Friday, January 09, 2015

More Greenie fraud: The Green/Left just hates mining

It disturbs Gaia, or something

In a recently released report the US Geological Survey admitted a mercury researcher was a member of an environmental group which lobbied for the California suction dredging ban.

Following a request for an investigation by the Western Mining Alliance (WMA), the Department of Interior released their final report looking into allegations of scientific misconduct by one of their scientists.

The WMA challenged the findings of a 2011 report prepared by Dr. Charles Alpers, of the US Geological Survey (USGS), which concluded suction gold dredging equipment increased mercury levels in streams. The WMA alleged the scientist withheld five years of data and was also a member of an environmental group which was lobbying for a prohibition on suction dredging equipment.

The final report acknowledged Dr. Alpers was not only a member of the environmental group, The Sierra Fund (TSF), but was also on the Board of Advisors of TSF, a position which determined policy and strategy for the group.

The Sierra Fund, based in Nevada City, California, lobbied the California legislature for a permanent ban on suction dredging equipment citing the results of Alper's report as evidence there was a significant threat to the environment.

"There's just one problem," said Craig Lindsay, president of the WMA, "He claimed there was only one year of data available, but we did a Freedom of Information Act request and it turns out he withheld an additional five years of data. The inclusion of the additional data shows no linkage whatsoever, but shows a strong linkage to the size of the spring floods."

The controversy surrounding the use of suction gold mining equipment has led to a six year ban on the equipment which miners are challenging in court. The miners won their first legal victory from a California Appeals Court in September and appear poised to win a second victory later this month, effectively overturning the ban.

"We were shocked by the deliberate withholding of the data", said Lindsay. "That Alpers belonged to an environmental group which was lobbying for the ban seemed a little too convenient. The full data set shows no evidence of linkage. The data shows mercury levels in insects have increased significantly since the ban was imposed."

Despite his membership in the environmental group, and withholding the data the US Geological Survey investigation concluded there was no conflict of interest.

".the research chemist's membership in TSF was authorized and complemented USGS interests." The investigation concluded. The report further justified Alper's actions by stating "There is a growing trend for people to file scientific integrity complaints in an effort to change legislative decisions they do not like."

"All we wanted was honest research, not science based on advocacy," said Lindsay, "Three consecutive California Water Board studies over ten years have shown no linkage between California gold miners and increased mercury. The Alper's Report was a bit of an outlier to those studies which made us wonder why."

You can read the publically available USGS report here.  You can read the WMA article on the report here.

Via email

Activist Dana Nuccitelli Starting To Sweat? Satellite Data Show Current Decade Running COOLER Than The Previous!

Many readers will recall the climate bet for charity this site and its readers (the coolists) entered into against the climate alarmists, principally climate loudmouth Dana Nuccitelli and Rob Honeycutt, back in January 2011.

The coolists maintain that the 2011 – 2020 decade will be the same or cooler than the 2001 – 2010 decade. The alarmists of course are absolutely convinced that the current decade will be warmer.

Listening to the media lately, one might think that the coolists are getting trounced. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bet is based on the RSS and UAH satellite data, and they tell us a different story. Nuccitelli and his buddies can cite NOAA, GISS or NCDC all they want, but those datasets are not going to matter come 12/31/2020.

Robin Pittwood of the Kiwithinker has been so kind to tabulate the race so far as it develops. The first four years of the decade are now behind us, and Robin tells the coolists are maintaining a slight lead. Yes, this decade so far is running COOLER than the previous one! Hardly a good development for the Nuccitelli & Co. The dang oceans must have eaten up all the heat.

Chart shows this decade continues to be cooler than the previous one. Source: Robin Pittwood of the Kiwthinker

With the current CO2 emissions trajectory running at the IPCC’s worst case scenario, this decade so far theoretically should have been at least a good 0.2°C warmer, and certainly not cooler. Something must have gone terribly wrong for the cocky climate boy-wonder in California.


Coolists winning in Chicago: Bitter cold closes schools again

Parents of Chicago Public School students will have to find someone to look after their kids for a second day Thursday after frigid forecasts forced CPS to again order schools shut.

CPS announced at 6 p.m. that the cold weather means Wednesday’s system-wide closure will be repeated Thursday.

Forecasters say temperatures will still be frosty, but with another round of snow, as an extreme cold spell continues to grip the Chicago area.

A wind-chill advisory remains in effect until noon Thursday, which will be slightly warmer but windier than Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The high of 13 degrees will feel like minus 25 to minus 35 with the wind chill.

Plenty of kids were happy to get a second day off school.

The parents?  “I was like OK, now what?” said mom Edna Navarro-Vidaurre, of Portage Park.

Three of her kids go to Inter-American Magnet School. On Wednesday, she stayed home.

On Thursday, her husband will.  “It’s a little bit of an inconvenience but we were able to work it out,” she said.

Her children, ages 5, 8 and 11,  did homework Wednesday and burned off steam by jumping on the bed and hanging out in their playroom.

On Thursday, baking and crafting will be on the table.

If school stays shut on Friday, Navarro-Vidaurre, 41, says she’ll ”have to go into the reserves and probably ask family to help.”

The extreme chill isn’t budging until at least then, when single-digit highs will feel more like minus-10 to minus-20. Saturday morning will be sunny with  slight warm up, when highs could reach the mid-teens.

More snow is likely to arrive Thursday afternoon. More than an inch could fall by Thursday night, when lows will drop to between 1 and 3 degrees, forecasters said.

If this all seems familiar, it’s because it is. This week last year the polar vortex roared into town, teaching Chicagoans their new least-favorite phrase and pummeling us with wind chills of 40 below.

“Last year was so awful that dealing with this might seem less awful” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Ricky Castro, who added that temps will seesaw a few degrees above and below zero for the next several days.

On Wednesday, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was racking up the largest number of delays in the nation, at 724, and the second-largest number of cancellations, at 91.

O’Hare was being affected, at least in part, by rough weather in New York, where flights into LaGuardia and JFK airports were being delayed 1 to almost 2 hours.

The weather could also delay Metra riders, as trains operate under speed restrictions in weather this cold, the rail agency said. On the roads, Illinois State Police are urging drivers to slow down and carry emergency supplies in their vehicles.

The Red Cross is also on “high alert,” concerned that house fires could leave people with no place to go in this extremely cold weather, the agency said. Roughly three to four house fires happen every day this time of year, and the agency has already provided disaster relief to more than three dozen local residents since Tuesday.

“We know it’s going to be a busy couple of days,” said Harley Jones, a regional disaster officer for the local chapter of the Red Cross. “Our primary concern is finding a warm place for people to stay, getting them out of the bitter cold to begin work on recovery plans for each family.”


Owners of two Minnesota wind farms file for bankruptcy court protection

Power to people on the prairie — it’s the idea, born in Minnesota, that farmers should own some of the wind turbines spinning above their fields.

But that idea has turned into a financial loser for about 360 farmers and other landowners who invested in two small wind farms more than a decade ago near Luverne, Minn., in the windy southwest corner of the state.

The companies that collectively own the two Minwind Energy projects filed for reorganization this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota. The owners stand to lose their investment, and the wind farms eventually may have to shut down, according to regulatory filings.

It is the first of the state’s approximately 100 operating wind power projects to seek bankruptcy protection, and the case is raising questions about whether the small-scale wind farm model still works in an era of ever-larger wind-generating projects.

“The wind business is not for the faint of heart,” Beth Soholt, director of the St. Paul-based trade group Wind on the Wires, said in an interview. “These are big energy facilities … It is a long-term contract with utilities that expect you to produce. A lot of things can go wrong.”

The Minwind wind farms, with 11 turbines that went on line in 2002 and 2004, made a profit until 2012, and are still operating, according to its financial reports. The electricity is sold to Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Alliant Energy under long-term deals. Some of Minwind’s power is fed into a giant battery built by Xcel near Luverne to store electricity for when the wind doesn’t blow.

Minwind has told federal regulators that the turbines have needed extensive repairs, including main bearings, and the company no longer can afford the upkeep. To make things worse, Minwind got into a jam with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for not filing certain paperwork since 2006. The result is a $1.9 million regulatory liability that has left a potential buyer uneasy about signing a deal to acquire the wind farms.

Minwind’s attorneys have told the government that the owners were “unsophisticated” in regulatory matters, and should be excused from the filing lapse. Some of the owners also had invested in the former Agri-Energy ethanol plant in Luverne, which was sold in 2010 to another biofuel company.

“None of the owners has had any experience in the power sector, except through ownership and operation of the facilities,” the company’s Washington-based legal team led by Margaret Moore said in a regulatory filing.

But federal regulators didn’t buy the lack-of-sophistication argument. Indeed, the company led by President Mark Willers, Luverne businessman and farmer, has long been credited with creating an innovative business structure with nine separate limited-liability companies allowing investors to take advantage of federal wind energy tax credits, a now-discontinued state assistance program for small wind projects and USDA grants.

Willers declined to comment in detail, but acknowledged that the company was tripped up by a rule change that FERC made eight years ago — a time when the company didn’t have a Washington attorney on retainer to watch for such things.

In its bankruptcy case, the Minwind companies filed for reorganization, a process that allows companies to shed liabilities. That potentially could clear the way for a sale to a turbine repair company. Under a proposed deal, the wind farms would be sold for the cost of the remaining debt with no additional return to investors, Moore told regulators.

It is unclear how much individual investors will lose.


Obama kicks oil and gas industry while it is down

For the past six years, the oil and gas industry has served as a savior to the Obama presidency by providing the near-lone bright spot in economic growth. Increased U.S. oil-and-gas production has created millions of well-paying jobs and given us a new energy security. The president often peppers his speeches with braggadocio talk about our abundant supplies and decreased dependence on foreign oil.

So now that the economic powerhouse faces hard times, how does the Administration show its appreciation for the oil-and-gas industry boon to the economy over the past six years?

By introducing a series of regulations — at least nine in total, according to the Wall Street journal (WSJ) — that will put the brakes on the US energy boom through higher operating costs and fewer incentives to drill on public lands.

WSJ states: “Mr. Obama and his environmental backers say new regulations are needed to address the impacts of the surge in oil and gas drilling.”

U.S. oil production, according to the Financial Times: “caught Saudi Arabia by surprise.” The kingdom sees that US shale and Canadian oil-sand development “encroached on OPEC’s market share” and has responded with a challenge to high-cost sources of production by upping its output — adding to the global oil glut and, therefore, dropping prices.

Most oil-market watchers expect temporary low-priced oil, with prediction of an increase in the second half of 2015, and some saying 2016. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness believes “We’re in an energy war.” He sees “the price slump could last 16 months or even one to two years as U.S. supply stays strong, global demand remains weak and OPEC continues to challenge U.S. production.” However, Ibrahim al-Assaf, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, recently said: “We have the ability to endure low oil prices over the medium term of up to five years, even if it means delving into fiscal reserves to cover a large deficit.”

While no one knows how long the low-price scenario will last — geopolitical risk is still a factor.

Many oil companies are already re-evaluating exploration, reining in costs, and cutting jobs and/or wages. “In the low price circumstance like today,” Jean-Marie Guillermou, the Asian head of the French oil giant Total, explained: “you do the strict minimum required.”

In December, the WSJ reported: “Some North American companies have said they plan to cut their capital spending next year and dial back on exploring for new oil.” It quotes Tim Dove, President and COO for Pioneer Natural Resources Co.: “We are seeking cost reductions from all our suppliers.”

Last month, Enbridge Energy Partners said: “it has laid off some workers in the Houston area” — which the Houston Chronicle (HC) on December 12 called: “the latest in a string of energy companies to announce cutbacks.” The HC continued: “Other key energy companies have also announced layoffs in recent days as oil tumbles to its lowest price in years. Halliburton on Thursday said it would slash 1,000 jobs in the Eastern Hemisphere as part of a $75 million restructuring. BP on Wednesday revealed plans to accelerate job cuts and pare back its oil production business amid crumbling oil prices.” Halliburton said: “we believe these job eliminations are necessary in order to work through this market environment.”

Civeo, a lodging and workforce accommodation company for the oil-and-gas industry has cut 30 percent of its Canadian workforce and 45 percent of its U.S. workforce. President and CEO Bradley Dodson said: “As it became evident during the fourth quarter that capital spending budgets among the major oil companies were going to be cut, we began taking steps to reduce marketed room capacity, control costs and curtail discretionary capital expenditures.”

I have warned the industry that while they have remained relatively unscathed by harsh regulations — such as those placed on electricity generation — their time would come. Now, it has arrived. The WSJ concurs: “In its first six years, the administration released very few regulations directly affecting the oil-and-gas industry and instead rolled out several significant rules aimed at cutting air pollution from the coal and electric-utility sectors.”

According to the WSJ: “Some of the rules have been in the works for months or even years.” But that doesn’t mean the administration should introduce them now when the industry is already down — after all, the administration delayed Obamacare mandates due to the negative impact on jobs and the economy.

Greg Guidry, executive vice president at Shell, recently said that he doesn’t want the EPA to “impose unnecessary costs and burden on an industry challenged now by a sustained low-price environment.”

Different from Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets it. Under pressure from the environmental lobby to increase regulations on the oil-and-gas industry, he, during a question session on the floor of the House of Commons in December, said: “Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy — it would be crazy economic policy — to do unilateral penalties on that sector.” He added: “We are not going to kill jobs and we are not going to impose a carbon tax.”

Introducing the new rules now kick the industry while it is down and shows that President Obama either doesn’t get it, or he cares more about burnishing his environmental legacy than he does about American jobs and economic growth.


API Chief: Obama's Claim on Keystone Pipeline 'Factually Incorrect'

Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, says President Barack Obama is “factually incorrect” to say that the Keystone XL Pipeline will not benefit Americans.

At the press conference in Washington Tuesday, asked Gerard about Obama’s remarks in November about the pipeline, which, if approved, would transport crude oil from Canada and from two U.S. states to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Obama said at the time that the pipeline would only benefit Canada and would not have any impact on domestic gasoline prices. asked Gerard: “In November, President Obama said at a press conference – he was asked about the Keystone Pipeline and he said, quote, 'Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.' Quote: 'It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.'"

“Let me say first and foremost, what the president said is factually incorrect,” Gerard responded, citing the U.S. State Department’s report on the pipeline, which states that, among other benefits, the project would generate more than 42,000 jobs in the U.S. during the estimated two-year construction time frame.

Gerard also said the pipeline would not only transport Canadian crude oil but crude from the Bakken Formation of oil and natural gas deposits in North Dakota and Montana – all bound for refineries on the Gulf Coast.

“That’s why the Keystone XL Pipeline is built to the Gulf Coast,” Gerard said. “It’s built there, because we have the world-class largest refinery sector to be able to produce that in a clean and environmentally safe way -- to refine product, if you will, for the U.S. and global market.”

Gerard added that all crude oil in the U.S. – including that from Canada – is banned from export, a ban API is in favor of lifting.

Gerard also said it was a “misstatement” by Obama to say that crude oil production does not have an impact on domestic gas prices.

“Frankly, that’s just factually a misstatement, because what happens - as I mentioned earlier - all the reports … have concluded crude oil exports will actually lower the cost of domestic price of gasoline,” Gerard said. “As I mentioned earlier – it’s seems a little counter intuitive to some – but the reality is the No. 1 driver on the price of gasoline is the cost of crude oil,” Gerard said. “The more supply brought to the global marketplace continues to put downward pressure on the price of that crude oil.”

Because the pipeline would originate in Canada, its construction must be approved by the State Department. The project has been under review by the Obama administration for six years.

On Tuesday, Sens. John Hoeven (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) introduced S. 1, the first Senate bill of the 114th Congress, to authorize construction of the pipeline.

“This is about building the infrastructure that we need to build a comprehensive energy plan for this country,” Hoeven said at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

But the White House is already saying Obama will veto any bill that reaches his desk.

“I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, then the president wouldn’t sign it,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily briefing on Tuesday, according to Roll Call. “The pipeline route has not even been finalized yet.”



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


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