Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Going Green is Gauche on Robert Kennedy’s Private Ocean

Robert Kennedy Jr. wants you to know that he’s all in favor of green energy projects. “As an environmentalist,” he explained seven years ago in the New York Times, “I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many.”

That alone should qualify him for a Presidential Medal of Freedom… if, you know, he hadn’t supported Hillary Clinton for president rather than Barack Obama.

But Kennedy also thinks that we shouldn’t get too carried away by the prospect of “free wind power”- especially when his pet projects like the Kennedy trust fund, the Kennedy ocean views and the Kennedy beachfront property on Nantucket Sound are in conflict with “free wind power.”

I mean there is free for me, and there is free for thee. Which did you think Kennedy prefers?

There may be “many” sites, but come on: There aren’t THAT many. “I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park,” he claims. “Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.”

Darn companies always trying to DO something. Why can’t they be more like the Kennedys and get a trust fund and a few famous dead relatives, and then do nothing for a living except milk both?

Well, at least Robert Jr. admits he’s God. For a Kennedy, that’s a kind of progress.

The Cape Wind project has come under fire because SOME PEOPLE think that SOME OTHER PEOPLE are supporting or opposing the project to advance their own personal property, partisan or pecuniary interests.

Gasp! Well, THAT’s the kind of liberal food fight I want watch. Especially if it involves enviros heaving Big Gulps at other enviros, either in Manhattan- or Martha’s Vineyard.

On the one side, we have Obama and the White House, along with Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, who Republicans have accused of using undue influence on the Cape Wind project ala other green schemes just like they did with Solyndra.

“[E]mails — obtained by Cape Wind foes through a public records request,” reports the Boston Herald, “and provided to the Herald — do not specifically name Obama or Gov. Deval Patrick. But other public documents in the decade-old Cape Wind saga show that Patrick not only embraced the project but also was prodded to convince Obama to do the same.”

The White House replied with something like: “I am not a crook. What’s that stain on Monica’s dress? I killed bin Laden. It’s George Bush fault. Tax the billionaires! Take that Libya! I [heart] gays. I [heart] some Hispanics, but others not so much. Sandra Fluke may be loose, but she’s not a slut. If only Catholics would pay for abortions out of priests’ salaries we really could get this economy going again. They picked to be born in a country where my tax dollars fund the roads they drive to church on. All Democrats might be half-Cherokee for purposes of federal set aside rules. Send more stimulus.”

There was more, but I digress- which of course qualifies me to be a top Obama campaign strategist. Forward! Or better yet: Digress! It’s kind of the Obama campaign equivalent of Monty Python’s King Arthur’s call to “Run Away.”

On the other side of the Cape Wind dispute are rich, entitled, trust fund liberals who want to enjoy their tequila sunrise unimpeded, unhindered and undiluted.

While most polls show support for the project- even though it makes electricity at higher costs than regular power plants (this is Massachusetts after all) - Heartland reports that a poll “by the College of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, found high-income residents were the least likely to support Cape Wind.”

Gee I wonder why that is? It’s not that they own ocean-front property, right?

Kennedy cites the navigation hazards in the Sound, because that’s where he and his friends drive big, bad, blinged-out boats.

Yeah: The boat Kennedy is on, pictured below courtesy MSNBC, is the BIG one in the background.

And of course, nothing drives enviros to even further extreme positions than big, bad, blinged boats when all they get is a raft with frumpy women. Is that Sandra Fluke hiding under that hat?

“We are, simply put, in a state of ecological emergency," says a letter cited by MSNBC asking Kennedy to reconsider his position. "Constructing windmills six miles from Cape Cod, where they will be visible as half-inch dots on the horizon, is the least that we can do."

Well, the least we can do actually is consider the true economic costs- you know, the ones for me and thee- and make decision based on that. That’s where liberals really have a hard time. Because their belief system includes everything except for a belief in any fixed principle, while specifically excluding the concept of hypocrisy for themselves.

And that’s what I love about in-house, liberal fights.
I can condemn both side and still be right.


Coal Matters – Even in Manhattan

Ken Blackwell

Coal today may seem of little relevance to many residents of New York City or other American urban centers. It long ago ceased to fuel the furnaces of their homes and apartment buildings in winter.

But long after it disappeared from the uses most visible to city dwellers, coal is still the critical fuel behind the everyday functions of their lives. Across the U.S., for more than a century, coal has remained quietly at work – providing in recent years nearly half the electricity that lights urban buildings and streets, keeps air conditioners humming on hot days and energizes computers and TVs to inform and entertain. Electricity generated with coal powers the factories that produce all manner of food, clothing, cars and other goods for Americans everywhere.

Coal maintains that role with good reason. It is America’s most abundant energy resource; our coal reserves are the world’s largest, sufficient to last more than 250 years. That abundance makes coal affordable; over the decades its price has been far more stable that of another major power generation fuel, natural gas. And way below costs those promising but still-unproven resources, solar and wind power.

Meanwhile, science has made coal a much cleaner fuel. Utilities’ use of coal for power generation has jumped more than 180 percent since 1970 but emissions from those plants have plummeted 75 percent. And the march of technology promises even cleaner coal in the years ahead.

Apparently, all those facts have escaped the attention of New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This month, he marshaled 90 U.S. mayors behind a campaign of misinformation that could in short order end the use of coal for power generation – and in doing so wipe out America’s historic coal industry.

In a letter to the EPA Administrator, Bloomberg and his fellow mayors expressed strong support for new air quality regulations that will shut down coal fired power generation on the grounds that coal is too “dirty” and must immediately be replaced with generation fueled by natural gas, solar and wind power.

Joining Mayor Bloomberg on the letter were my successor as Mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory, two other Ohio mayors (Michael Coleman of Columbus and Bruce Rinker of Mayfield Village), the senior elected officials of big cities from Atlanta to Boston Chicago, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles, and the chief executives of smaller but staunchly “progressive” strongholds such as Burlington, VT, Takoma Park, MD, Maui County, HI, and Decatur, GA.

With one stroke of the pen, all wrote off the fuel that has helped make possible a century of economic growth in their cities. They accepted the higher electric rates that utility executives say are certainly on the way as today’s historically low natural gas prices zoom upward while wind and solar power, for the foreseeable future, remain very expensive.

The mayors also agreed, in signing that letter, to condemn the jobs of 555,000 Americans who mine, transport, market and utilize coal, along with their combined annual income of $36.3 billion.

All of this comes less than a year after Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to donate $50 million to the Sierra Club to support its nationwide campaign to eliminate coal-fired power plants.

On many levels, I have great respect and admiration for my fellow Republican, Mayor Bloomberg. Elected in the dark days just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he helped rebuild the city both physically and emotionally. In that and other roles he has followed a course of pragmatic progressivism, addressing public concerns on social – and environmental – issues with a common-sense approach that recognizes economic realities.

So I am surprised and very disappointed that he would lead his mayoral colleagues in demonizing a valuable American energy resource, assuring higher utility bills for Americans still strapped by a slow economic recovery, and wiping out one of our oldest industries.

My personal commitment to cleaning up and protecting our environment runs deep. I’m proud of the progress America has made these past 40 years from a land of smoggy skylines and dead rivers to one that is getting cleaner by the day.

But I also understand that our environmental ideals must be balanced with recognition of our economic challenges, both short- and long-term. We can’t build a stronger economy and create the millions of jobs we need if we’re paying sharply higher utility bills and killing a half million good-paying jobs in the process.

Numerous polls show that the majority of Americans share that pragmatism. I thought Michael Bloomberg was among them, until I saw that letter to the EPA Administrator.


Pipeline Death By a Thousand Studies

There has never been a more "shovel ready" project in history than the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been exhaustively engineered, studied, reviewed, and re-reviewed as Obama tries to kill the project without admitting that's what he's doing. At stake are about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world's most efficient refining center. The latest news is that rather than simply say "yes," Obama is conducting yet another open-ended study.

The original permit application for the project was submitted in 2008. The State Department exhaustively reviewed every aspect of the proposal.

The State Department issued three different press releases in the spring of 2011 -- in March, April, and June -- that included this sentence: "The U.S. Department of State expects to make a decision on whether to grant or deny the permit before the end of 2011."

The president's jobs council touted the economic benefits of pipelines in its official report, saying: "Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary."

But what if such timely development comes into conflict with ideologically motivated, powerful environmental special interests? We now know where Obama comes down.

The environmental protest crowd decided to make this into a litmus test political issue, instead of the no-brainer source of jobs and affordable energy that it really is. Their professed concern is that developing energy from increasingly-important unconventional sources, like the Alberta oil sands, will increase global warming.

Even if they're right, they're wrong to oppose the pipeline. If the Canadians can't build a pipeline to U.S. refineries, they've already announced they'll build a pipeline to export terminals on the west coast of Canada instead, from which it will go to dirtier and less efficient Asian refineries. A lose-lose for the economy and the environment.

The State Department's exhaustive review process ended last summer, and they recommended approval. All that remained was the usually perfunctory approval of the president. But Obama ignored all the reviews, the evidence, and the recommendations of his own jobs council to side with the protest crowd. He said he would wait until after his re-election to decide whether to approve it.

Congress forced his hand in a bipartisan bill passed around Christmas. It required Obama to decide to either approve or reject the pipeline within 60 days. He rejected it.

The pipeline company resubmitted the application.

Now the State Department is conducting yet another review. A new public comment period has been opened through the end of July, and the State Department will then review those comments. Who knows how long that will take? This is despite the fact that the review issued last August all but approving the project was labeled "final."

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which needs the pipeline to efficiently bring some of the oil from its miraculous energy boom to market, observed: "In essence they're saying, 'OK, now we're going to start all over again.'"

With unemployment rates and gas prices still painfully high, the thousands of workers hoping for jobs building the pipeline and the millions of Americans who will benefit from the oil that will flow through it can't afford to wait. Obama needs to stop playing the endless-study game and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now.


The Scope of the Plastic Shopping Bag Problem

How big of a problem do plastic shopping bags pose to the environment?

Since the elected supervisors of Los Angeles' City Council recently voted to ban plastic shopping bags at the city's retailers, largely in response to "clean-water" advocates, who argue that the bags "pollute the ocean and the city's waterways", we thought we'd get a sense of just how big that problem really is.

Our chart below presents the answer, which refers to data that those who support bans on plastic shopping bags frequently cite in advancing their agenda:

The values shown in the chart above were originally reported in 2004. There are a number of points to note about the results for the first-ever worldwide cleanup of the coastal areas of the United States and 100 other countries:

* The use of plastic shopping bags really began taking off worldwide in the 1980s.

* By 2003, "environmental groups" estimate that anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic shopping bags were being used annually.

* Despite never having been done before, meaning that about as many bags as could be found would be found during the Ocean Conservancy's one-day long campaign to clean up the world's coastal areas in September 2003, just 354,000 bags were collected. Most, but not all, were made of plastic.

More fascinating to us however, we've discovered that so-called "green" advocates are incredibly fond of recycling the Ocean Conservancy's 354,000 bag cleanup figure from September 2003, citing it as being a valid figure that applies year, after year, after year. We're nearly at the decade anniversary and apparently, only 354,000 bags ever get cleaned up from the world's coastal areas each year!

Either that means the problem is not getting any worse despite a great deal of economic and population growth worldwide in the intervening years, which would have greatly increased the world's consumption of plastic shopping bags, or that these environmental activists just don't care enough about the environment to bother with picking up more than 354,000 mostly plastic bags from the world's coastal areas in any given year.

The alternative possibility is that a large number of environmental activists recycle the data because updating it would take actual effort on their part. Plus, there's the little matter of how foolish they might look if they ever fail to collect at least as many as their apparent annual quota of 354,000 bags!

If only these people cared more about the environment!...


Energy Policy - Change or Die!

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Several years ago I came across a well-written book that outlined a step-by-step process for personal change. The book, Change Or Die, actually explored the psychology of change. The author, Alan Deutschman, helped me to focus several important health changes in my personal life. I chose to “Change”, not “Die.”

The Obama administration is at an important cross roads or a “Change or Die” moment as well with regard to energy. The president wants to be seen as a job creator but his green policies have squandered resources and disillusioned all but the most ardent energy zealots. The president could ease the burden of the average American citizen by simply backing away from his rigid ideology concerning energy. Ironically, his energy policies have begun to exacerbate the cash problems of our hardest working citizens. I bear no ill will toward President Obama, and I defend him whenever I can; but there are a few areas where his policies are simply indefensible.

We have all heard the administration’s cronies exhort us that “we must not balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” I most heartily agree. Neither must we attempt to save the planet by sacrificing the poor on the altar of environmental extremism. For all the administration’s rhetoric concerning working class folks, they have initiated an energy war on the poor.

For almost four years, the president’s energy policies have not truly focused on conservation or saving the earth; they have been about placating the lobby of environmental radicals who view mankind as parasites on the environment - not stewards of it. As unbelievable as it sounds, these extremists actually want energy to be more expensive.

Let me be more specific. Earlier this year, the Obama administration rejected a proposal to build a pipeline between Alberta, Canada and Texas. The “Keystone Pipeline” would have brought in about 700,000 barrels of oil a day and created tens of thousands of jobs for Americans. Although the proposal had received bipartisan support, the administration claimed it needed more time to gather and review information.

The initial application, however, was filed in 2008, and the Department of State has already conducted a three year environmental impact review. At a time when everyone in the country needs more affordable energy and jobs, the White House rejected both. Why? Because environmental extremists care more about soil composition than people.

The Keystone decision was the latest in a long series of policy choices that prevents Americans from obtaining the affordable energy we all need, and increases our dependence on petroleum from the Middle East. This policy not only drives up fuel prices, but also further weakens our already struggling economy. Who suffers most as gasoline creeps steadily toward $5 a gallon and heating and air conditioning costs rise? Not the folks making the decisions to keep it that way, I can promise you that.

Meanwhile, the White House’s two best ideas seem a little less than brilliant. First of all, it wants to combat our energy problems by investing heavily in “green” energy for the long term. Second, it wants to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the short term. Even a casual observer can see that the President’s green energy initiative has been financially disastrous. From the failures of flagship companies like Solyndra, which went bankrupt despite hundreds of millions of dollars of federal aid, to the cost of each green job actually created, legislators from both sides of the aisle no longer view federally funded green energy projects as the future of economic growth. To add insult to injury, a recent Wall Street Journal investigation discovered that most of the jobs reportedly “created” with countless dollars of stimulus money were temporary, and some are not even real! For example, 4.3 billion dollars went to 36 wind farms which reported the creation of “7,200 jobs,” but now employ only 300. That is a cost of over $14 million per permanent job!

As for tapping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, James L. Jones and Jason S. Grumet of the Bipartisan Policy Center weighed in through the New York Times, saying that this is a bad idea. They explain, “The oil reserve....should be preserved to address an emergency disruption in supply.” They go on to state the obvious solution: “Despite the traditional election-year rancor, there is actually considerable bipartisan agreement on what needs to be done. Increasing domestic oil production is extremely important to our economy and to reducing our trade deficit.”

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Grumet and Jones’ analysis is the fact that Jones is a former Obama advisor. Affordable energy must be a vital part of putting Americans back to work. Unfortunately, the man in charge appears to be brainwashed by environmental activists. The Declaration of Independence says we need a government, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” If we accept this foundational truth, we must demand better from our president, his administration and our legislators. It’s time to call for a real change.


Eco Scare Scams Raise Obama Campaign Cash

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is in the news for its investigation into Fast and Furious. The committee has not let go, however, of the investigation into the “cozy ties” between the Obama administration and green energy projects funded through Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees. A hearing was held on Tuesday, during which emails were released showing that a senior advisor in the DOE loan program was “too close” with a loan recipient—“giving the company access to pre-decisional information encouraging the company to make edits to internal documents.”

Tuesday’s hearing is one of the latest attacks on the loan guarantee program that have intensified since the public collapse of Solyndra drew attention to the department’s policies. The story is much bigger than Solyndra and wider than the DOE.

US energy subsidies, including spending, tax breaks and loan guarantees, increased from $17.9 billion in 2007 to $37.2 billion in 2010. The Obama administration would likely have us believe that the money spent is to reduce dependence on foreign oil while increasing international economic competiveness, to create jobs, and to address environmental degradation. However, as Peter Foster stated in his Financial Post column about the failure of the Rio +20 conference that ended on Saturday, “bogus eco scares” are being manufactured “as a rationale for payoffs”—which is certainly what has happened for the DOE subsidies.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the CEO of the company in question defended the project saying that it would “generate significant solar energy output and thereby contribute to the goal of energy independence.” What? Solar energy creates electricity. The US already has the resources to be electricity independent with enough coal, uranium, and natural gas to generate all the needed electricity for hundreds of years—if not thousands. Peter Foster’s assessment is more realistic: “a rationale for payoffs.” The subsidies to green energy projects are rife with implications of “payoffs” to Obama administration insiders, campaign donors, and other top Democrat insiders.

For example, according to the Washington Free Beacon, “Seven solar companies received fast-tracked approval by the Department of the Interior to lease federal lands in a no-bid process: Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve.” Each of these seven companies received billions of DOE funds under the 1705 loan program as well as renewable energy grants from the Treasury Department—despite “junk bond” status. (Note: a junk bond is defined as a “high-risk, non-investment-grade bond with a low credit rating, usually BB or lower. … Opposite of investment-grade bond.”) And each has “connections.”

* Abengoa has two solar projects: Solana and Mojave Solar. Solana’s Fitch rating is BB+. Just before Christmas, 2010, the company received $1.45 billion from the DOE for a solar thermal plant, to use parabolic trough technology, in Gila Bend, AZ. Mojave Solar’s rating was BB. Yet the company received $1.2 billion in September 2011 for its solar assembly collection project in San Bernardino County, CA. Abengoa has connections to California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.

* BrightSource Energy has a three-unit power system project known as “Ivanpah,” located near the California/Nevada border, south of Las Vegas, that uses a proprietary power-tower solar thermal system. Ivanpah I and III have a BB+ rating while Ivanpah II is BB. On April 11, 2011, the DOE announced the finalization of $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for BrightSource’s Ivanpah project. The apparent “payoffs” to Democrats are myriad—having donated at least $21,600 to Democrats since 2008 (and zero dollars to Republicans). According to a Washington Free Beacon report, Senator Harry “Reid received almost $4,000 from Brightsource executives in the 2010 cycle, including $2,400 from CEO John Woolard, who hosted a fundraiser for the majority leader. Woolard is also a Barack Obama donor and has visited the White House 10 times since Obama took office.” Additionally, Sanjay Wagle (a significant 2008 Obama campaign supporter and contributor), a principal at Vantage Point Partners (the major stakeholder in BrightSource) was an advisor at the DOE at the time the loan was approved. And, John Bryson, BrightSource CEO, became Obama’s Secretary of Commerce (although he resigned his post late Wednesday) and has ties to an organization that helped craft the stimulus package.

* First Solar manufacturers “thin film” solar modules and is now moving into project development. While First Solar is not in the “junk bond” list, they do hold the unique distinction of being the single worst performer in the SPX in 2011. Additionally, they are linked to three junk-bond projects: Aqua Caliente (AZ), BB+; Antelope Valley Solar Ranch (CA), BBB-; and Desert Sunlight (CA), BBB-. First Solar was an early green investment of Goldman Sachs—which gave more than $1 million to the 2008 Obama campaign. Goldman Sachs executives sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee and others were bundlers. In Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer reports on First Solar investor Paul Tudor Jones, who was a 2008 Obama bundler, and First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn, who “gives generously (and exclusively) to Democrats.”

* Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) holds leasehold interests in six geothermal projects located in the Western United States. They hold a BB+ rating and received a $78.8 million loan, guaranteed by the DOE, in September of 2011. Executives from NGP contributed heavily in 2008 to Harry Reid’s campaign.

* NextEra Energy Resources calls itself a leader in clean energy including “operating the largest US solar energy site.” Despite its self-proclaimed “leader” status, two of its projects: Genesis Solar and Desert Sunlight, hold ratings of BBB+ and BBB-. The Genesis Solar project received $681.6 million in August 2010, and Desert Sunlight: $1.2 billion. Here, there is an obvious conflict of interest as NextEra’s CEO, Lewis Hay, serves on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

* Ormat Nevada is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ormat Technologies Inc., whose website touts “green energy you can rely on.” They have an S&P rating of BB and received $350 million in partial loan guarantees. Ormat’s lobbyist Kai Anderson and Director of Policy and Business Development Paul Thomsen were both former senate aides to Harry Reid and donors to his campaign.

* SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project is a solar thermal power tower plant utilizing the advanced molten salt power tower technology with integrated storage located in Tonopah, NV. The company's Fitch rating is BB, yet in September 2011, it was the recipient of $737 million in DOE loan guarantees. Obama’s law school buddy and 2008 Obama campaign bundler, Michael Froman, was managing director of alternative investments at Citigroup—which became a major investor in SolarReserve. Froman currently serves on the White House staff. Additionally, other high profile Democrats are involved with SolarReserve.

These seven green energy loan recipients are just a sampling of the risky investments the Obama administration made with our dollars, and I’ve only covered a few highlights. An entire book could be written tracking all of the interconnected dots. Since the time Obama entered into his public equity business, his success rate has been dismal—with the majority of the “high-risk” investments not producing a high-yield (in fact, at least 25 of the “investments” have gone bankrupt or are facing imminent closure).

On Friday, June 22, a guest on Varney & Co. suggested corporations use our money to spend on political campaigns and Charles Payne pointed out it’s not our money as we pay for goods and services by exchanging money that then becomes the corporations’ money. In fact, it is Obama who is using our money—the taxpayer dollars (and those borrowed from China) to fund his campaign by giving our money to high-risk projects in which his friends are involved, who then donate some of it back to him. Watch your mail box for the “thank you” note for your Obama campaign donation.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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