Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Using Greenie tactics against them

The principles used in the article below could equally be used to stop the building of windfarms, which have a high nuisance value

Basic real estate law could stop gas drilling in the Northeast.

Here's the idea. When you bought your house you didn't buy just dirt and bricks; you bought what your lawyer calls a bundle of rights. That includes what he or she calls the right of quiet enjoyment.

Quiet enjoyment means more than the right to sit on your porch and watch the sunset; it includes the right to enjoy the value of your property. If your neighbor does something to hurt this right, he has to pay you the before-and-after difference -- to make you whole, as they say.

It's called nuisance law, and means everybody has the right to do what they want with their property -- as long and they don't hurt anybody else. If they do, they have to pay.

So, since banks won't lend on a house near a gas well unless the owner can prove their water supply will always be safe, and that can't be done -- i.e.: where there's gas drilling, property values collapse -- it follows as the night the day that if your neighbor leases his land for gas drilling, you can sue said boneheaded neighbor to make you whole.

"It's just Real Estate 101," says the co-chair of one of the American Bar Association's practice groups. "I'm surprised nobody's using it now."

As it happens, it is being done now. Two recent Pennsylvania lawsuits, filed separately against Southwest Energy Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp., claim that their gas drilling has contaminated local water supplies and harmed the related property values.

That first claim -- that gas drilling contaminated the local water -- is the hot button issue for anti-drilling activists. But Peter Cambs, the partner in Parker Waichman Alonso LLP fighting the suits, likes the property value issue better.

"It's the stronger claim," he says. "I don't think there is a defense" against it. Nationwide, the statistical case that gas drilling depresses property values is practically bullet-proof.

On the other hand, says Cambs, defense attorneys can try to play out the clock on the water contamination claim with what you could call the tobacco defense -- first deny there was any contamination, then that gas drilling caused it, then insist the issue needs more study, and finally say there's no way to quantify the damage.

By the time they're ready to settle, it's many years later, and drilling's gone on apace. He says his case will be an appeal to common sense -- that the water was fine until drilling began, so it obviously caused the contamination.

How useful common sense will be in a court room remains to be seen. In any case, says Cambs, he expects the case to last at least two years -- before appeals.

Of course, the problem for many property owners living near gas drilling is that they didn't buy their rural property to live in an industrial zone. And they're remarkably uninterested in being hurt in the first place.

Enter Gregory Alexander, A. Robert Noll Professor of Law at Cornell University. He says there's a well-trodden legal path that could stop drilling before it begins.

Called anticipatory nuisance, it's basically the notion that you can stop your neighbor from doing something if waiting to sue until you're harmed is ludicrous. In a western, this is where the marshal says you shot in self-defense.

"It's a doctrine that's established in common law," says Alexander. "A court would not be making new law" by supporting such a claim, and "it presents a plaintiff with a lot of ammunition."

The beauty here is that applying the case law to gas drilling is no stretch. According to George P. Smith, II, who wrote an article about this in the Vermont Law Review, it was established in 1864 America, when a court found that one Mr.Tipping's property rights would be harmed by a proposed smelting operation, even though there were several factories nearby. More rulings followed.

These are really two different sorts of lawsuits; one compensates you if drilling's already taken place and the other would stop it before it happened. And anybody can tell you that what anti-drilling activists want to do is the latter -- which is why they're trying, at least in New York, to convince Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to either throw out the regulations already drawn up by the state's Department of Environmental Protection and start over (they're not yet adopted), or ban modern, horizontal gas drilling -- so-called "fracking" -- altogether.

Only Mr. Cuomo knows if he'll ever do that, and so far, he hasn't committed himself. But even if he did completely disappoint the anti-drilling forces, they could use Prof. Alexander's idea in a test case that would tie up drilling for a long time -- and maybe stop it altogether. It would cost plenty; but the money and legal talent could probably be found, if it came to it.

Since each state has their own case law in these matters and states like Texas and West Virginia don't favor such lawsuits, this leaves us with the problem of what to do in Pennsylvania, New York, and, maybe, Ohio. It's where things will get messy and people will have to get their hands dirty.


NOTE also:

Most environmental groups are blindly supporting wind energy. The fact is that there is no such thing as wind energy by itself. Wind energy MUST be paired with a conventional source of energy. Country-wide the most frequent source is gas.

So, it should be clearly understood, that support for wind energy is defacto support for more gas power. More gas power at this point requires more affordable and plentiful US gas supplies, which means hydrofracking. Therefore, anyone who supports wind energy is (in effect) supporting hydrofracking.

Conversely, one way to reduce hydrofracking is to get rid of wind energy.

Green energy never ready for prime time

For most businesses, Election Day is already an afterthought. Their viability depends on customers, not on politicians. For "green" energy industries, however, unfavorable political winds can easily lead to bankruptcy.

