Friday, May 10, 2013
Low quality theological dispute over global warming
The quality of the exegetical reasoning by the Democrat is as we would expect. He looks at each text only through the red prism of his conviction that global warming is a threat. He calls climate skepticism "iniquity" and "fruit of lies", for instance. Looking at the texts in their own context is beyond him
In a nearly 17-minute speech on Wednesday evening, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) blasted an unnamed senator for saying God would protect the Earth from climate change.
“I was recently at a Senate hearing where I heard a member of our Senate community say, ‘God won’t allow us to ruin our planet,’” he remarked on the Senate floor. “Maybe that is why we do nothing.”
Whitehouse said the senator and others who thought similarly were seeking “magical deliverance from our troubles, not divine guidance through our troubles.” He cited numerous biblical passages that contradicted the notion that God “cleaned up” for human’s thoughtless and misguided actions.
“We are warned in the Bible not to plow iniquity, not to eat the fruit of lies,” Whitehouse said. “Where in the Bible are we assured of safety if we do? I see no assurances of that.”
“So why then, when we ignore his plain, natural laws, when we ignore the obvious conclusions to be drawn by our God-given intellect and reason, why then would God, the tidy-up God, drop in and spare us?” he added. “Why would he allow an innocent child to burn its hand when it touches the hot stove but protect us from this lesson? Why would he allow a badly engineered bridge or building to fall, killing innocent people, but protect us from this mistake?”
Whitehouse concluded that ignoring climate change was not only bad public policy, it was also immoral. He said God would not grant humanity amnesty from its own folly.
Automakers warn new ethanol mandate could damage vehicles
Automakers warn the government's ethanol mandate could damage vehicles if it continues to grow. "We just feel that it is not safe for the consumer. It's not safe for their engines," said Charles Drevna, executive president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.
The questions about ethanol arise after Congress first mandated it in 2007. Ninety-six percent of gasoline sold in the U.S. is now 10 percent ethanol, a high-octane fuel derived from corn. But under that bill and rules favored by the Environmental Protection Agency, refiners are now being forced to blend up to 15 percent ethanol into gasoline sold at stations around the U.S.
The auto industry, though, says E-15 -- as the blend is known -- corrodes pumps, fuel lines and injectors. And manufacturers say they won't cover damages caused by the higher blend.
The American Automobile Association agrees. "Ninety-five percent of today's cars are not suited for E-15 based on what people who make those cars say," said AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet.
The ethanol lobby claims automakers and refiners are overreacting. "E-15 has been sold in this country for the past nine months with no issues whatsoever. This is a lot of hysteria that's being driven by the oil companies," said Bob Dinneen, head of the Renewable Fuels Association.
While there have been no issues reported so far, the new blend has only been sold in a handful of stations in the Midwest. But refiners are mandated to use 13.8 billion gallons ethanol this year requiring the 15 percent blend. The EPA says it is safe for cars built after 2001, but acknowledges it is inappropriate for boats and small motors, including lawnmowers and chainsaws.
Automakers advise new owners not to fill up on E-15 and say doing so may violate warranty terms, leaving customers to pay costly repair bills. Toyota and Lexus even placed warning labels on gas caps and owner's manual instructions caution not to use E-15.
"We think ethanol is a pretty good product, up to a point," said Drevna. "But when Congress mandates such massive quantities that we can't put into the fuel system, that the autos and the lawnmowers people and the marine manufacturers are saying 'We won't warranty, we won't put this in our engines, there is a problem'."
Ethanol supporters dispute that and claim studies back them up. Ethanol blends of 25 percent have been used for years in Brazil with no ill effects on the same cars sold in the U.S.
"We support what the EPA did because we know that E-15 is safe for the vehicles for which they have approved," said Dinneen."Let the marketplace decide. Let consumers that have a newer vehicle, that want to use E-15, give them the choice. If they want to use E-15 because it is lower cost, because it's domestically produced, because it's the only thing we have that's going to reduce greenhouse gases, then they ought to have that choice."
After a lengthy comment period, the EPA is expected to decide soon whether or not to relax the blend mandate. Some lawmakers are considering similar legislation should the EPA fail to do so. Right now, it is a lobbying war pitting farmers against oil refiners and automakers.
"Look, this is pretty simple," said Dinneen. "It's about a battle for the barrel. Ethanol, renewable fuels, have been phenomenally successful over the last several years, and we are now 10 percent of the U.S. motor fuel market. And the refiners are saying, 'no more'. They don't want to see E-15 succeed. I think the American public still understands the value in reducing our dependence on imported oil and seeing more domestic renewable fuels used."
Obama’s Green Jobs Chief Resigns
The Labor Department chieftain responsible for the Obama Administration’s much-maligned green labor grants program has resigned effective May 31. Jane Oates oversaw a multi-billion budget for the Labor Department’s Employment Training Administration, the largest within the Department, overseeing such varied programs as Job Corps, the issuance of employment VISAs, and the nationwide network of career centers authorized under the Workforce Investment Act.
Recently, Oates has come under fire for the alleged mismanagement of the Job Corps program which was forced to freeze enrollments for three months due to overspending budgeted funds. Democratic Senator Robert Casey conducted a hearing in March featuring Oates and others trying to get to the bottom of the management failure and was left with more questions than answers.
Oates also became embroiled in controversy when her Agency awarded federal aid packages worth approximately $13,000 to former Solyndra employees, certifying that they were displaced due to foreign competition. Readers will recall that Solyndra was the California solar panel manufacturer which went out of business losing more than $500 million in taxpayer funds, becoming the symbol of Obama’s green energy investment failure.
Over the years, Oates has been an ardent advocate for the value of green job training programs awarding almost $400 million in green job grants, but has failed over the course of her four year tenure to show how a relationship between the training the Department provided and people getting jobs.
An Inspector General’s report released in October 2012 showed that under Oates’ leadership, the green jobs programs failed to meet many of the key metrics of success. Under the green jobs training programs only 38 percent of those who completed green job training getting jobs based upon that training, and a stunningly low 16 percent still had the job six months later.
Auditors for the Inspector General’s office very generously and maybe even sardonically reported, “Outcomes for participants were far less than originally proposed.”
OveThe agency she oversaw doled out billions of dollars in grants to targeted beneficiaries tasked with providing job training programs during her tenure.
No replacement is expected to be announced until after the Senate decides whether to confirm or reject Obama Labor Department Secretary nominee Thomas Perez.
Holding Energy Captive
For decades, Americans have been told of the evils of importing energy. It sends our money abroad, the argument goes, makes us vulnerable to supply disruptions, strengthens our enemies and weakens the economy.
Now, though, the tide is turning. Domestic natural gas production is booming. Not only will we no longer have to import the stuff, we'll actually have enough to start exporting. But to hear some people tell it, the only thing worse than importing energy is exporting energy.
Among those who have their doubts about this prospect is President Barack Obama. Current law requires the federal government to approve all sales of U.S. gas abroad, and that's not a sure thing. "I've got to make a decision -- an executive decision broadly about whether or not we export liquefied natural gas at all," he said recently.
Some congressional Democrats are discouraging him. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon warns that "major gas consumers could find themselves hit hard with energy price hikes and forced to sideline job-creating efforts" if producers can sell to just anyone. Shipping our homegrown supplies abroad "makes no sense," says Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Really? Usually when politicians talk about international trade, it's to decry imports and cheer exports. But these senators act as though letting natural gas leave U.S. soil will sap our vital essence.
Some corporations also oppose what they call "unfettered exports." Among them are Dow Chemical, Alcoa, Nucor and Eastman Chemical. They argue that selling American natural gas to Americans is good but selling it to foreigners is bad. They fret that foreign buyers will bid up the price of something they buy in great quantity.
The correct response to that fear is: So what? It's not the job of the federal government to intervene to depress prices of a commodity just because someone prefers cheap supplies. We don't forbid exports of wheat to control bread prices. We don't ban exports of electronics to keep Best Buy in business.
Every dollar that export controls save one corporation is a dollar that gas producers won't get. There is no compelling reason for the Energy Department to favor one over the other. If buyers in Europe are willing to pay more for gas, American petroleum companies should be free to sell to them.
Dow complains that exports could "disrupt natural gas supply and pricing." It has not, however, objected to the "disruptions" that in the past five years have increased supply while slashing prices by two-thirds.
Besides, it's not clear that allowing sales abroad would have much impact on American purchasers. The Energy Department says that if exports climb, prices could increase by a quarter over the next five years. But that would leave them considerably below the levels that prevailed before 2008.
Our usual approach in matters like these is to let prices be determined by the free interplay of supply and demand. If American gas companies can get a better return selling abroad, who is the government to stop them? If a foreigner offered you the highest price for your house, would you want someone in Washington to veto the deal?
Some environmental groups oppose gas exports out of fear that more gas means more ecological damage. But utilities that rely on gas emit far less carbon dioxide than those that use coal. The U.S. shift to gas has already cut our greenhouse emissions to the lowest level since 1994.
As for any damage from hydraulic fracturing used to extract gas, exports are irrelevant. It occurs regardless of where the gas is sold. The right way to address it is by penalizing companies that contaminate groundwater or cause other destruction.
Behind the opposition to gas exports is the suspicion that shipping a vital commodity to foreigners instead of keeping it for ourselves must be a mistake. But international trade is built on people in each country producing and selling what people elsewhere want.
It's hard to argue that Middle Eastern oil states are exploiting us when they sell us fuel -- and that Europeans will also be exploiting us when they buy it. In reality, no one is getting hosed in either instance. The exchanges occur because they benefit both parties.
That's especially obvious in the case of natural gas exports. But some politicians have a gift for missing the value of trade. They call to mind H.L. Mencken's definition of a cynic: "A man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."
Canadian follies questioned
"Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver should reject the pleas of twelve climate scientists, economists and policy experts who signed an open letter urging him to make greenhouse gas impacts “a central consideration” of Canada’s hydrocarbon resources development,” said Tom Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).
“Energy plans should be restricted to addressing only the environmental concerns we know to be real, such as air, land and water pollution. The linkage between energy usage and climate is far too tenuous to be included in any serious national discussions about energy.”
“It is utter nonsense to say, as the open letter signers did, that ‘the responsibility for preventing dangerous climate change rests with today’s policymakers,’” said ICSC Science Advisory Board member, Dr. Tim Ball, former University of Winnipeg climatology professor. “We can’t even properly forecast global climate, let alone control it. The open letter’s advocacy of “avoiding 2?C of global warming” by altering our energy policy is ridiculous when cooling is more probable, and may have already started.”
“Spending billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a vain attempt to stop non-existent global warming is a tragic waste of our resources,” continued Ball. “By all means, we should work to control real pollution, but CO2, the greenhouse gas most under attack by climate campaigners, is a benefit to the environment, its rise resulting in more crop yield and a densification of forests.”
Speaking about the primary basis of the climate alarm, the forecasts of computerized climate models, applied mathematics professor and ICSC science advisor Dr. Chris Essex of the University of Western Ontario explained, “They can't predict the future because they are not comprehensive implementations of known physics. They are empirically based models of the type that would be used in an engineering problem, but without the empirical validation that must be done for engineering.”
“Many people, including people with PhDs, are very weak on this issue,” asserted Essex. "The big policy questions are beyond the best models we can currently make. Climate is far from a simple solved scientific problem, despite rampant proclamations and simplistic analogies suggesting otherwise. Policymakers, not to mention academics, must come to terms with that."
“Climate change appears to be driven primarily by natural variability,” said former Environment Canada Research Scientist and ICSC science advisor Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar. “The Earth has not warmed in last 16 years, despite about 250 billion tonnes of CO2 put out by human activity worldwide. Regardless, the net effect of any possible future warming and rising CO2 is most likely to be beneficial to humans, plants and wildlife.”
The real concern is possible global cooling, something that could have a disastrous effect on Canada, Khandekar, a contributing author to the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, warns. “Since the start of the new millennium, winters have become colder and snowier in Europe and North America. Winters in South America and South Africa have also become colder,” Khandekar explained. “North America may also quite likely see even colder winters in the next few years if forecasts of dropping solar activity prove to be correct.”
“The dozen academics who just signed the open letter to Minister Oliver are right about one thing: we do need a ‘serious debate about climate change and energy in this country,’” said Harris. “ICSC also encourages the Government to convene open, unbiased hearings into the state of modern climate science, inviting experts of all reputable points of view to testify. Only then will the public come to appreciate the vast uncertainty in this, arguably the most complex science ever tackled.”
Rich Greens Killing Jobs for Ordinary Americans
By Marita Noon
Last month, Earth Day came and went. Perhaps you missed hearing about it. For 2013, the theme was “The Face of Climate Change.” Other than a change in the Post Office cancellation mark on your letters from the usual wavy lines, to the four stick-like wind turbines and a sun symbol, there was little note of what was once an event celebrated by 20 million Americans. Tim Wagner, Utah representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign, groused: “Media coverage of global warming has virtually disappeared.”
According to EarthDayCentral.com, one of the goals of Earth Day is to help you “Discover what you can do to save the environment.”
Perhaps, people no longer see the need for planetary salvation.
The Christian Science Monitor offered an Earth Day 2013 report card on global warming. The author starts with: “When Earth Day observances first began in 1970, Cleveland had recently doused a pollutant-fueled fire on a section of the Cuyahoga River. Cities were often shrouded in thick blankets of smog. And large portions of Lake Erie were so fouled by industrial, farm, and sewage runoff that sections of the 241-mile-long lake were pronounced dead.”And later, he reports: “Since that first Earth Day, the air over major cities is cleaner. Lake Erie is healthier. So is the Cuyahoga River, which groups in Cleveland would like to turn into a centerpiece of urban life. The improvements have come with ‘yes, but…’ as other environmental challenges have elbowed their way to the fore. But for the most part, tools are in place to deal with them.”
As Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, explains, the ‘80s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues, for which he and Greenpeace fought, had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to remain employed, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions. Moore says: “What happened is environmental extremism. They’ve abandoned science and logic altogether.” Their message today is “anti:” anti-human, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-trade and globalization, anti-business and capitalism, and ultimately, anti-civilization.
Moore’s view helps understand how the environmental movement has gone from trying to save the planet to killing the U.S. economy.
The American economy has some basic problems. We need more well-paid jobs, increased revenue, and our trade balance is out of whack. Each of these issues could be easily addressed, but environmentalists are doing everything they can to kill potential solutions. Three such examples are coal mining and exporting; natural gas extraction and conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG) that can then be exported; and the Keystone pipeline—all of which face extreme opposition from environmentalists.
The U.S. has the world’s largest economically recoverable coal resources—with more than one-fourth of the world’s reserves. Unfortunately, our policies have stymied growth in the mining industry. Bill Bissett, President of Kentucky Coal Association, told me: “Our industry is accustomed to market fluctuations and competition with other fuel sources, but having a federal government place additional regulations on one geographic region (Eastern KY and WV) and one industry (coal mining) is absolutely unfair.”
Last month, environmental groups (including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace) sent a letter to newly confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Montana and Wyoming—which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. coal reserves. The results of a recent lease sale in Wyoming, offers insight regarding the economic importance of leasing these federal lands for coal mining.
Peabody Coal paid nearly $800 million to the U.S. Government for the rights to expand an existing coal mine and maintain their current workforce. The $800 million was a “bonus payment” and gives them the right to lease the coal and pay 12.5 percent of the sales price as a royalty. According to data from the Bureau of Land Management, 13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the PRB alone employ more than 6,800 workers.
While, as Bissett addressed, policy under this administration has harshly singled out coal and the coal miners for punishment, coal’s low cost and abundance continues to make it a highly preferential fuel for power generation in developing countries like China and India. And, as I’ve previously written, even Europe is increasing its use of coal for electricity generation, as they’ve discovered the prohibitively high cost of renewables. In 2011, exports to European and Asian markets represented 76 percent of total U.S. coal exports—up 31 percent compared to 2010.
Currently, U.S. coal is easily shipped to Europe from ports on the east coast, but the U.S.is missing out on the important Asian market—now being met by more expensive Australian competitors—due to infrastructure opposition from environmental groups. In the Los Angeles Times (LAT), Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and a legend in the world of climate activism, wrote: “Those exports can’t really take off, however, unless West Coast ports dramatically expand their deepwater loading capacity. … Environmentalists are trying desperately to block the port expansion.”
Addressing the situation, the Wall Street Journal states: “there are now no major coal exporting facilities on the U.S. West Coast. Washington State, with its proximity to coal-rich Wyoming and Montana, is seen as the best place to start.” PRB coal is being shipped to China and India through Vancouver. Additionally, the countries’ needs are being filled by Australian and Indonesian coal—so environmentalists’ fears that shipping U.S. coal will undermine “everything we’ve accomplished,” as Sierra Club spokesman David Graham-Caso says, are wrong.
The coal is being shipped and used—but the U.S. is losing out on the jobs (which would be mostly union jobs), the revenue, and the benefit to the trade deficit. The LAT/McKibben piece cites KC Golden, policy director of Seattle’s Climate Solutions group: “Can you imagine standing at the mouth of the Columbia River, watching ships sail in from Asia carrying solar panels and electric car batteries and plasma TVs, passing ships from America carrying coal?” Worse, can you imagine all those goods coming in—manufactured using Australian coal-fueled electricity, and nothing going out? That’s what we have now.
A report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation states: “U.S. production will merely replace higher cost production. … Neither net world coal combustion nor GHG emissions will change as a result of an expansion of U.S. coal exports.” The report concludes: “The higher net value received is in effect a wealth transfer from foreign consumers to U.S. producers and the national economy. This net gain to the national economy shows up in higher returns to invested capital, greater employment opportunities from expanded investment, higher revenues to state, local and federal governments, and higher lease values on coal reserves from federal and state lands.”
But environmental groups don’t want this “net economic gain to the national economy.” Apparently, they’d prefer that we continue to borrow from China’s Australian coal-fueled economy.
LNG faces a similar problem. Natural gas was once the favored choice of environmentalists—until privately funded hydraulic fracturing (or high-pressure drilling) advancements made it plentiful and, consequently cheap. The low-cost fuel snatched away the fossil fuel-free dream that seemed to be almost within reach. Now environmentalists oppose natural gas as well. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas site claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy.”
Many countries want U.S. natural gas. Unlike coal, natural gas cannot just be put on a ship and sent to the awaiting customer. It must first be liquefied—hence the term LNG. The liquefaction process requires costly facilities, which, for economic reasons, need a large customer base—many with which the U.S. does not have free trade agreements (though the Energy Department can permit them, provided it determines that such ventures are consistent with the public interest).
The International Business Times, on March 1, 2013, reported that: “As of this date, 17 applications for multi-billion-dollar facilities to turn the commodity into liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for export are under review by the Energy Department.” Let’s hope they don’t take as many years and as many reviews as the Keystone pipeline.
LNG exports could have a tremendous positive impact on the U.S. economy. A recent IHS global insight report concluded that LNG exports would “result in the creation of over 100,000 direct, indirect, and economy wide jobs and have an immediate economic impact resulting in $3.6 to $5.2 billion in potential annual revenues.”
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Posted by JR at 2:48 PM