Friday, January 22, 2021

Making America Energy Dependent Again

Joe Biden's plan is to reverse all the economic and energy gains made in the last four years.

During his presidency, one of the best things Donald Trump did was make America energy independent. Joe Biden plans to undue that agenda, ASAP. Among the 17 executive orders or actions the newly inaugurated president signed Wednesday afternoon was one revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

We knew it was coming. The phrase “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” was part of the list of executive actions contained in a briefing note circulated by Biden’s transition team last weekend, after first being shared with U.S. stakeholders. The cancellation of the permit would undo one of Trump’s first executive actions and return America to the Obama administration’s stance against a pipeline that would transport oil from the Canadian province of Alberta into Nebraska.

Barack Obama had rejected the permit in 2015 saying it would conflict with his administration’s global warming agenda. When Trump issued an executive order in 2017 allowing it to proceed, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, rejected it by claiming that the State Department’s environmental analysis of the pipeline “fell short of a hard look” at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gases and the impact of pipeline construction on Native American land resources. Morris agreed with environmental groups who asserted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit would allow companies to skirt responsibility for damage done to rivers and streams.

Morris made his ruling in November of 2018. In July of 2020, it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Sunday, TC Energy, the Canadian company working on the project, released a statement addressing climate concerns. Richard Prior, president of Keystone XL, insisted the pipeline is “not only the safest and most reliable method to transport oil to markets, but the initiatives announced today also ensures it will have the lowest environmental impact of an oil pipeline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.” He added, “Canada and the United States are among the most environmentally responsible countries in the world with some of the strictest standards for fossil fuel production.”

The people who believe the transition from fossil fuels to a Green New Deal can simply be mandated, irrespective of technological and scientific realities, couldn’t care less.

The move apparently doesn’t sit well with Canada’s equally progressive leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In what seemingly amounts to progressive environmental heresy, Trudeau has long supported the $9 billion project because he thinks that creating jobs and reducing reliance on foreign energy sources is a commendable ambition.

How inane is it to cancel the deal? “Construction is well under way, with the cross-border portion of the line already completed,” explains columnist John Ibbitson. “Cancelling the project will cost thousands of jobs in both countries. TC Energy is committed to reducing carbon emissions, while the oil that replaces what Keystone would provide American refineries comes from countries with little or no commitment to fighting global warming.”

American labor unions are also less than enthused. Last August, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters reached a deal with TC Energy. Yet an oil and gas lobbyist who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press spelled out reality in no uncertain terms. “The only question has always been whether labor can stave off the death sentence,” the lobbyist stated. “And they never had a chance.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is also distressed. He notes that canceling the pipeline deal “will kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-U.S. relationship, and undermine U.S. national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future.”

For the environmental religionists, killing jobs and a return to relying on foreign energy providers who hate us is a small price to pay for “saving the planet.”

And for eliminating racism to boot. Two incoming White House environmental aides — Maggie Thomas, who will be chief of staff for the Office of Domestic Climate Policy, and climate advocate Cecilia Martinez, billed as “senior director for environmental justice” — insist climate change is driven by systemic racism. In 2019, Martinez asserted that the nation’s only path forward “is to design national climate policies that are centered on justice.” Thomas’s scheme demands “trillions” in public investment, aimed at a “crack down” on oil production and a shift away from the nation’s “fossil fuel economy” — as well as funding for welfare programs, including rent and utility relief.

In other words, the Biden administration will precipitate skyrocketing energy prices, and then print trillions of additional dollars to subsidize the millions of Americans who can’t afford them. Anyone who disagrees with this double dose of ideologically driven stupidity?

Shut up — racist.

Keystone is just the beginning, and Americans will soon discover all of the other equally pernicious agendas an unchecked Democrat Party will inflict upon them. As columnist Steve Milloy warned last October, fracking, one of America’s most successful job-producing industries, can’t be killed by an executive order. Instead, it will be killed by thousands of regulations aimed at producing the same outcome.

“[Biden] has also committed to reversing President Trump’s deregulatory efforts,” Milloy wrote, “including the rollback of an Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring the oil-and-gas industry to pay to limit methane leaks from fracking wells.”

Why? “Big oil companies support the Obama rule because it puts the squeeze on smaller players,” he continues. “If the rule is reinstated, struggling independent frackers will either close up shop or sell themselves to larger companies, whose profits have been harmed by a production glut. With the ability to control and limit overall production, those larger frackers could reduce the glut and increase their profits. There would be less fracking — and higher energy prices for consumers.”

In other words, in tandem with the economic destruction wrought by coronavirus lockdowns, more small businesses will be regulated into elimination, in service to a corporate oligarchy intent on eliminating any and all challenges to its hegemony.

In the next two years (at least), Americans are going to learn a very sobering lesson about the difference between a Trump administration’s aspiration to create economic abundance and a Biden administration’s socialist/Marxist effort to manage decline — the very same decline promoted as the “New Normal” during the Obama administration.

“This is just the beginning of an energy agenda that will cripple us on so many levels: jobs, cost of living, and opportunity,” warns columnist Daniel Turner. “It will hurt our critical allies in Canada and Europe. It will benefit our enemies Russia and China. And it will do absolutely nothing for the environment.”

No one should be surprised. It’s what happens when the electorate puts people who hate this nation in charge of it.

Get Ready for More Obama-Era Green Energy Scams

With Democrats about to control all the levers of power in Washington, the biggest winners might be the wind and solar companies. These firms' stocks continue to surge mostly because President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to invest several hundred billion dollars in green energy through a pipeline of taxpayer-funded grants, loans, tax credits and loan guarantees.

This game plan looks suspiciously like a replay of the litany of green "stimulus" fiascoes that Biden piloted as vice president back in 2009 with the $800 billion Obama stimulus plan. The experiment in the government as an investment banker belly-flopped with embarrassing failures from Solyndra, Fisker Automotive and Abound Solar. Taxpayers lost billions of dollars on these lemons.

One of these disasters, the Crescent Dunes thermal solar power plant, located in the Nevada desert, is still embroiled in court battles to sort out who pays for all the losses. The Obama administration first started showering this project with money beginning in 2011, with a $700 million federal loan. The Department of Energy boasted that the facility was supposed to provide half a million megawatt-hours of electric power every year. Not quite. Thanks to construction design flaws, faulty equipment and hapless management, Crescent Dunes has never come close to its production target. Then, in 2017, Crescent Dunes came knocking on Treasury's door again, this time receiving $275 million in cash grants instead of tax credits on top of $250 million in private capital. Even with this second round of life support, the plant had to shut down. Last month, the bankruptcy court approved the entire operation's Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

But the story doesn't end there. Under the settlement terms, taxpayers will only see $200 million recouped of the remaining $425 million still unpaid from the Department of Energy's loan. The rest will be forgiven. Some of the loan losses could be recouped if the plant hits profitability. Expert testimony in the court proceedings concluded this outcome is unlikely given its track record so far. The bottom line: Expect taxpayers to swallow hundreds of millions of dollars of losses here.

What is especially galling about this whole misadventure is the Spanish firm Grupo Cobra, which botched the construction, received full payment to build the facility. The Department of Energy has reached a deal with Grupo Cobra that forgives the $225 million of outstanding loans and allows Grupo Cobra to become sole owners of the project. The total public and private investor losses could approach half a billion dollars when all is said and done. Meanwhile, a foreign company is going to walk away with sole ownership of a U.S. solar plant. Grupo Cobra is getting rewarded for its incompetence.

Will the Biden administration learn from bankruptcies such as Crescent Dunes? Don't bet on it. It wouldn't be surprising if Biden's "green energy" crusaders, flush with taxpayer money, toss millions of more dollars into Crescent Dunes.

Renewable energy scams such as Crescent Dunes remind us that these "public-private" projects rarely produce much electric power, and they don't save the planet from climate change. But they do make millionaires out of lobbyists and fraudsters. My friends at the Heritage Foundation have counted 25 separate green energy projects, each with multimillion-dollar taxpayer losses like those from the Obama era. My advice to the Biden team is the old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Celebrity Climate Change Activists Flew Private Jets to Biden's Inauguration

Several celebrities attended and performed at Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, and many of those celebrities took their own private jets to get there. They didn't even carpool.

A celebrity couple who attended Biden's inauguration reportedly took a private jet to D.C. despite the couple's hardline stance on the issue of climate change.

Celebrities Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend, were spotted boarding a private jet in Los Angeles, California, the Daily Mail reported.

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez also took her own private jet to D.C. where the 51-year-old performed before the small crowd.

Teigen and Legend have been caught a few times before flying in private jets, including a Valentine's Day flight to Yountville, California, where the couple had dinner. The restaurant of their choice? The infamous French Laundry, a favorite place for other Democrat hypocrites like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed who flouted their own coronavirus guidelines to eat at the restaurant.

Fishermen reject Greenie claims Australians are 'eating endangered sharks' under the guise of flake

Queensland shark fishers have rejected an Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) campaign encouraging Australians to stop eating flake.

The Give Flake a Break campaign urges people to choose sustainable seafood alternatives, as there is no legal obligation to disclose what species of shark is being sold, or where it has come from.

Margaret Stevenson, who owns a fishing business with her husband Graham at Burnett Heads in Queensland, says there should not be any concern as fishers are already heavily regulated.

"We've got a total allowable catch that restricts how much we can catch," she said. "We have to call in and give out how many sharks we've caught, even if it's only one, and that's every trip. "We can't leave the boat ramp for an hour after we've called in so boating and fisheries patrol can inspect our catch.

"We have to identify each species of shark that we catch in our logbooks and report on it and we have to do that on the phone as well — we have to give them the numbers before we get in."

Senior sharks campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society Leo Guida argued the seafood labelling system was "broken".

"Fishers do record what species they catch, and there are fishers out there who do a fantastic job and provide us with sustainable alternatives," he said.

"But by the time it gets to the plate, somewhere along the way, the information as to what species — particularly with sharks — that people are eating gets lost or is very difficult to find.

"We know this because there are quirks in our national environment laws that allow the harvest and sale of endangered fish. "These include the endangered school shark and the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead."

Mrs Stevenson said what AMCS was implying was simply wrong. "It just can't happen with these claims that we're selling product that we shouldn't be — that it's threatening an endangered species," she said.

"If they [boating and fisheries patrol] come and inspect our catch and we have something that we shouldn't have or there's an error in what we've told them over the phone — we're liable to get fined. "Our whole livelihood, our whole business then is on the line."

A handful of species are listed as threatened under Australia's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including the grey nurse shark and the speartooth shark, which banned them from being fished in Australian waters.

But while the scalloped hammerhead shark is classed as globally critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, it is legally allowed to be caught in limited numbers in Australia under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

In Queensland, recreational fishers are prohibited from catching scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks, but commercial fishers are not.

Graham Stevenson explained that they were not catching endangered species of shark. "The species of sharks that we catch here primarily are spinner sharks, which are a school type shark — they're in the thousands out here," he said.

"We get black-tipped sharks and weasel sharks — weasel sharks only ever eat octopus, they're very similar to the southern gummy. "At different times of year we do get a lot of hammerhead sharks — they're very prolific in this area."

Mrs Stevenson said she was frustrated that there did not seem to be anything they could do about it. "We're guilty until we're proven innocent and we've got no mechanism available to us prove our innocence as an industry," she said.

"The only thing I can say to consumers is to put the onus back onto these greenie organisations and demand the evidence, demand the proof of what these claims are.

"A few years ago, we had a really good market for shark and they [AMCS] came out and did a big campaign and because of it that whole business that used to buy our shark went bust."




Thursday, January 21, 2021

Electric car battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and last for 250 miles

Back to the steam car! You've got to wait for it to heat up before you can drive off

US experts have developed a new electric car battery that charges in just 10 minutes and lasts for 250 miles on a single charge.

The EV batteries are made from lithium iron phosphate, which is known for its 'unsurpassed safety', and can quickly heat up and cool down – key to rapid charging and a long life.

They quickly heat up to 140°F for charge and discharge and then cool down when the battery is not being used.

The system could tackle 'range anxiety' – drivers' fears that they don't have sufficient charge on their electric vehicle (EV) to get them to their destination.

Researchers say their battery should last more that 2 million miles in a lifetime and would be 'a well-rounded powertrain for mass-market EVs' if commercialised.

'There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable,' said Chao-Yang Wang at Penn State University in the US.

'The very fast charge allows us to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety.'

According to Wang, these batteries can produce a large amount of power upon heating – 40 kilowatt hours and 300 kilowatts of power.

An EV with this battery could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and would drive like a Porsche, he said.

'We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles,' said Wang.

'This is how we are going to change the environment and not contribute to just the luxury cars. Let everyone afford electric vehicles.'

Batteries have three main components – the anode, cathode and electrolyte.

The electrolyte is typically a chemical that separates the anode and cathode and moves the flow of electrical charge between the two.

Because lithium is a highly-reactive element it stores a large amount of energy.

Lithium-ion batteries use a liquid electrolyte – a flammable, carbon-based liquid. But this liquid electrolyte is often flammable and has been blamed for lithium ion batteries bursting into flames when overheated, for example.

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, a type of lithium ion battery, are an alternative. They use lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) as the cathode material, are already used in EVs and are renowned for safety.

This new battery is also lithium iron phosphate but is described as a 'thermally modulated LFP'. It uses a self-heating approach previously developed in Wang's lab, the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State.

The self-heating battery uses a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal.

Once electrons flow it rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warm the inside of the battery.

Once the battery's internal temperature is 140°F, the switch opens and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge.

Wang's team have also used low-cost materials for the battery's cathode and anode and a safe, low-voltage electrolyte.

The cathode is thermally stable lithium iron phosphate, which does not contain any of the expensive and critical materials like cobalt.

While the anode is made of very large particle graphite, a safe, light and inexpensive material.

Because of the self-heating, the researchers said they do not have to worry about uneven deposition of lithium on the anode, which can cause lithium spikes that are dangerous.

'This battery has reduced weight, volume and cost,' said Wang, who authored a paper on the findings that's been published in Nature Energy.

'I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market.'

Biden Cannot Legally Get Us Back Into the Paris Climate Accords; Here's Why

Joe Biden has made no secret of his intention to get us back into the Paris climate accords. It’s high up there on his laundry list of things to do upon taking office—even though the United States leads the world in reducing carbon emissions, despite not being a part of it anymore.

But the truth is, the United States was never actually legally a part of the Paris climate accords. The United Nations describes it as “a legally binding international treaty on climate change,” and it also meets the definition of a treaty under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which states that a treaty is “an international agreement concluded between [two or more] States in written form and governed by international law.”

And what does the United States Constitution say about treaties?

It says that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur.” It’s right there in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2.

Yes, Obama unilaterally signed the United States into the treaty in the final months of his presidency, which was a very telling move. Nearly 200 countries signed the treaty on December 12, 2015, but Obama didn’t sign it until nearly a year later, during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential election. Obama, who fancied himself a constitutional scholar, never even attempted to go to the Senate for ratification. Instead, he avoided referring to the agreement as a treaty publicly, in order to argue that Senate ratification wasn’t constitutionally mandated.

Obama’s move was clearly designed to benefit him politically while also punting the legal ramifications of the unratified treaty to another president. As such, less than six months into his presidency, Trump announced, to much fury from the left, that the United States would no longer be a part of the Paris climate accords—negating the need for a potential dispute over the legality of the treaty.

Just as easily as Barack Obama got us into the treaty, President Trump was able to get us out. This back-and-forth will continue ad infinitum each time the presidency changes parties. This is why the Founders established a system where neither the top executive nor the Senate can enter into a treaty without the consent of the other.

“The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States,” wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #75. “To have intrusted the power of making treaties to the Senate alone, would have been to relinquish the benefits of the constitutional agency of the President in the conduct of foreign negotiations.”

Whereas the election of Donald Trump, whose opposition to the Paris climate treaty was well-established, precluded the need for any legal battles over the legitimacy of the United States’ entry into the treaty, Biden’s promise to get us back into it unilaterally will bring this issue back to the forefront, and I suspect confrontation is inevitable. Senator Ted Cruz, for example, previously called on Trump to send the Paris climate treaty to the Senate for a vote—knowing full well it would not be ratified.

With any luck, the moment Biden illegally gets us back into the Paris climate treaty, Republicans will mount a legal challenge to it, and the Supreme Court will rightfully strike it down.

Biden Administration: Yes, We Are Following Through With a Fracking Ban

Speaking at the White House Tuesday night, Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed President Biden will follow through with campaign promises to ban new fracking on federal land.

"President Biden promised to end all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands when was a candidate," a reporter asked. "Does the administration still have that commitment today? To end that lease?"

"We do and the leases will be reviewed by our team we just have only been in office for less than a day now," Psaki said.

Earlier Tuesday, Biden signed an executive order placing the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreements, despite the country reducing emissions without being in the global agreement. He also revoked permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, eliminating 11,000 jobs and destroying $2 billion in wages.

From Fox Business:

The move could happen on President-elect Joe Biden's first day in office, after the Trump administration spent four years trying to further construction of the $9 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline that would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska.

An existing Keystone pipeline currently transports oil from Alberta to Illinois and Texas.

According to the Keystone XL website, the project, initially proposed more than a decade ago, would sustain about 11,000 U.S. jobs in 2021 – including 8,000 union jobs – and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages.

It is unclear how the Biden administration plans to address the job losses, but his $2 trillion clean energy infrastructure plan, with its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, aims to "create millions of good-paying jobs that provide workers with the choice to join a union and bargain collectively with their employers," according to his website.

Biden Reportedly Putting Keystone Pipeline on the Chopping Block on Day One

Joe Biden is reportedly planning to rescind the Keystone XL pipeline permit during his first day in office. The move marks the fulfillment of a campaign promise Biden made in May of last year.

According to CBC News, sources say the incoming president plans to rescind the Keystone XL pipeline permit through executive action on his very first day in office. The rescinding of the permit, allowing the pipeline to cross the Canadian border into the United States, will effectively kill the pipeline as well as all the jobs and economic activity associated with the project.

In a memo circulated among incoming-senior Biden staffers, the words "Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit" are reportedly among the list of executive actions the new administration is planning for Day 1. A lengthier version of the memo was shown to stakeholders, but a smaller version of the memo was released to the public earlier this weekend.

Biden has also said that he plans to transition America out of the oil industry. During his second and final presidential debate against President Trump, Biden said he plans to transition America out of the oil industry.

"Would you close down the oil industry?" President Trump, not the moderator, asked Biden the important question.

"I would transition from the oil industry, yes," Biden answered.

When asked why Biden was planning to eliminate the oil industry, Biden replied, "Because the oil industry pollutes significantly." Biden later clarified that he would not ban the oil industry outright, but reiterated the "need" to transition away from oil.

The Keystone XL pipeline was rejected by the Obama administration in 2015, when Biden was vice president, but subsequently approved two years later by President Trump.




Tuesday, January 19, 2021

California secretly struggles with renewables

By David Wojick |January 16th, 2021|Economy|17 Comments
California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist.

The new battery array is rated at a storage capacity of 1,200 megawatt hours (MWh); easily eclipsing the record holding 129 MWh Australian system built by Tesla a few years ago. However, California peaks at a whopping 42,000 MW. If that happened on a hot, low wind night this supposedly big battery would keep the lights on for just 1.7 minutes (that’s 103 seconds). This is truly a trivial amount of storage.

Mind you this system is being built to serve just Pacific Gas & Electric. But they by coincidence peak at about half of California, or 21,000 MWh, so they get a magnificent 206 seconds of peak juice. Barely time to find the flashlight, right?

There is no word on what this trivial giant cost, since PG&E does not own it. That honor goes to an outfit called Vistra that does a lot of different things with electricity and gas. But these complex battery systems are not cheap.

This one reportedly utilizes more than 4,500 stacked battery racks, each of which contains 22 individual battery modules. That is 99,000 separate modules that have to be made to work well together. Imagine hooking up 99,000 electric cars and you begin to get the picture.

The US Energy Information Administration reports that grid scale battery systems have averaged around $1.5 million a MWh over100% renewable deception the last few years. At that price this trivial piece of storage cost just under TWO BILLION DOLLARS. At 103 seconds of peak storage that is about $18,000,000 a second. Money for nothing.

Mind you the PG&E engineers are not that stupid. They know perfectly well that this billion dollar battery is not there to provide backup power when wind and solar do not produce. In fact the truth is just the opposite. The battery’s job is to prevent wind and solar power from crashing the grid when they do produce.

It is called grid stabilization. Wind and solar are so erratic that it is very hard to maintain the constant 60 cycle AC frequency that all our wonderful electronic devices require. If the frequency gets more than just a tiny bit off the grid blacks out. Preventing these crashes requires active stabilization.

Grid instability due to erratic wind and solar used to not be a problem, because the huge spinning metal rotors in the coal, gas and nuclear power plant generators simply absorbed the fluctuations. But most of those plants have been shut down, so we need billion dollar batteries to do what those plants did for free. Nor is this monster battery the only one being built in California to try to make wind and solar power work. Many more are in the pipeline and not just in California. Many states are struggling with instability as baseline generators are switched off.

There is even an insane irony here, one that is perfect for Crazy California. This billion dollar battery occupies the old generator room of a shut down gas fired power plant. Those generators used to make the grid stable. Now we are struggling to do it.

Of course no one at PG&E or Vistra says publicly that this monster battery is there to keep renewables from trashing the grid, not to back them up. One wonders if the California Public Utilities Commission knows this? The big question is why is the rate paying public not told? Or the press? There is really a very expensive hoax here.

While on this topic, let’s ask what it would actually cost to back up wind and solar with batteries. This depends a lot on local climate. How often the wind does not blow hard for example. Wind generators need about 10 mph just to start and more like a sustained 30 mph for full power.

Multi-day heat waves are often periods of very low wind, combined with a maximum need for power. A nasty combination. So my rough rule of thumb is that you need storage of 7 days times peak need.

California peaks at 42,000 MWh and 7 days is 168 hours so using this rough rule we would need about 7 million MWh of batteries. This makes 1200 MWh truly trivial. Then at $1.5 million a MWh we get an astounding 10.5 TRILLION DOLLARS, just for the batteries to make renewables reliable.

The scam is breathtaking, and not just in California. Nationwide we are spending untold billions of dollars trying to keep the erratic nature of renewables from crashing the electric power system. But these efforts are routinely portrayed as storage for when renewables do not run. Stabilization is the opposite of storage. We are being lied to about renewables.

Nio, the ‘Chinese Tesla’ that has electrified investors worldwide

When William Li, the founder and chief executive of Nio, decided that the electric car company’s mission statement should be “To shape a joyful lifestyle”, he probably wasn’t thinking about Britain’s twentysomethings happily punting on its share price to stave off boredom in lockdown.

Nio, based in Shanghai and a relatively small company by revenues, making about 200 cars a day, has lofty goals, not least helping to tackle climate change by shifting the world away from internal-combustion engines.

However, it has emerged, with a New York listing, as one of the most popularly traded stocks in Britain, boosted by the commonly expressed prediction that the company is going to be “the next Tesla”.

According to Susannah Streeter, senior investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, Britain’s biggest stocks platform: “Nio is the second-most popular overseas investment on the HL platform and since the start of the year has been in the top ten overall.”

AJ Bell, another large investment platform, said that it had handled more trades in Nio in the first week in January than in all of December. has reported “very high interest” among its clients.

The stock also seems to be one of those prospective world-beaters that catch the imagination of younger, novice investors: those who have never experienced a full-scale bear market.

IG, the spread-betting group, said that Nio was its second most popular stock globally behind Tesla, especially with younger investors: “We’ve seen a huge amount of interest in it and other electric vehicle stocks over the past 12 months, particularly among the new, younger cohort of clients.”

Etoro, a fast-growing investment-cum-social media platform popular with young people that claims to have about 1.7 million registered users in Britain, said that Nio was its most frequently traded stock in December.

Some investors know very little about the company, let alone take a considered view about its prospects. One 26-year-old quantity surveyor, who asked not to be named, told The Times: “My mate told me to invest in it. He’s bang on it. I’d actually never heard of it before. It’s the Chinese Tesla.

“It’s tipped to nearly double by the end of the year. I’m just waiting for it to make me a millionaire.” This was said tongue-in-cheek, but there is no denying that investors hope to make a profit.

Social media sites are full of chat between millennials relating their investment experiences. One said that after making profits from bitcoin, he was shifting into Nio having taken advice from a 19-year-old friend on Tiktok: “He really knows his shit.”

This kind of talk is grist to the bears and sceptics who mutter about elevator boys in 1929 Manhattan offering share tips just before the Wall Street crash. Nio’s popularity, they argue, is a classic example of a frothy market, with some stocks in bubble territory.

Yet to portray Nio as a stock purely puffed up by naive novices would be wrong. The company has fans among some of the most admired and successful technology investors in the world.

James Anderson, manager of Scottish Mortgage, the FTSE 100 investment trust, sang its praises in a webcast with his investors last week, arguing that it had emerged over the past year from being merely one of perhaps a hundred electric car businesses in China to being “probably the clear leader”.

Nio shares reflect that progress, rising 28-fold from a low of $US2.11 in March to more than $US60 today, valuing Nio at $US96 billion ($125bn) – more than General Motors at $US74bn, or Ford at $US40bn. According to Scottish Mortgage’s most recent filings, its stake in Nio was worth £857 million ($1.5bn) on November 30.

If it holds the same number of shares, that will be more than £1bn today. That is starting to look meaty even against Tesla, which went up by a mere 1000 per cent in the same period since March. The Scottish Mortgage stake in Tesla was worth more than £2bn that last time that it reported.

“Tesla way underperformed Nio last year, so perhaps we should ask Mr Musk [Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and now the world’s second richest man] why he’s doing so badly,” Mr Anderson said.

Underpinning the confidence of investors is some eye-catching engineering. The latest Nio models seem not only to be ahead of the offerings from traditional car companies but also ahead of Tesla itself.

Nio’s 70 kilowatt-hour battery and 100kwh battery packs make its cars capable of travelling up to 450 miles (724km) on a single charge, soothing “range anxiety”. The company claims to be close to producing packs of denser, solid-state batteries to replace the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries and push ranges to more than 960km.

Then there is its innovative approach to recharging. It has rejected the hugely expensive motorway service station superfast chargers being put in by Tesla, which still take 20 minutes to re-fire its cars, and has opted instead for battery-swapping stations, which reduce the stop time to only five minutes.

Nio also is turning out cars with “Level 2” autonomous capability as standard, a level of driver assistance – automatic braking, acceleration, lane guidance – only a step before the machine takes over at the steering wheel.

In a recent report into the electric vehicle market, Jefferies, the stockbroker, cited range, connectivity, autonomous driving and charging solution as the unique selling propositions of Nio in an industry divided between legacy companies and the wannabes.

“Wannabes’ success may hinge on legacies’ inability to respond,” it concluded. That included the way to market. The legacy companies rely on outmoded dealership showroom networks. Nio is selling on the internet and is marketing through pop-up shopping centre “Nio spaces”.

The excitement around Nio is that it is coming soon to try to crack the European market, where electric adoption is accelerating. Tesla is proving that the new wave can succeed, delivering the best electric car sales in Britain, ahead of BMW, Nissan and Renault.

So the company’s prospects are immeasurably sunnier than they were last March, when, as Mr Anderson concedes, the company was in “severe danger”. A $1 billion rescue by the provincial Chinese government of Anhui, where the vehicles are manufactured, helped to put the company on a more solid footing. Even so, the valuation remains stratospheric by conventional measures.

Nio is lossmaking, recently reporting a $US154m net loss for the quarter to September, although this was down by 59 per cent from a year earlier and down by 11 per cent on the previous quarter.

Annualising that quarter’s sales puts Nio on a multiple of 36 times annual revenues. To put it more starkly, the company is valued at $US2.19m for each car it has produced in the past year.

The “buy” case is that the lesson of digitised, globalised, brand-driven capitalism is that a very small number of winners – Apple, Google and Netflix – grab all the cake. In carmaking, Nio, founded in 2014, might just be that winner in ten or twenty years’ time.

Nio, which buffs up its brand via its Formula E motor racing team, as well as clothing merchandise, brought out its latest model this week. The ET7 is a £60,000 car that goes from nought to 62mph (99.8km/h) in 3.9 seconds and has a claimed range of 435 miles (700km).

That puts it head-to-head with Tesla’s forthcoming Model S Plaid, as well as traditional marques, such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Nio, for now, is roaring ahead, whether or not investors look under the bonnet.

At the White House, the purge of skeptics has started with David Legates

President Donald Trump has been sympathetic with the climate skeptics’ position, which is that there is no climate crisis, and that all currently proposed solutions to the “crisis” are economically harmful to the U.S. specifically, and to humanity in general.

Today I have learned that Dr. David Legates, who had been brought to the Office of Science and Technology Policy to represent the skeptical position in the Trump Administration, has been fired by OSTP Director and Trump Science Advisor, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier.

The event that likely precipitated this is the invitation by Dr. Legates for about a dozen of us to write brochures that we all had hoped would become part of the official records of the Trump White House. We produced those brochures (no funding was involved), and they were formatted and published by OSTP, but not placed on the WH website. My understanding is that David Legates followed protocols during this process.

So What Happened?

What follows is my opinion. I believe that Droegemeier (like many in the administration with hopes of maintaining a bureaucratic career in the new Biden Administration) has turned against the President for political purposes and professional gain. If Kelvin Droegemeier wishes to dispute this, let him… and let’s see who the new Science Advisor/OSTP Director is in the new (Biden) Administration.

I would also like to know if President Trump approved of his decision to fire Legates.

In the meantime, we have been told to remove links to the brochures, which is the prerogative of the OSTP Director since they have the White House seal on them.

But their content will live on elsewhere, as will Dr. Droegemeier’s decision.

Trump’s past Actions Should Slow Biden’s Radical Climate Agenda

Incoming President Joe Biden has promised to implement the most radical energy and climate agenda Americans have ever seen.

With the Democratic party having become an almost wholly owned subsidiary of the radical progressive environmental left while controlling both houses of Congress for at least the next two years and the White House for the next four years, Biden and his climate alarmist ilk have their best opportunity ever to impose the biggest government takeover of the economy since the Great Depression.

Fortunately, in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s term, his administration took a series of actions that will act as shock absorbers for the economic havoc Biden’s climate policies would wreak, complicating Biden’s attempt to impose a “Great Reset” to fight supposed climate change.

The Trump administration auctioned off oil and gas leases on public lands in Alaska (January) and California (December). These sales will complicate Biden’s ability to keep his promise of ending new oil and gas leases on federal land.

Although, to the federal government’s fiscal detriment, a Biden administration can refuse to offer more leases, it will be hard to prevent future production from leases the Trump administration recently approved, unless it can come up with the money to buy the leaseholders out of the leases. Federal regulatory agencies under Biden’s control can drag out the environmental review and permitting process, but as long as the companies comply with the relevant laws and guidelines, they should eventually be able to develop these lands.

Biden has vowed to take us back into the Paris climate agreement, from which Trump withdrew the United States, and he can do so. Yet, actions the Trump administration has adopted will make it harder to implement Paris-compliant regulations solely through executive action.

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determined current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM) were protective of public health. EPA also finalized a rule requiring comprehensive benefit-cost analyses (BCA) be carried out for all future rules implemented under the 1970 Clean Air Act (CAA).

The Obama administration justified most of its climate policies based on claims they would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Almost all the supposed benefits of the regulations, however, resulted from counting benefits of restrictions on pollutants such as PM and ozone as if they were new benefits from limiting nontoxic carbon dioxide emissions.

Other purported benefits of carbon-dioxide restrictions flowed from including benefits to people in foreign countries while limiting the cost calculations to those accruing within the borders of the United States.

Under the EPA’s recently finalized BCA rule, all new CAA rules must be accompanied by a BCA that must include a statement discussing any industry, group, or geographic region that will be disproportionately negatively impacted by the rule.

Each new CAA-related regulation must contain a plain-language explanation of what welfare and public health benefits EPA believes the rule will deliver and what costs it will impose. BCAs, under the new procedures, will distinguish between benefits flowing directly from the rule and “co-benefits” resulting from other CAA requirements, and they will separate domestic benefits from any benefits the rule produces for people in other countries, reporting both.

Because Trump’s EPA affirmed and locked in the current ozone and PM standards for the next five years, the Biden administration should find it exceedingly difficult to claim “new” co-benefits from tighter restrictions on these two pollutants from any proposed carbon-dioxide restrictions.

In addition, in early January, Trump’s EPA finalized a rule to improve the transparency and public scrutiny of the science used to justify regulations.

Under the final transparency regulation, the Biden administration will be required to be more transparent than any administration in history concerning the science used to justify new climate regulations. The rule establishes requirements for the independent peer review of pivotal science. In addition, when proposing a significant regulatory action, the agency now must clearly identify the research used to inform the rule, specifying which studies it relied upon for rule-making.

The rule also requires EPA to consider studies for which the underlying dose-response data are available for independent validation and public examination.

Each of the policies described here was in the works long before any votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election. As such, the rules were intended to further Trump’s efforts to promote American greatness and energy independence, not to thwart Joe Biden from implementing his climate agenda.

In fact, these rules by themselves cannot stop Biden from attempting to impose whatever climate policies he thinks he can get away with. What these policies do, however, is make Biden’s efforts more transparent. Maximum transparency and thorough publicly justified analyses are good policies to follow in a democratic republic, regardless of the president or the party in power.




Sunday, January 17, 2021

Statistical politics: Prof. Mike Hulme on ‘politically charged’ climate baseline changes from 1961-1990 to 1991-2020

I had to laugh as soon as I read this. It changes nothing of course but it is going to look like it does. And Greenies will certainly pretend it does. It is just a statistical trick. Comments from distinguished meteorologists that appeared in my email summarize the matter well:

"The only temperature plot that isn't a slave to baseline choices is absolute temperature. Anomaly based temperature is a statistical construct relying on the assumptions and choices of the statistician."

"Trends in fact don't change with changes in baseline, but any time there is a step up, it will be used for political and propaganda purposes without ever acknowledging that it is a statistical up-tick, and not real."

"It doesn't change temperature trends over ANY time period. What it will do is make temperature anomalies cooler, since the new 30 year baseline is warmer than the old."

Hulme: "January 1, 2021, a new World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) climatological standard normal came into effect. The ‘present-day’ climate will now formally be
represented by the meteorological statistics of the period 1991-2020, replacing those from 1961-1990.

National Meteorological Agencies in member states are instructed to issue new standard normals for observing stations and for associated climatological products. Climate will ‘change’, one might say, in an instant; today, the world’s climate has ‘suddenly’ become nearly 0.5°C warmer. It is somewhat equivalent to re-setting Universal Time or adjusting the exact definition of a metre." ...

"So, what is the significance of the move to a new 1991-2020 WMO normal in January 2021? On the one hand, it is a pragmatic move to redefine ‘present-day’ climate for operational applications to that of the most recent 30-year period. On the other hand, it puts into play a third climatic baseline. Already existing is the ‘pre-industrial’ climate of the late nineteenth century and the ‘historic’ climate’ of 1961-1990, the latter about 0.3°C warmer than the former. And now there is the new ‘present-day’ climate of 1991-2020, in turn about 0.5°C warmer than the ‘historic climate’ of 1961-1990." ...

"Combining a climatic tolerance of 2°C—or indeed 1.5°C—with a pre-industrial baseline yields a very different climate target than, say, using a 1986-2005 baseline, the period widely adopted by IPCC AR5 Working Group I as their analytical baseline. The choices of both baseline and tolerance are politically charged. They carry significant implications for historic liability for emissions (La Rovere et al., 2002), for policy design (Millar et al., 2017) and for possible reparations (Roberts & Huq, 2015)."

Environmental Extremism Is Creeping Into Every Domain of Public Policy

Many on the left continue to place their ideology of environmental extremism above all other considerations, including economic growth, individual freedom, and the welfare of low-income Americans.

This worldview ignores critical trade-offs and places environmental interests above even basic principles that have long served as a foundation of this nation. Further, this extreme environmental movement has crept into almost every issue area imaginable.

There are certainly environmental issues that need attention, but sensible environmental policy doesn’t address those issues in a vacuum without regard for other important concerns. Yet, this extreme movement acts in such a manner.

The following examples highlight how environmental extremism is skewing public policy:


To environmental extremists, it’s more important for the government to force radical changes to how we generate electricity and fuel our vehicles than it is to have reliable and affordable energy or to remove barriers to innovation.

It doesn’t matter how unrealistic their objectives are, or the fact that their climate change efforts would have no meaningful effect on global temperatures.

This virtue-signaling may make the extremists feel better about themselves, but it certainly won’t make low-income households feel better when they are disproportionately impacted by higher energy prices. Nor will it make Americans feel better to pay more of their hard-earned money for less reliable energy.

Food and Agriculture

Some extremists would prioritize their environmental agenda over efficiently producing safe and affordable food for Americans.

Instead of simply addressing specific environmental issues, some want to develop a national food policy, which is just another way of saying a federally centralized approach to dictate food and agricultural production, distribution, and consumption.

One of the primary goals of this envisioned national food and agricultural policy would be advancing environmental objectives. What is ignored in this movement is affordable food and consumer choice.

To see how such a philosophy would be applied in practice, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process is instructive.

In developing its recommendations for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, the influential Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee decided it would take into account non-dietary issues, such as climate change and sustainability, and not focus solely on the nutritional health of Americans—which is the purpose of the guidelines. Fortunately, the agencies rejected this extremism.

Housing, Land Use, and Transportation

The extreme environmental agenda has long been entrenched in urban policy, primarily through “smart growth,” which is a pleasant name given to an unpleasant centralized planning philosophy.

Some of the key components of this philosophy are restricting development through land use regulations, which drives up housing prices, and limiting the use of cars by promoting higher density development and transit. The ability of Americans to afford their own homes and live where they would like is ignored.

Financial Regulation

Environmental extremists are currently pushing for Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, to take drastic action to address climate change, such as by forcing oil and gas companies to sell off fossil fuel assets.

This is yet another effort to create a government mandate for environmental, social, and governance risks to play a primary role in banking and investing.

These efforts are a backdoor way to try and accomplish environmental objectives and simultaneously to try and radically change the very purpose of American businesses, and as a result, the entire economy.

The Left Does Not Have a Monopoly on Environmentalism

Environmental policy should be debated in an open and transparent fashion. Using every issue imaginable as a pretext to push an environmental agenda is both not transparent and minimizes other critical concerns, from higher prices of basic needs to ensuring a stable food supply.

There should be a proactive environmental policy agenda that doesn’t ignore the costs and trade-offs of seeking to achieve positive environmental outcomes.

The left likes to claim a monopoly about caring for the environment. But nobody, either on the left or right, has such a monopoly.

Placing the environment over individual rights and freedom, and even humanity itself, as some extremists do, may make some feel better about their commitment to the environment, but they do so at the expense of the well-being of the American people.

Global cooling?

Europe was in the grip of snow chaos today as power went out in Sweden and Finland, footage emerged of looters ransacking a food truck in Spain and one person died as cars swerved off ice-covered roads in Germany.

In Madrid, footage showed dozens of looters emptying a lorry full of vegetables, yoghurts and milkshakes after it was stranded in the heavy snow in the Spanish capital, with detectives today trying to identify the culprits.

Parts of Sweden were buried under 24 inches of snow while 3,000 homes were without power in the country as well as 4,000 households in Finland, with temperatures set to drop as low as -40C in Arctic regions.

As snow and ice descended across the continent, Swiss traffic police reported 50 road accidents in the space of six hours in Bern while an 18-year-old motorist died after swerving off a road and hitting a tree in Germany.

The extreme cold is expected to get even worse in the coming days, as Switzerland warns of avalanches and Poland faces -20C (-4F) temperatures with Friday likely to be the worst of the cold snap - and Spain set to impose emergency measures after Storm Filomena swept through the country.

Forecasters in Britain have raised fears of a second 'Beast from the East' to match the dramatic weather in February 2018 when a 'sudden stratospheric warming' brought freezing winds from Siberia.

The bad weather arrived in Spain at the end of last week and has since spread across Europe, with temperatures expected to drop further before this weekend.

In Madrid, the lorry thieves made their move after the driver was forced to abandon his vehicle near a supermarket which he was unable to reach because of blizzards.

While the driver was offered a room for the night at a Good Samaritan's nearby home, he later returned to his lorry to find locals ransacking the trailer - stealing an estimated 20,000kg of vegetables, yoghurt and drinks.

Footage of the extraordinary scene showed one man running through the snow with his arms laden with stolen goods as half a dozen women nearby walked away carrying heavy boxes.

At the end of last week Madrid suffered its heaviest snowfall since 1971 and sub-freezing temperatures from Sunday onwards have continued to cause chaos. The temperature at Madrid's Barajas Airport dropped to -13C (8F) in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the lowest for 75 years.

Some drivers were trapped in their vehicles for more than 24 hours before they were rescued by an army unit called in to deal with the fallout from the extreme weather.

It came after at least three people died when Storm Filomena swept through the country at the weekend, and on Tuesday Barcelona officials confirmed another two people, both homeless, had been found dead, with signs suggesting they died of hypothermia.

Madrid politicians have called on Spanish government to declare the nation's capital a disaster zone, which Spanish media says is likely to happen.

In Sweden, the snow was still piling up today after 24 hours of snowfall in the north of the country - although forecasters said it was finally slowing down.

Electricity provider Eon said around 3,000 homes were without power, adding that the blackouts may go on longer than usual because it is too risky to send out maintenance workers.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute reported snow accumulation of up to 24 inches in the north of the country.

In neighbouring Finland, snow blanketed the south and warnings of poor road conditions have been issued across large swathes of the country.

About 4,000 people lost power in Finland, according to broadcaster YLE, which said temperatures would drop as low as -25C (-13F) in the south and -40C (-40F) in the Arctic.

In Germany, an 18-year-old man died at the roadside near the town of Süderholz last night after his vehicle swerved on the icy road, crashed into guardrails and finally into a tree.

Another passenger was badly injured in the crash - while several others were hurt in separate accidents around Germany, according to local media.

Americans Supposedly Just Voted For Only Electric Vehicles

The election of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their ultra-progressive cabinet will hasten the death of the internal combustion engine in the United States, despite the nearly even party split in the House and Senate. They will just take their narrow victory as a license to implement all manner of decisions in the name of saving the planet. Or so we’re told. And maybe they’re right.

President-elect Biden has promised his $2-trillion “climate change” plan will include “rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring that 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).” VP-elect Harris has called for beginning this ban by 2035, perhaps even sooner, if they can maintain their momentum for fundamentally transforming America.

Once the sale of new gasoline engine vehicles is banned, the only question remaining is, How long before driving such vehicles is also outlawed? Harris has promised that, under “my plan, by 2045 we will have basically zero emission vehicles only. 100% by 2045.”

Of course, that means zero emissions in the USA, assuming all electricity generation is also zero-emission for charging batteries – despite enormous emission increases in places where battery minerals are mined and processed, and batteries are manufactured (which likely won’t be in America).

To jumpstart the government-mandated transformation of the 99.5% of US vehicles that are not yet ZEVs, Biden ally Sen. Chuck Schumer plans to introduce legislation authorizing $454 billion “cash for clunkers” incentives or rebates, to help people replace gasoline-powered vehicles with super-expensive all-electric vehicles (EVs). Schumer’s plan also includes building a half million new EV battery charging stations, and replacing the entire US government vehicle fleet with EVs.

That’s almost one-quarter of Biden’s $2-trillion climate plan right there. The rest of the massive Green New Deal (GND) will likely cost at least Bernie Sanders’ $16-trillion scheme, if not far more.

Not since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line for his Model T in 1913 has America faced such a transportation transformation. The Big Switch to an all-EV fleet will bring equally massive changes to American society, create new winners and new losers, make owning any vehicle a near impossibility for poor and even middle class families, and shift the balance of world power away from countries that ensure “the free flow of oil at market prices” to those that mine GND minerals (mostly China and Russia).

The Big Switch has been in the works for years. As early as 2017, many countries had already announced dates for banning internal combustion engines (ICEs). Norway said its 2025 date was just a “suggestion,” but Germany, France and the United Kingdom set “firm” dates of 2040, while the Netherlands pushed the funeral to 2030. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Korea and Spain also set dates, as did India – and several American states, such as (naturally) California.

Major automakers also pledged to end ICE vehicle production soon, even though 2017 polls show that only 30% of millennials (and much lower percentages of older drivers) were willing to “invest” in an electric vehicle. That’s even before considering studies by economist Tilak Doshi and others that even after 50,000 miles on the road, the typical EV has effectively emitted some 76% as much carbon dioxide as a gasoline-powered vehicle.

That’s because, as economist Bjorn Lomborg explained, EV batteries are the product of emission-intensive mining, mineral processing and manufacturing operations, and because the electricity for recharging the batteries often involves additional CO2 emissions.

The term “zero emission vehicles” is obviously a deliberate misnomer, since emissions are just transferred from wealthy Western countries to other nations, where they go steadily upward.

The Big Switch will create jobs in some sectors. But it will also cause major declines in jobs in the oil and gas industry, declining revenues for convenience stores that profit from gasoline sales, and significant manufacturing cost increases for petrochemicals, automobile and truck tires, roof shingles, plastics, pharmaceuticals and a host of other consumer products that rely on oil and gas for raw materials.

All that also means huge decreases in lease bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenues for fossil fuel states.

Electric vehicle mandates will also harm auto repair and insurance industries. An EV drivetrain has around 20 moving parts, compared with up to 2,000 for ICE vehicles. However, these parts tend to be more expensive and (at least in the near term) less readily available. This means EVs needing repairs or new parts will sit longer in garages and repair shops, and delays in parts availability will increase the overall cost of EV maintenance and ownership. Will insurers cover these added costs?

The Big Switch will also mandate major shifts in tax policy for local and state governments and the federal government, all of which rely heavily on gasoline taxes to pay for highway maintenance and repair. The 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal excise tax goes to the Highway Trust Fund that pays for much of this (with a separate small tax covering remediation of leaking underground fuel storage tanks).

As gasoline sales continue to decline, will Washington find a way to replace this lost revenue?

(A related question: As we enter the era of driverless vehicles, how will computer-driven cars handle all the proliferating, expanding and deepening potholes?)

Highways maintained by state and local gasoline taxes are already threatened by declining revenues, thanks to EVs, hybrids and higher-mileage ICE vehicles – and to the 2020 pandemic, which cut highway driving by 64% in April 2020 and significantly ever since. Some states are adding or increasing electric vehicle registration fees: Alabama’s is now $200 for EVs and $100 for plug-in hybrids (a quarter of which will fund EV charging stations), while California began imposing a $100 annual EV fee last July.

That’s not all. People today can purchase an older gasoline-powered vehicle that will pass inspection for well under $2,000. Batteries for these vehicles cost under $200, and many really older vehicles can be repaired by amateur mechanics. By contrast, replacing an EV battery can cost up to $6,000, making even used electric vehicles unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans in a nation where half of all vehicles are over ten years old.

Meanwhile, China, India and dozens of other countries are building thousands of new coal and gas-fired electrical generating plants – and putting millions of new ICE vehicles on their roads. So there will be no reduction in global emissions, which means all this pain and disruption in the USA will bring absolutely no benefits, even if CO2 does drive climate change.

Moreover, as recently as 2017, industry experts said EVs will likely reach only 25% of all vehicles worldwide by 2050. People in other countries don’t want and cannot afford them, either.

Equally significant, the Biden-Harris plan also includes a total phaseout of fossil fuels for producing electricity – along with the major increase in electricity needed to keep EVs moving. Even if Biden, Harris, Democrats and Greens accept nuclear energy as a “renewable” (or at least zero-emission) fuel, building enough new nuclear power plants will take decades.

But then, when did Moscow or Beijing ever meet all, most or even some objectives of their Five-Year Plans? Does anyone really think centralized government planning will work better here? More critically:

Will We the People be able to raise and discuss these issues in public forums? Will Republican Members of Congress have any meaningful opportunities to do so during committee hearings or floor debates?

Or will we all just be canceled, censored, silenced and browbeaten into submission in the newly progressive, intolerant and Divided States of America, amid more phony calls for unity and comity?




Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Your life, living standards, country and planet will take a big hit under the Green New Deal

Paul Driessen

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, AOC, the Democrat Party and US environmentalists are committed to making climate change, the Green New Deal, and replacement of fossil fuels with wind, solar, battery and biofuel power the centerpiece of their foreign and domestic policies.

They claim the transition would be easy, affordable, ecological, sustainable and painless. That’s ideology and fantasy, not reality.

Wind and sunshine are certainly clean and renewable. Harnessing them to power America is not.

The GND would hit American families, jobs, living standards and environmental quality hard. Western states would feel the brunt, because their fossil fuel rents, royalties, jobs and tax receipts would disappear, as drilling, fracking and coal mining on federal lands are closed down. Their open spaces, scenic vistas, wildlife habitats and wildlife would be desecrated by wind turbines, solar panels and transmission lines to serve distant urban voting blocs that dictate energy and land use decisions far beyond city lines.

Coal, oil, natural gas and petroleum liquids still provide 80% of US energy. In 2018, they generated 2.7 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity – which would have to be replaced under an all-encompassing Green New Deal costing tens of trillions of dollars.

Another 2.7 billion MWh worth of natural gas powered factories, emergency power systems, and furnaces, ovens, stoves and hot water heaters in restaurants, homes and other buildings. Cars, trucks, buses, semi-trailers, tractors and other vehicles consumed the equivalent of yet another 2 billion MWh.

Altogether, that’s 7.4 billion megawatt-hours per year that the GND would have to replace! On top of that we’d need at least another 150 million MWh of wind and solar generating capacity to charge batteries over and over to maintain just one week of nationwide backup power, to avoid blackouts.

The more we try to do so, the more we’d have to put turbines and panels in low quality wind and solar sites, where they’d generate electricity only 15-20% of the year, 80-85% below “nameplate capacity.”

Of course, we could replace all this fossil fuel energy with nuclear power. But radical greens inside and outside the soon-to-be Biden Administration detest and oppose nuclear as much as they do fossil fuels.

That means this transformation to an all-electric nation would require millions of onshore wind turbines, thousands of offshore turbines, billions of solar panels, millions of vehicle battery modules, billions of backup energy storage battery modules, thousands of miles of new transmission lines, millions of charging stations, tens of billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, plastic, cobalt, rare earth elements and countless other materials – and digging up hundreds of billions of tons of overburden and ores!

If the United States and world could summon the will to mine, process and smelt enough metals and minerals – and manufacture, transport and install all those turbines, panels, batteries and transmission lines – the GND would require the greatest expansion of mining and manufacturing in human history.

But radical greens inside and outside of the Biden Administration detest and oppose US mining and manufacturing almost as much as they despise fossil fuels. That means we would have to go overseas for these essential metals and minerals – primarily to China and Russia, which have them within their boundaries or under their control in various African, Asian and Latin American nations.

They also have no reservation or hesitation about digging them up and processing them – without regard for child, slave or forced labor, workplace safety, air and water pollution, mined land reclamation or any other standards that we insist on in America. And it’s highly unlikely that Team Biden would demand that those countries implement such standards – or that it would refuse to import the metals, minerals and finished “green” technologies unless China, Russia and their foreign subsidiaries abide by our rules and regulations. The entire GND (and much more) would collapse without those unethical raw materials.

Moreover, nearly all this mining, processing and manufacturing would require gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal in those foreign countries, because those operations cannot be conducted with wind, solar and battery power. The fossil fuel use and emissions would take place outside the United States, but would not go away. Indeed they would likely double or triple. The carbon dioxide emissions would increase global atmospheric levels and, Team Biden insists, worsen climate chaos and extreme weather.

In fact, most wind, solar and battery mining, processing and manufacturing already take place overseas, under few or nonexistent workplace safety, fair wage, child labor and environmental laws. Some 40,000 Congolese children labor alongside their parents, for a couple dollars a day, while exposed constantly to toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air, to meet today’s cobalt needs. Imagine the GND toll.

Replacing oil and gas for petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics would require importing those feed stocks, as well – or planting millions of acres in canola, soybean and other biofuel crops. The water, fertilizer, pesticide, tractor, harvester, processing and transportation requirements would be astronomical.

All that work, and all those industrial facilities, would impact hundreds of millions of acres of scenic areas, food crop lands and wildlife habitats. Raptors, other birds, bats, and forest, grassland and desert dwellers would suffer substantial losses or be driven into extinction.

Most of those impacts would also occur in Midwestern and Western America, far from the voting centers and suspicious voting patterns that put Team Biden in office. But as they say, out of sight, out of mind – in someone else’s backyards.

The GND would also mean ripping out perfectly good natural gas appliances, replacing them with electric models, installing rapid charging systems for vehicles, and upgrading household, neighborhood and national electrical systems to handle the extra loads – costing more trillions of dollars.

Families, factories, hospitals, schools and businesses accustomed to paying 7-11¢ per kilowatt-hour for electricity would pay 14-22¢ per kWh, as they already do in “green” US states – or even the 35¢ that families now pay in Germany. Once they use more than some arbitrary “maximum baseline” amount of electricity per month, they will pay closer to 45¢ per kWh, as families already do in California.

How companies will survive, how many jobs will disappear, how many families will join the ranks of those who must choose between heating and eating – is anyone’s guess.

GND technologies are nearly 100% dependent on metals and minerals from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Chinese companies in Africa and Latin America. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop underscore concerns that America’s foreign, defense and domestic policies would be held hostage, while certain well-connected politicians, families and wind, solar, battery and biofuel companies get rich.

All these issues require open, robust debate – which too many schools and universities, news and social media outlets, corporate and political leaders, and Antifa thugs and arsonists continue to censor and cancel. That censorship and silencing must end before any votes or other actions are taken on any Green New Deal. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

Big Media and Big Tech are conspiring with Democrats, Greens and other authoritarian elements to shut down any and all discussion by anyone who does not support their agendas. Others are moving to persecute and prosecute President Trump and anyone associated with his administration and policies.

As anger and frustration build among the increasingly disenfranchised, America and the world could be heading into a frightening future indeed.

Via email

Biden’s Climate Appointments and the Potential Disruption to the Global Fossil Fuel Market

With President-elect Joe Biden about to assume office, he will soon roll out his “clean energy” plan, aimed at reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

But such a move will cause ripples beyond America’s borders. It will likely impact key developing countries that have become increasingly reliant on fossil fuel imports from the booming U.S. oil and gas industry.

Biden’s Clean Energy Plan

In December 2020, Joe Biden appointed his climate team, which included a person who served under the Obama administration.

Among the list of climate nominees and appointees is Gina McCarthy, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which mandated emission reduction in America’s power plants and set in motion the country’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement.

According to Biden’s official page, McCarthy will now serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor at the newly envisioned White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

McCarthy currently serves as president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental lobbying group that is actively seeking to reduce methane emission from the oil and gas industry and limit the emission of carbon dioxide from power plants. Her appointment is a clear signal as to the direction the Biden administration is headed when it comes to the oil and gas sector.

Though Biden has not fully embraced the more radical calls for emission reductions—like the Green New Deal—his clean energy plan will still cause a disruption in the fossil fuel industry, including the booming natural gas industry.

Risking US Energy Security and Ripples Beyond Borders

The disruptions could threaten America’s energy independence. The country’s emergence as the undisputed energy powerhouse during the last decade can be credited solely to the booming oil and gas industry.

And it's not only other nations that will be affected. Importers of U.S. oil and gas also benefited from fossil-friendly policy.

To the extent that Biden’s anti-fossil fuel stance prevails in actual policy, it will diminish domestic production and so reduce or eliminate America’s energy surplus and energy independence.

Despite his anti-fossil stance, Barack Obama actually aided the development of the U.S. natural gas industry. The Trump administration furthered the policy. Since 2005, the U.S import of fossil fuels has fallen dramatically.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest producer of oil (19.47 million barrels per day in 2019, which accounted for nearly a fifth of the global production). It has held the top spot for the past six years. In 2019, after 70 years as a net importer, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum.

Developing countries like India, where the fossil fuel demand is extremely high and 80 percent of oil consumption is met through imports, saw a significant increase in import of natural gas and oil from the U.S. In fact, India began reducing its imports from its traditional trade partners like Iran and preferred imports from the U.S. Over in the Americas, Mexico, Canada, and Colombia rely heavily on U.S. oil supply.

But all these are likely to change if Biden implements his Clean Energy Plans. If oil and gas production are disrupted, the U.S. will cease to be a net exporter and will likely increase its oil imports from the Middle East, Canada, and Mexico. Countries like India will then have to increase their dependency on oil from volatile markets like Iran, threatening global security that U.S. oil and gas supremacy would otherwise have ensured.

If Biden walks the talk on his promise to reduce domestic fossil fuel production, the U.S. will lose its energy independence, and developing countries like India and Mexico will lose reliable oil and gas supply from a free market economy like the United States.

The Folly of Renewable Energy

The West needs to go nuclear

If you judge by the images used to illustrate reports about energy, the world now runs mainly on wind and solar power. It comes as a shock to look up the numbers. In 2019 wind and solar between them supplied just 1.5 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Hydro supplied 2.6 percent, nuclear 1.7 percent, and all the rest — 94 percent — came from burning things: coal, oil, gas, wood, and biofuels.

As Mark Twain might say, reports of an energy transition away from combustion as a source of energy are greatly exaggerated. True, carbon-dioxide emissions are rising more slowly than energy consumption, but that is mainly because gas is displacing coal. The rise of renewables has so far not even compensated for the recent decline of nuclear — a decline renewables have contributed to causing because intermittent renewable energy hits the profitability of nuclear power hardest. Nuclear cannot be easily switched on and off.

So the thermodynamic explanation of the world economy remains the same as it has since the industrial revolution liberated us from reliance mainly on the (renewable) muscles of people, horses, and oxen or the vagaries of (renewable) trade winds. We use the heat of flames to do useful things, such as move stuff around, light and heat our homes, manufacture goods, grow crops with tractors, power the Internet.

The main change in recent years has been that energy is increasingly centrally planned. Instead of a market deciding between fuels, the government picks favorites to subsidize, and then subsidizes the old ones, too, when it finds it has poisoned the market against them. Throughout the Western world energy markets are coerced. The development pipeline, corporate rhetoric, and fuel-market shares are all determined by policy.

This has some perverse consequences. Lobbied by firms such as General Electric, Sylvania, and Philips, governments all over the world forced consumers to give up incandescent light bulbs in favor of expensive compact fluorescent bulbs, ostensibly to save energy. All this achieved was a delay in the voluntary replacement of both by a much more efficient, safe, and reliable form of lighting: LEDs.

The world needs energy innovation if it is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, as almost every politician now demands. But things such as electric cars merely displace the flame from engine to power station. Whether that reduces emissions at all depends on how much of the electricity comes from coal, gas or other sources, on how much energy is used to make the battery, and how long the battery lasts. Under even the most optimistic assumptions, the emissions reductions are small. And although the efficiency of energy consumption is improving, it cannot solve the problem. First, many people in developing countries are still without electricity or transport fuel. Energy demand will increase as their incomes grow. Second, as the economist William Stanley Jevons pointed out in 1865, if you make coal (or light or flight) cheaper, people use more of it. Efficiency gains increase demand.

It is in the generation, not the consumption, of energy that innovation is needed. Here there is another obstacle. History shows that you cannot demand a particular innovation and expect it to turn up, however generous the incentives you offer. If you could, then the supersonic planes, routine space travel, and personal jetpacks we were promised in the 1950s would have long since arrived. Instead we have been using 747s for 50 years: We ran out of big innovations in transport.

For almost as long we have been asking inventors to find a way of generating cheap, reliable, and safe energy without producing carbon-dioxide. Frankly, it is now clear that renewables cannot do it. They tap low-density energy sources, so they need a lot of space. No amount of innovation will alter that constraint. There are not enough rivers to dam, tidal basins to barrage, or hills to festoon with wind turbines, at least not without destroying too much nature. It takes 150 tons of coal to make a wind turbine, and two tons of rare-earth metals. (Governments and market hucksters insist that wind energy is now cheap. Audited accounts of the firms that build wind farms reveal that this is untrue.)

There is enough desert space for the solar panels we would need — in the Sahara mainly — but the cost of getting it to where the energy is used, and storing it for use during the night or turning it into jet fuel, remains astronomical, however fast the cost of solar panels themselves falls. As for waves, or ground-source heat pumps, or geo­thermal energy, they remain niche opportunities with little prospect of denting demand for oil and gas.

Nuclear power could supply all our needs from a comparatively tiny footprint of land and steel, but we have made innovation in nuclear all but impossible by massively increasing the cost and time required to license a new design. So we stick with an old and inefficient design that uses water coolant and solid fuel, while distorted energy markets leave the nuclear industry begging for subsidies equivalent to those received by the renewables industry. Molten-salt reactors will one day be more efficient, safer, and cheaper, but only if there is a revolution in regulation as much as one in technology. Keep your eye on Canada, which is trying to achieve this.

Fusion energy is another innovation we promised but failed to deliver. In theory a small quantity of heavy water (containing deuterium) and lithium (to make tritium) could power a town, if the atoms could be induced to fuse. It works in H-bombs. But doing this in a controlled way has proved elusive for half a century. There is renewed hope, however, that low-temperature superconductors and “spherical tokamak” designs may yet crack the problem of controlled fusion and that by 2040 we will have abundant, cheap, reliable energy on tap.

If that were to happen, through molten-salt fission or through fusion, imagine what we could do. We could synthesize fuel for transport, dismantle wind turbines and oil pipelines, stop burning trees in power stations, desalinate enough water to supply the human race without touching wild rivers, and suck carbon-dioxide out of the air. Above all, we could raise the standard of living of the poorest on the planet. It is surely worth a try.

Meanwhile, here is a worrying trend. Energy consumption in the West is stalling and in some sectors, such as electricity, falling sharply. No one really believes that efficiency accounts for all of that. What is going on?

In effect, the West has outsourced its energy consumption to China. Xi Jinping’s announcement in September that China will be carbon-neutral by 2060 was merely a cheap headline-grabber. In the same speech he announced that China’s emissions will rise until 2030 and, implicitly, remain high for quite some time thereafter. It’s 30 years from 2030 to 2060. That was news.

China will hoover up and employ as much of the world’s fossil fuels as possible in the next few decades. Naïve divestment campaigns will simply play into Chinese hands. If Harvard sells its fossil investments, someone will buy them. Who?

With the wealth created from cheap coal, oil, and gas, China will then head for nuclear. Along with Russia, China has been involved in two-thirds of global nuclear development in the last 20 years. The future of energy thus depends on whether the West wakes up to the need to do the same or persists in its renewables folly until it is too late to change course.

China loves coal far more than wind

We have all heard about China building a lot of coal plants, but the central role coal plays in their booming economy is amazing. It is a big reason they are the world’s leading manufacturer. China generates almost twice as much electricity as the U.S. they generate more from cheap coal than we do from all sources. This makes them very competitive industrially.

China has some wind power but they are smart enough not to let it get in their way (unlike us). Renewables are driving our power costs through the roof, while China wisely wallows in cheap juice.

By way of scale, not too long ago the U.S. burned about a billion tons of coal a year to make electricity. We generated about 2,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity from coal, roughly half of our total 4,000 GWh. The foolish war on coal has reduced that to around 600 million tons, with further reductions scheduled.

By a strange coincidence, just the time when coal use switched from growing to shrinking, about 12 years ago, America’s use of electric power also stopped growing. It has remained at about 4,000 GWh ever since. Perhaps new energy intensive industrial developments were all switched from America to China in anticipation of the US juice price increases that followed.

China on the other hand now generates a whopping 7,500 GWh of electricity, or just under twice what America does. That’s right, they produce almost twice as much power as we do.

Even worse, less than 25% of our electricity goes for industrial uses, while a reported 70% of China’s juice use is industrial. That is roughly 1,000 GWh in America versus 5,000 in China, or five times as much industrial use of electricity. Small wonder that China makes most of the products we use (and pay them for).

Moreover, most of China’s vast power generation is from coal. Of their 7,500 GWh just about 5,000 GWh, or fully two thirds, is powered by cheap coal. By coincidence they equals their entire industrial use. Or maybe it is not a coincidence; it may be how they remain so competitive in the global economy.

In any case China is generating more electricity with coal than America is from all sources combined. That is a lot of coal juice. China’s booming economy basically runs on coal.

When it comes to wind power the story is very different. China does have some, in fact they produce about 400 GWH from wind, or around 5% of the total. This may be just a token amount, although it is growing, as are all forms of power generation.

What is most interesting is the reported “capacity factor” for wind power. The capacity factor (CF) is the ratio of how much power is produced in a year to how much could be produced if the generators ran full power all the time. The latter is called nameplate capacity, so CF equals power produced divided by nameplate, expressed as a percentage.

Because wind is intermittent its CF is pretty low, typically 30 to 35% in the U.S. But China reports a wind CF of less than 20%! The reason is an important part of China’s economic success. Unlike us, they wisely do not curtail coal fired power production just to make room for wind power, when the wind happens to be blowing.

So China uses the wind power if they need it, but not otherwise. We on the other hand actually throttle back our coal and gas fired power plants, when wind power is there, which is really stupid.

China is generating almost twice as much electricity as America and two thirds of that juice is coming from coal. Wind is a token generator at 5% and is not allowed to interfere with coal power. Anyone who thinks China is going to phase out coal for wind is simply green dreaming. Coal is central to China’s power.