Consider the collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange. It was established seven years ago to facilitate the "trade" part of a "cap-and-trade" policy. Accordingly, the fortunes of CCX have mirrored the prospects of climate policy in the Congress. In May 2008, as the Senate prepared to take up cap-and-trade legislation, CCX-investor optimism spiked - as did the price for a credit representing a ton of carbon dioxide on the CCX, at almost $7.

Then the Senate shelved the controversial measure and the price of a ton of carbon dioxide plummeted steadily, now languishing at 5 cents. When the November Republican election tide became reality - with its corresponding doom for the politically poisonous cap-and-trade bill - the CCX, begun and sustained with so much media and political fanfare, announced that it would fold.

The fall of CCX brings into stark relief the central problem ailing the entire "clean energy" industry that President Obama has promised to conjure: It exists only by the grace of politicians.

For decades, renewable energy sources have existed solely due to subsidies, yet they still cannot compete. According to the federal Energy Information Administration projections, in 2016 wind will still be nearly 50 percent more expensive than coal and nearly 80 percent more expensive than natural gas. The EIA projects thermal solar will be 150 percent more expensive than coal, and 200 percent more expensive than gas.

Don't take our word for it. Green energy execs regularly acknowledge that their industries face ruin unless the taxpayer spigot is kept wide open, all the while providing assurances that they have become cost-competitive:

-Biomass Power Association President Robert Cleaves (February 2010): "Thousands of jobs in the biomass power industry could be lost if Congress fails to extend the production tax credit."

-American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode (July 2010): "Manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesn't act now" to impose a federal mandate for electricity produced by AWEA members.

-Solar Energy Industry Association President Rhone Resch (September 2008): "Unless Congress promptly returns to complete their unfinished business, the solar industry will suffer with the loss of 39,000 jobs."

-Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen (November 2010): "Allowing the tax incentive to expire would risk jobs in a very important domestic energy sector and across rural America."

Of course, it is only natural for aid-dependent industries to warn that they would suffer without the continuation of aid. Employing this circular logic, taxpayer funded renewable power has remained the "energy of the future" for decades. But American taxpayers simply cannot afford to subsidize industries that are forever-nascent.

Although conventional energy sources like coal and natural gas also, unfortunately, receive subsidies, their existence does not depend on handouts, and renewable power generation receives at least 50 times the taxpayer subsidies doled out to fossil fuels per unit of energy produced, even before the 2009 stimulus act and its more than $60 billion in green energy giveaways. In the face of rising deficits, it's well past time to end wasteful, taxpayer-funded welfare.


EPA not serving health, the public

During the week of Nov. 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new air quality regulations intended to reduce carbon emissions among many of America’s industries and activities. We can argue about the need to better our air quality beyond the amazing improvements we have witnessed the past 30 years. We can argue about the need to reduce carbon emissions when carbon dioxide is the life blood of our planet supporting the plant life that makes life for mankind viable.

But no one can argue that EPA is using a heavy hand in giving the public exactly two weeks to respond to its proposal by a Dec. 1 deadline – with one of the weeks being taken up largely with our nation’s Thanksgiving celebration.

This command-and-control form of government brings to mind Nancy Pelosi’s announcement to the House of Representatives last spring regarding Obamacare – when she said “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Of course most of us know how that turned out.

It is clear now that Cap and Trade legislation to control carbon emissions is not going to pass through our Congress. The public has expressed overwhelming objection to it – everywhere but California. It is just as clear, however, that under the direction of our president and his EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, we are going to be subject to regulation with out representation. This is disgraceful, and would certainly have our founding fathers rolling over in their graves.

It is time to rein in the EPA whenever and wherever its efforts are serving neither the health of the public, nor the environment, but instead causing significant economic damage.


Veteran Journalist Banned from Climate Change Conference

Might ask questions

It appears that drug cartel-related kidnappings and murders are not the only crimes taking place in Mexico these days. According to a message received this morning, Phelim McAleer has been denied press accreditation for the Cancun Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Only days before the international conference opening today, the United Nations refused access to the veteran journalist and documentary filmmaker who produced and directed Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary on Global Warming.

Apparently, climate scientists and politicians attending the conference are afraid McAleer might ask them to explain their global warming beliefs. After all, he has done that before in conjunction with the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009

During an encounter in September 2009, an armed U.N. security guard prevented McAleer from asking a scientist difficult questions about the ClimateGate e-mails and warned that if he did not stop filming he would confiscate his equipment and expel him from the conference

McAleer says the refusal to allow him access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference is censorship. "I sent them exactly the same documentation that was acceptable for Copenhagen last year, but it seems they did not like my coverage of Copenhagen and are now trying to silence me and the people who have questions about this process.

"The message is clear: ask U.N. scientists and politicians difficult questions and you will be banned from any U.N.-sponsored events. No difficult questions allowed," he added.

McAleer is a 20-year veteran journalist who covered the Northern Ireland troubles. He has also worked for the U.K. Sunday Times and as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. He has worked as a journalist and filmmaker in countries as diverse as Ireland, Romania, Uzbekistan , Indonesia, Madagascar, Chile, Indonesia, Vietnam, and many other countries.

SOURCE. (Lots of videos at link)

You Can Stop Paying for Al Gore's Mistake

In Greece earlier this month, Al Gore made a startling admission: "First-generation ethanol, I think, was a mistake." Unfortunately, Americans have Gore to thank for ethanol subsidies. In 1994, then-Vice President Gore ended a 50-50 tie in the Senate by voting in favor of an ethanol tax credit that added almost $5 billion to the federal deficit last year. And that number doesn't factor the many ways in which corn-based ethanol mandates drive up the price of food and livestock feed.

Sure, he meant well, but as Reuters reported, Gore also said, "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

In sum, Gore demonstrated that politicians are lousy at figuring out which alternative fuels make the most sense. Now even enviros like Friends of the Earth have come to believe that "large-scale agro-fuels" are "ecologically unsustainable and inefficient." That's a polite way of saying that producers need to burn through a boatload of fossil fuels to make ethanol.

Gore also showed that most D.C. politicians can't be trusted to put America's interests before those of Iowa farmers. But there is one pursuit in which homo electus excels: spending other people's money.

Beware politicians when they promise you "the jobs of the future." Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about a federal grant program in Florida designed to retrain the unemployed for jobs in the growing clean-energy sector. Except clean tech isn't growing as promised. Officials told the Post that three-quarters of their first 100 graduates haven't had a single job offer.

In May, President Obama came to a Fremont, Calif., solar plant where he announced, "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." This month, Solyndra announced it was canceling its expansion plans. The announcement came after voters rewarded the green lobby by defeating Proposition 23 -- which would have postponed California's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law AB32 -- because voters bought the green-jobs promise.

Back to Gore. There is a movement in Washington to end Gore's mistake. Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have proposed ending the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy on corn ethanol, which is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it.

As DeMint explained in an e-mail to the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "Government mandates and tax subsidies for ethanol have led to decreased gas mileage, adversely effected the environment and increased food prices. Washington must stop picking winners and losers in the market, and instead allow Americans to make choices for themselves."

That's what free-market types who oppose corporate welfare -- like me -- have been saying for years.

So the question is: Will this new batch of Republicans have the intestinal fortitude to buck the farm lobby and agribusiness by weaning them from the public teat? Or are they no better than the farm-lobby-pandering Al Gore?


Support for nuclear power coming from the Australian Left

They are freaked by what the voters might do about the higher electricity bills that green power will necessitate. Electricity bills have already risen a lot and they know that cannot go on forever

FEDERAL Labor MPs are calling for Australia to embrace nuclear power, leaving Julia Gillard facing another damaging split in her Government. Ms Gillard is under pressure to put the divisive issue on next year's ALP national conference agenda - with MPs claiming voters care more about power bills than gay marriage.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson last night said those advocating nuclear power had as much right to have the issue debated at the showcase event as those backing changes to gay marriage laws.

Defying Labor's official ban on nuclear power, a number of MPs have gone public in their support for the low-carbon energy source. "My view is that all forms of energy supply should be under active consideration," former frontbencher Mark Bishop said. Senator Bishop said the "Government should give more active consideration to putting nuclear into the equation of all forms of energy supply, particularly those that are subsidised".

NSW Senator Steve Hutchins also wants nuclear power debated after Ms Gillard this week argued that a price on carbon would be a high priority for her Government. "In my opinion it should be part of the [energy] debate if we want to have a clean future," he said. "I cannot see us returning to living in the cave and burning fallen timber to keep us warm."

Privately a number of ministers support nuclear power being considered along with coal, solar and other energy sources as part of Australia's future energy mix.

The nuclear push will receive a boost today when Mr Ferguson releases a report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. The study finds nuclear power will be cheaper than traditional coal-fired power stations and renewables such as solar - once Australia introduces a carbon tax.

Labor MP Chris Hayes said Australia would soon become the biggest exporter of uranium as he called for nuclear to be included in the energy debate. "Why would we simply reject it out of hand?" Mr Hayes said.

Senator Michael Forshaw said key regional players were rapidly embracing nuclear power. "I am not one who says we should never, ever contemplate the possibility of nuclear. It should be part of a broad debate about cleaner energy," he said.

Senator Hutchins wants the issue on the agenda for the ALP national conference. "It is more important for the country's future than gay marriage and it affects a lot more people," he said.

Mr Ferguson said he believed those advocating change should have the chance to state their case at Labor's showcase event. "They have as much right to discuss nuclear at the 2011 conference as other people have to debate the issue of gay and lesbian marriage," he said.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific lashed out at the ALP over the issue last night. Spokesman Stephen Campbell said nuclear power and its waste were a threat to people and the environment and "not a solution to climate change".

"It's also too expensive and too unsafe. If the ALP went down that road, they would be costing the taxpayers billions of dollars to establish the technology, while renewable energy is safer, cheaper and much easier to build," he said.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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