Solar Industry Takes on Crony Capitalism in Arizona
As Henry Kissinger once said: "It's a pity they can't both lose"
A heated battle is taking place in Arizona between the fledgling solar industry and APS, the state’s largest energy company, which enjoys a state-granted near-monopoly over energy. In sunny Arizona, it is peculiar that solar energy is being portrayed as the bad guy. Since Arizona is a Republican-dominated state, APS is sneakily buying up influential Republicans, both directly and indirectly, to perpetuate its crony capitalism. The Washington Post refers to these Republicans as “some of the best pollsters and consultants money can buy.”
The spin goes like this, “stop subsidizing the solar industry.” The word “subsidy” is used to scare Republicans. The solar companies are being compared to Solyndra, the green energy company that went bankrupt despite receiving more than $500 million in loans from the Department of Energy.
The reality is, the solar industry is not being “subsidized.” Energy users who do not use APS power, but use their solar panels instead for power, are simply not being double-charged. When they are not using APS power, but are instead sending unused solar power energy back to the grid for others to use, they receive a rebate. This is known as “net metering” and has been in place since 2009. APS wants to eliminate this, which will essentially have the effect of charging solar users for APS power they do not use. Instead of receiving 15 cents per kilowatt-hour rebates for power the solar users send back to the grid, APS wants to reduce the rebate to 4 to 10 cents. This would add $50 to $100 a month to the power bills of solar users. The utility also wants to start charging solar users a monthly maintenance fee.
Solar users are saving everyone additional costs. As energy users dependent upon APS decrease their usage and move to solar power, fewer generating stations need to be built, and fewer distribution lines put into place. While it is true that solar users are paying less towards the maintenance costs of APS, it is because they are using less of APS’ services.
What has complicated the issue and made it easy for crony capitalist arguments to prevail is that energy is not a purely free market commodity. Due to the limited nature of energy, and the expense of outfitting each home with energy sources, it is virtually impossible for competing energy sources to exist without government - or some type of neutral entity - stepping in to split up the pot in some way. If APS has its way, it will continue to be propped up as a near-monopoly by the government, subsidized by taxpayers. Allowing solar companies to compete merely reduces the gargantuan market share that is artificially allocated to APS. I lived alone in a small home in Arizona for most of the last 12 years, and thought it was outrageous that my bill from APS was frequently close to $300 per month, no matter how frugally I used electricity and air conditioning.
This feud has come to a head this year because APS is discovering its profits are decreasing as more and more people in Arizona move to solar power. This is happening in part because the cost of installing solar panels has decreased drastically in recent years. About 200 APS customerseach month are adding solar to their houses now.
APS has been secretly contributing large amounts of money to conservative organizations like 60 Plus Association, the conservative alternative to the AARP, and the conservative organization Prosper, in order to influence the groups to run negative ads against solar power. When a reporter asked APS spokesman Jim McDonald in July whether APS was funding the 60 Plus costly TV ads, he denied it, saying, “No, we are not.” Instead, APS claimed it was a coincidence that the two organizations were aligned with it. McDonald has a history of advocating for tax increases.
In October, it was discovered that APS had been lying all along about funding conservative organizations to run attack ads. These groups bashed the solar net-metering policy as “corporate welfare.” It is ironic, because corporate welfare is actually what APS is demanding for itself.
Perhaps the term “net metering” needs to be changed to something more accurate, so consumers aren’t as easily fooled into believing it is a subsidy to solar companies. Call it what it is, non-double charging or rebates for contributing power.
Some conservatives have been fooled, lining up behind crony capitalism. Others see through the false rhetoric. Barry Goldwater, Jr., has come out against APS’ near monopoly. A Green Tea Party Coalition has been formed in Georgia by Debbie Dooley, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party.
Conservatives who can see through the crony capitalism are forming a strange alliance with the left. It is one of very few issues that liberals and conservatives can both agree on, although for different reasons. Obama’s Organizing for America organization is taking sides with the solar companies in the name of “climate change.”
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will be starting hearings on November 13 regarding net metering. The ACC has rejected APS’ proposals so far. If the ACC does not resolve the matter this month, debate could continue for two more years until APS’ next rate hearing. Commissioner Bob Burns has asked for an investigation into APS funding of 60 Plus, demanding information on any secret funding of nonprofits or public relations campaigns. It would be brutally unfair if APS customers’ money is being used to kill off the solar industry, and is likely a violation of the utility’s last rate case settlement.
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia use net metering. Arizona State University’s business school has determined that Arizona is the most promising state in the country for solar production. Jason Rose, a veteran Republican consultant working for the solar industry, told The Washington Post, “If the utilities are able to upend rooftop solar in Arizona, the sunniest state, then imagine what they can do everywhere else.”
This is a case of follow the money. When there is big money involved, which a utility company with a state-sanctioned near-monopoly is lying about, and conservatives are backing crony capitalism, you can be assured theirs is not the conservative position.
Common Sense Mining Policy? Rare!
What is essential to modern energy production and management including oil-and-gas development, wind and solar, and LED lights—just to name a few—and has rare bipartisan support in both houses of Congress?
The answer is something “rare.” Something that is currently used in almost everything modern, but that is abundant and recoverable in very few places on the planet—hence the “rare” moniker. Something that China has in abundance and that they are using as an economic weapon against the rest of the world—much like OPEC uses oil. And, this something is also found in the U.S., which could give us a competitive advantage in the global economy.
Have you guessed it? “Rare” was a big clue.
I am talking about Rare Earth Elements (REEs), many of which are recognized as Critical Minerals.
REEs are found in almost all massive rock formations—though their concentrations range from 10 to a few hundred parts per million by weight, which makes them difficult to extract. There are 17 different REEs with names ending in “ium” such as: dysprosium, yttrium, neodymium, terbium, cerium, and europium—just to name a few.
While most people don’t give REEs a thought, we all use them in our modern lives as they are a part of what makes cell phones, flat screens, and computer chips work. But REEs are not just about convenience and luxury. They are in every modern vehicle from a Prius to a Ford F-150. They enable miniaturization—making things fast and light.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “A Department of Energy report in 2010 noted that several minerals vital to clean-energy applications, including neodymium and dysprosium, face ‘critical’ supply questions over the next 15 years.” A 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers report revealed that 73 percent of CEOs in the automotive industry have businesses that face minerals and metals scarcity. The same problem applies to 78 percent of high-tech industry CEOs and 50 percent of aviation CEOs.
But, perhaps, most importantly, REEs are playing an ever-increasing role in vital defense technologies. REEs are used in stealth radar-evading technology, in targeting mechanisms for missiles and temperature-resistant magnets, and materials used in jet engines and aerofoil components in manned aircraft and, increasingly, in unmanned drones. The U.S. Department of Defense recently released findings from the “Strategic and Critical Materials 2013 Report on Stockpile Requirements,” which identified 23 critical minerals, of which shortages are likely. They include several vital to defense technologies, such as search and navigation equipment, missiles, and space vehicles. Such shortages will limit our ability to produce the defense systems of the future.
The U.S. is one of only a few countries with known recoverable REE deposits (with approximately 13 percent of the world’s total reserves), and we have more commodity minerals and metals than any other country. Yet, today, less than half the minerals U.S. manufacturers use comes from domestically mined resources. More specifically, China currently has a near-monopoly on the production of REEs—generally supplying approximately 85 percent of the world’s current REE supply and 100 percent of several REEs. Additionally, in recent years, China has imposed quotas on exports to protect its need for REEs and to compel high-tech companies to establish production in China by giving them the benefit of lower prices and guaranteed supply. In US News, Eric Hannis, senior fellow in defense studies at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, addressed companies’ increasing hesitancy to move production to mainland China: “the need to gain a cost-effective, guaranteed supply of rare earths means that many have been forced to make a ‘deal with the devil.’”
Instead of easing the mining regulatory framework to help promote domestic REE production, the Obama administration engaged in the governmental form of a temper tantrum. It joined countries without the quality resources found in the U.S. and lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming that Beijing is unfairly choking off exports of the commodities to benefit its domestic industries. (Imagine that a government would make policy that was designed to benefit its own? Perhaps the White House should try that.) In fact, if the WTO initiative is successful and China is forced to reverse its current policy of keeping the majority of its REEs in-country for its own use, we might end up encouraging them to flood global markets with REEs again, driving the price down—as they did in the 80s and 90s. By joining in the WTO case, the Administration could make it very difficult for U.S. projects to get up and running and stay competitive—and this could be their plan. Gratefully, the very low cost of production expected at Molycorp’s Mountain Pass mine provides some economic cushion.
The WSJ reports that the U.S. was once self-sufficient in REE production but ceded the market to China over the past two decades, “partly because of environmental concerns over energy-intensive mining and partly because of falling global demand and prices,” as a result of China dumping huge quantities of REEs onto the world market.
REEs in China were first discovered in 1927, with the Bayan Obo mine open in 1950. The U.S. dominated global production from the 60s and into the 80s with light and heavy REE production at Mountain Pass, but China then launched a dedicated campaign to dominate the REE supply chain. In 1986, Deng Xiaoping, a Chinese politician and reformist leader of the Communist Party who, after Mao's death, led his country towards a market economy, established the National High Technology Research and Development Program. His goal was to help China “achieve breakthroughs in key technical fields that concern the national economic lifeline and national security, and to achieve leapfrog development in key high-tech fields in which China enjoys relative advantages.” In 1992, Xiaoping boldly proclaimed: the “Middle East has oil, China has rare earths.”
This brings us to today.
REEs have gone “from being practically unheard of a few years ago to being one of the most-talked-about commodities,” according to the WSJ. There has been growing concern in the U.S. regarding our reliance on China for our REE needs, which has resulted in unusual bipartisan support for increased domestic REE production.
Regarding the U.S. position in the international REE arena, Hannis states: “In much the same way that we should strive for independence from Middle Eastern oil, the United States now needs to make ‘rare earth independence’ from China a key priority of government. After all, the nation that supplies our rare earths shares one key similarity to the region that supplies much of our oil: neither are getting friendlier to America.”
Apparently Congress has gotten the message. Last year, Rep. Doc Hastings, (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said: “Just like the United States' dependence on foreign oil causes pain at the pump, Americans will soon feel the impact of China's monopoly on the rare-earth element market.”
In September, the House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, HR 761: the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013, with the goal of allowing for the more efficient development of the U.S.’s $6.2 trillion worth of minerals and metals without minimizing or hindering the environmental review process.
On October 29, 17 Senators (nine Republicans and eight Democrats) introduced similar legislation: The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 to “help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign suppliers.” According to the Background and Section-by-Section Summary: “The legislation directs the Secretary of Interior to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and, pursuant to those designations, outlines a comprehensive set of policies that will bolster critical mineral production, expand manufacturing, and promote recycling and alternatives—all while maintaining strong environmental protections.”
The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 has widespread industry support—even though it calls for yet another stall-tactic study, when 23 studies have already determined that we have a crisis and an emergency.
Hal Quinn, National Mining Association CEO, heralded the bill as “a welcome recognition of the urgent need to facilitate the development of American minerals.” He observed that the measure would analyze the “impediments to domestic minerals mining that hamper the prospects of a sustainable U.S. manufacturing renaissance. It is widely understood that the slow and inefficient permitting system in the U.S. poses the largest impediment to unlocking the full value of American minerals.”
Likewise, the Women’s Mining Coalition statement reads: “this bill will provide high-paying, long-term employment for many Americans, while also providing world-respected environmental management practices and implementation.”
The House bill passed with the support of 100 percent of the Republicans and many Democrats. The same can be assumed for the Senate version. Senate Democrats need to hear from their constituents, they need to know that you support The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013. Please call your Senator and ask for his or her support.
Right now, there are only two non-Chinese suppliers for REEs (Molycorp in California and Lynas Corp. in Australia)—but there are several projects, such as Rare Elements Resources’ “Bear Lodge,” in development in the U.S. that could be providing national and economic security within a few years with the passage of The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013. America’s REE resources and potential production and refining give us a strong global advantage—but we must accelerate and streamline the permitting process. It is time for our government to make policy that is designed to benefit its own.
Greens Starting to See Nuclear’s Merit
Over the weekend, four leading climate scientists begged the green movement to see reason on nuclear energy. The group—which included the scientist cum-activist who ominously (and wrongly) predicted that developing Canadian tar sands oil would be “game over” for the planet—sent a letter to a number of green groups making the case for the latest generation of nuclear reactors as a realistic green resource. Here’s the gist of the letter, courtesy of the NYT‘s Andrew Revkin:
"As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.
We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem. Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies. At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.
Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power."
There’s a lot to be excited about in the world of nuclear energy, and an end to the stubborn emotional green resistance may be the least of it. Next generation nuclear technologies like fast reactors, molten salt reactors, thorium reactors, and even nuclear fusion are making furious progress. Bill Gates sees energy as the best way to combat global poverty, and in pursuit of that goal is choosing to back next generation nuclear technologies. Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, recently voiced his support for thorium for its non-proliferation potential.
That’s not to say that a new nuclear revolution is necessarily at hand. The cost of new plants is very high, and nuclear is being undercut by cheap shale gas in the US. Germany, Japan, and now South Korea have all walked back their nuclear energy ambitions in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. But while the momentum seemed decidedly against the zero carbon energy source in recent years, there is a growing sense that the newest generation of reactors have a bigger part to play yet.
British utility threatening to pull plug on £2bn offshore wind farm plan
Centrica is preparing to abandon a £2bn offshore wind farm project because subsidies offered by the government are too low.
The British Gas owner will not build the Race Bank wind farm, 17 miles off the north Norfolk coast, unless proposed subsidies are significantly increased, three sources told The Telegraph.
Ministers will not confirm final subsidy levels until December but are thought unlikely to increase draft prices enough for the project, which Centrica said could power 450,000 homes, to go ahead.
The move will raise fresh doubts over the future for the offshore wind industry, which ministers publicly insist they want to see developed.
They have privately indicated that they are happy to see some planned wind farms scrapped because they believe some companies, such as Centrica and its unnamed financial partner for Race Bank, are demanding too high returns.
Subsidies for wind farms will be paid for through levies on consumer energy bills, just as ministers are attempting to reduce such “green taxes” that companies, including Centrica, have blamed for pushing up household energy bills.
British Gas raised prices by 9.2pc last month and defended its right to make a 5pc post-tax profit, the highest of the Big Six suppliers, so as to fund investments.
“We believe these are fair profits, funding investments in UK energy infrastructure and securing future energy supplies for the UK, keeping homes warm and keeping the lights on,” the company said.
Its probable abandonment of Race Bank would, however, be its third high-profile withdrawal from planned UK investments on the grounds that subsidies footed by consumers were too low.
In February, it abandoned its 20pc stake in EDF’s planned Hinkley Point nuclear plant, writing off £231m, after complaining the returns were not attractive given the timescale and high cost. EDF last month agreed a subsidy deal for the project that analysts say could yield £1bn a year in pre-tax profits.
In September, Centrica wrote off £240m for planned gas storage facilities, which it had argued should be subsidised to avoid price spikes when supplies ran low.
Michael Fallon, the Energy Minister, rejected the claim, telling The Telegraph at the time: “I am not prepared to see fuel bills rise further just to give Centrica additional subsidy.”
Centrica had planned to invest up to £200m of the Race Bank project with partners funding the rest. It opened talks with the government about terms of a subsidy deal earlier this year.
In May, chairman Sir Roger Carr warned: “If the Government wish to have as part of their mix the renewable wind offshore, there is a price for that. We are happy to deliver the product provided we get the return that is reasonable. If we do not get the return it is not something, like nuclear, we can contemplate.”
In June, ministers unveiled the proposed levels of subsidies for offshore wind farms for the rest of this decade, which the company believes are too low.
Under the plans, wind farms that begin operating in 2014-15 will be offered £155 for every megawatt-hour of power they generate over a 15 year contract, about three times the market price of electricity, with the difference paid for in subsidies.
The subsidised price would fall 10pc to £140/MWh for projects starting up in 2017-18 and £135/MWh the year after.
The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s official adviser, said in September that the cut was too steep and the plans would “put required investment at risk”.
It said investors were also spooked by suggestions ministers envisaged as little as 8GW of offshore wind would being running by 2020, compared with previous plans for as much as 18GW, up from 3.3GW now.
Mr Fallon told The Telegraph this weekend that he was still reviewing consultation responses over the draft subsidy levels and could yet increase them, but that some wind farm developers were happy with the existing plans.
Centrica began planning Race Bank in 2004 and was granted consent for the project from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in July 2012. It had hoped to take a final investment decision early this year but said last month that any decision had now slipped into 2014.
Its plans for another offshore wind farm were rejected because it would have killed too many Sandwich terns.
Centrica declined to comment.
Coal, Gas, Oil and Uranium Are Still Best Energy Alternatives
Is U.S. mining for raw materials—coal, uranium and hard-rock minerals—an economic activity whose time has passed? And if so, what can replace it?
The Obama administration certainly has done its best to make domestic mining and energy production much more costly. Its “war on coal” is well documented. After clamping restrictions on airborne emissions of ground-level ozone and mercury at coal-fired plants, the Environmental Protection Agency has called for carbon-emissions’ standards that cannot be met even with the most advanced technologies.
The Carbon Power Plant, Utah’s oldest coal-fired electricity generating facility, will close in 2015 because not enough physical space is available for the equipment needed to meet the EPA’s new mercury limits.
Not surprisingly, these policies have contributed to a sharp drop in coal use. Its share of electricity generation for 2013 is expected to dip below 40 percent, the lowest level since World War II. Coal consumption has fallen dramatically from 1.2 billion tons a year to just over 800 million tons a year.
Dozens of U.S. coal mines have closed, idling more than 150 of them this year and leaving thousands of miners jobless.
Implicit in the administration’s hostility to coal is an assumption that other, greener energy sources are available to continue to ensure reliable and adequate supplies of electricity. But that is just whistling in the wind.
Nuclear power now generates 20 percent of our nation’s electricity. It turns out, though, that we are more dependent on imported uranium than we ever were on crude oil. Once a top uranium producer, the United States has only about nine operating uranium mines, and we import 90 percent of the uranium we use, much of it from Russia and Kazakhstan.
The United States has considerable uranium resources. Domestic supplies could fill electricity production and defense requirements many times over, but former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar banned mining on 1 million acres of the Arizona Strip covering northern Arizona and southern Utah. And, of course, Washington has blocked attempts to create a national repository for spent nuclear fuel.
Meanwhile, mining of another resource linked to energy production—fine-grained sand—is under attack from opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for recovering shale oil and natural gas. Environmentalists want local governments to curtail sand mining, arguing that inhaling tiny particles of airborne silica could cause a lung disease called silicosis. The Greens are certain of this, I’m sure.
Without sand mines, many of them in Wisconsin and Minnesota, there wouldn’t have been a shale revolution. The United States now has abundant supplies of low-cost natural gas from fracking, in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped underground at high pressure to break through shale deposits. The process has been so successful that cheap gas is fueling a surge in U.S. manufacturing of everything from chemicals and plastics to steel.
And sand mining is critical to shale-oil production. Thanks to the surge in shale-oil fracking, mainly in North Dakota and Texas, OPEC is no longer calling the shots. With oil imports at a 25-year low, U.S. refineries are operating at full capacity, and the net benefits from domestically produced oil and gas to the U.S. economy have reached $1 billion per day. Unconventional oil and gas production supported more than 1.7 million jobs last year, and is on pace to support 3 million by 2020. It’s also contributed tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues and helped reduce the trade deficit.
If the supply of fine sand is cut off, the boom could go bust.
Energy independence is not a goal that most economists support, but it’s been an objective pursued by every president over the past 40 years. What is consistent with economic reasoning, though, is to maintain a diversified portfolio of energy sources so as to avoid overreliance on any one of them.
Like it or not, oil and natural gas, coal and nuclear power now and for the foreseeable future are the best available alternatives.
Climate change 'exaggerated', former Australian PM says
FORMER PM John Howard thinks there'll never be a worldwide climate change agreement and admits he only backed emissions trading before the 2007 election because he faced a "perfect storm" on the issue.
Mr Howard delivered the Global Warming Policy Foundation's annual lecture in London on Tuesday night. The foundation was established by former Thatcher minister Nigel Lawson, who is sceptical about the impact of rising temperatures.
"I've always been agnostic about it (climate change)," Mr Howard told reporters in London before his address. "I don't completely dismiss the more dire warnings but I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated. "I don't accept all of the alarmist conclusions."
Mr Howard said he'd grown up being told ulcers were caused by stress but it was later revealed a virus was to blame. "You can never be absolutely certain that all the science is in."
Before the 2007 federal election then prime minister Howard pledged a re-elected conservative government would introduce an emissions trading scheme (ETS).
But he now says that was because by late 2006 his government hit a "perfect storm" with on-going drought, severe water restrictions, bushfires and the release of the Stern Review and Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. "To put it bluntly, 'doing something' about global warming gathered strong political momentum in Australia," Mr Howard said in his written lecture.
Regardless, Labor won the 2007 poll. Mr Howard says that was partly because the party had even "more fashionable" views on climate change.
But six years on, Australia's second-longest serving prime minister insists the high tide of public support for "over-zealous action" on global warming has passed.
"I am very sceptical about the possibility of a global agreement ever being reached when you look at what happened in Copenhagen," he said, adding there was no real prospect of a deal between the major emitters Europe, the US and north Asia.
Mr Howard believes anti-global warming policies should never stand in the way of economic growth in developing countries.
Most economists believe current Prime Minister Tony Abbott's direct action approach to curbing carbon emissions will be more expensive than an ETS.
But Mr Howard on Tuesday refused to be drawn on his protegee's policy. "It's better for the government that's proposing the direct action plan to engage in the debate," he said.
The former Liberal leader was forced to defend his decision to read Lord Lawson's book An Appeal to Reason twice despite not having picked up any other book on global warming.
Asked if that was unbalanced, the ex-PM said he re-read the work as a courtesy after being invited by Lord Lawson to deliver the lecture.
Mr Howard said it was a "counterbalance" to advice previously received from government departments and stressed he'd read "numerous articles" on climate change.
The 74-year-old also used the lecture to argue nuclear power "must be part of the long term response" to global warming. "It is a very clean source of energy."
Mr Howard later criticised the ABC for being captured by climate change "alarmists". "The group-think at the ABC on this issue is quite clear," he said during the question and answer session after his lecture. "On this issue it's signed up - there's no doubt about that."
The former prime minister said the Murdoch press, particularly The Australian newspaper, was more sceptical.
"(But) talkback radio commentators in Australia have more political influence than they do in this country (and) they are ferociously sceptical.
"So we have had, for some time, a more balanced debate."
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
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