Friday, January 13, 2017

EPA Moves To Fine Alaskans For Burning Wood To Keep Warm

Sadly, this is not from The Onion. For satire to work it has to be believable and no one with commonsense would believe that the federal government would intervene to fine people living in Alaska for using wood-burning stoves in the winter. But the advantage that the federal government has is that it does stuff that is so profoundly stupid that no one would ever believe they would do it. And that is their greatest defense mechanism. Just like ‘Verbal’ Kint/Keyser Sose says in The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Via The New York Times:

“It’s all one thing — when you most need the heat is when you’re most apt to create a serious air pollution problem for yourself and the people in your community,” said Tim Hamlin, the director of the office of air and waste at the E.P.A.’s Region 10, which includes Alaska.

And forces are now converging to heighten the tension in this seemingly unlikely pollution story. Civil fines by Fairbanks North Star Borough — which includes the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, with a total population of about 100,000 — could be assessed in coming days against residential polluters. The E.P.A. could declare the entire area to be in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year, with potentially huge economic implications, including a cutoff of federal transportation funds...

Residents are also trapped, he said, by economics. Natural gas, a much cleaner fuel source, is not widely available in this part of Alaska, and heating oil can be very expensive. Oil also produces particulate pollution, though less than wood. A study for the borough last year said residents here spent, on average, almost four times the national average in annual heating costs...

Mr. Hamlin, the E.P.A. official, said his agency was definitely not trying to take away anyone’s wood stove, or make life more expensive. But he said the Clean Air Act, passed by Congress in 1970, requires a standard of breathable air for all Americans. The E.P.A. was given the job of enforcing that standard.

“We don’t want to be telling people what to do, but the standard is what it is, and we want to work with you to be able to get there,” he said.

And while this Tim Hamlin character is not personally to blame, the EPA, in all its permutations, is to blame for inserting itself into a distinctly local situation and bludgeoning a local governnment into submission with the threat of fines and loss of federal funds. (The Federalist has a good piece on the issue from the viewpoint of an Alaskan native, not a Native Alaskan.) This is how a tyrannical government treats subjects, not how a servant government treats citizens. It needs to stop and only Congress can make it stop.


2016's Biggest Loser: Big Green

The day after the presidential elections, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, glumly called the Donald Trump victory "devastating for our climate and our future." Well, yes, if you're a climate-change alarmist who hates fossil fuels, you're in for a bad four and maybe eight years.

Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard was even more apocalyptic, saying: "I never thought I'd have to write this. The election of Donald Trump as president has been devastating. ... There's no question, Donald Trump's climate denial is staggering. He wants to shut down the EPA, 'cancel' the Paris Climate Agreement, stop funding clean energy research, and 'drill, baby, drill.'" Ah, but if this is so crazy, why did he win?

The short answer is that Americans went to the polls and rejected environmental extremism, among other things. The biggest loser on election night was America's Big Green movement, dedicated to the anti-prosperity proposition that to save the planet from extinction we have de-industrialize the U.S. and throw millions and millions of our fellow citizens out of their jobs.

It may seem an exaggeration to say that the radical leftist green groups want to throw working class Americans out of their jobs -- but it isn't. They openly admit it.

The Sierra Club actually declared "victory" last year when it helped push several of America's leading coal production companies into bankruptcy. Sierra Club spokeswoman Lena Moffit took credit for destroying coal production in America, but she neglected to mention the tens of thousands of miners, truckers, construction workers, and other blue-collar workers who lost their jobs due to the Sierra Club campaign. What humanitarians these people are!

Moffit promised that the Sierra Club will "bring the same expertise that we brought to taking down the coal industry and coal-fired power in this country to taking on gas in the same way ... to ensure that we're moving to a 100 percent clean energy future."

There are an estimated 10 million Americans who are directly or indirectly employed by the oil and gas and coal industries. The left wants to put every one of these people out of a job?

Fortunately, we learned on Election Day that voters aren't as alarmed as the alarmists are. Almost none of the voters that I met in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, or Michigan had anything but contempt for the climate-change fanatics. They view this as another attempt by Washington to run their lives and completely ignore their economic plight in favor of grandiose dreams of the government somehow changing the weather.

In so many ways, climate change was one of the primary issues that allowed Donald Trump to crash through the blue wall of the industrial Midwest. The Democrats' preposterous opposition to building the Keystone XL pipeline is emblematic of how the party that is supposed to represent union workers turned their backs on them.

The Paris Agreement puts America last and forces us to stop using cheap, reliable and abundant domestic fossil fuels while the rest of the world -- particularly China and India -- are all in on coal. Nobody in Washington seemed to notice, as the Wall Street Journal reported last month, "China's government will raise coal production by as much as 20 percent by 2020, ensuring a continuing strong role for the commodity in the country's energy future." Does this sound like a country that has any interest in cutting its carbon emissions?

The real surprise this election was that Democrats were at all surprised by mass voter rejection of the radical climate-change agenda. Polls in recent years show that climate change barely registers as a leading concern of American voters. Jobs and the economy were always issues No. 1 and 2, and global warming was usually close to last on the list.

The issue that now confronts Democrats is whether they can reconnect with blue-collar union voters by disassociating themselves from fanatical environmentalists. It won't be easy. Environmental groups are said to be raising record hauls of cash from their millionaire and billionaire donors since the election. Ultra-green environmentalists such as Tom Steyer may call the party's tunes, but he shouldn't be surprised when millions of middle-class workers flee to the Republicans.

Something has to give in the Democratic Party. My prediction is that Democrats will only make a comeback in American politics when they throw crazies like Tom Steyer, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace off the bus and start listening to the everyday concerns of working class Americans again.


Obama Claims Momentum Over Energy Reality

Barack Obama suffers from a condition that infects many on the Left — the belief that one’s ideology has the power to usurp reality. Those who find themselves in this state of being tend not to believe in the absolute and independent nature of truth, but rather believe themselves to be progenitors of truth. In this elitist delusion, they imagine their understanding of the present and vision for the future to be godlike and transcending the rationally understood norms of society. After all, if your aim is to “change the world” you can’t possibly accept the reality that you really don’t have enough knowledge or power to mold it into your own perfect vision of utopia. So, what happens when you find yourself in the seat of power, but people don’t buy the vision you’re peddling? Well, in America you seek to manipulate through political pandering, deceit and impressive speeches.

One of Obama’s major policy platforms has been climate change, and as such he spent significant effort seeking to force his “green” energy policies onto the American public; one of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost in the Rust Belt. The problem is that Donald Trump promised to reverse course on Obama’s restrictive energy policies, by deregulating the energy industry and freeing it to be market driven rather than ideologically controlled.

Of course, Obama knows that in a market driven economy much of his artificially propped up and failed “clean” energy programs such as Solyndra don’t stand a chance against oil, natural gas and the clean coal industry. That’s despite his best efforts to crush those industries. So, rather than acknowledge that his plans just didn’t pan out, he doubles down and claims that his clean energy policies have created so much momentum that they are now “irreversible.” Obama might be right if his clean energy programs were actually producing what was promised, but like so many socialists programs, impassioned speeches don’t create reality. Once again the emperor has no clothes.


Polar bear zoologist blasts Obama’s climate alarmism: ‘Sensationalized nonsense’

The Obama administration warned Monday that polar bears may disappear unless something is done about climate change, despite recent research indicating that the bears are actually thriving.

In its final Conservation Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Service painted a grim picture for the future of the massive Arctic-dwelling mammal, warning that its fate will be determined “by our willingness and ability to address climate change.”

“The current global polar bear population is estimated to be 26,000,” said the Fish and Wildlife Service. “If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rates throughout the 21st century, polar bears will likely disappear from much of their present-day range.”

The announcement prompted pushback from zoologist Susan J. Crockford, founder of the Polar Bear Science website, who blasted the service for igniting a rash of “sensationalized nonsense” by fueling alarmist media reports.

Since 2007, “summer sea ice coverage has declined to levels their sea ice colleagues said would not occur until 2050 yet 2/3 of the world’s polar bears did not disappear as [U.S. Geological Service] biologists predicted,” Ms. Crockford said in a post.

The polar bear was listed as threatened in 2008 as a result of declining Arctic sea ice, but its population has proved remarkably resilient, although the Fish and Wildlife Service plan doesn’t mention that, she said.

“They also don’t tell folks that the recent decline in population size recorded for the Southern Beaufort Sea was caused by thick spring sea ice in 2004-2006, not reduced summer sea ice,” said Ms. Crockford, an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature pegs the polar bear population at between 22,000 and 31,000, which she called “the highest estimate in 50 years.”

Studies have shown increases in some of the 19 Arctic polar-bear populations. In 2013, the FWS reported the Chukchi Sea population in Alaska was doing “quite well,” while the Norwegian Polar Institute found in 2015 that the Barents Sea polar bears had risen by 42 percent since 2004.

Meanwhile, wildlife groups criticized the federal plan for failing to mandate large-scale U.S. reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions in order to combat climate change.

“Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that this old hype is being recycled as ‘news’ prior to the inauguration of President-elect Trump?” asked Ms. Crockford, author of “Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change.”


Shell Australia blames Leftist Victorian government for rising natural gas prices

Australia has heaps of natural gas in the ground but the Green/Left want to keep it there for their usual disruptive reasons.  Only one Eastern State has broken through their obstruction

The head of oil giant Shell's Australian multibillion-dollar operations has laid the blame for the east coast gas squeeze squarely with the Victorian government, declaring that rising prices caused by the state's ban on onshore gas will take a direct toll on jobs.

Deflecting criticism that Queensland's LNG industry is to blame for the difficulties being experienced in the east coast gas market, Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith pointed instead to "short-sighted political decisions" such as Victoria's, which is keeping much-needed gas in the ground.

"Victorian manufacturers have a right to be angry about the gas supply situation, but their anger should be directed toward the Victorian government," Mr Smith told The Australian Financial Review.

"It is the Andrews government's ban on onshore gas production that will lead to price hikes to Victorian manufacturers – and this will cost jobs in Victorian factories."

Victoria's Acting Resources Minister Phil Dalidakis rejected the idea the moratorium is impacting prices.

A surge in demand for gas on the east coast was always expected because of the start-up of Queensland's $70 billion LNG export industry, which shipped its first gas to Asia in late 2014 and is still ramping up production. But at the time those plants were conceived, there was little suggestion that governments including Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory would erect hurdles to the development of plentiful onshore gas resources.

Undeveloped gas

As it is, the squeeze has caused difficulties for industrial gas users to access competitive sources of gas, with some pointing the finger at the Queensland LNG industry. One of the three monster LNG export plants on Gladstone's Curtis Island is owned by Shell, which also holds half of the biggest chunk of undeveloped gas on the east coast, through the Arrow joint venture with PetroChina. Some manufacturers have reported a doubling of prices for their gas supplies within the last 12 months.

Last November the Victorian government introduced legislation to permanently ban all onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, and extended a moratorium on conventional onshore gas until 2020. The move triggered a $2.7 billion damages claim from explorer Lakes Oil, which had ambitions to tap the "vast potential" of its acreage in the onshore Otway and Gippsland Basin for conventional gas.

Lakes had loose accords to supply gas from its Wombat field to food manufacturer Simplot and chemical maker Dow Chemical, and Lakes chief executive Roland Sleeman said that were it not for the four years lost through moratoria Lakes believed it could have been in production already.

"There is no justification at all for the actions they are taking," Mr Sleeman said, describing the ban and moratorium as "ridiculous".

But Mr Dalidakis insisted that the moratorium on conventional gas drilling "will not impact on gas prices in the short-term" and the ban wouldn't have any immediate impact either because there were no proven or probable unconventional onshore reserves in the state.

"What has impacted on local gas prices is the east coast Australian gas marketplace, as the domestic market is competing against the LNG export markets to Asia, making it difficult for local gas users to secure new or longer-term contracts," he said.

Infrastructure costs

Yet Mr Smith said Queensland's coal seam gas industry would not even have been developed without the scale of the LNG export market to offset the huge infrastructure costs.

Unless the Victorian drilling ban is reversed, "all Victorian gas customers will be paying the price of gas in Queensland plus the hefty expense of pipeline access to transport the gas more than 1000 kilometres south," Mr Smith said, adding the impact would be felt by Victorian families, manufacturers and small businesses.

Spot prices for gas in the east coast market are increasingly being set by the "netback" cost of gas for LNG production in Queensland plus the cost of transportation, which is understood to be around $3 a gigajoule down to Victoria, about a third of the state's wholesale gas price on Wednesday.

Just one of Lakes Oil's permits in Victoria is thought to hold about 11 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and Mr Sleeman said that unlocking only several hundred billion cubic feet of that would be "a gamechanger" as producers would be competing, bringing prices down.

"You've seen that happen in Western Australia when there's more gas than the market needs, people compete and they are prepared to compete potentially down to their cost of production," he said.



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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