Tuesday, July 26, 2016



The latest environmental scare

Do you notice the dog that didn't bark in the report below?  Did you notice that there is no EVIDENCE about how harmful microparticles are?  It's all theory and falls into the category of things that are OBVIOUSLY bad and so must be discouraged.

All to often, however, things that are OBVIOUSLY bad turn out not to be bad at all -- with dietary fat being the most recent major example of that.  So you need to be able to put numbers on just HOW bad a thing is.  Doing so can generate surprising revelations  -- such as the fact that dietary fat can be GOOD for you.

So what DO the numbers say?  What is the research evidence on how bad these things are?  And how come there was no mention of any such evidence below?  I think I know.  In just ten minutes of searching I found the following sentence in a review article on the subject:  "Bioavailability and the efficiency of transfer of the ingested POPs across trophic levels are not known and the potential damage posed by these to the marine ecosystem has yet to be quantified and modelled".

In other words, nobody knows how harmful they really are.  The article is from 2011 so much knowledge my have accumulated since then but I am not hopeful.  I suspect that microbeads are a very minor problem in the great scheme of things

I note that I searched the "Marine Pollution Bullein" which did have lots of up to date articles on the subject -- but they were all about how prevalent the beads were in various locations. That they were just obviously bad seemed to be taken for granted.  Nowhere could I see any quantification of harms

And if there is a seminal article quantifying harms I would be delighted to scrutinize its metholoogy.  As a former university teacher of research methods and statistics, and as as frequent practitioner of same, much that seems plausible to others seems hilarious to me.  I can often tell where the bodies are buried, even with no knowledge of the particular field.  As is now widely recognized, junk science is in epidemic proportions these days


Facial scrubs are used daily by millions of people to exfoliate their skin - but scientists have exposed the tiny toxic plastic beads hidden in the products.

Each wash contains up to 94,500 microbeads, while one tube comprises up to 2.8million of the beads, which experts at Plymouth University extracted.

Microbeads, among the fastest-growing forms of marine pollution, can cause physical damage or poison sea life with the chemicals and microbes on their surface.

Richard Thompson, professor of marine biology at Plymouth University, published a photograph of the amount of microbeads extracted from popular facial scrubs.

He told The Sunday Times: 'It can be hard to convey in words how small these beads are and how many are released by one wash, but the picture shows the scale of the impact much better.'

He said the beads ranged in size from from a 0.01mm up to 1mm. 'Their size means they can pass through sewage treatment screens and be discharged into rivers and oceans,' he explained.

When the facial scrubs are washed away, they are washed into sewage sludge and can spread onto farmland. Smaller beads can escape filters and are subsequently washed out to sea.

Experts say the size of the beads looks like food to plankton and baby fish - and can poison them when eaten. This is then passed up the food chain to larger fish and birds.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chairwoman of the environmental audit committee, which is holding an inquiry into microplastics, told the Sunday Times: 'Most of us would be horrified to learn how many bathroom products contain this plastic rubbish.'

The Plymouth researchers only examined facial scrubs but microbeads are widely found in many cosmetics.

The US government has banned microbeads in consumer products under a law that will go into full effect in 2017.

This month Waitrose announced it will ban microbeads from all products sold in its shops. The supermarket chain has already removed them from its own beauty products and has promised that from September it will stock only branded products which do not contain them.

Banning microbeads makes sense, campaigners say, because they are not necessary for washing products. Their abrasive effect can be replicated by natural exfoliants such as tiny fragments of rice, apricot seeds, walnut shells and bamboo.

Banning microbeads, however, will not end microplastic pollution. All plastic items that end up in lakes, rivers and the sea tend to disintegrate, creating tiny scraps of plastic with a similar effect.

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, also disintegrate, and tiny plastic ‘microfibres’ are also eaten by marine life, with a similar effect to microbeads.

SOURCE





John Kerry claims air conditioner chemicals are as dangerous as ISIS at climate conference

Many gases can be used in refrigeration but their efficiency varies greatly.  With the phasing out of HFCs we are getting a long way away from the most efficient one, which means that more electricity will have to be used to get the same cooling effect.  But aren't we supposed to be reducing demand for electricity?  More Greenie foot-shooting, it seems.  And there is general agreement that HFCs make only a trivial contribution (1% is often quoted) to global warming so that foot could reasonably have been left unshot

Chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioners pose as big of a threat as ISIS, John Kerry said.

The Secretary Of State traveled to Vienna, Austria on Friday to negotiate an amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, created to protect the ozone layer.

The amendment phases out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), compounds that are mostly used as refrigerants and act as potent greenhouses gases.

Kerry went to Vienna with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy and compared the fight against climate change to the fight against terrorism during talks with parties to the Montreal Protocol.

'Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations — defense ministers and foreign ministers — as we were working together on the challenge of [the Islamic State], and terrorism,' Kerry said according to the Washington Examiner.

'It's hard for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.'

Amending the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFCs is one of the most cost-effective and consequential ways to combat climate change, the Department Of State said in a statement.

HFCs became widely used in the late 1980s, after a previous Montreal Protocol agreement led countries to stop using ozone-depleting chemicals in the air conditioning and refrigeration sectors.

This helped protecting the ozone layer, but companies began using HFCs as an alternative to the banned chemicals.

While HFCs do not harm the ozone layer, they have a strong potential to warm the planet - more so than carbon dioxide.

Reducing the use of HFCs could help limit the global temperature rise and avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.

HFCs can now be replaced with more climate-friendly materials.

California announced earlier this week that it would give half a million dollars to a $6 million project to research alternatives to HFCs.

'We have the technologies and chemicals to get this done, and are confident we can produce an HFC amendment that works,' the EPA said on its blog.

The EPA hopes to pass the amendment to the Montreal Protocol by the end of the year.

SOURCE





Obama Administration Continues Regulatory Assault on Offshore Oil and Gas

Last week the Obama administration released yet another regulation intended to undermine the viability of the offshore oil and gas industry in the United States. On July 7, the Department of Interior announced its new rules for drilling offshore in Alaska.

For the first time ever, the administration decided to create special rules for Alaska, more onerous than the rules that apply to offshore production in the rest of the country. No accidents or incidents have occurred to warrant these new aggressive rules, but then for a regulator when it comes to regulation, there never seems to be a need to ask why.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in Alaska are estimated to hold about 23 billion barrels of oil and more than 2.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. This vast bounty has drawn significant interest from oil and gas companies for many years. However, the technical challenges of drilling in the Arctic are significant: freezing temperatures, floating ice, storms, and the like. These challenges make offshore drilling in Alaska quite expensive from the outset. These high costs have been on display since oil prices crashed as leaseholders in the Arctic have delayed drilling activity to wait until prices rebound.

But this pause in activity was not enough for the regulators and their environmentalist allies; they want to choke off any possibility of future development in the Arctic. Thus, last week’s rules. These stringent new rules follow the administration’s decision last year to cancel offshore lease sales in the Arctic and refusal to extend existing leases. As Sen. Murkowski of Alaska commented recently, “above all, it is the chaotic federal regulatory regime that is discouraging investment.” Regulators are designing and implementing a de facto ban on offshore drilling in Alaska, usurping the role of Congress and ignoring the free market .

These actions in the Arctic are just another entry in the Obama administration’s regulatory attack on offshore drilling. In April of 2016, the administration issued new well control rules that industry associations warned would force many small operators out of business due to increased regulatory costs. In March 2016, reversing his own administration’s decision of just a few years ago, the president announced that he would ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic. In 2011, the Obama administration was held in contempt of court for slow-walking offshore permits in an illegal effort to prevent development by not acting, just one skirmish in the months-long “permitorium” imposed by regulators.

Over the Obama presidency, this hostility has had predictable results: oil and gas production offshore has fallen throughout, even as oil and gas production on state and private land has boomed. That decrease has meant less revenue for the federal government, fewer jobs for Americans, and more oil supplies that must come from foreign countries. All to make far left environmentalists feel good. This is the danger of an unaccountable regulatory state captured by left-wing special interests: the power of the government wielded against an industry viewed as the enemy.

SOURCE  






US says fuel economy likely won't meet 2025 targets

The U.S. government says the nation's cars and trucks are well on their way to meeting fuel economy and emissions standards set for 2025, but cheaper gas prices could ultimately lower those targets by encouraging consumers to buy less-efficient vehicles.

A report on the standards was issued Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board. The report kicks off a two-year review that will determine whether to keep the 2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets in place or change them.

Under standards set in 2012, automakers' fleets were expected to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That's not the real-world mileage vehicles will get; it includes credits for things like more efficient air conditioning systems. The real-world mileage is closer to 40 miles per gallon.

The government calculates an automakers' average based on the vehicles it sells. A company could fail to meet standards on pickup trucks but exceed them with fuel-efficient cars and still meet the requirements, said Alan Baum, a consultant in Detroit who advises automakers on fuel-economy regulations. But if it fails to sell those cars, it could wind up being fined.

As gas prices have fallen, SUV sales have risen, and that could wind up lowering the averages that automakers are expected to meet, the report said. The government now forecasts average fuel economy between 50 mpg and 52.6 mpg in 2025, depending on the price of gas.

The report noted that in October 2012, when the fuel economy standards were finalized, U.S. average gas prices were $3.87 per gallon. They ended 2015 at $2.15 per gallon. So far this year, sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid are down 25 percent while sales of SUVs and other light trucks are up 9 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

But gas prices alone aren't likely to convince the government to weaken the standards adopted in 2012. The report says automakers can meet the original 2012 targets by continuing to make more advanced gasoline engines; the EPA says only about 2 percent of vehicles would need to be hybrids or electric vehicles to meet the standards.

"Today's draft report shows that automakers are developing far more technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at similar or lower costs, than we thought possible just a few years ago," said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

The government says 100 car, SUV, and pick-up truck versions on the market today already meet fuel economy standards targeted for 2020 or later. Automakers also have been making more use of lightweight materials, like aluminum, and improving vehicles' aerodynamics. They're also adding features like stop-start technology, which automatically shut down the engine and save fuel while a vehicle is stopped in traffic.

Those advances come at a cost. The EPA estimates the fuel economy standards will cost $1,017 per vehicle between 2021 and 2025, while NHTSA estimates they will cost up to $1,245 per vehicle. The agencies differ on how much consumers would save in gas, but they estimate it's between $680 and $1,620 per vehicle.

Those costs, and consumers' reluctance to buy the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles, mean the auto industry will likely argue that the standards should be relaxed. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group that represents 12 automakers, including BMW, Toyota and General Motors, says meeting the standards is "a daunting challenge."

"Absent a vigorous commitment to focus on marketplace realities, excessive regulatory costs could impact both consumers and the employees who produce these vehicles," the alliance said in a statement.

But environmental groups will urge the government to strengthen the standards. In a statement, Sierra Club President Andrew Linhardt said the report proves that the standards are working.

"Due to technological innovation, our cars are cleaner and more efficient than ever before," he said.

SOURCE




Former NASA Scientist Dispels Notion Global Warming Is ‘Settled’ Science

A former NASA climate scientist has put out a new report criticizing the argument that global warming is settled science.

“It should be clear that the science of global warming is far from settled,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who now co-runs a major satellite temperature dataset at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

“Uncertainties in the adjustments to our global temperature datasets, the small amount of warming those datasets have measured compared to what climate models expect, and uncertainties over the possible role of Mother Nature in recent warming, all combine to make climate change beliefs as much faith-based as science-based,” Spencer wrote in a report published by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“Until climate science is funded independent of desired energy policy outcomes, we can continue to expect climate research results to be heavily biased in the direction of catastrophic outcomes,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer’s report covers a wide swath of climate science topics from the factors behind global warming, to how scientists make adjustments to climate data, to the “97 percent” consensus figure often cited by politicians and environmentalists.

“Besides, if global warming is settled science, like gravity or the Earth not being flat, why isn’t the agreement 100 percent?” Spencer asked. “And since when is science settled by a survey or a poll? The hallmark of a good scientific theory is its ability to make good predictions.”

“From what we’ve seen, global warming theory is definitely lacking in this regard,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer also explained why climate models tend to over-predict how much warming will occur as greenhouse gas emissions rise. Spencer argues a warming bias is built into the models themselves.

“Since climate models can be ‘tuned’ to produce a rather arbitrary amount of warming, they were tuned to be ‘sensitive’ enough so increasing carbon dioxide alone was sufficient to cause the observed warming,” he wrote.

“It was assumed that there was no natural component of the warming, since we really don’t know the causes of natural climate variations,” he wrote. “As a result, none of the models were prepared for the global warming “hiatus” we have experienced since about 1997, because their climate sensitivity was set too high. The models continued to warm after 2000, while the real climate system essentially stopped warming.”

Indeed, Spencer’s satellite data, which measures the average temperature of the lowest few miles of the atmosphere, showed no significant global warming trend for more than 21 years before an incredibly powerful El Nino warming event hit late last year.

El Nino is a naturally occurring warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean and tends to warm the planet. Satellite temperatures are extremely sensitive to El Ninos (and La Nina cooling events), so mid-tropospheric readings spiked in early 2016.

But temperatures have come down after El Nino faded, and now it looks like a La Nina is setting in. Some even expect the so-called “hiatus” in global warming to return after this year’s La Nina ends.

SOURCE




Australia: Conflict of interests over wind and solar power

Changing to "renewables" without conventional backup is a recipe for disaster -- and it's happening in South Australia right now.  The Green/Left S.A. government just ignored the risks and forced its coal-fired stations to close down. And South Australians are now paying the price of that.  The response of the S.A. energy minister?  Blaming other states for not sending enough of their backup power to S.A.  Blaming everyone but yourself is childish but common

With electricity prices spiralling as South Australia struggles to digest a world-breaking build of wind farms without firm power backup, federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is facing a challenge that defines the conflict and mixed signals of his new super portfolio.

The challenge was delivered on a windswept blustery paddock about 200km west of Melbourne where Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced state approval for the $65 million, 96-turbine Dundonnell wind farm.

What the Premier did not tell reporters was that the 300 megawatt project, claimed to be the state’s biggest, had yet to receive federal government approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

If Frydenberg does not give EPBC approval for Dundonnell he can expect a fiery backlash and accusations of turning his back on renewables and new economy jobs.

If he does give EPBC approval Frydenberg will be accused of grand-scale environmental vandalism against the Victorian brolga, which is listed as threatened and nests at the proposed wind farm site.

The New Zealand wind farm developer, Trustpower, claims to have accommodated the brolga in its layout plans. But the planning process for Dundonnell has been long and tortured with accusations of hidden records and dodgy environmental investigations.

The complaints have not come from peak environment groups but local bird enthusiasts because — rather than endangered fauna — organised environmental activists such as Friends of the Earth have preferred to concentrate on the need for renewable energy and a long-running campaign to make permanent the existing moratorium on coal-seam gas exploration in the state.

In the great circle of energy and environmental politics it is all connected.

For Frydenberg, the gas ban is as significant as the brolgas and the windmills.

And it has all been supercharged by the parlous state of South Australia’s electricity network and what it may portend for the rest of the nation, under pressure to roll out of renewable power.

Frydenberg is clearly aware of the scale of the challenge. He argued for amalgamation of energy and environment portfolio responsibilities and he knows Australia must respond to a fundamentally changing energy world.

In an address to the Brookings Institution in the US earlier this year, Frydenberg said “technology will be the swing factor to achieving the world’s climate goals”.

“Home batteries, carbon capture and storage, high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired plants, large-scale solar, are all likely to feature going forward,” he said.

But, politically, Frydenberg’s task is to avoid becoming known as the minister for sky-high electricity prices.

Events in South Australia — where wholesale power prices have spiked, household electricity costs are the highest in the nation and industry is threatening to quit— provide a good opportunity for a reality check.

Wholesale prices are usually below $100 per megawatt hour but in South Australia they have repeatedly spiked past $10,000 and sometimes touching the $14,000 limit.

There are many reasons advanced for the unstable electricity situation in South Australia.

These include high demand for electricity and gas during a cold snap, restricted competition, limited interconnector capacity to the national grid and the high costs of transporting gas. The gas squeeze has been exacerbated by fierce objections to coal-seam gas exploration in NSW and Victoria as the giant liquefied natural gas export projects in Queensland suck vast quantities of what used to be domestic supplies.

Clean Energy Council network specialist Tom Butler says the reasons for South Australia’s high power prices compared with the rest of the country remain the same as they were before a single wind turbine or solar panel was installed.

A briefing paper released by the Australian Conservation Foundation says renewable energy wrongly is being blamed.

“In fact the problem is not a failure of renewable energy; it is a failure of the national electricity market,” the ACF says. This may be true. But it is disingenuous to suggest renewable energy is not having a leading impact.

The Australian Energy Market Operator conducted a survey of why wholesale prices spiked during the same period last year.

An analysis of the findings by Frontier Economics says the common denominator was a low level of wind generation at the time.

“As has been long predicted, increasing penetration of wind, and its inherent intermittency, appears to be primarily responsible for the (price spike) events,” the Frontier Economics report says.

“While the events have coincided with relatively high demand conditions in South Australia and some minor restrictions on imports of electricity from Victoria, low wind production levels are the key common feature of every event.

“The market response at such times has been to offer higher-priced capacity to the market, leading to high prices, just as the National Electricity Market was designed to do under conditions of scarcity.”

The Frontier report says the level of wind and solar penetration in South Australia presents a fascinating natural experiment in the impact of intermittent generation on wholesale prices.

“Unfortunately, this test is anything but academic and the people of South Australia are increasingly likely to bear increased electricity costs as wind makes up a greater proportion of South Australian generation,” Frontier says.

