Friday, June 05, 2015

"Extreme weather" this year?

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi draws on past weather events for perspective

We believe this year will be similar to the 1957 and 1965 ENSO [El NiƱo Southern Oscillation] peaks. In the case of 1957, it was a strong event with an anomaly of 1.8.

Lo and behold, guess what is showing up again: A similarity to the 1950s, which people pushing disaster du jour either have no idea about, or do and try to hide it.

We have an amazing linkage to the 1950s. The drought of the early part of that decade, which we have showed countless times is linked to the same kind of PDO flip we recently had, was worse than the drought that was heralded as the new dustbowl.

One can see that the lack of rain in those summers and the amount of rain in bounce-back year of 1957 was more extreme in the larger sense than what we saw recently. It is true in individual sites this year that there are some all-time wettest springs. But overall it is not true that this reversal is more extreme. Look at the area of dry in the 1950s versus the “New Dustbowl Drought” three years ago, and then look at how much wetter it was in the spring of 1957 in a larger area, including the Gulf. Think about this. Three years after the dry spell, the spring rains of 1957 wiped it out. The pattern is similar now. We started picking up more rain last year (and we wrote about it), and three years later the spring rains came. Just like clockwork! Moreover, CO2 was far lower in the 1950s; it’s just that Pacific SST’s were oscillating in a similar fashion to now!

That said, there is one event in 1957 that had never been seen before and hasn’t been seen since; an event so off the charts, in my opinion, that I would not believe it if it had not been recorded: Category 4 Hurricane Audrey with 145 mph winds making landfall on the southwest Louisiana coast IN JUNE OF 1957!. Not only is it the only category four storm on record in June, but a storm making landfall at that strength in June boggles the mind. In baseball terms, that’s like hitting a walk-off grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series while standing on your head, considering the closest parallel in June was Hurricane Alma in 1966 that reached Florida as a Category 2.

You can see why I am the way I am when I hear people making outlandish claims. It takes no time for me to go right to the maps to pull out something more extreme. The drought in the 1950s was worse. The area of heavy rain, which included the Gulf states in the spring of 1957, was larger and had much more implication.

Hurricane Audrey never fails to leave me in awe of what the weather can do ( to me she should be renamed AWEdrey. That some people seem to have no idea of this, or simply wish to ignore it if they do, speaks volumes as to what we are dealing with today when it comes to the climate issue. Is their stance an honest argument, delusion, or deception? The reader can make the call.


Obama Going Around Congress to Enact UN Climate Agenda

We knew this was coming but now it is unavoidable. Barack Obama has teamed up with foreign governments to force an international climate change agreement onto the American people WITHOUT going through Congress.

Emboldened by the success of the Iran negotiations avoiding a treaty vote in Congress, the President has found a new way to force his agenda onto the country without obeying the Constitution.

Even worse, European leaders are joining into Obama’s plan as well. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius came out yesterday and said, “we must find a (climate change) formula which is valuable for everybody and valuable for the U.S. without going to the Congress.” Everyone in attendance agreed.

There you have it. The international community has joined forces Obama to create a new Climate Change agreement that deliberately circumvents Congress’ treaty powers! This cannot be allowed to happen!

This is how the left operates. They do everything in their power to enact their agenda through extra-constitutional means.

Earlier this year, I warned you that Barack Obama was conspiring with his allies in the United Nations to push through a U.N. Global Warming “treaty” without even asking for Congress’ approval. Now, our fears have been confirmed. Barack Obama is going to force his radical climate change agenda on the American people using executive orders!

Before you say anything, yes that is extremely unconstitutional! The Constitution dictates that all international treaties must be ratified by a 2/3 vote in the United States Senate. That isn’t a suggestion… it isn’t a guideline… it is the law!

To say that Barack Obama doesn’t have the votes would be an understatement. Obama doesn’t have nearly enough votes in Congress to pass his radical climate change agenda. Not even close. Yet, the Constitution dictates that Obama MUST put a treaty up for a vote before it can become U.S. Law.

