah Palin

We rely on petroleum for much more than just powering our vehicles: It is essential in everything from jet fuel to petrochemicals, plastics to fertilizers, pesticides to pharmaceuticals. According to the Energy Information Administration, our total domestic petroleum consumption last year was 19.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Motor gasoline and diesel fuel accounted for less than 13 million bpd of that. Meanwhile, we produced only 4.95 million bpd of domestic crude. In other words, even if we ran all our vehicles on something else (which won't happen anytime soon), we would still have to depend on imported oil. And we'll continue that dependence until we develop our own oil resources to their fullest extent.

Those who oppose domestic drilling are motivated primarily by environmental considerations, but many of the countries we're forced to import from have few if any environmental-protection laws, and those that do exist often go unenforced. In effect, American environmentalists are preventing responsible development here at home while supporting irresponsible development overseas.

...the federal government shouldn't push a single, universal approach to alternative-powered vehicles. Electric cars might work in Los Angeles, but they don't work in Alaska, where you can drive hundreds of miles without seeing many people, let alone many electrical sockets....

Natural gas is one promising clean alternative. It contains fewer pollutants than other fossil fuels, it's easier to collect and process, and it is found throughout our country. In Alaska, we're developing the largest private-sector energy project in history -- a 3,000-mile, $40 billion pipeline to transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to markets across the United States. Onshore and offshore natural gas from Alaska and the Lower 48 can satisfy a large part of our energy needs for decades, bringing us closer to energy independence. Whether we use it to power natural-gas cars or to run natural-gas power plants that charge electric cars -- or ideally for both -- natural gas can act as a clean "bridge fuel" to a future when more renewable sources are available...

In the end, energy independence is not just about the environment or the economy. It's about freedom and confidence. It's about building a more secure and peaceful America, an America in which our energy needs will not be subject to the whims of nature, currency speculators, or madmen in possession of vast oil reserves.

Alternative sources of energy are part of the answer, but only part. There's no getting around the fact that we still need to "drill, baby, drill!"

Natural gas also the advantage of being more flexible in it's use than liquid petroleum. You can use it to power a vehicle, fire a power plant, and pipe it to homes and businesses for a variety of uses. Petroleum can be used for t he first two, but you can't pump it to houses and transportation by truck somewhat defeats the purpose.

No more domestic drilling will not wean us off foreign oil. No one ever said it would. Nor would more use of nuclear or coal fired power plants. But they can help. Drilling in ANWAR is perfectly safe and in order to realize its benefits (which takes ten years, or so they say) we should get started now.

Posted by Tom at 11:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 22, 2009

The Great Copenhagen Global Warming Fraud

I just haven't had much time to post recently, so in leiu of writing it all myself I'm resorting to posting the opinions of others. Whatever. Today I'll round out my series of posts on The Great Copenhagen Global Warming Fraud with excerpts from three editorials in Sunday's Washington Times.

Obama's cold day in Denmark
The White House is being outmaneuvered by Red China

...as the conference neared, huge gaps in the treaty language persisted. The final three-page version was tossed together in the closing hours with little deliberation and wound up saying little. The much-ballyhooed treaty promises next to nothing, other than a $100 billion slush fund for Third World dictators to "adapt to climate change," which probably involves buying mansions in southern France.

Mr. Obama's speech reflected the general frustration of the hour and was uncharacteristically flat and angry. The president fumed that it was "not a time to talk but to act," but we wonder why he's in such a hurry. There is no particular crisis. The inflated gravitas of the event was punctured by the ongoing collapse of the scientific basis for global-warming theory in the wake of the scandal about fudged scientific research.

The Chinese seem to have been on the right side of this debate all along. China was viewed as the major stumbling block at the conference, and Mr. Obama met privately with Premier Wen Jiabao to try to iron out the wrinkles. It's ironic that dictatorial goons like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe blamed capitalism for the world's global-warming ills while China puts the brakes on monitoring emissions. Having weighed all the factors, Beijing would rather be an economic powerhouse.

The only reason China gives lip service to the global-warming alarmist agenda is to hamper the competition - and our Democratic president is falling for the trap. Mr. Obama pledged that the United States would move forward with strict emissions limits whether or not the international community did the same. From Beijing's perspective, if the foolish Americans want to wreck their economy based on the misguided belief that they are saving polar bears, who is China to say no?

No one ever said the Chinese were stupid.

Carbon class warfare
The wrong countries are criticized for carbon-dioxide emissions

The United States currently produces 30 percent of the world's total goods and services but emits 20 percent of man-made carbon dioxide. The rest of the wealthy, developed nations aren't far behind. Under the Kyoto treaty, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Russia are known as the Annex 1 countries. Combined, they produce 45 percent of the world's goods and services while emitting 31 percent of the world's man-made carbon dioxide. The United States produces 1.5 percent of the world's gross domestic product for each 1 percent of the world's man-made carbon dioxide emissions. That ratio is 1.45 to 1 for the other developed countries.

The rest of the world doesn't come close to this efficiency. By far the worst offenders are the former and current communist states. China generates just 6 percent of the world's gross domestic product but - at 21 percent - produces more man-made carbon dioxide than America. That's a ratio of .28 to 1. The former Soviet republics are even worse, producing just 2 percent of the world's GDP and 9 percent of its man-made carbon dioxide for a miserable .22 to 1 ratio. Other places such as India, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Africa, Brazil and the rest of South America all produce a greater share of the world's man-made carbon dioxide than they do of the world's GDP.

Translation: Democratic capitalism is the system that is more friendly to the environment than any other. The great irony, as the Times editors point out, is that it was Venezuelan dictator-wanna-be Hugo Chavez that got the most applause.

The green dictatorship
Global-warming radicals want to take away our freedom

Last week's Copenhagen summit surrendered all pretense to significance when it turned into a showcase for dictators' attempts to greenwash their bloody regimes....

Last week's Copenhagen summit surrendered all pretense to significance when it turned into a showcase for dictators' attempts to greenwash their bloody regimes. Granting the spotlight to the tyrannical trio of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez so they could express their profound concern for Mother Earth is like asking former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his prostitute Ashley Dupre to propound upon the state of marriage.

Mr. Mugabe used the opportunity to blame global warming for the deaths of millions of his subjects. No doubt his country turned from food exporter to famine because of coal electric plants in Idaho. Of course, driving thousands of farmers from their land, rejecting modern farming methods, confiscating his people's wealth and turning his nation into a police state have little to do with Zimbabwean poverty.

"When we spew hazardous emissions for selfish, consumptionist ends, in the process threatening land masses and atmospheric space of smaller and weaker nations, are we not guilty of gross human rights violations?" Mr. Mugabe asked. In case you didn't recognize him, that's the good dictator, the campaigner for human rights and pollution control.

In Mr. Ahmadinejad's case, he unsurprisingly pushed an agenda of spreading nuclear technology to all nations. In a slight oversight, the misunderstood Iranian president failed to mention his desperate hurry to create a nuclear arsenal. No matter, the good Mr. Ahmadinejad is about saving the environment with a profound commitment to disarmament. "Would it not be better that part of the military funds of some countries be dedicated to improving the welfare of people and reducing pollution?" pleaded the green Iranian dictator.

That's rather an ironic color choice, as Mr. Ahmadinejad recently stole elections from an opposition party using green as its signature campaign color.

Not to be left out is Mr. Chavez as representative of a nation feverishly arming for war with its neighbors, nationalizing whole industries and silencing the opposition press. He believes, "The cause of all this disastrous situation is the destructive capitalist system. ... Capitalism is the road to hell." No doubt the tanks Mr. Chavez is buying from Russia will come with efficient hybrid engines and will be used only to demand that neighboring countries tighten fuel-efficiency standards. Those TV stations he shut down must have refused to use clean and responsible solar energy.

Such deep concern for Western capitalism, consumerism and militarism didn't keep the dictators from joining other less developed nations with their hand out for a $100 billion bribe to be financed by that awful capitalism. But these green dictators have more in common than a desire for handouts. Iran and Venezuela, in particular, finance their oppressive governments with the export of oil. Now what was it that causes carbon emissions again? Fossil fuels, was it?

To call the eco-friendly posturing of Third World dictators a farce is to understate the scandal. That the audience greeted such self-serving insanity with applause and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama sanctified the gathering with their presence exposes a dark side to the green agenda. Global-warming theology is not just a fraud; it attacks freedom and encourages dictatorship.

If the global warmers are so willing to tolerate such dictator wanna-be types, they'll tolerate any intrusion into your life in order to satisfy their agenda.

This, then, brings us to the greatest irony of all; that is typically those who railed the loudest against the Patriot Act who support what amounts to green tyranny. Congratulations, environmentalists! This is where your movement has taken you.

Posted by Tom at 9:20 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 17, 2009

More Insanity from the Global Warmers in Copenhagen

There is so much craziness coming from the global warming nutters in Copenhagen that it's hard to know where to start. The good news is that for a group that wants to run the world they can't even run themselves. The bad news is that their heroes are....

Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe.

Australian climate change minister Penny Wong tried to talk some sense into the delegates, but they jeered her. The Australian (via Powerline) describes what happened after she left the podium:

Speaker after speaker from the developing world railed against this idea, with the Sudanese vice president Nafie Ali Nafie speaking on behalf of the developing world and declaring that they stood ready to agree to a new commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. That would be the agreement where developing countries aren't obliged to do anything. The other proposed agreement that would require big developing country emitters to bind themselves to their own type of emission reductions they are a lot less keen on.

Then President Chavez brought the house down.

When he said the process in Copenhagen was "not democratic, it is not inclusive, but isn't that the reality of our world, the world is really and imperial dictatorship...down with imperial dictatorships" he got a rousing round of applause.

When he said there was a "silent and terrible ghost in the room" and that ghost was called capitalism, the applause was deafening.

But then he wound up to his grand conclusion - 20 minutes after his 5 minute speaking time was supposed to have ended and after quoting everyone from Karl Marx to Jesus Christ - "our revolution seeks to help all people...socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that's the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell....let's fight against capitalism and make it obey us." He won a standing ovation.

What did you expect from this crowd?

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe isn't quite as popular, but no one has the guts to keep him out either. His speech included this bit of nonsense:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday chided the West from the podium of the United Nations summit on climate change in Copenhagen for what he charged was a double standard under which it fell short on addressing global warming while taking developing countries to task over human rights.

Mr. Mugabe told the climate change summit: "When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it's we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die."

He complained that polluters are not pursued by Western governments with the same zeal they show in castigating abusers of human rights.

"Why," asked Mr. Mugabe, "is the guilty North not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing threat of climate change?"

He appeared to single out the United States in his remarks, demanding, "When a country spits on the Kyoto Protocol by seeking to shrink from its diktats, or by simply refusing to accede to it, is it not violating the global rule of law?" The United States has declined to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

He said the developing world would be called upon to clean up the mess left by the industrialized West, therefore deserved ample climate-related funding.

"We who bear the burden of healing the gasping earth must draw the most from the global purse for remedial action," Mr. Mugabe declared.

Pretty rich that he should lecture us about anything.

The leftist love their political theater. Again, from The Australian via the invaluable Powerline:

The lead negotiator for the small island nation of Tuvalu, the bow-tie wearing Ian Fry, broke down as he begged delegates to take tough action.

"I woke up this morning crying, and that's not easy for a grown man to admit," Mr Fry said on Saturday, as his eyes welled with tears.

"The fate of my country rests in your hands," he concluded, as the audience exploded with wild applause.

Turns out, thought, that it was all fake:

But the part-time PhD scholar at the Australian National University actually resides in Queanbeyan, NSW, where he's not likely to be troubled by rising sea levels because the closest beach at Batemans Bay is a two-hour, 144km drive away. Asked whether he had ever lived in Tuvalu, his wife told The Australian last night she would "rather not comment"....

Still, it's a long way from the endangered atolls of Tuvalu, with his neighbour Michelle Ormay confirming he's lived in Queanbeyan for more than a decade, while he has worked his way up to being "very high up in climate change."

President Obama is headed over there, but it seems pretty certain that he won't be able to persuade them to come up with an agreement. So he'll give another vapid speech which our media will applaud, and come back home to deal with the healthcare mess in Congress he, Reid, and Pelosi have made.

It's all a huge waste of time, money, and energy. The only good news is that there won't be an agreement, sparing our fragile economy that shock.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Al Gore's "Hockey Stick" Environmental Alarmism Disputed

Al Gore and other alarmists insist that human activity that is causing warming to the degree that we face a global catastrophe unless we take drastic action now. Via NRO's Planet Gore, this video puts recent warming into perspective:

Here is a replica of the "hockey stick" graph from page 65 of Al Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth:

Al Gore's Hockey Stick Graph

Posted by Tom at 9:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2009

Global Warming as the New Socialism

I'd say that Jonah Goldberg has it about right in this column:

On Monday, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, formally announced that her agency now considers carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant, subject to government regulation. The finding comes two years after the Supreme Court ruled that CO2 falls under the EPA's jurisdiction.

A day later, an unnamed White House official told Fox's Major Garrett that the message for Congress is clear: "If you don't pass this (cap-and-trade) legislation . . . the EPA is going to have to regulate in this area. . . . And it is not going to be able to regulate on a market-based way, so it's going to have to regulate in a command-and-control way, which will probably generate even more uncertainty."

And such "uncertainty" is a huge "deterrent to investment," which will hurt the economy even more.

Translation: We don't want the EPA to kick the economy in the groin, but if Congress doesn't act, well, a-groin-kickin' we shall go.

This is grotesquely dishonest.

The White House and Congress could, quite easily, do something about the EPA's threat. President Obama could instruct Jackson to interpret the Supreme Court's 2007 decision granting the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases more loosely. He could ask Congress to simply rewrite the Clean Air Act so as to exclude carbon dioxide from its list of official pollutants -- the policy the EPA followed for years until the Supreme Court reinterpreted the Clean Air Act.

But no.

As part of the enduring statist desire to penetrate ever deeper into every nook and cranny of our lives, greens have wanted to find a way for the government to regulate CO2, a natural byproduct of fire and breathing, for decades. Now they can.

That is why the White House will use Jackson as a Medusa's head, to petrify cap-and-trade opponents with the prospect of something even worse: the effective seizing of the means of production. The White House says nothing of the sort is going on. Jackson, the former chief of staff to lame-duck New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, is an independent, disinterested public servant simply following sound science with no concern for politics.

If Jackson cares so much about sound science, why is she basing some of her policies on data from the discredited scientific frat house, the Climatic Research Unit?

If Jackson cares so little about politics, why did she make her announcement to such fanfare at the opening of Climapalooza in Copenhagen?

In fairness, Jackson is only a Medusa's head to those who care desperately about economic growth and who don't think draconian taxes on energy and massive wealth transfers for white elephants in the Third World are the answer to our problems. But for others, she represents another icon from Greek mythology: the Golden Fleece.

Jason and his Argonauts set out to find the fleece so they might place Jason on the throne of Iolcus. The original story is one of power-seeking in a noble cause.

It's debatable whether the modern tale of Jackson and the Goregonauts is quite so noble. But it's obvious they're interested in power and hell-bent on fleecing.

Indeed, some of loudest voices have a weird habit of telegraphing their priorities. Tim Wirth, a former senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: "We've got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy." New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn't care if global warming is a "hoax" because, even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that with the exception of nuclear power -- which most greens still won't support -- global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of "global governance" and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don't let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come.

The left has seized upon global warming to perpetuate the greatest power grab in modern times. It's the latest excuse for socialism and big-government regulation, and they're only getting started.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2009

The Great Copenhagen Global Warming Scam

As an example of how out of control the greenies are, Mary Katherine Ham reports that "This is the video that was shown at the opening ceremonies in Copenhagen, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark specifically for this high-profile, international gathering:"

Sadly, this goes beyond the usual globaloney. The Obama Administration has threatened to impose 'command and control" regulations over emissions unless Congress regulates emissions its own. In other words, we 'd like to make it all legal with the right laws, but if none are passed we're just going to do it anyway.

So what is going on in Copenhagen, and how does it tie to this threat by the Obama Administration?

Fortunately for you, dear reader, a better wordtmith than I, Charles Krauthammer, has it all figured out:

In the 1970s and early '80s, having seized control of the U.N. apparatus (by power of numbers), Third World countries decided to cash in. OPEC was pulling off the greatest wealth transfer from rich to poor in history. Why not them? So in grand U.N. declarations and conferences, they began calling for a "New International Economic Order." The NIEO's essential demand was simple: to transfer fantastic chunks of wealth from the industrialized West to the Third World.

On what grounds? In the name of equality -- wealth redistribution via global socialism -- with a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in.

The idea of essentially taxing hardworking citizens of the democracies to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early '80s). They put a stake through the enterprise.

But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism.

One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques.

Politically it's an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich man's guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale, too.

On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an "endangerment" to human health.

Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means more than a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.

This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.

Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.

Not everyone is pleased with the coming New Carbon-Free International Order. When the Obama administration signaled (in a gesture to Copenhagen) a U.S. commitment to major cuts in carbon emissions, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb wrote the president protesting that he lacks the authority to do so unilaterally. That requires congressional concurrence by legislation or treaty.

With the Senate blocking President Obama's cap-and-trade carbon legislation, the EPA coup d'etat served as the administration's loud response to Webb: The hell we can't. With this EPA "endangerment" finding, we can do as we wish with carbon. Either the Senate passes cap-and-trade, or the EPA will impose even more draconian measures: all cap, no trade.

Forget for a moment the economic effects of severe carbon chastity. There's the matter of constitutional decency. If you want to revolutionize society -- as will drastic carbon regulation and taxation in an energy economy that is 85 percent carbon-based -- you do it through Congress reflecting popular will. Not by administrative fiat of EPA bureaucrats.

Congress should not just resist this executive overreaching, but trump it: Amend clean-air laws and restore their original intent by excluding CO2 from EPA control and reserving that power for Congress and future legislation.

Do it now. Do it soon. Because Big Brother isn't lurking in CIA cloak. He's knocking on your door, smiling under an EPA cap.

What gets me is that the same liberals who insisted that the Patriot Act was an unconscionable intrusion into our civil liberties think nothing about regulating every aspect of our lives.

Krauthammer has it right; this whole global-warming, cap 'n trade, Kyoto treaty, carbon tax, greenhouse gas regulation, whatever-else-they-have-cooked-up is all a big scam to regulation us into oblivion by a federal government and UN that amount to a soft tyranny while sending us to our economic doom.

I suppose if the earth really did have a fever and there was the planetary emergency that Al Gore insists is reality I would at least be sympathetic to the arguments of the greenies. During the Bush Administration, we were admonished that we should listen to Ben Franklin when he warned that "they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Funny how along with the imperative of getting bin Laden this has gone by the wayside. So even if what the greenies told us was true I'm inclined to think it wouldn't be worth the price.

Turns out, though, that it's not even clear that the earth is warming, much les that humans are causing it. so the hysteria is completely unwarranted, let alone the need for severe regulations. What's imperative is that we fight tooth and nail to stop these green tyrants from achieving their goals.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 28, 2009

Let's Split More Atoms: Our Electricity Future Requires More Nuclear Power Plants

An article in last week's Washington Post (via Powerline) got me thinking about the future of electricity production in the United States. We are fine right now, but unless we increase capacity we are going to face a crunch.

Wind and geothermal are a joke, solar only works for roof-top howt water heaters, and then only in the southwest, and no a "smart grid" won't do much to help us. People who talk about these tings as if they're going to do much for us aren't being serious. The fact is that no matter what our conservation efforts, our electricity needs are growing, and only traditional sources will provide the power we need.

We do have enormous reserves of coal, but even "clean coal" has it's problems. We could increase our use of natural gas, but ditto that. I'm no global warming greenie, but even we conservatives understand that maybe it's not a good idea to dramatically increase the amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Importing more petroleum from the Wahabists, and in turn jacking up the worldwide demand for oil and thus price, only provides funds for those who wish us ill.

I've always seen energy through the lens of national security as much as anything else. As with investing your money, it's good to diversify. We are currently not diversified with regard to electricity production, and that is not a good thing. Right now we are behind the eight ball with regard to nuclear power plants.

My argument, that we need to build more nuclear power plants, is one that should appeal to environmentalists as well. They tell us that CO2 and greenhouse gas production are bad things, and need to cut back.

The question is not so much "is nuclear safe?" for that question has been answered by the safe operation ofhundreds of power plants in the affirmative. The question is, "how does nuclear stack up against other options?" The purpose of this post is not ro provide a comprehensive answer to either question, but is rather to show that 'the res of the world" is ahead of us and increasing the distance between them in us in nuclear power production.

From the Post article referenced above:

Nuclear power -- long considered environmentally hazardous -- is emerging as perhaps the world's most unlikely weapon against climate change, with the backing of even some green activists who once campaigned against it.

It has been 13 years since the last new nuclear power plant opened in the United States. But around the world, nations under pressure to reduce the production of climate-warming gases are turning to low-emission nuclear energy as never before...

From China to Brazil, 53 plants are now under construction worldwide, with Poland, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia seeking to build their first reactors, according to global watchdog groups and industry associations. The number of plants being built is double the total of just five years ago.

Not that all, or even most, liberal-left environmental groups have embraced nuclear power. Far from it. The Post story quotes David Hamilton, director of the Global Warming and Energy Program for the Sierra Club, as saying that "our base is as opposed to nuclear as ever." Greenpeace, perhaps more predictably, is also dead set against it.

In the United States, even liberals as President Obama talk about nuclear power as an option. Yet so far it has been all talk and no action. For the most part the left remains wedded to their "renewable energy" mantra, and the right focuses on "drill, baby, drill."

Where We Are Now

This chart of nuclear power plant orders in the U.S. tells the tale
Nuclear Plant Orders

Yet, as the Post story indicates, other developed and developing nations forge ahead.
But how much electricity do we need? The Department of Energy tells us that rate of increase in demand is at least slowing

Electricity demand fluctuates in the short term in response to business cycles, weather conditions, and prices. Over the long term, however, electricity demand growth has slowed progressively by decade since 1950, from 9 percent per year in the 1950s to less than 2.5 percent per year in the 1990s. From 2000 to 2007, increases in electricity demand averaged 1.1 percent per year. The slowdown in demand growth is projected to continue over the next 23 years (Figure 54), as a result of efficiency gains in response to rising energy prices and new efficiency standards for lighting, heating and cooling, and other appliances.

Where do we get our electricity now?