“While policymakers may be tempted to act to force thermal and/or wind to behave uneconomically, the likely outcome means South Australian consumers will bear more costs.”

Fast forward 12 months and the same weather conditions have produced the same outcomes in the wholesale market, with higher prices to consumers starting to flow through as well.

In the meantime, Alinta Energy has been forced to close its two coal-fired power stations in South Australia early because their business model has been wrecked by the introduction of low-cost, subsidised wind generation into the wholesale market.

Renewable energy champions have always argued the so-called merit order effect, in which abundant cheap renewable energy suppresses the wholesale market, is a positive for consumers. But the evidence is that there are limits.

South Australia is being watched closely by traditional energy companies and renewable energy specialists worldwide as a test case for what happens when high levels of intermittent energy, such as wind and solar, are introduced into a system that is not fully covered by other sources of readily available power.

Elsewhere, such as Denmark, where there is a high percentage of wind power in a national market there is also access to sufficient baseload power from hydro, nuclear or coal from neighbouring countries available to cover the fluctuations.

In South Australia the backup from the Victorian interconnection is 23 per cent.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that by 2019 the interconnector will be importing all the Victorian electricity it can handle into South Australia for almost 23 hours a day. It does not leave much margin for error if things go wrong.

“The last few weeks in South Australia have been a perfect storm but it shows that we have to be very careful how we design markets and policies to decarbonise,’’ Australian Energy Council policy specialist Kieran Donoghue says.

This is the real challenge for Frydenberg in his new portfolio.

The ACF wants a national plan to manage the transition to clean energy. It says this plan should “deal with intermittent generation and energy security, appropriate interconnections, careful placement of renewable facilities to maximise flexibility, an orderly closure of coal-fired power plants and detailed strategies to help affected communities with the transition”.

“The benefits of renewable energy are numerous, but without national leadership and a national plan to transition our energy sector we are certain to see a rocky transition with more price fluctuations,” the ACF says.

Powerful South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has said he will support a Senate inquiry to examine the mix of renewable energy in Australia.

Australian energy ministers are due to meet soon to consider exact­ly these issues. But no one has yet put forward a credible plan of how this should be done or what the cost would be.

At best, there will be a Band-Aid solution to the immediate problems in South Australia.

Industry specialists say the Council of Australian Governments certainly will look at options for additional intercon­nectors to deepen ties between states in the national electricity market.

The cheapest option will be to expand the connection to Victoria, but that is unlikely to give South Australia the sort of diversity of supply it is seeking.

It is further complicated by Victoria’s own plans to lift renewables — through projects such as Dundonnell — and the desire of environment groups nationally that Victoria’s big baseload brown coal generators, which underpin the system, be forcibly retired as soon as possible.

Another option would be to connect to NSW or Tasmania.

The cost of a new interconnector is high, with estimates of up to $3.75 billion for a connection between NSW and South Australia. Experience shows costs can blow out by almost double.

Meanwhile, rapid advances in technology, particularly in battery storage and grid management, make it uncertain whether expensive interconnectors are the right solution for the long term.

South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the ability to ship his state’s wind power to other states, something coal-fired generators in NSW and Queensland would resist.

The challenge is to stop what is happening in South Australia from occurring elsewhere as the amount of intermittent power is expanded nationally to meet the state-based and federal renewable energy targets.

Already, existing generators are arguing for greater payment for the ancillary services they provide to keep the electricity network stable.

Payments for standby reserve power and voltage regulation that cannot be provided by wind and solar would lessen the dependence of baseload plants on the spot electricity market.

But is this not a Band-Aid solution rather than long-term vision?

Central planning can be a slippery slope.

“It is important to be clearer that this transition is not costless,” Donoghue says.

“Instead of thinking that the wind and sun are free, it would be better to give a more realistic understanding of what the costs will be.”

The more governments mandate things such as the amount of renewable energy in the market, the likelier they are to find themselves having to also support remaining dispatchable generators.

“If they (governments) want to direct the transition they are going to be on the hook for all the infrastructure as well,” Donoghue says.

And under the pathways put forward by the ALP and Greens they are also going to be on the hook for the heavy social transition costs as well.

It remains uncertain what pathway Frydenberg intends to take.

In his Brookings Institution address in February, Frydenberg said it was clear the global energy supply dynamic was moving to lower emission energy sources.

He said country comparisons showed that lowering emissions from the energy sector could not be one-dimensional because countries were starting from different positions and faced different challenges.

“One such challenge will be the need to question traditional energy supply” and “such a discussion is currently taking place in South Australia”, he said.

He was talking about the South Australian royal commission into nuclear energy, which he said had “revived the discussion about the role nuclear power could play in a low carbon economy”.

“Given South Australia has 78 per cent of Australia’s uranium reserves and the stable geology to store high-level waste, this debate is shifting community attitudes and has some way to run,” he said.

The Environment and Energy Minister has a substantial challenge ahead.

SOURCE

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Monday, July 25, 2016



The Arctic is leaking methane 200 times faster than usual: Massive release of gas is creating giant holes and 'trembling tundras'

It has long been known that different parts of Siberia burp CH4 from time to time and it may perhaps be in response to warming -- either a local warming event or an El Nino warming.  It is not however due to anthropogenic global warming because there has been none of that for many years.

The present eruptions seem to be confined to the Yamal peninsula area, which is only a very small part of Siberia.  See Here regarding the inability of CH4 to affect global temperatures

And let me be really pesky by noting the finding:  "No significant increase in long-term CH4emissions on NorthSlope of Alaska despite significant increase in air temperature".  Alaska is geologically and climatically continuous with Siberia so if warming does not elevate  methane levels in Alaska it seems likely that it is not doing so in Siberia either.  So warming is NOT the cause of the CH4 burps presently being observed


Strange bubbles have been discovered in the Arctic permafrost - adding to mysterious behaviour seen in the region, including the sudden appearance of giant holes in northern Siberia.

Now Russian scientists have revealed the bubbles in the wobbly Earth are are leaking methane gas some 200 times above the norm in the atmosphere.

The 'trembling tundra' also contains concentrations of carbon dioxide 20 times higher than usual levels.

The extent of the harmful greenhouse gases buried in this new phenomenon of jelly-like bubbles poses 'very serious alarm' concerning the impact of global warming, expert Alexander Sokolov warned.

Some 15 examples of this swaying Siberian ground were revealed this week on Belyy Island, a polar bear outpost 475 miles (764km) north of the Arctic Circle in the Kara Sea.

One account from a Russian research team at the scene said: 'As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted.'

'An early theory is that warm summer heat has melted the permafrost causing the release of long-frozen gases,'The Siberian Times reported.

The newspaper was the first to report the weird sight and has now shared the gas readings.

Startling video footage shows the ground wobbling under the feet of scientists.

'It was like a jelly,' said one researcher, who continued: 'We have not come across anything like this before.'

He warned there is 'serious reason to be concerned if gas bubbles appear in the permafrost zone' with 'unpredictable' consequences.

Dr Sokolov said he first saw the spectacle during an expedition on this Siberian island last year.

'I've been working in Yamal for twenty years now - some of my peers have been working here even longer - and it's the first time I have ever seen this,' said the ecological expert with the Urals Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He explained: 'The day after seeing this bubble, we came across another one. 'As shown on our video, we punctured it and, let's say, "air" starting coming out quickly - it had no smell - and there was no liquid (eruption).'

The researchers went back and measured the gas that was released when the thin layer of grass and soil sealing in the methane and carbon dioxide was punctured.

'Gases are typically measured in parts per million or ppm,' he said.

'The gas analyser showed that one of these gases was dozens of times higher and another was hundreds of times higher than normal.'

The peak carbon dioxide measurement was 7750 ppm, while the methane reading was 375 ppm.

The island - which lies in the Kara Sea off the Yamal Peninsula - has had unusually warm weather this summer, including temperatures in the 20ºC (68ºF).

'It is likely that 10 days of extraordinary heat could have started some mechanisms, (and the) higher level of permafrost could have thawed and released a huge amount of gases,' Dr Sokolov said.

Three feet (one metre) down there is 'solid permafrost' so he believes the greenhouse gases are caused by the thawing of the surface layer only.

'It is evident even to amateurs that this is a very serious alarm,' he said, continuing: 'As for the future, we are interested in further study of the bubbles. 'We have discovered over a dozen of them. We need interdisciplinary study.'

South of Belvy Island, another phenomenon is being closely observed by scientists - the sudden formation of craters, caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas, which has melted below the surface.

These Siberian craters are believed to have been caused by the release of gas previously frozen in the permafrost.

When the craters first appeared on the Yamal Peninsula - known to locals as 'the end of the world' - they sparked bizarre theories as to their formation.

They ranged from meteorites to stray missiles fired by Vladimir Putin's military machine, and from man-made pranks to the work of visiting aliens.

Most experts now believe they were created by explosions of methane gas unlocked by warming temperatures in the far north of Russia.

On Yamal, the main theory is that the craters were formed by pingos - dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice - erupting under pressure of methane gas released by the thawing of permafrost caused by climate change.

The Yamal craters, some tiny but others large, were created by natural gas filling vacant space in ice humps, eventually triggering eruptions, according to leading authority Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, of Moscow's Oil and Gas Research Institute.

Recently there were accounts of a 'big bang' leading to the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula. However, there was no pingo on this spot before the eruption in 2013.

The noise could be heard up to 60 miles away and one resident saw a 'glow in the sky' after the explosion, it was recently revealed.

SOURCE






Keeping the poor impoverished

Callous eco-imperialists use lies, scare stories to deny poor countries better living standards

Paul Driessen

We are just now entering the age of industrialization, newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte said recently, explaining why the Philippines will not ratify the Paris climate accords. “Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit? That’s absurd. It’s being imposed upon us by the industrialized countries. They think they can dictate our destiny.”

More developing nations are taking the same stance – and rightly so. They increasingly understand that fossil fuels are needed to modernize, industrialize, electrify, and decrease poverty, malnutrition and disease. Many supported the 2015 Paris climate treaty for three reasons.

They are not required to reduce their oil, natural gas and coal use, economic development and greenhouse gas emissions, because doing so would prevent them from improving their people’s living standards.

They want the free technology transfers and trillions of dollars in climate “adaptation, mitigation and reparation” funds that now-wealthy nations promised to pay for alleged climate transgressions. But they now know those promises won’t be kept – especially by countries that absurdly insist on slashing their energy use, economic growth and job creation, while developing countries surge ahead.

Climate has always changed. It is far better to have energy, technology, modern housing and wealth to adapt to, survive, recover from and even thrive amid inevitable warming, cooling and weather events, than to forego these abilities (on the absurd assumption that humans can control climate and weather) – and be forced to confront nature’s onslaughts the way previous generations had to.

The November 7-18 Marrakech, Morocco UN climate conference (COP-22) thus promises to be a lot of hot air, just like its predecessors. Officially, its goal is to accelerate GHG emission reductions, “brainstorm” with government and business leaders to achieve “new levels of cooperation and technology sharing” (and subsidies), and embrace “urgent action” to help African and small island nations survive the supposed ravages of manmade droughts and rising seas.

The true purposes are to pressure industrialized nations to end most fossil fuel use by 2050; intentionally replace free enterprise capitalism with a “more equitable” system; “more fairly” redistribute the world’s wealth and natural resources; and ensure that poor countries develop “sustainably” and not “too much” – all under the direction and control of UN agencies and environmentalist pressure groups.

We might ask: Replace capitalism with what exactly? Dictatorial UN socialism? Redistribute what wealth exactly? After we’ve hobbled developed countries’ energy use, job creation and wealth creation, what will be left? As poor countries get rich, do you UN bureaucrats intend to take and redistribute their wealth to “less fortunate” nations that still fail to use fossil fuels or get rid of their kleptocratic leaders?

Africans are not endangered by manmade climate change. They are threatened by the same droughts and storms they have confronted for millennia, and by the same corrupt leaders who line their own pockets with climate and foreign aid cash, while doing nothing for their people and nothing to modernize their countries. Africa certainly does not need yet more callous outsider corruption dictating its future.

Pacific islanders likewise face no greater perils from seas rising at seven inches per century, than they have from seas that rose 400 feet since the last Ice Age glaciers melted, and their coral islands kept pace with those ocean levels – unless they too fail to use fossil fuel (and nuclear) power to modernize.

The Morocco-Paris-Bali-Rio manmade climate chaos mantra may protect people and planet from climate hobgoblins conjured up by garbage in-garbage out computer models. But it will perpetuate energy and economic poverty, imposed on powerless populations by eco-imperialist US, EU and UN functionaries.

Virtually every other environmentalist dogma has similar effects.

Sustainability precepts demand that we somehow predict future technologies – and ensure that today’s resource needs “will not compromise” the completely unpredictable energy and raw material needs that those unpredictable technologies will introduce. They require that we safeguard the assumed needs of future generations, even when it means ignoring or compromising the needs of current generations – including the needs, aspirations, health and welfare of the world’s poorest people.

Resource depletion claims fail to account for hydraulic fracturing and other new technologies that increase supplies, reduce their costs – or decrease the need for previously essential commodities, as fiber optic cables reduced the need for copper. The Stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. If we run out of something, it’s generally because governments prevented us from developing the resource.

Precautionary principles say we must focus on the risks of using chemicals, fossil fuels and other technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. We are required to emphasize minor, alleged, manageable, exaggerated or fabricated risks that a technology might cause, but ignore the risks it would reduce or prevent.

Because of illusory risks from biotechnology, we are to banish GMO Golden Rice and bananas that are rich in beta-carotene (which humans can convert into Vitamin A), and continue letting millions of children go blind or die. We are to accept millions more deaths from malaria, Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other diseases, because of imagined dangers of using DDT and insecticides. Must we also accept millions of cancer deaths, because of risks associated with radiation and chemo therapies?

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion more people get electricity and escape deadly energy and economic poverty – over 830 million because of coal. China connected 99% of its population to the grid, also mostly with coal, enabling its average citizens to be ten times richer and live 32 years longer than five decades previously.

But another 1.2 billion people (the US, Canadian, Mexican and European populations combined) still do not have electricity. Another 2 billion have electrical power only sporadically and unpredictably and must still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and five million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having refrigeration, clean water and safe food. Because of climate “risks,” we are to let this continue.

Or as former Earth Island Institute editor Gar Smith so charmingly put it: “African villagers used to spend their days and evenings sewing clothing for their neighbors on foot-peddle-powered sewing machines.” Once they get electricity, they spend too much time watching television and listening to the radio. “If there is going to be electricity, I would like it to be decentralized, small and solar-powered.”

Of course, as a young black California mother reminded me a few years ago, eco-imperialism is not just a developing country issue. It is a global problem. “Because of their paranoid fear of sprawl,” LaTonya told me, “elitist eco-imperialists employ endless regulations and restrictions that prevent upwardly-mobile people of color from improving their lot in life. Only we, the wealthy and privileged, they seem to insist, can live in nice homes and safe neighborhoods, have good jobs and enjoy modern lifestyles.”

These ideologies and policies are absurd, callous, immoral, eco-imperialistic and genocidal. They inflict unconscionable crimes against humanity on the poorest among us. They can no longer be tolerated.

Rich nations used fossil fuels to advance science, create wondrous technologies beyond previous generations’ wildest imaginings, eradicate killer diseases, increase life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 78 today, and give even poor families better living standards than kings and queens enjoyed a century ago.

Instead of holding poor countries and billions of less fortunate people back for still more decades, we are ethically bound to do everything we can to encourage and assist them to throw off their shackles, and join the world’s wealthy, healthy, technologically advanced nations.

Via email




Golden Rice: the miracle crop greens love to hate

Rice is the staple food of over 3.5 billion people, most of whom live in the poorest parts of the world. But the world’s staple does come with one major drawback. Despite being loaded with other nutrients, rice is naturally lacking in vitamin A.

The Lancet estimates that, every year, around 670,000 children under the age of five die as a result of vitamin-A deficiency. Imagine, then, the development potential of a genetically modified, mass-market strain of rice that is packed with all the typical nutrients you’d expect, but which also comes loaded with vitamin A.

Golden Rice is such a crop, and it’s the genetically modified organism (GMO) the South has been waiting for. Unfortunately, certain groups are agitating against Golden Rice over claims it is dangerous – despite it having passed every test and safety check it has ever faced. This resistance is largely thanks to environmental organisations like Greenpeace, who have spent decades campaigning relentlessly against GMOs on the basis of unfounded health concerns.

This is despite the fact that GM foodstuffs are commonplace in the US, where the crops are needed far less than they are in the poorest parts of the world. Yet Greenpeace continues to wage war on these revolutionary new foodstuffs, batting away study after study that emerges in defence of GMOs like Golden Rice.

Greenpeace has become so blindly dogmatic in its approach that, late last month, 110 Nobel Laureates signed an open letter condemning its rejection of GMOs. The signatories, who account for one third of living Nobel laureates, went so far as to suggest that Greenpeace’s demonisation of perfectly healthy GMOs, particularly Golden Rice, is akin to a ‘crime against humanity’. They estimate that many of the two million annual deaths attributed to vitamin-A deficiency could be prevented by Golden Rice.

In its response, Greenpeace claimed that its opposition to Golden Rice is down to the failure of manufacturers to produce it cheaply and plentifully. This is a bit rich, considering obstructions by environmentalists has made production of Golden Rice difficult. In 2013, green activists destroyed trial plots of Golden Rice in the Philippines – setting its development back by years.

Perhaps eco-alarmists genuinely believe, in their own paternalistic way, that they are helping the global poor by restricting their access to these new crops. However, their dogmatic resistance to scientific progress is doing more damage than all the GMOs in the world ever could.

Greenpeace should consider looking at the facts. Throughout the history of their existence, nobody has died as a result of eating GMOs. Countless lives have certainly been lost in that time, however, and many development opportunities have been stifled, thanks to hunger.

It’s time organisations like Greenpeace ended their ingrained opposition to Golden Rice and other GM crops. It’s time we all embraced the life-changing potential of such crops.

SOURCE





Court Sinks Navy Over Whales

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that federal rules don’t give enough protection to inhabitants of the world’s oceans. This ruling was a reversal of a lower court’s ruling in 2012 that had approved of rules for naval peacetime operations. It was not that the Navy had gone beyond the regulations. The court stated, “We have every reason to believe that the Navy has been deliberate and thoughtful” in keeping the rules, but the court believed that the rules did not go far enough in protecting marine mammals — specifically whales.

The ruling on the federal regulations dealt specifically with the Navy’s use of low-frequency sonar, which is used by the Navy primarily in the detection of submarines. What environmental groups have contested is that the use of this sonar technology is dangerous to various mammal sea life, specifically whales. It is known that sonar activity affects whales, but it is not well established specifically how dangerous the activity is to the whales.

In 2008 a California judge had ruled that naval ships using sonar had to stay clear of a 12-mile wide stretch along the coast. This ruling was challenged by the Navy and later that year the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor of the Navy, concluding that national security was of greater importance than specious environmental concerns.

This latest ruling once again pits environmental groups and their interests against that of national security. While it is rarely a good idea to dismiss environmental concerns out right, the ability of the U.S. to defended itself is of a higher priority. For without the security secured by our nation’s military forces, Americans would not enjoy the freedom to engage in promoting protections for the environment.

SOURCE





Australia: Business angry as S.A. wind turbines suck more power than they generate

Wind turbines in South Australia were using more power than they generated during the state’s electricity crisis, which has prompted major businesses to threaten shutdowns and smaller firms to consider moving interstate.

The sapping of power by the turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the ­crisis, which has caused a price surge, shows just how unreliable and ­intermittent wind power is for a state with a renewable ­energy mix of more than 40 per cent. Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox ­yesterday said the rise in prices, ­already the highest in the country, had disrupted industry and served as a warning for the rest of the ­­­­nat­ion. “That is a serious blow to energy users across SA and has disrupted supply chains upon which thousands of jobs depend,” he said.

“The real risk is if this volatility becomes the norm across the ­National Electricity Market.

“In June, electricity cost South Australia $133 per megawatt hour on average — already a high price. But since July 1, electricity prices have spiked above $10,000 per MWh at times.”

Mr Willox echoed warnings of the South Australian government on the weekend, saying “We will see similar episodes again, and not just in SA”, and backing calls for major reform of the NEM.

“Changes in the pattern of ­energy demand and the ongoing build-up of wind and solar make life increasingly difficult for ‘baseload’ electricity generators across the country,” he said.

The power crisis comes amid growing pressure from independent senator Nick Xenophon to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into struggling South Australian businesses to save jobs, and as the Turnbull government attempts to establish a hi-tech ­submarine manufacturing industry in the state.

An analysis of data from the Australian Energy Market Operator, responsible for the administration and operation of the wholesale NEM, shows the turbines’ down time on July 7 coincided with NEM prices for South Australia reaching almost $14,000 per MWh

NEM prices in other markets have been as low as $40 per MWh with the AI Group estimating this month’s power surge in South Australian electricity prices had cost $155 million.

While all wind farms in South Australia were producing about 5780MW between 6am and 7am, by 1pm the energy generation was in deficit as the turbines consumed more power than they created. By mid-afternoon, energy generation by all wind farms was minus-50MW.

The situation forced several major companies, including BHP Billiton and Arrium, to warn the state government of possible shutdowns because of higher energy prices, forcing Treasurer and ­Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis to intervene by asking a private operator of a mothballed gas-fired plant in Adelaide for a temporary power spike.

BHP, which employs about 3000 people at its Olympic Dam mine in the state’s far north, said its operations in South Australia were under a cloud.  “The security and reliability of power have been a significant ­concern for BHP Billiton and the sustainability of Olympic Dam,” the miner’s head of corporate ­affairs, Simon Corrigan, said.

Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the snapshot of wind power operations in the state showed the Labor government’s energy policies had created an oversupply of cheap wind energy at times but that forced it to import from interstate when prices shot up.  “This wouldn’t be a problem if we still had a reasonable amount of base load generation but we don’t,” he said.

Mr Koutsantonis yesterday said improved interconnection for a “truly national electricity ­market” would drive prices down immediately. Federal Energy Minster Josh Frydenberg declined to be interviewed yesterday, but said he would convene a Council of Australian Governments meeting as soon as possible.

Not everyone is unhappy — farmer Peter Ebsary hosts four turbines from the Snowtown wind farm in South Australia’s mid north. The wind farm, owned by TrustPower, is the state’s largest.

“We get a financial return and don’t have to do anything ... we just sit back and collect the money as long as the wind blows,” he said.

SOURCE





‘Quintessential Insider Deal’: Taxpayers Finance Family Ties of 2 Failing Green Companies

Grassroots conservative activists who run a reboot of Ronald Reagan’s political action committee want to know why the government allows one failing company to buy another failing company while both get taxpayer subsidies.

They also want to know why corporate executives with friends in high places have not been subjected to more scrutiny after receiving a multimillion-dollar compensation package at a time when their company remains heavily subsidized at taxpayer expense.

“This is the quintessential insider deal,” one taxpayer advocate said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Citizens for the Republic, a nonprofit, grassroots lobbying group, posed the two questions in a July 15 letter to members of the House and Senate as the lawmakers left Washington for summer recess.

The group calls on Congress to investigate the CEO and the chief technology officer of SolarCity, a renewable energy company based in San Mateo, California. The two SolarCity executives happen to be brothers; Lyndon and Peter Rive also happen to be first cousins to Elon Musk, chairman and co-founder of SolarCity.

Musk is also chairman and founder of Tesla Motors Inc., an electric car company based in Palo Alto, California. In June, Tesla Motors offered to buy SolarCity.

Musk is the largest shareholder in both companies, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The proposed $2.8 billion deal would provide Musk and his cousins, the Rive brothers, with an additional $700 million in Tesla stock, according to media reports.

Musk anticipates a “supermajority of shareholders” will approve his bid, The Wall Street Journal reported. The 45-year-old business mogul was expected to unveil a new master plan for the combined companies as early as this week.

“Elon Musk has been getting bailout after bailout to prop up his companies that never succeed,” Diana Banister, partner in Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and executive director of Citizens for the Republic, told The Daily Signal in an interview, adding of Musk:

    "Why is the government bailing him out and giving him taxpayer money when last year he said he doesn’t need subsidies? Musk is bailing out his own company with taxpayer dollars. That’s how much of a racket this is. Musk is getting subsidies for one company and then using those subsidies to bail out another company that’s also subsidized".

Questioning Compensation Packages

Its letter to Congress is an extension of Citizens for the Republic’s Sunlight Project, set up in 2015 “to monitor and expose corruption and cronyism at the nexus of government and business.”

Sunlight Project keeps tabs on Musk’s corporate enterprises at the Stop Elon From Failing Again website, unveiled in June. The site says it is devoted to “challenging the waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money by the failures of Elon Musk.”

The Daily Signal obtained a version of the July 15 letter addressed to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It reads in part:

    "As heads of grassroots organizations devoted to fiscal responsibility and government accountability, we urge Congress to launch an immediate investigation of Lyndon Rive, the chief executive officer of SolarCity, and his brother Peter Rive, the company’s chief technology officer, for their $128.9 million cumulative compensation package while the company is simultaneously receiving more than half a billion dollars in federal direct grants and just as much, if not more, from state and local governments"

The letter is signed by Banister and Craig Shirley, her partner in Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and chairman of Citizens for the Republic, which is a nonprofit under 501(c)(4) of the tax code.  Shirley is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the pair’s public relations and marketing company, where Banister is president.

Also signing the letter were David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonprofit focused on government’s effects  on the economy and tax burden, and Seton Motley, president of Less Government, a nonprofit seeking to reduce government’s power and  safeguard First Amendment rights

Reagan originally established Citizens for the Republic in 1977, three years before he won the presidency. Conservative activists rebooted the political action committee in 2010, with Banister and Shirley as board members. Shirley is the author of three books on Reagan, including one on his unsuccessful 1976 campaign for the White House.

‘Taking a Hard Look’

With Congress on recess, the political action committee has not received any official response to its letters regarding Musk and the Rive brothers.

Banister, however, said she received encouraging feedback from a few key lawmakers, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

Banister said she sees an opportunity for lawmakers to revisit and review the merits of the Solar Investment Tax Credit if they press ahead with investigations into the Rive brothers and their compensation package.

“Once congressional investigations get started, they could possibly start a conversation about public policy reforms that could better protect taxpayer interests,” Banister said. “This means taking a hard look at the Solar Investment Tax Credit.”

The tax credit was extended as part of the 2015 omnibus spending package that passed Congress late last year. The PAC’s letter says:

    "The solar leasing industry is propped up by the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which subsidizes every panel that they lease. The [credit] was intended to provide subsidies for the growth of renewable technology, but we are concerned that it is being used to pad the paycheck of solar executives, like the Rive brothers"

The letter claims SolarCity “lost more than 50 percent of its value” over the past year, but persists because of government subsidies and the intervention of Musk.

“Doesn’t this all seem a little incestuous and little corrupt?” Banister asked. “I’d say it’s actually extremely corrupt, and it’s time for Congress to start paying attention.”

‘Corporate Favoritism’

The Daily Signal contacted both Tesla Motors and SolarCity, inviting both companies to comment on the letter calling for congressional investigations. Tesla has not yet responded.

In an email, Will Craven, SolarCity’s director of policy and electricity markets, said the “compensation numbers” are “tied to ambitious goals that will take years to achieve, and will only be paid out should SolarCity hit those goals, for example a stock price of $400 per share.”

Craven also referred to a blog post from Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, addressing the compensation issue. In it, Rive writes:

    "My own compensation is based on this principle: If SolarCity does not significantly increase value for shareholders and employees and deliver a better experience for customers, then I do not deserve more than my base salary, and that’s the only pay I will receive"

“If this wasn’t a green energy company, you would have both Democrats and Republicans screaming about this,” Williams, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance president, told The Daily Signal, adding:

    "This is the quintessential insider deal. But because this involves green energy you have the left overlooking corporate welfare and corporate favoritism because it’s something they like. But if it involved a big bank or some other company, the left and the right would be up in arms about this".

Tesla is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the fatal crash of its Model S car. The driver was using the car’s autopilot when it crashed.

The investigation appears to be focused on finding out whether the crash was material to Tesla’s $2.3 billion secondary offering May 18, a few weeks later.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Sunday, July 24, 2016



San Diego sets an example for Mass. on renewable energy

A love note to SanDiego from Boston below.  We read that San Diego now has "legally binding" orders to run on renewable energy by 2035. And that is held up as a marvellously wise and powerful step.

The unrealism of the Green/Left never ceases to astound.  The fact that a legislature passes a law that something in the future must happen is described as making that prescription "legally binding".  But it is binding only in a trivial sense.  The past cannot dictate to the future and no legislature is bound by the edicts of a previous legislature.  A new legislature can and does reverse the laws of a previous legislature.  And so it is with these absurd Greenie "targets".  They are just for show. They are not legally binding if a future legislature decides they are inconvenient and chooses to repeal them.  They entrench nothing.  They are a fantasy



San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer chuckled when he was recently asked to compare his attitude about climate change with the denial displayed by many elected Republicans. Speaking in a beach park after cutting the ribbon for a boardwalk-restoration project, Faulconer noted how California’s droughts, fires, and floods put the state on the front lines of climate change.

“Protecting the environment is not a partisan issue,” he said. “I’ve never viewed it through the lens of what we have right now, but what we’ll have for future generations. You have to start with the premise that sustainability is the right thing.”

Was that a Republican talking Sierra Club? Doing the right thing on sustainability is making this city a national role model of bipartisanship on major environment issues. In December, its city council of five Democrats and four Republicans unanimously mandated that the city be completely run on renewable energy by 2035.

That makes San Diego the largest city in the United States to impose legally-binding municipal targets for renewable energy. Faulconer proposed putting $127 million toward the mandate, through bike and pedestrian improvements, tree planting, energy efficient street lights, water conservation, and trash trucks powered by gas from landfills.

This raises the bar everywhere else, including here in Massachusetts. At this moment, the Legislature is hammering out a groundbreaking energy bill that begins to reduce emissions with hydroelectric power and offshore wind, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently spoke at a Beijing summit of cities pledging to cut emissions. But though both the city and state have set goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that the Commonwealth’s targets are legal, there is yet no official path for how to get there.

San Diego shows a way. For years, debates on energy goals came to a standstill over toothless voluntary targets, according to environmental attorney Nicole Capretz. But in 2013, interim San Diego mayor Todd Gloria declared that the city, second only to Los Angeles in solar power capacity, should be a leader on climate change. He asked Capretz to draft a comprehensive climate action plan. Capretz said that the plan had to be enforceable.

The next elected mayor was Faulconer. The coast-loving boater and cyclist shared enough of Capretz’s dream to lobby the business community in ways unimaginable in Washington, D.C., where the US Chamber of Commerce vigorously opposes President Obama’s landmark pollution and greenhouse gas regulations.

In San Diego, the chamber’s president, former mayor Jerry Sanders, said Faulconer urged members to embrace the plan, while giving businesses the flexibility to make adjustments, and to take advantage of the city’s clean tech industry and science expertise.

“Otherwise, we can have federal or state government tell us what to do,” Sanders said. “We chose to embrace this now.”

Faulconer has the soft-spoken manner of Massachusetts’ moderate Republican Governor Charlie Baker. Both say they cannot vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. But on energy, Baker’s commitment to renewables remains unclear. He could learn from Faulconer, who said, “There is no substitute for leadership. Get all the players in the room and don’t let ‘em leave.”

Capretz, who remains a leading climate activist, said, “We still don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but it turned out to be better to have a Republican mayor sell this to industry and the business community. It eliminated a lot of negativity.”

No negativity can be found in the office of Cody Hooven, the city’s sustainability manager. She is getting calls from all over the world about the renewable plan, including solar and wind powerhouse Germany. “They’re all asking, ‘How are you doing that?’” Hooven said. “We’re saying, why not try for 100 percent? If we don’t try, we’ll never get there.”

It is a question worth asking in Massachusetts. San Diego has thrown down a gauntlet. It is easy to say you will cut emissions. It is another to say how you’ll get there.

SOURCE






More on 2016 being "hottest year on record"

On 21st, I pointed out that the prophecy about 2016 becoming the "hottest" year was a flight of fancy.  I put up the actual GISS temperature figures and pointed out that global temperatures were in fact dropping like a stone.  Steve Goddard has made a similar point, saying that: "The past four months is the largest four month cooling in the GISS LOTI record.  WMO describes this as "2016 warming faster than expected.""

He provides the following graph to ilustrate his point:








UK: Mini ice-age which could freeze the Tyne is on the way, says Newcastle academic

Solar expert Valentina Zharkova warns that the earth is about to be affected by a solar event that will see temperatures plunge

This damp and cold summer may be a sign of things to come with the earth poised to enter a 30-year mini ice-age which may freeze the Tyne, says a world-leading Newcastle academic. Peter McCusker reports.

The sun is in good shape and has a ‘healthy heartbeat’ which will last at least another five billion years, says Prof Valentina Zharkova, of Northumbria University.

Ms Zharkova, a professor in the department of mathematics, physics and electrical engineering, says this regular heartbeat of the sun is subject to predictable fluctuations of its magnetic field, and over the next few years as it enters a lull temperatures, here on earth, will plummet.

This time last year Prof Zharkova announced she had discovered a key solar event which determines magnetic field variations over time.

And she ‘confidently’ predicts we will be heading to another ‘Solar Grand Minima’ in solar cycle 25, beginning in 2020 and lasting until 2053.

During the last such event on the sun between 1645 and 1715 - and known as the Maunder Minimum - people skated on a frozen Thames as the average temperature in England fell by almost 2°C.

Prof Zharkova believes the cool summer we are currently experiencing is a precursor of things to come.
People take shelter from a sudden downpour of rain

For over 400 years people have associated such cooler periods with reduced sun spot activity on the sun’s surface.

Prof Zharkova and her team postulate from their observations of the whole sun that sun spots on the solar surface are caused by the movement of a pair of background magnetic waves across its interior and surface, in both hemispheres.

The magnetic waves start their journey from opposite hemispheres and when they interact with each other on this journey sun spots develop.

The intensity and number of sun spots depends on the amplitude of the magnetic waves when they cross.

We are now entering a period where the sun’s pair of magnetic waves will cross at low amplitudes, beginning with solar cycle 25 in 2020.

And in solar cycle 26, beginning in 2031, we may enter a period of little, or no sunspot activity - and much cooler temperatures - as the pair of magnetic waves fail to cross at any point as they will remain fully separated in the opposite hemispheres of the sun.

Prof Zharkova and her colleagues have been able to simulate this on computer models allowing them to predict future cycles for the next millennium.

Prof Zharkova says her research is ‘the first serious prediction of a reduction of solar activity and upcoming Maunder Minimum that might affect human lives’.

She said her eureka moment came in 2010 when she thought up a way of using existing research to tackle this dilemma.

And many researchers investigating terrestrial oceans and forests, as well as other planets, have come to the similar conclusions about an upcoming Maunder.

Minimum of solar and terrestrial activity and a possible reduction of temperatures on all planets in the solar system.

Prof Zharkova said: “We have now established a mathematical law which others can use to apply to this area of research, and so far we have been able to match our research with proven meteorological records dating back 3000 years to 1000 BC.

“This has given us the confidence to predict what will happen to solar activity in the future decades. This decrease poses a question about expected reduction of the temperature of the planet in the coming years because the sun, as we are confidently predicting, will enter into a grand minimum beginning in 2020 - the first such one since the Maunder Minimum.

“We confidently predict this minimum will last for three cycles (33 years), not as long as the last one, but during this time global temperature may fall by an average of 1.5°C although there will be fluctuations across the globe.”

She continued: “I am absolutely confident in our research. It has good mathematical background and reliable data, which has been handled correctly.

“In fact, our results can be repeated by any researchers with the similar data - daily synoptic maps of full disk magnetic fields - available in many solar observatories, so they can derive their own evidence of upcoming Maunder Minimum in solar magnetic field and activity.”

She went on to say that the Tyne may freeze over, but as it is a lot deeper now than it was back in the 17th Century - due to all of the development on both banks - this is uncertain.

Prof Zharkova’s predictions also fly in the face of much of what is being said and written about global temperatures.

This worldwide movement was crystallised in last year’s Paris Agreement which saw almost all of the nations of the world unite to vow to try and keep temperature rises to less than 2°C by the end of the century.

Prof Zharkova said: “When it comes to controlling the earth’s temperature the sun trumps the work of mankind infinitesimally.

“The sun controls the temperature of all of the planets and anything else is pure fallacy. As the earth’s ice caps have melted so have the ones on Mars, and Jupiter has had more typhoons in the last decade than in any previous period.

“I accept and agree that we should be doing all we can to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as cutting pollution, but the models that are being used to support this idea of manmade global warming are flawed.
Wnter snow scenes on the B6341 near Alnwick Northumberland

“Much of the research is mis-leading, the models downplay solar activity but solar activity is by far and away the key player in any attempt to explain fluctuations in global temperatures.”

She added: “How this reduction of temperature will be offset by global warming and increasing temperatures caused by the technological progress of human civilization remains to be seen.”

Just last week it was reported by NASA that the sun was in ‘cue ball’ mode, with no visible sunspots on its surface, marking its quietest period for a century.

Prof Zharkova explained that during periods of low solar activity the earth is no longer protected as robustly from cosmic rays coming in from across the Universe and these consequently subdue the earth’s temperatures.

“We are beginning to see the change taking pace and the cool weather we are now experiencing is not just limited to the UK. Weather observers across the globe are reporting similar findings,” she said.

When Prof Zharkova unveiled her findings at a National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, last year, it received widespread publicity in the international media.

She told The Journal: “We have been pleased by the reaction and we have helped other people from across the global academic community with their own research into this.”

She added: “We now only have to wait five years to show that our predictions are true.”

SOURCE





Scots offshore wind 'pretty much dead', former minister claims

A former energy minister has claimed "offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead" after a legal challenge against four major projects.

A judge upheld RSPB Scotland's challenge to consent for turbines in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.

Brian Wilson said the charity now "hold all the cards" over the schemes, which were to include hundreds of turbines.

The Scottish government said it remained "committed" to renewable energy but wanted to study the ruling.

And Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said Mr Wilson's comments were "irresponsible, incorrect and ill-informed".

The four projects - Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo - were approved by Scottish ministers in October 2014, and could power more than 1.4 million homes.

RSPB Scotland lodged a legal challenge, saying the turbines could have "serious implications" for wildlife, and argued that the government had breached legal requirements when making the original decision by not giving proper consideration to this.

Judge Lord Stewart ruled in favour of the charity, calling the consents "defective", meaning ministers will have to reconsider the planning decisions and address the points put forward by the RSPB's lawyers.

'Serious setback'

Former Labour MP and UK energy minister Mr Wilson, a longtime critic of the SNP's energy policy, said the legal challenge was an "extremely serious setback".

He said: "On the face of it, offshore wind in Scotland is pretty much dead. The RSPB now hold all the cards.

"They were forced into this comprehensive action because the Scottish government delayed consent and then clustered these four wind farms together, so the RSPB went to court on the basis of cumulative impact.

"What they have to decide is if they want to kill all four schemes or prepare to take a more balanced view, but the ball is in the RSPB's court without a doubt."

Mr Wilson said only the Neart na Gaoithe project had access to subsidies, and as such had been the only one likely to go ahead in the near future, and blamed the Scottish government for not dealing with the case more quickly.

He said: "They took five years to determine that application. They then delayed it further until after the independence referendum to avoid any controversy, and by that time three other applications had stacked up, and they consented all four together.

"If Neart na Gaoithe had been consented separately, then the RSPB probably would not have taken action against it. They could have lived with one, with a kind of balanced policy.

"But understandably once they were faced with four they were dealing with something entirely different, with a very large capacity."

Mr Wilson also said it was difficult to see how the "damning" ruling could be appealed, as it was "so comprehensively critical".

The Scottish government said ministers needed time to study Lord Stewart's extremely detailed ruling before commenting further.

Minister for business, innovation and energy Mr Wheelhouse said the government remained "strongly committed" to offshore wind energy in Scotland.

He added: "Brian Wilson's comments about the future of offshore wind are, in my view, irresponsible, incorrect and ill-informed. The offshore wind energy sector has a very bright future in Scotland - not least in terms of existing and new projects; most notably with the £2.6bn Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm which has reached financial close and is now being constructed using significant input from the Scottish supply chain.

"The Scottish government, the RSPB and renewables developers all recognise the importance of decarbonising our electricity supply and have all made very clear, following Lord Stewart's judgement, that we will work together to ensure delivery of more offshore wind energy projects."

'Rigorous assessment'

RSPB Scotland has insisted that it is "very much supportive" of renewable energy projects in principle, but only in the right form and place.

Lloyd Austin, the society's head of conservation policy, told Good Morning Scotland that the group would expect "more effective environmental assessment to be done" if the government moves again for consent.

He said: "Renewable energy projects are absolutely needed to address climate change, and the key issue is to get them in the right place, of the right type, and managed in the right way, and to ensure that you have rigorous environmental assessment process to make sure that you do get them in the right place.

"It may be that some development in this area is possible, it may be that they need to be in other areas. The question is that the process of determining where developments take place needs to be rigorous and take into account the impact on wildlife."

Green MSP Andy Wightman said it was "so frustrating" that ministers had not made the decision in line with the rules.

He said: "The framework is in place to make these decisions, and they've failed to make the decision properly.

"The burden is on ministers to make these decisions appropriately and follow due process. Had they done so, the RSPB would not have been in a position to take judicial review - or if they had, they would have lost.

"It's important that ministers pay close attention to this document, identify where they have failed in their decision-making process and are absolutely clear that they're going to improve that process, and make sure that when they come to a judgement on whether to go ahead with these things that it's a competent one that can stand up in court."

SOURCE





Australia: Brisbane's enjoys hottest July day for 70 years

We have indeed had quite a few days of summery warmth.  I have been getting around the house in just undershorts.  And my poor Mulberry tree out the front has been completely tricked.  It is deciduous but has just started to put out its summer foliage:   Months too soon.  And earlier this year we had a summer that was so cool my Crepe Myrtles failed to blossom. The whole thing is a good reminder of the power of natural variability

Queensland has more than made up for rudely thrusting extra days of winter upon her unsuspecting citizens.

On Saturday, the Sunshine State absolutely lived up to its name and offered the warmest July day in 70 years in Brisbane, matching the previously held record from 1946 when the temperature reached a balmy 29.1 degrees.

It was the peak of a run of unseasonably warm days as a trough passed through southern Queensland dragging warm air down from the north and returning the weather to that we would expect in summer and came on the back of some unseasonably cold weather.

It was warm throughout the south-east with warm July records being smashed all over the place.

The Sunshine Coast bore the brunt of the hot day, reaching 31.4 degrees, beating its previous record of 27.7.  On the Gold Coast it got to 29.6, beating its previous record of 26.9. Archerfield, Brisbane Airport and Gold Coast Seaway observation stations all recorded record-breaking temperatures for July.

But before you book a week off to make the most of the warm spell, the Bureau of Meteorology has sad news... things return to "winter" temperatures from Sunday with the mercury tipped to drop to average conditions.

Bureau forecaster Adam Blazak said a change in the wind would bring a change in the temperature. "We will have more of a slight southerly wind direction change with the winds coming slightly more from the south," he said.

"So we won't be getting the hot air being dragged down from the north and that will see temperatures getting back to around average for this time of the year.

"(On Sunday) we are going for 22 and it will stay around that number roughly for most of the week."

The good news is the days will be clear and sunny, so we can all be thankful we are spending winter in Queensland and not somewhere dreadful like Sydney, where a top of 16 is expected on Sunday, or Melbourne where they can only manage a measly 12.

SOURCE




Lawyers Make Millions Off Taxpayers, Endangered Species Act, as Ranchers Try to Live With Rare Bird

Feathers are flying over whether the federal government is overprotecting a rare bird in Colorado, in what critics grouse is an example of lawyers making millions while abusing the Endangered Species Act.

Trial lawyers who collect taxpayer-funded fees under the law file so many suits that they undermine local conservation efforts in Western states, according to government officials, industry advocates, and legal analysts familiar with the situation.

In Colorado, the situation prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, to sue the Obama administration early last year.

Over 25 years, Colorado officials spent more than $40 million to preserve the habitat of a paunchy, ground-dwelling, chickenlike bird known as the Gunnison sage grouse.

Colorado officials worked in partnership with ranchers in Gunnison County, who voluntarily entered into conservation easements on their property that protected the bird while allowing for robust ranching activities.

In the past few years, the Gunnison sage grouse population not only has stabilized but increased in the part of southwestern Colorado where they’re concentrated, local government figures show.

Even so, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service saw fit to list the species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in November 2014.

Kent Holsinger, a natural resources lawyer based in Denver, says he sees a perverse set of incentives at work that allow green groups such as WildEarth Guardians, a nonprofit environmental group, to file suits that ultimately work against the bird’s environment and the local community.

Under a section of the Endangered Species Act providing for citizen suits, nonprofit environmental groups may bring litigation against the federal government. U.S. taxpayers often foot the bill for the substantial fees the groups pay to their attorneys.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Natural Resources Committee has obtained documents from the Justice Department that show U.S. taxpayers paid out more than $15 million in attorney’s fees over four years to cover the costs of lawsuits brought under the Endangered Species Act.

Some lawyers are paid as much as $500 an hour, the documents show.

Time for Reform?

“We desperately need reforms to the Endangered Species Act,” Holsinger said, adding:

    "So long as these litigation provisions are around, it will create openings for habitual abusers of the law like WildEarth Guardians to continuously sue. They are nothing more than a group of trial lawyers who have found a profitable niche to collect attorney’s fees at taxpayer expense and to perpetuate these legal actions that do no good for the environment or for the community as a whole, but they are very good for WildEarth Guardians".

The Gunnison County ranchers entered into agreements with state officials so they could help to preserve the Gunnison sage grouse while obtaining some level of certainty that they wouldn’t be punished for their ranching activities, Holsinger said.

But, he warned, if “radical environmental groups” continue to litigate and put pressure on government agencies to apply more restrictions, especially where public lands are concerned, it could mean ranchers will be forced to sell their property.

“This is about their livelihood,” Holsinger said of the ranchers. “If they are cut back from the status quo, which is a distinct possibility, then their ability to earn a living will be impacted and that means they will have to sell their property, with the most likely purchaser being a developer.”

Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with WildEarth Guardians, sharply disagrees with critics of the Endangered Species Act, including the provision for lawsuits, and said he would prefer no major changes.

“Without the ESA, it would be politics as usual and extractive industries would continue to have the right to drive [wildlife] populations into extinction,” Molvar said. “The ESA was created to make decisions based solely on science so politics could not enter into these decisions. This gets us past the political roadblocks to prevent the extinction of rare species.”

In January 2015, WildEarth Guardians and another environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed separate lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They argued that the listing of “threatened” for the Gunnison sage grouse doesn’t provide sufficient protection and should be raised to “endangered.”

WildEarth Guardians joined in its suit with Clait Braun, a retired sage grouse researcher with the Colorado Division of Wildlife who since 2000 has operated Grouse Inc., an Arizona-based consulting firm that studies the sage grouse. In the second case, the Center for Biological Diversity joined with the Western Watersheds Project.

A few weeks later, Hickenlooper, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s Interior Department and the agency’s Fish and Wildlife division in an effort to overturn the “threatened” listing. Gunnison County, which is heavily Democratic, later joined with the governor in the suit.

Colorado Democrats “felt like they had no recourse but to file suit against their own party in Washington, D.C.,” and that “shows just how out of touch the Obama administration is with sound public policy,” Brian Seasholes, director of the Endangered Species Project for the Reason Foundation, said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

“For over two decades now, Gunnison County has been engaged in a very successful effort to boost the sage grouse population, but it appears Fish and Wildlife either failed to properly analyze the facts on the ground or simply ignored what the science said about the bird’s population.”

The “best available science” demonstrates that the Gunnison sage grouse “is not threatened throughout its range,” Hickenlooper’s lawsuit argues, adding:

    "The Gunnison Basin population, which comprises the vast majority of the species, is not presently in danger of extinction, nor is it likely to be at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future. In fact, experts cited in [the Fish and Wildlife Service’s] Final Listing Rule estimated that the risk of extinction over the next 50 years is no more than 1 percent. Thus, [the wildlife agency’s] decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law".

“The Interior Department’s penalty-based approach to sage grouse conservation is going to harm the bird while Colorado’s approach, which is incentive-based, cooperative, and draws heavily on partnerships, has a proven track record of helping the sage grouse,” Reason Foundation’s Seasholes said.

Paula Swenson, the longtime Democratic chair of the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners, told The Daily Signal that it’s  evident to her that the federal wildlife agency did not rely upon sound scientific data in making its determination.

She points out that for almost 20 years now, the Fish and Wildlife Service has said that the survival of the Gunnison sage grouse is dependent upon the viability of the Gunnison Basin population, located primarily in Gunnison County and in a small part of Saguache County.

In total, there are about 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse spread throughout southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, according to federal figures, with about 85 percent residing in Gunnison Basin.

Swenson notes that Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state agency charged with monitoring and providing science on conservation efforts, has determined that the Gunnison sage grouse population is stable and not threatened in the foreseeable future. Moreover, federal officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the state’s findings, Swenson explained in an email:

    "They also agree that the efforts of our local government, property owners and partnerships with state and federal agencies have sustained this population. However, since the six satellite populations, which combined only make up about 15 percent of the total population, are not seeing the same sustainability numbers that the Gunnison [River] Basin is, the [Fish and Wildlife Service] chose to list this species as threatened. The [federal agency] systematically divided the species into Gunnison Basin and all other populations instead of looking at the species viability as a whole. The rationale provided was all speculation, not science".

Swenson said she was incredulous at the reasoning behind the federal agency’s decision-making.

“The reasons for listing that were stated to me included [that] if a disease came into the Gunnison Basin it could wipe out the species, or my favorite [reason]:  A meteor could crash in the Gunnison Basin and wipe out the species.”

Molvar, the WildEarth Guardian biologist, said he is not convinced the population is stable. The main population is probably less than 5,000, he estimates, the “bare minimum to have a stable population.”

Green Lawsuits Seen as the Problem

John Swartout, a Republican, is a senior policy adviser to Hickenlooper. A bipartisan consensus is emerging in favor of reforming the Endangered Species Act so that it can “live up to its full potential without being so dominated by litigation,” the governor’s adviser said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

The problem is “with the adversarial structure” attached to the law and not U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell or her department, Swartout insisted.

“We have no complaints about the secretary of interior and the people who work with her,” he said, adding:

    "She has been great to work with and she’s done a lot to be helpful despite the fact that we filed litigation. This has been a bad situation not of her creation. The governor felt like the landowners had done everything we asked them to do and made a superhuman effort. They really stepped up and did everything that was necessary. This isn’t about us being mad at the [Obama] administration. It’s about us having the backs of the people who tried to do what they could to protect the sage grouse".

The Gunnison sage grouse is a close cousin of the greater sage grouse, which resides in Colorado and 10 other Western states.

In September 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse as either threatened or endangered under the federal law. But, the Interior Department and Agriculture Department instead have imposed 15 land use amendments covering more than 60 million acres of federal land that restrict activities in the habitat of the greater sage grouse.

Federal bureaucrats are making a deliberate effort to subdivide species that have few or no biological differences, said Ethan Lane, executive director of both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, an advocacy group for Western ranchers who hold grazing permits for public lands.

“The fact that these [grouse] populations have been split off into separate species is done to create more opportunities for lawsuits and this speaks to a big part of the problem with the Endangered Species Act,” Lane told The Daily Signal. “In order to keep the machine pumping, the litigation factory culture that has taken over the environmental community has found that it’s easy to split off populations that are not really so different.”

The land use plans, set in motion by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and USDA’s Forest Service, impose limits on where livestock can graze with the intent of creating buffer zones around the sage grouse’s habitat.

State and local officials in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada filed suit to overturn the land use amendments.

Four environmental groups—WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Western Watersheds Project, and the Prairie Hills Audubon Society—filed a suit against the federal government aimed at closing off what they view as “loopholes” in the amendments.

The Denver-based Western Energy Alliance filed a separate suit challenging oil and gas restrictions in the land use plans.

SOURCE

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