Monday, April 21, 2014

EPA’s Tower of Pisa policies

Using lies to shore up policies built on shaky foundations of climate, peak oil and sustainability

Paul Driessen

Built on a foundation of sand, the Leaning Tower of Pisa would have toppled over long ago, if not for ingenious engineering projects that keep it from tilting any further. The same thing is true of ethanol, automobile mileage, power plant pollution and many other environmental policies.

Not only are they built on flimsy foundations of peak oil, sustainability and dangerous manmade climate change. They are perpetuated by garbage in-garbage out computer models and a system that rewards activists, politicians, bureaucrats and corporations that support the hypotheses and policies.

At the heart of this system is the increasingly secretive and deceptive U.S. Environmental Protection Administration. Among its perpetrators are two ideologically driven regulators who are responsible for many of today’s excessive environmental regulations. When the corruption is combined with the EPA’s history of regulatory overkill and empire building, it paints a portrait of an agency that is out of control.

EPA’s culture of misconduct has already raised congressional hackles over the misuse of government credit cards (a recent EPA audit found that 93% of purchases were personal and contrary to agency guidelines); former regional EPA administrator (and now Sierra Club official) Al Amendariz wanting to “crucify” oil companies to make examples of them; and former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who masqueraded as “Richard Windsor,” to avoid revelation and oversight of her emails with activists.

However, these sorry tales pale in comparison to damaging EPA malfeasance detailed in a new U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee minority staff report about convicted felon and con artist John Beale. This guy was convicted of bilking taxpayers out of $900,000 – by convincing EPA bosses and colleagues that he was a CIA agent, failing to show up for work for months, but continuing to receive his six-figure salary. However, these were minor transgressions compared to what he was not prosecuted for.

Beale has admitted he had no legislative or environmental policy experience prior to being hired. Yet he became the lead official for the nation’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter. He and Robert Brenner, his friend and immediate supervisor at EPA, concocted a nefarious plan that used manipulated scientific studies, faulty or even bogus regulatory cost assessments, “heavy-handed management of interagency review processes,” and even illegal experiments on human test subjects, to impose increasingly tougher, job-killing regulations on US industries.

One of Beale & Brenner’s first actions was to work with the American Lung Association in 1997 in a sue-and-settle arrangement, which led to ozone and particulate matter standards. This underhanded practice enables EPA officials to meet with environmentalist groups behind closed doors and agree to new proposed regulations. Later, the group files a “friendly suit,” and a court orders the agency to adopt the pre-arranged rules. Meanwhile, EPA awarded the ALA $20 million between 2001 and 2010. (Had a business had such an arrangement, it would likely have been prosecuted as an illegal kickback.)

The EPW Committee’s report notes that Beale & Brenner fine-tuned the sue-and-settle idea – and then intentionally overstated the benefits and understated the costs of new regulations. As a result, Beale & Brenner successfully rammed the PM2.5 and ozone standards through the EPA’s approval process and set the stage for myriad additional regulations that likewise did not receive appropriate scientific scrutiny.

In the case of PM2.5 soot particles, the ALA worked with Beale & Brenner to claim tougher regulations would eliminate up to 35,700 premature deaths and 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma annually. Scientists questioned the figures and said EPA’s flawed research merely “assumed” a cause-and-effect relationship between soot and health effects, but failed to prove one. Indeed, EPA’s illegal experiments exposed people to “lethal” doses of soot, but harmed only an elderly woman with heart problems.

Beale & Brenner pressed on. Not only were the initial PM2.5 and ozone regulations put into effect, but the questionable and non-peer-reviewed data has been used repeatedly as the basis for additional regulations. According to the Senate report, “up to 80 percent of the benefits associated with all federal regulations are attributed to supposed PM 2.5 reductions… [and] the EPA has continued to rely upon the secret science … to justify the vast majority of all Clean Air Act regulations issued to this day.”

As a House subcommittee has pointed out, the long and growing list of EPA regulations involves costly changes to automobiles, trucks, ships, utilities, cement plants, refineries and gasoline, to name a few. The rules also raise consumer prices, eliminate jobs, and thus actually reduce human living standards, health and welfare – all of which EPA steadfastly ignores, in violation of federal laws and regulations.

Just one EPA industrial boiler emissions regulation will put as many as 16,000 jobs at risk for every $1 billion spent in upgrade or compliance costs, IHS Global Insight calculates. The Administration’s regulatory War on Coal, amply illustrated by President Obama’s call to bankrupt the coal industry in the name of alleged manmade climate change, could eliminate up to 16,600 direct and indirect jobs by 2015.

Despite the economic damage, EPA applauded Beale’s regulatory success, and he quickly became one of the federal government’s most powerful and highest paid employees. Even Administrator Gina McCarthy had a hand in advancing his fraudulent and pernicious career, when she appointed him to manage the office of Air and Radiation’s climate change and other international work in 2010.

Then in June 2011, Beale stopped going to work. Despite having filed no retirement papers, under an arrangement with McCarthy, he was allowed to continue receiving his salary. When she finally met with him 15 months later, he said he had no plans to retire.  Two months later, Beale’s long-term unexcused absence was finally referred to the Office of Inspector General for investigation.

After McCarthy became the EPA Administrator in July 2013, Beale pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison. His partner-in-crime Brenner retired in 2011 before the agency could take action against him for accepting an illegal gift from a golfing buddy serving on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. But again, these crimes pale in comparison to the tens of billions of dollars that their junk science, sue-and-settle lawsuits and other actions have cost US businesses and families.

Now Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are trying to get to the bottom of the Brenner-Beale-EPA “secret science” that has been used to justify so many regulations. On March 17, Sen. David Vitter (R- LA) sent a letter to Dr. Francesca Grifo, EPA’s Scientific Integrity Official, asking for the original scientific data and voicing concerns about EPA’s apparent violations of international guidelines for ensuring best practices and preventing scientific misconduct. EPA thus far is claiming the research and data are proprietary or the agency cannot find them. Teachers demand that students show their work; we should demand the same from EPA – especially since we pay for it.

The agency’s onslaught of carbon dioxide and other climate change regulations – including proposed rules on cow flatulence (!)  – is similarly founded on fraudulent EPA and IPCC reports, false and irrelevant claims of scientific “consensus,” and computer models that bear no relationship to temperature, hurricane, drought and other planetary realities. Even worse, it is on this flimsy, fraudulent, lawless foundation that our government’s costly, intrusive environmental and renewable energy policies are based – threatening our economy, employment, living standards and families.

Meanwhile, Ms. McCarthy is conducting business as usual. She recently presented her proposed EPA’s FY 2015 budget to Congress. She says the increased funding should be viewed as an “investment in maintaining a high performing environmental protection organization.” You cannot make this up.

Governors, attorneys general, state legislatures and private citizen groups need to initiate legal actions and demand full discovery of all relevant EPA documents. Congress too needs to take action. Along with one on the IRS targeting scandal, it needs to appoint a select committee or independent counsel to determine which data, computer models and studies EPA used – and which ones it ignored – in reaching its decisions.

Otherwise our nation’s downward economic slide, and distrust of government, will accelerate.

Via email

Try to Ignore Earth Day

By Alan Caruba

Try to ignore Earth Day, April 22. It won’t be easy. The print and broadcast media will engage in an orgy of environmental tall tales and the usual end-of-the-world predictions. It will scare the heck out of youngsters and bore the heck out of anyone old enough to know that we have had to endure the lies that hide the agendas that have driven the Greens since 1970 when the event was first proclaimed.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It is the third planet from the Sun and fifth-largest of the eight other planets that orbit it. It is the only planet in our galaxy that has life on it and it has an abundance of mineral resources as well as water and the fecundity to grow crops and maintain livestock to sustain the human race.

The climate on Earth is entirely dependent on the natural cycles of the Sun. Despite four decades of being told that the Earth was going to heat up due to greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide and methane, we are currently in a cooling cycle and no child born since 1997 has ever experienced a single day of the dreaded “global warming.”

Humans play a very small role affecting the Earth’s climate although, for example, deforestration is one way it has affects it. Other than cutting down trees, another way is to put the government in charge of vast acres of forest. It has a long record of failing to manage them well to the point where diseases and pests render the trees so weak that wildfires wipe out what would otherwise have thrived.

Otherwise, the Earth is and always has a been a very volatile place, subject to a variety of extraordinary natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The only thing humans can do is clean up and rebuild.

What has mostly changed for humans has been the discovery of energy sources that have transformed and enhanced their lives. Coal, initially, followed by oil and natural gas. All are carbon based, but then, so are humans and other life forms.

The Greens call them “fossil fuels” and some refer to “dirty coal” or seek to demonize “Big Oil.” Between 2007 and 2012, three U.S. oil companies paid a total of $289.7 billion in corporate income taxes. Until the Obama administration took power, coal provided fifty percent of all the electricity Americans used. Completely bogus “science” cited by the Environmental Protection Agency has been used to shut down coal-fired plants and close down coal mines. And, in concert with costly, unpredictable and unreliable “renewable” energy, wind and solar, have driven up the cost of electricity for everyone.

According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, released in March, over the next two decades the EPA’s climate rules aimed at reducing “global warming” (which is not occurring) will cost the economy $2.23 trillion. An estimated 600,000 jobs will be lost. The jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline have been waiting five years for the White House to approve the project.

As mentioned, it has been the many inventions that utilize the energy sources the Greens want to “leave in the ground” that have totally transformed the lives of Americans and others throughout the world. What Earth Day is really about is not the improvement of life, but limits that will reduce the world’s population. The one thing all environmentalists agree upon is that there are too many humans. This is a form of fascism that goes back to the creation of the communist/socialist economic systems, none of which have provided the level of prosperity that capitalism has. Even Communist China has adopted the capitalist model.

The other agenda Greens agree upon is that the government should own and control every square inch of the nation’s (and world’s) landmass. That is why climate change is part of the United Nations’ intention to become the single world government. It is home to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that has clung to the global warming hoax since they invented it in the late 1980s.

Recently, the IPCC released another report claiming “climate change” will melt polar ice, cause the oceans to rise dramatically, generate extreme weather conditions, et cetera. There have always been extreme weather conditions somewhere and the rest of the IPCC claims are just great big lies that have been around for decades.

Along the way, environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth, among countless others of comparable or lesser size have received millions in membership dues, donations, the sale of products, and from the assets that many own. Many, like Greenpeace, enjoy a non-profit status. For example, in 2011, Greenpeace took in $27,465,948 and had assets of $4,653,179. Multiply that against all the others and it adds up to billions.

Green organizations represent a very big business that is constantly at war with legitimate businesses in the energy, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors, seeking to impose laws and regulations that cost them and consumers billions every year.

If you’re a parent take some time to explain to younger children that the Earth is very old and not going to suffer the claims Greens repeat and repeat. As for everyone else, just try to ignore the Earth Day deluge. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.


Students hear two sides of global warming debate

Hebron High School junior Kasie Sass said Thursday's World Affairs Conference held at Ivy Tech Community College was the first time she had heard both sides of the heated global warming issue.

"It was pretty interesting and I definitely heard a different perspective. I am so used to hearing all the propaganda from the other side," Sass said.

Chesterton High School junior Alyssa Bowker agreed. "I learned a lot of facts that I'd never been told," she said.

Sass and Bowker were among about 150 area students who took part in the Rotary District 6540 sponsored conference to discuss the Storm Over Climate Change.

The two keynote speakers, Steve Goreham and Jorge Ortiz, gave opposing sides of the issue at a gathering of other students in Manchester University in North Manchester.

Their speeches were web broadcast live to several other sites including Ivy Tech in Valparaiso and Purdue University Calumet in Hammond.

Goreham, a policy adviser to the conservative Chicago-based the Heartland Institute, said those who believe in the claims of looming global warming are all wet.

Even on the heels of what he termed a "good old-fashioned northern winter," some people are still saying the snow is disappearing and will stop unless global warming is stopped, Goreham said.

"The snow is increasing. And the 40-year trend of snow increasing data is out of step with what they are saying," Goreham said.

Experts on global warming say the years from 2000 to 2009 have been the warmest on record but those records only go back 130 years.

Those records don't include extreme climate changes recorded during the Medieval Warm Period in England ending in the 13th century followed by the Little Ice Age.

"Climate change is natural; not man made," Goreham said.

Ortiz, regional director for U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., spoke on the senator's behalf.

In his speech, Ortiz provided definition of climate change and updates on how it is being handled in this country and throughout the world.

Ortiz said the Environmental Protection Agency defines climate change as temperature changes that have increased by 1.4 degrees.

"More and more agree that the temperature is rising but there is no consensus on why," Ortiz said.


Fracking to deliver tens of billions to UK supply chain

Britain's shale gas and oil industry could create tens of billions of pounds worth of opportunities in the supply chain, a major report is expected to say this week.

But the country currently lacks the equipment and skilled workers needed to support fracking, presenting a potential obstacle to the expansion of shale development.

Firms must start equipping themselves to ensure they capitalise on the potential for tens of thousands of jobs the industry could create, the report, backed by ministers and the industry, is likely to say.

However, the publication of a separate report mapping billions of barrels of shale oil that lie beneath the south of England has now been delayed until at least late May, The Telegraph has learnt.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has been studying the shale potential in Jurassic formations in the Weald and Wessex basins, which span the Home Counties.

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, had promised the report would be published “by spring” this year. It will now not be released until after the European elections on May 22 because of “purdah” preventing significant or contentious announcements being made in the run-up to polling day.

The BGS report is likely to be highly controversial because of strong local opposition in parts of the Tory heartlands to potential drilling. Attempts to drill for oil in Balcombe last summer by fracking firm Cuadrilla led to months of protests, racking up a £4m policing bill.

The US government’s Energy Information Administration estimated last year that 17bn barrels of shale oil could lie beneath the Jurassic area, which spans almost 3,500 square miles, and suggested that 700m barrels could be recovered.

Mr Fallon has described the southern region as “the second great belt of shale” after Bowland in the North, where the BGS reported there could be enough gas to fuel Britain for more than 40 years.

Drilling in the South – where oil lies beneath Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent – would test whether those in the region “like the flaring [burning off oil and gas] at the end of the drive”, Mr Fallon was quoted as saying last year.

The energy industry has acknowledged that while local opposition may be the biggest obstacle to fracking, the immature supply chain could present a barrier to the development of shale resources.

Britain lacks the necessary infrastructure and equipment, with barely a handful of onshore drilling rigs available.

A report by the Institute of Directors, commissioned by fracking firm Cuadrilla, also highlighted a lack of skilled labour as an obstacle, pointing out there was already a skills shortage in the North Sea offshore oil and gas industry.

Sources say this week’s report, understood to have been commissioned by the UK Onshore Operators Group and backed by ministers, will suggest a total supply chain opportunity running into tens of billions of pounds.

It will highlight how specific sectors could benefit from shale, for example manufacturers of steel for fracking equipment.

Industry sources say that companies and government alike must take action now to ensure the fracking industry does not repeat the mistakes of Britain’s offshore wind industry, which overwhelmingly has foreign manufacturers and suppliers.

This week’s report will also be closely watched for its estimate of jobs. An independent report by consultants Amec last year suggested that up to 32,000 jobs could be created through fracking in new areas being offered to companies this year – implying a maximum of 64,000 jobs once those areas also under licence are included.

But ministers have faced criticism from Labour for persisting in using a figure from the IoD suggesting a total of 74,000 jobs would be created.

The IoD’s report also suggested that each drilling site could represent an investment of between £142m and £514m over its lifetime, with total investment peaking at £3.7bn a year.


Europe may replace Russian gas with US coal

While U.S. lawmakers are debating the merits of exporting natural gas to Europe to break Russia’s energy hold on the continent, one immediately exportable energy source has been overlooked: coal.

U.S. coal exports have been booming in recent years due to rising demand around the world. In fact, some European countries are already using U.S. coal to displace costly Russian gas. Europe’s biggest importers of American coal include Germany and the United Kingdom.

“The president is doing his best to stop coal use in America by issuing emissions standards that are so stringent it is not feasible to build a coal fired power plant, but other countries are desperate for this valuable energy resource and we are exporting coal in record numbers,” Republican Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

U.S. coal exports have skyrocketed in recent years. Exports have grown from about 59 million short tons of coal in 2007 to nearly 118 million short tons last year, all while imports have fallen 75 percent over that time period.

“Some European countries are using U.S. coal to help displace Russian natural gas and neutralize Russia’s energy influence,” Whitfield said. “Coal exports are already having an impact on geopolitics and are helping to create American jobs and reduce our trade deficit. We can build on this success by increasing natural gas exports as well.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced many European countries to rethink their reliance on natural gas that can be stopped at any time by President Vladimir Putin. The European Union is debating allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to unlock vast shale gas reserves as well as importing U.S. gas.

But importing U.S. gas is not a short-term solution, as the Obama administration has moved slowly in approving export terminals. Once an export terminal is approved, it can take years before it comes online and begins shipping out gas.

Some analysts expect U.S. coal exports to get another boost from the EU, since it’s the only viable short-term substitute for natural gas.


Screwy Green Opposition To Fracking Drives Europe Deeper Into Coal Consumption

The shale gas boom in the United States has made domestic power producers cleaner and turned coal producers into major exporters. A weak Europe, anxious about fracking, is becoming reliant on cheap U.S. coal to fuel its power stations, trapping it in a vicious cycle.

The ongoing European trepidation towards shale gas is putting Europe at an increasing economic disadvantage. The lack of energy competitiveness vis-à-vis the United States has also become the biggest concern of Europe’s industrialists, mentioned Leif Johansson, chairman of AstraZeneca and Ericsson and head of the European Round Table of Industrialists in a recent interview with the FT.

It is well known that the shale gas revolution in the U.S. has led to a massive drop in natural gas prices. From the peak in 2008, gas prices fell by over 70 percent by January 2010 and have roughly remained at that level since. This has led U.S. electricity producers to increasingly use gas-fired power rather than coal-fired power plants to supply electricity, with dramatic effects on the U.S. supply curves of electricity

This has been positive for the U.S. on two fronts. Firstly, natural gas is a cleaner fuel which is better for the environment. Secondly, with more competition in the market for electricity generation following the availability of shale gas, electricity prices are falling for consumers, a massive saving for the U.S. economy.

On the other hand, the preference for shale gas has left coal producers out in the cold.

U.S. coal producers have seen a declining demand in steam coal from the U.S. electricity sector. At the same time, they have maintained their annual production volumes. While coal imports into the U.S. have dropped dramatically, the excess coal production has needed to be stockpiled, exported or both. Currently, U.S. coal producers are banking on export markets to rid the stockpiles. A recent report from the U.S. Congress framed this issue very clearly: “One of the big questions for the [U.S. domestic coal] industry is how to penetrate the overseas market, particularly in steam coal, to compensate for declining domestic demand.”

U.S. coal producers have been successful at increasing exports and reducing imports. From 2007 to 2012, coal exports more than doubled with Europe taking about 58 percent of total exports in 2012, up from 32 percent in 2007.

This was driven by cheaper coal. The shale gas boom in the U.S. made coal less interesting to local electricity generators and it was to be expected that European electricity generators would capitalise on this “coal price revolution”. This revolution is the opposite to what is happening in the U.S. Coal had dropped from 25 percent of the total power mix in Europe in 2007 to 21 percent in 2010, but the trend reversed, starting in 2011, reaching 22 percent. In 2012, coal fired electricity output in Europe even rose by 6 percent, a greater increase than Portugal’s total electricity generation. The share of natural gas in the total power mix in Europe increased from 12 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008 but had already dropped to 17 percent by 2011.

A vicious economic – and ecological – energy cycle for Europe?

In the absence of a European supply of inexpensive shale gas, the shift to coal is a rational economic decision for European power generators. The consequences of the shift, however, are detrimental on several fronts. Firstly, in spite of lower coal prices, Europe’s energy cost position relative to the U.S. will only further deteriorate. Secondly, the negative knock-on effect of relatively higher energy costs on Europe’s energy intensive industries creates further disadvantage for Europe, already handicapped by very high structural costs. Thirdly, greenhouse gas emissions, which are roughly twice as high for coal fired plants than for gas fired plants, are saddling Europe with an ecological predicament. Losing on both economic and ecological grounds is the worst outcome.

Leaving the arbitration of Europe’s energy feedstock to “market forces” is poor policy, especially if the market mechanisms are leaving Europe dangling between U.S. coal and Russian gas. Policy makers and corporate leaders should urgently rethink Europe’s energy situation before it becomes a quagmire. Developing local energy sources such as shale gas should remain on the agenda.



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