U.S. Electricity Generation by Source

Source: Energy Information Administration

Nuclear Power Plants Worldwide February 2009

Nuclear Power Plants Worldwide Feb 2009


Nuclear power plants world-wide, in operation and under construction, as of September 2009

Nuclear power plants world-wide, in operation and under construction, as of September 2009

Apologies that these graphs may be hard to read. Follow the link below to the source for details.

Nuclear Share in Electricity Production 2008

Nuclear Share in Elecricity Production 2008


Nuclear Reactors Under Construction Worldwide

Nuclear Reactors Under Construction Worldwide


Source: European Nuclear Society

All this said, power plants are not static. They can and are being upgraded. From the World Nuclear Association:

Numerous power reactors in USA, Belgium, Sweden and Germany, for example, have had their generating capacity increased. In Switzerland, the capacity of its five reactors has been increased by 12.3%. In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved 124 uprates totalling some 5600 MWe since 1977, a few of them "extended uprates" of up to 20%.

Spain has had a program to add 810 MWe (11%) to its nuclear capacity through upgrading its nine reactors by up to 13%. Some 519 MWe of the increase is already in place. For instance, the Almarez nuclear plant is being boosted by more than 5% at a cost of US$ 50 million.

Finland Finland boosted the capacity of the original Olkiluoto plant by 29% to 1700 MWe. This plant started with two 660 MWe Swedish BWRs commissioned in 1978 and 1980. It is now licensed to operate to 2018. The Loviisa plant, with two VVER-440 (PWR) reactors, has been uprated by 90 MWe (10%).

Sweden is uprating Forsmark plant by 13% (410 MWe) over 2008-10 at a cost of EUR 225 million, and Oskarshamn-3 by 21% to 1450 MWe at a cost of EUR 180 million.

Further, there are applications for plants that are not reflected in the graphs above. Again, from the World Nuclear Society:

In the USA there are proposals for over twenty new reactors and the first 17 combined construction and operating licences for these have been applied for. All are for late third-generation plants, and a further proposal is for two ABWR units.

You can also browse by country at the Nuclear Training Center for more details.


How Did We Get Here?

Ian Murray, in a story titled Nuclear Power? Yes Please (paid NR subscription required to this and other stories in this post), which appeared in the June 16, 2008 print edition of National Review, outlines some of the history of the anti-nuclear movement. He shows how opposition started well before the Three-Mile Island in 1977, the the chart above bears this out. The reason was pretty simple; environmentalists exploited fears and convinced people to turn against nuclear as a power source. How did they succeed?

By creating a global zeitgeist -- an appropriately German word -- holding as an article of faith that nuclear power is a severe danger in all sorts of ways. Their arguments revolved around three main propositions: that nuclear plants are dangerous because they can blow up or melt down; that nuclear waste is extremely and persistently dangerous; and that nuclear power and nuclear weapons are intrinsically linked. All these arguments are overstated.

As to the safety of nuclear power stations, there is now a significant history to demonstrate that these concerns are no longer justified, even if they may have had some precautionary legitimacy in the 1970s. It has long been recognized that the Chernobyl accident was caused by features unique to the Soviet-style RBMK (reaktor bolshoy moshchnosti kanalniy -- high-power channel reactor). When reactors of that sort get too hot, the rate of the nuclear reaction increases -- the reverse of what happens in most Western reactors. Moreover, RBMK reactors do not have containment shells that prevent radioactive material from getting out. The worse incident in the history of nuclear power, Chernobyl killed just 56 people and made 20 square miles of land uninhabitable. (The exclusion zone has now become a haven for wildlife, which is thriving.) There are suggestions that hundreds or thousands more may die because of long-term effects, but these estimates are based on the controversial Linear Non-Threshold (LNT) theory about the effects of radiation.

A bigger problem is nuclear waste, but that's quite solvable too:

Nuclear waste is a stickier problem, but one that can be safely managed. In most American reactors, fuel rods need to be replaced every 18 months or so. When they are taken out, they contain large amounts of radioactive fission products and produce enough heat that they need to be cooled in water. Radioactivity declines as the isotopes decay and the rods produce less heat. It is the very nature of radioactivity that, as materials decay, they become less dangerous and easier to handle. The question is what to do with the waste when space runs out.

In most of the rest of the world, fuel reprocessing extracts usable uranium and plutonium. The highly radioactive waste that remains is not a large amount. By 2040, Britain will have just 70,000 cubic feet of such waste. This volume could be contained in a cube measuring 42 feet on each side. Moreover, most of Britain's waste is left over from its nuclear-weapons program. The British government has determined that "geological disposal" -- burial deep underground -- provides the best available approach to dealing with existing and also with new nuclear waste, arguing that "the balance of ethical considerations does not rule out the option of new nuclear power."

The best thing we could do here domestically is open up Yucca Mountain. Yes I know there are arguments on both sides, but in the end the ones fin favor of opening up the mountain for storage weight more heavily.

A Green Alternative?

China, Japan, and Germany are touted as models for "green" energy. Turns out that's not exactly true. Alex Alexiev explains:

China, (Obama) said (in his address to Congress), "has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient." True enough, but that effort has nothing to do with renewable energy, and it's not even clear that it's working. To the Chinese, energy efficiency means more efficient coal-burning equipment, co-generation, coal liquefaction, and other improvements of their primarily coal-based energy industry. Despite marginal improvements in this area, China is now the largest carbon-dioxide emitter in the world and can, at best, slow down but not stop carbon-emissions growth for the foreseeable future. As far as renewable energy proper is concerned, its share of total energy production not only is minuscule, but has actually declined over the past two years, according to Beijing's State Electricity Council. There is, however, one clean-energy sector in which China is making a lot of progress and has even more ambitious plans for the future: nuclear power.

What about Japan? It does produce a lot of solar panels for export and subsidizes rooftop solar installation, but its renewable-energy production target for 2010 is only 3 percent. Instead, Tokyo plans to boost the share of nuclear power to 41 percent from the current 30 percent in less than a decade.

This leaves Germany as a model for our green future. At first glance, it is a renewable-energy success story and, to no one's surprise, it has become the poster child of the green fantasy universe. In just a few years, the country has become the world's powerhouse of green energy, currently generating nearly 15 percent of its electricity from wind power and solar energy, which already exceeds the EU target of a 12.5 percent renewable share for 2010. A heartwarming story, it seems -- until one starts asking questions as to how a country that has neither much sun, nor much wind, got there; how much it cost; and where it is going from here.

Alexiev goes on to relate how Germany only achieves it's "success" through massive government subsidies. In other words, "green" energy is ridiculously inefficient and cannot pay for itself so taxpayers pick up the slack.

If there were truly no alternative government subsidy might be a good idea. I am not saying that each and every thing that we do must be economically self-sufficient. What I am saying is that "green renewable energy" is not the best use of our energy dollar, and I mean this both int terms of efficiency power watt and for reducing pollution.

The answer, or at least one big answer, is nuclear.

As related above, nuclear offers many advantages; it's relatively clean, takes up little space, yes waste can be safely stored, doesn't pump CO2 or other pollutants into the atmosphere, and best of all we don't need to send any money to regimes that don't like us.

No we shouldn't put all of our eggs into the nuclear basket, but we do need to end the environmental hysteria, reduce the roadblocks, and start building lots and lots of nuclear power plants.


Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 7, 2009

"Green World Government"

While I was out campaigning for Bob McDonnell and other Republicans, this editorial in the Washington Times struck me as particularly relevant now that Barack Obama, the most leftist president in our history, seems intent on pushing cap 'n trade through Congress:

Green World Government
The U.N. uses environmentalism to seize control

Environmental alarmism is being exploited to chip away at national sovereignty. The latest threat to American liberties may be found in the innocuous sounding Copenhagen Climate Treaty, which will be discussed at the United Nations climate-change conference in mid-December. The alert was sounded on the treaty in a talk given by British commentator Lord Christopher Monckton at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., on Oct. 14. Video of the talk has become an Internet sensation.

The treaty's text is not yet finalized but its principles are aimed at regulating all economic activity in the name of climate security, with a side effect that billions of dollars would be transferred from productive countries to the unproductive.

The control lever is the regulation of carbon emissions, which some purport are causing global warming. The treaty would establish a Carbon Market Regulatory Agency and "global carbon budget" for each country.

In effect, this would allow the treaty's governing bodies to limit manufacturing, transportation, travel, agriculture, mining, energy production and anything else that emits carbon - like breathing.

Treaty supporters market the agreement through fear. Even though mean global temperatures have been on a downward spiral for several years after peaking in 1998, we are told that catastrophe is imminent. "The world has already crossed the threshold beyond which it is no longer possible to avoid negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change," says proposed treaty language being circulated by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other groups. It is critical that they cultivate a sense of impending doom to justify the sweeping restrictions and new powers enshrined in the treaty. The sky is falling and they want us to act now, act swiftly, act before it is too late - but don't read the fine print.

The governing authority envisioned by the document reads like a bad George Orwell knockoff. The treaty establishes a body called the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is given ultimate authority over administering and enforcing the treaty. Its executive arm is something called the Adaptation Fund Board, under which is the Copenhagen Climate Facility, also known as "the Facility." The Facility is necessary because in order to save the planet, "the way society is structured will need to change fundamentally." This change would be impossible under the "fragmented set of existing institutions," so the Facility will step in with "such legal capacity as is necessary for the exercise of its functions and the protection of its interests." That's the Facility's interests, not yours.

The Facility will be run by an executive committee, the membership of which "may include representation from relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental stakeholders." So left-wing pressure groups, animal rights fanatics, tree-huggers, Al Gore or any other part of the environmentalist fringe would be eligible for executive committee membership. Naturally, global-warming skeptics like Lord Monckton need not apply.

A "massive scaling up of financial resources" will be required to fund the COP's activities. The United States and others will be required to transfer $800 billion over five years, with additional funding requirements assessed on an as-needed basis. The COP will have taxing authority "including, but not limited to, a levy on aviation and maritime transport." The ability to tax aircraft and shipping is bad enough, but as careful readers of the elastic clauses of the U.S. Constitution know, the phrase "including but not limited to" authorizes any tax they can imagine.

Signatories of the treaty will be required to file reports to the Committee for Reporting and Review ("the Committee"), and if found not in compliance with the treaty's terms, they may have to face "the Facilitative Branch." If this branch finds that a country is violating the terms of the agreement, it will "undertake the measures necessary" to bring the country back into compliance.

The treaty language would be farcical but for the fanaticism of its proponents. The environmental movement is driven by a millenarian determination to save humanity from itself, regardless of its impact on real people. President Obama reportedly will skip the Copenhagen meeting unless the treaty language is finalized. We urge him to resist the urge to pander to the international community at the expense of the United States.

We look forward to headlines about record cold temperatures during the December climate summit, and to hearing desperate speeches about stopping irresistible global warming during the signing ceremony, held during a blizzard.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 3, 2009

"50 Things Wrong with the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade Bill"

Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson take Waxman-Markey (formally known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES)) apart in National Review:

The stimulus bill was the legislative equivalent of the famous cantina scene from Star Wars, an eye-popping collection of the freakish and exotic, gathered for dubious purposes. The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, known as ACES (the American Clean Energy and Security Act), is more like the third panel in Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights -- a hellscape that disturbs the sleep of anybody who contemplates it carefully.

