Sunday, November 30, 2014
Hundreds of Records Fall During U.S. Cold Spell
Mid-November 2014 has been a time of record-setting temperatures and snowfall. Hardly anyone in the United States can avoid it, and even if your locale hasn’t experienced record cold itself, somewhere in your region has. This is not how global warming is supposed to work.
The United States has experienced an unusual amount of record-breaking cold weather and weather-related phenomena in 2014. Early in the year, in large part due to the polar vortex, hundreds, if not thousands, of American cities and towns experienced multiple days of record-setting temperatures – both record lows and record-low high temperatures.
This odd weather continued into the summer. In July, record lows or record-low high temperatures were set in cities across the nation, including in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, and Pittsburgh, as well as in states from Minnesota to Alabama and Florida. The streak continued into September, when 246 record-low high temperature records were broken or tied between September 1 and September 10 alone.
Jacksonville, Florida recently joined hundreds of other cities in the nation that have, since November 10, witnessed record lows – a low of 24 degrees broke the 141-year-old mark for November 20 by six degrees.
Weather Bell Analytics reports:
An astounding 226 million Americans will experience at or below freezing temperatures (32°F) on Tuesday as well – if you venture outdoors.
More than 85% of the surface area of the Lower 48 reached or fell below freezing Tuesday morning. All 50 states saw at or below freezing temperatures on Tuesday.
Record lows from Idaho to Nebraska and Iowa south to Texas and east through the Great Lakes, the eastern 2/3 of the US will shatter decades-long and in some cases, century-long records. Temperatures east of the Rockies will be 20–40°F below climate normals.
Compared to normal, temperatures over the past several days have dropped off a cliff – to 10°C below climate normal – more anomalous than even during the polar vortex of early January.
And Boston.com reported 1,360 cities and towns set daily-low maximum records over the past week.
On one night in mid-November, every state in the nation, including Florida, Hawaii, and Texas, had one or more locations reporting at or below freezing temperatures, and 85 percent of the nation saw freezing temperatures. This is mid-November, not mid-winter.
And let’s not forget about snowfall. Buffalo, among other Great Lakes region cities, is experiencing “Snowpocalypse,” a phrase I’m copywriting if possible. More than six feet of snow fell in Buffalo in less than 48 hours, with three or more feet threatening to fall by the end of the week. This is more than the city typically gets annually.
By November 3, areas in Maine, which typically accumulate less than a foot of snow for the entire month of November, had already received two feet of snow. Not to be outdone, on November 1, South Carolina experienced its earliest snowfall since official records began in 1886. The previous earliest snowfall recorded was on November 9, 1913.
Indeed, snow currently covers more than 50 percent of the country, more than twice the coverage the United States usually experiences for mid-November.
The records keep falling and climate models keep getting it wrong.
Dear Northeast, how’s that solar working out for you?
A couple of months ago, effective in November, National Grid, one of Massachusetts’ two dominant utilities, announced rate increases of a “whopping” 37 percent over last year. Other utilities in the region are expected to follow suit.
It’s dramatic headlines like these that make rooftop solar sound so attractive to people wanting to save money. In fact, embedded within the online version of the Boston Globe story: “Electric rates in Mass. set to spike this winter,” is a link to another article: “How to install solar power and save.” The solar story points out: “By now everyone knows that solar power can save homeowners big money on utility bills.” It claims that solar works even in New England’s dreary winters and cites Henry K. Vandermark, founder and president of Solar Wave Energy in Cambridge, as saying: “Even snow doesn’t matter if your panels have a steep angle. It just slides right off them.”
Solar is not the panacea it is promoted to be, though it is true that—after a substantial investment, heavy government subsidies (funded by all taxpayers), and generous net-metering programs (that raise costs for non-solar customers)—solar systems can save money on the typical homeowners’ monthly bill.
New England has seen one big power plant close within the past year—Salem Harbor Power Station in Salem, Massachusetts went “dark” on June 1, in part due to tightening federal regulations. Another major closure will take place within weeks: Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.
A new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant on 18 acres of the 65-acre Salem site will replace the Salem Harbor plant. The remaining 47 acres will see redevelopment, including renewable energy. But, that plan has received pushback from environmental groups that want it fully replaced with renewables. The Boston Globe states: “A decade ago, replacing the aging plant with a far cleaner natural gas facility would have thrilled environmental and public health advocates.” The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the project’s approval, claiming the state “failed to adequately consider its own climate change law when state energy officials approved the Salem plant.” In February, the group settled the suit after it caused construction delays and reliability concerns.
Just days before the plant closed, a report from The Daily Climate addressed the controversy over usage of the Salem Harbor site: “Many activists pushed back, arguing for wind or solar generation or non-energy uses, such as a marine biotechnology research facility.” One activist group: HealthLink, “has marshaled opposition to running a gas line to the new plant” and another: Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant (GAASP), “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.”
The state of Massachusetts has offered three closed, or scheduled to be closed, coal-fueled power plant sites $6 million to pursue renewable energy projects—even though wind and solar require full back up from fossil fuel power plants so electricity is available in the frigid Northeast winters. Additionally, a new report from two Stanford Ph.Ds., who spent 4 years trying to prove renewables can, ultimately, replace fossil fuels, have had to admit defeat: “Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.”
Having lived with the 63-year old Salem Harbor plant in her back yard for 20 years, Linda Haley, doesn’t, according to WGBH News, “understand why Salem would encourage use of a non-renewable fossil-fuel resource like natural gas when alternative investments in green technology finally seem possible.”
These stories reveal the snow job that has been perpetuated on the general public regarding renewable energy. They don’t understand the need for power or how it works. They seem to believe that when a rule passes a magic wand waves replacing older, but still fully functional, power plants with wind or solar—that doesn’t produce electricity 24/7/365 as do the decommissioned coal or nuclear plants and which requires far more land to produce the same amount of, albeit intermittent, electricity.
An iced up wind turbine or a solar panel covered in seven feet of snow—even if some of it slides off—doesn’t generate electricity. And the cold days of a Northeast winter create one of the times when energy demand peaks.
Remember last winter’s polar vortex, when freezing weather crippled the Northeast for days and put a tremendous strain on the electric supply?
Congress, following the near crisis, brought in utility executives to explain the situation. Regarding the nation’s electrical output last winter, Nicholas Akins, the CEO of the biggest generator of coal-fueled electricity in the U.S., American Electric Power (AEP), told Congress: “This country did not just dodge a bullet—we dodged a cannon ball.” Similarly, Michael Kormos, Executive VP of Operations for PJM Interconnection (the largest grid operator in the U.S. overseeing 13 states), commented on operations during the polar vortex: PJM was “never—as some accounts have portrayed—700 megawatts away from rolling blackouts. … On the worst day, January 7, our next step if we had lost a very large generator would have been to implement a small voltage reduction”—industry speak for the last option before power outages.
About last winter’s grid reliability, Glenn Beck claims: “I had an energy guy come to me about three weeks ago. …He said, ‘We were one power plant away from a blackout in the east all winter long… We were using so much electricity. We were at the top of the grid. There’s no more electricity. We’re at the top.’”
This winter’s extreme weather—with new records set for November power demand—has already arrived. Come January, there will be not one, but two fewer Northeast power plants since last year—not because they had to be retired, but because of EPA regulations and public sentiment. In a November 17 op-ed, former Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Judd (R-NH) said: “Vermont Yankee produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather.” The Northeast won’t have Vermont Yankee’s power this January.
Without these two vital power plants, what will the Northeast do?
For several months, since I had a chat with Weather Bell Analytics’ Joe Bastardi at the International Conference on Climate Change, I’ve continued to say that I fear people will have to die due to power outages that prevent them from heating their homes in the winter cold, before the public wakes up to the damage of these policies. AEP’s Atkins seems to agree. He told Columbus Business First: “Truth be known, something’s probably going to have to happen before people realize that there is an issue.”
“New England is in the midst of an energy crisis,” claims WGBH News. The report continues: “residents and businesses are facing a future that may include ‘rolling blackouts’ on days when usage is highest.”
ISO New England, the agency that oversees the power grid, warns, in the Boston Globe: “Boston and northeast Massachusetts are ‘expected to face an electricity capacity shortage’ that could lead to rolling blackouts or the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators—which emit far more pollutants than natural gas—to fill the gap.” Ray Hepper, the lawyer for ISO New England, in a court filing, wrote: “The ISO simply cannot make megawatts of generation materialize that are not on the system.” In an interview, he added: “We’re really, as a region, at the point of needing new power plants.”
As the Salem Harbor story illustrates, natural gas will likely fuel those new power plants and environmental groups are expected to challenge construction. Plus, natural gas faces cost volatility. On November 20, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in the wake of November cold, not experienced since the 1970s when global cooling was predicted, featured an article titled: “Chill pushes up natural-gas prices” that stated: “Natural-gas stockpiles shrank by more than expected last week reflecting surging demand.” As in the ’70s, many are now projecting, based on solar activity and other natural variables, a long global cooling trend.
While the Boston Globe, in September, said: “The upcoming winter is not expected to be as cold as last season,” Bastardi told me otherwise. He said: “This winter could be as cold and nasty as last year and in a worst case go beyond that to some of the great winters of the late 1970s, lasting all the way into April. As it is, we still have a winter comparable to last year forecasted, though the position of the worst, relative to averages, may be further southeast than last year.” During a November 19 appearance with Neil Cavuto, Bastardi suggested that we may see a bit of warming after November, but will have one, or two, very cold months after that.
The WSJ quoted Brian Bradshaw, portfolio manager at BP Capital in Dallas: “‘Everyone thinks it’s not possible’ to have another winter like last year ‘But the weather does impossible things all the time.’” WSJ added: “the natural-gas market is setting up for a repeat of last winter.”
So, why, when natural gas prices sit at historic lows that experts predicted will lower electricity rates, is the Northeast facing double-digit increases? The answer: there is no magic wand. The changes have been mandated, but the replacements aren’t ready yet. Ray Gifford, former commissioner with the Colorado Public Utility Commission, told me: “I don’t see how the gas infrastructure in New England can be built fast enough to replace retiring baseload capacity.”
Within the past decade, natural gas went from supplying less than a fifth of New England’s power to one half—which could be great if New England had natural gas, but it is, as Tim Maverick, Commodities Correspondent for Wall Street Daily, says: “gas-starved.” After last winter’s freezing weather, Maverick wrote: “The Northeast was slapped in the face with the reality that there’s not sufficient pipeline infrastructure to provide it with the mega-energy pull it draws in the colder season. This is probably because not one new pipeline infrastructure has been introduced in over 40 years. Natural gas consumption in the Northeast has grown more than 20% in the last decade, and not one new pipeline has been built. Current pipelines are stuffed and can carry no more supply.”
At the Edison Electric Institute financial conference on November 11, AEP’s Atkins confirmed that the proposed timeline to cut pollution from the EPA will shutter coal plants before completion of construction of new power plants using other fuels, or the infrastructure to move the needed natural gas around.
The lack of available supply, results in higher prices. The Boston Globe explains: “gas supplies for home heating are purchased under long-term contracts arranged far in advance, so utilities have the advantage of locking in lower rates. Power plants, on the other hand, often buy shorter-term and are more exposed to price movements in the spot markets.” In the winter’s cold weather, the gas goes to people’s homes first. Different from coal, which is shipped by train, with a thirty-day supply easily held at the point of use, the switch to natural gas leaves power plants struggling to meet demand, paying higher prices.
Addressing the 2013/2014 winter, Terry Jarrett, a former public service commissioner and a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility, and regulatory issues, said: “Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed—this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation.”
Last winter, coal and nuclear met the demand to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses. AEP reports that 89 percent of its coal plants, now slated for retirement, ran at capacity just to meet the peak demand.
These shortages in the Northeast occur before the implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Plan that experts believe will shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants nationwide by 2016. New pipelines and new plants need to be built, but “not-in-my-backyard” attitudes and environmental activists will probably further delay and prevent construction as they have done in the Northeast, which will result in higher electric bills nationwide.
“Because less-expensive coal generation is retiring and in part is being replaced by demand-response or other potential high energy cost resources, excess generation will narrow and energy prices could become more volatile due to the increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation,” PJM’s Kormos told Congress.
The lessons for America’s energy supply learned from the Northeast’s far-reaching experiment, that has only resulted only in price increases and potential energy shortages, are twofold. First, don’t shut down existing supply until the replacement is ready, as legal action and local attitudes can slow its development. Second, you can cover every square inch of available land with wind and solar, but when extreme weather hits, it requires a reliable energy supply, best met by coal and nuclear.
Current policy direction will have all of America, not just the Northeast, freezing in the dark. I hope it can it be turned back before it is too late.
States Reject GMO Scares
Voters in two states, Colorado and Oregon, defeated GMO labeling at the ballot box in the November elections. This is the third year in a row activists who want labels identifying genetically modified foods have lost state initiatives and referenda.
Voters rejected Colorado’s Proposition 105 with 67 percent of the vote. Measure 92 in Oregon was a much closer race, with 49 percent of the vote in support of the initiative.
Despite the continuous defeats, experts agree campaigns demanding GMO labeling are far from over.
Activists Won’t Give Up
“The hallmark of the hard left is never to give up on a theme until long after it is dead…. I expect no let-up,” said Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues, which studies agriculture and environmental concerns regarding food production.
Competitive Enterprise Institute Executive Director Greg Conko agreed, saying, “We’re just at the beginning.”
“I’m very happy the labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon failed on Election Day, just like prior initiatives in Washington State last year and California in 2012. But I’m still troubled they’ve attracted as much support as they have,” Conko added.
GMOs Declared Safe
Avery said the attraction for labeling genetically modified foods has grown over the last twenty years despite scientific research demonstrating the safety of genetic modification. Domestic and international bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Academies of Science, agree GMOs are safe.
Conko notes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration already requires producers to inform consumers any time a food has been changed in a way that impacts safety, wholesomeness, nutritional value, or even traits such as food’s taste, color, or mouth feel beyond the normal range of what consumers would expect.
Conko pointed out GMO labeling doesn’t actually tell consumers what’s different about their food. “Its sole purpose is to use scary terminology to make consumers think there’s something to be concerned about, when nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Opposing Interest Groups
The campaigns pitted environmental activists against major corporations, including Monsanto Co., Kraft Foods Group Inc., and Coca-Cola Co.
Grassroots campaigns in the two states had hoped to draw support from young voters. However, opponents don’t agree the so-called activists are really grassroots groups.
“These labeling initiatives are sometimes characterized by proponents as arising from grassroots movements, but they are something quite different: They are funded by self-interested special interests—the organic agriculture/food industry and the producers of various kinds of ‘natural’ remedies and other products that are nothing more than modern-day snake oil,” said Henry I. Miller, the Robert Wesson fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at the Hoover Institution.
Conko argues anti-GMO laws and referenda are unnecessary because consumers already have multiple avenues to identify GMO products, including GMO-free shopping guides and smart phone apps listing GMO-free foods.
“The market has identified a demand for that information, and normal market forces are finding a variety of ways to supply it,” Conko said.
“No dirty-oil-and-gas” Queen revealed
Will the real Gwen Lachelt please step down? That’s no wisecrack, but a very serious question in Colorado because she’s using a position of political influence to strategically devastate the state’s petroleum industry – and saying otherwise.
Lachelt, a La Plata County Commissioner, is a long-time anti-oil and gas extremist who now co-chairs Democratic Governor John W. Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force, a board of environmentalists and industry supporters convened to recommend drilling policies to the state legislature, debating key issues including a devastating fracking ban.
Lachelt says, “I have never taken a position to ban fracking” – which is technically true but realistically unbelievable. I have recorded the career of Gwen Lachelt and more than 250 other enviro activists since I wrote Undue Influence in 1999 and established its companion website a year later.
Take a look at Lachelt’s real history: She organized the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (originally the Citizens Oil and Gas Support Center) in 1999 in Durango, Colorado as a project of the rabidly anti-oil and gas San Juan Citizens Alliance.
Her early OGAP campaign, the Western Coalbed Methane Project attempted to stop all coalbed methane operations in the American West.
Another early campaign, Democratizing Oil & Gas Commissions (DOGCOM), attempted to remove anyone associated with the oil and gas industry from membership in Colorado’s Oil & Gas Commission.
By 2004, Lachelt was so successful as OGAP’s executive director ($42,000 salary) that the ultra-green Seattle-based software millionaire Paul Brainerd singled her out for a new strategy he had in mind: “market-based campaigns” to destroy a company’s finance and supply chain.
Brainerd’s foundation funded OGAP to hold “a workshop to train activists in Canada and the U.S. and to develop a corporate accountability campaign targeting one energy corporation that operates in both countries.”
With these instructions from Brainerd, OGAP and Canada’s Dogwood Initiative held the September, 2004 workshop for 40 activist leaders from all over Canada and the U.S., in a Denver venue. The workshop was titled, Corporate Energy Campaigning: Using financial pressure for conservation. Follow that link to see how vicious it was.
The corporate campaign was a tactic to destroy companies by targeting their banking and supplier relations, invented by labor organizer Raymond F. Rogers, Jr. in 1974 and well known among environmentalists by the 1980s. By 2008, it had been developed into a sophisticated nuclear option by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, deployed in their 2008 “Tar Sands Campaign” with its four-step corporate death march, “Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, and Enroll Key Decision Makers.”
Shortly after the OGAP workshop, Brainerd gave a “challenge grant” to the Washington, D.C.-based Mineral Policy Center (founded 1988), which had adapted the corporate campaign into an anti-mining tactic called “No Dirty Gold” under former Greenpeace leader, Steven D’Esposito. Brainerd directed the Mineral Policy Center to merge with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and operate jointly under the new name, Earthworks. Brainerd lays out his strategy here.
Lachelt and D’Esposito immediately adapted the company-killing No Dirty Gold project, and co-founded the No Dirty Oil and Gas coalition. On Nov. 15, 2006, Earthworks registered the websites www.nodirtyoilandgas dot com and dot org.
OGAP, as part of Earthworks, aggressively pushed for anti-oil and gas legislation in New Mexico in 2007, driving a number of oil and gas firms from the state, including Key Energy Services, which closed its Farmington, New Mexico natural gas operations in 2008, leaving 700 employees without a job.
Public outrage at Earthworks’ No Dirty Oil and Gas attacks made the name too shrill – and honest – and was morphed into “No Dirty Energy,” which it remains to this day.
That’s the real Gwen Lachelt. There’s no evidence that she has had a “Road to Damascus” persecution epiphany converting her to a moderate member of Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force.
The task force itself was the result of a threat by a raging anti-oil and gas millionaire, Boulder Democrat U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. He accepted the task force as his price for withdrawing two ballot initiatives he funded that would have imposed devastatingly expensive restrictions on Colorado’s petroleum industry if they won. With out-of-state Big Green political money flooding in to support the initiatives, Hickenlooper couldn’t risk losing his state’s biggest industry. Thus we got the oil and gas task force.
Lachelt told The Durango Herald she has never taken a position on banning hydraulic fracturing but simply supports regulations on fracking, including under the Safe Drinking Water Act (with its environmental group lawsuit provisions).
Simply Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, Enroll Key Decision-Makers. Get rid of the companies and you get rid of fracking. And a large chunk of Colorado’s economy. She’s still the Queen of No Dirty Oil and Gas.
The Gruberization of environmental policies
Accumulation of fraudulent EPA regulations impacts energy, economy, jobs, families and health
Call it the Gruberization of America’s energy and environmental policies.
Former White House medical consultant Jonathan Gruber pocketed millions of taxpayer dollars before infamously explaining how ObamaCare was enacted. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” he said. “It was really, really critical to getting the bill passed.” At least one key provision was a “very clever basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”
The Barack Obama/Gina McCarthy Environmental Protection Agency is likewise exploiting its lack of transparency and most Americans’ lack of scientific understanding. EPA bureaucrats and their hired scientists, pressure groups and PR flacks are getting rich and powerful by implementing costly, punitive, dictatorial regulations “for our own good,” and pretending to be honest and publicly spirited.
EPA’s latest regulatory onslaught is its “Clean Power Plan.” The agency claims the CPP will control or prevent “dangerous manmade climate change,” by reducing carbon dioxide and “encouraging” greater use of renewable energy. In reality, as even EPA acknowledges, no commercial-scale technology exists that can remove CO2 from power plant emission streams. The real goal is forcing coal-fired power plants to reduce their operations significantly or (better still) shut down entirely.
The agency justifies this by deceitfully claiming major health benefits will result from eliminating coal in electricity generation – and deceptively ignoring the harmful effects that its regulations are having on people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and well-being. Its assertion that reducing the USA’s coal-related carbon dioxide emissions will make an iota of difference is just as disingenuous. China, India and other fast-developing nations must keep burning coal to generate electricity and lift people out of poverty, and CO2 plays only a tiny (if any) role in climate change and destructive weather events.
The new CPP amplifies Obama Administration diktats targeting coal use. Companion regulations cover mercury, particulates (soot), ozone, “cross-state” air pollution, sulfur and nitrogen oxides that contribute to haze in some areas, and water quality. Their real benefits are minimal to illusory … or fabricated.
American’s air is clean, thanks to scrubbers and other emission control systems that remove the vast majority of pollutants. Remaining pollutants pose few real health problems. To get the results it needs, EPA cherry picks often questionable research that supports its agenda and ignores all other studies. It low-balls costs, pays advisors and outside pressure groups millions of dollars to support its decisions, and ignores the cumulative effects of its regulations on energy costs and thus on businesses, jobs and families.
Now, for the first time, someone has tallied those costs. The results are sobering.
An exhaustive study by Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. tallies the overall effects of EPA regulations on the electric power industry and provides state-by-state summaries of the rules’ impacts on residential, industrial and overall energy users. The study found that EPA rules and energy markets will inflict $284 billion per year in extra electricity and natural gas costs in 2020, compared to its 2012 baseline year.
The typical household’s annual electricity and natural gas bills will rise 35% or $680 by 2020, compared to 2012, and will climb every year after that, as EPA regulations get more and more stringent. Median family incomes are already $2,000 lower since President Obama took office, and electricity prices have soared 14-33% in states with the most wind power – so these extra costs will exact a heavy additional toll.
Manufacturing and other businesses will be hit even harder, the study concluded. Their electricity and natural gas costs will almost double between 2012 and 2020, increasing by nearly $200 billion annually over this short period. Energy-intensive industries like aluminum, steel and chemical manufacturing will find it increasingly hard to compete in global markets, but all businesses (and their employees) will suffer.
The EVA analysis calculates that industrial electricity rates will soar by 34% in West Virginia, 59% in Maryland and New York, and a whopping 74% in Ohio. Just imagine running a factory, school district or hospital – and having to factor skyrocketing costs like that into your budget. Where do you find that extra money? How many workers or teachers do you lay off, or patients do you turn away? Can you stay open?
The CPP will also force utility companies to spend billions building new generators (mostly gas-fired, plus wind turbines), and new transmission lines, gas lines and other infrastructure. But EPA does not factor those costs into its calculations; nor does it consider the many years it will take to design, permit, engineer, finance and build those systems – and battle Big Green lawsuits over them.
How “science-based” are EPA’s regulations, really? Its mercury rule is based on computer-generated risks to hypothetical American women who eat 296 pounds of fish a year that they catch themselves, a claim that its rule will prevent a theoretical reduction in IQ test scores by an undetectable “0.00209 points,” and similar absurdities. Its PM2.5 soot standard is equivalent to having one ounce of super-fine dust spread equally in a volume of air one-half mile long, one-half mile wide and one story tall.
No wonder EPA has paid its “independent” Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee $181 million and the American Lung Association $25 million since 2000 to rubberstamp its secretive, phony “science.”
Rural America will really be walloped by the total weight of EPA’s anti-coal regulations. Nonprofit electricity cooperatives serve 42 million people in 47 states, across three-fourths of the nation’s land area. They own and maintain 42% of America’s electric distribution lines and depend heavily on coal. They have already invested countless billions retrofitting coal-fired generators with state-of-the-art emission control systems, and thus emit very few actual pollutants. (CO2 fertilizes plants; it is not a pollutant.)
EPA’s air and water rules will force these coal units to slash their electricity generation or close down long before their productive lives are over – and before replacement units and transmission lines can be built. Electricity rates in these rural areas are already higher than in urban areas, but will go much higher. Experts warn that these premature shutdowns will slash electricity “reserve margins” to almost zero in some areas, make large sections of the power grid unstable, and create high risks of rolling blackouts and cascading power outages, especially in the Texas panhandle, western Kansas and northern Arkansas.
The rules will thus put the cooperatives in violation of the Rural Electrification Act and 16 other laws that require reliable, affordable electricity for these far-flung communities. EPA’s actions are also putting rural hospitals in greater jeopardy, as they try to cope with “Affordable Care Act” rules and other burdens that have already caused numerous closings. As USA Today reported, the shuttered hospitals mean some of the nation’s poorest and sickest patients will be denied accessible, affordable care – and people suffering strokes, heart attacks and accidents will not be able to reach emergency care during their “golden hour,” meaning many of them will die or be severely and permanently disabled.
EPA never bothered to consider any of these factors. Nor has it addressed the habitat, bird, bat and other environmental impacts that tens of thousands more wind turbines will have; the “human health hazards” that wind turbines have been shown to inflict on people living near them; or the high electricity costs, notorious unreliability, and increased power grid instability associated with the wind and solar installations that EPA seems to think can quickly and magically replace the coal-based electricity it is eliminating.
Congress, state legislators and attorneys general, governors and courts need to stop these secretive, duplicitous, dictatorial Executive Branch actions. Here’s one thought. Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr helped organize the panel that called for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency. In a persuasive analysis, he says it’s time now to systematically dismantle the federal EPA and replace it with a “committee of the whole” of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.
The new organization would do a far better job of protecting our air and water quality, livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare. It will listen better to We the People – and less to eco-pressure groups.
Big Wind gusts in lame duck
Congress returns for a lame duck session that is beginning to look like a regular cornucopia of goodies for all those patient souls on Washington, D.C.’s K Street who, if they deliver, can expect nice bonuses to pad their mid-six figure paychecks.
With a bevy of tax credits scheduled to expire on December 31, there will be a scramble to approve a whole package of so-called tax extenders. This tax package would in some cases push the life of these credits out for a few years, and in others, make them permanent. After all, it is humiliating for those struggling Silicon Valley venture capitalists to have to grovel before Congress every couple of years to get their research and development tax credits when they could be doing something so much more important like pushing for our nation’s immigration laws to get turned upside down to allow them to hire cheap labor.
But one tax extender is coming under increasing scrutiny even though its supporters are some of the biggest blowhards in a town where this distinction is meaningful — the Wind Production Tax Credit.
That’s right, our government gives the hardscrabble wind energy industry tax credits so that they can sell the energy they produce to electric utilities for less than the cost of generating other non-subsidized electricity generating sources.
If downtrodden companies like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway did not receive a tax credit for producing wind what would they do?
Here’s what, Warren — not Jimmy although to wrap your head around this you may need to be in Margaritaville — had to say, “we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.”
Of course, the Wind Production Tax Credit is really small potatoes, only costing the U.S. Treasury $13 billion. And with a regular two or three year renewal timeframe, it is constantly generating revenues for those ravenous lobbying firms and their latest ingénue who worked as a driver for a key Member of Congress in his/her first campaign.
So what’s not to like?
With the Wind Production Tax Credit you harm other legitimate non-subsidized electricity generating sources who apparently are paying too much attention to their business and not enough to keeping the D.C. politicians well watered. This creates the fun situation where stable energy sources get shut down or downsized to accommodate sources that are dependent upon unstable atmospheric conditions.
Of course, the Wind Production Tax Credit has been in existence since 1992 scrambling along to help this nascent industry which is a 21st century adaptation of 15th century technology.
And finally, for all those nature haters, those giant blades scything through the sky have proven to be death traps to more than 600,000 bats annually which otherwise would be feasting on insects that can be killed just as easily using pesticides. This is not to mention the Obama Administration waiver to allow these avian death machines to kill eagles for the next thirty years without facing a federal government fine that anyone else would receive.
And to think this important industry would be forced to fend for itself after December 31, 2014 unless Congress acts during this lame duck session.
What a tragedy.
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
Posted by JR at 1:39 AM