Sunday, August 04, 2013

Ozone madness from EPA

The EPA is about to do more harm than ozone could ever do

Paul Driessen 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s war on economic growth, jobs, poor families, modern living standards, and people’s health and welfare is about to get a lot more damaging..

The Clean Air Act says EPA must set standards for ozone and other pollutants – and periodically review existing standards, to determine whether they are adequately protecting public health, or need to be tightened further. In 1997, the agency reduced the permissible ambient ozone level to 84 parts per billion (equivalent to 8.4 cents out of $1,000,000). In 2008, it lowered the standard again, to 75 ppb.

However, due to public outcry and because EPA’s own clean air science advisory committee said the reduction wasn’t necessary, in 2009 the agency suspended the 75 ppb rule’s implementation, pending “further study.” Shortly thereafter, though, Lisa Jackson’s EPA decided to slash allowable ozone levels to 60 ppb – without doing any further analysis. Sensing how politically volatile the issue could become, President Obama told EPA to postpone the hyper-restrictive rule until after the 2012 elections.

Meanwhile, state and industry lawsuits challenged even the 75 ppb level as unnecessary and harmful, and self-proclaimed “public health advocates” (hardcore environmentalist groups) sued for immediate implementation, claiming ozone’s role in smog means 60 ppb levels are needed now. However, no recent study has shown negative (much less toxic) effects on people, even at levels far higher than in America’s ambient air; even people engaged in vigorous exercise displayed only minor transient effects.

Right now, according to the Business Roundtable, only 66 out of 736 monitored US counties do not meet the 75 ppb ozone standard. (Virtually all counties meet the 84 ppb standard.) The Obama EPA’s 60 ppb rule would put 96% of those counties – 707 of 736 – out of compliance, according to EPA! Other analysts say the new standard would turn “only” 85-88% of the counties into non-attainment areas. Maps depicting the 60 ppb rule’s impact show massive swaths of the United States blasted into noncompliance.

This insanity is underscored by the fact that even parts of Yellowstone Park would be out of compliance, if the 60 ppb rule is imposed. That’s because the volatile organic compounds that are precursors to ozone don’t come just from fuels, plastics and other hydrocarbons. They also come from volcanoes, hot springs and trees: deciduous trees emit VOCs on hot, sunny days; conifers emit them day and night.

The regulatory derangement is further accentuated by its outrageous cost. EPA itself says the 60 ppb rule will carry a $52–90 billion annual price tag. The Manufacturers Alliance (MAPI) says the actual cost could be $1 trillion per year! Even worse, that is on top of the current cost of $353 billion per year to comply just with EPA rules – and the $1.8 trillion annual cost for US businesses and families to comply with all federal regulations – according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

EPA’s new ozone standards will send America into a regulatory Mo’Zone, NoZone and Twilight Zone.

EPA’s Mo’Zone will impose still mo’ government, mo’ rules, mo’ intrusions in our lives, more obstacles to economic development, job creation, and modern health and living standards. EPA rules are already killing off coal-fired power plants, affordable electricity, and coal-mining jobs and communities, based on questionable to fraudulent claims about mercury and particulates. Its imminent CO2/global warming regime will put EPA in charge of everything Americans make, ship, drive, eat and do.

The EPA NoZone means no economic growth, no employment opportunities, no civil rights progress, no concern about our lives, livelihoods, or real health and welfare. These ozone rules will not be issued in a vacuum. Over 40 million Americans are still unemployed, under-employed or have given up on finding a job. Over 47 million are on food stamps. Then there’s Obamacare, Dodd-Frank … and federal agencies primed to impose 4,000 more new regulations – on top of the 81,883 rules they have issued over the past two decades! EPA’s ozone rules would perpetuate this disaster and our abysmal 1.8% economic growth.

EPA’s Twilight Zone is not just bizarre. It’s criminal. America’s air quality has improved dramatically since 1970, and continues to get even better as technologies and fuel efficiencies advance. But instead of recognizing this, EPA (and the pressure groups it pays to promote scary pollution fantasies) constantly demand more costly and restrictive regulations. The rules do not just provide few or no actual benefits; by imposing needless costs and killing jobs, they actually harm human health and welfare, and kill people.

Anemic growth and declining economic status mean millions of families cannot heat and cool their homes properly, pay their rent, mortgage or other bills, take vacations, or save for retirement. The stress of being unemployed – or holding several low-paying part-time jobs – means sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, more commuting, higher incidences of depression and alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, lower life expectancies and higher suicide rates. EPA ignores all of this, making its regulatory “benefits” fraudulent.

Its claims that economy-crushing ozone rules will prevent asthma and “save the children” are equally deceitful. US asthma rates have been rising, even as pollution levels are declining. By EPA “logic,” we should increase pollution to decrease asthma rates. In reality, asthma is an allergic disease; air pollution can aggravate asthma to some degree, but doesn’t cause it, and hospital data show no correlation between pollution levels and asthma admissions. The reasons more kids have asthma attacks, toxicologists explain, is that they live in tightly insulated homes, spend less time outdoors in the dirt, and don’t get exposed to enough allergens during their early years to reduce immune hyperactivity and allergic hypersensitivity.

An honest, socially responsible EPA or American Lung Association would clarify all this. But EPA has an agenda – and it pays the ALA (and other activist groups) millions of dollars annually to help it frighten people about “worsening” air quality and “dangerous” pollution levels, to advance that agenda.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that EPA gave these organizations $3.8 billion between 2000 and 2010. The ALA alone received over $20 million – which it used to conduct opinion polls carefully devised to support agency regulations on soot from power plants; produce sleazy TV attack ads that equate challenges to its runaway regulatory regime to killing babies; and buy billboard space accusing legislators of hurting children for trying to prevent EPA from regulating carbon dioxide until Congress explicitly authorizes it to do so. EPA has also given millions in taxpayer money to student activist groups and “environmental justice” organizations, to vilify and stifle any criticism of its programs, assertions, methodologies, or damage to people’s health and welfare.

In one particularly outrageous example, EPA gave millions of dollars to researchers who intentionally and illegally exposed thousands of people to air pollutants, including soot from diesel exhaust – at high levels that EPA itself insists (but did not tell its experimental subjects) are dangerous and even deadly. EPA is using the studies to bolster its bogus claim that we need even stricter limits for these pollutants. Almost as incredible, even though these “lethal” pollution levels did not sicken test subjects, the agency still demands emission levels at a tiny percentage of what the test subjects were exposed to.

Either EPA is guilty of attempted manslaughter for exposing people to lethal doses – or it is lying to Congress and the American people, and trying to impose more job-killing rules that have no medical or scientific basis. In fact, it claims 65% of the phony “benefits” from its 60 ppb ozone rules will come from “incidental reductions” in the “fine particulate matter” (soot) that its test subjects were illegally exposed to.

This secretive, tyrannical, abusive, ideologically driven rogue agency’s budget needs to be trimmed, as several congressmen have proposed. That would help force EPA to focus on real environmental problems, as required by law and honest science. EPA should not be allowed to fund illegal experiments, hire surrogates to scare and propagandize us, or impose excessive, fraudulent rules that kill jobs and harm human health and welfare. Nor should it be allowed to waste our money on useless, unethical programs.

It’s high time for our Congress, courts and state legislatures to exercise some responsible adult supervision.

Michael Mann Redefines Science

In a post over at Peter Guest’s blog, Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann is quoted making one of the most remarkable statements that I’ve ever heard coming out of a supposed scientist’s mouth: "Proof is for mathematical theorems and alcoholic beverages. It’s not for science."

He goes on to explain that science is all about “credible theories” and “best explanations” and his gosh-darn critics supposedly don’t offer up any of those.

Now it seems pretty obvious that Mann’s attempt to separate proof from science stems from increasing public awareness that the warming predicted by the high-sensitivity models that Mann and others have championed just hasn’t occurred over the last fifteen years. No matter. You don’t need “proof” when you have “credible theories.”

That comes as something of a shock to me. When I was going to school to earn my degree in chemistry, we were taught that science was indeed all about absolute truths and proofs at the end of the day. “Credible theories” is how you got to those truths, not an alternative to them.

The proposition that phlogiston made combustion possible was a “credible theory” for a long time, until Lavoisier conclusively “proved” that oxidation was responsible. Before USEPA approves the use of an air pollution dispersion model, real world data that “proves” the model can successfully and accurately determine dispersion patterns is necessary. Climatologists, apparently, do not suffer under similar uncomfortable burdens.

And the problem here is that guys like Mann, Jones, Gore, etc. have been running around for years, essentially presenting their hyper-sensitive version of climatology as established, unquestionable fact. I can’t count the number of times that AGW-heads have told me that “climate change is an established, scientific fact!” (Which it is of course, but not in the sense that these knuckleheads use the phrase).

Guest laments that:  "Bound by honesty, the scientific consensus (sic) is going to struggle to overcome this problem, appearing unable to actually back up its results with tangible events…"

Cross out the word “appearing” and you have as concise a statement of the problems that alarmists like Mann increasingly face with each passing day.

Guest also calls the US the world’s biggest carbon emitter, a position we’ve surrendered to China some time ago, while Mann moans that his critics have “…delayed the necessary reductions in carbon emissions for decades…” I don’t know whether to conclude Mann is stupid, lazy or willfully ignorant, but EPA data clearly shows that the United States has been making massive reductions in carbon dioxide emissions since 2008 and the combination of new CAFÉ standards, EPA-forced coal-fired power plant retirements and state renewable portfolio standards ensure that these reductions will continue far into the future.

Good Lord! The guy got what he wanted and he’s still whining. Michael, if you want to sell your doomsday routine, take your act to Beijing or Delhi – there’s nothing left to do in the states short of going Flintstones.

This Mann-love comes as the enviro-left takes pot-shots at the brilliant conservative writer Mark Steyn, who made the mistake of not only questioning Mann’s theories, but had the effrontery to do so utilizing satire. The thin-skinned climatologist is in the process of suing Steyn, National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, apparently for both hurting his feelings and for pointing out that “credible theories” do not equate to either proof or truth.

The whacky world of climate alarmism is falling apart. The leading acolytes of the movement will continue to wail that it’s all the fault of those evil energy interests that supposedly make fellows like me question the theology of AGW theory, but in reality they have no one to blame for their increasing irrelevance but themselves.

Like Standing up at an AA Meeting

I think that sometime fairly soon I’m going to dust off the little prototype climate simulation model I wrote a few years back. But instead of just using a square metre on the Earth’s equator, I’m going to do the whole of the Earth’s surface. And I’m going to have an atmosphere. And clouds. And, who knows, maybe even winds blowing this way and that.

Last time I tried, I got a bit stuck trying to model the atmosphere, and ended up going in circles playing photon football. So I’ve been gradually sketching out a new approach.

Part of the reason for this is that, despite fewer and fewer people believing it, the AGW scam never seems to go away. It seems to remain government policy everywhere, despite the collapse in credibility.

The other part of it is that I just like building computer simulation models of things. It’s probably an addiction. Much like smoking cigarettes. Or drinking tea. Or anything else.

I’m interested in how people come to be be sceptical about global warming. I know how I started. I was watching Jon Snow on Channel 4 news back in early 2007, and he was saying that “global warming was happening”, and “humans were to blame”, and “the debate is over”. And with that, any belief in it all that I might have had suddenly evaporated. It was like flipping a light switch. One moment I was agnostic, and a second or two later I’d become a sceptic, and have remained one ever since. Because in real science the debate is never over.

And a few days ago on WUWT, an engineer named Jonathan Abbott wrote a piece about how he became a climate sceptic, and asked if any of the readers had similar experiences. And he got about 600 responses (including my own). They make fascinating reading. They ranged from:

"I watched an interview with the Hockeystick Mann and thought to myself, “what an unpleasant, conceited, self opinionated arsehole”. That was that."

to engineers like the author who had, after initial belief, had very gradually changed their minds.

"Engineers can’t afford to take other people’s word for it, cut corners or massage the data. Otherwise buildings, bridges and entire cities would collapse. Where’s the accountability in climate science?"

or people who a read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear or Christopher Booker, or who had come across WUWT or Climate Audit or Jo Nova by accident. Or who had been woken up by Climategate.

"Then ClimateGate 1.0 came about, and I was convinced. There were actually a very small number of people shamelessly manipulating the media, the peer-review process, and most of all, the data, to make us believe it was all real. That, above all, convinced me it was not."

Jonathan Abbott was rather amazed at the response, and wrote: "I feel like I just stood up at an AA meeting."

And it was indeed rather like that (not that I’ve ever been to one of them). It was a long series of personal confessions. And they were all different. I’ve spent hours today reading them.

Fracking Helps Make U.S. World’s Top Petroleum Producer

U.S. has led world in petroleum production for last six months

The United States was the world’s top petroleum producer in April, according to recently released federal data, marking six straight months of dominance in the market that experts attribute to the ongoing shale oil boom.

Those experts say that the data point to a new era of energy abundance, undercutting long-held theories that oil shortages would force the United States to seek other means of energy production.

According to data released this week by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. produced 12.09 million barrels per day (mbpd) of petroleum in April. That outpaced Saudi Arabia, which produced 11.2 mbpd that month.

It marked the sixth straight month for the U.S. as the world’s leading petroleum producer. The trend began in November of last year.

Mark Perry, an economics and finance professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, noted that EIA data showed that the United States in April produced more petroleum than all countries in Europe, Central America, and South America combined.

“This is more evidence that America’s shale energy revolution is taking us from ‘resource scarcity’ to a new era of ‘resource abundance,’” Perry wrote on the American Enterprise Institute website, where he is a scholar.

“This energy bonanza in the U.S. … would have been largely unthinkable even five years ago,” Perry explained. “But then thanks to revolutionary drilling techniques developed by America’s ‘petropreneurs’ like George P. Mitchell, we’ve unlocked vast oceans of shale oil and gas across the U.S.”

Mitchell, who died of natural causes at age 94 last week, pioneered the revolutionary oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which experts credit with unlocking massive reserves of oil and gas deposits in shale formations around the country.

Despite the economic benefits brought on by the technology, environmentalists have vociferously opposed hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” Many have relied on factual misstatements or outright falsehoods to support their case against the practice.

“Opponents of hydraulic fracturing are never forced to answer a simple question: Why do they oppose a process that’s decreasing our reliance on foreign sources of energy?” said Steve Everley, a spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

The facts highlighted by the most recent EIA data, Everley said, “unquestionably [represent] a positive development for the United States, and it’s in addition to the millions of jobs and cleaner air we’re all currently enjoying as a result of technologies like hydraulic fracturing.”

OPEC member nations, including Saudi Arabia, have raised concerns about the consequences of American oil dominance that has resulted from the country’s greater use of hydraulic fracturing.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently warned that the abundance of shale oil and gas in the United States threatens the Saudi economy, which relies in large measure on its large oil reserves.

Beyond overtaking Saudi Arabia, Everley noted, the shale oil boom appears to have rendered moot concerns about depleting reserves of oil. “North American shale has put the final, merciful nail in the coffin for peak oil theory,” Everley said.

High Street cosmetics chain  is main financial backer of Britain's "Frack Off"

Professional demonstrators

A High Street cosmetics chain has emerged as the main financial backer of the anti-fracking group Frack Off.  Lush, which has 105 stores in the UK and Ireland, has given £20,000 in charitable donations to the protest group behind this week’s demonstration against test drilling in Balcombe, West Sussex.

The company has such close links to Frack Off that four of Lush’s five-strong campaigns team have been given time off work to join the protest in Balcombe.

One of them, Lush’s head of global campaigns Tamsin Omond, was arrested on Thursday for chaining herself to a fire engine used to block the entrance to the Cuadrilla site, where exploratory drilling began yesterday.

Lush, which is owned by its founder Mark Constantine, prides itself on its policy of pro-active campaigning, but the fact that it is the somewhat unlikely financial driving force behind the anti-fracking campaign will be news to many of its customers.

The company’s donations have helped Frack Off to lay on buses to transport demonstrators from all over the country to proposed fracking sites – a tactic which has angered some local protestors who feel their cause has been hijacked by full-time campaigners.

Lush’s website has a whole page dedicated to Frack Off, describing it as a “grassroots campaign group”, though The Daily Telegraph has established that its leaders include serial protestors with criminal convictions for their part in other demonstrations.

Lush describes fracking as “a threat to our water, a threat to our air” which uses “carcinogenic chemicals” and causes “unacceptable side effects”.

It describes itself as the “host” of the Frack Off campaign, and has a slick animated film on its website which warns that fracking firms “employ lobbyists to peddle lies”, while homeowners will be left “trapped in houses they are unable to sell, insure or remortgage”.

Hilary Jones, Lush’s ethics director, said Frack Off received £20,000 last year, and that other anti-fracking groups had been given donations of between £1,000 and £10,000.

She said: “We are the single largest backer of Frack Off. We have been concerned about fracking for some time. We tend to be ahead of the curve and we have had fracking on our radar for a while.

"Last year Frack Off received £20,000. Instead of asking for money this year Frack Off were given the chance to put their case in specially designed window displays in all our British stores and Frack Off leaflets were given to our customers. The country needs to know what's going on.

“We anticipate being contacted by more resident groups around the country. We can turn around a donation in a couple of days.”

Tamsin Omond, a public school-educated baronet’s granddaughter, is banned from going within a mile of Balcombe as part of her bail conditions after she was released after her arrest on Thursday.

She said she was not a member of Frack Off, describing herself as “just a supporter”.

Yesterday the Telegraph named Edward Lloyd-Davies, a former full-time university researcher in astrophysics, as the leader of Frack Off.

Another leading light in the group is Alistair Cannell, 23, of Brighton, who co-ordinated press coverage of Frack Off’s protest against Cuadrilla test drilling in Southport last year, which led to Mr Lloyd-Davies being convicted of trespass and assault.

Mr Cannell was part of a 21-strong group which broke into an EDF Energy plant in Nottinghamshire in 2012 in protest at plans to build up to 40 new gas power stations, later pleading guilty to aggravated trespass. In September last year he was one of the first people arrested following a change in the law which made it easier to evict squatters. He was held in a flat above a shop in Brighton but the charges were later dropped.

One of Frack Off’s leading supporters in the north west is Gayzer Tarjanyi, 52, a professional clown and children’s entertainer from St Annes, Lancs. Last year he changed his name by deed poll to Gayzer Frackman and founded the protest group Frack Free Fylde.

Britain could soon be paying billions for  windmill back-up

The National Grid's latest plan is taking off into the weirdest scheme yet, thanks to our politicians’ obsession with wind turbines

Occasionally, one comes across a story so mind-blowingly unexpected and out-of-left-field that it seems hard for readers to take on board that it is true. Such is the story I first reported here last month, under the heading, “Our lights will stay on, but it’ll cost us a fortune”, about the scheme being devised by the National Grid to solve what has long been the most intractable problem created by the Government’s plan to see the best part of £110 billion spent in seven years on building tens of thousands more wind turbines – namely, how to keep our national grid “balanced” when it has to cope with all those unpredictably wild fluctuations in the speed of the wind.

The answer National Grid has come up with, only made possible by the latest computer technology and “cloud software”, is to hook up thousands of diesel generators, remotely controlled by the grid, to provide almost instantly available back-up for when the wind drops. As we can see from recent reports, such as the National Grid’s draft consultation on “Demand Side Balancing Reserve and Supplemental Balancing Reserve”, this is now taking off into the weirdest and most ambitious scheme yet called into being by our politicians’ obsession with wind turbines. As uncovered by the tireless research of my colleague, Richard North, on his EU Referendum blog, owners of diesel generators are being incentivised with offers of astronomic fees to make them available to the grid – subsidies equivalent to up to 12 times the going rate for conventional electricity, and even, on very rare occasions, up to £15,000 per megawatt hour (MWh), or 300 times the normal rate of £50 per MWh.

Initially, this “short-term operating reserve” only envisaged relying on existing standby generators, many owned by public bodies such as hospitals, prisons and military installations – which stand to earn hundreds of millions of pounds from the Government, paid for by the rest of us as a “stealth tax” through our electricity bills. But so lucrative is the subsidy bonanza now being proposed that dozens of private firms, with names such as Renewable Energy Generation and Power Balancing Services, are flocking to cash in by building dedicated “virtual power stations”, capable of generating up to 20MW or more, knowing that they can expect up to £47,000 a year in “availability payments” for each MW of capacity, even before they have generated a single unit of power.

This solution to the “grid balancing” problem created by wind was pioneered in the US. The first firm to set up a “virtual power station” in Britain was UK Power Reserve, run by a former governor of Oklahoma, who was amazed to find the British offering subsidies seven times larger than those available in his native state. When last week I asked National Grid, Ofgem and others for an estimate of how much we will all be having to pay for this “balancing” scheme, the general response was that this is still too much a “work in progress” to allow for overall cost estimates – although National Grid has been quoted as suggesting that within two years it could be £1 billion a year, adding 5 per cent more to our already soaring electricity bills. But, without question, we are looking here at one of the most sure-fire moneymaking wheezes of our time – what one firm happily describes as “money for nothing”.

And the final irony, of course, is that those diesel generators chuck out almost as much, per unit, of that supposedly polluting CO2 as any of the coal-fired power stations our politicians want to see taxed and regulated out of existence. 


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


1 comment:

John A said...

While I certainly doubt some of the "science" of Mann, Hansen, and others, Mr. Trzupek ("Michael Mann Redefines Science") is even worse when he claims science relies on proving things - which he actually seems to recognize since he puts "proves" and "proof" in quotation marks when he mentions specific examples such as the work of Lavoisier. As said in the next article included in this post. "Because in real science the debate is never over."

Being skeptical, or even scoffing alarmism, of "climate science" does not mean we can in our turn "redefine science."