Two main things to understand about Waxman-Markey: First, it will not reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, at least not at any point in the near future. The inclusion of carbon offsets, which can be manufactured out of thin air and political imagination, will eliminate most of the demands that the legislation puts on industry, though in doing so it will manage to drive up the prices consumers pay for every product that requires energy for its manufacture -- which is to say, for everything. Second, it represents a worse abuse of the public trust and purse than the stimulus and the bailouts put together. Waxman-Markey creates a permanent new regime in which environmental romanticism and corporate welfare are mixed together to form political poison. From comic bureaucratic power grabs (check out the section of the bill on candelabras) to the creation of new welfare programs for Democratic constituencies to, above all, massive giveaways for every financial, industrial, and political lobby imaginable, this bill would permanently deform American politics and economic life.

The House of Representatives, famously, did not read this bill before passing it, which is testament to either Nancy Pelosi's managerial incompetency or her political wile, or possibly both. If you take the time to read the legislation, you'll discover four major themes: special-interest giveaways, regulatory mandates unrelated to climate change, fanciful technological programs worthy of The Jetsons, and assorted left-wing wish fulfillment. We cannot cover every swirl and brushstroke of this masterpiece of misgovernance, but here's a breakdown of its 50 most outrageous features.

SPECIAL-INTEREST SOPS
1. The big doozy: Eighty-five percent of the carbon permits will not be sold at auction -- they will be given away to utility companies, petroleum interests, refineries, and a coterie of politically connected businesses. If you're wondering why Big Business supports cap-and-trade, that's why. Free money for business, but higher energy prices for you.

2. The sale of carbon permits will enrich the Wall Street investment bankers whose money put Obama in the White House. Top of the list: Goldman Sachs, which is invested in carbon-offset development and carbon permissions. CNN reports:

Less than two weeks after the investment bank announced it would be laying off 10 percent of its staff, ***Goldman Sachs confirmed that it has taken a minority stake in Utah-based carbon offset project developer Blue Source LLC. . . . "Interest in the pre-compliance carbon market in the U.S. is growing rapidly," said Leslie Biddle, Head of Commodity Sales at Goldman, "and we are excited to be able to offer our clients immediate access to a diverse selection of emission reductions to manage their carbon risk."
3. With its rich menu of corporate subsidies and special set-asides for politically connected industries, Waxman-Markey has inspired a new corporate interest group, USCAP, the United States Climate Action Partnership -- the group largely responsible for the fact that carbon permits are being given away like candy at Christmas rather than auctioned. And who is lined up to receive a piece of the massive wealth transfer that Waxman-Markey will mandate? Canada Free Press lists:
Alcoa, American International Group (AIG) which withdrew after accepting government bailout money, Boston Scientific Corporation, BP America Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Chrysler LLC (which continues to lobby with taxpayer dollars), ConocoPhillips, Deere & Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense, Exelon Corporation, Ford Motor Company, FPL Group, Inc., General Electric, General Motors Corp. (now owned by the Obama administration), Johnson & Johnson, Marsh, Inc., National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NRG Energy, Inc., Pepsico, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PG&E Corporation, PNM Resources, Rio Tinto, Shell, Siemens Corporation, World Resources Institute, Xerox Corporation.

One major group of recipients of the free money being given to industry in the form of carbon permits are the electric utilities, represented in Washington by the Edison Electric Institute. Along with the coal and steel businesses, the utilities are positioned to receive a huge portion of the carbon permits -- some of which will be disguised as measures for consumers -- and have become one of the nation's highest-spending lobbies, working to ensure that their interests are served by cap-and-trade.

4. To the extent that the allowances actually generate government revenue, that money is going to be used for fraud-inviting projects of dubious environmental or economic value. Example: Some allowance money will be used to "build capacity to reduce deforestation in developing countries experiencing deforestation, including preparing developing countries to participate in international markets for international offset credits for reduced emissions from deforestation." What are the chances of that being abused?

5. In addition to the permits, the bill also allows for the creation of "offsets" -- the medieval-style indulgences of the carbon-footprint world. In fact, nearly all of Waxman-Markey's carbon-reduction targets can be met with offsets alone through 2050, meaning decades before any actual reduction of greenhouse gases is required. That means huge new expenses for small businesses and consumers in return for basically zero environmental improvement. And how does one earn an offset to sell? Get a farm and cash in through such methods as, and we quote, "improved manure management," "reduced tillage/no-tillage," or "afforestation of marginal farmlands." Translation: Plant some trees around the house and claim some extra credits on the land the government may already be paying you not to farm. And do a better job of handling your B.S. -- but you'll never do as good a job on that one as the authors of Waxman-Markey.

6. Because the cap-and-trade regime will disadvantage domestic refineries vis-à-vis foreign competitors, such as India's powerhouse Reliance Industries, Waxman-Markey is attempting to buy them off with free permits -- 2 percent of the national total will go to domestic refineries, at no cost.

7. Agribusiness is exempted from cap-and-trade controls, but the farm lobby will be given permits to sell and to profit from anyway. All carrot, no stick -- precisely what this powerful industry lobby is accustomed to receiving from Washington.

8. Waxman-Markey strips the EPA of its oversight role when it comes to managing the offsets associated with American farms. At the behest of Cargill and other big players in the farm lobby, oversight will be entrusted to the USDA -- basically a wholly owned subsidiary of the agriculture cartel, one of America's most rapacious special-interest groups, which already is stuffed with subsidies and sops.

9. Waxman-Markey directs the EPA to ignore the real environmental impact of ethanol and other biofuels. The gigantic subsidies lavished on the farm lobby through the ethanol program encourage farmers to clear forest land to plant corn -- a net environmental loss that the use of ethanol does nothing to offset. An earlier version of the legislation that would have accounted for land-use changes was altered at the farm lobby's demand. Now, the EPA will be forbidden to rain the same pain on the ethanol gang that it's going to rain on the rest of the economy -- a minimum of five years' (ahem) "study" is required before a ruling on whether ethanol should be treated the same as any other fuel, and the EPA, USDA, and Congress all must agree to act before Big Corn reaps what Waxman-Markey sows.

10. Rural electrical cooperatives are demanding that the offsets be awarded in proportion to historic emissions, and they probably will prevail. This means that high-polluting generators, such as the coal-fired plants typical of electric co-ops' members, will be rewarded because they pollute more, while cleaner producers, such as those using nuclear and hydroelectric power, will be penalized.

11. The farm lobby will be rewarded for practices that do little or nothing to reduce greenhouse gases. One such practice is "no till" planting, in which farmers forgo plowing and plant seeds directly into the soil. Two peer-reviewed scientific papers suggest that no-till either does nothing to decrease carbon dioxide or actually increases the level of greenhouse-gas emissions by upping emissions of nitrous oxide -- a much more powerful greenhouse gas. Now it's not clear that no-till will reduce greenhouse gases, but the practice does make weed-control more difficult, meaning that it supports the market for herbicides such as Monsanto's RoundUp. Guess who's spending millions lobbying for no-till?

12. Waxman-Markey provides an excuse for trade protectionism. The bill will give the Obama administration broad new powers to enact tariffs on imports from jurisdictions that have not had the poor sense to enact similar legislation, meaning that it invites both politically driven trade protectionism and retaliatory measures from abroad in the service of an empty green dream. As the New York Times puts it:

A House committee working on sweeping energy legislation seems determined to make sure that the United States will tax China and other carbon polluters, potentially disrupting an already-sensitive climate change debate in Congress. The Ways and Means Committee's proposed bill language would virtually require that the president impose an import tariff on any country that fails to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions. Directed primarily at China, the United States' biggest manufacturing competitor, the provisions aim to protect cement, steel and other energy-intensive industries that expect to face higher costs under a federal emissions cap.

13. Waxman-Markey channels billions of dollars into subsidies for "international clean technology deployment for emerging markets." David H. McCormick of the Treasury Department recently gave a speech on the establishment of an $8 billion fund for that purpose; those who showed up to gets the specs on this new gravy train included Sequoia Capital, the United Steelworkers Union, the Clinton Climate Initiative, Ernst & Young, Duke Energy, SunPower, Honeywell, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Credit Suisse, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and Goldman Sachs. If you're wondering who's going to make real money off of Waxman-Markey, this list would be a pretty good place to start.

14. Naturally, Big Labor gets its piece of the pie, too. Projects receiving grants and financing under Waxman-Markey provisions will be required to implement Davis-Bacon union-wage rules, making it hard for non-union firms to compete -- and ensuring that these "investments" pay out inflated union wages. And it's not just the big research-and-development contracts, since Waxman-Markey forces union-wage rules all the way down to the plumbing-repair and light-bulb-changing level.

NON-CAP MANDATES
15. The renewable electricity standard is the big one here. This would require utilities to supply 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources (or "increased efficiency") by 2020. The Senate was unable to pass a smaller mandate in 2007, because favored sources of renewable energy (wind power, for instance) just don't work in certain regions of the country, and regional blocs can wield a great deal of power in the Senate. These blocs may be less powerful this time around, because the Democrats within them will be under a great deal of pressure to pass this bill. The renewable standard would force utilities to rely increasingly on expensive sources of energy like wind and solar -- expensive because they are capital-intensive and must be located far away from urban areas, necessitating long transmission lines. You can thank Congress for adding yet another charge to your monthly utility bill.

16. The bill would create a system of renewable electricity credits similar to the carbon offsets mentioned above -- utilities that cannot meet the standard could purchase credits from other utilities. One way or another, however, the cost is getting passed along to you.

17. The renewable standard excludes sources of power like nuclear and coal gasification, and perhaps that's to be understood. Even though these sources are cleaner than traditional coal-burning plants, they violate a number of green taboos. What's less understandable is the way "qualified hydropower" is narrowly defined to exclude hydropower from Canada. Again, the thing to remember is that Congress is less concerned with greening the environment and more concerned with greening the pockets of parochial interests.

18. The legislation calls for the establishment of a Carbon Storage Research Corporation (CSRC) to steer $1 billion annually into the development of carbon-capture technologies. The CSRC would be funded via assessments on utility companies. Hear that? It's the sound of another charge being added to your bill. Evidence suggests that subsidizing research into carbon-capture technology is either futile (in the case of traditional coal-powered plants) or unnecessary (the technology for sequestering emissions from gasification plants already exists).

19. The promotion of carbon capture will require a host of new regulations -- the bill calls on the EPA to create a permitting process for geologic sequestration (burying captured carbon emissions in the ground), regulations to keep the buried carbon from escaping into the air, and regulations to keep it from escaping into the water supply. All we need now are carbon guards to throw the carbon in solitary confinement if it gets too rowdy in the prison yard.

20. The bill imposes performance standards on new coal-fired power plants to encourage the adoption of carbon-capture technology. Ratepayers would pay more for electricity because of the efficiency losses associated with carbon capture.

21. The bill regulates every light fixture under the sun. Actually, the sun might be the only light source that isn't regulated specifically in this legislation. There are rules governing fluorescent lamps, incandescent lamps, intermediate base lamps, candelabra base lamps, outdoor luminaires, portable light fixtures -- you get the idea. The government actually started down this road by regulating light bulbs in the 2005 energy bill. This bill merely tightens the regulations, which means the unintended consequences produced by the 2005 bill -- more expensive light bulbs that burn out quicker -- will probably get worse.

22. The bill extends its reach to cover appliances as well. Clothes washers and dishwashers, portable electric spas, showerheads, faucets, televisions -- all these and more are covered specifically in the bill. You thought we were kidding when we said this bill represents the federal government's attempt to expand its regulatory reach to cover everything. We weren't.

23. Appliances will be required to come with "carbon output" labels, and retailers will get bonus payments for marketing those that are certified "best-in-class." The bill sets up a payment schedule to reward the manufacturers of these "best-in-class" products: $75 for each dishwasher, $250 for each clothes washer, and so on. So go out and splurge on that new super-energy-efficient refrigerator -- under this bill, you already made a $200 down payment.

24. The bill requires the EPA to establish environmental standards for residences, meaning a federally dictated one-size-fits-all policy for greening every home in America. When you're retrofitting your home according to EPA guidelines, it will come as little comfort to know that the government is reimbursing you for your troubles, especially if you're doing the work around April 15.

25. The bill would affect commercial properties, too. In fact, all buildings would be governed by a "national energy efficiency building code" that would require 50 percent reductions in energy use in all buildings by 2018, followed by 5 percent reductions in energy use every three years after that through 2030. No one disputes that these changes will be costly, but Waxman-Markey supporters argue that they will pay for themselves through lower energy bills. This argument holds up only if we assume that energy prices will stay flat or fall over time. But the aforementioned carbon caps instituted elsewhere in this legislation make that prospect highly unlikely. Businesses and homeowners will pay twice -- once to retrofit their roosts and again when the energy bill arrives.

26. The bill instructs the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, buses, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, boats, planes, and trains.

27. It instructs the EPA to cap and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from non-mobile sources as well. These two items would be bigger news if the Supreme Court hadn't already cleared the way for the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. President Obama will probably move forward on this front even if Congress fails to pass the cap-and-trade bill. He has already announced a strict national fuel-efficiency standard for cars, and the implications for other sources of greenhouse-gas emissions are not good.

28. The bill calls on the EPA to establish a federal greenhouse-gas registry. Businesses would be required to collect and submit data on their emissions to the EPA, creating yet another compliance cost for them to pass on to their customers.

29. The bill undermines federalism by prohibiting states from creating their own cap-and-trade programs. Nearly half of all U.S. states have already taken some sort of action to cap greenhouse-gas emissions by forming regional compacts and implementing their own emission standards. Understandably, these states support a federal cap so that they are not at an economic disadvantage to states that do not cap emissions. If these states want to hamstring their own economies in the pursuit of green goals, that should be their business. States that don't see any reason to do so should not be forced to share in their folly.

GREEN DREAMS
30. Utility companies are directed to start laying the groundwork for a glorious future in which everyone drives a plug-in car. The legislation directs them to start planning for the deployment of electrical charging stations along roadways, in parking garages, and at gas stations, as well as "such other elements as the State determines necessary to support plug-in electric drive vehicles." (States are directed to consider whether the costs of planning or the implementation of these plans merit reimbursement. Either way, you wind up with the bill.)

31. The secretary of energy is required to establish a large-scale vehicle electrification program and to provide "such sums as may be necessary" for the manufacture of plug-in electric-drive vehicles, including another $25 billion for "advanced technology vehicle" loans. As if Detroit hadn't gotten its hands on enough taxpayer money.

32. The bill directs the secretary of energy to promulgate regulations requiring that each automaker's fleet be comprised of a minimum percentage of vehicles that run on ethanol or biodiesel.

33. It includes loan guarantees for the construction of ethanol pipelines. Nearly every energy bill in the last five years has included loan guarantees for the construction of ethanol pipelines. Apparently, would-be builders of this vital infrastructure are still having problems getting financing.

34. Congress passed (and Obama signed) a "cash for clunkers" program as part of the war appropriations bill this month. Under the program, you get a rebate for trading in a used car for one that gets slightly higher mileage. The Waxman-Markey bill takes this concept and applies it to appliances, electric motors -- basically anything that can be traded in for a more energy-efficient version. These types of programs generally fail cost-benefit analyses spectacularly because more energy goes into the production of the new appliances than would have been used if the old ones had just run their course.

35. The bill includes $15 billion in grants and loans to encourage the manufacture of wind turbines, solar energy, biofuel production, and other sources of renewable energy that have benefited from decades of such largesse already. Another $15 billion is not going to make these energy sources cost-competitive. Only carbon rationing can achieve that. One suspects the Democrats know this; that's why they are pushing a carbon-rationing bill. The $15 billion is just another sop to the green-energy lobby to help grease the skids.

36. The bill establishes within the EPA a SmartWay Transport Program, which would provide grants and loans to freight carriers that meet environmental goals.

37. The bill requires the secretary of energy to establish a program to make monetary awards to utilities that find innovative ways of using thermal energy, as if utilities needed an extra incentive to discover a new, cheap energy source.

38. It includes another $1.5 billion for the Hollings Manufacturing Partnership Program. This program pops up repeatedly in discussions of programs that both liberals and conservatives think should be eliminated. It is corporate welfare, pure and simple.

39. It includes $65 million for research into high-efficiency gas turbines, another gift to the corporate world with little environmental benefit.

40. It includes $7.5 million to establish a National Bioenergy Partnership to promote biofuels. Economic barriers to the commercial viability of biofuel as an energy source have proven to be so insurmountable that even with all of the federal mandates and subsidies already thrown their way, the ethanol companies lined up with everyone else for a federal bailout when the financial crisis hit. The last thing consumers need is another full-time, federally subsidized lobbying arm for that industry.

VARIOUS LEFT-WING WISH FULFILLMENT
41. One of Obama's most reliable constituencies, college administrators, will be given billions of dollars to play with through the creation of eight "Clean Energy Innovation Centers," university-based consortia charged with a mission to "leverage the expertise and resources of the university and private research communities, industry, venture capital, national laboratories, and other participants in energy innovation to support cross-disciplinary research and development in areas not being served by the private sector in order to develop and transfer innovative clean energy technologies into the marketplace." Meaning that the famous business acumen of the federal government will be applied to the energy industry.

42. Another Obama constituency, the community-organizing gang -- i.e., ACORN -- will be eligible to receive billions in funding as the bill "authorizes the Secretary [of Energy] to make grants to community development organizations to provide financing to businesses and projects that improve energy efficiency." Think federally subsidized consultants paid $55 an hour to tell businesses to turn down their AC in the summer.

43. Waxman-Markey also enables Obama to indulge his persistent desire to use the tax code to transfer wealth from people who pay taxes to people who don't -- i.e., from likely Republican voters to likely Obama voters. The bill "amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow certain low income taxpayers a refundable energy tax credit to compensate such taxpayers for reductions in their purchasing power, as identified and calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), resulting from regulation of GHGs (greenhouse gases)."

44. Not only will Waxman-Markey slip more redistribution into the tax code, it will establish a new monthly welfare check. It will create an "Energy Refund Program" that will "give low-income households a monthly cash energy refund equal to the estimated loss in purchasing power resulting from this Act."

45. Another new class of government dependents will be created by Waxman-Markey: Americans put out of work by Waxman-Markey. The bill establishes a program to distribute "climate change adjustment assistance to adversely affected workers."

46. Waxman-Markey will create yet another raft of government dependents, but of a different sort -- bureaucrats. The bill creates: a new United States Global Change Research Program, a National Climate Change Adaptation Program, a National Climate Service, Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Strategy office at the White House, and an International Climate Change Adaptation Program at the State Department.

47. And since everybody else is getting a check, Bambi gets one, too, in the form of money for "domestic wildlife and natural resource adaptation."

48. States also get in on the action. The legislation allows each state to set up a State Energy and Environment Development (SEED) account into which the federal government can deposit emission allowances. States can then sell these allowances and use the proceeds to support clean-energy programs. They must set aside a certain amount of the money to fund federal mandates, but they are given broad discretion to use the rest by making loans, grants, and other forms of support available to favored constituencies. It's federalism, of a sort -- the wrong sort.

49. And, of course, everything includes a health-care component, even cap-and-trade. Waxman-Markey requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a "strategic action plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the impacts of climate change."

50. Waxman-Markey dumps money into questionable "partnerships" and grants to study "emerging careers" in "renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change mitigation." The first career to emerge, of course, will be managing grants to study emerging careers.

That's our Top 50. We could go on. And on.

When Nancy Pelosi was advising congressmen to back this beast, she said they should not worry about the words of the bill they had not read, but think about four others: "jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs." The legislation offers Pelosi perverse vindication: Waxman-Markey will create a lot of jobs for Wall Street sharps, Big Business rent-seekers, ACORN hucksters, utility-company lobbyists, grant-writers at left-wing organizations, college administrators, light-bulb-policing bureaucrats, and an army of parasitic hangers-on. It's up to the Senate to stop it.

In short,this bill would put us under a "soft tyranny". They're right, it needs to be stopped.

Posted by Tom at 10:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 26, 2009

Stop Waxman-Markey, the "Cap 'n Trade" Tax

From this morning's Washington Times

The Democrat-led House pressed Thursday for enough votes to pass landmark legislation that would combat global warming by forcing U.S. companies to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions, expanding expensive renewable-energy sources and trimming consumers' choices on new light bulbs and hot tubs.

Publicly, President Obama urged passage of the legislation -- one of his top priorities -- even though it faces near-unanimous opposition from Republicans. Behind the scenes, his top aides and environmental allies lobbied wavering Democrats to vote yes as early as Friday.
...
But resistance there remained high among both Democrats and Republicans to key components of the bill, including its complicated pollution-permit market system called cap-and-trade. In addition, Senate Democrats are divided over regional disparities in the impact of the bill.
...
The House bill would cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions -- primarily carbon dioxide -- 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. It would also establish a new Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would force utilities to supply a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

The bill would reach carbon-dioxide emission targets by establishing a cap-and-trade system, which would require heavy emitters of carbon dioxide, and the oil and gas industry, to buy annual emissions permits from the government or through a secondary market.

The plan, as written by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would auction a small percentage of the available permits, or allowances, directly to companies. The rest, more than 85 percent, would be given away to selected industries, local utility companies, states and Indian tribes.

Waxman-Markey, otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey, otherwise known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is absolutely the nuttiest bill ever devised. It's designed to fight a non-existent problem, it creates a trading system that will serve no purpose other than to waste time and money, and dramatically increases government power. It's like something out of a Franz Kafka novel.

I could write forever about how no, there's no consensus among scientists that global warming is real, that carbon emissions are contributing to it, or that if it is occurring there's anything we can do about it. But Jim Manzi has a good post over at The Corner so I'll let him speak for me (follow the link to his piece for links to his sources):

It appears that years of debate about climate change and energy may now come down to a vote on an actual bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES). As I write this, the vote is scheduled for Friday. If it occurs, you will be asked to vote to implement carbon rationing in the United States.

Without regard to party or ideology, I believe that the evidence is clear that this law would be contrary to the public interest. Here is why, in a nutshell:

1. It would be a terrible deal for American taxpayers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is projected to impose annual costs of about $1,100 per household (a little less than 1% of total consumption) by 2050. The benefits we will get in return? If the law works precisely as intended, in about one hundred years we should expect surface temperatures to be a about one-tenth of one degree Celsius lower than they otherwise would be. The expected costs are at least ten times the expected benefits, even using the EPA's cost estimates and assuming achievement of the primary goal of the legislation.

2. The argument that "Okay, it's a terrible deal standalone, but we need to lead the world by example" is extremely unconvincing. First, while you are probably not a climate-science expert, I bet you've negotiated a few things in your life. What do you think about the negotiating strategy of unilaterally giving away our most obvious leverage -- namely "we'll reduce our emissions if you reduce yours" -- and instead hoping that those nice men who rule China will be guilted into sacrificing their perceived economic self-interest if we just go first? Second and more fundamentally, as per many detailed analyses, the global deal that we would theoretically be chasing isn't even attractive, even if we assume every technical climate change prediction by the UN IPCC is correct.

3. Contrary to early expectations that auctioning cap-and-trade permits would generate $80 billion per year of government revenue, this law would not contribute materially to deficit reduction. You've seen the internal negotiations up close. Because so many allowances have been given away to special interests to try to get the votes needed to pass ACES, the CBO now estimates that it will bring in a net of a little over $2 billion per year over the next decade. As you know, this is about one one-thousandth of this year's budget deficit.

4. A further effect of all of these deals (which are entirely predictable in a democracy) is that ACES is very unlikely to achieve even the limited benefits that are claimed for it. The details of the bill mean that there is now not a hard cap on emissions for at least the first decade of its existence. What do you think the odds are that this will change at some undetermined point in the far future when all of the normal interest-group pressures of a democracy are supposed to magically disappear?

5. In short, Waxman-Markey would impose costs at least ten times as large as its benefits, would not reduce the deficit, and doesn't even really cap emissions.

So why the rush to get this enacted? Kim Strassel at the Wall Street Journal has the scoop:

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Read the whole thing. Her piece goes on and on with evidence like this.

The House will certainly pass this legislation. It is uncertain whether the Senate will follow suit. Stopping it will represent a victory not only for conservatives, but for the future of our nation. Write your Senators as soon as this thing gets through the House.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 3, 2008

Barack Obama's Energy Plan: "Under my plan... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."

If by chance you haven't seen Senator Obama telling the truth about his energy plan, here are the videos that are going viral around the Internet.

Both Obama and McCain want to implement what is called a "cap and trade" system which by definition would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The difference is in the details, and where the limits would be set.

In a stunning admission, Obama says that his proposal, "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." Listen to him say it yourself:

Unbelievable. Only an envirocrazy could like something like this. Here's the transcript:

The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, "This is really important," and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know -- Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it -- whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They -- you -- you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, "Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they're going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars," or whatever their number is. Um, if you can't persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.

If we can't make that argument persuasively enough, you -- you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You're not going to get that done.

At least he's finally figured out that corporations simply pass their bills on to consumers. Either that or they cut jobs, salaries, or employee benefits.

I believe this is the reference to being asked earlier about coal that he's talking about:

Here's the transcript:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

Any other companies you'd like to bankrupt, Senator? Firearms manufacturers, perhaps? Drug companies so that you can take over that business too, perhaps? Petroleum producers? Once the government gets into the business if bankrupting companies, where does it end?

Obama makes clear that he's opposed to coal "as an ideological matter." Politicians who want to help people should rather be in favor of whatever works, regardless of what it is. We should have an open mind and favor whatever brings us the most energy and the lowest cost with the least pollution.

Look, I'm not at all opposed to alternative forms of energy. Yes, let's look into everything. Yes, I realize that we have a limited amount of fossil fuels and no matter what "clean technology" you implement they still pollute. But as of now things like solar and wind are pipe dreams that cannot supply but a small fraction of our needs.

I think we need more nuclear plants, but the left is unalterably opposed to that as well. Barack Obama doesn't even discuss nuclear power on the energy issues page of his website because he knows it would drive his supporters away from him. John McCain, on the other hand, sets the goal of building 100 new nuclear power plants by 2030.

Obama does say that we do need nuclear power, but we know he is not serious because he is opposed to storing the waste at Yucca Mountain. John McCain, however, supports storing our waste there, which is a prerequisite to building any more nuclear power plants.

Just to set some context, here are our current sources of electricity

figes1.jpg

As you can see, "renewable" and "envirofriendly" sources of energy make up a negligible percentage. Further, our electricity needs are going nowhere but up(source)

petawatt-consumption-history-chart.jpg


The bottom line is that demand for electricity is going nowhere but up and coal and nuclear have got to be part of the solution, at least in the short term, which we may define as the next 20-40 years. Barack Obama is opposed to both coal and nuclear power, and will make prices "skyrocket" prices for consumers.

This is not the type of change we need.

Tomorrow we go to the polls. Energy is yet another issue where McCain-Palin have the better plan.

Posted by Tom at 12:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

Obama's "Global Test"?

Now Senator Obama wants to hand over our energy and environmental policies to other nations.

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

So... it's "leadership" to ask other countries to approve the temperature we set our thermostats at, or what size cars we buy and how often we drive them?

Talk about nanny-state government.

And to think that this is coming from a guy who's party accuses the right of wanting to "impose your values" on everybody.

These liberals want to tell you where to set your thermostat. Don't think it can happen? They proposed just that in California last year. Regulators wanted to mandate installation of a radio-controlled thermostat in everybody's house that they could control. Yes I know it didn't pass, but one thing's for certain, these liberals are nothing if not determined. And it looks like Obama may have bought into their plan as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 2, 2008

Throwing Cold Water on Flex Fuels

It is my position that the West in general, and the United States in particular, needs to find some way or ways to reduce our dependence on oil from states that mean us ill. By sending money to Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, we are literally funding their attempt to destroy us through a sort of "creeping sharia" motivated by a jihadist ideology. Because petroleum is, to some extent, a fungible commodity, we don't even have to directly import from a country for our consumption to help them. High U.S. demand keeps the price of petroleum on the world market high, helping Iran and Venezuela.

As such, one of the options I have investigated is "flex fuels", by which a car might run on a combination of gasoline biofuels(go here and scroll down for posts). "Biofuels refer alcohol fuels such as ethanol (E85) and methanol (E95). The former can be made from a variety of plant products, such as corn or sugar cane. Methanol can be made from wood products or

The biggest proponent of these fuels is Dr Robert Zubrin, who last year published a book called Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. Dr Zubrin makes a powerful case, and is someone to be taken seriously. I haven't actually read his book, but saw some articles about it that made me look into biofuels as an alternative.

However, he has his detractors. Michael Grunwald (and presumably the editors) of Time are among them. The cover story on the current edition is "The Clean Energy Scam" and it is a direct attack on biofuels.

To set the stage, here are a few charts which show U.S. energy consumption that I got from the Heritage Foundation (click to enlarge)

US Oil Production and Imports

US Energy Consumption by Source


US Energy Consumption by Source History


So what do they have to say over at Time?

But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year. Harvests are being plucked to fuel our cars instead of ourselves. The U.N.'s World Food Program says it needs $500 million in additional funding and supplies, calling the rising costs for food nothing less than a global emergency. Soaring corn prices have sparked tortilla riots in Mexico City, and skyrocketing flour prices have destabilized Pakistan, which wasn't exactly tranquil when flour was affordable.

Biofuels do slightly reduce dependence on imported oil, and the ethanol boom has created rural jobs while enriching some farmers and agribusinesses. But the basic problem with most biofuels is amazingly simple, given that researchers have ignored it until now: using land to grow fuel leads to the destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands that store enormous amounts of carbon.

I think that "global warming" is a scam itself, so I don't buy into that argument. But the other arguments are more serious. The damage caused by using so much land to grow crops for fuel cannot be overlooked. Increasing demand without a corresponding increase in supply always drives up price, so unless there is an acre added to food production for every acre devoted to biofuel production, we will be hurting the most vulnerable on the planet. And while I'm no environmentalist, much preferring the term "conservationist", I do not want to see any more land than necessary be taken away from pure natural growth.

One of the leaders in biofuels has been Brazil, where they grow sugar cane which is turned into ethanol. Ethanol provides an impressive 45% of the country's fuel on only 1% of its land. Further, some think they can double their production of sugar cane by 2015 with no more effects on the Amazon. If we could achieve these numbers we would not only reduce the amount of money we give to the Saudi Wahhabists to fund our own destruction, we could reduce the price of petroleum worldwide and thus defund Iran and Venezuela.

The question is, can we?

the problem in Brazil, Grunwald says, is that so much of the Amazon jungle rainforest has been cut down to make way for cropland that it stands a chance of becoming a "savanna or even a desert". Whether this is accurate or environmentalist hype I don't know, but it is something that cannot be dismissed.

Another question is that producing biofuels isn't free. It takes about a gallon of gasoline to get a gallon and a quarter of corn ethanol (a 1:1.3 ratio), so that's not very efficient. The ratio for sugar cane ethanol is better at 1:8, the fuel produces more energy per unit, and burns much cleaner to boot (for ratios and more see this National Geographic interactive).

Right now the American taxpayer is paying some $8 billion in subsidies to farmers to grow corn for ethanol. This seems rather silly given the poor return of corn ethanol. The problem is that once a subsidy is in place, it becomes very hard if not impossible to take it away. People base their lives around the product the subsidy is meant to produce, and will take their political vengeance on any politician who threatens to reduce it.

If not Corn then Sugar?

Can or should we produce sugar cane ethanol? The Time article doesn't address the issue, so I had to go elsewhere.

In July 2006 the USDA released a study titled: "The Economic Feasibility of Ethanol Production from Sugar in the United States" I don't have time to go through the whole thing, but here's a summary by James Jacobs, an Agricultural Economist at the USDA (and on who's page I found the link to the study)

The report found that at the current market prices for ethanol, converting sugarcane, sugar beets and molasses to ethanol would be profitable. "At this summer's unusually high price, I can conclude that it's economically feasible to produce ethanol from sugarcane and sugar beets," USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins said. However, there is not a clear-cut case that U.S. sugar will be commercially converted to ethanol anytime soon.

The study (and Jacob's article) point out that sugar ethanol can be obtained not just from sugar cane, but from sugar beets as well. This is important because the latter can be grown in northern states such as the Dakotas and Minnesota.

However, it costs about twice as much to convert either of these sugar crops to ethanol as it does corn. The economic break even point for sugar ethanol is when gasoline is at $2.35 per gallon or higher. Given current realities, it would seem that we're going to stay well above that price for the foreseeable future.

I don't have time right now to go through the whole article to see how much cropland it would take to produce how much ethanol, or what the effects may be of not growing other things on the land instead of sugar beets or sugar cane. These and other things must be taken into account.

My Conclusion

I think that we should end corn ethanol as soon as possible. The negatives of such production vastly outweigh the benefits. The longer we wait the harder it will be politically to pull the plug.

However we should look into sugar crops as a basis for ethanol. I don't have time to go through the entire USDA report, but it would seem that we might be able to make headway in reducing our petroleum consumption by pursuing such a course.

Remember also that technology is not static. Technologies that look inefficient today may not be so tomorrow. Surely if we put our heads together and put our best scientists on the job we can come up with something better than what we have today.

In the end, it probably won't be any one magic technology or fuel that rids us of the national security vulnerability caused by so much petroleum consumption, but rather a combination of things. As such we should not put all of our eggs in any one basket, but spread out our research into a number of areas. One promising area, however, is sugar based ethanol.

Commenter Mike's America map is here

Oil Reserves USA

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 20, 2008

Flex Fuels Revisited

There is a certain type of conservative who delights in using massive quantities of gasoline. They intentionally buy big vehicles like Hummers and put bumper stickers on them like "My SUV and I Do our Part for Global Warming".

All very entertaining, and no doubt most of it is simply a reaction to the nanny-state libs who buy into the global warming hype and want us to drive Mini-Coopers and hand our home thermostat over to the government. I can understand this sentiment, and for the record don't buy into Al Gore's "the earth has a fever" nonsense either.

I do however think that it would be nice if we could reduce on our gasoline useage, but for altogether different reasons that the tree-huggers: much of the petroleum that we import comes from countries that are trying to destroy us. I'm speaking primarily of Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabist gulf states . And even though we do not directly import the stuff from Iran and Venezuela, our demand drives up the price, so they benefit from our consumption.

Last week Dr Zubrin made his case in an article posted on National Review, and on a National Reviewblog on the same site Henry Payne wrote a post in which he criticized Dr Zubrin. Let's take a look at their arguments.

First up is Robert Zubrin. From his article "Breaking OPEC's Grip"

Consider the following: In 1972, the U.S. paid out $4 billion for oil imports, an amount equal to 1.2 percent of our defense budget at that time. In 2006, we paid $260 billion -- about half of what we paid for national defense. Over the same period, Saudi oil revenues have grown in direct parallel: from $2.7 billion in 1972 to $200 billion in 2006 -- which will likely exceed $300 billion this year. Much of that money is being used to fund an international network of front organizations and Wahhabist madrassas devoted to spreading terrorist ideology. Meanwhile, Iran is using its share of the take to fund its nuclear bomb program, as well as terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

If something isn't done to break the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) -- the cartel that dominates and manipulates the global oil market -- the situation is likely to get much worse....

However, there is now a way to break OPEC, a surprisingly simple one. What is needed is for Congress to pass a law requiring that all new cars sold (not just made, but sold) in the U.S. be flex-fueled -- that is, be able to run on any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels. Such cars already exist -- two dozen different models of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) are being produced by Detroit's Big Three this year -- and they only cost about $100 more than identical models that can run on gasoline only. (The switch to FFV requires only two minor upgrades: in the materials used in the fuel line and in the software controlling the electronic fuel injector.)

FFVs currently command only about 3 percent of the new-car market. After all, there is little upside for consumers to own one, with alcohol-fuel pumps being nearly as rare as unicorns. Little wonder: Why should gas-station owners dedicate one of their pumps to alcohol fuels (like E85 -- a mix of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline -- or M50 -- a mix of half methanol and half gasoline) when only a tiny percentage of cars can use them? But, within three years of the enactment of an FFV mandate, there would be 50 million cars on American roads capable of running on high-alcohol fuels. Under those conditions, fuel pumps dispensing E85 and M50 would be everywhere -- creating, for the first time, an effectively open market in vehicle fuels, and competition for OPEC oil.
...

By mandating that all new cars sold in the U.S. have flex-fuel capacity, we would induce all foreign automakers who want access to the American car market to switch their lines to flex fuel as well, effectively making flex fuel the international standard. In addition to the 50 million FFVs we'd see in the U.S. in three years, there would be hundreds of millions more worldwide that could be powered by any number of alternative fuels derived from numerous sources around the globe, forcing gasoline to compete everywhere. This would effectively break the vertical monopoly that the oil cartel currently holds on the world's fuel supply, constraining prices to the $50-per-barrel range (where alcohol fuels become competitive).

Such a development would also create a market that would mobilize tens of billions of dollars of private investment into techniques for the production of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced alcohol fuels. Those investments will further reduce the price of alcohol fuels and will radically expand America's and our allies' potential resource base (although methanol already can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and urban trash).

After last month's post on Zubrin's idea, commenter jason wrote that a similar program had been tried in Brazil and was in his opinion successful:

The last time I heard people get excited over flex-fuel vehicles was when a group of my friends returned from Brazil. They were impressed with the flex fuel system system in Brazil, most cars were flex fuel and both types of fuel were readily available. The story of how this 'emerging market' country is quickly on the way to energy independence is worth further research. After a little online searching, I was amazed to find that this change in Brazil was started in earnest after the 1970 oil crisis. The Brazilian government poured money into research and development.

---Researchers "developed alloys to protect the internal parts of gasoline-powered engines and fuel tanks from corrosion by ethanol. At the program's peak in 1986-89, 90% of all new vehicles sold in the domestic market were ethanol-fueled.

...Today, Brazil is the second biggest producer of ethanol in the world (20 billion liters) after the United States (24 billion liters). Close to 80% of this is for the domestic market - the fuel used in 45% of Brazilian vehicles is ethanol.---

With Brazil's booming economy, Ford has decided to gain some of the market and has unveiled a flex fuel car in Brazil.

Sure, Brazil has a natural advantage because they grow so much sugar cane. But the story of their path to energy independence is a good rebuttal to those who say there are too many obstacles (it rusts gas tanks, etc) in having the government actively encourage this conversion. Look what government intervention has done for Brazil, imagine if we had 45% of fuel in our cars from ethanol. Would our president still be holding hands with the Sauds?

All very fascinating and exciting. But are these advantages all they're pumped up to be? Henry Payne thinks not. In a post on National Review's Planet Gore blog, he writes that

Brazil, in fact, has followed just the path Zubrin subscribes. But it took that country -- led by a military dictatorship -- much more than just a flex-fuel mandate to get it to an energy market where home-grown ethanol is currently 40 percent of its transportation fuel.

Heavily dependent on OPEC oil, Brazil embarked on a national plan of oil independence during the last oil price panic in the 1970s. Dubbed "Proalcool," the central government nationalized its largest energy company to goose ethanol production, massively subsidized sugar ethanol, mandated the production of ethanol cars, and mandated at least a 25 percent mix of ethanol in gasoline. In effect, government took over its domestic energy sector in the name of national security.

A one would expect from government decrees, there were unintended consequences. Inflation soared thanks to government spending and an agricultural economy now skewed towards fuel -- not food -- production. Brazil suffered widespread environmental degradation with the rush to convert cropland to fuel, and ultimately -- with the collapse of oil prices a mere decade later -- the program failed because ethanol is fundamentally an uncompetitive fuel source relative to oil.

Why? Because ethanol -- whether corn, sugar, or cellulosic (the current U.S. fad) -- contains just 70 percent of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline -- a fact Zubrin blithely ignores. A recent EPA test of 31 flex-fuel cars (FFVs) found they averaged 26 percent fewer miles per gallon when filled with E85 ethanol. For example, the fuel economy of a gas-powered Chevy Tahoe SUV (17 mpg) plunged to 13 mpg on ethanol. Methanol (another so-called alcohol fuel) is even worse, with just 60 percent of gasoline's energy content.

With the rise of democracy in Brazil in the 1990s, much of Brazils' ethanol program was dismantled and pure E100 ethanol use evaporated. But the mandated 25 percent (E25) ethanol mix in gas remained. So as oil prices rose again this decade, the temptation to utilize Brazil's unique sugar resource (the most efficient crop for ethanol) returned and the government has once again intervened in the name of energy independence.

Let me state right here that I am not wedded to "flex fuels" or any other alternative fuel. My goal is to reduce our petroleum consumption because we have to stop funding those who want to destroy us. I'll consider any method that works towards that goal.

So what of it? Zubrin's idea is certainly intriguing. Payne, however, makes some good points that cannot be ignored. Further, I haven't read Zubrin's entire book (and don't have time to) so must recognize that he can't make all his arguments in a short article. Further, I have to think that current ethanol and methanol production techniques can be very much improved if we put our minds to it. I understand how growing corn for ethanol inflates food prices. But as the article commenter jason linked to shows, the Brazilians get a lot of their ethanol from sugarcane and even straw. From what I can tell these fuels can be processed from any number of biological sources, so surely again if we put our minds to it we can vastly improve upon the current process.

The bottom line though is that I really don't have the expertise to say who is right.

I've debated all this with conservatives on a few websites, and I get three lines of objections. One is the "free market" objection. They say that the free market will resolve all of our difficulties if only we'd reduce government regulation. The model they have in mind is Reagan's deregulation of Carter's energy schemes. While I am certainly sympathetic to this line of reasoning, I think it faulty for two reasons. One, the free market hasn't done us any good in this area so far, and two the only way it would produce alternative sources of energy is if prices got higher; usually just the opposite of what consumers want.

The other argument I run into is the "personal freedom" argument. My libertarian side is sympathetic to this as well. I don't like the government telling me what size house I can live in or what size car I can drive either. And this is where I think flex fuels look good; unlike CAFE standards it does not mandate what size car you drive, only what type engine it should have.

The third is a combination of increasing production by opening up ANWR and increasing our refining capacity. Unfortunately, from what I can tell but a bit of google research ANWR would supply maybe 5% or less of our daily consumption. This will have a negligible effect. Increasing refining capacity might be a good thing but I've not seen numbers that convince me that this either would have much effect.

Whether flex fuels are the solution or not, we've got to find some way of reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.


Posted by Tom at 8:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 2, 2008

Flexible Fuel Vehicles: A New Way to Energy Independence?

In my search for something to help us break free of Middle Eastern oil, I've run across something worth considering: Flexible Fuel Vehicles. From an editorial by Cliff May over at National Review

We are financing a war against ourselves," writes Robert Zubrin, nuclear engineer and author of a new book responding to the distressing fact that Americans and Europeans are sending trillions of dollars to militant Islamists whose goal is our destruction.

But in his new book, Energy Victory, Dr. Zubrin does not just complain. He proposes a way to break free of dependence on a resource controlled by those who have declared themselves our mortal enemies. The technology already exists. It's not expensive. All that is lacking is for voters to make this a priority -- and to communicate that to the political class.

Right now, 97 percent of the cars on America's roads run on gasoline. Only three percent are Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) -- automobiles that can be powered by either gasoline or alcohol fuels, or any mixture of the two. The additional cost to make a new car an FFV is only about $100 per vehicle

The "war against ourselves" he refers to is emphatically not just against al Qaeda. It is against what Walid Phares calls "the jihad" against the West. While primarily a "War of Ideas", he says, there are also military and economic aspects. The military aspect is being fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The economic part is our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, in particular, that of the Saudi Wahhabists, who make up one of three branches of the jihad, and who are using the money we send them to undermine us.

Continuing on with May's piece:

For the sake of individual security, the government mandates that all cars have seat belts. For the sake of national security, Dr. Zubrin proposes, the government should mandate that all new cars be FFVs.

In three years, the change would put 50 million FFVs on the road. The free market would then mobilize to do what it does best: Entrepreneurs would compete to produce alternative, non-petroleum fuels for these potential customers.

Dr. Zubrin expects those fuels to be made from alcohol: ethanol and methanol. Ethanol is made from agricultural products, from plants of all kinds. Methanol can be made from biomass -- even biodegradable garbage -- as well as from natural gas or coal.

Ethanol can be produced right now for $1.50 a gallon; methanol for 93 cents a gallon. Dr. Zubrin expects the first generation of alternative fuels would be high alcohol-to-gasoline mixtures. These would provide better mileage while still dramatically reducing dependence on petroleum.

The key is you'd be free to choose: You could buy gasoline as you do now or you could buy fuels made mostly of alcohol, giving less money -- and hence less power -- to Iranian mullahs, Saudi clerics, and Venezuelan despots.

That's the gist of it; read the whole thing for details.

Robert Zubrin's website for the book has some additional information. Here's how it says we should get started

Zubrin's plan is straightforward and practical. He argues that if Congress passed a law requiring that all new cars sold in the USA be flex-fueled -- that is, able to run on any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels -- this one action would destroy the monopoly that the oil cartel has maintained on the globe's transportation fuel supply, opening it up to competition from alcohol fuels produced by farmers worldwide. According to Zubrin's estimates, within three years of enactment, such a regulation would put 50 million cars on the road in the USA capable of running on high-alcohol fuels, and at least an equal number overseas.

What I like best is that the plan doesn't directly force you to buy or use alternative fuels. My big question is how much more FFV's would cost. If consumers have to spend a significant amount of money on them, this takes money from other sectors of the economy and thus has a cascading effect that would be economically harmful. But if the cost is only marginally more, then the economic effect would be negligible.

Frank Gaffney, writing in the Washington Times last month, also likes the Zubrin's FFV's

If every car sold in America were a Flexible Fuel Vehicle, within three years, 50 million cars here would be able to run on alcohol instead of gasoline. Perhaps another 100 million to 150 million such cars sold elsewhere would have that option. With that sort of potential demand, at current prices for gasoline (nearly $3 per gallon), ethanol (at comparable energy values as much as $2.25 per gallon) and methanol (at comparable energy density, $1.70 per gallon), the free market would provide these (and perhaps other) alternative fuels in large quantities.

Particularly important, such demand would far exceed the ethanol that could be supplied by American corn farmers. They should, therefore, be willing to allow importation of ethanol from other sources without the current tariff that amounts to a crippling $29 per barrel surcharge. With roughly 100 countries around the world enjoying climates that could allow them to grow sugar cane or other biomass they could use to power their own vehicles and help power ours, the world would cease to be dependent on oil-exporting nations, most of whom wish us ill.

I'm not wedded to this or any other proposal.

My bottom line is that as a national security imperative it would be good if we could lessen the amount of money we pay to other countries for oil, especially since as Frank Gaffney says most of them wish us ill. Every dollar we send them is one more that they use to undermine us. Let's find a way to change this. If drilling in the U.S. will do it, then let's go for that. I just think we should explore options.


Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Houses

The following is an email that's been making the rounds

Status at Snopes: True

House #1

A 20 room mansion ( not including 8 bathrooms ) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400/mo. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.

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Now let's look at house #2

House #2

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet ( 4 bedrooms ) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F. ) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from
showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

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HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee; it is the abode of the "environmentalist" Al Gore.

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas; it is the residence
of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

An "inconvenient truth".

Yes I am aware that just because Algore is a hypocrite of monumental proportions does not automatically make him wrong on his global warming theories, or that just because President Bush lives in an enviromentally friendly house makes him right, so please don't anyone waste time leaving comments along those lines.

But that said my reaction to the email is

BRAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

Posted by Tom at 9:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 8, 2007

Rethinking Fuel Consumption

It would be nice if we could reduce our consumption of petroleum, but not because I want to see Americans take mass transit or drive less. I'd rather like to increase efficiency through free-market initiatives, the objective of which is to reduce the money the Saudis take in from oil revenues, and thus deny them they money they use to spread their Wahhabist ideology. As former Director of the CIA James Woolsey said in testimony to Congress in November of 2005,

"On all points except allegiance to the Saudi state Wahhabi and al Qaeda beliefs are essentially the same."

Sczry stuff. Problem is, reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil isn't that simple. Mark Steyn to spoil my thesis. In today's NRO he wrote

First: American demand would have to fall precipitously to put a dent in the rise in global demand due to Asian industrialization. In 1990 China consumed 2.4 million bpd. Fifteen years later, it was 7 million bpd.
Second: Saudi oil is cheaply extractable oil. That's why King Abdullah gets the romantic hand-holding Presidential photo ops at Crawford and the Premier of Alberta doesn't. A reduction in global demand would hurt Canadians and other non-jihadist producers long before it hurts the Saudis.

Bottom line: Until we are in the post-oil era, the Saudis will always be oil-rich. The only way to change that is to turn oil into as valuable a commodity as a liquid buggy whip. That will take time and money and great innovation. Until it happens, we have to find other ways to throttle Wahhabist ideology, which is Saudi Arabia's real principal export.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 7, 2007

The Crux of the Matter on "Global Warming"

So Newsweek now instructs us that anyone who denies what our betters tell us about global warming is on a par with 9/11 truthers and UFO chasers.

Ok, they don't actually come out and say that but it's the clear implication. It's this sort of article that made me cancel my subscription to Time and steer clear of newsmagazines in general over 20 years ago. There's simply no line between what's an editorial and what's a news story.

The real truth is that it doesn't really matter whether the earth is warming or not. If it is, there's nothing we can do about it.

Why, you ask? Mario Lewis sums it up

In 1998, Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a key climate adviser to Vice President Al Gore, published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters assessing Kyoto’s potential impacts on global temperatures and sea level rise. Wigley calculated that even if all industrial countries, including the United States, limit their emissions to the Kyoto target (roughly 5 percent below 1990 levels), and do so in perpetuity (no mean feat, since global energy demand, driven by economic and population growth, is growing rapidly), this would avert only 0.07C of global warming and only 1 centimeter of sea level rise by 2050. Such minuscule results would be too small for scientists to detect.

Also in 1998, the Energy Information Administration published a study of Kyoto’s potential impacts on U.S. energy markets and the economy. EIA concluded that Kyoto could lower GDP by tens to hundreds of billions of dollars annually, depending on the extent of emissions trading and other variables.

In short, the leading scientific and economic assessments published in 1998 revealed that Kyoto was all pain for no gain.

Exactly.

Posted by Tom at 7:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 6, 2007

Not Al Gore!

Edgar Allen Poe might roll over in his grave if he saw this parody, but it's just too funny to pass up.


Once upon a midnight dreary, as I wondered weak and weary
Why the Goreacle is such a tedious, monumental bore.
Surely in the loads of drivel, tripe to make a man’s brain shrivel,
Interspersed with jibes uncivil, there’d be something to explore?
Could that whole ungodly slideshow be but lies and nothing more?
Would that someone had kept score!

Frantically in search of answers to Al Gore’s extravaganzas,
Mine eyes did light upon a paper lying on my office floor.
‘Fore my eyes two words were forming, words that looked like “global warming”,
Soon I found myself a-storming, straight across my office floor
To snatch up that hopeful beacon like a ship in search of shore.
Wanting badly to learn more.

There, within its brittle pages, words of scientific sages
Summarized the essence of the Gorebot’s claims of yore.
Are the mountains’ snowy summits shrinking as the coolness plummets,
Or, as some say, due to forests fewer than there were before?
Who is right and free of folly with a hand on wisdom’s door?
Quoth the experts: “Not Al Gore.”

What about the winds a-blowing, are their forces ever growing Caused by global heating’s menace, doomed to rise forevermore? Or is the real truth quite another? Is there no rise in windy bother? Is it true our Earthly mother has less storms than e’er before? Who is using facts to silence his opponent’s witless roar? Quoth the experts: “Not Al Gore.”

Are the deserts getting bigger with unheard of vim and vigor
Leaving naught but arid wastelands as we watch the tempr’ture soar?
Or perhaps the sand’s retreating while poor farmers now are meeting
Ends on green land that was nothing but a sea of sand before?
One of the two sides is telling nothing but the truth; no more.
Quoth the experts: “Not Al Gore.”

Are the tundras really melting, caused by warming’s heavy welting
While the ursine ice floe dwellers float on ice cubes far from shore?
Or, perhaps, they’re getting colder, leaving nary an ice-free boulder
While the ice sheets cover more land than it did the year before?
Who had nailed this vital question with real science true and sure?
Quoth the experts: “Not Al Gore.”

I put the paper down and wondered where humanity had blundered
Putting faith in mindless cretins that sane people should ignore.
“There is one born every minute, with the brains G-d gave a linnet.”
I thought and saw the gospel in it, “thus it will be evermore.”
To whom should one turn for advice for what the future has in store?
Quoth the experts: “NOT AL GORE!”

Note: I changed some of the links from what Emperor Misha I had in "not Al Gore"

Posted by Tom at 8:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

The Bad Side of Environmentalism

There is a good and bad side to many or most movements. More on the good side of environmentalism below.

In the meantime, watch this

I first heard about this film, Mine Your Own Business, over at Michelle Malkin's Hot Air (I think that's where I saw it). Today Peter Suderman wrote an article about it over at NRO, and in a comment on The Corner linked to Mary Katharine Ham's video above.

Here are two excerpts from Suderman's review


Mine Your Own Business looks primarily at ongoing efforts to stop Canadian company Gabriel Resources from building a gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania. The region is poor, with many people still residing in tiny, Communist-era block apartments and forced to use outhouses in a place in which freezing temperatures are common. Most anti-mine activists, of course, live far away, surrounded by modern comforts. But despite this, they claim to know what the locals want.
...

Environmentalists, of course, talk endlessly about preserving traditional ways of life, but locals don’t want to preserve poverty and hardship. They want a chance to provide a more comfortable existence for themselves and their families. McAleer catches Francoise Heidebroek, who works with an anti-mining NGO, claiming that Rosia Montana residents would “prefer to ride a horse than drive a car.” When McAleer asks locals if they’d prefer to clop about in freezing temperatures on a horse, they just laugh at him. Heidebroek, it's useful to note, sequesters herself away in the modernized capitol city of Bucharest. If she wants to saddle up every morning, well, I say good luck. But there’s no reason that her equestrian whimsy should force actual Rosia Montana residents to do the same.

The point should be clear by now; a mining company wants to start a mine in Romania, the locals are thrilled with the idea of real jobs, and some Western environmentalists want to stop the mine.

The Good Side of Environmentalism

Let's get this part out of the way right now so you wont' think I'm a troglodyte.

In June of 1993 I went to Russia for about 10 days with my parents. We spent most of our time in Moscow, taking the night train to St Petersburg where we spent two days. I'd say it was a vacation, but given the near third-world status of the place, more an adventure than anything else.

Every fourth car, it seemed, spewed visible black or blue smoke. The entire city of Moscow stank of pollution. Trash seemed everywhere. We were told before going not to drink the water. You get the point.

It was enough to make even the most hard right capitalist into an environmentalist. It certainly made me appreciate the air-quality standards we have here in the United States.

This to me is good environmentalism. Clean water, clean air. Emissions control on cars and factory smokestacks. Recycling. Not dumping your motor oil into the sewer. Regulating the use of fertilizer so that we don't have so much of it in water runoff that goes into our streams and rivers. I buy into all this.

Yes I know that surface ("strip") mines can harm the environment unless there are serious reclamation efforts. Rainwater can mix with minerals turned up in the mining process, and the resulting runoff can be toxic. I get it.

Bad Environmentalism

I'm not going to get into it here, but obsessing over global warming is bad environmentalism. Environmentalists hurt their own cause when they tell us the world will end unless we adopt the Kyoto Protocols.

I do not buy into the notion that all surface mines are bad and must be stopped. I do get it that in Romania they don't have our laws, and that the company that does the mining might well get away with things that wouldn't be allowed here. And from what I understand much pollution actually comes from third-world countries precisely because of a lack of strict laws regarding the environment.

But I also think that we can have our cake and eat it to. The people of Romania need jobs. Their life as it is now stinks. It's a question of trade-offs; improving the lives of the people in Romania versus risking some environmental problems. The question, I suppose, is whether the proposed mine would actually harm the environment as much as the environmentalists say it would. I don't know, and I don't know if the film Mine Your Own Business addresses the issue.

In short, bad environmentalism is when it devolves into bananna thinking; Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

I would not be unsympathetic to the environmentalists as much if they concentrated on ways to build(?) good mines and factories that had a minimum footprint on nature. My perception is that they're often mindlessly opposed to just about everything. This mine is probably something they ought to let through.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack