Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fracking support going  bipartisan

As he weighs whether to allow fracking in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under intense pressure from the oil and gas industry, Republican lawmakers and long-struggling communities eager to see the drilling technique jump-start the state’s economy.

But last week, the governor came under pressure from another source — a fellow Democrat. In a strong endorsement of hydraulic fracturing, former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell urged Mr. Cuomo to “do as I did: Step back and look at the facts. See the bigger picture.”

In a piece for the New York Daily News, Mr. Rendell touted the benefits of fracking that he saw firsthand as drilling in the Marcellus Shale helped revive long-depressed towns in the western and northern reaches of Pennsylvania.

It’s just one example of how fracking has earned unusually broad support from across the political spectrum, breaking down partisan barriers in surprising ways.

The hydraulic fracturing process extracts oil and natural gas from deep within shale rock formations by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell saw firsthand how drilling in the Marcellus Shale helped revive long-depressed towns in parts of his state. He is trying to convert fellow Democrats.

Fracking’s loudest and most effective cheerleaders aren’t just from inside the industry or from the Republican Party. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, also has become a champion of the process, as have Democratic members of Congress from oil- and gas-producing states. Leading Democrats who have offered kind words for fracking include California Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, whose state is one of the nation’s prime beneficiaries of the revolutionary drilling technique.

President Obama’s pick to head the Energy Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Ernest Moniz, has come under fire from environmental groups in large part for his strong backing of fracking and his argument that natural gas produced by fracking can serve as a “bridge fuel” to a greener future.

“This is actually a very interesting situation for the Democratic Party. There are still Democrats who believe that the party is not just a party of environmentalism and feminism,” said Robert Nelson, a public policy professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in environmental issues.

Some Democrats think the party “is actually a party of jobs and good management and sensible environmental improvement,” he said.

Mr. Hickenlooper is one Democrat searching for a balance between environmental protection and energy production, and he has overseen dramatic increases in that production since he became governor. Mr. Hickenlooper also defended fracking in front of Congress and sued at least two Colorado towns that have tried to ban the process through local ordinances.

Last week, Mr. Hickenlooper took to a debate stage at the University of Denver to defend fracking and the state’s right to overrule local governments that want to curb the process in their jurisdictions.

Like Mr. Moniz, he also made the case that fracking for natural gas will help the U.S. transition from coal and its heavier carbon footprint.

“Inexpensive natural gas is the best opportunity we have to transition to a greener economy,” Mr. Hickenlooper said.

Mr. Rendell and Mr. Hickenlooper, like all other Democrats who back domestic oil and gas development, certainly aren’t arguing for lax environmental regulations. Colorado’s fracking regulations, for example, are among the toughest in the nation.


Who needs DDT when you've got Kidney beans?

DDT wiped out bedbugs so thoroughly that it was a long road back for them  -- but back they are

A traditional Balkan bedbug remedy has been shown stab and trap the biting insects, according to a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Just in time, too. Bedbugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S. in recent years, infesting everything from homes and hotels to schools, movie theaters and hospitals. Although not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause burning, itching, swelling and psychological distress. It helps to catch infestations early, but the nocturnal parasites' ability to hide almost anywhere, breed rapidly and "hitchhike" from place to place makes detection difficult. They can survive as long as a year without a blood meal.

Current commercial prevention methods, including freezing, extreme heating, vacuuming and pesticides, can be costly and unreliable. Many sufferers resort to ineffective, potentially dangerous measures, such as spraying non-approved insecticides themselves rather than hiring a professional.

Now researchers have documented how microscopic hairs on kidney bean leaves are effective pest control and they're developing materials that mimic the geometry of the leaves. The work was motivated by a centuries-old remedy for bedbugs formerly used in Bulgaria, Serbia and other southeast European countries. Kidney bean leaves were strewn on the floor next to beds and seemed to ensnare the blood-seeking parasites on their nightly forays. The bug-encrusted greenery was burned the next morning to exterminate the insects.

Through painstaking detective work, the scientists discovered that the creatures are trapped within seconds of stepping on a leaf, their legs impaled by microscopic hooked hairs known botanically as trichomes.

