Thursday, December 15, 2016

Scott Pruitt will bring EPA regulatory war on coal to heel under the Trump administration

Americans for Limited Government announced just a week after the election that job one of the Trump administration must be to dismantle the EPA regulations which are crippling our economy; less than a month after he became President-elect, and Donald Trump has already begun this mission.

With the latest appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Trump is allowing Pruitt to continue his crusade against EPA overreach he has been fighting for years.

During his time as attorney general in the oil and gas intensive state of Oklahoma, he has led several law suits against EPA regulations in his state. In 2014 when the EPA proposed new rules to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent, Pruitt responded telling State Impact News that, “The EPA can’t force utility companies to actually incorporate emission control measures unless they’re achievable through technology. And here, there really isn’t any demonstrated technology that will see a reduction of 30 percent.”

Oklahoma and Texas joined together for a Supreme Court case that year the EPA likely overstepped their authority. The case argued that despite how the Obama administration and the agency itself were interpreting the Clean Air Act, it was not a blanket agreement for the EPA to act however they see fit.

Pruitt also led the fight against cross state air pollution rules, mercury and air toxins reduction, and regional haze regulations. Pruitt has also sued the EPA to take apart the agency’s sue and settle scam to expand its powers.

Pruitt’s battles are not about science; they never have been. They are about the crippling regulations the unelected bureaucrats of the EPA impose on states and businesses that destroy local economies.

Since the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the agency has regulated carbon emissions as “harmful pollutants” under the terms of the Clean Air Act. Then, under the Obama administration that is exactly what the EPA did with the 2009 Carbon Endangerment Finding. This rulemaking in turn has been used to justify the continual implementation of regulations that expand the agency’s power and wage a war on coal via the new and existing power plant rules.

The EPA has expanded its reach through sue and settle lawsuits as well. Environmental groups sue the EPA or local governments demanding to have issues addressed. To avoid further litigation, the parties settle the suit and the EPA is given permission to address the issue with newly expanded powers, even if previously the EPA had not jurisdiction or authority over the issue.

Pruitt has already taken a stance against these abusive tactics, not only because they provide the EPA with impermissible powers but because when these “friendly lawsuits” are encouraged they adversely affect the due process system. Pruitt attacked the “loopholes” to legislation that the EPA had been finding, and forced them to be accountable for their policy.

Now as EPA administrator, Pruitt won’t need to sue to get these regulations rescinded. While the removal of these regulations can sometimes take years under the terms of the Administrative Procedures Act, the process will be infinitely more focused and efficient with Pruitt to begin action immediately. We can be certain he’ll get started right away.

The EPA has spent nearly a decade overreaching its power and hampering state economies, finally the agency will be brought to heel by Pruitt. Trump’s selection of Pruitt is evidence of his belief in the American economy above all else, and the coal workers who helped elect Trump to end the war on coal electricity can once again celebrate that he is following through on his promises to the people.


The truth about polar bears

Bear numbers are higher than ever so Greenies counter that with prophecies of future problems -- failing to confront that all their past prophecies have been wrong.  Excerpts below

On the western shore of Hudson Bay, it’s sometimes hard to remember that polar bears are supposed to be going extinct. Every fall, hundreds of bears gather near Churchill, Man., waiting for the bay to freeze so that they can head out onto the ice to hunt for seals. During this period, people in town treat polar bears more like nuisances than a sentinel species whose condition is regarded as the clearest evidence of the coming global climate apocalypse.

By mid-November, the Churchill polar bears have not eaten a full meal in four months, and they spend their days conserving energy. They laze about in front of the assembled crowds, walking in circles, licking at the ground and just generally killing time. Tourists jostle one another, hoping for killer photo ops: the cutest cub, the biggest battlescarred male, the particularly curious subadult that rears up on its hind legs and slaps its paws against the windows of the tour bus. Occasionally, a bear wanders right into town to take a swipe at a garbage can or sniff longingly at the odours wafting out of Gypsy’s Bakery.

Granted, the population numbers have been startling. Research from 1984 to 2004 showed that the western Hudson Bay population, which includes the Churchill bears, had declined from 1,194 to 935. The trendlines from that study suggested that by 2011, the population would fall to as low as 676.

Fast-forward to today and a new study, which reveals that the current polar bear population of western Hudson Bay is 1,013 animals.

Wait … what? More bears than there were 10 years ago? Nearly double the prediction? "Polar bears are one of the biggest conservation success stories in the world," says Drikus Gissing, wildlife director for the Government of Nunavut. "There are more bears here now than there were in the recent past."

Underlying any story about polar bear populations is the reality that it can be extremely difficult working with polar bears. They can range across international boundaries, over hundreds of kilometres of forbidding ice and frigid open water. They can dig into dens or camouflage themselves on snowfields. And mark-recapture studies, in which bears are tranquilized, are problematic. Drugging bears is dangerous for both the animals and the scientists, and Inuit often object to such invasive interactions, since drugging and physically handling bears stresses the animals and is an affront to traditional ecological practices.

So scientists end up counting bears in many different ways, including incorporating observations by knowledgeable local residents. But population estimates are just that: estimates. Some subpopulations of bears haven’t been counted in decades, if ever. And some are counted more frequently but with slightly different survey areas or methodologies from year to year. The Polar Bear Specialist Group, an international consortium of experts, classifies 10 of the 19 subpopulations as being "data-deficient," which isn’t exactly conducive to a coherent discussion about how polar bears are faring worldwide.

In Davis Strait, between Greenland and Baffin Island, the polar bear population has grown from 900 animals in the late 1970s to around 2,100 today. In Foxe Basin — a portion of northern Hudson Bay — a population that was estimated to be 2,300 in the early 2000s now stands at 2,570. And in specific areas of western Hudson Bay, the most-studied, most-photographed group of bears on Earth seems to have been on a slow but steady increase since in the 1970s.

News like this leaves climate-change deniers crowing from the rooftops. But a closer look reveals that everything may not be quite so sunny. "Some populations appear to be doing OK now, but what’s frightening is what *might* happen in the very near future," says wildlife biologist Lily Peacock, who has worked with polar bears for the Government of Nunavut and the U.S. Geological Survey. "All indications are that the future does not look bright."

While it’s tempting to talk about polar bears as a single-species group, the truth is that the success or failure of a single subpopulation might say very little about the health of another one. "The thing to remember is the vast range of the polar bear and the utter size of the Arctic," says Geoff York, the Ottawa-based senior program officer for the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Arctic Programme. "Impacts from warming are unfolding at different rates and different time scales." Polar bears that make their home in James Bay — at the fifty-third parallel north — have experienced ice-free summers for thousands of years. Bears in the High Arctic Archipelago, however, contend with pack ice so thick that it’s often impossible for them to hunt seals. In the southern reaches of the bears’ range, warming could be catastrophic, but higher north, an increase in open water could potentially make hunting easier.

In Davis Strait, for example, both the extent and thickness of the sea ice have been declining dramatically. In theory, this should be trouble for the local bears, which, like polar bears everywhere else, rely on solid sea ice as a hunting platform. Yet this population is an eye-popping 233 percent bigger than it was four decades ago. It’s tempting to simply declare victory and walk away. And yet this new-found abundance is entirely the result of local management practices that originally had nothing to do with bears. Specifically, in 1983, the European Economic Community banned the importation of the hides of whitecoat harp seal pups. In most places, the polar bear diet consists primarily of ringed or bearded seals. But polar bears aren’t picky eaters; when harp seal populations exploded, polar bears gorged. On the other hand, one theory holds that the loss of sea ice could encourage killer whales to move into polar bear habitat, snatching up all the seals and becoming the new dominant marine mammal.

On balance, the majority of polar bear scientists agree that even if the current state of things looks shakily stable, the future for bears is poor. Nonetheless, as long as climate change is political, polar bears will be too. And the tone of the discussion can get downright ugly.

Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are "a joke." He also alleges that a lot of the "exaggerated decline" is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands. In response, Taylor’s critics disinvited him from meetings of polar bear specialists that he’d been attending since 1978. They also like to point out that he’s a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration, which questions the very existence of climate change. But amidst all the heated charges and countercharges, it’s hard to argue the fact that few people know polar bears the way Taylor does. And while it might be inconvenient for current political posturing, there’s no denying that certain subpopulations of polar bears are managing to survive, even thrive.


British Government gave £274 million of taxpayer cash to charity ‘to fight global warming’ but has no idea where the money actually went

BRITAIN has given £274million to a controversial climate change organisation – but doesn’t know where the money actually goes, it has been revealed.

The Times reported the huge donation to the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) was made to help the government reach its target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.

Britain is the fund’s biggest donor – pledging $3 billion of its $8 billion budget.

The fund was set up by George W Bush in 2008, with the aim of tackling climate change in poorer countries.

But critics say it is unclear who receives the cash – and when questioned by The Times, the government’s Department for International Development said it did not have the relevant information.


Open-Minded, Scientifically Literate Conservatives Less Likely to Believe Humans Cause Climate Change

Holding his two-year-old granddaughter on his lap, Sec. of State John Kerry signs the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN headquarters in New York on April 22, 2016. (US State Dept.)
( – Conservatives who engage in “actively open-minded thinking” (AOT) and receive the highest scores on “science intelligence” tests are less likely to accept the premise that human activity causes climate change than their more close-minded and less educated peers, according to scholars at Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project.

A recent study published in the latest edition of the journal Research & Politics found that liberal Democrats were 39 percent more likely to believe that human activity causes climate change than conservative Republicans.

But researchers found that the disparity was not due to conservatives’ lack of AOT, defined as “the motivation to seek out, engage, and appropriately weigh evidence opposed to one’s strongly held beliefs.”

In fact, the more open-minded conservatives were, the more likely they were to diverge from the "consensus" position.

"As subjects' AOT scores went up, their acceptance of human-caused climate change increased only if they held left-leaning political outlooks," the study found. “Among right-leaning subjects, higher AOT scores were associated with slightly less acceptance” of human-caused climate change.

This finding is at odds with the position that attributes political conflict over facts to a personality trait of close-mindedness associated with political conservatism“This finding is at odds with the position that attributes political conflict over facts to a personality trait of close-mindedness associated with political conservatism,” study co-authors Dan Kahan and Jonathan Corbin concluded.

The researchers noted that they had expected that the 39 percent gap between liberals and conservatives would have narrowed as their AOT scores increased, but that’s not what happened.

 “If polarization over the reality of human-caused climate change is a consequence of a deficit in AOT among conservatives, then one would expect the conservatives lowest in AOT to be substantially more skeptical of climate change than those highest in AOT,” the study noted.

“Likewise, if an ideological asymmetry in AOT drives partisan conflict over climate change, then the gap between partisans ought to narrow as partisans’ AOT scores go up. These results were not observed in the data.”

“One might naturally expect that individuals highest in AOT to converge, not polarize all the more forcefully, on contested issues like climate change,” the study stated, adding that “our evidence contravenes this expectation.”

 “The net result is that subjects highest in AOT are in fact the most polarized, just as individuals highest in numeracy, cognitive reflection, and science comprehension are,” the study found.

A previous study by Kahan published in 2014 in the Journal of Risk Research also found that “the probability of belief in human-caused global warming increases slightly for relatively left-leaning individuals,” but “is unaffected for right-leaning ones as OSI_2.0 [scale of ‘ordinary science intelligence’] scores increase.”

The co-authors explain this polarization as the result of “social dynamics” that “are characterized by more or less myside bias” that mainly reflect the study subjects’ group identity.

Thus, both liberals’ and conservatives’ “’beliefs’ about human-caused climate change and a few select other highly divisive empirical issues are ones that people use to express who they are, an end that has little to do with the truth of what people, ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ know,” the latest study concludes.

But one critic pointed out that there could be another explanation.

“Conservatives who know more about science and math are less likely to accept consensus climate science,” climate writer Kip Hansen pointed out on in a blog on Climate Etc, adding that “Kahan never once considers that maybe there is something about consensus climate science that makes it less likely to be accepted by the more conservative scientifically knowledgeable and conservatives who are more open-minded.

“Maybe, just maybe, the more one understands the principles and facts involved in climate science and the more open-mindedly one delves into the gory details — not just taking the word of Acknowledged Authorities and Learned Societies — the less likely one is to simply accept consensus-version climate science,” he added.


Healey's Exxon witch-hunt

by Jeff Jacoby

MAURA HEALEY isn't the first Massachusetts attorney general to run roughshod over the First Amendment in pursuit of a political agenda.

Martha Coakley, Healey's predecessor and mentor, adamantly defended the indefensible Massachusetts "buffer zone" law, which banned peaceful speech and silent protest on public sidewalks near abortion clinics. That law, manifestly unconstitutional, was struck down by a unanimous Supreme Court in 2014.

Now Healey is embarked on her own crusade to punish freedom of speech. The vendetta this time isn't against opponents of abortion, but against ExxonMobil — and, by extension, against any organization that questions the anti-fossil-fuel agenda of global warming alarmists.

That isn't how Healey would put it, of course. Her formal explanation for the astonishingly sweeping subpoena she has issued to Exxon — a demand for 40 years' worth of company documents, letters, emails, phone messages, notes, and recordings — is that her office is pursuing allegations of fraud and consumer-protection violations. As Healey's chief legal counsel has written, Exxon is suspected of trying to "mislead the public, including investors and consumers, with respect to the impacts of climate change." Mislead them how? By claiming that it was appropriate "for Exxon to utilize its substantial fossil fuel reserves for the manufacture and sale of petroleum products," despite knowing that fossil-fuel use and climate change are related.

In essence, Exxon is being charged with fraud because it remains in the business of producing and selling energy.

To be sure, Healey's office hasn't actually sued Exxon for any fraudulent practices. Its litigation so far is aimed at forcing the company to disgorge an ocean of records and correspondence that Healey's staff can then trawl for evidence of wrongdoing.

But the attorney general hasn't bothered to wait for evidence. At a press conference last March, where she joined former Vice President Al Gore and several other state attorneys general, Healey pronounced Exxon guilty of the fraud yet to be investigated. Taking the podium, behind a sign reading "AGs United For Clean Power," Healey made it clear that her mind was already made up.

"Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be — must be — held accountable," Healey said. "We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public." Her office would be "investigating" Exxon, in other words, because she had already decided that Exxon was wrong.

Give the attorney general credit for candor. At the press conference that day, she could not have been more explicit: She intended to use her official powers to promote her political agenda. "There is nothing we need to worry about more than climate change," she insisted. "Nothing is more important . . . we have a moral obligation to act. That is why we are here today." She promised "aggressive action . . . to address climate change and to work for a better future."

As a citizen and a politician, Healey is fully entitled to condemn fossil fuels, decry global warming, and express scorn for those who don't agree with her and Gore. As the chief law-enforcement officer of Massachusetts, she is not entitled to deploy subpoenas and other investigative and legal tools in order to harass or demonize businesses and organizations that express opinions she doesn't share. Not even when the opinion is on a topic that she considers "more important" than anything else.

The scientific and policy debate over climate change is vigorous and ongoing. It is no more settled than the debate over abortion. And just as the First Amendment flatly forbids Massachusetts officials from using their powers to silence free speech about abortion, it forbids them from using those powers to squelch competing arguments and views about fossil fuels and global warming.

Fortunately for the Bill of Rights, Exxon has deep pockets and the legal muscle to resist Healey's attempted coercion. The company has gone to federal court to stop the AG's subpoena from being enforced, arguing that it amounts to an unconstitutional abuse of prosecutorial power for political reasons. Healey has been ordered by US District Judge Ed Kinkeade to appear in a Dallas courthouse next week for a deposition.

To date, no one has offered any evidence that that Exxon has falsified data, suppressed lab results, or lied through its teeth when asked about the impact of its products on earth's climate systems. There has been nothing comparable, for example, to the 2009 "Climategate" scandal at the University of East Anglia's renowned Climatic Research Unit, which involved the deliberate deleting of inconvenient emails and blackballing of scientific papers. On the contrary: Exxon has been participating openly and actively in the climate-change discourse for decades. It has worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from its inception, funded research into climate science at Stanford and MIT, and published scores of climate-related research papers in peer-reviewed journals going back to the early 1980s. And for at least a decade, Exxon's reports to shareholders have noted openly that climate change could pose a risk to the company's future earnings.

The charge of fraud is a potent one, far too consequential to be hurled recklessly by any government official, never mind an attorney general. To Healey, Exxon's position on climate change may be intolerable. What she proposes to do about it is unconstitutional.


Severe melting of ice sheet is found in Antarctica

Who cares?  It is SHELF ice.  Even if it all melted it would not raise the sea level one iota.  And it's a long way from it all melting anyway

A team of European scientists has found a significant amount of ice sheet melting in East Antarctica during the summer months, in an area that is supposed to be too cold for perceptible ice loss.

The researchers also found that the ice shelf was anything but solid — it had many large pockets of weakness throughout its structure, suggesting a greater potential vulnerability to collapse through a process called "hydrofracturing."
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The findings, by researchers from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, were reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

On the ice sheet covering the Arctic island of Greenland, dramatic melting can be found in the summer. That forms lakes, rivers, and even dangerous "moulins" in the ice, where rivers suddenly run through the thick ice sheet.

But East Antarctica is supposed to be different. It is extremely remote and cold and doesn’t generally see such warm temperatures in summer, so its ice tends to remain more pristine.

"Many people refer to East Antarctica as being too cold for significant melt," says Jan Lenaerts, a glaciologist with Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "There’s marginal melt in summer, but there’s not a lot."

That common wisdom has been challenged in the study by Lenaerts and his colleagues. On the very large Roi Baudouin ice shelf in East Antarctica, which floats atop the ocean, they found a very Greenland-like situation in early 2016.

The researchers had traveled to investigate what had been described as a nearly 2-mile-wide "crater" in the shelf, glimpsed by satellite, which some sources believed had been caused by a meteorite.

To the contrary, they found that it was a large icy lake bed, 10 feet deep. In its center were multiple rivers and three moulins that carried water deep down into the floating ice shelf.

The researchers also drilled through the ice and found "englacial" lakes, sandwiched between the surface of the ice shelf and its base, which is in contact with the ocean beneath it. They found 55 lakes on or in the ice shelf, and a number of them were in this buried englacial format.

This means the ice shelf is anything but solid — it had many large pockets of weakness that can lead to collapses. That’s bad news, because when ice shelves fall apart, the glacial ice behind them flows more rapidly to the ocean, raising sea levels.

The researchers postulate that a "microclimate" exists on the ice shelf that made it all possible — and that a similar mechanism is operating on other East Antarctic ice shelves.

"We see similar things going on on neighboring ice shelves, and also for instance on the Amery ice shelf, which is also a notorious, very large ice shelf on East Antarctica,’’ Lenaerts said. "We see this link between strong winds and blue ice formation, enhanced absorption of solar radiation, and the melt that is enhanced by this process."

The researchers are not saying that these processes are caused by human-induced climate change — they note in particular that on the Roi Baudouin shelf, it appears there has been some melting at the surface since the 1980s.

However, Lenaerts said, it is already clear there is much more melt water during warmer summers than in cooler ones. And global warming will gradually produce warmer Antarctic temperatures, which should increase the volume of melt water atop these ice shelves, pushing them still further in the Greenland direction.

This means the shelves could be subject to the risk of hydrofracturing, in which a great deal of meltwater forms atop the shelf and pushes inside of it, eventually leading to a crackup.

That’s what is believed to have happened in the classic case of the shattering of the Larsen B ice shelf in the Antarctic peninsula in 2002. The fear is that it could happen in the East Antarctic too, where there is a massive amount of ice to potentially lose.


Australia: Sydney temperature panic

Every summer Sydney has some very hot days.  And the Warmists at the BoM always announce that some temperature or other was the hottest ever.  They are rather desperate at the moment.  All they have to report is the "highest minimum", which is a long way from the maximum.  And the maximun of 37C was pretty pissant too.  In 1790 (Yes, 1790, not 1970) the Maximum in Sydney was 42C.  How disappointing for them!

SYDNEY sweltered through its hottest December night on record as the mercury refused to budge to acceptable levels. The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the overnight temperature dipped to 27.1C.

It was the highest minimum on record. The previous record was set on Christmas Day 1858, when it dropped to 26.3C.

The temperature also smashed all but one previous record, making it the second-warmest Sydney evening in recorded history.

BoM forecaster Jordan Notara told AAP they were expecting last night to break the record of 26.3C..

At 6am this morning the temperature at Sydney Harbour was already 29C and at midnight the temperature was still a warm 27C at Observatory Hill.

The mercury hit 37C yesterday with an expected high of 38C today.

The hot night prompted plenty of reaction on social media, with some remarking it is standard Sydney for this time of year.  Others tried to see the lighter side of things.

For those unable to cope with the heat, the good news is a cool change should see the mercury dip to a much more comfortable 22C tomorrow.

“There will be a 5C drop in temperatures within the first few hours, so by early evening people will definitely be feeling the difference,” Mr Notara said.

Sydney’s CBD sizzled at a high of 37.8C — nearly 13 degrees above the city’s long-term average for December — while at Penrith, in the city’s west, the mercury surged to 39.4C.

About 800 people had flocked to the Aquatic Centre at Sydney Olympic Park in the city’s west before lunchtime to seek relief from the city’s hottest December day since 2005.


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