But – surprise, surprise – Barack H. Obama isn’t going to follow the Constitution! He is going to help enact a U.N. climate change treaty on his own!

Obama knows if he puts this climate change agenda to a vote, it will fail. So instead of obeying the Constitution and accepting defeat, the President is going to amend a climate treaty ratified in 1992 to create a politically binding “accord” that will force his climate change agenda not only on Americans, but the rest of the planet!

And thanks to the French Foreign Minister’s slip of the tongue, we now know that Obama has help.

Obama is deliberately going around Congress in order to force the United Nations’ radical climate change agenda on YOU! This is going to be worse than Agenda 21!

Raise your voice and demand that Congress STOP Obama from trampling on the Constitution and implementing the United Nations’ climate change agenda!

The American people don’t want this radical agenda! Barack Obama knows this, but he is going to force it on the country anyway. By circumventing Congress to enact this treaty, this will give the President the authority to use taxpayer money to fund his and the UN’s bogus climate agenda.

No one wants this. Republicans sure don’t want this… Democrats realize that they can’t afford to want this… yet no one is stopping King Obama from stomping on the Constitution and illegally enacting this treaty!

Personally, I believe that the United Nation’s climate change agenda is a joke. It is less about ‘saving the planet’ and more about forcing states to cede their sovereignty. The United Nations wants to force the United States to adopt a radical climate change agenda that would only hurt the American economy.

But this really isn’t about climate change… This is about a President who doesn’t care about the oath of office he took to defend the Constitution. He proved this by signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty without Congressional approval and he proved it by refusing to introduce the Iran nuclear treaty to Congress as a treaty. Now he is planning to do the same with the Left’s climate agenda.


EPA Proposes More Corn for Fuel, Not Food

Compared to this time last year, Americans are paying much less at the gas pump. Enjoy it while you can, though, because gas prices are about to rise. The expected price increase isn’t due to chaos in the Middle East or a shortage of fossil fuels. No, it’s due to the Environmental Protection Agency and its newly released proposal to increase ethanol production. By the way, do you like your food bill? Get ready, because that’s about to increase too.

The EPA’s proposed three-year ethanol mandate will increase the amount of biofuel mixed into the gasoline supply. This may sound great to supporters of so-called renewable energy, but it’s actually doubling down on a terrible idea.

Why? Well, there are several problems with requiring more ethanol in America’s fuel.

First, several gasoline refiners have warned that the proposal “moves more quickly than the market can support.” In 2007, when Congress expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard, only half of all gasoline contained 10% ethanol. Right now, nearly all of the gasoline produced and used in the U.S. contains 10% ethanol. However, the decrease in demand for gasoline due to more fuel-efficient vehicles means a corresponding decrease in demand for ethanol. The EPA would rather ignore reality and aims to increase ethanol production anyway.

According to The Hill, the EPA “set its overdue 2014 requirements at the actual level of production — 15.93 billion gallons of biofuel — increasing the total to 16.3 billion gallons this year and 17.4 billion gallons in 2016. The statutory requirement for 2016 is 22.25 billion gallons.” Under the EPA’s new proposal, about 4.7 billion gallons of renewable fuel are expected to come from advanced forms of biofuel such as cellulosic ethanol derived from plant mass material, despite its slower-than-expected development. The remainder will be corn-based ethanol, which brings us to problem number two: increased food costs.

The mandate drives up food prices because corn is a staple food and is also used by livestock for feed. Has anyone noticed the skyrocketing price of beef over the last several years? Furthermore, if more corn is used for ethanol, then there is less food for people in the world who are starving. Quite the double standard for progressives and environmentalists who rage about the human population dying from climate change. No doubt hungry people would love to have some corn to eat, but, nah, let’s burn it for fuel so we can save mankind in the future.

Last year, Mark Alexander noted some staggering statistics that are worth repeating: More than 90% of our nation’s corn crop went toward feeding people and livestock in the year 2000, with less than 5% of the crop going toward ethanol. In 2013, however, a whopping 40% went toward ethanol. To illustrate this grossly inefficient use of our natural resources, the amount of grain required to fill a 25-gallon automotive fuel tank with ethanol is enough grain to feed one person for an entire year.

The third problem with the EPA proposal is that ethanol itself is more costly for drivers and consumers. Despite auto engines being built to better handle ethanol’s corrosive effects, ethanol gasoline causes significant and costly mechanical problems for small boat engines and yard equipment. But auto engines are about to be impacted in the near future, too. How so? It turns out that Barack Obama is set to pledge $100 million to expand the use of ethanol blender pumps to allow drivers to mix more ethanol into their gasoline. Sure, it may work for new flex fuel vehicles, but not so well for older cars. Some people won’t discover that until it’s too late.

This is a pathetic pledge and ultimately pathetic policy, funded by the American taxpayer. People will have to pay a little more in taxes to pay for these pumps, pay a little more for the ethanol that comes out of the pumps and then pay more to fix what the ethanol destroys.

The final problem with the EPA’s proposal — and perhaps one of the primary reasons for it — is that there are subsidy recipients who stand to profit handsomely. In other words, the government is picking winners. While we’re not opposed to people and businesses making profits, we are adamantly opposed to the central planners who by regulations and fiats force products into the market. Some farmers and ecofascists stand to benefit, but when free market principles are cast aside America loses.

In the coming months, we’ll be watching to see where the Republican presidential candidates stand on this issue. So far, most of them are singing praises of the ethanol mandate. It seems they’re more concerned about getting votes in Iowa and bowing to King Corn than they are for standing for free market principles. Note to Republican presidential candidates: Try not to get on board with the ethanol mandate, because it’s ultimately part of Obama’s climate change agenda.


Coral growth and thriving shows no clear connection to temperature variations

The paper below is not easy for a non-specialist to follow but my heading above sums up its major finding. Global warming won't bother it, in other words

Regional coral responses to climate disturbances and warming is predicted by multivariate stress model and not temperature threshold metrics

Timothy R. McClanahan, Joseph Maina, Mebrahtu Ateweberhan


Oceanic environmental variables derived from satellites are increasingly being used to predict ecosystem states and climate impacts. Despite the concerted efforts to develop metrics and the urgency to inform policy, management plans, and actions, few metrics have been empirically tested with field data for testing their predictive ability, refinement, and eventual implementation as predictive tools. In this study, the abilities of three variations of a thermal threshold index and a multivariate stress model (MSM) were used to predict coral cover and community susceptibility to bleaching based on a compilation of field data from Indian Ocean reefs across the strong thermal anomaly of 1998. Field data included the relative abundance of coral taxa 10 years before the large-scale temperature anomaly, 2 years after (1999–2000), and during the post-bleaching recovery period (2001–2005) were tested against 1) a multivariate model based on 11 environmental variables used to predict stress or environmental exposure (MSM), 2) estimates of the time until the current mean maximum temperature becomes the mean summer condition (TtT), 3) the Cumulative Thermal Stress (CTS) for the full satellite record, and 4) the 1998 Annual Thermal Stress (1998 ATS). The MSM showed significant fit with the post-1998 cover and susceptibility of the coral community taxa (r2 = 0.50 and 0.31, respectively). Temperature threshold indices were highly variable and had relatively weak or no significant relationships with coral cover and susceptibility. The ecosystem response of coral reefs to climatic and other disturbances is more complex than predicted by models based largely on temperature anomalies and thresholds only. This implies heterogeneous environmental causes and responses to climate disturbances and warming and predictive models should consider a more comprehensive multiple parameter approach.

Climatic Change, April 2015

Waning Support For Wind Energy Handouts On Capitol Hill

Washington’s penchant for brinksmanship has certainly benefited the wind energy industry. Whenever Congress faces a serious deadline, lobbyists for the wind energy industry are able to convince their friends on Capitol Hill to extend their main handout, the controversial wind production tax credit (PTC), in a last-minute backdoor deal.

Most recent was last December’s “CRomibus,” the trillion-dollar spending bill passed during lame duck session that averted federal government shutdown. Congress quietly included a 1-year retroactive extension into the package, at a cost of $13 billion over the next decade. The time before this was in early January 2013, when Congress approved a 1-year extension in the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” deal – another large “must-pass” bill, this one preventing an automatic, across-the-board income tax hike.

Congress can and should stop this cycle. Extending handouts squanders billions in taxpayer dollars and restricts Americans’ access to affordable and reliable energy. It distorts price signals, allowing wind producers to pay the electricity grid to take their power and still turn a profit. It consistently fails to deliver on its promises in terms of long-term job creation, or turning wind energy into an economically viable industry that can stand on its own two feet without permanent taxpayer support.

It’s no accident why special interests in the wind energy industry pursue these under-the-radar extensions — it’s because there’s waning support on Capitol Hill for wind subsidies. After over twenty years of extending these expensive taxpayer handouts, Congress is beginning to wake up to the problems of endlessly propping up wind energy using the tax code.

Earlier this year, Senator Heidi Heitkamp sponsored an amendment expressing the sense of the Senate that the PTC subsidy to the wind industry should once again be extended. It failed on a 47-51 vote. Later on the budget resolution, Senators Jeff Flake and Lamar Alexander submitted a competing measure that would put an end to Big Wind’s sweet-heart tax giveaway by repealing the recent retroactive extension approved last year. Theirs didn’t make it to the floor during vote-a-rama, but it’s believable that it would have met a better fate than the Heitkamp measure.

On House side, Representative Kenny Marchant recently introduced legislation that would close this special wind subsidy loophole in the U.S. tax code entirely going forward, and rein in the handout for current beneficiaries by tightening eligibility definitions and repealing the inflation adjustment for current PTC recipients. These changes will reduce the amount that American taxpayers are forced to subsidize wind companies by approximately 35 percent. The bill also includes a sense of Congress that the PTC should not be extended and should remain expired.

The PTC Elimination Act boasts an impressive list of cosponsors, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores, and Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster. It also includes Representative Mike Pompeo, who has consistently championed ending wind energy subsidies through other legislation and Dear Colleague letters.

Americans for Prosperity applauds these members of Congress for their leadership on the issue of reining in wind energy subsidies, and we encourage their colleagues to follow. Lawmakers should reject efforts to extend this handout for special interests in the wind energy industry. We can’t solve our country’s energy and spending policies unless lawmakers are willing to cut corporate welfare that benefits special interests at the expense of American taxpayers.


A taste of things to come for electricity consumers and generators

By Marita Noon

One year ago, Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, announced the controversial centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate change legacy: the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The rule is slated for finalization this summer.

Unions have protested against it. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which is the international regulatory body devoted to ensuring outage-free electric service for Canada, the U.S., and parts of Mexico, as highlighted in a recent study, believes it risks the reliability of the grid. States, encouraged by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are boycotting it. Yet, the EPA is pushing ahead, touting the plan’s built-in flexibility for individual states in devising a compliance plan — uniquely suited to each specific state. If states, as McConnell advocates, refuse to comply, the EPA will impose a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP).

While no one knows what the final plan will be, we can be sure that, at the very least, it aims to severely reduce coal-fueled power generation and dramatically increase the implementation of renewables such as wind and solar. Industry experts expect the CPP will possibly force the premature closure of hundreds of coal-fueled power plants — and that alone, without factoring in the higher-cost renewables, will raise costs to all consumers.

