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Archive for the 'Energy Policy' Category

July 8th 2009

Greenpeace Dishonors America’s Greatest

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hree of America’s greatest presidents – no way am I counting Teddy Roosevelt in that group [thanks, Coop!] – were dishonored by Greenpeace today when the group defaced Mt. Rushmore with a banner portraying FDR wannabe Barack Obama.  The message is ludicrous:  “America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians. Stop Global Warming.”

The banner seems to imply that Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln were not leaders.  The Greenpeace idiots should be very, very glad we have First Amendment rights in this country.  I won’t dispute that Obama’s a leader; it’s just a disagreement with Greenpeace over the way he’s leading us.  I don’t believe “honor” should be ascribed to a person who is leading America towards socialism and economic ruin.

And as for stopping global warming, pshaw.  All Obama’s policies will do is make everything more expensive; they will do nothing to significantly alter the atmosphere or the globe’s climate.  His “leadership” on cap and tax is better described as “ruinship.”

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July 4th 2009

Green Litigation Halts The Great White North

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he Arctic holds about a tenth of the world’s known oil and natural gas reserves – and it’s not clear what nation owns which offshore reserves because ownership is based on where the edge of the continental shelf is, and we don’t have a clear picture of undersea topography there.

As a result, the US, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, China and even South Korea, Singapore and Japanare all making forays into the region to establish drilling rights – rights that are becoming more valuable as ice-free navigation becomes possible in some parts of the Arctic.  So it would make good sense, wouldn’t it, for the US to establish operations wherever it can as quickly as it can, give a reasonable regulatory regimen?

And we would be doing just that, were it not for the Center for Biological Depravity Diversity.  The Washington Times reports today that the Center’s endless and aggressive litigation has brought much of the exploration by US companies to a halt:

Richard Ranger, senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, an industry lobbying group, said direct legal challenges are also slowing exploration and production off Alaska’s coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation group, is the principal party behind Arctic litigation, Mr. Ranger said. The group has filed lawsuits with the federal Minerals Management Service to halt the issuing of air quality permits to Royal Dutch Shell, asserting, according to the center’s Web site, that the oil giant has not adequately assessed how exploratory drilling would affect wildlife and native populations.

Shell announced earlier this week that it was withdrawing its 2007-2009 drilling plan in the Beaufort Sea and would submit a new plan for 2010. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco blocked the company from oil drilling in July 2007.

The new lawsuits come on the heels of the Center’s central effort in getting the polar bear listed, a ridiculous, political contortion of the Endangered Species Act that should have been stopped in its tracks by the Bush Administration, but wasn’t, in one of Bush’s most signficiant domestic failures.  Building on that success, the Center is actively pursuing listings of numerous ice-dependent seals,  – the ribbon, bearded, spotted, and ringed seals – making similar arguments that worked well with its polar bear litigation strategy:

In addition to loss of its sea-ice habitat from global warming, the ribbon seal faces threats from oil and gas development in its habitat, and the growth of shipping in the increasingly ice-free Arctic. Last month, important summer feeding areas for the ribbon seal in the Chukchi Sea were leased for oil development, while seismic surveys are planned for the area this summer.

And what is the answer to these seals’ plight?  Hint: It’s not to just let them survive, as they have survived previous warming spells that melted the Arctic ice. No, we have to attack industry, the economy and the American way of life to save the seals:

“With rapid action to reduce carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon emissions, combined with a moratorium on new oil-and-gas development and shipping routes in the Arctic, we can still save the ribbon seal, the polar bear, and the entire Arctic ecosystem,” said Brendan Cummings, oceans program director for the Center. “But the window of opportunity to act is closing rapidly. Endangered Species Act protection for the ribbon seal and other Arctic species will provide important tools to protect these species and their fragile habitat in the Arctic.”

Going after multiple seal listings at the same time is the same strategy that has worked so well for the Center in Central California, where its Delta smelt listing, which has slashed water deliveries and spiked unemployment in some areas to 40 percent, has been followed by similarly disruptive listings of the long-finned smelt and Delta-dependent salmon species.

