Monday, April 16, 2012

Chu: Climate change evidence mounting

But he doesn't say what it is. There are a few hand-waving references to weather events but he quotes no studies or statistics to show that they are unusual -- because they aren't!

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday that scientific evidence of climate change is getting more and more powerful, comments that come as global warming legislation remains moribund in Congress and Environmental Protection Agency regulations are facing ongoing GOP assaults.

“Over the last couple of years, the dispassionate, hard science evidence has been mounting, increasing,” said Chu, speaking at an energy forum hosted by The New York Times.

Chu noted that “we don’t understand everything” and that in past years scientists have actually underestimated the pace of some changes, including sea level rise.

“It is rising even faster than we thought. The number of violent rainstorms have increased faster than we thought,” he said at the event in New York, adding that though there are “bumps and wiggles” that are not understood, trends are clear in the long term.

“The debate is how much will it change. There are feedbacks both positive and negative that we are trying to understand,” said Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

The vast majority of scientists say global warming is occurring and human activities are a key factor. A small minority call data on warming trends and the human contribution inconclusive or inaccurate.

That skepticism has become a mainstream position among Republicans, who also argue that regulations to curb climate change are unnecessary and would be economically harmful.

But climate aside, Chu said there’s a powerful economic case for the United States supporting the development of renewable energy sources and industries, noting that “the world is going in this direction.”

“Don’t you want to be selling rather than buying? You don’t even have to think about [climate] to say there are new technologies coming. It is our lead to lose. We are still the greatest innovative country in the world and here is a worldwide market that is going to grow and grow and grow,” he said.


PC Power Is Not Sustainable

And President Obama’s “all-inclusive” energy policy is anything but!

President Obama’s mantra du jour for his 2012 campaign speeches is “all-inclusive” energy. Any business touting this version of “all-inclusive” would be prosecuted for false advertising.

When the President says “all-inclusive,” he means politically correct (PC) “green” energy (wind, solar and bio-fuels), and nothing that actually provides reliable, affordable power – especially not hydrocarbons. Another PC buzzword – “sustainable” – is right out of the United Nation’s Agenda 21 Protocol and the President’s goal of “fundamentally transforming” America.”

Increasing pain at the pump and plug underscore the reality that Mr. Obama’s energy policies are anything but all-inclusive, and his PC power is anything but sustainable – though they certainly are transforming our country. In fact, if the Keystone XL pipeline's oil were used to generate electricity, it would provide more energy than all existing US wind and solar installations combined.

Be they massive or small-scale, actual or theoretical and decades away – wind, solar, corn ethanol, switch-grass and algae projects are being paid for with countless billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars. The arrangements are sweet for promoters and “investors” on the receiving end, and for politicians looking for crony capitalist campaign contributions from these recipients.
But they’re neither nice nor “sustainable” for those of us paying the tab.

Consider wind power. Whether you’re talking about massive, multi-billion-dollar projects covering miles of ridge-lines and hundreds of thousands of acres with mammoth 400- to 500-foot-tall industrial wind turbines (which kill a half-million birds and bats without penalty every year, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and American Bird Conservancy), or you mean the comparatively smaller turbines being installed for personal home use around the country – both are being erected thanks to billions of dollars in generous state and federal incentives forcibly collected from taxpayers and ratepayers.

A recent news story in Western New York fairly sparkled with praise for one of these small wind projects. A semi-retired small farm owner and his wife just installed their third personal-size “windmill,” with high hopes that the turbines will provide much of their electricity.

“State and federal incentives,” the article explained, “are covering almost the entire $75,000 cost for the new windmill.” Similar state and federal “grants” had paid half the cost for the first two ($55,000 each).

That adds up to $130,000 that the rest of us taxpayers and ratepayers paid to cover the cost of one residence’s electricity. And yet, when the wind isn’t blowing enough or at all, the part-time farmers will still be utilizing the same “base-load” sources (hydroelectric, natural gas, coal and nuclear) that we all rely on. They get “free” electricity, while we pay for PC power and redundancy.

The Heritage Foundation recently reported the startling news that the “average” American’s annual income is $32,400, while those living off government entitlements now average $32,700 per year. That means the $130,000 that actual ratepayers and taxpayers are paying to cover the cost for one residence to get this PC electricity equals more than four years of before-tax wages for today’s “average” worker.

Suppose now that 100 residences across New York (or any) state are able to get the same deal, and have one to three home-use-size turbines installed. Those 100 residences would get their PC electricity at a cost to the rest of us of $7,500,000 to $22,500,000! How quickly PC power’s costs add up.

New York State is ranked as one of the worst states in the country for doing business. The reasons include our high taxes, onerous regulations and high electricity rates. A recent Manhattan Institute report noted that states like New York that have mandated the use of PC wind power and other “renewables” have seen their electricity rates soar ever higher – increasing by 30% to 50% above prior levels.

So while a few folks may be lucky recipients of personalized PC electricity installed at their homes, the rest of us must pay these costs through higher tax and utility bills, the economy worsening as businesses and industries avoid or leave the state, hospitals and schools cutting staff and services to pay their higher electricity bills, and “average” wage earners struggling even harder to make ends meet.

This is “sustainable”? This is caring about working people and our poor? This is our energy future?

Isn’t it wonderful how our government offers $55,000 to $130,000 or more to encourage rural families to install personal wind turbines on their property, while the rest of us “get” to pay the tab?

Will it really surprise anyone when today’s “average” wage earners simply decide it isn’t worth the struggle anymore, and join the ranks of those living on the government/taxpayer dole?

Sadly, this increasingly appears to be the agenda for an Obama Administration that is focused on a “green” agenda that “necessarily skyrockets” our energy rates, and “fundamentally transforms” our nation (President Obama’s words), in order to achieve near-total government control over our economy and lives.

Thanks to a well-orchestrated environmental movement backed by the United Nations, wealthy US foundations and multi-national corporations, the Administration’s strategy is already working.

Worse, it is being helped by misguided people who fail to consider the long-term ramifications, as they exploit and advance “environmental justice,” “sustainability” and “incentive” programs. At some point, we and our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay the fiddler.

No one I know is opposed to “green” energy per se, as long as it can be fully justified by sound scientific, economic and environmental analysis – and those who want it pay for it themselves. However, we have yet to witness one instance where this has been the case.

Entitlement debt is destroying our great nation. These kinds of taxpayer- and ratepayer-funded giveaways, imposed in the name of being “green,” are simply not “sustainable” – especially if we want our children and grandchildren to live free and prosper.


Obama’s quixotic wind program

An integral part of President Obama’s renewable energy plan is wind power. It paints a nice picture; towering fields of gigantic turbines on an open hillside or small residential windmills atop a house or barn all collecting power from the wind solving all your electricity needs. Too bad it doesn’t really work all that well on a mass scale.

Wind power only accounts for about 1 percent of all the energy used in the U.S. today. In 2010, it accounted for 2.3 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. These numbers aren’t low due to a lack of turbine farms in America, they are low because turbines only generate a percentage of their theoretical maximum output—the wind does not always blow.

What’s more ironic from an environmentalist perspective is the fact that these giant turbines (some can reach 400 feet tall and turn at speeds of 200 mph in peak times) kill a half-million birds and bats without penalty every year. Knowing the typical response of true environmentalists, if any other industry other than a “green” one caused that much damage they would be there with a lawsuit threatening to shut it down.

In mass, if wind power seems to kill more birds than it produces energy, why does it remain such an integral component in Obama’s energy plan? Why does America continue to spend millions of dollars on an unstable energy source when there is no shortage of other much cheaper, reliable industries?

The city of Reno, Nev., is probably asking itself the same question. Windmills were installed in Reno between April and October of 2010 and cost about $1 million out of a $2.1 million federal energy grant given to the city that was part of President Obama’s stimulus package, which passed in 2009.

Unfortunately, to date the turbines haven’t performed well in the city. In one example, the city of Reno paid $21,000 for a particular wind turbine only to have it save them $4 in energy costs. Furthermore, a total cost of $416,000 worth of turbines has netted the city $2,800 in energy savings—in two years.

John Hargrove, who manages NV Energy’s Renewable Generations program in Nevada, hits the nail on the head when it comes to the main problem with wind power. He said, “There is a lot of difference in some of the generators relative to what the (manufacturers) claim. A generator can claim to put out 100 kilowatt hours, but that’s based on an assumption that there’s a certain amount of wind. If you don’t have the wind, you won’t have the output.”

Wind power is not a sustainable source of energy. It’s a good idea in theory; a way to get something for doing nothing. But it’s simply not reliable.

This problem extends beyond just Reno. Since the city’s risky “green” investment was part of a larger renewable energy grant from Obama’s stimulus, all these wasted dollars once belonged to taxpayers.

Windmills served a great purpose when they were used to mill grain for food production, but a growing demand for electricity led to other more reliable and viable industries.

This isn’t to say wind power won’t play a role in the future, but when an industry with such poor output is eating up money from hard-working Americans, is it worth the investment? If wind power technology someday becomes a sustainable and affordable source of energy, then such an investment will make sense.

But for now, as Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), says, “Using energy independence as an excuse to fund unsustainable green energy programs is nothing more than tilting at windmills at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.”


As "Earth Day" approaches ...

By Alan Caruba

As the nation and the world closes in on Earth Day, April 22nd, a tsunami of Green propaganda will overwhelm us with all the usual lies about global warming—now called climate change—and calls to reduce the use of all fossil fuels in order to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions.

This Big Lie ignores the fact that there is no relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) and the climate. CO2 reacts to climate change. It does not drive it. The Big Lie ignores the fact that the Earth has been cooling for fourteen years.

The past three and a half years of the having Barack Obama as President have been filled with constant crisis, not the least of which was the nation’s financial crisis which he constantly reminds us he “inherited.” He has not, however, solved it with proven ways to put millions back to work and turn around a stagnant economy.

Instead he devoted his best efforts to a takeover of one-sixth of the nation’s economy, the healthcare industry. His administration has waged a steady war on access to energy reserves vital to the nation’s economy. The result of these policies are being felt at the gas pump as prices rise to historic highs while billions of barrels of oil in the U.S. remain underground.

His devotion to all the eco-lies was seen in the millions wasted on “green jobs” with his failed “stimulus” and loans to “green industries”, primarily wind and solar power. Other schemes included high-speed trains where none are needed or wanted. To this day Amtrak has never made a profit. And electric cars remain impractical and unaffordable.

His environmental commitment was perhaps best seen and heard when Obama attended a United Nations Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in March 2010. His speech to the delegates and world press contained all the lies associated with “climate change” and the failed policies he was pursuing two years ago and earlier.

“We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you—like me—were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science," said Obama.

Aside from the fact that the climate has always been in a state of change for Earth’s 4.5 billion years, the science employed to frighten people about such change does not bear any resemblance to real science which is an impartial blend of data based on replicable experiments.

Real science does not have a political agenda. The bogus science of global warming was revealed in November 2009 when the world learned that a handful of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “scientists” had systematically distorted the scientific process, conjuring up false computer models that ignored significant elements of climate history. The revelations would be dubbed “Climategate.”

Never one to not criticize America, Obama reminded the delegates that America was “the world’s second largest emitter” of greenhouse gases even though such gases do not function as a greenhouse, trapping and holding heat. If they did, how would one explain the fact that the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle since around 1998?

What is the mark of a developing or successful economy? It is the use of energy!

Obama promised that the U.S. would work “to phase out fossil fuel subsidies” and promised “historic investments in renewable energy” and his intention to put Americans “to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.”

Such a transformation is ludicrous. America runs on oil, on coal, on natural gas, on hydroelectric and nuclear power. The investments in wind and, in particular, solar power, have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. Combined, wind and solar provide less than two percent of the nation’s electrical power while coal provides nearly half. It has been the use of coal that the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has been determined to reduce or end, falsely claiming CO2 is a "pollutant."

Typically, Obama said “There is no time to waste.” In reality the Obama administration has wasted every opportunity to increase access to America’s vast energy reserves. Even when bragging about oil production, Obama never admits that it is occurring on private land. His administration has virtually shut down access to exploration and extraction on federally owned and managed land.

Environmentalism is the mask of communism, concentrating ownership of all property and productivity in the hands of the government. Even when addressing the need to ensure clean air and water, it has been used as a blunt instrument of power to limit economic development.

These are well established environmental lies and they are Obama’s environmental lies.

The Copenhagen conference came to a hasty end as the world’s leaders fled the city to avoid being trapped there by a massive blizzard. The global warming they all warned against in 2010 was not occurring and is not occurring.


Top British Tories try to torpedo "Green Deal"

A powerful group of Conservative ministers has launched an attempt to torpedo the coalition’s flagship “green” home improvement scheme in a move which will spark a major new rift with the Liberal Democrats.

Leading Tories inside and outside the cabinet believe the £14 billion “Green Deal” – due to start in six months’ time – must be ditched because it risks leaving key “squeezed middle” voters out of pocket by several thousands of pounds.

Under the Green Deal, millions of householders would be encouraged to install energy-saving home improvements such as loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, with no up-front charge.

The work would be funded with loans of up to £10,000 which would be paid back though a surcharge on household energy bills.

Many ministers have long been sceptical of the scheme, the pet project of Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat who resigned as energy secretary to fight a court charge that he perverted the course of justice over a 2003 speeding case.

However, their mood has hardened into outright opposition following revelations this week of a new stealth “conservatory tax” faced by householders, estimated at adding around 10 per cent to the total bill for improvements.

Under the proposal, those who wanted to extend their homes – or undertake repairs – would be required to sign up to the Green Deal as a condition of gaining planning permission for the work.

The group of ministers – which sees George Osborne, the Chancellor, as its leader – includes two ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, and Grant Shapps, the housing minister, as well as Chris Grayling, the employment minister. They want the Government to abandon not just the compulsory “tax” element of the scheme, but the entire Green Deal.

The move puts Tory ministers on a collision course with Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem successor to Mr Huhne at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The battle comes just weeks before the Queen’s Speech – the announcement of the Government’s legislative plans for the next year – which is currently slated to include at least three energy-related measures.

It also coincides with the build-up to the “Rio+20” Earth Summit in June – a major UN conference which will set a new series of “green” goals for the world economy – which will be attended by Mr Clegg but not, significantly, by David Cameron.

A senior Tory source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “The Green Deal was Chris Huhne’s baby. He has gone now and this is the right time to kill it off. Forcing people to pay thousands of pounds extra for unwanted home insulation is the last thing hard-pressed families need at the moment. It’s madness.”

Conservative ministers have gone into battle on the issue ahead of local elections across England, Wales and Scotland which could see their party punished by voters after a series of political reverses – including the “granny tax” abolition of some pensioner allowances and accusations that ministers sparked panic buying of fuel over a tanker drivers’ strike which had not been called.

This newspaper has also learned, meanwhile, that Mr Osborne and Mr Clegg clashed face to face on the green issue during an ill-tempered Cabinet meeting last month ahead of the Budget.

According to a leading coalition figure the Chancellor “went round the cabinet table” asking individual ministers “what they were doing” to boost economic growth. When he reached Mr Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister is said to have reminded Mr Osborne that Mr Cameron had pledged to lead the “greenest government ever” – enraging the Chancellor.

The Green Deal, which was first unveiled in 2010 and was included in the 2011 Energy Act, is an attempt to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) given off by buildings. It aims to insulate all homes in Britain within 20 years. Householders are able to borrow up to £10,000 and pay back the cost through their energy bills for up to 25 years.

However, DECC has already admitted there is potential for “hassle” from the deal, including new requirements which might “deter building occupiers from carrying out works”.

Last week it emerged that millions of householders looking to build a conservatory, replace a boiler or put in new windows could first have to pay extra for measures such as wall or loft insulation, under new rules which are currently out to consultation.

Experts have also warned that the deal risks causing havoc in the private rented sector – because landlords would be breaking the law if they rented out accommodation which did not meet strict new energy efficiency requirements.

Last week in a speech Mr Clegg set out plans for large subsidies for low-carbon electricity generation to be set out in the Queen’s Speech, on 9 May, including a fixed-price arrangement with generators.

Other measures expected to be included in legislative plans include an “emissions performance standard”, which would limit the amount of C02 a generator could release, and a “capacity mechanism” to ensure that enough electricity can be generated through gas-fired power stations to deal with the “intermittency” of provision by wind farms.

Mr Clegg said reports that householders would have to pay thousands of pounds extra to do “simple things like insulating their homes” were “ludicrous scare stories”.

Britain has one of the world’s toughest carbon reduction commitments – enshrined in the 2008 Climate Change Act – to cuts emissions by 80 per cent within 40 years.


LOL! "Free" solar panels make some British houses unsaleable!

Fears that "free solar panel" offers to generate £1,000 a year out of thin air looked too good to be true will be fuelled by new claims that banks and building societies are refusing mortgage applications.

Some properties where photovoltaic (PV) panels have been installed are proving unmortgageable and unsaleable, hitting house prices. Worse still, the bad news comes not from critics of renewable energy but professional intermediaries with every reason to hope house sales can proceed; surveyors and mortgage providers.

Institutions are wary of criticising government-backed schemes to save the planet – but they are also reluctant to be left with bad debts if property deals turn sour. David Dalby, a director of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors told me: “We fully support the use and production of sustainable energy. However, at a time when prospective buyers are finding it tough to secure mortgages, free solar panels can cause a further barrier to homeownership.

“An inflexible PV panel lease, without a buy-out clause, could result in a failed transaction. We are advising our members to inform homebuyers of these issues and strongly urge anyone looking to make an offer on a property with ‘free’ PV panels to seek legal advice and consult their mortgage lender beforehand.”

Not all solar panels are affected. Those which may cause problems were installed by solar companies free of charge to the householder, which then sell any extra energy generated back to the grid under the Government’s Feed-in Tariffs scheme (FITs).

These schemes are usually based on leases of 25-years for use of the roof space, which requires the prior approval of the mortgage lender, which RICs claims many lenders are refusing to provide. The news follows early scepticism about some offers and questions about contract terms and conditions.

Where a mortgage lender does refuse the mortgage on the basis of the roof-lease, the solar company may offer a ‘buy-out’ option to the prospective buyer who can purchase the installation at the price stated in the original lease agreement, less depreciation. However, typical costs of between £10,000 and £12,500 could come as a nasty shock for new owners who may already be pushing their finances to the limit.

If the worst comes to the worst, installation companies could refuse to sell their kit to new homeowners and seek to charge for removing the panels and the loss of income from the feed-in tariff. Even the risk of litigation could block a sale, causing the house price to plummet.

Paul Broadhead of the Building Societies Association said: “Most building societies will consider lending on properties with solar panels. One factor that will sway their decision towards a refusal is if they believe that the roof space leasing agreement with the panel provider, makes the property less saleable.

“Leasing roof space to a third party is still a pretty new phenomenon and ought to be treated with caution by homebuyers and lenders alike until the industry is better regulated and controlled.

“There are number of issues with these schemes and some of the providers. These are primarily driven by the lack of any regulation of panel providers. There is an accreditation scheme but it does not have any statutory backing, and not all providers subscribe to it.

“There are also some instances of high pressure sales techniques and home owners are often being required to lease the airspace above their roof for 25 years, usually with no break-clause. It is patently important for consumers to be very clear what they are signing up to and the long-term implications.”

Similarly, a spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said: “Lenders support the principle of green energy initiatives, but want to ensure that solar panel leasing agreements do not adversely affect the value or marketability of the property.

“Ensuring compliance with the CML’s minimum requirements should reduce the chance of a borrower encountering problems in trying to sell or remortgage the property, or in carrying out repairs and maintenance.

“The minimum standards provide important protection for lenders and borrowers, given that most agreements to lease roof space last for 25 years. Any changes to the borrower’s circumstances over that period, or the need for maintenance or repairs, should not create a financial burden for either the lender or borrower.”

Mr Broadhead emphasised that these problems do not apply to panels that have been bought by the homeowner and professionally installed. Indeed, some building societies will offer further loans to buy solar panels. The BSA has produced factsheets on how tell one type of solar panel agreement from another which you can see here.

It all goes to show there is nothing new under the sun and that, when it comes to financial services, “free” can prove the most expensive word in the English language.



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