The anti-fossil fuel movement would like us to believe we are just replacing one power source with another. The problem, however, is far bigger.

After attending a recent workshop at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Phillip A. Wallach, a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute, wrote a report titled: The confounding complexities of the Clean Power Plan — reliability concerns aired at FERC. In it, Wallach addresses the technical problems that the CPP will have to overcome — which he calls “staggering.” He then points out that “the interplay of federal laws set off by the CPP is enough to make one’s head spin.” He continues, “It can take a remarkable 12-14 years to site a new high-voltage transmission line. Unless federal regulators (and possibly Congress) somehow facilitate streamlined development, it is hard to see how states will be able to achieve big emissions reductions in time to meet the first compliance goals in 2020. Amidst this cacophony of legal requirements, states are not currently able to plan for compliance with any confidence.”

Wallach’s predictions about the “complex, EPA-mandated process of energy sector transformation” are hypothetical, but totally believable — especially given the real-world example of New Mexico’s ongoing experience.

* * *

In New Mexico’s Four Corners region, negotiations regarding bringing the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS) into compliance with Regional Visibility Rules under the Clean Air Act have been underway for more than a decade — with the bulk of the shenanigans taking place during the past five years. Note: SJGS’s back and forth with the EPA, the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED), and anti-fossil groups have been over just one small rule that would improve visibility in wilderness areas and national parks to such a small degree that it would not be detected by the human eye. One can easily imagine how this process would be exacerbated by policy so extensive that it strives to transform the entire energy sector.

You may want to just skim over the following abbreviated timeline as it will “make your head spin” — which is my goal. The reality is far more overwhelming than what I am presenting here. (Thanks to James Crawford for the use of his background research on the SJGS.)

SJGS is a coal-fueled power plant near Farmington, N.M. that produces 1,683 mega-watts (MW) of electricity through four units. The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) is the majority owner and takes 783 MW for New Mexico customers. The coal for SJGS comes from an adjacent coal mine operated by BHP Billiton. The current contract for coal expires in 2017.

To meet Regional Visibility Rules, the EPA requires that states develop a State Implementation Plan (SIP) that must be approved by the EPA. The NMED submitted its first SIP back in 2003. However, due to evolving regulations, it was never approved.

In 2010, NMED submitted another, revised SIP but had to withdraw it again due to those changing regulations. Once again, in February 2011, NMED submitted a new SIP for EPA approval—which the EPA ruled was invalid because it wasn’t approved by the required 2009 date.

The EPA further decreed that because of sue-and-settle cases brought by Wild Earth Guardians and others, EPA was under court order to implement a FIP by January 2011 — which the EPA did finally issue in September 2011 (well after the SIP submittal that wasn’t even considered). Now, SJGS was subject to the dictates in the FIP without any due consideration of the SIP.

The February 2011 SIP called for compliance-achieving emissions controls costing about $80 million. The FIP required a different approach that costs almost $1 billion — or, PNM could close down two perfectly good, reliable generating units with years of life left.

PNM and the NMED filed suit against EPA and, after a couple years of legal wrangling, settled on closing the two units and lesser-cost equipment for the two remaining units. In September 2013, NMED submitted a revised SIP, which reflected the agreement, and was approved by EPA a year later.

However, the antis were not happy with this agreement for replacing the lost electricity which, for PNM, would be met by assuming a greater share of the electricity from the two remaining units (Remember: PNM didn’t use all that was generated; there are other owners; some plan to leave.), constructing a new natural gas peaking plant, bringing in nuclear power from Arizona, and adding 40 MW of solar. They wanted the deficit made up strictly with renewables. (In fact, the antis want all four units closed — this, after PNM already spent $320 million in 2009 on extensive emissions remodeling.)

Just before the October 2014 Public Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) meeting to approve the SIP, environmental groups filed a series of legal blockades that ultimately changed the agreed-upon plan.