The new litigation’s focus on air quality shows how opportunistically the Center bends environmental laws and regulations to their favor. Air quality is an area of easy pickings since the baseline arctic air is unusually clean. Regulations written for the Lower 50 are easy to exploit there, and exploit they have.

The Center takes no prisoners. It doesn’t believe in compromise. It certainly does not believe in an economically robust, expansive America. Its founder has made it clear he sees his purpose as the depopulaiton of the West. The Center’s mission obviously has grown, and its actions in the Arctic not only could lead to greater dependence on foreign oil, but also, tragically, could lead to foreign ownership of drilling sites that are rightfully ours.

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July 1st 2009

A Little Post-Waxman-Markey Clarity

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K, gang, let’s start prepping for the Senate showdown and, hopefully, the crashing and oh- so- carbon- emitting burning of the cap and tax lunacy.  Let’s start in a chilly place that by rights should be one of the leading proponents of global warming.  Lord knows, the weather certainly could stand to get a wee bit warmer in Scotland.

But for reasons unfathomable by rational minds, Scotland has decided its proper role as a nation is to lead the lemmings off the global warming cliff.  It hails itself, claiming it has the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals – a 42 percent reduction by 2020 and a mind-numbingly stupid 80 percent slash by 2050. Just listen to Scotland’s Climate Minister (Climate Minister?! He should be filed on the spot! Have you seen Scotland’s climate? Disgusting!) says about it all:

Scotland can be proud of this bill, the most ambitious and comprehensive piece of climate change legislation anywhere in the world. As a country, we are leading global action and expect others to follow our lead as we look to the international summit in Copenhagen this December.

I bet it’s going to be bone-chillingly cold in Copenhagen this December – big global warming confab or not.

I bring all this up because in Scotland’s goals we see what’s ahead for a cap and tax America.

Get ready for hefty fines if your household doesn’t do its part. And heftier fines if your business doesn’t. That’s now the rule in Scotland.

Prepare yourself for the Greenshirts busting into your house in search of plastic bags, or forcing your corporation to drop its theft-resistant packaging for something more easy to steal. OK, they’re not yet breaking down doors in Scotland, but they are attacking plastic bags as heinous, anti-social tools of destruction, only slightly more acceptable than the dreaded product packaging.

To incentivize thrifty Scots to part with some of their cash to reduce their carbon footprints, the Scotish Parliament has approved a 50 pound reduction in a local tax.  That sounds exactly like Obama thinking.  Everyone who pitches in to save the planet gets a tax cut.  Never mind that you’ll spend a 500, or 1,000 or 10,000 pounds to insulate your quaint cottage or install solar – that 50-pound tax cut is exactly the sort of great incentive a big government control freak would come up with. And we have more than a few of those in DC.

Not all the Scots are buying it, of course.  Here’s university prof Dr. James Buckee attempting too late to interject some rationality into all this:

“As far as reducing emissions by 80 per cent, banning the internal combustion engine, and coal-fired power stations from Scotland would not get close to doing it. This is clearly unobtainable.

“More energy has been expended on finding ways to infringe on human activity than has gone into understanding the science.”

Heh.  Loved that.  And speaking of understanding the science, there was one heck of an article in Forbes the other day, Waxman-Markey Flunks the Math.  Math is the base of all science, so that’s bad news for the Warmies. Here we go with the basics:

In the U.S., electricity is produced from these sources. If you are reading this on a handheld and can’t read Wikipedia’s wonderful pie chart, here is the breakdown:

48.9% — Coal
20% — Natural Gas
19.3% — Nuclear
1.6% — Petroleum

Got that? A tick over 88% of U.S. electricity comes from three sources: coal, gas and nuclear. Petroleum brings the contribution of so-called “evil” energy–that is, energy that is carbon- or uranium-based–to almost 90%.

The remaining sources of U.S. electricity, the renewables, are, by comparison, tiny players:

7.1% — Hydroelectric
2.4% — Other Renewables
0.7% — Other

Hydroelectric accounts for 70% of renewable energy in America. But, of course, hydro is mostly tapped out. Almost every dam that could be built has been built. Ironically enough, political opposition to building more dams comes from the same crowd of tree huggers who oppose coal, gas and uranium.

Waxman-Markey is all about punitively taxing the energy sources that make up 90 percent of our electrical generation, in order to subsidize the 10 percent that’s renewable.  Well, really 3 percent if you don’t count hydroelectric generation, which isn’t targeted for big Waxman-Markey subsidies. The author then reveals what the bill is all about; not stopping global warming, but good ol’ politics as usual:

In other words, Waxman-Markey is betting the future of U.S. electricity production on sources that now contribute 3% or supply 10 million Americans with electricity. That’s enough juice for the people in Waxman’s Los Angeles County. Or, if you prefer, for Nancy Pelosi’s metro San Francisco plus Markey’s metro Boston.

Well, what about electricity for the other 295 million? You can’t get there from here with Waxman-Markey. At very best, solar, wind and cellulosic ethanol will make 20% contributions by 2025. The smart money would bet on 10%.

Besides, those nasty ol’ Devil fuels are doing very well on the technology front, advancing at a clip that rivals or surpasses gains made in alternative energy.  Engines are cleaner and more efficient, fuels burn hotter and cleaner, and extraction and processing technologies are greener than ever.

There simply is no reason for Waxman-Markey … except for power-grabbing and money-sucking.  But there is a great alternative, an absolutely brilliant alternative, promoted today by Doug Ross:

We start with the most useless government agencies we can find. The Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, The Department of Health and Human Services, The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FCC and Amtrak. For the sake of argument, let’s say that together, they consume $250 billion a year.

Congress’ job? They would be required to cut spending for these ridiculous bureaucracies according to the following schedule (which I had a lot of fun creating — all numbers in billions).

2012 – $250
2013 – $210
2014 – $190
2015 – $160
2016  – $140
2017 – $120
2018 – $110
2019 – $100
2020 – $90
2021 – $75
2022 – $60
2023 – $50

Pay-cuts? Layoffs? Closing unnecessary facilities? Who gives a crap? That’s for them to figure out.

How do you like Cap-and-trade now, Democrats?

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June 27th 2009

The Ugly Eight

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ere they are, with an art hat-tip to Michelle Malkin, the Cap and Tax 8. Mary Bono Mack was a known commodity going in, apparently having suffered some transfer of her former husband’s fatal brain injury. Who are these other losers-to-be?

Mike Castle of Delaware doesn’t even have “energy” as in issue on his Web site, but the environment section makes it clear his green runs pretty deep and he’s a long supporter of cap and tax because he’s bought into the gloom and doom faction’s global warming myth.  He links to this story in the local rag:

Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., said several developments bode well for climate-change legislation: the arrival of a new president and new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the growing cooperation of businesses and the realization that such legislation will open up new market opportunities.

“I think all these things combined will give us the opportunity to see something happen in the course of this year,” said Castle, who supports a cap-and-trade program.

So his vote is really no surprise; just his party designation is.  He’s thinking about running for the Senate and this vote may have been calculated to shore up his green base for that statewide campaign.

Mark Kirk, who has signaled he’d like to run for gov, leads his web site with a video in which he promises to read every page of the bill before voting, saying he’s got a couple hours and a few hundred pages to go before the vote – how thorough a read was that?  Like Castle, he has no “energy” issue paper on his Web site. His environment paper notes that he has been ranked one of Congress’ top 13 environmental champions, for his work “saving” Lake Michigan – there’s that enviro-egomaniacal behavior again. He believes government must force America off it’s “addiction to oil,” was a co-sponsor of legislation for higher CAFE standards and is a big alternative energy funding proponent – including, of course since he’s from Illinois, ethanol – a fuel which makes no sense whatsoever, just like cap and trade.

The NY after John McHugh’s name is for upstate NY of course – it’s hard to elect a Republican anywhere else in the state – but he’s Obama’s designee for Sec. of the Army and this was payback time, pure and simple. His environment paper gives no hint that he’d vote for cap and tax, and his energy paper shows him to be pro-nuke and concerned about rising gas prices. So despite all that alligator-tear concern, he voted yes in return for a new gig.  Politics!

Now for the New Jersey trio, who could have turned the vote around if they’d all stayed with the GOP.  Let’s start with the man with the totally NJ name, Frank LoBiondo.  He with the head Sarah Palin could easily poke fun at … or mistake for a football and kick.  His Web site boldly leads off with a news release proclaiming his vote for cap and tax:

U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today voted in favor of H.R. 2454, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” – comprehensive legislation that seeks to make the United States energy independent by focusing the nation’s energy policy toward clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and nuclear.

“For South Jersey residents who lived through the energy crisis of the 1970s, the nation witnessed the rationing of gas, stations sold-out of fuel, and our country’s absolute reliance on foreign nations to save us from our increasing consumption. Jobs were lost. The economy sank further into recession. And the nation did not take action.

“Then, in the 1990s, there was a bitter debate over increasing fuel efficiency standards in automobiles, yet minimal action was taken despite the technological capabilities to go further. I have long said that if Congress had passed higher standards in the 1990s – standards I supported – then our consumption and annual fuel costs now would be half. However, the oil corporations and automobile makers were against such standards and now lose billions of dollars to foreign competitors who were forward-thinking, developed fuel efficient technologies and sell hybrid vehicles that get 40 to 50 miles per gallon.

“The ‘American Clean Energy and Security Act’ is the opportunity to break the cycle of inaction and finally move our nation towards real energy independence.

The Rep would do well to remember the oil excess profits tax, which dropped US oil production by 8 percent and increased imports by 13 percent. He’s a loon if he thinks cap and tax will have a less negative impact. His pre-election platform was almost straight party line – except he opposed opening off-shore oil leases and the construction of new oil refineries. We could easily see this vote coming.

Leonard Lance, the former NJ GOP senate leader, is not held in high regard by this commenter at New Republic:

Most people know that New Jersey is only second to California for financial trouble. First term Congressman Leonard Lance who lives in one of the most affluent areas of New Jersey, Hunterdon County was an unsuccessful lawyer in Clinton New Jersey and practiced under the wing of his father, a useless State Senator.

Like LoBiondo, Lance has a news release on his site heralding his monstrous vote as “a vote for energy independence:”

I am voting for this bill because it is time America turned the corner and took bold action to clean the environment and develop alternative energy. We cannot allow countries whose opposition to democracy and support for terrorism grow with every barrel of oil they sell to continue to dominate energy politics.

Yeah, I’m with him on that; he just picked the wrong legislative vehicle to accomplish that end. The computer didn’t become dominant because Congress put a hefty tax on typewriters. Like LoBiondo, Lance is blitheringly ignorant of basic economy, which makes him de facto not a Republican.

Rounding out da three guys from Joisey is Chris Smith of Trenton, who unlike his gang brothers, isn’t discussing his vote on his Web site.  Smith co-authored a bill with cap and trade co-author Ed Markey that would spur global investment in alternative energy (a great alternative to cap and tax!) and writes on his environment paper:

As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I believe it is equally imperative that we address environmental issues—such as climate change—on a global scale. Global warming is a real threat and an increasing danger to our environment. All major greenhouse emitting countries need to cooperate in reducing and stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of these gases, and the United States must play a leadership role in bringing nations together for a global solution to climate change.

That sure isn’t what Waxman-Markey will accomplish.  By penalizing the US, it will only encourage cheaper, dirtier uses of energy elsewhere.  NJ conservative political blogger Chris Wysocki writes of Smith’s vote:

And Chris Smith? WTF? He’s usually a level-headed thinker. He fights the good fight for children and victims of the bureaucratic behemoth. So why in the world did he vote to escalate the power of that behemoth by a thousand fold? He just consigned hundreds, if not thousands, of his constituents to the unemployment line. Their employers won’t be able to afford to keep the lights on, never mind maintain their current staffing levels. Thanks Congressman, you screwed us, and we’ll work to screw you back.

That brings us to Dave Reichert of the Peoples Republic of Washington, whose “yes” vote was long suspected. In a news release on his Web site, he admits “this bill is not perfect.”  He should have ended it there, before the “but” that took us to the now-expected explanation that it’s all about energy independence – the standard RINO excuse for voting for this bill. He even goes so far to laud the progressive Teddy Roosevelt – you know, as in “Progressive” – for his conservation ethic, without noting that Teddy pushed America down the road to big, obtrusive government.

There was no decent excuse to be had from any of the eight.  Those that are seeking higher office obviously thought this an intelligent political play – but it’s unlikely now that any of them will survive the primaries in their states.  A couple appear to be dyed in the wool greens.  All of them certainly are going to be recipients of future earmarks – keep your eyes open for that!  And none of them deserve the honor of having an “R” after their names.

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June 26th 2009

Remember The BTU Tax?

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emember the BTU Tax?  I didn’t, which caused me to make a mistake in my post yesterday, when I made this comment in response to this, from Obama’s Rose Garden shill for the Waxman-Markey energy tax, “We have been talking about this issue for decades, now is the time to finally act.”  I said:

“We’ve been talking about carbon taxes for decades?!”  Where does he get this stuff? How dumb does he think we are?  If you stretch the timeline rather aggressively, pressure to tax carbon began within the last ten years, and even then it was promoted only by a small group of whackos.

I forgot one particular whacko, Al Gore, who in 1993 – decades ago – tried to move a tax on energy – British Thermal Units, or BTUs,  through Congress.  Mea culpa.

Matt Dempsey, a GOP staffer at the Senate Energy & Public Works Committee brought me back into the light:

As the House prepares to vote on the largest tax increase in American history, otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey bill, and as President Obama tries to persuade his House allies to vote for same, EPW Policy Beat took another trip down memory lane.  We landed in 1993 as the House was voting on the Al-Gore-backed BTU tax.  As we and others have stated before, the historical and political parallels between the BTU tax and Waxman-Markey are striking: members fearful that voting for an energy tax would have political repercussions at the ballot box; members fearful of voting for a bill that would then die in the Senate; members fearful that an energy tax would be regressive, harm consumers, destroy jobs and slow economic growth; members fearful of a man named Gore pushing an energy rationing scheme that harms the heartland; and Democratic congressional leaders and Administration officials (read: Gore) desperately searching for exemptions and last-minute deals to shore up support.  As the proverb goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

As you know, because “we have been talking about this issue for decades,” the BTU tax did fail, as Clinton dropped the bill in the Senate, when it became clear it didn’t have enough Democratic support there. Many of the Dems who voted for it in the House found themselves scrambling to defend their votes, and many could not, losing their seats. And America was spared having to commit forced economic suicide at the hand of a radical environmentalist politician.

We don’t have to go back to 1993 for lessons on how bad Waxman-Markey is; we need only visit Spain today. As George Will pointed out in his column yesterday:

[Gabriel] Calzada, 36, an economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, has produced a report that, if true, is inconvenient for the Obama administration’s green agenda, and for some budget assumptions that are dependent upon it.

Calzada says Spain’s torrential spending — no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources — on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs. But Calzada’s report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies — wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation — sub-optimum in terms of economic efficiency — of capital. (European media regularly report “eco-corruption” leaving a “footprint of sleaze” — gaming the subsidy systems, profiteering from land sales for wind farms, etc.) Calzada says the creation of jobs in alternative energy has subtracted about 110,000 jobs elsewhere in Spain’s economy.

A GOP study found the same thing here in the U.S. – green jobs aren’t particularly high-paying, but require an average government subsidy of $100,000.

I attempted to engage some green-tinted lefties in a meaningful conversation on the topic yesterday on a  New Mexico political blog (I got there via a Twitter link, if you’re curious). I response to a guest column plea for a yes vote on Waxman-Markey, I wrote:

Ask yourself, which is melting faster, the ice caps or the economy? Hint: It’s the latter by far, and spiking all energy costs in at least the short- to mid-term will only deepen and lengthen the recession.

As for all those new clean energy jobs, you cannot count the jobs Waxman-Markey supposedly will open up unless you also count the jobs it will destroy in oil, gas and related sectors of the economy, where several million are employed.

Out of work New Mexicans will suffer through higher costs long before they get the benefit of any new green jobs, I’m afraid. Call your representatives and ask them to vote NO on Waxman-Markey.

That spawned a raft of responses, mostly negative, including one saying I sounded like an oil industry propagandist. I challenged them to find anything wrong with anything I said, but they didn’t even try.  Instead, they waxed on about all the jobs Waxman-Markey, or ACES as they refer to it lovingly, will create.  As I understand their argument it goes like this:

We would feel really good if we could get jobs in the green industry because the world is like dying, you know, and we’re so excited about it, we’d like everyone to pay more money for everything in order for us to get those jobs.

That’s what we’re up against folks: Ignorant self-interest.  And ignorant self-interest is what they’re really talking about when they say “money,” as in “money makes the world go ’round.”

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June 24th 2009

A Couple Treehuggers Who Get It Right

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ichael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus met while trying to save redwoods. Their Breakthrough Institute is funded by the leftist Nathan Cummings Foundation – but they understand who wrong Waxman-Markey is, and they’ve got a pretty good idea about how to encourage new energy technologies without destroying the good old economy.

In an NPR interview, they lay it out:

“When was the last time human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?” [Shellenberger] asks …. “And, of course, by now you probably know that the answer is never.”

Personal computers didn’t take off because there was a tax on typewriters, he says. And the Internet didn’t sprout up because the government made telegraphs more expensive.

“So is there a better way to do this? Well, we think that there is. It’s very simple: It’s that we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide.”

Shellenberger and Nordhaus support government investments in alternative energy – a new Manhattan or moon project, which is hardly a new idea, but they articulate their well-researched points well.

Shellenberger tells the [Institute's] interns that environmental groups — like the ones he used to work for — are going about it all wrong. By urging Congress to cast carbon dioxide as a pollutant that needs to be controlled, he says, they will constantly swim against the tide of public opinion.

“We’re stuck in this kind of poor paradigm for dealing with climate change, this pollution paradigm,” he says, “not because environmentalists are failures, but actually because they were so successful. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the cap and trade on acid rain — these things worked really well.”

How refreshing to hear an environmentalist actually acknowledge that things are getting better, not worse – that existing levels of regulation have accomplished their goals.  I’m a free market guy, but even so, I have to acknowledge that government investment in technology works – it’s government control of the market and stomping on competition that I don’t like.  They explain the benefits of public investment:

“There’s this idea that the government shouldn’t be involved in technology, the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers,” Shellenberger says. “Which is sort of a funny thing to say. It’s kind of like, well, why not? And when hasn’t the United States government been involved in picking technology winners and losers?”

He points to the computer industry as just one example of something that came into being because of deliberate federal investments.

And railroads. And rockets.

Of course, the hotheads are screaming that there’s not enough time, we have to act now, the world is melting and carbon dioxide is a terrible poison. These are largely the same people who condemned Bush’s “rush to war.”  Unfortunately, Waxman and Markey are staunchly set in the camp of the hysterics.  Shellenberger and Nordhaus have been in DC this week, trying to get more reasonable electeds to behave more reasonably.

I hope they succeed.  You can help.  Sign the petition.

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June 23rd 2009

Union Strong-Arming On Alternative Energy

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ust in case you are casting about today for more evidence of the self-serving immorality and unethical behavior of the labor union movement, look no further than the usually union-loving NY Times, which reports from the middle of nowhere:

When a company called Ausra filed plans for a big solar power plant in California, it was deluged with demands from a union group that it study the effect on creatures like the short-nosed kangaroo rat and the ferruginous hawk.

By contrast, when a competitor, BrightSource Energy, filed plans for an even bigger solar plant that would affect the imperiled desert tortoise, the same union group, California Unions for Reliable Energy, raised no complaint. Instead, it urged regulators to approve the project as quickly as possible.

One big difference between the projects? Ausra had rejected demands that it use only union workers to build its solar farm, while BrightSource pledged to hire labor-friendly contractors.

As California moves to license dozens of huge solar power plants to meet the state’s renewable energy goals, some developers contend they are being pressured to sign agreements pledging to use union labor. If they refuse, they say, they can count on the union group to demand costly environmental studies and deliver hostile testimony at public hearings.

If they commit at the outset to use union labor, they say, the environmental objections never materialize.

Come to think of it, this is also a wonderful example of how environmental laws are exploited by special interest groups – unions, NIMBYs, environmentalists – for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment.

Always ready to tell real thigh-slappers for his client’s benefit, Marc Joseph, a lawyer for California Unions for Reliable Energy, told the NYT:

“We’ve been tarred and feathered more than once on this issue.  We don’t walk away from environmental issues.”

Uh huh.  The chairman of the union group was more frank:

“You only have so much land that can accept solar power plants.  So the question is, should that land be used for low-paid jobs or should that land be used for high-paid jobs?”

How about using it for jobs that will allow the project to be profitable, and that are gained fairly, not through regulatory extortion?  How about not burdening potential future employers with 144 data requests,  as the union group did recently with one company that refused to sign a union labor agreement. The requests asked questions like how many man-hours would be dedicated to tracking desert tortoise, and which role each individual on the tracking team played – all matters of great interest to any union.

For every charge of “astroturf” community relations campaigns by corporations, there are a dozen “greenmailing” schemes like these – but greenies, NIMBYs and union thugs usually get away with them. Kudos to the NYT for covering the story.

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June 9th 2009

Desert Solar Power Plants – Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

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f you’re not interested in buying that bridge in Brooklyn, perhaps I could interest you in some stark, middle-of-nowhere desert land that’s ideal for the energy of tomorrow – solar! Yes, friends, imagine this dreary wasteland glimmering with solar panels as far as the eye can see! And what else glitters, friends? Gold! Yes, there’s gold to be made buying up desert land for the inevitable solar revolution! Step right up!

Er, before you whip out that checkbook, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Greenie, who loves alternative energy – unless, of course, someone proposes to actually build an alternative energy facility anywhere. As the amazingly appropriately named Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club in Phoenix told the Phoenix Business Journal:

We are very supportive of a mix of renewable generation. But we’re not in favor of paving the desert with mirrors.

Here’s a story about environmentalists concerned about a desert solar plant’s impact on pupfish.  It’s all pretty frustrating, says the governor of CahLEEforNEEa in Capitalism Magazine:

As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, “But, I mean, if we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where the hell we can put it.” The answer, Governor, is nowhere, according to many environmentalists. A group called the Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy, discussing the plans for arrays in the desert, argues that this portends the “permanent destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine public lands . . . [this is] wilderness killing.” Despite lip-service to human needs, protecting “pristine nature” is their goal, and “pristine nature” means nature undefiled by any human presence—even a footprint in the desert.

The NY Times succeeded in actually finding some desert residents who don’t like the idea of productive use of their woebegone climes:

But it is also home to the Mojave ground squirrel, the desert tortoise and the burrowing owl, and to human residents who describe themselves as desert survivors and who are unhappy about the proliferation of solar projects planned for their home turf.

“We’re tired of everyone looking at the desert like a wasteland,” said Donna Charpied, who lives with her husband, Larry, in Desert Center, Calif., where they have been farming jojoba, a native shrub cultivated for its oil, for 27 years. She is also the policy advocate for the Desert Communities Protection Campaign of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

Wait a minute! Some desert rat is also an environmental justice radical who just happens to have a hotline to the NYT?  What are the chances?!  You got to hand it to those NYT reporters – if there’s a radical leftist to quote, they’ find ‘em, even in the remotest of places.  Don’t be deceived by that highfalutin’ “Desert Center” name – the hardscrabble place has a population of 125.

Even if you succeed in overcoming environmentalist opposition and get your incredibly difficult permits from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which will be watching out for every bush and bunny, you’ll still have to figure out how to get your power to anywhere, since Greenies are fighting the new power line corridors that would bring electricity to metropolitan areas from the desert.

But let’s say you get past that hurdle.  Now, let me introduce you to the rather formidable Diane Feinstein.

In a move that could pit usual allies — environmentalists and the solar and wind industries — against each other, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is preparing legislation that would permanently put hundreds of thousands of acres of desert land off limits to energy projects. The territory would be designated California’s newest national monument. …

“It’s frustrating. We really do have competing national priorities here,” said Paul Whitworth, whose San Diego-based LightSource Renewables hopes to put in a solar project on about 6,000 acres near Amboy. “We spent a lot of time researching the desert, and consulting with the BLM to make sure we didn’t apply on top of an area of critical environmental concern, or area with other issues. . . . Now, there’s uncertainty on whether these projects will go ahead.” [LA Times]

My advice?  Buy oil.

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May 29th 2009

Paint It White

O

ur Nobel Laureat energy sec, Steven Chu, has been chewing on an idea for a while and finally spit it out:  Let’s save the planet by painting all the roofs and roads white!

Chu, speaking at the St. James’ Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium, said the calculations are based on work done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he used to work and where three researchers concluded last year that changing surface colors in the world’s 100 largest cities would offset 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. (Source)

Who’s to fault the good scientists at Lawrence Berkeley? After all, they’ve scored millions of bucks to study the terrible effects of global warming, so they can be trusted.  And besides, the idea is simplistic as can be, right?  Just step from a concrete sidewalk to an asphalt street on a hot, sunny day.

But wait.  What is the urbanized land mass vs. the global land mass?  Factoring in the oceans, the arctic and antarctic regions (which already are white) and the massive amount of undeveloped territory, I’m sure it’s under one percent.

And why hasn’t Chu proposed to dye the oceans white?

And what is the greenhouse gas impact from manufacturing, transporting and applying all that white paint?

And what the heck are we going to do if Chu & Co. are all wrong and the long-anticipated global cooling process kicks off soon?

You see, this save the planet biz isn’t as easy as they crack it up to be.

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May 22nd 2009

GE’s Payday Draws Near, Thanks To Waxman

W

axman-Markey, the bill that would euthanize our sick economy in a Quixotic quest to save the planet, has passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and GE/NBC honcho Jeff Immelt couldn’t be happier.

The bill, presumably watered down to secure the votes of Dems wanting to appear less than full-bore loon, proposes to radically change America’s energy infrastructure and economy. It would impose an Obama-draconian 17 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 – just 10 years from when it’s likely to go into effect. Then it gets much, much worse: a 42 percent cut in the next ten years, and an 83 percent cut from 2005 levels in the next ten.

The only way to accomplish that is to tax cheap, abundant fuel out of existence in favor of unproven, unreliable, more expensive alternative fuels – or to go nuke big-time. But as currently written, Waxman-Moxley includes not a single incentive for nuclear power.

Surveying this mess, frequent commenter Francis came up with a Q&A for this bill, its authors, and the 32 Dems and 1 Republican (Sunny Bono’s former wife Mary, RINO-CA):

A reduction in greenhouse gases? No.

Stable global climate? No.

Reductions in sea level rise? No.

A robust new “green” economy? That’s debatable, but I would argue “no.”

Payback to GE/NBC for all-positive news coverage of Obama? Absolutely.

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With Obama winning the presidency by seven percent, we can't blame the media. Their laudatory coverage and refusal to extensively probe into Obama's background and [lack of] experience was at best responsible for five percent of his vote, the pundits tell us. Here is a compilation of over 100 significant instances of pro-Obama/anti-McCain bias during the 2008 campaign.

For all 'Media Bias 2008' – Click Here

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