Using the bean leaves as templates, the researchers have microfabricated materials that closely resemble them geometrically. The synthetic surfaces snag the bedbugs temporarily but do not yet stop them as effectively as real leaves, suggesting that crucial mechanics of the trichomes still need to be determined.

Theoretically, bean leaves could be used for pest control, but they dry out and don't last very long. They also can't easily be applied to locations other than a floor. Synthetic materials could provide a nontoxic alternative.

"Plants exhibit extraordinary abilities to entrap insects," said entomologist Catherine Loudon of UC Irvine, lead author of the paper. "Modern scientific techniques let us fabricate materials at a microscopic level, with the potential to 'not let the bedbugs bite' without pesticides."

"Nature is a hard act to follow, but the benefits could be enormous,"  said entomologist and co-author Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky. "Imagine if every bed bug inadvertently brought into a dwelling was captured before it had a chance to bite and multiply."


Blow Off Pampered Greenies, Build Keystone XL

Recycling is fine. Conservation is fine. But sometimes greenies cross the line. They expect you and me to go jobless and hungry so they can save a porcupine.

President Obama has been pampering his radical greenie friends for far too long. Even the Presidents’ State Department has thrice declared Keystone XL to be environmentally safe. Let’s build it already.

Keystone XL is a well-thought-out project that has been in the hopper since 2005 when TransCanada Corp. initially proposed it. Canada’s National Energy Board approved the project on its end in 2007. Five years later, in April of 2013, Canada is still patiently waiting for us to approve this no-brainer, win-win $7 billion jobs and energy infrastructure project.

Here are the facts. Keystone XL would mean:

 *  A daily surge of between 700,000 and 800,000 barrels of crude oil for America.

 *  Stronger relations with our neighbor and ally, Canada.

 *  No significant negative impact on the environment.

 *  Employment for individuals in the construction sector, which has been hard-hit by the recession (the construction unemployment rate is over 16 percent).

The Keystone XL pipeline would initiate in Alberta and then traverse across six states in the contiguous U.S. to its final destination of Texas Gulf Coast refineries. One of these six states is Nebraska, home of Obama’s dear friend Warren Buffet.

Buffett opposes Keystone XL because it means that he will lose some of the profit he’s pulling from his $26 billion 2009 investment in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company.

Railroads are highly dangerous, inefficient and unreliable as a means of transporting crude oil. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that pipelines transport more crude at less risk of incurring a leak or spill than railroads and that railroad spills are up more than tenfold. Plus, pipelines take routes that are located further from dense population zones, making them safer, even if there is a spill.

Luckily for you, Buffet does not represent Nebraska in the U.S. Senate. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) recently authored H.R. 3, which would bypass President Obama’s unconstitutional and unreasonable use of executive authority (known as a “presidential permit” in this case) to block Keystone XL.

This month, Robert E. Hogfoss and Catherine D. Little published a piece in the National Law Journal explaining that: “… permits are a creation of the executive branch alone, with no legislative authorization and limited judicial review to date. Presidential permits are intended to provide executive branch review of trans-border facilities and commercial activities between the United States and either Canada or Mexico. No statute authorizes their creation or use, and few regulations govern their review or issuance.”

In other words, there is no hard constitutional or statutory basis for presidential permits. The President really has no business controlling or blocking free enterprise in America or the development of America’s natural resources. But, U.S. Presidents have become quite savvy at finding legitimate-sounding ways to grant themselves whatever power the Constitution does not give them.

President Roosevelt was the first U.S. President to use his executive authority to claim that Congress would need a so-called “presidential permit” in order to approve trans-border natural gas or electric operations. And the rest is history. President Obama now appears to be contemplating using a “presidential permit” to stall Keystone XL.

I recently asked Canadian writer Alex Snyder to give me his take on Keystone XL:

“Canada relies on America for 97 percent of its energy exports, so to say this deal is important for our country would be accurate. The main environmental concerns from certain groups in America is the fact that there is a risk of an oil spill… First, there's risk of a spill in any oil transportation method, so the argument is invalid. Second, tar sands are becoming more environmentally friendly due to stricter environmental regulations from the Canadian government. American environmental groups show little understanding of Canadian politics when they question production methods. Additionally, most companies in the oil sands are continually improving extraction methods to limit their environmental impact, and have incentive to do so. No oil company enjoys the negative publicity that arises from environmental carnage. …Canadians realize Keystone XL… should be approved; it’s just embarrassing that it’s being held up by environmental fanatics.”

The bottom line is that we risk jeopardizing our relationship with Canada and losing economic growth opportunity out of false fears of environmental repercussions. Let’s stop pampering the greenies and build Keystone XL.


The Right Climate Stuff - CPAC 2013, Washington, DC, March 15, 2013

[94-minute video] Apollo 7 Astronaut and author Walter Cunningham and two former NASA engineers discuss why they are urging government agencies to cease their "unbridled advocacy" of Anthropogenic Global Warming & Return Integrity to the Scientific Method. The video features presentations by Cunningham; Harold Doiron, consultant to NASA and commercial rocket developers; and Thomas Wysmuller, meteorologist, New York University and the Royal Dutch Weather Bureau.

An open letter to David Attenborough about polar bears

by John Happs

Dear Sir David,

I have written to you previously to congratulate you on the excellence of your wildlife documentaries. There is no doubt that your dedication and professionalism have brought pleasure, information and awareness to millions of viewers around the world.

On a more critical note, I expressed to you my concern about public comments you have made about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW).

I provided ample documented evidence to show that:

(a) Carbon dioxide has never driven global temperature over geologic time;

(b) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process and findings cannot be trusted;

(c) The broader scientific and political communities are now seriously questioning the alarmist message of CAGW.

In the BBC1 series on Africa you claimed that the wildlife there was at a “pivotal moment in their history” and “Africa’s climate is certainly changing. Some parts of the continent have become 3.5oC hotter in the past 20 years.”(1)

When challenged about this, the BBC indicated that the claim of a 3.5oC rise over 20 years was sourced from a Christian Aid report. The BBC acknowledged that the 3.5oC claim, based on that NGO source, had no basis in fact and the statement would be removed when the program was repeated. To its credit, the BBC honoured that commitment.

I am concerned when you, Sir David, lend your reputation and authority to bolster alarmist messages about dramatic Arctic sea ice retreat and, by unsubstantiated association, the threat to polar bear populations (2)

The Oasis Nature Channel has presented a series of programs entitled Extinctions, about animals under threat. The first of the series was about polar bears, which they referred to as the canaries in the global-warming coalmine, ignoring the fact that polar bear numbers are actually the highest since records began. (3)

Spreading unwarranted alarmism about CAGW and the demise of polar bears appears to be the hallmark of a number of radical environmentalists and other vested interest groups. For instance, in his book We are the Weather Makers (4) Australia’s Chief Climate Commissioner, Professor Tim Flannery writes:

“With each year, starving females give birth to fewer cubs.” (P93)


“In the spring of 2006, for the first time Inuit began to find drowned polar bears: the ice is now too far from shore.” (P93)


“So fast are the changes that there are likely to be few or no polar bears in the wild by around 2030.” (P94)

Other alarmists, such as Steven Amstrup, have said that polar bears, depending on sea ice for hunting seals, are in trouble because sea ice is decreasing due to global warming. (5)

The alarmist World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claimed that polar bears with triplet cubs have been declining, yet recent sightings from Arctic guides report "frequent sightings of polar bear mothers with triplets.” (6)

Serial alarmist Dr Andrew Derocher from the World Conservation Union, also knows how to make exaggerated and emotive statements about global warming and subsequent threats to polar bears. He says:

“It’s not fun to see a mother bear watch her cubs falling dead because she can no longer nurse them.”


“We want governments to be ready with conservation and management plans for polar bears when a worst-case climate change scenario happens.”  (7)

In 2004, Dr Lara Hansen from the WWF said that bears in the Hudson Bay region could become so thin by 2012 they may no longer be able to reproduce. (8)

If the public were to take seriously such alarmist messages about dangerous global warming and the plight of the polar bear they could be led to believe that:

(a)    Global warming is melting all the Arctic sea ice;
(b)    Polar bears will be isolated from their food supplies;
(c)    Polar bears are already starving;
(d)    Polar bears are endangered. Soon they will only be found in zoos.

So what facts about polar bears should be conveyed to the public and politicians by responsible media personalities? The answer to this question should be sought from those who have both expertise in this area and no vested interest in promoting alarmism about Arctic ice and polar bears.

There is little doubt that, several decades ago, polar bears were under threat. In the 1950’s their numbers were down to around 5,000 although they were not threatened by climate change. Rather they were facing threats from high-powered rifles and few restrictions on hunting.

Today, about 450 polar bears are legally killed and skinned annually in Canada, essentially by Inuit hunters in Nunavut. Polar bear pelts can fetch a minimum of 1,750 USD. (9)

Thanks to the introduction of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and the 1974 International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears, hunting is now restricted and numbers now exceed 25,000.Arctic biologist Dr Mitchell Taylor is currently studying 13 populations. He says:

"Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."  (10)

Dr Susan Crockford a zoologist & evolutionary biologist at the University of Victoria, Canada points out that polar bears have adapted to severe climate change in the past and they will adapt in the future. She says:

“Polar Bears successfully adapted to times when there was both much less, and much more, Arctic sea ice than exists today. Polar bears obviously have strategies for surviving dramatic changes in sea ice conditions – we just don’t know yet what all of them are.” (11)

Dr. Olafur Ingolfsson, from the University of Iceland, has conducted extensive field research in the Arctic. He says:

“We have this specimen that confirms the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period.” (12)

A study by Miller et al. (2012), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has demonstrated that polar bears are superbly adapted to the extreme Arctic environment and that brown bears and polar bears have had sufficiently independent evolutionary histories over the last 4 million to 5 million years to leave imprints in the polar bear nuclear genome that are associated with ecological adaptation to the Arctic environment. (13)

Dycka et al. (2007) reported:

“We found that spring air temperatures around the Hudson Bay basin for the past 70 years (1932–2002) show no significant warming trend and are more likely identified with the large-amplitude, natural climatic variability that is characteristic of the Arctic. Any role of external forcing by anthropogenic greenhouse gases remains difficult to identify. We argue, therefore, that the extrapolation of polar bear disappearance is highly premature. Climate models are simply not skilful for the projection of regional sea-ice changes in Hudson Bay or the whole Arctic.”  (14)

Arctic sea ice has been extremely variable over the last few million years and polar bears have already demonstrated an ability to survive short-term (decadal) and long-term (glacial-interglacial) fluctuations of ice, as has the polar bear’s main source of food – the Arctic seal. Both are extremely well-adapted to their highly changeable environment.


Not Yet Time to Declare Victory over Climate Anti-Capitalists
By Peter Wilson

Some climate change skeptics have begun to express optimism recently, based in part on a mildly skeptical article in the normally true-believer Economist magazine.  On AT, for example, Jonathon Moseley argued in "The Coming Global Warming Voter Backlash" that the planet hasn't been warming since 1998, and global warming zealots can prevaricate for only so long before voters rise up and throw the bums out.

Mr. Moseley's article was well-written, but it has one fatal flaw: it appeals to rational argument and scientific facts.  Global warming activists, for all their appeals to "Science," have a religious conviction that won't be swayed by such arguments.

Consider the following:

1. That Economist article, the so-called final nail in the coffin -- ends with several paragraphs warning about how "the world has pumped out half a trillion tonnes of carbon since 1750," concluding: "Despite all the work on sensitivity, no one really knows how the climate would react if temperatures rose by as much as 4°C. Hardly reassuring."

2. Gallup released its annual poll of attitudes toward global warming this week.  Americans who "personally worry about global warming" rose from 55% in 2012 to 58% in 2013.  Furthermore, "[c]urrently, 57% of Americans say global warming is caused by human activities, up from 50% in 2010."  It's tough to get a meaningful voter backlash from the remaining 42-43%.

3. Media: The promotion of warmism in the mainstream media continues unabated.  Never mind the Huffington Post; on Monday, the conservative Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by two Fellows at the conservative Hoover Institution, former Reagan cabinet member George Schultz and 1992 Nobel laureate in economics Gary S. Becker.  The authors call (once again) for "a revenue-neutral tax on carbon," which they call "a major pollutant."  Unless they're referring to bits of carbon in fly ash, I assume that they mean carbon dioxide -- which is a non-toxic gas essential for plant life.  Calling CO2 a pollutant is idiotic and destructive in that it distracts from efforts to control real pollutants.

Schultz and Becker naively believe that the federal government will keep its hands out of the carbon tax cookie jar, just like it did with Social Security lockbox.  They further note that "[t]he tax should also further increase over time if the apparent severity of the climate effects is growing."  And who would make this determination?  Every "superstorm" like Hurricane Sandy will henceforth justify tax hikes.

4. Courts: As I mentioned, only the uninformed believe that CO2 is a pollutant.  Except, oh yeah, in 2007, the Supreme Court found in Massachusetts v. EPA that carbon dioxide qualifies as a pollutant and is subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.  In June 2012, the New York Times reported:

    "A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that heat-trapping gases from industry and vehicles endanger public health, dealing a decisive blow to companies and states that had sued to block agency rules... The judges unanimously dismissed arguments from industry that the science of global warming was not well supported and that the agency had based its judgment on unreliable studies. "This is how science works," they wrote. "The E.P.A. is not required to reprove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question."

5. Then there's the United Nations, where work at the IPCC goes merrily along.  We read on their home page that "[p]reparations for Assessment Report 5 enter final stage."

Over at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change webpage, we learn that Bonn, Germany is preparing for the "second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2)" later this month.  The Framework Convention announces that another country "deposited its instrument of accession to the Kyoto Protocol" -- namely, that massive carbon-based economy of..Afghanistan:

    "The Kyoto Protocol will enter into force for Afghanistan on 23 June 2013. This brings the total number of States and regional economic integration organizations that have deposited instruments of ratifications/accessions/approvals/acceptances to 192."

Almost all of the 193 members of the United Nations, including North Korea and Somalia, have signed on -- with the notable exception of Canada (Go Canada!), which renounced the treaty in 2005.  One state has signed but does not intend to ratify: the United States.

6. In the federal government, we have Barack Obama community-organizing an army of unelected bureaucrats in the EPA and various agencies, encouraging extra-legislative rulemaking.

An article in Forbes in 2011 reports: "According to the GAO, annual federal climate spending has increased from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $8.8 billion in 2010, amounting to $106.7 billion over that period."

7. State and local government: Two years ago, I posted an article on AT on "Global Warming Alarmism's Long March through State and Local Institutions":

    "State climate legislation is not limited to the bluest states.  A 2009 report from the [Pew Center for Climate and Energy Solutions] lists 36 states with State Climate Action Plans [in 2013, two more states have climate plans "in progress."]  Thirty states have mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards requiring a percentage (on average 20%) of electricity to be supplied by renewable sources.  Five more states have RPS "goals."  States without an official Climate Plan are sure to have numerous climate programs.  Alaska has a Climate Change Sub-Cabinet position in former Governor Palin's office.  Red state, oil-rich Texas is home to the Texas Climate Initiative, the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, and the Texas State Energy Conservation Office.  The Mayor of San Antonio is pushing a green jobs initiative.  Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are all members of Clean Cities Coalitions, and not surprisingly, Austin has its own Climate Protection Program, whose goal is "to make Austin the leading city in the nation in the fight against climate change."

Rather than backing off, states are upping the ante.  California recently pushed ahead suicidal mandates that require 33% of electricity to be renewable, three-quarters of which must be generated in the state.

International organizations like ICLEI -- Local Governments for Sustainability -- continue to do their work year after year.

8. The foundation world, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, overwhelmingly supports the warmist cause, with huge sums in funding for lobbying and research (that starts with AGW as an assumption rather than a hypothesis).

In sum, aside from the media, the U.N., federal, state and local governments, the U.S. population, charitable foundations, the Supreme Court, and federal courts, we're winning the battle.  And I never got around to universities and schools, popular culture...

At least the House of Representatives doesn't appear to be going wobbly.




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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