Monday, March 25, 2013

Obama Overreach Includes Energy

Following the Conservative Political Action Conference—known as CPAC—it has been reported that the faithful feel discouraged, dispirited, and defeated. Dr. Ben Carson, who emerged from the Conference as the new conservative darling, has stated that America is heading for failure. Generally, I agree. However, I see a chink in the armor.

The alliance of the environmental lobby and big government advocates have been winning—Obama is back in the White House, the new cabinet members seem worse than the last, and the Keystone pipeline has become a battle line. With the victory, however, they’ve perhaps gotten over confident and pushed too hard. They’ve had a series of losses that have put them on the defense—and everyone knows, you win on the offense.

Their losses haven’t made headline news—making them easy to miss, and the alliance is not likely to beat a hasty retreat, but looking at them added together, I see an opening for a breakthrough.  In case you missed them, here are some of the recent reversals they’ve received:

 *       On March 20, the Supreme Court shot down “overzealous greens” that hoped to “hobble the logging industry by reclassifying rural storm water runoff under the Clean Water Act’s ‘point source’ standards, which require costly federal permits.” The Court ruled: “more effective regulation could be done by states and state foresters.”

 *       On March 19, the Obama Administration scrapped “a series of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages that were blocked by a federal appeals court”—a win for the “tobacco industry’s free-speech rights under the First Amendment.” Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says the FDA won’t be deterred from implementing stronger warning labels.

 *       Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun-ban bill became a victim of friendly fire when, in a March 18 meeting, Majority Leader Harry Reid notified a “frustrated Feinstein” that her assault-weapon ban “wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill.” The exclusion means “almost certain defeat” but, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Ladd Everitt, it has “fired up gun violence prevention advocates.”

 *       On March 15, hyper-liberal Bill Maher had an epiphany on his HBO show Real Time. In a conversation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, regarding Paul Ryan’s budget, Maher announced that rich people “actually do pay the freight in this country.” He continued, calling the taxes the rich pay: “outrageous” and “ridiculous.” He warned his liberal friends: “you could actually lose me.”

 *       Facing the reality of a nuclear attack, on March 15 the Obama administration announced a reversal on missile defense. In 2009, Obama killed the Bush administration’s plans for 14 US ground-based long-range missile interceptors—which are now, in opposition to the “Democratic Party’s long aversion to any kind of missile defense,” playing catch up. Missile Defense advocates are now vindicated.

 *       Government overreach received a setback on March 11, when “a judge threw out New York City’s ban on supersized sugary drinks.” Judge Milton Tingling said the soda ban “would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it.” And, that has the “potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

The list could continue to include NBC’s ratings fall and Obama’s sudden shift in relations with Republicans, but you get the idea.

“Marita,” you might say, “this is an interesting list, and I get your point, but you write on energy, and none of this has anything to do with energy.”  Here are some similar setbacks to the left’s energy agenda:

 *       Going back a couple of months, on January 25, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous decision, found that the EPA was projecting far too much production of cellulosic ethanol and mandating the exaggerated fuel standards—confirming that “EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.” The nonexistent-fuel requirement is costing refiners $8 million dollars in fines paid to the federal government—which are passed on to consumer—due to the unreasonable 2012 mandate.

 *       Last month, regulators met in California “hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state’s network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy.” The state is “running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas” and now “it doesn’t have the right mix.” Utility executives are predicting rolling brown outs as early as this summer. Other states with high dependence on wind and solar resources face similar problems.

 *       “In a preemptive move to protect against possible court challenges,” “an early step toward President Barack Obama's second-term goal of cutting emissions linked to climate change has hit a snag.” Reported on March 19: “The Obama administration is weighing changes to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions at new power plants.” The EPA’s rule would “essentially ban new coal-fired power plants”—which “may not withstand legal scrutiny.”

 *       On March 20, another Solyndra-esque, government-funded solar panel manufacturer embarrassment came to light. SoloPower began the first round of layoffs just months after opening with a high-profile ribbon cutting and is now “selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee.” The story shows that “politicians are proving to be lousy venture capitalists with this and other green energy subsidies.”

Again, this sampling of stories illustrates the cause for my optimism.

In war, and we are in a war, when one side sees signs of weakness, it is time to act and exploit the vulnerabilities; go on the offensive. The weapons we have are social media, email, and our telephones. Here are some of the battles we could win if we join in the fight for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy.

 *       The Keystone pipeline is in the news again due to the recently released State Department report that concludes that it is environmentally safe. The pipeline, alone, has the unique ability to create jobs without taxpayer monies, spur economic growth in the states it will cross and other states that will participate in construction support, and lower the cost of gasoline through increased supply. We all need to add our “comments.” Tell the State department to end the four-year delay and approve the Keystone pipeline.

 *       Anti-surface mining ads running in Tennessee on March 19 are just the latest in the war on coal. The war is raging against coal mining—which provides good paying jobs for thousands of Americans—and against coal-fueled power plants with 300+ scheduled for closure in the next few years and no possible replacement. We need an energy policy that works for each locale rather than one-size-fits-all requirements. For example, in New Mexico, we have coal-fueled power plants built right next to a coal mine, yet EPA regulations are shutting down five of the nine units. Likewise, West Virginia has an abundance of coal, and they, too, are closing plants. In the Pacific Northwest, hydropower is efficient, effective, and economical, but environmental groups are forcing their removal. Call or email the White House and tell the Obama administration to make good on the “all of the above” promise and not limit or mandate specific electricity sources.

 *       Due to the combination of new technology and new applications of sixty-year-old technology, America now has an abundance of natural gas. Many markets across the globe need our natural gas—which could be liquefied and shipped worldwide and help the US trade deficit. In a free market, companies should be allowed to sell their products to the highest bidder, but due to trade agreements and the slow approval process of applications to build new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, this boost to the economy is being stifled. LNG exports are one of the few issues that truly have bipartisan support—yet, environmentalists oppose them and the Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on LNG export applications. Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose legislation that would limit LNG exports.

There is more we could do, but together these simple steps—passed on to everyone you know through Facebook, Twitter, and your personal email list, and acted upon—can serve as our forlorn hope (the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in defenses). Let’s band together with a common strategy, a surge, that can turnaround the current direction and make America great again


UK's coldest spring since 1963 claims 5,000 lives: Pensioners worst affected - and experts say final toll could be 'horrendous'

Global warming wanted

Freezing Britain's unusually harsh winter could have cost thousands of pensioners their lives.

This month is on track to be the coldest March for 50 years – and as the bitter Arctic conditions caused blackouts and traffic chaos yesterday, experts warned of an 'horrendous' death toll among the elderly.

About 2,000 extra deaths were registered in just the first two weeks of March compared with the average for the same period over the past five years.

And for February, 3,057 extra deaths were registered in England and Wales compared with the five-year average for the month.

Campaigners at Age UK, which says 26,000 people die needlessly in winter every year, said the current weather could prove deadly for thousands more.

Director general Michelle Mitchell said: 'Colder, harsher winters tend to lead to an increase in life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks and strokes which in turn leads to a high rate of excess winter deaths.

'For every one degree drop in average temperature, there are around 8,000 extra deaths.'

The Office for National Statistics said the extra death rate 'could be to do with the prolonged period of cold weather we've been experiencing.' But it cautioned that it was too early to make an absolute link. The March figures are still provisional.

Malcolm Booth, chief executive of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, said that last month almost 700 of his members had died, compared with 250 last year.

'If our membership is a representative sample that was replicated across the general population, then we could be looking at a horrendous number when all the figures are in,' he said.

'An increase in fuel costs and the extended winter means that more people are going to suffer, and more will be unable to afford to eat and heat their homes. It's a scary prospect.'

It is not just pensioners who are at risk. The body of a 27-year-old man who went missing while walking home from a night out was found in deep snow in farmland near Burnley, Lancashire, yesterday afternoon. Police said the man would not be named until all family members had been informed.

Chief Inspector Derry Crorken of Burnley Police said: 'Early indications suggest that it is a very tragic incident where a young man has been out with friends and has become caught up in the weather last night on his journey home.  'I would urge people to only go out if it is necessary.'

Blizzards and power cuts wreaked havoc across large parts of the country yesterday, leaving snowdrifts of up to 15ft in Cumbria and night-time temperatures plunging to -7C (19F) in the Pennines. Power lines were down in Northern Ireland, Scotland and North Wales, leaving 50,000 homes without electricity.

Ulster was hardest-hit, with 29,000 properties without power and 1,000 without water.

The transport network was also crippled. East Midlands, Leeds, Robin Hood (Doncaster) and Humberside Airports were all forced temporarily to close runways for snow and ice to be cleared.

Train services in the North-West were severely hit and even major roads were treacherous. In Cumbria 70 people were put up in a school after being stranded in their cars on the A595.

In North Wales, the Red Cross was brought in to transport vital medical staff to hospitals in 4x4 vehicles because the snow had made roads off limits to normal cars.

The M62 near Rochdale was closed for a time but gritters were out to ensure the route between Manchester and West Yorkshire remained open overnight.

Yesterday's sporting programme was also badly hit, with Northern Ireland's football World Cup qualifier against Russia called off for the second time in 24 hours as Belfast's Windsor Park was unplayable. Elsewhere, seven Football League games in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North were cancelled and race meetings at Doncaster and Newbury were abandoned. Theme parks at Alton Towers and Drayton Manor Park closed, too.

The Environment Agency had 59 flood alerts in place last night, covering the Midlands, East Anglia, the south east and the south west.

Hundreds of schools were forced to close on Friday and many were expected to remain closed tomorrow, causing headaches for parents.

Weathermen forecast that the harsh conditions would gradually diminish over the coming week but a biting wind from the east would ensure temperatures remain at 4-6C (39-42F), well below the seasonal average of 11C (52F).

Greg Dewhurst of the Met Office said: 'While the rain, sleet and snow will peter out, it will still feel very cold because of strong easterly winds. The signals are that temperatures will start to return to normal after Easter.'

The weather is also taking its toll on retailers, especially fashion chains where spring lines are remaining on the racks. For DIY chains and garden centres, this is normally one of the most important months. But Mandy Murphy of the British Retail Consortium said: 'Bad weather could feed through to sales being poorer than hoped for over the big bank holiday weekend.'

It is all in stark contrast to the  same time 12 months ago, when sunbathers swamped beaches as temperatures hit 22C (71F), sparking fears of a possible drought.


It’s payback time for Britain's insane energy policy

An obsession with CO2 has left us dangerously short of power as coal-powered stations are forced to close

As the snow of the coldest March since 1963 continues to fall, we learn that we have barely 48 hours’ worth of stored gas left to keep us warm, and that the head of our second-largest electricity company, SSE, has warned that our generating capacity has fallen so low that we can expect power cuts to begin at any time. It seems the perfect storm is upon us.

The grotesque mishandling of Britain’s energy policy by the politicians of all parties, as they chase their childish chimeras of CO2-induced global warming and windmills, has been arguably the greatest act of political irresponsibility in our history.

Three more events last week brought home again just what a mad bubble of make-believe these people are living in. Under the EU’s Large Combustion Plants Directive, we lost two more major coal-fired power stations, Didcot A and Cockenzie, capable of contributing no less than a tenth to our average electricity demands. We saw a French state-owned company, EDF, being given planning permission to spend £14 billion on two new nuclear reactors in Somerset, but which it says it will only build, for completion in 10 years’ time, if it is guaranteed a subsidy that will double the price of its electricity. Then, hidden in the small print of the Budget, were new figures for the fast-escalating tax the Government introduces next week on every ton of CO2 emitted by fossil-fuel-powered stations, which will soon be adding billions of pounds more to our electricity bills every year.

Within seven years this new tax will rise to £30 a ton, and by 2030 to £70 a ton, making it wholly uneconomical to generate any more electricity from the coal and gas-fired power stations that last week were still supplying two thirds of our electricity. Put all this together and we see more starkly than ever the game the Government is playing. It knows that no company would build wind farms unless it is given subsidies that, in effect, nearly double or treble the price of its electricity. The Government will only get CO2-free nuclear power if it promises it an equal subsidy. And now the Coalition is also hell-bent on driving our much cheaper and more reliable coal and gas-fired plants out of business, by imposing a carbon tax that will not only eventually double the cost of their electricity, but also make it impossible for them to survive.

So mad is this policy of “double-up all round” that it is driving even the largest and most efficient power station in the country, Drax, capable of supplying seven per cent of all the power we use, to switch from burning coal to wood chips, imported 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from the US. And how has the Government forced Drax to do this? By giving it a subsidy on wood chips that doubles the value of its electricity, while putting an increasingly prohibitive tax on coal.

This is all insane in so many ways that one scarcely knows where to begin, except to point out that, even if our rulers somehow managed to subsidise firms into spending £100 billion on all those wind farms they dream of, they will still need enough new gas-fired power stations to provide back-up for all the times when the wind isn’t blowing, at the very time when the carbon tax will soon make it uneconomical for anyone to build them.

So we are doomed to see Britain’s lights going out, all because the feather-headed lunatics in charge of our energy policy still believe that they’ve got to do something to save the planet from that CO2-induced global warming which this weekend has been covering much of the country up to a foot deep in snow. Meanwhile, the Indians are planning to build 455 new coal-fired power stations which will add more CO2 to the atmosphere of the planet every week than Britain emits in a year.

Thank you, David Cameron, leader of “the greenest government ever”. Thank you, Ed Miliband, father of the Climate Change Act, the most expensive suicide note in history. Between you, you seem determined to switch off our lights, lock the door and throw away the key. We owe you more than we can say.


Carbon's Wrongful Conviction

Viv Forbes

Three stubborn facts suggest that carbon is suffering a grave miscarriage of justice.

Firstly, despite all the bleating about humans causing "carbon pollution", man's use of carbon fuels has never managed to create even a single atom of carbon - all he has ever done is move a tiny bit of the Earth's huge store of it around.

Secondly, carbon dioxide gas, the beneficial plant food, is generated whenever carbon fuels and foods are consumed. Despite the "global warming" propaganda, carbon dioxide has zero ability to heat anything. The most it has ever done is to scatter a bit of the radiation energy coming from the sun or from the Earth's warmed surface. This makes Earth more liveable by moderating the daily temperature extremes.

Thirdly, carbon dioxide is always released from the vast oceans when natural global warming occurs. Blaming increased carbon dioxide for global warming is like blaming wet roads for rain.


New Mercedes face ban from British roads for flouting EU rules on 'green' air-con: Germans say compulsory coolant causes cars to catch fire and explode on impact

Thousands of new Mercedes are set to be banned from sale in Britain after they were declared 'illegal' by the EU.

The German luxury car maker is embroiled in an extraordinary row with EU bureaucrats over a decision to force all car manufacturers to use a new 'green' air-conditioning gas.  Mercedes has raised fears that the new coolant causes cars to catch fire.

But any car maker refusing to install the gas faces a ban on selling cars across the Continent, the European Commission warned this week.

The DVLA and the Vehicle Certification Agency in the UK are poised to suspend any new registration of the luxury German cars if they do not conform to the regulations.

All new Mercedes A-Class hatchbacks, B-Class family cars and SL roadster models will be affected because the manufacturer has failed to agree to the law, which came into effect on January 1.

Most manufacturers have already complied with the directive. But last September Mercedes appealed to delay the implementation of the law.

Internal tests by the company allegedly showed that ten out of 14 cars using the new coolant caught fire when subjected to conditions that simulated the coolant leaking into the engine in a front-end collision.

But the Commission last week rejected the claims and warned it is not possible for new cars to be sold within the EU if they do not conform to the legislation.

Implementing the directive could result in thousands of new cars being left on dealers' forecourts, unable to be registered by the DVLA.

In an update last week, the European Commission said 'controversial' testing techniques by Mercedes were to blame for the findings and the Department for Transport in the UK would be fined if it allowed the company to sell the affected models.

It stated: 'It is not possible for motor vehicles to be registered and marketed in the EU if they are not in conformity with the relevant legislation.'

The Department for Transport said it was monitoring the situation closely, but it could cost Mercedes almost £500 million in lost sales in the UK and more across Europe.

Mercedes predicts sales of about 15,000 A-Class cars this year, which cost from £18,970. About 6,500 £21,000 B-Class models and an estimated 800 of the £72,550 SL models are also expected to be bought by Britons – but all could remain unsold if the DVLA refuses to register them for the UK market.

Older models will be unaffected but from 2017 every vehicle released into the European car market must be installed with the new coolant.

Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, claims its tests show the new air-con chemical is 'highly flammable', poisonous and poses a danger to occupants and rescue services.

The European Commission is now involved in 11th hour talks with Mercedes. Volkswagen, which owns the Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands, has also refused to install the new coolant.

However, the fellow German manufacturer has insisted its engineers have designed a new coolant using carbon dioxide which adheres to the European environmental guidelines and is in advanced talks to use the new variant.

Mercedes claims it has instructed its engineers to design a similar chemical but the Commission denies knowledge of the plans. Critics have accused Mercedes of putting costs ahead  of global climate concerns because the new coolant is more expensive.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, who helped to draft the new law, said: 'This amounts to a declaration of war on Daimler. It is widely believed Daimler is trying to avoid paying extra costs of about £20 per vehicle.

'The Commission's briefing makes clear that new models using the old refrigerant should not be sold.'

Mercedes was last month confirmed as the leading premium brand in the UK. It registered 3,329 new cars in February – up 13.5 per cent on last year.

Professor Thomas Weber, from Daimler, claimed the  company was in the process of producing a new coolant using carbon dioxide which would be approved by the European Commission.

He said: 'Daimler has examined all possible options very closely over recent months and worked with the other manufacturers within the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) to find a solution that is acceptable to all.

'These efforts have shown clearly that CO2, is by far the most promising solution, as it is environmentally acceptable and safe. We have given our engineers the clear commission to develop the CO2 air-conditioning system.'

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'The safety of all road users is paramount. However, we have seen no evidence that the air-conditioning fluid in this case poses any risk in appropriately designed vehicles. We continue to monitor this issue and the European Commission is leading a review to ensure a consistent approach for all vehicle manufacturers and purchasers.'

The European Commission said it would not take action against anyone who has bought one of the affected Mercedes models since January 1. But a spokesman said it would continue to appeal to countries to enforce the legislation and ban future registration of all new vehicles that do not contain the new coolant gas.


How a gas goldmine could help Britain end debt nightmare

As you approach Ground Zero of Britain’s potential shale gas bonanza and alight next to a 10,000ft-deep hole dug five miles east of Blackpool, your nostrils are suddenly assailed by the overwhelming smell of methane.

At first, you think there must be some catastrophic failure of a gas pipe deep below, and you wonder if the ‘fracking revolution’ really can be the answer to keeping the lights on and Britain’s houses warm.

But the smell, it turns out, has nothing to do with the drilling of a gas well two miles below Lancashire farmland. The villains are cows in the neighbouring field, making their own, very distinctive, contribution to greenhouse gases.

The pretty village of Singleton is an unlikely setting for what might become Britain’s natural gas bonanza – Galveston, Texas or Qatar it emphatically is not, though Cuadrilla Resources, the drilling company, believes up to 200 trillion cubic feet of gas lies trapped below.

Cuadrilla estimates the value of the gas at £136 billion. It could theoretically satisfy our national gas consumption for 60 years, keeping our central heating boilers going while generating about 40 per cent of the electricity we need.

It could do for us now what North Sea oil did in the Seventies. And crucially, shale gas will not leave behind the toxic legacy of our nuclear power programme. We would feel richer again, we would feel at the cutting edge of a revolution and we would lose our baleful sense of energy ennui as Blackpool becomes the new Aberdeen.

So you would have thought the Government and the environmental lobby would be delighted at the news that Britain has exploitable reserves of the shale gas that is propelling America towards energy self-sufficiency and lower carbon emissions. But you would be wrong.

When it burns, shale gas emits half the CO2 of coal, bringing the green targets enshrined in Kyoto and other treaties within sight. Surely even the Lib Dems and their ‘Big Green’ allies, who have profited so handsomely from the billions of pounds of carbon taxes imposed on consumers, would concede this is a breakthrough in achieving the UK’s mandated target of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.

Fracking involves firing water into shale rock at very deep levels and at very high pressure to release gas. It does not despoil the landscape in the way coal-mining does. It does not put working men at risk from rock bursts underground, or coat their lungs with coal dust.

Once the well is dug and capped, the plant left on the site of the fracking is deliberately low-level, and scarcely visible from the road as naturally occurring gas is pumped silently into the grid. How could anyone who worries about the planet cavil at this?

Yet Greenpeace, the Green Party, and other environmental interests have responded to the shale gas opportunity as though the carbon-polluted sky had fallen in, and then they have used every trick of the planning regime to obstruct the work of Britain’s shale pioneers.

As we again turn up central heating thermostats to counter the snow  this weekend, there are warnings – now dismissed – that the country might run out of gas we import from Russian and Norwegian fields.

More worryingly, Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, Britain’s second biggest electricity supplier, accuses the Coalition of ‘significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the UK in the next three years’ as we close  coal-fired power stations to meet green targets. There is, he adds, ‘a very real risk of the lights going out as a result’.

Even as evidence that the planet is warming melts away like a snowball in late spring – as documented in forensic detail in last week’s Mail on Sunday – the Government is astonishingly complacent in attaching ever more draconian and regressive ‘carbon’ taxes to our utility bills.

One of the main reasons we are suffering a double-dip recession is the loss of revenue from falling North Sea oil production. On top of that, carbon taxes on our utility bills further reduce the spending power that might otherwise drive a consumer-led recovery.

We learned from the Budget statement last week that this year’s growth forecast has been halved to a feeble 0.6 per cent. Government spending and the deficit remain out of control, while debt as a share of the economy is on course to rise from a shocking 75.9 per cent to 85.6 per cent in 2016-17.

Surely George Osborne and David Cameron should be pushing through the exploitation of shale as a national economic imperative?

Yes, there was a passing reference in the Chancellor’s speech to shale gas being ‘part of the future’, and ill-defined promises of local incentives to head off Nimbyist tendencies around the drilling areas.

But there was no sense of urgency,  perhaps because had Mr Osborne shown extravagant support for  a new carbon fuel source, albeit a relatively green one, the Lib Dems would have kicked up a fuss.

The absurdity of the situation is that gas could have been gushing out of the Singleton well, boosting the Treasury’s coffers and getting us through this freezing winter had  our reaction to fracking not been so mealy-mouthed.

In the United States, shale is hailed as a saviour, an engine of growth, the creator of 600,000 new jobs, as Barack Obama said. In Britain, it is dismissed dismally as a threat to the future of the planet.

Officially Britain’s shale gas revolution was put on hold after Big Green managed to whip up a frenzy of contrived fear about two earth tremors in 2011 when Cuadrilla was conducting exploratory fracks. The tremors registered 2.3 and 1.5 on the Richter scale, making the latter some ten billion times less powerful than the 8.9 quake that caused the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

One of the Lancashire tremors occurred on April 1, prompting many locals who had not noticed it to assume media reports to be an elaborate joke.

Years ago, some journalists challenged each other to invent the dullest headline ever. The winner was ‘Small earthquake in Chile, not many dead’. In this case, the headline might have been ‘Two tremors in Lancashire, not many noticed’.

Yet Big Green seized upon these minor seismic events and forced Cuadrilla to suspend fracking operations. The saga of the trivial Lancashire tremors sums up the vacuity of the Coalition’s energy policy. It is not even clear fracking caused the tremors – in America, where tens of thousands of shale gas wells have been sunk, there have been almost no instances of uncontained geological activity.

Shale gas will not transform the energy market here as radically as it has shaken up the market in America, where natural gas prices have more than halved and cheap energy is encouraging manufacturing industries to come home in what has been called ‘re-shoring’.

Here is a carbon-based economic prediction: The American economy will bounce back into robust growth in the next two years, its recovery fuelled by cheap, relatively green shale gas. Meanwhile in Europe, where energy prices are kept high, only stagnation beckons.

In America, you own the gas or oil underneath your property, while in Britain the revenues go to the State, so there is no financial incentive to embrace the shale revolution.

But there is another reason why we  cannot embrace the benefits of abundant, cheap, green energy. Big Green does not want British consumers to have access to cheap shale gas – even if it reduces carbon emissions.

The narrative of the green lobby, and the one endorsed by the Coalition, is that we are running out of fossil fuels and that burning the remaining reserves destroys the planet.

The first proposition is absurd, as ever more vast reserves of shale gas and oil are discovered across Europe, Asia and Australia. The second, we now know, is bogus as the planet has stopped warming.

But the huge taxpayer subsidies to those interests behind wind and solar power are predicated on this narrative. Challenge it with the prospect of cheap and plentiful shale gas and the logic behind all the subsidies for wind and solar power collapses.

Renewable energy is only sustainable if fossil fuels are running out or if the Government taxes them into submission, which appears to be the Coalition’s preferred policy.

Our hills would not be despoiled with vast turbines but for the vast subsidies being handed out to the companies building wind-farms and the bribes to landowners with money expropriated from poor and middle-income earners through taxes and levies on their utility bills.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has belatedly latched on to the fraud agreed by Ed Miliband when Environment Secretary and now implemented by the Coalition. Two months ago, the committee’s Labour chairman, Margaret Hodge, described the Government’s contracts with wind energy companies as a ‘licence for the private sector to print money at the expense of consumers’.

The contracts are structured in such a way that firms receive the ‘green’ subsidies even if the energy goes unused. The Big Green speculators get a guaranteed return of ten to 11 per cent on contracts which, the committee said, ‘appear heavily skewed towards attracting investors rather than securing a good deal for consumers’.

It is not hard to see why environmental policy so blatantly favours green energy interests. Tim Yeo, Conservative chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, trebles his MP’s salary with his work for three renewable energy and transport firms.

And Lord Deben, chairman  of the ‘independent’, official and influential Committee on Climate Change, pockets unknown amounts as chairman of Sancroft, an environmental lobbying group. Such conflicts of interest would not be tolerated across the Atlantic, where a freer energy market allows shale gas to power up the economy, cut the deficit and reduce bills.

In America, carbon dioxide emissions are falling back to the levels seen in the early Nineties, and per capita emissions are now lower than in the Sixties as power generation shifts from dirty coal to shale gas.

Market forces are making America greener and more competitive. In Europe, ‘green’ policies are making us poorer and our industries less competitive, while only the well-connected insiders of Big Green direct policy – and get rich.


Zealots who will let the lights go out

A well-run state should never be taken by surprise. It should have plans for every reasonable contingency, and then a few more besides. But it is clear that the current blast of cold weather – not that unlikely in March – has exposed huge and worrying gaps in our energy plans.

More significantly, it has shown that the virtual takeover of Whitehall by Green zealots has actively prevented this country from making wise plans for the future.

Experts have been warning for more than a decade that Britain faces a power crisis in 2015, as North Sea gas supplies tail off, elderly nuclear power plants shut down and the EU Large Combustion Plant directive forces the closure of several coal-fired generating stations, one of which was actually switched off forever on Friday, when demand was at its peak.

In an age when so much of our economy and society are wholly dependent on computers, power cuts would be far more damaging than they were in the days of Ted Heath and his Three Day Week.

One obvious and straightforward escape route is available, the swift and widespread exploitation of shale gas, or fracking. As The Mail on Sunday shows today, this has transformed the energy position in the USA, simultaneously cutting costs and reducing carbon emissions.

While Britain cannot expect a boom of the same size, there is no doubt that this country contains substantial shale gas reserves. Yet the Green lobby, for no clear reason, opposes such a move. Ministers must challenge this pig-headed dogmatism, before the lights go out.




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


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