Thursday, December 18, 2014
Some woolly Green/Left thinking in CA
What would it affect if Californian entities "divested" from coal shares? Very little. Not a kilo less of coal would be produced and used. All that would happened is a slight depression of the value of shares in coal companies -- making them cheaper for investors and particularly attractive to investors looking for dividends.
And after California aiming to subject gasoline sellers to the extra cost burden of cap & trade laws, Steyer blames oil companies for putting up gas prices! Does he seriously not see the connection between increasing taxes on something and prices of that something going up?
With Republicans threatening to shove climate change to the back seat as they take control of the U.S. Senate, state officials including Gov. Jerry Brown huddled with one of the nation’s leading Democratic donors Monday to talk up ways to keep it on California’s agenda — including legislation that could send a shiver through the coal industry.
The state Senate’s top leader said at an Oakland forum organized by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer that he’s planning to introduce a measure next year to require the state’s public-employee pension funds to sell their coal-related investments.
“Climate change is the top priority of the California state Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. He said his legislation would require that the California Public Employees Retirement System, which manages public employees’ pensions and health benefits, and the California State Teachers Retirement System divest millions of dollars in coal-related investments.
“Coal is a dirty fossil fuel, and we generate very little electricity in California from coal,” de León said. “And I think our values should shift in California.”
But not oil and gas
De León, who just returned from an international climate-change summit in Peru, said he hadn’t worked out the specifics of his bill but that it would be limited to coal investments. He said it would not extend to all fossil-fuel holdings such as those in oil and gas production.
“We’re working out all the (divestment) details,” he said. “We’re talking about a way that’s smart and intelligent, not a way that hurts investment strategies.”
Climate-change activists have been pushing large investors to shed their holdings in coal, a major contributor to greenhouse gases. CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund with $300 billion in investments, would be the environmental movement’s biggest prize should de León be able to push his legislation into law.
The biggest name at the California Climate Leadership forum was Brown, who said the state would face strong opposition from “very powerful people” as it continues its aggressive approach to climate change.
Those efforts include bringing gasoline sellers and distributors under the state’s landmark cap-and-trade climate law as of Jan. 1, requiring them to purchase credits to emit greenhouse gas pollutants. It’s been targeted as a “hidden gas tax” by the Western States Petroleum Association, which is lobbying to delay its implementation.
On the national front, Republicans who take control of the Senate next month have targeted several Obama administration initiatives aimed at reducing global warming. In particular, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has vowed to strip funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
“We can do things in California,” Brown said, “but if others don’t follow, it will be futile.”
Fighting Darth Vaders
For his part, the 57-year-old Steyer depicted environmentalists as the good guys in a “Star Wars”-like battle for the planet’s health — with oil companies cast as a collection of Darth Vaders who are fully capable of raising gas prices “in order to punish us.”
Green on the Outside, Red in the Middle
Bolivian President Evo Morales is a socialist, and, unlike American Democrats, doesn’t need to hide his true colors. Speaking at the United Nations' Lima Climate Change Conference – the one with the biggest carbon footprint yet – Morales said, “The deep causes of global warming are not being dealt with here. The origin of global warming lies in capitalism. If we could end capitalism then we would have a solution.”
We’ll admit his honesty is somewhat refreshing, if disconcerting all the same. Morales continued, “After 30 years of negotiations, global warming is still going on. So many people and countries do not act responsibly. They are only thinking about profits, luxuries and markets. They are not thinking about life, but only of money and how to accumulate more capital.”
That capital has lifted millions out of poverty, lengthened life spans and provided technology and comforts. But socialists like him would rather spread the poverty and explain it away as saving the planet.
More unsettled science
Your all-electric car may not be so green: Researchers say electricity generated by coal plants can cause MORE pollution than simply using gasoline
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.
The controversial study raises major questions over the future of 'green' cars.
The authors looked at liquid biofuels, diesel, compressed natural gas, and electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources.
Their analysis included not only the pollution from vehicles, but also emissions generated during production of the fuels or electricity that power them.
With ethanol, for example, air pollution is released from tractors on farms, from soils after fertilizers are applied, and to supply the energy for fermenting and distilling corn into ethanol.
'Unfortunately, when a wire is connected to an electric vehicle at one end and a coal-fired power plant at the other end, the environmental consequences are worse than driving a normal gasoline-powered car,' said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn't part of the study but praised it.
Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent, it concluded.
Ethanol isn't so green, either, the researchers claimed.
'It's kind of hard to beat gasoline' for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
'A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline.'
The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars.
If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.
The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire life cycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.
The states with the highest percentage of electricity coming from coal, according to the Department of Energy, are West Virginia, Wyoming, Ohio, North Dakota, and Illinois.
Still, there's something to be said for the idea of helping foster a cleaner technology that will be better once it is connected to a cleaner grid, said study co-author Jason Hill, another University of Minnesota engineering professor.
The study finds all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline.
Hybrids and diesel engines are cleaner than gas, causing fewer air pollution deaths and spewing less heat-trapping gas.
But ethanol isn't, with 80 percent more air pollution mortality, according to the study.
'If we're using ethanol for environmental benefits, for air quality and climate change, we're going down the wrong path,' Hill said.
Peru Plans to Charge Greenpeace Activists for Damage to Nazca Lines
President Ollanta Humala of Peru criticized the environmental group Greenpeace on Saturday for not respecting his country’s archaeological heritage as authorities said they intended to seek criminal charges against several activists who damaged the fragile desert around the Nazca Lines.
Greenpeace stirred up a storm of controversy in Peru last week after a group of about 12 activists on Monday entered a protected area around the famous lines to place a sign promoting renewable energy on the ground. The sign was meant to attract the attention of world leaders who were in Lima for a United Nations summit meeting on climate change.
Officials said that the activists walking over the fragile desert ground left marks that cannot be removed. The Nazca Lines were created over 1,000 years ago, and include enormous figures of birds, mammals and geometric shapes etched into the earth.
Mr. Humala said Greenpeace had “simply come to trample on” the country’s heritage. “We must simply spread the word, alert the world,” Mr. Humala said. “Watch out at the Taj Mahal, watch out at the pyramids in Egypt, because we all face the threat that Greenpeace could attack any of humanity’s historical heritage.”
He said that he hoped that prosecutors and the courts would take action against the activists.
In a strange twist, a judge on Saturday rejected a request by prosecutors to detain the activists or keep them from leaving the country, saying that prosecutors had failed to provide their addresses. But the request by prosecutors appeared to be too late anyway, since Greenpeace had said a day earlier that the activists had already left Peru. Luis Jaime Castillo, the vice minister for cultural heritage, said in a telephone interview that the authorities still intended to pursue criminal charges against the activists.
He said that he had met with several Greenpeace members in Lima on Thursday. The group included one of the activists who took part in the incident at the Nazca Lines. He identified the activist as Mauro Fernández, who appeared in a video taken during the stunt and posted later online.
Mr. Castillo said that he asked for the names of the other activists who participated in the stunt, and that Mr. Fernández told him that he could not remember their names.
That appeared to fly in the face of pledges by Greenpeace to cooperate with the authorities. Mr. Castillo said officials suspected that some members of the group had visited the site on a previous occasion to prepare for the stunt.
Greenpeace has issued a statement apologizing for the incident. A Greenpeace spokesman could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
The ground around the lines consists of white sand topped by a layer of darker rocks. When the activists entered the area they disturbed the top layer, exposing the sand below.
No fast track authority, roll back EPA regs instead
“[R]ecent trade deals, like the World Trade Organization trade deal, had no labor or environmental standards.”
That was the AFL-CIO, objecting to fast track trade authority for the Obama administration to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements expected to come up in Congress next year.
Labor groups object to free trade agreements because other nations refuse to adopt the same high regulatory standards on the environment and labor costs that the U.S. has — leaving American workers at a disadvantage.
AFL-CIO actually has an interesting point — but for the opposite reason.
Nobody expects any foreign country to sign a trade agreement requiring it to adopt the same onerous environmental and labor restrictions we have. Why would they? It willfully puts themselves at a competitive disadvantage globally, tantamount to an economic suicide pact.
In a similar vein, nobody should expect the U.S. to agree to new trade deals while burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations remain in place.
Because of these regulatory imbalances, the U.S. economy has an artificially higher cost of doing business compared to countries like Vietnam or Malaysia.
If President Barack Obama wants these trade agreements, Republican majorities in the House and Senate next year should not give him carte blanche via fast track.
Instead, there needs to be a consensus about how to make U.S. competitive globally again. Necessarily, that must include a look at the EPA’s 2009 carbon endangerment finding, which ruled that carbon dioxide, a biological gas necessary for the very existence of life, is a “harmful pollutant” under the terms of the Clean Air Act.
This has opened up the door for additional regulations, including the regional haze rule, carbon restrictions on new and existing coal power plants, the new ozone rule, and the “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants” that restricts mercury emissions from plants.
Sue-and-settle arrangements the agency enters with organizations are a problem, too. This is where a group sues demanding that the EPA enforce the law in a new, expanded way and the agency enters into a consent decree with the party, which is signed by a judge — leaving the agency with new powers under the Clean Air and Water Acts.
These rules all make it more expensive to do business here, hurting our position globally.
What, those items aren’t on the table? Then, why is there a push for new trade deals that will favor foreign, lower cost producers over American workers? The AFL-CIO is right. Under the existing regulatory framework, this will not be a good deal for the U.S. economy.
Without significant efforts to roll back the regulatory, administrative state in the U.S., these trade deals should not even be in the conversation. Let alone fast track authority, which establishes a process that allows no amendments and limits debate in the Senate.
Why would Republicans in Congress agree to a process that surrenders their constitutional prerogative to use trade agreements as leverage to achieve other changes to U.S. regulatory policy that might get our economy moving again? It makes no sense. What’s in it for the American people?
Australia Federal government still trying to cut back on "renewable" energy target
ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt will meet rogue senator Jacqui Lambie in Hobart today as he begins courting the crossbench over the renewable energy target.
Mr Hunt is ramping up talks with the crossbench senators while Labor refuses to re-engage in negotiations. The opposition acknowledges the scheme needs bipartisan support, but has said it will not negotiate unless the government shifts on its “cut of 40 per cent to the RET”.
Senator Lambie, who will drive from Burnie to Hobart to meet Mr Hunt, said she was “encouraged” by a letter from the minister yesterday.
In the letter, obtained by The Australian, Mr Hunt says he appreciates “the pressures faced by businesses around the country, including in Tasmania” and looks “forward to constructive discussions with the opposition”.
A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said he was travelling to Tasmania “for a range of meetings relating to his portfolio”. The government was “hopeful” Labor would return to the table and was “willing to hear the suggestions and proposals from the crossbench and will negotiate with the crossbench should Labor refuse to re-engage”.
Senator Lambie urged the government and opposition to restart RET talks, saying renewable energy providers “deserve some certainty”.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, meanwhile, said he was “confident” at least six of the crossbench senators supported his controversial plan to bring existing hydro into the target. Senator Leyonhjelm, who met with Mr Hunt last week, said the minister was also “interested”. The Australian could only confirm Family First senator Bob Day and independent senator John Madigan as supportive.
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM