Friday, November 02, 2012
Emails Catch White House Lie on Green-Energy Loans
When he is confronted about the failed green-energy loan program, President Obama deflects blame—pointing to “career bureaucrats” in the Department of Energy (DOE) who supposedly approved the loans that have become an embarrassment to the White House.
For months, along with researcher Christine Lakotos, I’ve been reporting on, first, the junk-bond rated projects (such as Solyndra) that received fast-tracked approval from the DOE and, then, the failed and troubled stimulus funded companies. Solyndra was just the tip of the iceberg. Embarrassment after embarrassment has come to light as the projects touted as the hope for America’s future have filed for bankruptcy, sent money and jobs overseas, and faced technical difficulties.
The 1705 loan guarantee program had 460 applicants, but only 7% were approved—26 projects were funded. Of those 26 projects 22 were junk-bond rated—meaning private investors wouldn’t fund them. So why did we, the taxpayers?
Our research showed that at least 90% of the projects had close ties to the White House and other high ranking Democrats. Despite the obvious connection, President Obama has repeatedly denied any involvement—preferring to blame “career bureaucrats” who could take the fall with no political consequence.
In March, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, testified that, “We looked at the loans on their own merits.” Also, back in November 2011, he said: “I am aware of no communication from White House to Department of Energy saying to make the loan or to restructure.”
Just last week, on October 26, President Obama affirmed Chu’s position when he said: “Decisions made in the loan program office are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics.”
However, late Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a new report of “over 150 emails that contradict statements by the President, Secretary Chu, and White House and DOE officials.” The emails reveal a series of questionable practices, including coercion, cronyism and, cover ups.
The Committee has been asking for the emails and additional testimony since the Solyndra story broke in September of 2011, but the DOE has been refusing to cooperate. Emails were finally leaked from former DOE employees. Some of the incriminating evidence includes the following:
From an email dated March 1, 2010 from David Schmitzer, DOE LPO Director of Loan Origination to LPO Credit Advisor McCrea and others:
“Jonathan just said at our staff meeting that, opposite the message received on Thursday, AREVA is now a “go” (seems on Friday POTUS himself approved moving it ahead).”
From an email dated June 25, 2010, LPO Executive Director Jonathan Silver encourages LPO Credit Advisor Jim McCrea to remind a Treasury official of White House Interest in now bankrupt Abound Solar:
"You better let him know that WH wants to move Abound forward. Policy will have to wait unless they have a specific policy problem with abound.”
From an email dated September 9, 2010 from LPO Credit Advisor McCrea to DOE contractor Brian Oakley:
"Pressure is on real heavy on SF [Shepherds Flat] due to interest from VP.”
These emails are just a snippet of the 150 emails we are reviewing as a part of the just-released report. We have reported on each of the projects listed above and will report further.
We know that the Obama Administration operates from a “culture of corruption,” now we see that there is also a culture of deception within the White House walls. The White House green lies are bigger than innocent, little white lies, they are expensive green lies that have produced $34.7 billion in red ink for the taxpayers.
The Obama green energy program is the largest, most expensive, and deceptive case of crony capitalism in American history.
Biofuels are heavy competitors for scarce water resources
No Greenie screeches about resource conservation here?
The Department of Energy (DOE) has projected that 30 percent of U.S. transportation fuel could be provided by biofuels, ethanol, and biodiesel from all feedstocks by 2030.
There will likely be adjustments brought about by international trade. The use of corn, soybeans, and sugar for liquid fuels is going to be affected by international production and demand for these commodities. International trade in ethanol or biodiesel will affect production of these in the United States to some extent, but the trade volumes initially will be modest at best. In the case of low-value, high-volume crops for cellulosic conversion, these are unlikely to be traded because transportation costs become limiting.
Biofuels will be an important component of the nation’s energy portfolio for at least the next several decades (Doering, 2005). As total biofuels production expands to meet national goals, the long-term sustainability of the groundwater and surface water resources used for biofuel feedstocks and production facilities will be key issues to consider. Irrigation of crops creates consumptive use of water in areas where aquifers are being depleted and/or surface water quality is impaired. Policies designed to conserve water and prevent the unsustainable withdrawal of water from depleted aquifers could be formulated.
From a water quality perspective, it is vitally important to pursue policies that prevent an increase in total loadings of nutrient and sediments to waters. It may even be possible to design policies in such a way to reduce loadings across the agricultural sector, for example, those that support the production of feedstocks with lower inputs of nutrients (see Chapter 3). Cellulosic feedstocks, which have a lower expected impact on water quality in most cases (with the exception of the excessive removal of corn stover from fields without conservation tillage), could be an important alternative to pursue, keeping in mind that there are many uncertainties regarding the large-scale production of these crops.
It should be noted that current agricultural production is not an appropriate benchmark against which to set environmental standards. As noted early, in many regions, water resources have already been stressed.
Crowd control: The enviros’ final solution
10 billion. That will be the world’s population in 2050 by United Nations’ projections.
Can the global economy sustain that many people? Will there be rationing of vital resources? Can free markets survive with less to go around? What of liberty?
These questions are of vital importance not just to Americans, but all of humanity. For, the answers will tell us if the coming century will be one of expanded liberty and prosperity throughout the world. Or, one of rising tyranny, rationing, and crowd control by increasingly oppressive governments.
Since the pendulum is already swinging in favor of more government, it then falls on those who favor liberty and choices — which are what markets represent vis-à-vis the economy — to make the case that freedom not only should endure, but can prevail despite limited resources.
A quiet fascism
Because, frankly, the deck is stacked against us at the moment. In everything from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon endangerment finding to Obamacare to regulations that seal off hundreds of millions acres of potentially cultivable land from ever being developed, the administrative state has circumvented the representative, democratic process in favor of state-imposed rationing.
So pervasive are these elements they have infiltrated just about every powerful institution in government, academia, media, and finance. Their dogma is quite simple: We’re running out of resources, and we’re destroying the planet to boot.
In 2009, billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, David Rockefeller, Eli Broad, George Soros, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Bloomberg, and others all met to ostensibly discuss their philanthropic undertakings. Gates outlined his idea of capping the world’s population at 8.3 billion instead of a projected peak of 9.3 billion.
The gathering of some of the most highly influential individuals in the world agreed population control was a priority, according to a Times of London account of the meeting.
Populationmatters.org is a well-funded British outfit that specifically advocates for “a voluntary reduction in population over time to a level that enables an acceptable quality of life for all, protects wildlife and is ecologically sustainable.”
Seemingly taking his cue from this group, in 2009, Jonathon Porritt, one of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s advisers, called for a halving of the UK’s 61 million population to 30 million by 2031.
The Worldwatch Institute alarmingly warns, “Increases in food production, per hectare of land, have not kept pace with increases in population, and the planet has virtually no more arable land or fresh water to spare.”
These are just a few examples of this Malthusian canon on display. As if governments, particularly in the U.S. and Europe, needed any additional encouragement to proceed with policies that, in effect, make it costlier for individuals to raise their families.
But there is no need for such drastic measures. We are being brainwashed with linear thinking — a corrosive propaganda — all to justify a quiet fascism and the elimination of the choices we make every day about where to live and work, what to consume, and how many children to have.
More than enough to go around
In fact, only 1.5 billion of the world’s 13 billion hectares of land are even utilized for cropland — about 11.5 percent — according to a 1999 study on soil degradation. 1.7 billion hectares of potentially arable land are not even being used to grow crops. The Food and Agricultural Organization notes that only 22 percent of potentially arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is being cultivated.
Another 10 billion hectares are deemed unusable or too remote for agriculture, seemingly discounting irrigation, desalinization, floating farms, and other innovations that could dramatically expand the world’s food supply.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes that the world has more than enough energy at the moment, too: at least 200 years of oil, 120 years of natural gas, and 450 years of coal. And that’s just fossil fuel. There is as much as a 190 years’ supply of uranium for nuclear electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association.
And all of the above, again, discounts future innovations that will be made to increase the yield and supply of energy.
Here’s a proposition. It is not government that will make these innovations, especially not with its current regime of oppressive policies. But markets will. Necessity will dictate new solutions to sustaining the world’s growing population, and innovators with real economic incentive (i.e. the profit motive) will be the ones who find a way.
That is, as long as government gets out of the way. If markets are allowed to work, we will be able to feed the growing population. But if the environmental radicals ever have their way, and the advancements of the Industrial Revolution are indeed rolled back, a sharp, precipitous decline in population will become inevitable.
Perhaps that is the real goal. Maybe today’s current policy malaise is not brought on by overpopulation, resource depletion, or even man-made global warming at all. But an irrational fear stirred up by powerful institutions that believe somehow, man is the problem.
In the process of enforcing this dogma, governments have seemingly bought into Agent Smith’s indictment of humanity in the sci-fi classic, The Matrix: “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”
That is what they really believe. It takes a fictional machine to tell us, but that’s the long and short of it. There is no need for innovation with such a harsh view of mankind, just an imperative to control us and if needs be, to eliminate the virus.
The goal, for now, is to hold back population effectively through regulatory-imposed inflation. The idea is simple: the more it costs to have and raise children, the less people will procreate.
But so far the policies enacted affect mostly the developed world, where there is not even a hint of an overpopulation problem — if anything we actually have a fertility problem. The policies do little to touch the developing world, where we are seeing the real exponential growth in population.
Eventually, the powers that be will either give up on their Malthusian crusade after having inflicted massive damage on families and whole regions, or else convince themselves that they must escalate their efforts to enforce population control on the developing world, inevitably leading to war and subjugation.
Unless they are defeated today. There is in fact a conflict of interests between the goals of environmentalists, who actively seek to restrict access to resources, and those who truly seek to sustain the world’s population, including the people themselves who will demand those resources be used to feed and sustain their families.
The next century need not be one of rationing and crowd control. It can and should be one of liberty, choices, and in extension, markets that embody humanity’s best attributes to adapt, innovate, and expand. It is the only alternative where families can survive and children not be subjugated to being raised by “guardians” as in Plato’s Republic.
While we still have the freedom to decide, that is the only rational choice left to make — for, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, a life without liberty is not one worth living.
Antarctic marine park negotiations end in failure
No consensus! How awful!
Conservation groups are angry an international conference has failed to agree on new marine reserves around Antarctica.
About 250 delegates representing 25 countries have been locked in talks at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Australia wanted 1.9 million kilometres of Antarctica's east coast protected. France and the European Union had backed the proposal.
After 11 days of intense talks, the meeting was dogged by conflicting demands, among them China's concern over restrictions to ocean resources.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) and the World Wildlife Fund say they are disappointed a consensus could not be reached.
AOA campaign manager Steve Campbell says the failure to find consensus could impact on climate change research, sustainable fishing and marine wildlife.
"It's nearly 10,000 species. It's one of the last wild places," he said.
Mr Campbell says protestors will continue to push for reserves.
"We have over 1.2 million people around the world who have taken action against this campaign," he said.
"We'll be making sure that they hear our voices loud and clear."
Campaigner Blair Palese says the pristine area should have been protected.
"We just didn't get that and I think the frustration is what will it take if we can't protect some of these most beautiful and really difficult to get to areas," he said.
"How hard can it be to protect these areas in the ocean?
"We'd like to see it get up to show not only can it be done but it makes good environmental and scientific sense."
The proposal will be discussed again at a meeting in Germany next July.
Ten years too late, it’s good riddance to Britain's wind farms – one of the most dangerous delusions of our age
By Christopher Booker
The significance of yesterday’s shock announce-ment by our Energy Minister John Hayes that the Government plans to put a firm limit on the building of any more onshore windfarms is hard to exaggerate.
On the face of it, this promises to be the beginning of an end to one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time.
For years now, the plan to cover hundreds of square miles of the British countryside with ever more wind turbines has been the centrepiece of Britain’s energy policy — and one supported by all three major political parties.
Back in 2008, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced his wish to see the country spend £100 billion on windfarms, the only response from the Tory leader David Cameron was to say that he should have done it sooner.
It was the only way, they all agreed, Britain could meet our commitment to the EU that, by 2020, we must produce nearly a third of our electricity from ‘renewables’ — with the largest part provided by tens of thousands more wind turbines.
Yet now, out of the blue, has come this announcement by the Coalition Energy Minister that from now on there is to be a moratorium on building onshore turbines other than those for which consent has already been given.
What made this even more piquant was the fact that Mr Hayes chose to drop this bombshell just hours before attending a conference in Glasgow staged by RenewableUK, the professional lobby group for Britain’s wind industry.
These are the very people who for years have been making fortunes out of the greatest public subsidy bonanza of modern times. Now Mr Hayes is to stop their gravy train in its tracks. It will give them the biggest shock of their professional lives.
The ramifications of such a policy U-turn stretch in all directions, not least to Brussels, where our EU colleagues won’t be taken in for a moment by Mr Hayes’s disingenuous claim that Britain doesn’t need more onshore windfarms because we are now on course to meet our ‘renewables’ target without them.
But nowhere will this announcement be greeted with more delirious surprise than in all those hundreds of communities across the land where outraged local protest groups have formed in ever greater numbers to fight the onward march of what they see as the greatest threat to Britain’s countryside for centuries.
I have been following this extraordinary story for ten years ever since, in 2002, I first began looking carefully at what really lay behind this deceptive obsession with the charms of wind power. It didn’t take me long, talking to experts and reading up on the technical facts, to see that the fashionable enthusiasm for wind energy was based on a colossal illusion.
I first warned about what I called ‘the greatest mistake in our history’ in an article in the Mail almost ten years ago.
I described the claim that it would be the answer to all our future energy problems as a catastrophic failure of judgment. I feared that windpower was stupendously inefficient and ludicrously expensive and that by falling for the greatest energy hoax of our time, the Labour government could be consigning Britain to a very dark future.
So unreliable are wind turbines — thanks to the wind’s constant vagaries — that they are one of the most inefficient means of producing electricity ever devised.
Indeed, the amount of power they generate is so derisory that, even now, when we have built 3,500 turbines, the average amount of power we get from all of them combined is no more than what we get from a single medium-size, gas-fired power station, built at only fraction of the cost.
No one would dream of building windfarms unless the Government had arranged to pay their developers a subsidy of 100 per cent on all the power they produce, paid for by all of us through a hidden charge on our electricity bills.
The only way the industry managed to fool politicians into accepting this crazy deal was by subterfuge — referring to turbines only in terms of their ‘capacity’ (i.e. what they could produce if the wind was blowing at optimum speeds 24 hours of every day). The truth is that their average actual output is barely a quarter of that figure.
Yet it was on this deception that the industry managed to fool pretty well everyone that windfarms could make a contribution to Britain’s energy needs four times larger than reality — and thus was ‘the great wind scam’ launched on its way.
For years our politicians continued to fall for this racket, as they ruthlessly bent the planning rules to ensure that nothing stood in the way of the turbines.
Meanwhile, ever more rural communities fought to stop the countryside around their homes being threatened with these monsters.
At long last, the penny began to drop with a growing number of MPs being besieged by constituents who wanted to know why our green and pleasant land should be disfigured for no obvious purpose other than to enrich the developers, and landowners such as David Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield, who has cheerfully admitted that the turbines on his Lincolnshire estate earn him £1,000 a day.
Earlier this year, 100 MPs, led by Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, called for an end to building any more onshore turbines, on the grounds that the public should no longer be expected to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds a year in subsidies for something which was both useless and a crazy waste of money.
It was this groundswell of opposition, coming mainly from the Tory shires but winning support from MPs of all parties, which recently led David Cameron to appoint John Hayes as our new Energy Minister — with the private brief that he must find a way to curb those windfarms which are so massively unpopular.
Hence last night’s startling U-turn — which will destroy the long-standing all-party consensus on the issue.
The Lib Dems — led by our technically illiterate Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey — the Labour Party and Brussels will scarcely be able to contain their anger.
For countless others, this blast of realism will send up a cheer of relief across Britain — apart from Scotland, which has devolved powers. First Minister Alex Salmond has laughably pledged that, within eight years, it must derive all its electricity from ‘renewables’. (He has never explained what happens when the wind drops.)
In terms of seeing off the great wind delusion, however, this is only what Churchill once described as ‘the end of the beginning’.
When all those MPs finally became brave enough to recognise that onshore wind turbines are both useless and a waste of money, what they omitted to say was that the same objections apply twice over to those we are erecting in the seas around our coasts.
It’s not just that the thousands of offshore turbines that the Government still wants built will not only produce amounts of electricity scarcely less pitiful than those onshore. Because they are so much more expensive to build, they attract subsidies not at 100 per cent but at 200 per cent.
Thus, every reason that led John Hayes to strike such a blow yesterday for common sense in respect of onshore windfarms also applies, with redoubled force, to those vast offshore wind factories.
Until our politicians finally have the courage of their newfound convictions and halt this madness, too, one of the most bizarre follies of our age will not have been finally chucked where it belongs — firmly into the rubbish bin of history.
British parliamentarian runs slap bang into BBC bias; No deception is beneath them
Letter below from Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden to David Jordan, BBC, Director Editorial Policy and Standards, BBC
I would be grateful if you would look into my complaints about the Newsnight programme on Wednesday 5th September in which I participated (having just published a substantial critique of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change) along with Natalie Bennett (newly elected Leader of the Green Party).
First, though least important, the BBC reneged on assurances I was given about the nature of the programme. Second, the introductory sequence was misleading, inaccurate and biased. Third, and most important, it demonstrates a systemic bias in the BBC’s approach to Climate Change.
Breach of assurances
I was told beforehand that although the programme would use the current record low in Arctic summer sea ice extent we would not discuss the science but ‘take the IPCC assessment of global warming as given’ and discuss what should be done about it. It was impressed upon me that I must not get into discussions of the science. I was perfectly happy with that a) because it is impossible sensibly to discuss both the scientific issues and the economic issues in a single brief item, b) because that was the approach I had taken in my report – I take the IPCC science as given and certainly do not dispute the reality of the greenhouse effect.
Despite those assurances, our discussion was preceded by a lengthy introductory film claiming to provide “new evidence”, “obtained by the BBC” that the ice was going to melt far earlier than previously thought and that this would lead to far more rapid, dangerous and unstoppable global warming. In fact it contained no “new evidence” only a piece of non-peer reviewed, non-research containing the tired old alarmist meme that “it’s worse than we thought” trotted out by a well known climate alarmist who has made the same assertions before; but this time implicitly endorsed by the BBC science editor who “obtained this evidence”.
I was therefore faced with a dilemma. If I adhered to my instructions and the original game plan it meant effectively accepting a highly tendentious bit of alarmism which contradicts the IPCC assessment of the science. On the other hand if I responded to this contentious piece I had to leave the points made by the Green Party leader unanswered. It also meant abandoning the original, sensible plan to focus on the economics/policy responses.
While the trailer was being shown I expressed my dismay at the bias of its contents to Jeremy Paxman who indicated that he would let me respond, which he did. I should make it clear that I have no criticism of the way Jeremy Paxman handled the programme – on the contrary my impression was that he was annoyed that the preamble had made a sensible discussion focused on the economics impossible.
I am happy to discuss either the economics or the science. And I have plenty of experience of being ‘ambushed’ in media interviews and can respond accordingly. If the blogosphere and my inbox are to be believed I came off best, the Green Leader was discomforted and Paxman dismayed. But that is not the point. It is wrong in principle to renege on assurances given. And the net result was to reduce the discussion to a muddle. The viewers were deprived of a meaningful discussion of the policy options.
More important is the bias displayed by the preamble.
* Susan Watts’ opening claim that this was a “new” thesis is untrue. The albedo effect and the possibility of methane emissions have been fully integrated into the IPCC assessments and projections as well as climate models for decades.
* Far from being “new research” Prof Wadhams has made similar alarmist claims in the past e.g. in “Planet Earth We Have a Problem: Feedback dynamics and the acceleration of climate change” June 2007.
* If “the new figures given to the BBC” do show that “the loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions” to a far greater extent than is assumed in the climate models collated by the IPCC then it follows that the underlying climate sensitivity must be far less than those models have assumed. If more of the observed warming has been the result of the albedo effect then less of it must have been the result of all other factors. Thus once the sea ice has melted and the maximum albedo effect is operating, the additional effect of further CO2 emissions will just be proportional to this lower underlying sensitivity. So the temperature will rise thereafter less rapidly than previously predicted. This fairly basic point does not seem to have struck either your science editor or Professor Wadham.
* The assertion that the summer ice will regularly disappear “within a few years” (or even happen soon after 2030 as attributed to the Met Office) contradicted the IPCC assessment which was not even mentioned. The IPCC Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers says: “Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic and Antarctic under all SRES scenarios. In some projections arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st Century” (my emphasis). The Working Group1 report Chapter 10.3.3.1 says “the coupled models show a range of responses in Northern Hemisphere sea ice area extent ranging from very little change to a strong and accelerating reduction over the 21st century” but as shown in the accompanying chart no projection shows an ice free summer before 2070.
* Prof Wadhams’ assertion that “the temperature” has been rising was accepted by your programme makers uncritically. As was his almost meaningless phrase that “parts of the Arctic Ocean are as warm in summer as the North Sea in winter” (very cold in my experience!) In fact the remarkable thing has been the unchanging arctic temperature in summer – see appended charts. Global warming may be supplying heat to melt ice but it has not raised the temperature and a major factor affecting ice cover is wind blowing the ice out of the Arctic Ocean.
Much more HERE
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Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here
Posted by JR at 1:04 PM