Monday, September 12, 2011

Greenland Temperatures DECLINING For 70 Years

See what happens when you take a longer timescale than "Since 1972" -- which was the basis for the claim I covered in my leading post yesterday -- JR

NASA data

Nuuk, Greenland temperatures rose from 1900 to 1940, and have since been declining.

2010 is shaping up to be Greenland’s second coldest year of the current millennium, which could be one reason why the sea level seems to have been falling lately.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Extortion Funds Green/Left Through Taxpayer Settlements

I’d never heard of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) until five years ago. Likewise, I’d never given environmental groups much thought. Like most Americans, I knew groups like the Sierra Club existed and I assumed they did nature hikes or watched birds—or something.

When I accepted a position at the organization I now head up, my eyes were opened and my view changed. I met Jim Chilton, a rancher and a businessman. He served on the board. His story was one of the first articles I ever wrote.

Jim Chilton is a fifth generation rancher—a cowboy. His ranch includes a grazing permit for 21,500 acres of Federal Forest Service lands south of Tucson, AZ. In 2002, when the USFS renewed his permit for another ten years, CBD went on the attack. The group published a news release and photographs online, alleging that Chilton was mismanaging his allotment. This was not Chilton’s first altercation with CBD. He’d been a victim of previous unfounded attacks and allegations and was not surprised when they refused to take down the libelous and defamatory post and photos.

As a “cowboy,” Chilton says, “You stand up and fight for truth, justice, integrity, and honor.”

In June of 2003, Chilton filed suit against the CBD. With numerous rulings back and forth, a decision was reached in January 2005 that awarded $600,000 in favor of Chilton in a defamation lawsuit—allowing him to recoup a portion of monies spent in the battle.

CBD had distorted the facts and claimed photos were from the Chilton ranch—when in fact they were not. Referencing the CBD, the jury foreman said: “They acted irresponsibly, and they should have tried to work it out instead of wasting everybody’s time.” In May 2005, CBD asked the judge to throw out the verdict. Finally, on December 6, 2006, an Arizona District Court of Appeals upheld the decision in favor of Chilton—validating the rulings of the lower court.

Addressing the experience, Chilton says, “They lie and distort. They are not on the side of truth. The jury agreed because they voted 10 to 0 that the CBD had defamed me intentionally and with malice.”

The CBD has a record of winning lawsuits, however.

Faced with their record, Chilton viewed them as a “school-yard bully.” The CBD financial records indicate that a substantial portion of their operating costs comes from settlements with the Federal Government. A Government Accountability Office report released on August 31 affirms that environmental groups profit from millions of taxpayer dollars gained through litigation.

CBD has recently beefed up its coffers using federal funds—which ultimately come from the taxpayer. This time the attack was not against a rancher, but against a renewable energy project: BrightSource Energy’s enormous, $2 billion, utility-scale solar project. In February of 2010, BrightSource received $1.37 billion in loan guarantees from the US Department of Energy for the project near the California/Nevada border. Saying the BrightSource project would eliminate tortoise habitat, environmental groups have objected to its location and filed lawsuits to prevent it from going forward. CBD threatened to sue BrightSource. Unlike Chilton, BrightSource settled—believing that the bad press could have a “material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.”

BrightSource’s Media department told me that the specifics of the agreement are confidential, so we do not know how much the settlement was, and, in fact, little news can be found on the deal, but we can assume that a tidy sum was involved to get CBD to walk away from their preferred litigation posture. An AP article on the subject quotes Richard Frank, head of the University of California Davis Law School’s California Law and Policy Center: “I do believe a number of environmental groups have gotten more savvy and politically sophisticated and have become less ideological and are interested in getting the best deal they can.” Was it ever really about the tortoises?

“The act of securing money, favors, etc. by intimidation” is the definition of extortion. No wonder BrightSource won’t talk about it.

This group of lawyers with a history of questionable tactics such as distortion and extortion is who pushed for the Endangered Species Act listing of the sand dune lizard. When a group of scientists investigated the science behind the listing proposal, CBD could not defend the science so they aimed for distraction—calling the release of the report a “public relations stunt, not a science review.”