Finally, in January 2015, when the PRC held hearings on the plan almost everyone agreed on, environmentalists still protested outside the hearing and demanded the closure of all four units. Addressing their views, Paul Gessing, President of New Mexico’s free-market think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation, said, “The radical anti-modern-society types were out in force … While the PNM plan is not perfect, the radical anti-energy crowd would love nothing more than to completely kill New Mexico’s economy.”

In April, a hearing examiner advised the PRC to reject the plan unless changes were made. His concerns, according to the Associated Press report, were in part because PNM didn’t have a “contract to provide coal for the plant beyond 2017.” The adjacent coal mine is the subject of negotiations between current owner BHP Billiton and several proposed new owners.

On May 5, a deal was struck. Westmoreland Coal Company would purchase the mine and take over operations — resulting in a $300 million savings over the next six years for PNM and its customers. However, the PRC must approve this deal before the sale goes through.

Business leaders, coal miners, power plant workers, and elected officials from the Four Corners area have united in support of the plan that would allow SJGS to continue operating. At a recent Albuquerque City Council meeting, Ray Hagerman, Four Corners Economic Development CEO, “emphasized that 740 jobs — 400 coal miners and 340 power plant workers—would be jeopardized if the plan is not approved.” According to the Farmington Daily Times, Hagerman said, “The generating station and the coal mine that feeds it also represent around 2,400 indirect jobs.” Unemployment in the region would double.

Because getting all parties — including minor-percentage owners in SJGS such as the City of Anaheim and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems—on board is essential to approval of the deal, the PRC voted, on May 27, to give PNM more time to finalize an ownership restructuring agreement. Sources tell me that many of these co-owners don’t meet regularly and the new July 1 deadline has the potential to scuttle the entire decade-plus procedure.

Hagerman believes that “if the utility supplies regulators with the documentation they need, then approval of the plan is likely.”

PNM spokesman Pahl Shipley, according to the Farmington Daily Times, “reiterated that the revised plan, with new tentative agreements in place, represents ‘the most cost-effective path forward, balancing reliability, affordability and environmental responsibility. The ownership restructuring and coal supply agreements would further increase the cost benefit to customers.’”

While there will be a “cost benefit to customers,” rates will still increase. The PRC hearing officer “warned that the changes spurred by the partial closure of San Juan would result in substantial rate increase for customers over the next 20 years.”

In a recent op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal, Carla Sontag, executive director of the New Mexico Utility Shareholders Alliance, addressed the cost factors: “It is estimated that the shutdown will cost about $5.25 a month for the average residential customer. PNM plans to replace lost power generation with cleaner energy sources and significantly less coal. Those costs will be filed with the PRC later, and that increase would take effect in 2018. … PNM recently filed its first rate increase in almost five years. Beyond the need to maintain system integrity, the biggest driving force behind the increases is environmental initiatives.” Environmental groups acknowledge a 7 percent increase to monthly bills.

So now we wait.

Will the PRC approve the plan? Will good-paying jobs be saved? Will cost increases be minimized? Will the anti-fossil fuel groups sue? Will New Mexico have enough power for the future?

* * *

This is a New Mexico story. It is about just one power plant, in a sparsely-populated state. It is the story of that power plant, in that state, trying to meet just one EPA regulation dealing with regional visibility — even though improvements will not be detectible to the human eye. (The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air report just ranked Farmington number 1 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for 24-hour particle pollution and number 2 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for annual particle pollution.)

Under the CPP, similar scenarios will have to take place in every state, over every coal-fueled power plant — not with just one regulation, but with a massive plan designed to transform the entire energy sector. The CPP, which is not yet final, is supposed to be implemented in less than five years. This New Mexico story is a taste of what is to come: years of legal wrangling, cost increases for consumers, loss of good-paying jobs — for reductions in CO2 emissions that will make no temperature difference on a global scale.

It makes my head spin.



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.  

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