Thursday, June 05, 2014
EPA’s next wave of job-killing and impoverishing CO2 regulations
Unleashing EPA bureaucrats on American livelihoods, living standards and liberties
David Rothbard and Craig Rucker
Supported by nothing but assumptions, faulty computer models and outright falsifications of what is actually happening on our planet, President Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency and their allies have issued more economy-crushing rules that they say will prevent dangerous manmade climate change .
Under the latest EPA regulatory onslaught (645 pages of new rules, released June 2), by 2030 states must slash carbon dioxide emissions by 30% below 2005 levels.
The new rules supposedly give states “flexibility” in deciding how to meet the mandates. However, many will have little choice but to impose costly cap-tax-and-trade regimes like the ones Congress has wisely and repeatedly refused to enact. Others will be forced to close perfectly good, highly reliable coal-fueled power plants that currently provide affordable electricity for millions of families, factories, hospitals, schools and businesses. The adverse impacts will be enormous.
The rules will further hobble a US economy that actually shrank by 1% during the first quarter of 2014, following a pathetic 1.9% total annual growth in 2013. They are on top of $1.9 trillion per year (one-eighth of our total economy) that businesses and families already pay to comply with federal rules.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce study calculates that the new regulations will cost our economy another $51 billion annually, result in 224,000 more lost jobs every year, and cost every American household $3,400 per year in higher prices for energy, food and other necessities. Poor, middle class and minority families – and those already dependent on unemployment and welfare – will be impacted worst. Those in a dozen states that depend on coal to generate 30-95% of their electricity will be hit especially hard.
Millions of Americans will endure a lower quality of life and be unable to heat or cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, or save for college and retirement. They will suffer from greater stress, worse sleep deprivation, higher incidences of depression and alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, and more heart attacks and strokes. As Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) points out, “A lot of people on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum are going to die.” EPA ignores all of this.
It also ignores the fact that, based to the agency’s own data, shutting down every coal-fired power plant in the USA would reduce the alleged increase in global temperatures by a mere 0.05 degrees F by 2100!
President Obama nevertheless says the costly regulations are needed to reduce “carbon pollution” that he claims is making “extreme weather events” like Superstorm Sandy “more common and more devastating.” The rules will also prevent up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks in their first year alone, while also curbing sea level rise, forest fires and other supposed impacts from “climate disruption,” according to ridiculous talking points provided by EPA boss Gina McCarthy.
As part of a nationwide White House campaign to promote and justify the regulations, the American Lung Association echoed the health claims. The Natural Resources Defense Council said the rules will “drive innovation and investment” in green technology, creating “hundreds of thousands” of new jobs.
Bear in mind, the ALA received over $20 million from the EPA between 2001 and 2010. NRDC spends nearly $100 million per year (2012 IRS data) advancing its radical agenda. Both are part of a $13.4-billion-per-year U.S. Big Green industry that includes the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation ($145 million per year), National Audubon Society ($96 million), Environmental Defense Fund ($112 million annually), Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace Fund ($46 million), and numerous other special interest groups dedicated to slashing fossil fuel use and reducing our living standards. All are tax-exempt.
As to the claims themselves, they are as credible as the endlessly repeated assertions that we will all be able to keep our doctor and insurance policies, Benghazi was a spontaneous protest, and there is not a scintilla of corruption in the IRS denials of tax-exempt status to conservative groups.
The very term “carbon pollution” is deliberately disingenuous. The rules do not target carbon (aka soot). They target carbon dioxide. This is the gas that all humans and animals exhale. It makes life on Earth possible. It makes crops and other plants grow faster and better. As thousands of scientists emphasize, at just 0.04% of our atmosphere, CO2 plays only a minor role in climate change – especially compared to water vapor and the incredibly powerful solar, cosmic, oceanic and other natural forces that have caused warm periods, ice ages and little ice ages, and controlled climate and weather for countless millennia.
The terrible disasters that the President and other climate alarmists attribute to fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are creatures of computer models that have gotten virtually no predictions correct. That should hardly be surprising. The models are based on faulty assumptions of every size and description, and are fed a steady diet of junk science and distorted data. We shouldn’t trust them any more than we would trust con artists who claim their computers can predict stock markets or Super Bowl and World Series winners – even one year in advance, much less 50 or 100 years.
The models should absolutely not be trusted as the basis for regulations that will cripple our economy.
Contrary to model predictions and White House assertions, average global temperatures have not risen in almost 18 years. It’s now been over eight years since a category 3-5 hurricane hit the United States – the longest such period in over a century. Tornadoes are at a multi-decade low. Droughts are no more intense or frequent than since 1900. There were fewer than half as many forest fires last year as during the 1960s and 1970s. Sea levels rose just eight inches over the last 130 years and are currently rising at barely seven inches per century. There’s still ice on Lake Superior – in June! Runaway global warming, indeed.
This is not dangerous. It’s not because of humans. It does not justify what the White House is doing.
Asthma has been increasing for years – while air pollution has been decreasing. The two are not related. In fact, as EPA data attest, between 1970 and 2010, real air pollution from coal-fired power plants has plummeted dramatically – and will continue to do so because of existing rules and technologies.
For once the President is not “leading from behind” on foreign policy. However, there is no truth to his claim that other countries will follow our lead on closing coal-fired power plants and slashing carbon dioxide emissions. China, India and dozens of other developing countries are rapidly building coal-fueled generators, so that billions of people will finally enjoy the blessings of electricity and be lifted out of poverty. Even European countries are burning more coal to generate electricity, because they finally realize they cannot keep subsidizing wind and solar, while killing their energy-intensive industries.
Then what is really going on here? Why is President Obama imposing some of the most pointless and destructive regulations in American history? He is keeping his campaign promises to his far-left and hard-green ideological supporters, who detest hydrocarbons and want to use climate change to justify their socio-economic-environmental agenda.
Mr. Obama promised that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” and that he would “bankrupt” the coal industry and “fundamentally transform” America. His top science advisor, John Holdren, has long advocated a “massive campaign” to “de-develop the United States,” divert energy and other resources from what he calls “frivolous and wasteful” uses that support modern living standards, and enforce a “much more equitable distribution of wealth.” The President and his Executive Branch bureaucrats are committed to controlling more and more of our lives, livelihoods and liberties.
They believe no one can stop them, and they will never be held accountable for ignoring our laws, for their corruption, or even for any job losses, deaths or other destruction they may leave in their wake.
Every American who still believes in honest science, accountable Constitutional government – and the right of people everywhere to affordable energy and modern living standards – must tell these radical ideologues that this power grab will not be tolerated
CA: Hydrogen-fueled cars face uncertain market
Cars that drive hundreds of miles on a tank of hydrogen and spew nothing from the tailpipe but water will hit the market this month in California.
But it wasn't customer demand that drove automakers to build fuel-cell cars - it was basic economics, with a nudge from regulation.
California and other states are pushing automakers to offer cars that don't contribute to global warming. Many companies turned to electric cars and plug-in hybrids in response.
However, executives at Hyundai, Toyota and several other automakers are convinced that fuel-cell cars, which can fill up in five minutes, are better suited to Americans' driving habits than electric cars will ever be.
And if the cars prove popular enough to make money someday, automakers that develop and build their own fuel cells may be able to keep a bigger slice of the profits than they can from electric cars.
The most expensive component of any plug-in vehicle is its battery, and while some electric car makers such as Tesla Motors and Nissan build their own battery packs, many don't.
"When you develop all the technology for yourself, and you don't have to pay any patents, you can reap the benefits down the road," said Derek Joyce, manager for product public relations for Hyundai.
His company spent more than 14 years developing and testing its own fuel cell. Next week, Southern California drivers will become the first in the nation to lease Hyundai's fuel-cell version of its Tucson sports utility vehicle. It will go for $499 per month - about double the price of leasing a gas-burning Tucson.
The company won't say how many people have signed up. But Hyundai plans to make about 600 of the cars by the end of 2015. For comparison, Nissan sold 954 electric Leaf hatchbacks and GM sold 1,529 Chevy Volts, an advanced plug-in hybrid, in their first year on the market.
Eco-minded drivers who spent years badgering the auto industry into building electric cars haven't done the same for fuel cells. Many of them even call the new technology a waste of time, requiring a whole new network of expensive fueling stations. Fuel-cell cars, as a result, will jump into the market without a safety net.
"Nobody wants them," said Felix Kramer, founder of CalCars, a plug-in vehicle advocacy group. "Nobody's asking for them. People who wanted a zero-emission car can now get any number of electric vehicles. I'm kind of bewildered about why Toyota and Honda and the others are hanging so much on it."
The car companies know they need to convince people - electric-vehicle fans and ordinary drivers alike - to give fuel cells a chance.
"I certainly won't argue with you that the awareness for fuel cells is very low compared to the awareness of EVs," said Craig Scott, manager of advanced vehicle technologies for Toyota Motor Sales, USA. "We have to do our job to make people aware that this is here, now, and it's not some kind of science project."
Fuel-cell cars operate much like electric cars, relying on an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine to turn the wheels. But instead of drawing their electricity from a big, rechargeable battery pack, they produce it onboard. A fuel cell uses an electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate current.
That reaction yields no carbon dioxide or smog-forming chemicals, only water. As a result, automakers can use fuel-cell cars to meet California's requirements that a small percentage of the vehicles they sell in the state produce no greenhouse gas emissions. The California Energy Commission last month agreed to spend $46.6 million building 28 hydrogen fueling stations in the Bay Area, the Los Angeles region and along the Interstate 5 corridor.
"Our goal is really zero-emission vehicles," said commission Chairman Robert Weisenmiller. "So if it's electric, if it's hydrogen, if it's biofuels - we're agnostic."
British supermarkets only give 2% of unwanted food to hungry families and send the rest to be turned into biofuel because it is cheaper
Families are going hungry while supermarkets are paid public money to turn tonnes of surplus food in biofuel, a new report has revealed.
Only two per cent of the estimated 400,000 tonnes of extra food produced by shops and restaurants each year is sent to charities, according to a government inquiry.
The other 98% is either dumped in landfill or turned into biogas using government subsidies of up to £70 per tonne.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty was told millions of pounds of public money is subsidising 'anaerobic digestion plants' which convert food into biogas, while charities miss out.
Labour MP Frank Field, who co-chaired the inquiry, has criticised the use of taxpayer's cash to destroy edible food, branding the scheme 'madness on stilts'.
His inquiry's report stated: 'The food industry should set itself a target of reducing the amount of surplus food disposed of in landfill, and turned into compost or energy, by 100,000 tonnes each year by the end of the next parliament.
'This should be achieved by preventing waste in retail and supply chains, and by redistributing surplus food through the voluntary sector.'
Currently, an estimated 3.4 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food industry in the UK, before it reaches shops or restaurants.
At least 10% of that waste is fit for human consumption, enough for 800 million meals.
Tesco revealed last year that 68 per cent of its bagged salads, 48 per cent of its bakery goods and 24 per cent of its grapes go to waste.
Since 2003, the cost of food has increased at a greater rate than earnings, with the cost of a weekly shop increasing by 46%, while the average wage went up by only 27.9%.
FareShare, an organisation that resdistributes food to charities, says it has to charge supermarkets around £100 a tonne for food that is given to them to cover storage and transport costs.
Meanwhile, biogas companies were handed nearly £30million in subsidies from the Department of Energy and Climate change.
FareShare director Mark Varney told the Times: 'I'm up against that economic obstacle when I talk to the food industry and they say; "Well, actually, we have got an arrangement with this operator who comes and picks up the food".'
Mr Field has now called for the system to be changed to make given food to charity the cheapest option for the food industry.
He said: 'We're calling for a real focus on the millions of tonnes of surplus food that goes to waste each year in the food retail sector. Our proposals would save charities money, put downward pressure on food prices and provide healthier options to families relying on voluntary support.'
The inquiry found doubling the number of food given to charities could save them around £160million over the next parliamentary term.
Around 1.6million tonnes of food waste is used in Britain's 82 biogas plants every year as part of the Government's commitment to get at least 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
But the agency helping to set up the plants has admitted some of the food used is edible.
Tesco has revealed that in the first six months of 2013 it generated 30,000 tonnes of food waste, of which 21 per cent was fruit and vegetables.
The supermarket donates around 2,300 tonnes of food to charity, much of which is past its sell-by date but still deemed safe.
Last month, a survey of executives of all major supermarket chains revealed top bosses ignore use-by and sell-by dates on their own food, with one manager branding the dates 'ridiculous'.
Waitrose announced earlier this week that it would start selling 'blemished' fruit and veg after strict EU rules on misshapen produce were relaxed.
Double-dipping greens double-cross taxpayer trust
For many green energy companies, profligate federal spending is a gift that keeps on giving. The noble goal of “promoting renewable energy production” provides a veil for large, politically connected firms to double- or even triple-dip in Uncle Sam’s many unsustainable “sustainability” programs.
Let’s start with the Export-Import Bank. The federal export-credit corporation, which extends loans, guarantees, and insurance policies to private companies to purchase U.S. products, is rightfully facing challenges to its uncertain reauthorization vote this September. Opponents argue that the Export-Import Bank is rife with cronyism and provides dubious benefits for U.S. taxpayers while assuming unacceptable levels of risk exposure.
Fewer know that the Export-Import Bank is also a hefty player in the green energy racket. According to public data, the bank has generously increased assistance to “clean” energy and sustainability-related projects in recent years, representing roughly 11 percent of the bank’s portfolio since 2007.
Natural gas projects, deemed “clean energy” by the Environmental Protection Agency, received $11.8 billion in Ex-Im assistance from FY 2007 to FY 2014, or 62 percent of the green portfolio. Solar energy enjoyed 20 percent of the portfolio, with $3.7 billion in assistance. Nuclear projects received roughly $1.8 billion in assistance, while wind projects received $1 billion in assistance.
Many of the lucky firms that received Ex-Im assistance also enjoyed benefits from other federal subsidy programs. Firms that were fortunate enough to also receive cash under the Department of Treasury’s 1603 program raked in another combined $22 billion in Ex-Im assistance over the last seven years.
Among those companies, we find giant manufacturer and D.C. fixture General Electric. It received $20 billion in Ex-Im green-related assistance since 2007. Another $4 billion of 1603 cash went to support wind farms that use GE turbines.
We see similar patterns with other federal green energy programs like the Department of Energy’s controversial 1703, 1705, and AVTM loan programs. Companies that are rich in green energy benefits seem to only get richer.
In some cases, one can wonder if the firm’s political connections have played a role in its good fortune. Take the Spanish multinational Abengoa. The company benefited from $2.8 billion in assistance from DOE’s 1705, $203.9 million in help from the Export-Import Bank, and significant money from Treasury’s 1603 for its project in Minnesota and another project in Arizona.
As it turns out, former vice president and green-energy advocate Al Gore bought a large stake in Abengoa in 2007. Former New Mexico governor (and Obama administration ally) Bill Richardson is a member of the Abengoa International Advisory Board. Richardson was also a member of the 2013 Advisory Committee that guides Ex-Im policy.
In 2012, the Department of the Interior also fast-tracked approval for Abengoa loans; the firm received generous investment tax credits to open its (Obama-endorsed) Solana project in 2008; the predominately U.S.-funded Inter-American Development Bank, where Richardson sat on its selection committee, awarded Abengoa a $41 million loan for a wind-energy project; and Abengoa received a special $2 million “SunShot” award grant from DOE in 2013. And we shouldn’t forget that Bill Richardson is a former DOE secretary.
U.S. car manufacturers, too, enjoyed a fair amount of double-dipping into federal coffers for their green energy activities. Ford Motors, for instance, received almost $1 billion in Ex-Im assistance since 2007 while also raking in roughly $6 billion through the DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program. Tesla Motors, the fast growing electric car company, also received a $465 million loan from DOE’s ATVM. This federal generosity pairs nicely with the $34.7 million tax break it scored from the state of California last December and the variety of federal and states tax breaks the company enjoys.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the “stimulus,” provided more venues for double-dipping. The Green Mountain Energy, a subsidiary of mega-moocher NRG Energy, received two generous stimulus grants in 2011. Likewise, Reliant Energy and Reliant Energy Tax Retail LLC, two other NRG Energy companies, reported receiving at least 37 grants under the ARRA. These grants augmented the $3.8 billion in Section 1705 loan guarantees for NRG. NRG was also eligible to receive $430 million from the section 1603.
The worst part? Federal agencies can’t even keep track of where the money went!
A December 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration raised alarms that many companies receiving benefits under the 1603 program also filed for illegal tax credits. The IRS admits that it has no way to check who is getting what benefits. The all-you-can-eat green subsidy buffet has been wide open for business, and there’s no telling who devoured most of this wasted feast.
Large corporations don’t only double-dip into the Ex-Im Bank sustainability portfolio or other various green energy programs; it just happens that “sustainable energy production” is what’s on the menu for this administration. The best way to put an end to this corporate gluttony is to abolish all subsidies to private companies in whatever industry they appear.
Study shows iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming
Melting ice is self-limiting
A newly-discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. A UK team has discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets are rich in iron, which will have important implications on phytoplankton growth. The findings are reported in the journal Nature Communications on 21st May, 2014.
It is well known that bioavailable iron boosts phytoplankton growth in many of the Earth's oceans. In turn phytoplankton capture carbon – thus buffering the effects of global warming. The plankton also feed into the bottom of the oceanic food chain, thus providing a food source for marine animals.
The team, comprising researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh and the National Oceanography Centre, collected meltwater discharged from the 600 km2 Leverett Glacier in Greenland over the summer of 2012, which was subsequently tested for bioavailable iron content. The researchers found that the water exiting from beneath the melting ice sheet contained significant quantities of previously-unconsidered bioavailable iron. This means that the polar oceans receive a seasonal iron boost as the glaciers melt.
Jon Hawkings (Bristol), the lead author, said: "The Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets cover around 10% of global land surface. Iron exported in icebergs from these ice sheets have been recognised as a source of iron to the oceans for some time. Our finding that there is also significant iron discharged in runoff from large ice sheet catchments is new. "
"This means that relatively high iron concentrations are released from the ice sheet all summer, providing a continuous source of iron to the coastal ocean"
Iron is one of the most important biochemical elements, due to its impact on ocean productivity. Despite being the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, it is mostly not biologically available because it is largely present as unreactive minerals in natural waters. Over the last 20 years there has been controversy over the role of iron in marine food chains and the global carbon cycle, with some groups experimenting with dumping iron into the sea in order to accelerate plankton growth – with the idea that increased plankton growth would capture man made CO2. This work indicates that ice sheets may already be carrying out this process every summer.
Based on their results the team estimates that the flux of bioavailable iron associated with glacial runoff is between 400,000 and 2,500,000 tonnes per year in Greenland and between 60,000 and 100,000 tonnes per year in Antarctica. Taking the combined average figures, this would equal the weight of around 125 Eiffel Towers, or around 3000 fully-laden Boeing 747s being added to the ocean each year.
Jon Hawkings added: "This is a substantial release of iron from the ice sheet, similar in size to that supplied to the oceans by atmospheric dust, another major iron source to the world's oceans.
At the moment it is just too early to estimate how much additional iron will be carried down from ice sheets into the sea. Of course, the iron release from ice sheet will be localised to the Polar Regions around the ice sheets, so the importance of glacial iron there will be significantly higher. Researchers have already noted that glacial meltwater run-off is associated with large phytoplankton blooms - this may help to explain why".
Commenting on the relevance of this study, Professor Andreas Kappler (geomicrobiologist at the University of Tübingen, Germany, who is also secretary of the European Association of Geiochemistry) said:
"This study shows that glacier meltwater can contain iron concentrations that are high enough to significantly stimulate biological productivity in oceans that otherwise are oftentimes limited in the element iron that is essential to most living organisms. Although the global importance of this flux of iron into oceans needs to be quantified and the bioavailability of the iron species found should be demonstrated experimentally in future studies, the present study provides a plausible path for nutrient supply to oceanic life."
More information: Ice sheets as a significant source of highly reactive nanoparticulate iron to the oceans. Authors Jon R. Hawkings, Jemma L. Wadham, Martyn Tranter, Rob Raiswell, Liane G. Benning, Peter J. Statham, Andrew Tedstone, Peter Nienow, Katherine Lee & Jon Telling Nature Communications , 5:3929 , DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4929, published 21 May 2014
Renewable Energy Poses Security Risk, New Paper Warns
A new paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation warns that intermittent wind and solar energy pose a serious energy security risk and threaten to undermine the reliability of UK electricity generation.
Many people – including ministers, officials and journalists – believe that renewable energy enhances Britain’s energy security by reducing the dependency on fossil fuel imports. The ongoing crisis over the Ukraine and Crimea between Russia and the West has given much attention to this argument.
Written by Philipp Mueller, the paper (UK Energy Security: Myth and Reality) concludes that domestic and global fossil fuel reserves are growing in abundance while open energy markets, despite the conflict in the Ukraine, are enhancing Britain’s energy security significantly.
In contrast, the ability of the grid to absorb intermittent renewable energy becomes increasingly more hazardous with scale.
Germany provides a warning example of its growing green energy insecurity. Last December, both wind and solar power came to an almost complete halt for more than a week. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still while one million photovoltaic systems failed to generate energy due to a lack of sunshine. For a whole week, conventional power plants had to provide almost all of Germany’s electricity supply.
Germans woke up to the fact that it was the complete failure of renewable energy to deliver that undermined the stability and security of Germany’s electricity system.
“Open energy markets are a much better way to ensure energy security than intermittent generation systems like wind and solar. It would be a huge risk in itself for Britain to go down the same route as Germany and destabilise what is still a reliable UK electricity grid,” said Philipp Mueller.
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Posted by JR at 4:57 PM