Thursday, November 17, 2016
It’s Time to Stop Spending Taxpayer Dollars on Elon Musk and Cronyism
From Enron to Bernie Madoff, at the end of every great American financial scandal, the totality of the perpetrators’ greed seems to be matched only by the public’s incredulity at how such a thing could be allowed to happen.
And thanks to Elon Musk, there’s a good chance we may all be asking this question again soon.
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have launched a probe into tax incentives paid to solar companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. The committee probes, led by their respective Republican chairmen, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have found an appropriate and disturbing target to begin this work.
SolarCity, a solar installation company set to be purchased by Tesla Motors Inc., is one of the seven companies named in the initial investigation.
Already grossly subsidized, Musk’s SolarCity has become an albatross of waste, fraud, and abuse of tax payer dollars. As legitimate earnings and cash become even scarcer for SolarCity, its entanglement in the Tesla empire suggests that a drastic reckoning not only is imminent, but in fact emboldening Musk to become more outlandish and reckless.
Notably, SolarCity is run by Musk’s cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive. During his chairmanship at SolarCity, Musk’s family enterprise has taken in billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies from both the federal and local governments. But the subsidies and sweetheart deals were not enough, as losses and missed projections continued to mount.
Ultimately, rather than endure the embarrassment of collapse and further damage to the public image of Musk and Tesla, the cousins conspired to have Tesla simply purchase SolarCity this year. The conditions of the deal screamed foul play.
To say nothing of what sense it might make for an automaker to purchase a solar installation company, Tesla stockholders were being forced to absorb a failing, cash-burning company and pay top dollar to do so.
While cost cutting and corporate restructuring should have been the priority for a company swimming in debt and burning through available cash, SolarCity in fact has been doubling down on the failed model of taxpayer support. The desperate thirst for handouts has manifested itself in some of the murkiest political waters imaginable.
Thanks to Musk’s cozy relationship with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, the state has granted at least $750 million of its taxpayers’ money to SolarCity, building the company a factory and charging it only $1 per year in rent.
It would be hard to imagine such an operation would not be lucrative for its shareholders. And yet somehow, SolarCity never has made a profit.
It’s not just in New York. In this year’s race for Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s public utilities overseers, only one outside group funneled cash into the contest.
All of the $3 million donated by that group, Energy Choice for America, came from SolarCity. The beneficiaries are candidates who have signaled their willingness to be part of the “green machine” that greases the skids for lucrative government subsidies.
Burning through taxpayer dollars, buying elections, and expanding a network of crony capitalism has become so inherent to the SolarCity model that $3 million to a public commissioner’s race, brazen though it may be, is only a drop in the bucket for Musk and SolarCity.
In 2013 alone, SolarCity received $127.4 million in federal grants. The following year, in which it received only $342,000 from the same stimulus package, total revenue was just $176 million and the company posted a net loss of $375 million.
Despite an expansion of operations and claims to be the leader in the industry, SolarCity never has been able to survive without serious help from government subsidies and grants. The failure to responsibly turn taxpayer dollars into a profitable renewable energy provider has led to SolarCity’s collapse into the welcoming arms of Tesla.
And with Tesla, SolarCity in fact will be right at home, compounding a disastrous shell game that Elon Musk is playing with government resources.
It has been widely reported that among SolarCity, Tesla, and the rocket company SpaceX, Elon Musk’s confederacy of interests has gotten at least $4.9 billion in taxpayer support over the past 10 years.
This is almost half of Musk’s supposed net worth—taken from the pockets of American citizens and put into companies that can survive only by cannibalizing each other, spending without end, and promising that success is always just beyond the horizon and yet never arrives.
The American people are being taken on a ride by SolarCity, Tesla, and Musk. The ride is fueled by a cult of personality in Musk. And it costs billions of taxpayer dollars as he promises us not only the moon, but to harness the power of the sun and send us all to Mars.
In the cases of Enron and Bernie Madoff, in the end the cheated victims wished to have woken up sooner to the hubris that enabled such a downfall—or that at least regulators had pulled their heads out of the sand before the full impact of the collapse was realized.
We’ve seen this story before and we know how it ends.
The congressional investigations underway not only are necessary but a signal that more must be done, and soon. We may not be able to help Elon Musk stop himself from failing again, but we certainly shouldn’t be the ones to pay for it.
It’s past time for the American people to stand up to Musk and demand that our legislators and other elected officials bring him back to earth before spending one more dollar of our money. He’s wasted enough of it already.
Climate Report to UN: Trump right, UN wrong – Skeptics Deliver Consensus Busting ‘State of the Climate Report’ to UN Summit
Key climate data highlights:
Global temperatures have been virtually flat for about 18 years, according to satellite data, and peer-reviewed literature is now scaling back predictions of future warming
The U.S. has had no Category 3 or larger hurricane make landfall since 2005 – the longest spell since the Civil War.
Strong F3 or larger tornadoes have been in decline since the 1970s.
Despite claims of snow being ‘a thing of the past,’ cold season snowfall has been rising.
Sea level rise rates have been steady for over a century, with recent deceleration.
Droughts and floods are neither historically unusual nor caused by mankind, and there is no evidence we are currently having any unusual weather.
So-called hottest year claims are based on year-to-year temperature data that differs by only a few HUNDREDTHS of a degree to tenths of a degree Fahrenheit – differences that are within the margin of error in the data. In other words, global temperatures have essentially held very steady with no sign of acceleration.
A 2015 NASA study found Antarctica was NOT losing ice mass and ‘not currently contributing to sea level rise.’
In 2016, Arctic sea ice was 22% greater than at the recent low point of 2012. The Arctic sea ice is now in a 10-year ‘pause’ with ‘no significant change in the past decade.
Polar bears are doing fine, with their numbers way up since the 1960s.
CO2 is not the tail that wags the dog. CO2 is a trace essential gas, but without it life on earth would be impossible. Carbon dioxide fertilizes algae, trees, and crops to provide food for humans and animals. We inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. Slightly higher atmospheric CO2 levels cannot possibly supplant the numerous complex and inter-connected forces that have always determined Earth’s climate. As University of London professor emeritus Philip Stott has noted: “The fundamental point has always been this. Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets.” “It’s scientific nonsense,” Stott added.
Even the global warming activists at RealClimate.org acknowledged this in a September 20, 2008 article, stating, “The actual temperature rise is an emergent property resulting from interactions among hundreds of factors.”
The UN Paris climate change agreement claims to able to essentially save the planet from ‘global warming’. But even if you accept the UN’s and Al Gore’s version of climate change claims, the UN Paris agreement would not ‘save’ the planet.
University of Pennsylvania Geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack noted in 2014, “None of the strategies that have been offered by the U.S. government or by the EPA or by anybody else has the remotest chance of altering climate if in fact climate is controlled by carbon dioxide.”
In layman’s terms: All of the so-called ‘solutions’ to global warming are purely symbolic when it comes to climate. So, even if we actually faced a climate catastrophe and we had to rely on a UN climate agreement, we would all be doomed!
The United Nations has publicly stated its goal is not to ‘solve’ climate change, but to seek to redistribute wealth and expand its authority through more central planning. UN official Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, admitted what’s behind the climate issue: “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy … One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard revealed: Global Warming Policy Is Right Even If Science Is Wrong. Hedegaard said in 2013, “Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it was not about climate,’ would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?”
The UN is seeking central planning. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres declared in 2012 that she is seeking a “centralized transformation” that is “going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different.” She added: “This is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science.”
The UN and EPA regulations are pure climate symbolism in exchange for a more centrally planned energy economy. The UN and EPA regulations are simply a vehicle to put politicians and bureaucrats in charge of our energy economy and ‘save’ us from bad weather and ‘climate change.’
Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer in 2016: “Global warming and climate change, even if it is 100% caused by humans, is so slow that it cannot be observed by anyone in their lifetime.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and other natural disasters have yet to show any obvious long-term change. This means that in order for politicians to advance policy goals (such as forcing expensive solar energy on the masses or creating a carbon tax), they have to turn normal weather disasters into “evidence” of climate change.”
While the climate fails to behave like the UN and climate activists predict, very prominent scientists are bailing out of the so-called “consensus.”
Renowned Princeton Physicist Freeman Dyson: ‘I’m 100% Democrat and I like Obama. But he took the wrong side on climate issue, and the Republicans took the right side’ – An Obama supporter who describes himself as “100 per cent Democrat,” Dyson is disappointed that the President “chose the wrong side.”
Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, and humanity doesn’t face an existential crisis. ‘What has happened in the past 10 years is that the discrepancies between what’s observed and what’s predicted have become much stronger.’
Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever: ‘Global warming is a non-problem’ – ‘I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong.’ ‘Global warming really has become a new religion.’ – “I am worried very much about the [UN] conference in Paris in 2015…I think that the people who are alarmist are in a very strong position.’
Green Guru James Lovelock reverses belief in ‘global warming’: Now says ‘I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy’ – Condemns green movement: ‘It’s a religion really, It’s totally unscientific’ – Lovelock rips scientists attempting to predict temperatures as ‘idiots’: “Anyone who tries to predict more than five to 10 years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly.”
While these scientists take another look at the climate data, efforts to transform economies away from fossil fuels underway but even proponents admit they are purely symbolic.
EPA Chief Admits Obama Regs Have No Measurable Climate Impact: ‘One one-hundredth of a degree?’ EPA Chief McCarthy defends regs as ‘enormously beneficial’ – Symbolic impact
Former Obama Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Charles McConnell: ‘The Clean Power Plan has been falsely sold as impactful environmental regulation when it is really an attempt by our primary federal environmental regulator to take over state and federal regulation of energy.’ – ‘What is also clear, scientifically and technically, is that EPA’s plan will not significantly impact global emissions.’ – ‘All of the U.S. annual emissions in 2025 will be offset by three weeks of Chinese emissions. Three weeks.’
And energy use has not really changed all that much in over 100 years. Reality check: In 1908, fossil fuels accounted for 85% of U.S. energy consumption. In 2015, more or less the same
Trump Regulatory Rollback: Auto Fuel Efficiency Standards
Activists howl in outrage and frustration
The Obama Administration imposed fuel efficiency standards on the automobile industry requiring them to increase fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Now carmakers are reportedly asking the incoming Trump administration for a "a pathway forward" on setting final fuel efficiency standards through 2025 and calling on the next administration to "harmonize and adjust" the rules.
Predictably, any hint that regulations might be rolled back brings forth howls of protest from activists. And so it has. Public Citizen, the self-styled "people's voice in the nation's capital" issued a press release decrying the notion that corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards might be loosened:
"In 2009, in the aftermath of financial losses that stemmed from poor sales of inefficient fleets and higher oil prices, American taxpayers rescued the auto industry after it nearly went out of business. Now, this same industry sent a memo to Trump's lobbyist-staffed transition team asking for permission to ease off improved fuel economy standards.
"Let's not forget that the reason the auto industry had to be bailed out was because automakers built a fleet of gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles that they could no longer sell. More fuel efficient cars would have saved them and taxpayers the trouble, but now it appears that the auto industry has learned nothing from its recent mistakes.
"Federal regulators raised fuel efficiency standards because they save consumers money and are an important part of our effort to combat climate change"
Back in 2009, I criticized Obama's proposed CAFE standards as an inefficient stealth tax on driving. It's inefficient because drivers pay more, car companies make less money, and state and federal governments don't get any extra revenues. If activists and politicians want Americans to drive more fuel-efficient cars, the simple and honest thing to do would be to substantially raise gasoline taxes concluded a 2002 National Academy of Sciences report.
Ultimately, I argued, setting CAFE standards is just a way for cowardly politicians to avoid telling their fellow citizens that they should pay more for the privilege of driving.
Ecological impact assessments fail to reduce risk of bat casualties at wind farms
Paul R. Lintott et al.
Demand for renewable energy is rising exponentially. While this has benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there may be costs to biodiversity . Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are the main tool used across the world to predict the overall positive and negative effects of renewable energy developments before planning consent is given, and the Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs) within them assess their species-specific effects. Given that EIAs are undertaken globally, are extremely expensive, and are enshrined in legislation, their place in evidence-based decision making deserves evaluation. Here we assess how well EIAs of wind-farm developments protect bats. We found they do not predict the risks to bats accurately, and even in those cases where high risk was correctly identified, the mitigation deployed did not avert the risk. Given that the primary purpose of an EIA is to make planning decisions evidence-based, our results indicate that EIA mitigation strategies used to date have been ineffective in protecting bats. In the future, greater emphasis should be placed on assessing the actual impacts post-construction and on developing effective mitigation strategies.
Finally, Warmists Find a Real Threat
Comment from Australia
Whatever else he does, President-elect Donald Trump can be counted on to shoo those green snouts out of the climate-scare trough -- first by repealing Obama's executive orders, then by re-directing from the UN to domestic environmental concerns. It's a beautiful thing
“I’m feeling very flat today,” snuffled Amanda McKenzie, CEO of Tim Flannery’s crowd-funded Climate Council. As she should, given that President-elect Trump will end the trillion-dollar renewable-energy scam so beloved by the council.
McKenzie continues, “Progress on climate change can feel hopeless and it’s tempting to give up and turn away.” But instead, she rattles the tin for donations of $10 a month “to allow us to undertake some massive projects next year that will power communities and everyday Australians to spearhead our renewable energy transition.” Good luck with that, Amanda.
Throughout the Western world, green lobbies are likewise oscillating between despair and self-delusion over the Trump election.
Trump’s agenda – as per his election website – includes
Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.
Declare American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States.
Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.
Rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions.
Reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy.
Trump says Obama’s onslaught of regulations has been a massive self-inflicted economic wound denying Americans access to the energy wealth sitting under their feet: “This is the American People’s treasure, and they are entitled to share in the riches.”
Other than that, the president-elect’s common-sense policies make the 20,000 climate careerists and activists in Marrakech, led by Vice-President John Kerry, seem comically irrelevant. They were supposed to be implementing the feeble Paris climate accord – notwithstanding that China has just announced a 19% expansion of coal capacity over the next five years.
But with the US leadership no longer concerned about climate doom, the rationale for these annual talk-fests (22 to date) has evaporated. Robert McNally, energy consultant and former George W. Bush adviser, says climate change policy “is going to come to a screeching halt. The Paris Agreement from a U.S. perspective is a dead agreement walking.”
The agreement now has only the EU’s backing in terms of actual and significant cuts to emissions, although Australia is also now pledging to do its tiny bit for foot-shooting insanity. The EU’s continued subsidies to renewables will merely worsen its competitiveness vis a vis the new energy powerhouse across the Atlantic.
Trump has pledged not only to rip up the Paris deal, but to withdraw all US climate funding to the UN. The UN climate fund is supposed to build to $100b a year for Third World mendicants. Obama has given $500m so far and pledged $3 billion to the UN climate fund, but Trump will divert those billions to domestic environmental projects such as the Florida Everglades. As he told supporters, “We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars. We don’t even know who’s doing what with the money.”
Obama, unable to get his climate legislation through the Republican-controlled Congress, used regulatory powers instead to get the job done. Trump can now neutralize those efforts simply by reversal or non-enforcement of the regulations.
One of the climate war’s best-kept secrets is that there is no real constituency for renewables, other than vested interests and noisy green groups. That’s why both candidates gave global warming so little prominence in the campaign. Nearly a third of Americans think the global warming scare is a total hoax.
It’s a similar story internationally: a UN annual poll last month (9.7m respondents) had “action on climate change” rating dead last among 16 issues, with top ratings going to education, health care and jobs. Even people from the richest nations rated climate action only 10th. The poll in 2015 got the same result.
Trump’s personal view on climate-change science is that CO2 is probably causing some warming but the scare is vastly exaggerated. He will therefore reverse Obama’s assault on the coal and coal-fired power sectors and give them a better chance to compete with natural gas.
Trump’s choice of key climate advisers is a nightmare for the warmist establishment. To transition the US Environmental Protection Agency from climate activism, he’s picked outspoken skeptic Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute . The CEI is equivalent to Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs.
Ebell laughs at his leftist critics and cites to congress his Greenpeace listing as a leading “climate criminal”. He thinks warming will not be a problem for one or two centuries; meanwhile we should expand access to all types of energy – on an unsubsidized basis.
Canadian climate scientist Tim Ball told a Melbourne seminar this week that Trump is getting science advice from satellite meteorologist Dr Roy Spencer. Spencer’s data has demonstrated that orthodox climate models have exaggerated actual warming by a factor of two to three. His own readings from satellites showed no significant warming for the 21 years up to the 2015-16 El Nino spike. He emphasises the vast uncertainties about climate forecasting and the still-unknown roles of natural forces.
Spencer, who holds a NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for global temperature monitoring, believes the near-universal funding of climate research by governments causes a bias towards catastrophic forecasting, since governments won’t fund non-problems. He wants funding to be at arm’s length from political interests. For the Department of Energy, Trump has picked energy lobbyist Mike McKenna, with ties to the industry-backed American Energy Alliance and Institute for Energy Research.
Trump’s election is rocking the climate-scare industry to its foundations. Four decades of madness is coming to an end.
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Posted by JR at 1:44 AM