In the CBD press release titled “New Mexico Politician Leads Farce ‘science’ Panel on Endangered Species Act Protection for Rare Lizard,” they do not take the report’s accusations apart one-by-one, instead they attack the messengers—specifically NM State Rep. Dennis Kintigh and Congressman Steve Pearce (both vocal opponents of the lizard listing). Jay Lininger, the only ecologist on a staff weighted with attorneys, accused Kintigh and Pearce of making “outlandish claims,” but fails to delineate and prove wrong the specifics of the report. Instead, Lininger makes a sweeping statement claiming that, “the decision to list should be based on science, not baseless rhetoric”—which is exactly why Kintigh led an investigation into the science. Lininger does reference the group’s own “study” to debunk the elected officials’ claims that the ESA listing would be detrimental to the region’s economy.

Instead of blindly believing environmental groups positions, the public needs to look for distortion, extortion, and distraction. As the GAO report found, massive amounts of taxpayer monies are going to these groups through litigation and settlements—leaving one to wonder if it was every really about the critters. Are they really law firms masquerading as zoological societies?


Greenie versus Greenie again

Biomass schemes will boost destructive timber imports, claims wood industry. Wood companies and green campaigners say subsidies to power companies threaten both jobs and rainforests

Big wood companies are trying to halt Drax, RWE and others pressing ahead with a raft of lower-carbon energy schemes which would see large power stations switch from burning coal to timber.

The wood industry fears thousands of jobs in its factories will be threatened by the "green" power plans and wants government to remove the subsidies facilitating them.

Wildlife and environmental groups are also alarmed that the new biomass schemes could trigger a huge escalation in wood imports and threaten rainforests.

The Wood Panel Industries Association said: "We have already seen a 50% increase in wood prices over the last three years because of these kinds of energy developments and we do not think they should be receiving subsidies for schemes which we believe are not carbon-friendly and which will require a huge amount of imported wood to support a tenfold increase in planned capacity."

The lobbying has started ahead of a planned consultation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change into the future level of subsidy through the renewable obligation certificate (ROC) system.

The current subsidy regime for biomass and other clean technology such as wind power runs until 2013. New "banding" is being considered that will run until 2017.

A DECC spokesman said the department was aware of concerns from interest groups about a major escalation in biomass but said it had safeguards in place. "The very clear sustainability criteria we now have in place under the renewables obligation will mean we know where biomass has come from and how it has been grown.

"The UK criteria also include a minimum greenhouse gas emission saving of 60% compared with EU average fossil-fuel use, and restrictions to prevent use of land, such a primary forest and other land important on carbon or biodiversity grounds, from being converted to grow biomass. These criteria apply to both imported and UK biomass."

It is not just companies such as Canada's Norbord and Austria's Egger which are worried about the future of the British factories they run to supply the construction industry and others with wood.

The RSPB wildlife campaign group also says it is "by no means certain" biomass is a low-carbon energy source. Its new report , Bioenergy: a burning issue, says the power companies will move from a 74% dependency on British wood to an 80% dependency on imports where sustainability will be far harder to verify.

Friends of the Earth says it is also concerned about the large-scale imports of biomass wood from overseas which would be "impossible" to control and could create terrible damage through deforestation in the developing world.

The RSPB claims there are 31 biomass plants in operation but 14 more have been approved, 16 are in the planning stage and a further nine have been proposed.

Drax has been co-firing its main 4,000-megawatt plant using coal and a small amount of biomass but has talked about introducing three standalone biomass plants on the same Yorkshire site if the right subsidy regime is in place.

RWE has plans to convert its 1,050-megawatt coal-fired power station at Tilbury in Essex to run entirely on wood pellets, which would make it the UK's largest biomass plant. The German company has made clear it will import most of the wood supplies from the US.

The Biomass Energy Centre, run by the UK Forestry Commission, argues that wood derived from sustainable forests, where new trees are planted when others are cut down, releases far less carbon than traditional fossil fuels.

"The critical difference between biomass fuels and fossil fuel is that of fossil and contemporary carbon," it says. "Burning fossil fuels results in converting stable carbon sequestered millions of years ago into atmospheric carbon dioxide when the global environment has adapted to current levels.

"Burning biomass fuels, however, returns to the atmosphere contemporary carbon recently taken up by the growing plant, and currently being taken up by replacement growth."


Wind farms: the monuments to lunacy that will be left to blot the British landscape

Three separate news items on the same day last week reflected three different aspects of what is fast becoming a full-scale disaster bearing down on Britain. The first item was a picture in The Daily Telegraph showing two little children forlornly holding a banner reading “E.On Hands Off Winwick”.

This concerned a battle to prevent a tiny Northamptonshire village from being dwarfed by seven 410-foot wind turbines, each higher than Salisbury Cathedral, to be built nearby by a giant German-owned electricity firm. The 40 residents, it was reported, have raised £50,0000 from their savings to pay lawyers to argue their case when their village’s fate is decided at an inquiry by a Government inspector.

In the nine years since I began writing here about wind turbines, I have been approached by more than 100 such local campaigns in every part of Britain, trying to fight the rich and powerful companies that have been queuing up to cash in on the vast subsidy bonanza available to developers of wind farms. Having been the chairman of one such group myself, I know just how time-consuming and costly such battles can be. The campaigners are up against a system horribly rigged against them, because all too often – although they may win every battle locally (in our case we won unanimous support from our local council) – in the end an inspector may come down from London to rule that the wind farm must go ahead because it is “government policy”.

I long ago decided that there was little point reporting on most of these individual campaigns, because the only way this battle was going to be won was by exposing the futility of the national policy they were up against. My main aim had to be to bring home to people just how grotesquely inefficient and costly wind turbines are as a way to make electricity – without even fulfilling their declared purpose of reducing CO2 emissions.

Alas, despite all the practical evidence to show why wind power is one of the greatest follies of our age, those who rule our lives, from our own politicians and officials here in Britain to those above them in Brussels, seem quite impervious to the facts.

Hence the two other items reported last week, one being the Government’s proposed changes to our planning rules (already being implemented, even though the “consultation” has scarcely begun) which are drawing fire from all directions. The particular point here, on page 43 of the Government’s document, is a proposal that local planning authorities must “apply a presumption in favour” of “renewable and low-carbon energy sources”.

What this means in plain English is that we can forget any last vestiges of local democracy. Our planning system is to be rigged even more shamelessly than before, to allow pretty well every application to cover our countryside with wind turbines – along with thousands of monster pylons, themselves up to 400 feet high, marching across Scotland, Wales, Suffolk, Somerset and elsewhere to connect them to the grid.

All this is deemed necessary to meet our EU-agreed target to generate nearly a third of our electricity from “renewables” – six times more than we do now – by 2020. This would require building at least 10,000 more turbines, in addition to the 3,500 we already have – which last year supplied only 2.7 per cent of our electricity.

Obviously this is impossible, but our Government will nevertheless do all it can to meet its unreachable target and force through the building of thousands of turbines, capable of producing a derisory amount of electricity at a cost estimated, on its own figures, at £140 billion (equating to £5,600 for every household in the land).

Which brings us to the third of last week’s news items, a prediction by energy consultants Ulyx that a further avalanche of “green” measures will alone raise Britain’s already soaring energy bills in the same nine years by a further 58 per cent.

A significant part of this crippling increase, helping to drive more than half Britain’s households into “fuel poverty”, will be the costs involved in covering thousands of square miles of our countryside and seas with wind turbines. The sole beneficiaries will be the energy companies, which are allowed to charge us double or treble the normal cost of our electricity, through the subsidies hidden in our energy bills; and landowners such as Sir Reginald Sheffield, the Prime Minister’s father-in-law, who on his own admission stands to earn nearly £1,000 a day at the expense of the rest of us, for allowing a wind farm to be built on his Lincolnshire estate.

Even more damaging, however, will be the way this massive investment diverts resources away from the replacement of the coal-fired and nuclear power stations which are due for closure in coming years, threatening to leave a shortfall in our national electricity supply of nearly 40 per cent. If we are to keep our lights on and our economy running, we need – as the CBI warned in a damning report on Friday – urgently to spend some £200 billion on power supply,

But our politicians have been so carried away into their greenie never-never land that they seem to have lost any sight of this disaster bearing down on us. Instead of putting up turbines on the fields of Northants, E.On should be building the grown-up power stations we desperately need. But government energy policy has so skewed the financial incentives of the system that the real money is to made from building useless wind farms.

