Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gas prices should be a lot lower

By Alan Caruba

In the past whenever gas prices began to climb, then whoever was president usually got the blame for it, but there never was anything he could do about it. The price at the pump was and is dependent on global factors. What can, however, be said about Barack Obama is that he has led the most anti-energy administration in the history of the nation.

A nation’s economic stability and growth depends on affordable, abundant energy, especially hydrocarbon energy in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas. In the U.S. so-called “renewable” energy—wind and solar—has been a huge, costly bust as billions in loans during President Obama’s first term were lost as one “green energy” company after another went belly up. At the same time, a war on coal closed mines and shut down plants using it to generate electricity. Look for it to continue.

Production of coal, oil, and natural gas on federal lands is now the lowest in ten years according to data collected by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). It was four percent lower in fiscal years 2012 than the previous year. By contrast, fossil fuel production on state and privately owned lands rose twenty-six percent over the past decade.

Without soliciting public comment, the White House recently raised its estimate of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), an estimate of the alleged economic damages associated with increasing carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is blamed for a global warming that is not happening. The growth of all vegetation on Earth is dependent on Co2 and, despite an increase in CO2, the Earth slipped into a cooling cycle seventeen years ago. There is NO connection between CO2 and the climate.

The Institute for Energy Research points out that raising the SCC “could impose hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs on energy-intensive businesses and American consumers alike.” If you wonder why the economy seems unable to climb out of its slump, this is just one example of an administration bent to using bogus science to justify its war on consumers.

At the gas pump, that war includes a law that requires U.S. refiners to blend 12.8 billion gallons of ethanol—made from corn—into the fuel they sell to domestic consumers. Ethanol actually reduces the mileage per gallon and damages automobile engines.

Refiners do not need all the ethanol the government forces them to purchase. They, in turn, must purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) whose cost has jumped from seven cents a gallon at the beginning of the year to more than a dollar by March. The cost is passed along to consumers.

On June 13, the Wall Street Journal’s page one lead article was “U.S. Oil Notches Record Growth.” Under the normal laws of supply and demand, the price of gas at the pump should be declining. “U.S. crude-oil production grew by more than one million barrels a day last year, the largest increase in the world and the largest in U.S. history.”

You can thank “fracking,” a tested, safe technology—hydraulic fracturing—for the increase in oil and natural gas production. It is, of course, a target of major environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. After all, who wants affordable, abundant energy?

“Indeed,” reported the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. crude-oil production has raced ahead of new pipeline infrastructure to move it from oil fields to refineries.” In the meantime, “railroads move more crude around the country.” President Obama’s delay of the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline is just another example of his anti-energy agenda. The pipeline would connect to Texas refineries and provide an estimated 20,000 construction jobs at a time when millions of Americans are out of work.

In March, Business Week reported that “For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports. That’s great for the country’s trade balance, but the benefits of cheap domestic crude still haven’t shown up at the one place it matters most: the gas station…So far this year, gasoline prices have risen eleven percent nationwide, to $3.65 a gallon.”

“Without realizing it, U.S. drivers are competing for American-made gasoline with consumers in Latin America and Asia, where demand is rising.” Thus, the global marketplace for oil is keeping gas prices high and U.S. refineries shipped a record 3.2 million barrels a day of refined fuel this year!

Finally, on top of the Obama administration policies of denying access to drilling on federal land, you will continue to hear that Big Oil is making obscene profits and gouging customers at the pump. “At a time when oil companies are making more money than ever before, how can we justify giving them billions more in taxpayer subsidies every year?” asked Obama energy and environment adviser Heather Zichel recently.

What you are not being told, however, is that the oil and gas industry paid an effective tax rate of almost forty-five percent (according to the American Petroleum Institute) while the healthcare industry paid about thirty-five percent and pharmaceuticals paid around twenty-one percent. In addition to federal taxes, oil companies pay state and local taxes as well. The “tax loopholes” Greens complain about are available to all other manufacturing and mining companies.

When and if the obstacles to fossil fuel exploration and production are removed, the price of a gallon of gas will drop dramatically, while, at the same time, the U.S. economy will gain from the sale of its fossil fuels around the world.


Lest we forget

The arguments of the 1970s claiming a "coming ice age" are every bit as convincing as the arguments of the 1990s claiming "global warming," and now the 2000s claiming "climate change." Environmental fads are nothing new. Reading President Carter's energy speech highlights how the demagogic rhetoric remains the same regardless of which climate catastrophe the earth faces.

    Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history... this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes...The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.

The trademark urgency, the greatest challenge claims and the call to action are all symbolic of the political nature of these "causes." Back in the 1975 Newsweek article titled "The Cooling World" the proposed solution was to put black soot all over the North Pole to melt the ice. Thankfully no one rushed to implement that strategy.

    Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot

President Carter went on to say:

    It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century...We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren...We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

The characteristic emotional appeal, the sanctimonious appeal of self sacrifice, the old "do it for our children" ploy, and of course the claim that man does somehow posses the power to ward off a coming ice age and energy crisis. Well, President Carter was correct about one thing, America did have to act, and she did have the power to solve the energy crisis. America voted President Carter out of office and elected President Reagan and the rest was history.

That is all it took to end the nonsensical claims of a coming ice age and end the energy shortage. It wasn't until around 1995 that the "climatologists" re-emerged, only this time pushing global warming. 15 years is about the time required for a generation to forget the past, and a new generation to occupy our school rooms, void of any knowledge of past errors.

Just reading President Carter's speech highlights why memories must be erased for these fads to take hold.

    Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.  The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.      Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy.

Back in the coming ice age era, the solutions were the same as they are today during the climate change era, but with one twist. Back in the 1970's President Carter was calling for the use of coal. Funny how things can change in just a matter of years.

   Because we are now running out of gas and oil, we must prepare quickly for a third change, to strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.

It is shocking to see just how wrong President Carter's predictions were:

    Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. Intense competition will build up among nations and among the different regions within our own country.      If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.

The reason I reviewed President Carter's speech was to remind investors not to get caught up in the environmental fad du joir, the politics or the "consensus" science. They have a history of not only being wrong, but being wrong on an epic scale


Greenland ice sheet IS melting but much of the heating is coming from INSIDE the earth

Ice in Greenland is melting partly because of heat from the Earth's mantle, according to a team of international researchers.

The group claims that they are the first to find a connection between melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the high heat flow from the Earth’s mantle.

The findings, they suggest, could have implications for future predictions on climate change and the reasons behind ice melt in the region.

The Greenland ice sheet is often considered an important contributor to future global sea-level rise over the next century or longer.

In total, it contains an amount of ice that would lead to a rise of global sea level by more than seven metres, if completely melted.

The ice loss from the ice sheet has been increasing over the last decade, with half of it attributed to changes in surface conditions with the remainder due to increased iceberg calving - the process by which ice detaches from the glacier to become an iceberg.

The international research initiative IceGeoHeat, led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, said that the effect of the Earth's crust and upper mantle in current climate modelling are too simplistic.

They modelled the Earth’s mantle against the ice sheet and found that melting occurs in a given area due to the composition of the mantle underneath it.

Writing in the current online issue of Nature Geoscience, the group argues that this effect cannot be neglected when putting together data on climate change.

The Greenland ice sheet loses about 227 gigatonnes of ice per year and contributes about 0.7 millimeters to the currently observed mean sea level change of about 3 mm per year.

The team point out, however, that existing model calculations were based on a consideration of the ice cap.

GFZ scientists Alexey Petrunin and Irina Rogozhina have now combined earlier ice and climate models with their new thermo-mechanical model for the Greenland lithosphere.

‘We have run the model over a simulated period of three million years, and taken into account measurements from ice cores and independent magnetic and seismic data’, said Petrunin.

The researchers believe that the coupling of models of ice dynamics with thermo-mechanical models of the solid earth allows a more accurate view of the processes that are melting the Greenland ice

‘The temperature at the base of the ice, and therefore the current dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet is the result of the interaction between the heat flow from the earth's interior and the temperature changes associated with glacial cycles,’ said Irina Rogozhina who initiated IceGeoHeat.

‘We found areas where the ice melts at the base next to other areas where the base is extremely cold.’

The current climate is influenced by processes that go far back into the history of Earth: the Greenland lithosphere is 2.8 to 1.7 billion years old and is only about 70 to 80 km thick under Central Greenland.

The researchers believe that the coupling of models of ice dynamics with thermo-mechanical models of the solid earth allows a more accurate view of the processes that are melting the Greenland ice.


We must welcome fracking everywhere, British PM says

David Cameron has urged communities to ‘seize’ the chance to welcome shale gas drilling near their homes – saying the gas sites are only the size of a cricket pitch.

The Prime Minister said allowing the controversial practice of extracting gas will drive down prices for consumers, as well as creating more than 70,000 jobs.

But Downing Street refused to say whether Mr Cameron would be happy to see a plant spring up near his Oxfordshire home.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to challenge ‘myths’ surrounding shale gas exploration, saying there is no evidence it is unsafe or damages the countryside.

He said those living near proposed shale gas sites could potentially benefit from lower council tax bills.

‘It’s been suggested in recent weeks that we want fracking to be confined to certain parts of Britain,’ Mr Cameron said.  ‘This is wrong. I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour.’

However, the Prime Minister's spokesman today repeatedly refused to directly say that Mr Cameron would be happy to have a fracking site on his doorstep in his Witney constituency.

Challenged at least nine times, the spokesman said that the PM 'huge potential benefits' from shale gas extraction although it was important that local people were properly consulted.   'Ultimately, that view is as relevant in his constituency as anywhere else in the country,' the spokesman said.

The Prime Minister spoke out after weeks of protests against a proposed fracking site near Balcome in West Sussex.

He  slapped down the remarks of Lord Howell, who caused controversy last month by suggesting shale gas drilling should be confined to ‘desolate’ parts of the north and not ‘beautiful’ areas in the south.

Environmentalists claim the process could contaminate water supplies and even trigger earthquakes.

Forty wells are expected to be drilled before the 2015 general election, half in the North West. There could also be widespread drilling across the South. Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent are also thought to contain gas reserves.

Mr Cameron said fracking should be embraced because it would follow in Britain’s proud tradition of having the world’s first industrial revolution.

‘My message to the country is clear – we cannot afford to miss out on fracking,’ he said.  ‘For centuries, Britain has led the way in technological endeavour: an industrial revolution ahead of its time, many of the most vital scientific discoveries known to mankind, and a spirit of enterprise and innovation that has served us well down the decades. ‘Fracking is part of this tradition – so let’s seize it.’

He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘If we don’t back this technology we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills and make our country more competitive.’  Energy bills would fall if we can lower our dependence on imported gas, he added.

‘Latest estimates suggest there’s about 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lying under Britain at the moment – and that study only covers 11 counties.

‘To put that in context, even if we just extract a tenth of that figure, that’s still the equivalent of 51 years’ gas supply.'

Mr Cameron also quoted one study which predicted 74,000 jobs could be created in drilling and other businesses which would supply the new industry.

He said fracking would bring money to local neighbourhoods, because 1 per cent of the revenue will go straight back to residents who live nearby.

And he vowed to make the case that ‘fracking is safe’ – saying there is no evidence that it could contaminate water supplies or trigger earthquakes. He added: ‘One myth still remains – that fracking damages our countryside. I just don’t agree with this.

‘I am proud to represent a rural constituency. I would never sanction something that would ruin our landscapes and scenery.

‘Shale gas pads are relatively small – about the size of a cricket pitch. But more than that, similar types of drilling have been taking place for decades in this country.

‘The South Downs National Park is one of the most beautiful parts of Britain and it has been home to conventional oil and gas drilling since the 1980s. The huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor change to the landscape.’


Small Business Group Blames ‘Climate Change’ for Rising Costs

They have been conned.  They should keep their gaze fixed on government

 The Small Business Majority, an advocacy group working to influence public policy, says that small businesses are facing higher costs due to extreme weather conditions, including floods, droughts, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and a rise in sea level many claim is a result of man-made global warming.

“Small businesses are particularly at risk from climate change and the extreme weather events it causes and must take steps to adapt,” the organization said in a new report. (See 072513-Climate-Change-Preparedness-and-the-Small-Business-Sector.pdf)

“Collective actions by the small business community could have an enormous impact on insulating the U.S. economy from climate risk,” the report says, citing a Government Accountability Office study in which climate change was identified as a "high risk area" for the government due to possible infrastructure and property damage and the need for emergency aid.

“Climate change action must be taken at all levels of government, and must include not only efforts to prepare and adapt to its impacts, but to mitigate the effects of climate change through greenhouse gas reduction,” the report stated.

But when CNSNews.com asked the group’s spokeswoman how small businesses can be negatively affected when there has not been any significant global warming for the past 15 years, she responded:

“The Small Business Majority and the American Sustainable Business Council prepared a report on climate change preparedness, and how small businesses are vulnerable to massive losses in the event of extreme weather events.  I’ve attached a link to the site, which includes a press release and the entire report. This should answer your questions."

However, according to data compiled by the National Hurricane Center, an average of 5.6 major hurricanes struck the U.S. during the last five decades, compared to an average of 8.4 over the preceding 50 years.

And the satellite Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment found that sea levels rose only 1.7 millimeters per year over the past 110 years, which is equivalent to 6.7 inches per century, while carbon dioxide levels increased by almost a third during that same time period.

Nevertheless, Tedd Saunders, chief sustainability officer at The Saunders Hotel Group and president of EcoLogical Solutions, said, “Climate risks are really beginning to influence our business decisions. The tourism industry is particularly prone to direct economic losses.”

According to Saunders, extreme weather disasters including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy caused power outages that led to thousands of dollars lost in revenue. Saunders said that he supports efforts of “creating more energy efficiency” and “climate change mitigation.”

Members of the Small Business Majority’s network council, which includes The Penny Ice Creamery in California, Bagel Grove in New York, and Pioneer Overhead Door in Nevada, spoke about their experiences during a conference call held in conjunction with the American Sustainable Business Council.

According to Lea Reynolds, senior policy analyst and report author at M.J. Bradley and Associates, lack of backup resources makes small businesses more vulnerable to loss than large companies, as approximately 25 percent of small to mid-size businesses are unable to resume business after major disasters. Reynolds emphasized “the crucial role that small businesses play in the national discussion on climate preparedness” due to these vulnerabilities.

Richard Eidlin, co-founder and director of Public Policy and Business Engagement at American Sustainable Business Council, argued that the government should do more to mitigate extreme weather conditions rather than spend money on disaster relief in the future.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Small Business Administration approved more than 36,000 disaster loans totaling $2.3 billion to residents and businesses in the eight states affected: Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and the territory of Puerto Rico.

Within six months, businesses had received 3,934 SBA disaster loans totaling $446 million; homeowners and renters received 32,000 home disaster loans for a total of $1.9 billion, making Sandy the third largest natural disaster lending event in U.S. history. The loans were more than double SBA’s three-year average of 14,000 disaster loans per fiscal year.


$78K NSF Grant to Study Global Warming...In 1st Century Guatemala

 The National Science Foundation (NSF) is giving nearly $78,000 of taxpayer funds to the Trustees of Boston University to study whether "climate change" was a primary cause for the decline of the Mayan civilization in Guatemala between 1000 BC and 900 AD.

According to the grant abstract, "the study will provide a detailed record of human occupation and environmental change" in the Maya Biosphere Reserve forest of northeastern Guatemala. This lowland area was where the Maya settled in pre-Columbian times. Researchers note that "climate change and environmental degradation have been proposed as the primary causes of extensive demographic decline" in the Maya population on two separate occasions.

Awarded on July 20, 2013, the $77,795 grant will conduct select excavations and a high-resolution analysis of fossils throughout the Holmul region. Pollen samples will be gathered to study agricultural activity, isotopes to study climatology, and soil samples to assess vegetation growth and water movement.

The principal investigator on the scientific team will be Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, who is a visiting assistant professor of archaeology at Boston University.

Estrada-Belli and two geographers "will contribute to an ongoing effort to create a network of high-resolution reconstructions of environmental change and land use practices based on multiple lines of evidence for bio-mass burning, climate change, vegetation change, and settlement history for the Maya Lowlands spanning several millennia."

In an email to CNSNews.com, Estrada-Belli said his personal history drove him to propose this project. "I am of Guatemalan origin. My specialty as an archaeologist is Maya civilization. There is so much to learn about the Maya," he said, adding that he is interested in any study of global warming.

"The Maya provide an especially interesting case because we have a record of their settlement going back 3,000 years. So, it can really provide insights on how climate change played a part in their history."

By studying both Mayan population collapses (one occurred around 200 A.D. and the other near 900 A.D.), Estrada-Belli and his team hope to "provide a detailed record of human-environment interactions in the history of Maya civilization," "fill in an important gap in our knowledge of landscape evolution and climate variability in an area....that supported human activities for millennia," and generate archaeological data on the Mayan settlements in the region.

When asked whether he considers funding for such projects a good use of American tax dollars, Estrada-Belli said that it was indeed a worthwhile endeavor.

"The Maya are part of the history of civilization on the American continent and should be studied," he said. He also told CNSNews.com that "this is a good case in which modern (U.S.) taxpayers benefit not only because we learn about an ancient culture, but also because we might learn about climate change and environmental change in relation to human activities."




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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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