Monday, April 03, 2017

The Real Threat Is Environmental Extremism

We don't have to choose between protecting the environment and boosting American energy jobs

Recent events in Alaska in response to a low-risk leak in a natural gas line in Cook Inlet have shown, once again, that fringe environmental activists have an agenda that goes well beyond common sense environmental safeguards and conservation.

These wildly out-of-the-mainstream environmental groups, while wrong on the facts – not to mention the economics – of energy development, continue to ignore the positive benefits that oil and natural gas development create for Alaskans and for the country. Consider that, for example, the state of Alaska draws 90 percent of its revenues from oil and gas-related taxes and royalties.

With today's oil and gas production – driven by cutting-edge, modern technologies – we know that it's a false choice to suggest that we can either protect our environment or boost American jobs and our economy, which are both growing at rather anemic rates.

Alaska is an exceptionally special place. But history and the facts show we can access its abundant energy resources, both on- and offshore, while protecting the state's environment. We need clear-eyed decision-making at the state and federal levels, not fearmongering and hyperbole, which is what we continue to hear from the liberal "keep it in the ground" elitists who appear to be determined to destroy America's booming energy economy.

Such efforts played out during the Obama administration's efforts to kill offshore Alaskan oil and gas projects. And we're seeing similar tactics being utilized in light of the recent and very minor natural gas leak in Cook Inlet.

Let's consider the facts, as stubborn as they may be: Massive amounts of CH4 or methane – natural gas' main component – naturally rise from seeps and permafrost across Alaska. While the closely managed Cook Inlet incident is comparatively like a snowflake in a blizzard, harshly anti-energy activists are in overdrive using the event as a springboard for their extremist agenda to shut down energy development.

And while activists frequently claim that energy companies put profits ahead of the environment, the facts couldn't be further from the truth. After all, protecting the environment is good for business.

State environmental regulators have made it clear that the current icy conditions around the natural gas leak prevent divers from safely accessing the 8-inch natural gas pipeline in Cook Inlet. What's more, gas flow has been dramatically reduced in the pipe, and there have been no quantifiable environmental or wildlife impacts.

When the weather cooperates, the natural gas line will be quickly repaired, a course of action that has been approved by both federal and state regulators. Unfortunately, fringe environmental groups refuse to accept this pragmatic solution, calling for risky and costly shutdowns.

For environmentalists, who generate much of their funding on Arctic-related energy issues, the potential payoff is huge. The activist overreach explains why a comparatively minor gas leak is seen, through their eyes, as a payday.

Indeed, attempting to block any proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects now appears to be the go-to tactic for activists. You only need to look at the countless protests over the Keystone XL, Dakota Access and other pipelines to see that all too often they have chosen blanket obstructionism as their preferred approach.

Natural gas has surpassed the once-dominant fuel source – and it's here to stay.

Having lost – and lost badly – in their well-funded efforts to ban fracking, which has delivered the single most important economic stimulus that America has experienced in many decades, fringe environmentalist are reassessing their failed strategies and tactics with an eye on energy infrastructure.

The most recent example is the campaign being waged by New York City ultra-liberal Josh Fox, who directed a widely debunked anti-fracking propaganda film, to block the appointment of new commissioners to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that overseas many large-scale energy projects.

Fox's goal isn't to just block new commissioners – it's to throw sand in the gears of the regulatory process aimed at harming American energy development, which is part of our economy's lifeblood.

Activists cling onto the smallest issues and work to manufacture full-blown assaults on domestic energy production as well as the hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs the industry supports. It's their bread and butter. Yet as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The response to the minor Cook Inlet leak is just the latest example.


Trump Administration Is Right: Open the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository

Some 70,000 metric tons to nuclear waste is still sitting at nuclear power plants

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited the mothballed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository site in Nevada on Monday. Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General by Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asserting that federal government violated the law in failing to complete the licensing process for permanent storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. President Donald Trump's proposed budget allocates $120 million to restart the licensing process for the facility.

In 1982 Congress committed to finding a permanent site to handle the nuclear waste produced by America's nuclear power plants. In 1987, Congress designated Yucca Mountain as that site and something like $15 billion has been spent on readying it since it was selected. In 2002, the final environmental impact statement concluded that nuclear waste could be safely stored there for at least 10,000 years. The final supplemental environmental impact statement in 2008 came to the same conclusion. When it comes to highly politicized topics, nothing is ever really final final about decisions made by federal bureaucracies. So in 2010, President Barack Obama directed the DOE to close the facility as a favor to Nevada's Sen. Harry Reid.

Despite the Obama administration's attempt to kill the project, in 2013 the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to resume its review of the license application for Yucca Mountain. The court observed that the agency "is simply defying a law enacted by Congress, and the Commission is doing so without any legal basis." In May 2016, the NRC finally issued its assessment that noted:

This supplement evaluates the potential radiological and nonradiological impacts—over a one million year period—on the aquifer environment, soils, ecology, and public health, as well as the potential for disproportionate impacts on minority or low-income populations. In addition, this supplement assesses the potential for cumulative impacts associated with other past, present, or reasonably foreseeable future actions. The NRC staff finds that each of the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the resources evaluated in this supplement would be SMALL.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requires nuclear power plant operators to pay a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour to the government in return for the DOE taking responsibility for spent nuclear fuel. As of 2014 when the Obama administration stopped collecting the fees, the power plants had paid $31 billion to the government to take care of their waste. Some 70,000 metric tons of nuclear waste is still sitting at their plants.

It's well past time to start the process of opening up Yucca Mountain.


Poverty--Not Affluence--Is Greatest Threat to Environment

By E. Calvin Beisner

President Trump’s “Executive Order on Energy Independence” will save the American people hundreds of billions of dollars every year that would have been wasted on purely symbolic efforts under former President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” and other regulations.

Former President Barack Obama justified those regulations by claiming they would reduce global warming. But in reality, even according to his Environmental Protection Agency’s calculations, they would achieve no measurable reduction in global warming.

President Trump’s executive order will open the door to more development of America’s abundant resources of hydrocarbon fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—leading to lower energy prices, benefiting producers and consumers alike, and more jobs in those and related industries, while reducing our imports from unfriendly nations, and consequently their ability to finance ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other jihadist terror organizations.

The order will also set a precedent that other countries will follow, sparing their citizens, too, from the crushing costs of pointless policies to mitigate global warming.

I told the 12th International Conference on Climate Change, meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, the greatest threat to the environment is not affluence; it’s poverty. And the second greatest threat is tight government controls over what people do. Trump’s order promotes both greater prosperity and greater freedom, and so also a cleaner, more healthful, more beautiful environment.

Many people think government regulation is the chief protector of our environment. In reality, governments have much worse environmental records than private businesses and individuals. Property owners have incentive to take care of what they own so it serves them and their heirs for generations to come. Politicians’ top incentive is to get re-elected.

The executive order not only paves the way for the EPA to undo most or all of the “Clean Power Plan” but also

lifts a short-term ban on new leases for coal mining on public lands;

effectively blocks fulfillment of U.S. intentions under the Paris climate agreement;

requires recalculation of the “social cost of carbon,” probably resulting in low levels that would make it difficult to justify regulations restricting carbon dioxide emissions on a cost/benefit basis; and

eliminates a requirement that all federal agencies include climate-change effects in calculating costs and benefits of future environmental permits.

The order is both pro-energy and pro-environment, stops the EPA from picking winners and losers in the energy sector, and requires the EPA to pass rules that are within the framework that Congress has established—violation of which was a major reason that, as Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt was party to lawsuits against the EPA.


The liberal hysteria over global warming is hard for normal people to comprehend

Leftists don’t worry about deficits or about terrorists who are looking for any way to kill Americans. They don’t care about the health care costs they drove into the stratosphere, the way teachers’ unions have ruined public education, or the out-of-control growth of the federal government that takes more of our money and freedom every day.

However, the possibility of global warming 100 years from now freaks them the hell out. Then the rest of us get treated to people -- who don’t know anything about global warming other than “I heard it is scientific consensus” and “What about the polar bears?” -- screaming about how the rest of us are wrecking the planet.

Settle down, snowflake! There’s no reason to panic over global warming. Why?

1) There Is Actually No Scientific Consensus On Global Warming. The idea that 97% of scientists buy into the idea that global warming is happening and that it’s caused by man is simply untrue. For example, “A 2012 poll of American Meteorological Society members also reported a diversity of opinion. Of the 1,862 members who responded (a quarter of the organization), 59 percent stated that human activity was the primary cause of global warming, and 11 percent attributed the phenomenon to human activity and natural causes in about equal measure, while just under a quarter (23 percent) said enough is not yet known to make any determination.”

Then, last year, it was found that, “Nearly six in ten climate scientists don’t adhere to the so-called ‘consensus’ on man-made climate change, a new study by the Dutch government has found.” Do the majority of scientists buy into the idea of man-made global warming? Probably. But that’s a far cry from some “scientific consensus” that all of us should respect.

2) Even If Global Warming Is Happening And Mankind Is Responsible, It May Still Make Sense To Do Nothing.

Bjorn Lomberg has been the main proponent of this line of reasoning, so here’s an excerpt from him on the subject.

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls climate change ‘perhaps the most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,’ and claims that unless we act, it could pose ‘the most catastrophic, grave threats in the history of human life.’ Yet, the UN Climate Panel finds the total cost of climate change by the 2070s is less than 2% of GDP. This means global warming is a problem, but it is not by any means the end of the world. Its cost is equivalent to a single year of recession over the next 60 years.

Compare it to the very real challenges that the world faces right now. The world’s biggest environmental problem is indoor air pollution, which the World Health Organization estimate kills 4.3-million people each year. Almost 3 billion people cook and keep warm with polluting, open fires. The solution is to get cheap energy to the poorest half of the world, which inevitably means mostly fossil fuels.”

Put another way, obsessing over global warming is like worrying about a broken fingernail after you’re hit by a bus that breaks a dozen bones. If we’re going to pour titanic amounts of money, time and effort into something, global warming should be pretty far down the list.

3) Global Warming Theories Are More Art Than Science. We live in a world where scientists can’t tell us for sure whether it’s going to rain TOMORROW, but yet we still have people assuring us of what the weather is going to be like in 100 years. Wait, is that too much of a cheap shot? Then how about noting the fact that climate models used to predict global warming have been consistently and egregiously wrong for decades.

Climate models used by scientists to predict how much human activities will warm the planet have been over-predicting global warming for the last six decades, according to a recent working paper by climate scientists.

Michaels and Knappenberger compared observed global surface temperature warming rates since 1950 to what was predicted by 108 climate models used by government climate scientists to predict how much carbon dioxide emissions will warm the planet.

What they found was the models projected much higher warming rates than actually occurred.

...'This is a devastating indictment of climate model performance,” Michaels and Knappenberger write. “For periods of time longer than about 20 years, the observed trends from all data sources fall beneath the lower bound which contains 95 percent of all model trends and in the majority of cases, falls beneath even the absolute smallest trend found in any of the 102 climate model runs.'

What people don’t want to tell you is that no one really understands how our climate works. Don’t get me wrong, there are scientists who know an enormous amount about it, but there are huge gaps in their knowledge that make it impossible for them to predict what’s going to happen long term. Unfortunately, you don’t get on TV and get piles of grant money for saying, “There’s no way to know much about global warming until we can better understand the climate.”

4) We Don’t Have A Good Way To Even Know What Temperatures Were Centuries Ago. You often hear claims that every year is supposedly the “hottest on record.” Yet, we only started doing meaningful worldwide measurements in 1880 and many of those early numbers are considered to be unreliable. I guess the hottest year since 1880 – maybe – just doesn’t have the same ring. Moreover, much of the data from those early reports has been massaged to produce questionable results. For example, you can make a good case that the hottest years in the United States were in the mid-1930s, not today. Moreover, there’s a lot of speculation that may or may not be accurate that goes into the data. If you look at the “record breaking” heat of 2016, you find that it may not be “record breaking” at all.

But in reality, there’s just not much data at the poles. here are no permanent thermometers at the North Pole, since sea ice drifts are unstable, and melt in the summer, as they have for millennia. Weather stations can’t be permanent in the Arctic Ocean. So, the data is often interpolated from the nearest land-based thermometers.

...So you can see that much of the claims of 'global record heat' hinge on interpolating the Arctic temperature data where there is none.

...As for the Continental USA, which has fantastically dense thermometer coverage as seen above, we were not even close to a record year according to NOAA’s own data.

In other words, if you look at the reliable data we actually have, 2016 wasn’t even close to a record-breaking year. So, we get claims that it’s extremely warm in areas where there’s dodgy data, and that means it’s the “hottest year on record.” Do we really want to spend trillions of dollars and change our entire way of life based on that?

5) We’re In The Middle Of A Global Warming “Pause.” How can we be in a “pause” if liberals are claiming we just broke a new record every year? Because these “record-breaking years” are within the statistical margin of error. For example, no one can say definitively that 2016 was warmer than 1998.

This is a controversial topic, and there are plenty of liberals claiming that the global warming pause has been disproved – except it hasn’t. In fact, if the climate models were accurate – 2016 would have blown right past the 1998 numbers. Since it hasn’t, anyone who really cares about science – as opposed to just using it as a political cudgel – should be asking some hard questions.


Australia: Greenie opposition to big new coal mine (of course)

All reasonable objections have been taken into account by years of investigation by State and Federal governments.  But Greenies are not into "reasonable".  Note that it is a LEFTIST State government which has just given approval

SOON Australians will be asked to take sides as the opposition to the Adani coal mine reaches a crucial crunch point.

The owners of the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland are due to make a final decision on its future after six years of delay caused by legal challenges to the $21.7 billion project.

The State Government this week gave Adani the final approval it needs to go ahead with the mine, a water licence that will give it access to 9.5 billion litres of groundwater.

A Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokesman said modelling assessed by the department found up to 4.55 gigalitres of groundwater could be taken per year.

“In granting this licence, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines has carefully considered a broad range of information,” he told in a statement.

He said Adani would have to fairly compensate landholders for impacts on water resources, and there were 100 conditions relating to groundwater.

On Friday, the head of Indian mining giant Adani said the company was ready to start construction this year.

Adani Mining chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj told a business lunch in Brisbane that the company expected to start engineering work on a rail line the mine needs to transport its coal to Abbott Point by June, and to start major construction by September.

While he was defending the mine against environmental concerns, about 200 protesters gathered outside the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane’s CBD to voice their opposition.

It’s just the first stage in what is expected to be a relentless battle.

While the “lawfare” may be wrapping up, environment groups say the matter is far from over, and will actually ramp up their efforts in coming months.

More than 4000 people attended #StopAdani roadshow events across Australia., with dozens of new groups forming to stop the mine from going ahead.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown is leading the next stage of the fight against the mine and has described the campaign as this generation’s Franklin River, referring to the decades-long protest movement that eventually stopped the Tasmanian river being dammed in 1983.

“This is the environmental issue of our times and, for one, the Great Barrier Reef is at stake,” Mr Brown recently wrote in an opinion piece.

Alongside millionaire businessman Geoff Cousins, a former Howard government adviser, Mr Brown announced that 13 community groups would form the Stop Adani Alliance to oppose the mine.

If the previous track record of the two leaders is anything to go by, Adani should be very worried.

Mr Cousins was also involved in the successful campaign to stop the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania and the proposed Woodside gas hub in the Kimberley.

Before he was the Greens leader, Mr Brown led the non-violent campaign against the Franklin Dam.

Now the duo have their sights set on Adani.
Dr Bob Brown speaks to Tasmanians at a protest rally in 1983 to stop the Franklin Dam being built. Picture: Andrew de la Rue.

Dr Bob Brown speaks to Tasmanians at a protest rally in 1983 to stop the Franklin Dam being built. Picture: Andrew de la Rue.Source:News Corp Australia

They are already being supported by prominent Australians including Australian Test cricket captains Ian and Greg Chappell, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks and rock group Midnight Oil, who signed a letter to Adani chairman Gautam Adani, urging him to abandon the project

Adani however rejected the demand as “a motivated attempt by a very small group of 76 misled people”, the Press Trust of India reported.

While there are a couple of outstanding legal issues, including an appeal in the Federal Court and a bill that needs to be passed in Parliament, the mine looks to be on track.

The last major government approval needed is a water licence and the State Government is expected to announce its decision in the next few days.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland said the mine would be a big win for the state’s central and northern regions, particularly for Townsville where the project’s headquarters is expected to be located.

Charters Towers and Moranbah have also been earmarked as service centres for the mines, while Bowen is expected to be the base for rail construction.

“It’s about supporting our regions and not leaving them behind, creating new jobs and supporting our youth,” CCIQ policy adviser Catherine Pham said.

“Projects such as Adani is definitely a win for our regions, but all Queenslanders should see the positive economic impacts of the project once it kicks off.”

Not everyone agrees. GetUp environmental justice campaign director Miriam Lyons said Adani was a reckless company that threatened people’s lives and livelihoods across Australia.



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   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


No comments: