Tuesday, November 06, 2012

November surprise: An EPA crackdown on coal

On the eve of the 2012 election, more than 50 of President Obama's EPA staffers are crashing to finish new greenhouse gas emission standards. The rules would make the construction of new coal-fired power plants nearly impossible. A government-imposed switch from coal to other forms of energy would cost the economy about $700 billion over several years, according to the Manhattan Institute.

The bureaucrats are clearly in a hurry to get this done. Never before has the EPA devoted so many staffers to a single regulation. Take it as a sign of pre-election panic by environmentalists inside the Obama administration. If Mitt Romney wins tomorrow's election, regulators will have only a narrow window to enact anti-fossil fuel regulations that would then be very hard for the new president to undo.

The domestic coal industry has already taken a beating. The advent of cheap natural gas, which is itself creating thousands of new jobs, is one of the culprits. Another is the Obama administration. Even as Obama's EPA quietly develops new regulations on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") that will impede the natural gas boom, it wants to further appease environmentalists by delivering a coup de grace to domestic coal use. It is a silly idea that will ultimately have no environmental benefit, but it is sure to drive up electricity costs.

In order to survive, the domestic coal industry has sharply ramped up exports of its product to countries that are happy to burn it. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, coal exports from the U.S. have risen by nearly 200 percent since Obama took office. Exports have grown so fast that they are about halfway toward making up for recent decreases in domestic coal consumption.

So at best, this forthcoming regulation will just shift carbon emissions from the United States to other parts of the world, where they may even be more harmful. The same coal will probably be burned with fewer environmental controls, since U.S. coal plants have made great strides in reducing pollutants such as sulfur and lead. The EIA projects that, with or without our coal, world demand will double by 2035. So even if Obama can put all U.S. coal producers out of business, the developing world will get its coal somewhere, rendering any U.S. reductions in carbon emissions insignificant.

So what is the point of this pre-election flurry of regulation? It is a time-tested way of complicating the life of an incoming presidential administration. In 2000, the outgoing Clinton administration rushed out a finding that mercury emissions from power plants were a growing public health threat under the Clean Air Act. Thirteen years later, the resulting proposed rule is set to cost the economy $10 billion annually, according to the EPA itself. And that is just one example among many.

So if Obama loses the election on Tuesday, he'll go out with a gift to his pals in the environmental movement -- and a thumb in the eye to coal country and electricity consumers.


Mega-SuperStorm Sandy Endorses Obama, Cites War on Women

Alternately referring to Hurricane Sandy as either a “superstorm” or a “megastorm” our friends at the Liberal Press Office have helped put Sandy in perspective by letting us know that this year’s meteorological winner of American Idol was spawned by global warming, intensified by rising ocean temperatures and sponsored by Big Oil.

Citing no actual scientific evidence- why use science when you believe SO strongly?- it’s apparent that the headlines used by the mainstream media to cover the post-Sandy ascendancy virtually wrote themselves well prior to Sandy’s gestation.
Megastorm Sandy injects climate into presidential vote, Agence France Presse

Is Hurricane Sandy the face of climate change? Yes, is the surprising (ha!) answer from UC Berkley’s Jayni Foley Hein, Executive Director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Why Climate Change is the Key Issue for Millennial Voters, PolicyMic

Sandy Raises Questions About Climate And The Future, NPR

Hurricane Sandy: The Last Straw on Climate Change, says The Daily Beast’s Bill McKibben, with a subhead: “The deniers have been beaten by Sandy and other overwhelming evidence.
The question now: what do we do?”
Quick: Let’s pass a human emissions tax. We can start with McKibben, because when there is stench, there’s greenhouse trapping gas.
Settled Science! Hurry, supplies are limited, call now, operators are standing by, As Seen on TV! Superstorm Sandy Backs Barack, Cites War on Women!

Now to be fair to the Big Bird station, NPR only quoted one source in the story on Sandy and global warming. Mayor Bloomberg’s “climate science lead for the science policy team of the New York City Panel on Climate Change,” Radley Horton in an interview offered his own “proof”- sometimes known as an “opinion” outside of global warming circles- that global warming had an effect on Hurricane Sandy.

Yes, that is the journalistic equivalent of citing Bill Clinton on Bill Clinton, but the Iowa Electoral College vote’s REALLY important.

“It's difficult to know whether this year's rise in ocean temperatures was associated with climate change,” says NPR, “but Horton says that Hurricane Sandy moved over unusually warm waters in the North Atlantic.”

See, the scientists can’t actually PROVE their science, but that’s only because they are really great at speculating about it. Doesn’t implying their views very gravely to taxpayer supported journalists actually count as settled science?

"As the planet continues to warm, we expect ocean temperatures to go up," says Horton. "All things being equal, that does give a storm like Sandy more energy."

Well, at least he got the science right, right?

Naw. Science, facts, truth, justice? Those concepts are as old-fashioned as the American Way.

What matters is keeping the federal bureaucracy going and giving Obama a fighting chance in places like, Iowa, which suddenly has become a Super-Mega Battleground State.

NOAA climate scientist Martin Hoerling said that the sea surface temperatures were actually insignificant in the case of Sandy, directly contradicting the “settled” science offered by Horton.

From the Environmental Editor at the Australian:
Dr Hoerling told US public radio in the aftermath of Sandy that ocean temperatures adjacent to the US eastern seaboard had been running several degrees higher than normal.

But he said the unusually warm waters were in areas where the background temperature was relatively cool. "So adding a few degrees Fahrenheit at that cool water temperature doesn't matter too much for the intensity of a hurricane," Dr Hoerling said.
The guys at the NOAA, although government employees, are the leading proponents for restoring science to the science of global warming.

This isn’t the first time that Hoerling has debunked media claims that current weather events are due to global warming. There is very little evidence that links hurricanes, drought, tornadoes and other extreme events to global warming. There us actually quite a bit of evidence that extreme weather events have not been driven by global warming.

Remember the droughts in Texas and Russia, which the climate scientists and assorted a.k.a.’s from the media declared was more “proof” that global warming was real?

Here’s Hoerling in the New York Times: “Published scientific studies on the Russian heat wave indicate this claim to be false. Our own study on the Texas heat wave and drought, submitted this week to the Journal of Climate, likewise shows that that event was not caused by human-induced climate change. These are not de novo events, but upon scientific scrutiny, one finds both the Russian and Texas extreme events to be part of the physics of what has driven variability in those regions over the past century. This is not to say that climate change didn’t contribute to those cases, but their intensity owes to natural, not human, causes.”

And he concludes by quoting Dr. Harold Brooks in the New Scientist, who warns in an article concluding that there is no evidence to link tornadoes and global warming, against using local weather events as proof of global warming:

“Those who continue to talk in certain terms of how local weather extremes,” writes Brooks, “are the result of human climate change are failing to heed all the available evidence.”

Heedless? Climate scientists?  Naw.  Iowa’s in play


Why would we expect truth and accuracy from the Australian Climate Commission?

They are official government Warmists but only the credulous would be deceived by them.  Their latest puff says:

"Temperatures are expected to continue rising this century. The average temperature for Queensland has risen by about 1°C since early last century, with most of the warming occurring since the 1950s..."

But the rise is almost all "adjustments" to the actual temperature record -- as the blink comparator for S.E. Qld. below shows:

To make it worse, the graph that they themselves provide is completely wacky:

As Jo Nova says:  "Eyeballing this graph suggests Queensland’s average temperature has risen by 2.7 C since the 1950′s."

So which is it?  A rise of "about" one degree or 2.7 degrees?

With carelessness like that, one is inclined to infer that they are not really serious:  Just doing the hack job to deceive the uninformed public that the government pays them to do.  If they put up a piece saying that there has been no significant rise in temperatures for the last century, they would soon be out on their ear.

Anybody with normal healthy skepticism would accept government science pronouncements with a large dose of rock-salt and the nonsense above is a good confirmation of the need for that.  What does it say about the integrity of the "eminent" people who have put their name to it, however?

Warwick Hughes has a laugh at them too.

Insiders get rich on Obama's green energy stimulus

"I had a friend who said, 'You don't just pick the winners and losers,' " Mitt Romney told President Obama in the first presidential debate. "You pick the losers."

Romney's assessment of the billions that Obama has wasted on green energies is dead on. And unfortunately, it only tells half of the story. According to a Washington Examiner analysis of publicly available data, corporate insiders at the 15 publicly traded green energy companies that received federal stimulus subsidies pocketed tens of millions by selling their stock after the government's money poured in and before their companies' values plummeted.

The Obama administration gave more than $700 million in grants and guaranteed an additional $500 million in loans to publicly traded green energy companies through its 2009 stimulus package. If Obama had invested all that money in a Standard & Poors index fund of the top 500 publicly traded companies, his investment would have seen a 73 percent return since he took office. In contrast, the Obama "green energy" stimulus portfolio has fallen by 78 percent -- performing about five points worse than green energy companies that didn't get subsidies.

The insider trades by officers and directors of these companies tell us still more. They cashed out a net $63.9 million in stock gains before their companies' stock prices collapsed.

Biofuel manufacturer Amyris Inc., for example, was given $24.3 million in taxpayer money to turn plant sugars into diesel fuel. At one point, this helped push its stock price above $30 a share. Today, Amyris has closed two of its three plants, and its stock sells for less than $3. Amyris' insiders got rich first, though, netting $21 million in stock sales after the firm went public in September 2010.

Solazyme, another biofuel manufacturer, received $21.8 million from Obama's Energy Department. Its stock once traded at more than $25 a share but now is worth less than $9. Its corporate insiders realized $18.4 million in capital gains before the stock price collapsed.

Corporate insiders at A123 Systems were not as quick to cash out as their biofuel colleagues. The Massachusetts electric-car battery manufacturer received a $249 million grant from Obama's Energy Department in 2009, before going bankrupt last month. Its stock was worth more than $25 a share when it first went public in September 2009. A123 officers and directors still made more than $11 million in stock sales.

This analysis does not include some of the best-known Obama energy failures. Solyndra, for example, blew through more than $500 million in taxpayer-guaranteed loans before it could even go public. Another high-profile failure, First Solar, is not included because it sold off much of its $3 billion in federal loan guarantees to third parties before it laid off 30 percent of its workforce and its stock price declined by more than 90 percent from its 2011 high. The company's head, Michael Ahearn, has extracted more than $329 million in stock sales since 2009 all by himself.

One would hope that Obama would have learned some lessons from the epic failures of his green energy investments. But Americans are not that lucky. Campaigning early this year in Florida, Obama promised to "double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

The federal government has a role to play in funding basic scientific research. It has done so for decades, through universities and through the national academies. But Obama crossed the line by investing in specific companies and their business models. As a result, the American people have lost billions in tax dollars, corporate insiders have pocketed millions in gains and we are no closer to a green energy economy.


Science Reporting No Different Than Activists' Own Hype

Following Hurricane Sandy’s massive devastation across the northeast, many were quick to tie it to “climate change” (you know, what “global warming” and the “new ice age” used to be.). In a blog post on Tuesday, former Vice President Al Gore wrote “Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.”

Meghan McCain sarcastically weighed in on Twitter, “So are we still going to go with climate change not being real fellow republicans?”

As his city struggles in the Sandy aftermath, Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsed President Obama because he says one candidate “sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

As if climate change believers aren’t practicing their own brand of politics. I’m sure they are already writing that with this kind of consensus between the two parties, the science is settled!

Of course, Gore, Bloomberg and McCain aren’t the first liberals (yes, liberals) to use the devastation of a hurricane to push the climate change agenda. Following Hurricane Katrina, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote on The Huffington Post, “Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.”

But, our children aren’t the only victims. Rich liberals are also suffering. Al Gore was unable to attend Bette Midler’s French-themed Halloween party in hurricane-struck New York this week. Midler tweeted, “k, the man we invited to address us te #globalwarmingisreal could not make it because of GLOBALWARMING!! So sad, Al Gore..see you soon xox”

In Godless Ann Coulter wrote, “Warm trends prove global warming. Cold trends also prove global warming. This is the philosophy of a madman.”

Yet no one in the mainstream media questions the science of climate change. Instead, they amblify it.

Such is the case with Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. Like “climate change,” BPA is blamed for myriad health woes, none of which have ever been proved, and we only hear about the evidence that confirms a particular and negative view. For awhile now I’ve followed the reporting on BPA because it’s illustrative of the emergence of reporters picking and choosing scientific studies to further a political agenda. The anti-BPA agenda seeks bans or further regulating of BPA, which can be found in water bottles, food can liners (it prevents botulism and spoilage), thermal register tape and many other products, in order to have their foot on the neck of every business that produces BPA and every business that makes a product that contains BPA.

There have been numerous studies by the FDA, CDC, World Health Organization, and European Food Safety Authority that have found that BPA is easily and quickly metabolized and does no discernible harm to humans of any age. However, the agenda-driven media hypes any study claiming negative effects from BPA. In their latest attempt, activists and the hysterical media jumped on a study by the University of California’s Michael Baker. The Baker study used a computer model to show the effects of metabolized BPA. The media jumped on the study with hysterical headlines like “BPA is Bad to the Bone, Now We Know Why,” and “New studies add fuel to concerns over BPA.” But in an odd twist, the researcher who approved the hyped-up news release now says “neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful.”

In a lengthy think piece on Forbes.com, science writer Jon Entine wrote, “The news reports shared a common theme—asserting or at least suggesting that the Baker study was a smoking gun and perhaps the final scientific word that activists have been awaiting to confirm their long-held belief that BPA is harmful and should be banned or sharply restricted. The irony is that the Baker study, when analyzed, does not support that view. Rather, it provides additional confirmation of the unlikelihood that BPA or many other so-called ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals pose serious health threats.”

Entine called Baker for additional background. He found out that Baker had no prior experience researching BPA. Additionally, Baker confirmed that he and those promoting the study to the press “were aware of the slew of popular and research reports damning BPA as dangerous, which shaped the tone and wording of the release.” Baker also admitted that he approved the release.

Baker also said to Entine, “I’m not an expert on BPA, by any means. It’s possible, that the metabolite that I studied would not have any effect on humans and I have no evidence, none at all, that BPA causes any problems in humans. This was a theoretical exercise, and it would be trumped by what actually happens in the real world. Based on what I know now, neither BPA nor its metabolites are harmful. I am upset that my structural study is misused by some.”

Entine also contacted California Watch, an environmental group that targets BPA producers. They admitted that the Baker study offered no new information to suggest that BPA was dangerous. Yet they reported on the study in near-hysterical terms.

It’s now common knowledge that the profession of journalism has morphed into political activism. We have outfits like Politico, MSNBC, ABC and CBS on the left and Fox News, Breitbart.com and Daily Caller on the right. A media segmented by ideology is easier to embrace when the general public has enough knowledge to make an informed decision on what media to consume. Unfortunately, in the field of science reporting we’re starting to see the same segmentation by ideology, but the public isn’t as informed as they should be.

Activists on the Left and their cohorts in the media want to pin the world’s diseases and disasters on one enemy: humans.


The environment will improve, with or without the Greenies

A British view from  Madsen Pirie

Despite all the scare stories, I'm optimistic that the next generation will live on a planet that is cleaner and greener, and probably nicer to look at.

Claims are made that our cities, rivers and coasts grow more polluted by the day.  In fact some areas have improved considerably.  The streets of late Victorian London were awash with horse manure, with children standing at street corners to clear a path in exchange for a small coin.

City air was more polluted when nearly all homes burned coal fires.  The London smog of 1952 killed an estimated 12,000 people in a fortnight, with theatres closed because audiences could not see the stage.  It prompted the Clean Air Act of 1956.

In the late 1970s most London buildings were black, including Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and Whitehall.  They were cleaned up only when the air became sufficiently soot-free to make it last.  The Thames, once toxic to fish, now bears stocks of several species.  Other rivers and coastlines are much cleaner than they have been.

Even air pollution from industrial activity is diminishing in Britain and most advanced economies.  New technology makes this possible, and it is the poorer and up-and-coming countries that find it too expensive.  China is building new coal-fired power stations at a rate of more than one a week, and plans to do so for at least a decade.  It will make sense to develop the technology for cleaner burning so that it becomes affordable.

In fact one of the biggest aids to reducing pollution is the switch to natural gas-fired power stations, since it burns much cleaner.  With maybe 100 or more years of gas reserves now extractable, the switch from coal to gas will have a major impact on pollution.  The switch to electric vehicles charged from gas-fired power will dramatically cut the pollution caused by engines burning petrol or diesel.

The second Green Revolution in agriculture will increase yields from acres under cultivation and bring hitherto marginal land into use.  This will give the rainforest more protection than all the pledges and treaties that have hitherto been resorted to.

In all of this it is technology, rather than behavioural change, that is making the difference and which will bring results.  We do not have to live more simply, just more cleverly so that we can achieve our aims while leaving a smaller footprint.  I have confidence in our ability to do this.




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


No comments: