Thursday, August 01, 2013

1,700 U.S. cities will be below sea level by 2100?

By Geologist Dr. Don J. Easterbrook

More than 1,700 American cities and towns – including Boston, New York, and Miami – will be drowning by the end of this century according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Benjamin Strauss. Twenty five percent of the populations of these 1,700 cities would be living below sea level by 2100 and 79 cities with a combined population of 835,000 would be submerged by 2023 and about half of the population of Fort Lauderdale, Hoboken, and Palm Beach would be submerged by 2023 according to Strauss.

The basis for these amazing conclusions is apparently a 12 inch (222 cm) per decade rise of global sea level, the maximum IPCC estimate, which is postulated to be caused by increasing atmospheric CO2.

How does this compare with sea level rise over the past century? Sea level rose 12 cm (6 ½ inches) from 1900 to 1980  or about 7 inches per century.

Projecting this same rate over the next century would give a sea level rise of about 2 inches by 2030 and about 6 inches by the end of century.

The difference between the two projections is remarkable. The rate used by Strauss for his predictions of 1700 submerged cities is more than 10 times the rate over the past century!

Two questions immediately arise: (1) what is going to cause such accelerated sea level rise and (2) where is all the water going to come from?
The accelerated rise is based on postulated accelerated warming but there has been no warming in the past 15 years and, in fact, the climate has cooled during that time. So no climatic warming means no accelerated sea level rise as postulated by Strauss.

In order to get the accelerated sea level rise postulated by Strauss, much of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets would have to  melt.  However the Antarctic ice cap is expanding, not meltng and the Greenland ice cap was about the same size as at present during the Holocene Climatic Optimum.

The conclusion that we can draw from these data is that the huge rise of sea level rates proposed by Strauss are absurd and that the *maximum* sea level rise by 2100 will be less than one foot.


Fracking yields trillions in benefits

By Paul Driessen

Signs of pride and prosperity were evident all over Williamsport and the gorgeous northern Pennsylvania countryside around it. Friendly, happy people greeted us. New cars, trucks, hotels and restaurants sparkled in a clean, bustling downtown. New roofs topped barns and houses, while late model tractors worked the fields. Formerly dirt roads are now paved.

Men and women again have high-paying jobs, young people are coming back instead of moving away, their salaries are supporting other businesses and jobs, and many are taking college programs in oilfield technical and business specialties, Vince Matteo told me.

As President and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, he’s witnessed the transformation: “98 percent of the change has been positive,” he says. Contributions to United Way are increasing each year, county infrastructure has improved enormously, and environmental impacts are minimal.

Visits to several Anadarko Petroleum drilling and fracking sites explained why. The operations are far more high-tech than what I had seen previously on rigs in the Rocky Mountains, off the Louisiana and California coasts, and last fall in Alberta’s oil sands region. Hydraulic fracturing was first employed in Kansas in 1947. But steadily improved fracking technology is now combined with computers, down-hole sensors and microseismic instruments. Drilling equipment lets crews send a bit 6,000 feet down and 8,000 feet laterally into Marcellus Shale formations – and end up within 3 feet of their intended target!

The operations are conducted from atop a multi-layered felt and impermeable plastic pad, surrounded by a berm, to keep unlikely spills from contaminating farm and forest land. Multiple wells are drilled from a single pad and “kicked out” horizontally in various directions. The drilling rig is skidded a short distance to four or five more locations around the pad, the entire array is fractured at high pressure, and short wellheads are installed to collect natural gas, and send it to local and interstate pipeline networks.

A nearby impoundment is also lined with plastic to hold water for fracturing operations. Topsoil removed to prepare the pad and pond is stored nearby. As operations are finished, the land is reclaimed, topsoil is replaced, and local grasses, flowers and shrubs are planted, to create meadows for deer and wild turkeys – or anything else the landowners prefer.To launch 20-40 years of hydrocarbon production from a 15,000-acre (23-square-mile) area requires barely 2% surface disturbance, most of it for just a few months.

Once the work is completed, the area quietly and unobtrusively produces decades of energy – and revenue for farmers, wildlife organizations, hunting groups, and local, state and federal treasuries.

Hydraulic fracturing takes place some 5,500 feet (almost four Empire State Buildings) below the water table. To prevent groundwater contamination, pipe penetrating the first seven hundred feet is surrounded by layers of steel casing and specialized cement. During the drilling and fracturing process, even rainwater collected from the drill pad is saved and used. Some of the water used to fracture the shale is also recovered during gas production; this “flowback” water itself is filtered, treated and reused.

The hydraulic fracturing process requires some 2.0-4.2 million gallons of water per well, but fresh or brackish water works equally well. A 2013 Ceres study concluded that hydraulic fracturing consumed 75 billion gallons of water per year on average nationwide, in 2011 and 2012. EPA says fracking consumes 70-140 billion gallons a year nationally, and the Texas Water Resources Board estimates that Lone Star State oil and natural gas companies used 27 billion gallons of water for fracking statewide in 2011.

However, Texas homeowners used 495 billion gallons for lawns and gardens, the TWRB found (18 times what fracking consumed), and household landscape irrigation nationwide consumes nearly 3 trillion gallons of water annually, according to EPA (21-43 times the EPA and Ceres estimates for hydraulic fracturing).

Even more revealing, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, fracking requires just 0.6 to 5.8 gallons of water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, “renewable” and “sustainable” corn-based ethanol requires 2,510 to 29,100 gallons per million Btu of usable energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!

As to chemical contamination, fracturing fluids are 99.5% water and sand. Moreover, the 0.5% chemicals portion is increasingly basic, nontoxic household or kitchen stuff. Anadarko’s chemicals today are only “slickeners” (to help the sand get further into cracks created by the pressurized water) and “biocides” that prevent bacterial buildup in the well pipes. Which chemicals are used for any single well in the United States can be determined by going to – and every EPA, DOE and other study conducted to date has concluded that fracking has never contaminated a single US well.

Hydraulic fracturing has created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs in the United States, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next seven years, IHS Global Insight reports. It has injected billions into North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and other state economies. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could provide over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.

In the process, fracking has revived America’s petrochemical, steel and other manufacturing industries, and reinvigorated American ingenuity and economic competitiveness. One shudders to think how awful the U.S. unemployment, part-time employment and economic picture would be in its absence.

This game-changing technology has also transformed U.S., EU and global political equations and power structures. With the United States, Argentina, Britain, China, Israel, and many other countries collectively sitting atop centuries’ worth of now economically producible oil and natural gas, OPEC and Russia can no longer control prices and threaten customer nations. For poor developing countries, natural gas from shale provides fuel to generate abundant, affordable electricity that will transform lives.

Then why do Hollywood and radical greens celebrate misleading films like Gasland and Promised Land – even after Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney’s documentary FrackNation completely demolished Gasland‘s lies and half-truths? Why do outfits like Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club, and ill-informed activists like Yoko Ono, continue to scream hysterical nonsense about the process?

Follow the money – and the ideology. Big Eco is big business, and big egos. It seeks ever more power and every greater control over our lives. Fracking threatens all of that.

“What you get in your mailbox is a never-ending stream of crisis-related shrill material designed to evoke emotions,” former National Audubon Society COO Dan Beard once admitted, “so that you will sit down and write a check” – or click the “Donate Now” button. This multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry would collapse without the crisis du jour it conjures up, with help from the news media, politicians and regulators.

Deep Ecology adherents view fossil fuels as evil incarnate, and believe fervently in “peak oil” and Climate Armageddon. They are frustrated that fracking guarantees a hydrocarbon renaissance and predominance for decades to come, and helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions without massive economic sacrifice.

They also tend to be well-off, and clueless about the true sources of modern living standards. They have disturbingly callous attitudes about people who have lost their jobs because of Mr. Obama’s war on coal and cheap energy – and about poor rural New York families that are barely hanging onto their farms, unable to tap the Marcellus Shale riches beneath their land, because Governor Cuomo refuses to lift his moratorium on fracking. Many don’t give a spotted owl hoot about the world’s impoverished billions, whose hope for better lives depends on the reliable, affordable electricity that “frack gas” can help bring.

These shameful attitudes hurt people and planet. We need to frack for a better, cleaner, happier world!


Conservation Easements mean giving your land to the Greenies

Conservation easements. The Green Mafia tells us this is the only way to save the family farm. Without its tax credits and restrictions on development rights, America will be paved over and Astroturf will replace sod. We're in crisis, they tell us. However, as H.L Mencken once warned, "A plan to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule."

Conservation and environmental groups openly advocate the conservation easements as the answer to saving farm land, as do state departments of agriculture, farm bureaus, and the federal government. A full court press is on to lock in millions of acres of private property under the blazing headline "Save the Family Farm."

There's no question that the family farm is under assault. Taxes, international trade agreements, inflation, and government regulations are eating away at the ability to keep the farm operating. I've never met a farmer who wanted to give up and stop working the land that perhaps his ancestors first acquired. In most cases it's agony for a farmer to decide to sell his property. On the other hand, the land is his main asset. To provide a good life for the family, selling the land, many times to developers is necessary for survival.

However, there is now a much more lethal threat facing small farmers, and the outrageous fact is, this threat is being disguised as a way to help them. The real threat is the green solution - "conservation easements." And farmers are falling into its trap across the country.

Conservation easements are promoted by land trusts and environmental groups. Tax breaks are promoted. Even cash is offered those farmers willing to sell their development rights, under the argument that this will drive away the temptation to sell the land to nasty developers, thus keeping it farm land The clever slogan, "farm land lost is farm land lost forever" helps sell the case for easements.

The promoters of such ideas are very good with the sales pitch. If it were politically correct to do so, one could actually hear "God Bless America" playing in the background as the promises to save the family farm roll off the pitchman's tongue.

Say proponents, "A conservation easement is a voluntary perpetual agreement that restricts non- agricultural uses such as mining and large scale residential and commercial development." They boldly promote the easements by promising that "the landowner continues to own, live on and use the land." They even promise that the land can be passed down to heirs, along with generous tax credits. What's not to like? Desperate farmers are flocking to the pitchman's wagon to buy his life-saving potion.

Of course, as another famous pitchman, P.T Barnum, once said, "there's a sucker born every minute." Farmers beware the slick talker who has the answers to your woes. His answers may well be your demise - and your farm's. It's wise to read the fine print of a conservation easement agreement. Here are some facts.
The facts about conservation easements

In a typical conservation easement, a private Land Trust organization purchases some or all of the "bundle" of a property owners rights. The bundle includes development rights for the property; the ability to overrule the owner's choice of how to use the property,including adding more buildings or renovating or rebuilding existing buildings; in the case of farmers, it may include decisions on which fields to use for planting , or even which crops to grow and the technique to be used. All of these things come under the command of the easement. And all of it may become the decision of the Land Trust, because once the conservation easement agreement is signed the owner's rights are legally subservient to his new partner, the Trust.

True, in exchange, the property owner receives charitable deductions on federal taxes based on the difference between the values of the land before and after granting the easement. The property owner receives relief from federal estate or inheritance taxes. Many states provide income tax credits and property tax relief. And the owner receives a payment for his development rights.

In the beginning it all sounds good. Money in the pocket; the farm safe from development; and the ability to practice the beloved tradition of farming. Well, maybe.

The fact is, under the easement, the owner has sold his property rights and therefore no longer has controlling interest in his property. Through the restrictions outlined in the easement, property usage is now strictly controlled, including everyday decisions on running the farm. In many cases, the Conservation group that controls the easement demands strict adherence to "sustainable" farming practices." That means strict controls on how much energy or water can be used in the farming process, access to streams for the livestock, use of fertilizer, etc, are all under the direction of the Land Trust. And there's more. Certain details weren't revealed to the land owner as he signed on the dotted line. For example:

*    Trusts often re-sell the easement to other conservation groups. They sell and resell them like commodities. The farmer may not know who holds the control over his land. For these groups, the easements become a significant profit center as they rake in fees for each new easement they sign up.

*    Worse, the conservation group may work directly with government agencies, helping to establish new regulations which alter best management practices, driving up compliance costs. Eventually these cost increases can force owners to sell their land at a reduced price.

*    This is especially effective when trying to dislodge a land owner who has refused to sell his land to the government or sign a conservation easement. The Nature Conservancy is a master at this trick, creating millions of dollars of income for the group. Its favorite practice is to tell the land owner that the government intends to take the land, but if they sell to the Conservancy then it will guarantee that the land will stay in private hands. But of course, since the government intends to take the land it is now worth much less. So they get the landowner to sell at a reduced rate. Then the Conservancy calls the government agency to tell them the good news that they have the land. And the agency pays the Conservancy full market value. They call that "Capitalism with a heart!!"

*    Because ownership rights are muddled between taxes, restrictions and best practices requirements, it can be difficult to find a buyer willing to pay a fair market price for the land. In a sense, once the easement is signed, the owner has just rendered his land worthless on the open market.

*    Conservation Easement deeds use broad language that expands the trust's control but very specific language that limits the landowner's rights.

Worse, the conservation group may work directly with government agencies, helping to establish new regulations which alter best management practices, driving up compliance costs. Eventually these cost increases can force owners to sell their land at a reduced price.

This is especially effective when trying to dislodge a land owner who has refused to sell his land to the government or sign a conservation easement. The Nature Conservancy is a master at this trick, creating millions of dollars of income for the group. Its favorite practice is to tell the land owner that the government intends to take the land, but if they sell to the Conservancy then it will guarantee that the land will stay in private hands. But of course, since the government intends to take the land it is now worth much less. So they get the landowner to sell at a reduced rate. Then the Conservancy calls the government agency to tell them the good news that they have the land. And the agency pays the Conservancy full market value. They call that "Capitalism with a heart!!"

Because ownership rights are muddled between taxes, restrictions and best practices requirements, it can be difficult to find a buyer willing to pay a fair market price for the land. In a sense, once the easement is signed, the owner has just rendered his land worthless on the open market.

Conservation Easement deeds use broad language that expands the trust's control but very specific language that limits the landowner's rights.

When productive land is taken off the tax rolls, a revenue shortage is created that has to be made up by other tax payers, causing rate hikes in property taxes and other tricks the government can come up with.


A Nimby? No, I'm fighting to save the Britain I love

TV star GRIFF RHYS JONES on his crusade to stop wind farms and solar panels wrecking his favourite landscapes

Recently, I went running in some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain — and I discovered something so bizarre, so preposterous, that I thought I must have tumbled down a rabbit-hole and, like Alice, ended up in Wonderland.

Along with about 380 other competitors, I was taking part in the Alton Water Run, around a reservoir built in the 1970s in a landscape of ancient woodland and fields first recorded in the Domesday Book more than 900 years ago.

A valley was drowned to create Alton Water: 20 homes, two farms and the manor house. It was turned into an amenity at some cost.

And here’s where the madness starts.

On a big chunk of that precious, uniquely English countryside, a solar panel company called Hive Energy was proposing to build an energy plant, covering 95 acres with reflective photo-voltaic cells three metres high.

Hive Energy was talking about an area the size of 50 football pitches, planted with 72,000 plastic panels, turning what appears to be a randomly selected piece of Britain’s countryside into an industrial complex.

It’s hardly possible to imagine a bigger eyesore, or a more sensitive spot in which to dump it. It makes no sense to ruin such a lovely place. It is utterly Mad Hatterish.

As it happens, I have a home nearby, and as soon as I raised my voice in protest, people started accusing me of being a Nimby — a ‘Not In My Back Yard’ campaigner.

Well, I’m proud of my back yard, if that’s not too off-hand a way to describe the beauties of the Suffolk horizon. In fact, I don’t think of it as a yard at all: we call it ‘a garden’ in Britain.

My dismay, I promise, has nothing to do with the view from my window. Not long ago, I was protesting against a proposed, highly-visible wind farm in a pristine landscape in the North of Scotland.  That’s about as far from my back garden as you can get in this country. And there, I was accused of being an interfering outsider.

The point about this is not what I can see from my garden. That’s immaterial.

This issue is as big as the planet. It’s about how logic seems to be leaving our lives. It is about how successive governments are putting our heritage and our national security at risk by pursuing an incomprehensible energy policy.

It is about how the planning of it — or perhaps the lack of planning of it — is threatening to randomly desecrate our landscape.

This week it emerged that local authorities will be banned from imposing minimum distance limits to protect communities from wind farms.  New planning guidance says councils will not be able impose ‘buffer zones’ between properties and turbines.

A few weeks ago, David Cameron drove past a crowd of protesters in Kent to open the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, which will boast 175 turbines sprouting from the sea in the Channel.

There has been a dash towards renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power.

Britain is aiming to produce 15 per cent of its energy — including electricity, heat and transport — from renewable sources by 2020. Even the most avid proponents of renewables accept that we will still have to have the bulk of our energy from other sources.

This renewable target is horrendously expensive to achieve. What’s worse, the cost isn’t just economic: we are going to obliterate the most valuable and historic resource we possess. Our landscape.

It’s difficult to engage in a rational debate about this. Those who want to assault the countryside with forests of shiny panels and 500ft propellers are apt to react with a fundamentalist fervour when they are challenged.

I am deeply worried about global warming: I accept the evidence without demur. The world is getting hotter, and we are going through serious climate change.

But the fundamentalist green lobby — and those involved in sponsored research or subsidised industry — react to our legitimate concerns as if they are nothing more than selfish whining.  They ask: ‘Do you want to die in a horrible conflagration and for your children to starve to death as a result of global warming?’

To that, of course, we have to answer: ‘Well, umm, not really.’ Because this is such an emotive issue, we are denied logical and sensible discussion.

We need to ask ourselves serious questions about whether we can rely on renewable energy sources, what our alternatives are, and how we can best embrace them.

Even if we hit that 15 per cent target (and we are still far away from that), it will make only the tiniest dent in world carbon emissions.  In fact, even if the whole of Europe reaches its own renewables target, that would reduce carbon emissions by only 0.2pc over the entire world.

There’s so much carbon coming out of China and the great conurbations in India, America, Russia and elsewhere that our reductions are insignificant.

Meanwhile, look at what we stand to lose. Our heritage is being destroyed by solar plants and wind farms.

I first became aware of this in the early Nineties, when I was sent to Bronte country in Yorkshire for a TV programme called Bookworm.

We went out on the moors above Haworth, the setting for Wuthering Heights, and I gawped — because these moors, which are so much a part of British culture and draw tourists from all over the world, were covered in wind turbines.

For the sake of a meagre contribution to the energy grid — enough electricity to power a few hundred houses (and on windless days, not even that) — we had lost an inspiring and world-famous landscape.

Why are we desecrating our country? Is it really necessary? I cannot imagine the French would cover Notre Dame with solar panels. I don’t think the Italians would erect a wind farm in St Peter’s Square.

But if the moors of Wuthering Heights are not safe, then is anywhere in Britain?  Is the Lake District sacred? Is the Vale of Evesham? You can already see wind farms from the gorgeous wilds of Snowdonia, as well as on the North Sea horizons.

We have all sat on trains and watched acres of bleak and blasted land pass by the window. Land already surrounded and marooned by motorway systems. Is that being identified and brought into this system? No way.

Instead, this ugly and expensive intrusion is being left to the ‘free market’. The result is random and opportunist. Wherever a stricken farmer or a greedy landowner can be bribed or hoodwinked by subsidy, we see a wind turbine or a wretchedly blank area of solar panels go up.

So we seem to be happy to ruin the landscape, while siphoning public money into private pockets.

I have been told not to worry — that it is ‘only two per cent’ of the available countryside. But two per cent, scattered about wildly, like dirty confetti, obviously directly affects a much wider area.

And then there’s Planning Minister Nick Boles’ belief that we can afford a further ten per cent of the countryside given over to sprawling estates, with nice big gardens, so that developers don’t have to work too hard to make brownfield sites work.

Add them together and we have ten to 15 per cent of the countryside lost in the next ten years perhaps.

So, what’s the alternative?

Well, could we not be quite so hysterical about atomic power, for instance? The nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan in 2011 created an emotional furore that overwhelmed the debate.

It has become impossible to deal in simple facts — such as that more people die in the coal-mining industries every year than have ever died as a result of nuclear power.

There are leading ecologists who fervently believe that nuclear power, with its effective 100 per cent carbon neutral super output, working at all hours of the day and night, is the only conceivable option for a safe future.

About 20 miles away from my home there is a nuclear power station, Sizewell B. Another is planned and would occupy about 80 acres — 15 fewer than those that would be sacrificed to this clutter of photo-voltaic cells at Alton Water.

The solar panels, I am told, would supply 5,400 houses with electricity — when the sun is shining, of course. And when it’s not night-time.

The pressurised water reactor at Sizewell B, on the other hand, generates enough electricity to power two million homes.

Solar cells just aren’t economic. If they worked as advertised, every south-facing roof of every industrial warehouse and every motorway embankment would be bristling with them. We would be cramming solar cells wherever they would fit.

But the truth is, they are expensive and near-worthless unless backed by a Government subsidy.

Britain has gambled everything on renewable sources that can’t supply our needs, so we’re reliant on other producers. That means buying gas from Russia, and electricity created by atomic power from France. We are at the mercy of other governments, other suppliers ..... and must pay their prices.

We’ve made ourselves a pair of cardboard braces and now we’re realising, as our trousers fall down, that we’ll need a belt anyway.

Even with a wind farm on every hill-top, Britain would need an energy back-up. And current policy is far more piecemeal than that.

We need coherent planning legislation. We need to enable local voices to be heard, as well as the clamour of landowners and energy companies scrambling for subsidies.

We have some of the most breath-taking, magical, inspiring, mysterious and delightful landscapes anywhere in the world — and in a few short years they will be ruined because of some misunderstood emergency.

I scratch my head and say: ‘Am I going mad? I can’t believe people are going to allow this, are they?’

The Government is so single-minded about fulfilling this self-imposed 15 per cent target that there’s no reasoning with it. It is like dealing with an obsessive.

Ten days ago, to the joy of everyone in the area, and despite the recommendations of planning officers, the council turned down that Alton Water application. We breathed a sigh of relief. Good sense had triumphed ....

Now I open my newspaper and find that Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, has revealed his ambition to increase massively the amount of energy being produced by solar panels. The figures he is talking about would effectively mean a ten-fold increase in the number of solar farms.

Mr Barker has also said that he wants solar farms to be ‘targeted on industrial roofs, homes and on brownfield sites, not on our beautiful countryside’ — but given the Government’s confused stance on this issue, I am not much reassured.

My concern deepens when I open my email inbox to find an ominous warning regarding Alton Water.

‘The process is this,’ it says. ‘The Parish Council and all the locals turn it down, and then the District Council turns it down … and then an inspector arrives from the Government and promptly allows it through. They will appeal.’ I can’t wait.

So how do we restore sanity? At the moment, I’m assured by MPs that ‘there are no votes in this sort of thing’. Without the promise of votes, there’s no political clout.

There’s only one way to make politicians take notice: turn the issue into a vote-winner.  We need to stop being long-suffering about all this and make it an election issue.

Now, I really am dreaming …


Czech Government wakes up: Votes to End Support for Renewables From 2014

The Czech government approved a draft law to end support for renewable energy, proposing to stop subsidies for new projects at the end of this year.

The plan was adopted during an extraordinary cabinet session yesterday and is subject to approval by parliament, the government said in a statement on its website.

Subsidies for renewable-power sources, particularly solar plants, have raised prices for Czech energy users in the past three years as the cost is passed on through customer bills.

“The reason for this law amendment is the rising financial burden for electricity consumers,” Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said in the statement. “It threatens the competitiveness of our industry and raises consumers’ uncertainty about power prices.”

Only hydro, wind and biomass power plants that got construction permits this year will be eligible for support if they’re completed before the end of 2014, the statement shows.


'Caring' Australian Greens want to welcome illegal immigrants -- revealing how far Left they are

The Greens would strip away all deterrents from refugee policy and aim to stop deaths at sea by dramatically increasing Australia's refugee intake and boosting the capacity of the United Nations refugee agency to process claims in Indonesia.

The pre-election policy to be released on Wednesday would also shut down detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, give work rights to those in the community and lift the ban on people in refugee-producing countries coming directly by air to seek asylum.

It would also appoint an Australian ambassador for refugee protection to help broker a regional co-operation response modelled on the approach of Malcolm Fraser with Vietnamese asylum seekers in the 1970s.

The policy has been criticised by Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison who says it "won't stop the boats". Meanwhile, bad weather had delayed the transfer of the first asylum seekers to Manus Island under the Rudd Government's agreement with Papua New Guinea.

Buoyed by polling showing only one in three voters trusts the major parties to "handle refugees with care", the Greens will market themselves as the only party offering "compassion, legality and the only model for saving refugee lives at sea that has ever really worked".

"If you want to stop the people-smuggling business, you have to undercut it, and that means providing a viable option that does not force refugees into the hands of people smugglers in the first place," says the party's spokeswoman on asylum, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Greens leader Christine Milne will propose a doubling of funding to the United Nations refugee agency to speed up assessment and resettlement of asylum seekers in Indonesia and Malaysia, and a 10,000 increase in Australia's refugee intake. One in three places in the 30,000 program would be set aside for refugees assessed by the UN agency in the region, including at least 3800 in Indonesia.

Senator Milne said the Parliamentary Budget Office has costed an increase in the humanitarian program to 30,000 at $2.5 billion over four years, a fraction of the amount spent on offshore processing.

A Galaxy poll commissioned by the Greens found that almost 50 per cent of voters did not trust either Labor or the Liberals "to put caring for refugees before political interest". The same proportion did not trust either of the major parties to "handle refugees with care".

"Both parties are moving so far to the right, it's difficult to imagine the next level of cruelty they could possibly engage in," Senator Milne told Fairfax Media. "They are bringing shame on Australia in a national and global sense."

Spending an extra $70 million a year to boost the UNHCR's capacity in the region was in line with recommendations of the Gillard government's expert panel and would "take pressure off people feeling like they have no other option than to be on boats".

The policy commits the Greens to restore Australia's migration zone "to match our land and sea territory"; to guarantee legal review and community detention options for refugees who receive adverse ASIO security assessments; and to replace the immigration minister with an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum.




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 or here


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