Sooner or later, this weird policy will be recognised as such a catastrophic blunder that it, and the colossal subsidies that made it possible, will be abandoned. That will leave vast areas of our once green and pleasant land littered with useless piles of steel and concrete, which it will be no one’s responsibility to cart away.

If the Government really wishes to make a useful change to our planning laws, it should insist that every planning permission to build wind turbines should include a requirement that, after their 25-year life, they must be removed at their owners’ expense. Alas, by that time the companies will all have gone bankrupt, and we shall be left with a hideous legacy as a monument to one of the greatest lunacies of our time.


Obama energy policy raises costs, limits jobs

For decades, political commentators have been lamenting America's lack of an energy policy. That's no longer true. Under Barack Obama, the U.S. has adopted a very clear energy policy: obstruct and even vilify the coal, oil and natural gas industries while lavishing subsidies on unreliable and expensive sources like solar, biofuels and wind energy.

The events of the past few weeks provide plenty of examples. The most recent: the bankruptcy of solar-panel-maker Solyndra, which despite a $527 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy could not compete with overseas producers.

Two weeks before Solyndra's bankruptcy, the White House announced that the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy will "invest up to $510 million during the next three years" to develop "advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation."

Never mind that the entire notion of "advanced biofuels" has been a colossal failure. Despite decades of hype and tens of millions of dollars in subsidies, the U.S. still doesn't have any substantive biofuel production other than the corn ethanol boondoggle, which is now consuming about 40% of all U.S. corn production, and soy-based diesel.

About the same time the White House unveiled the latest biofuel initiative, several news outlets reported on a lawsuit filed by Exxon Mobil Corp. against Obama's Interior Department in which the energy giant claims it has been "singled out" for "unprecedented adverse treatment." At issue: Exxon's lease on offshore acreage that contains the Julia Field, a discovery that may hold 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil, making it one of the biggest finds ever made in the Gulf of Mexico.

Between 2006 and 2008, Exxon spent about $230 million drilling a pair of wells -- each of them to depths exceeding 31,000 feet -- that delineated the giant oil deposit. In late 2008, it applied for an extension of its lease, a process that had been routinely done many times before. But federal officials refused, saying the company hadn't proved a "commitment to production."

Unless the Interior Department changes its position, years of litigation will delay the production of millions of barrels of domestic oil and, with that delay, a postponement of what could be $11 billion in royalties payable to the federal government over the life of the field.

Obama regularly includes anti-oil-industry rhetoric in his speeches. Thursday night, during his speech on jobs, he nearly ignored the issue of energy policy altogether -- no mention of "green jobs," wind, solar or "clean energy" -- but he did manage to squeeze in a condemnation of "tax loopholes for oil companies." The president said the tax preferences for oil companies should be eliminated so that small business owners could get a tax credit for hiring workers.

Obama may not know it, but the domestic oil and gas industry is creating jobs, lots of them. Over the past 18 months or so, 48,000 people were hired in Pennsylvania by companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Last month, Halliburton announced that it would hire 11,000 workers this year, most of them to work on shale oil and shale gas projects in North America.

And this week, the American Petroleum Institute, perhaps the most powerful member of the oil lobby, sent a letter to Obama saying that if the industry were allowed to drill in more areas, it could create more than 1 million jobs.

In January, during his State of the Union speech, Obama called oil "yesterday's energy." Since then, he's repeatedly said Congress should repeal the $4 billion worth of annual tax preferences used by the oil and gas industry because, as he said in May, the biggest oil companies are making "about $4 billion in profits each week."

Never mind that during the second quarter, the average member of Big Oil had a profit margin of 7.9%. Last year, Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S.-based member of Big Oil, had a profit margin of 8.6%. That's only slightly higher than the average profit margin of 214 other sectors tracked by Yahoo Finance. By comparison, Apple's profit margin was 21.5%.

While Obama vilifies the oil industry's profits, his appointees at the EPA are pushing regulations that may force the shuttering of as much as 80,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity because the companies who own those plants cannot comply with the proposed rules.

The closure of the coal-fired plants, which could begin in January, will probably mean even higher electricity costs for cash-strapped consumers. Since 2005, the average cost of residential electricity has increased by about 30% and now stands at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

While it hammers the coal sector, the Obama administration is showering the wind energy business with what can only be described as corporate welfare. Consider the Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon. Not only is the Energy Department giving General Electric and its partners a $1.06 billion loan guarantee on the $1.9 billion project, but as soon as GE's 338 wind turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the project owners will get a cash grant of $490 million from the federal government.

The deal has so much "green" for the project developers that last fall, some of Obama's top advisers objected, saying that its backers had "little skin in the game" while the government would be providing "a significant subsidy (65+ percent)." The advisers' memo points out that the subsidies could allow GE and its partners, which include Google and Japan's Sumitomo Corp., to reap an "estimated return on equity of 30 percent."

Over the past year, the average electric utility's return on equity has been 7.2%. Thus, taxpayers' money is helping GE and its partners earn more than four times the average return on equity in the electricity business, but Obama hasn't uttered a negative word about GE, which paid little or no federal income taxes last year even though it generated $5.1 billion in profits from its U.S. operations.

While campaigning last month, Obama repeatedly decried America's need for "foreign oil." In Minnesota, he talked about the need to "win back energy independence," and then, in nearly the same breath, he denounced the tax breaks that encourage domestic drilling for oil and gas. The solution in Obama's math- and physics-free view of the world: more solar, more wind energy and yes, of course, more electric cars.

Never mind that in 2010, oil and natural gas provided nearly 200 times as much energy to the U.S. economy as all solar and wind energy production combined. Never mind that the Energy Information Administration recently estimated that wind-generated electricity costs about 50% more than that produced by natural gas-fired generators while solar-generated electricity costs at least 200% more.

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 16.3% of U.S. workers are either unemployed or underemployed. In addition, about 14% of the US population, 45.1 million Americans, are now relying on federal food stamps. Given those numbers, the federal government should be doing all it can to keep energy as cheap, abundant and reliable as possible. Unfortunately, on nearly every front, the Obama administration is taking actions that will achieve the exact opposite. And with numerous analysts -- as well as the Federal Reserve -- predicting a prolonged recession, it is doing so at the worst possible time.

That's not good energy policy, but it is, nonetheless, a policy.


From Brisbane to Brussels – ‘Why should we listen to you?’

Senior Australian Senator Ron Boswell takes a dim view of advice from Europe, given their much poorer economic performance than Australia, and says that Australian farmers already suffer enough from European policies without adding a carbon tax

As European stocks fell another 3% in the last week of August on the back of the basket case economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, it seems absurd the President of European Union Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, should be offering Australia economic advice, Senator Boswell said.

On the Sunday before last, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stressed the European Union’s desire to see Australia join the “business case for fighting climate change”.

On the back of Mr Barroso’s comments the Prime Minister stated that the Federal Government wanted to make “sure that the world doesn’t take a step backwards towards protectionist measures, which ultimately destroy jobs”.

Senator Boswell said “Perhaps I could offer the President of the European Union Commission some advice, his carbon pricing remarks would be taken seriously if he would allow for Australian products to fairly enter the European market”. Currently, the European system of agricultural subsidies and programmes, or its technical name, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), represents 48% of the European Union’s budget.

The hypocrisy is Ancient Romanesque. “Why should we listen to the president of a body that cannot even effectively command the European economy?” Senator Boswell said.

As the economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain continue to cause volatility in domestic and international markets, there is wide criticism of economically vulnerable schemes such as the EU CAP. The scheme artificially inflates food prices through high import tariffs (estimated to be between 18-28%) that lock out non-EU producers.

Australian National Farmers Federation economics committee chair John McKillop notes that Australian primary producers “compete on an entirely unlevel playing field”. There is 19% discrepancy between EU and Australian farm income subsidies - a potentially multi-million dollar loss in income.

President Barroso said that Europe wanted a global emissions trading agreement but “unfortunately we have not seen the same commitment from other parties, namely some of the major emitters”.

Senator Boswell said that “Australia also wants a global trading scheme where it can get access to European markets. Australian primary industry is already handicapped by the EU freezing Australian products out of their markets”. “We don’t want to put more lead in our saddle by further handicapping our primary and secondary industry with a Carbon Tax”.

“As Mr Barroso points out, the reality is a global emissions trading agreement will not happen anytime soon. Why should Australians suffer Carbon Tax pain for no environmental gain?”

Press release from Senator Boswell, Senator for Queensland. Email:


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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