Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sober and cautious expenditure of the public's money? Not in Washington DC

Solyndra Emails Claim Biden Team 'About Had an Orgasm' About Energy Loans to Firm

A series of emails provided to the House Energy and Commerce Committee from individuals tied to Solyndra offer striking characterizations about running strategy with the White House to secure assistance for the now-bankrupt solar energy firm.

Emails among George Kaiser, head of the George Kaiser Family Foundation; Ken Levit, the executive director of the Foundation; and Steve Mitchell, who manages Argonaut Private Equity and was a member of Solyndra's board; show that Vice President Joe Biden's office were very gung-ho.

"They about had an orgasm in Biden's office when we mentioned Solyndra," reads a Feb. 27, 2010, email from Levit to Mitchell. A follow-up email from Mitchell to Levit later that day responds with: "That's awesome! Get us a (Department of Energy) loan."

According to exchanges obtained by Fox News, in an email from Mitchell to Kaiser on March 5, 2010, Mitchell writes that "it appears things are headed in the right direction and (Energy Secretary Steven) Chu is apparently staying involved in Solyndra's application and continues to talk up the company as a success story."

In a Feb. 27, 2010, message from Levit to a party whose name has been redacted, Levit writes that there was a meeting with a group of people in "Biden's office -- they seemed to love our Brady Project -- also all big fans of Solyndra."

In an email from Mitchell to Kaiser on March 5, 2010, Mitchell writes that "it appears things are headed in the right direction and Chu is apparently staying involved in Solyndra's application and continues to talk up the company as a success story."

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the document dump from the House Energy and Commerce Committee offers only "cherry-picked" emails.

"Even the documents cherry-picked by House Republicans today affirm what we have said all along: this loan was a decision made on the merits at the Department of Energy. Nothing in the 85,000 pages of documents produced thus far by the administration or in these four indicate any favoritism to political supporters. We wish that House Republicans were as zealous about creating jobs as they were about this oversight investigation," he said.

Solyndra received a half billion dollars in loans from the Department of Energy even as questions were raised over whether the California-based firm would stay afloat. The company filed for bankruptcy in September just weeks after the administration weighed a bailout.

One email from Kaiser to Mitchell and Levit on Oct. 6, 2010, reads: "We can possibly reinforce the effort so long as it is in the form of 'I thought you should know, in case it comes up' rather than 'can you help with this.'"

In another communique dated Oct. 6, 2010, Kaiser tells Mitchell and Levit that he is "concerned that DOE/Chu would resent the intervention and your problem could get more difficult. I would see an appeal as only as last resort an, even then, questionable. We need to discuss."

In an email between Mitchell and Kaiser, Mitchell notes that the White House has "started a policy discussion as to whether a company should be able to get a second loan."

House Republicans received the emails after subpoenaing the White House last week. Lawmakers say they want to know how much influence the White House put on the Energy Department to approve the loans. The administration denies anyone tried to influence the decision.


Chinese airlines to sue EU over carbon price

Sounds like the EU had better not expect any more Airbus orders from China unless they change their tune. Could be good for Boeing

Air China and three other major Chinese carriers are planning to jointly sue the European Union for its plan to charge airlines for carbon emissions, a senior official with the country's industry group said yesterday.

Under the EU's proposals to put a price on pollution, airlines will have to buy permits to help offset greenhouse emissions from jetliners operating in, to and from Europe.

"It's unfair. We are buying Airbus planes. If anyone is to blame for the emission problem, it should be the manufacturer not the customers," Cai Haibo, deputy secretary general of the China Air Transportation Association, said.

China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, are also part of the planned legal action, Cai said.

In protest against the EU law, due to take effect on January 1, the Air Transport Association of America, American Airlines and United Continental took their case to the High Court in London, which referred it to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last year.

In October, the advocate general in a preliminary opinion said the EU was acting within the law. Her opinion is not binding, but is a good gauge of the ECJ's final ruling expected early next year.

Last week, the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization adopted a working paper from the United States, China and two dozen other nations urging the EU not to include non-EU carriers in its plan.

The Republican-led US House of Representatives voted last month to ban US airline compliance with the scheme, raising the prospect that flights could be disrupted. It remained unclear if the Democratic-controlled Senate would back the move, which the EU has criticised as an attack on its laws.

Opposing nations say the plan would infringe a "cardinal principle of state sovereignty" by basing its charges on the distance flown by each flight, which means calculations would include foreign airspace, in violation of a 1944 pact that gives each country exclusive authority over its skies.

It would also discriminate against nations located furthest away from Europe.

China is a major market for Airbus, which aims to supply at least half of the more than 4000 commercial jets the country is expected to need over the next 20 years.


Court sends Cape Wind back to the drawing board

The Air Traffic Safety Issue of a Government-enabled Project

“While of course the wind farm may be one of those projects with such overwhelming policy benefits (and political support) as to trump all other considerations, even as they relate to safety, the record expresses no such proposition.”

- Town of Barnstable, Massachusetts v. Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Circuit), October 28, 2011.

Earlier this year, Industrial Wind Action Group (home) wrote how turbines sited within fifty miles of U.S. radar installations are now disrupting our navigation aids and impairing U.S. national security.

FAA and military radar experts in the field are well aware of the compromises to radar resolution caused by poorly sited turbines. But with the debate surrounding energy policy dominated by politics and money, they’ve bowed to the pressure.

Last week we learned of another project that poses safety risks.

The D.C. Circuit found that the FAA failed to adequately analyze whether Cape Wind, the controversial proposal to erect 130 utility-scale turbines offshore in Nantucket Sound, would pose a hazard to air navigation. The project’s proponent vigorously defended the agency’s review claiming that for over eight years the FAA repeatedly found the project would pose no hazard. But the record clearly shows otherwise.

In May 2010, the FAA issued identical Determinations of No Hazard for each of the Cape Wind turbines. These determinations were conditioned on implementing a tiered mitigation plan that incrementally upgraded nearby radar systems to correct for any interference the turbines would produce. While the upgrades would limit the impact of the spinning blades, the FAA acknowledged that the “fixes” would reduce the resolution of the radar, and might not work. Like Travis Air Force Base which we previously wrote about, aircraft flying in the area would go undetected or false objects could appear. If, after the turbines go online, the interference was found to be a safety risk, the FAA recommended revising airspace procedures to restrict air traffic to transponder only — also like Travis.

Transponder-only airspace is an unacceptable mitigation option since it relies on pilots complying with the rules. Not all aircraft are adequately equipped and not all pilots may want to be seen. We remind readers that the first thing the 9/11 hijackers did after seizing control of our passenger planes was to turn off the transponders.

Remarkably, this is not the first time the FAA’s No Hazard determinations on wind turbines were overturned by the Courts. In 2008, a near identical finding to the Cape Wind case was reached by the Federal Appeals Court. In that case, Clark County, NV challenged the FAA over turbines proposed to be built several miles from the County’s planned airport. has interviewed radar specialists familiar with the mitigations implemented at Travis AFB and those proposed near Nantucket Sound and elsewhere. They are very clear that the reduction in radar resolution poses a serious risk to air safety and should not be permitted.

Our national security and air safety have been compromised by wind turbines and U.S. taxpayers are unknowingly funding the degradation of our radar through federal renewable programs. The larger question is why? Why are our agencies and military services allowing these compromises and why are the courts — and not the agencies themselves — being called upon to correct their actions? Indeed, political pressure is playing a role in these compromises along with a general disinterest by many in Washington to consider both the good and bad of renewable energy. Public safety should never take a back seat when siting projects.


Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment

The past several years have seen a groundswell of regulations on plastics, particularly plastic bags and cups and food containers made from polystyrene or Styrofoam. Supporters of these bans mostly claim that such policies promote environmental protection, when in reality they carry considerable environmental tradeoffs and impose needless burdens on consumers and economic growth.

In the United States, California has taken the lead in passing anti-plastic policies, encouraging localities and other states to follow suit. This past summer, the California State Senate passed a bill, sponsored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), banning foam cups and food containers statewide. This statewide ban failed in the California State Assembly, but localities around the state have already imposed foam packaging bans-including Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Monterey, San Francisco, and more. Plastic grocery bags have been banned in several California cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Long Beach. California is not alone. Plastic grocery bags are banned in Aspen, Colorado, and the trend is spreading as other cities, including Austin, Boulder, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon, consider potential plastic bans. Some cities have opted for a tax on plastic bags, such as Washington, D.C.

Anti-plastic crusades are ongoing in other nations as well. In September, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on supermarkets to reduce usage of plastic bags-or prepare for national restrictions. Public officials in Europe are considering banning plastic bags for the entire European Union. In January 2011, Italy banned their use at supermarkets. Plastic packaging bans are being advanced in places as far off as India and the Phillippines.

Lawmakers provide some silly justifications for such policies. For example, California Sen. Lowenthal explained that he advanced his bill to ban foam cups and packaging "because it's a job booster for California." Earlier this year, Italy's Minister of the Environment exclaimed that the nation's ban on plastic bags was "a great innovation." Others suggest that elimination of plastics is simply good environmental policy.

In reality, bans never promote innovation or growth-they do the opposite. Bans destroy the investment, productivity, and creativity of those who invent and develop products, and they divert resources from useful enterprises in order to find alternative products, which are usually inferior to those they replace. Accordingly, lawmakers should never ban products for arbitrary or political reasons. They should have clear and convincing evidence that such bans are the only means for protecting the public-a situation that rarely exists. It is obvious to see that plastics industry workers can lose jobs as markets shift to supposedly "environmentally better" products, and consumers lose convenience from such bans. Less obvious is the fact that these anti-plastics policies are not the slam-dunk for Mother Nature that supporters claim.


More Greenie Misanthropy -- telling seniors to die faster

by Steve Milloy

If you are aged 66-83, you are part of a “clueless cohort” against which “generational warfare” may be waged because you aren’t dying fast enough.

In “Gen Y and Gen X get it right on the environment; old folks don’t“,’s Lisa Hymas writes,
Generation Y is more likely than older generations to support clean energy and environmental protection and to believe climate change is happening and is caused by human activity, according to new Pew polling and analysis. Generation X is close behind. Boomers aren’t so bad either. It’s the old folks, the so-called Silent Generation aged 66-83, that are the big problem.

There’s long been talk about how gay rights will continue to advance as homophobic old codgers die off. Looks like the push for a cleaner, greener society will get a boost from that same cohort replacement effect…

When it comes to environmental laws and regulations, the oldsters are even more out of touch…

The younger you are, the more you’re going to get screwed by climate change. Many retirees might be loath to shake up the system in their twilight years, but younger people know the system’s already broken and needs an overhaul. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to wait for the clueless cohort to exit stage left; we need to act yesterday. For starters, younger voters need to come out to the polls in at least the same numbers as the fogies.

Class warfare has made a comeback. Is it time for some generational warfare too?

So as it turns out the recent anti-Obamacare video ad that shows grandma being pushed off the cliff, may actually be more appropriate with respect to the greens.

And the irony is that German researchers just calculated that age 65 is when personal carbon emissions begin to decline.

But if you’re not with the greens politically, you might as well be dead.


Australia: Carbon casualties - three million families will suffer under new carbon tax regime

That's a big fraction of Australia's total 22 million population

THE Samuelsons are the face of the carbon tax three million - the families who will bear the cost of the Gillard government's latest levy.

Teddy Samuelson and her husband Nik from Castle Hill will be out of pocket about $700 a year even after receiving increased family payments of about $75, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The stay-at-home mum said her husband worked "bloody hard for his money" with the family battling existing expenses and the cost of raising three boys in Sydney on Mr Samuelson's wage of more than $150,000 a year.

"When I look at bills I think what we pay now is more than enough - to think that number is going to rise is just wrong," Mrs Samuelson said yesterday. "I don't think anyone is really sure how much the tax is going to impact their lives."

She said the concept of taxing families who are earning more but not compensating them was unfair: "I don't see why we have to suffer because he earns slightly more."

While the increased financial burden will hurt, it was the way the government handled the policy which frustrated the Samuelsons most: "I don't believe the Australian public should pay for big business's carbon emissions. "A lot of the debate is based on inconclusive scientific evidence ... we don't really get a say in anything any more."

The almost three million Australian households who will either not be compensated or will get only partial assistance includes single-income parents earning $65,000 or more and singles on more than $55,000.

Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday provided an example of parents on a dual income totalling $85,000 with two young children who would be $375 a year better off. But that will be paid for in part by families earning more.

The highest income earners - on $200,000 a year - will be out of pocket more than $1000 a year. At the other end of the spectrum, four million low-income households will be better off and two million will be fully compensated.

The government yesterday declared the debate over. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech to a carbon expo in Melbourne: "The time for words ended yesterday." After a standing ovation, Ms Gillard said "a second industrial revolution is needed" and carbon pricing was the "key that unlocks the door to a clean energy future".



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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