Monday, February 18, 2019

Mitch McConnell Forces Democrats Into A Senate Vote on Green Deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that he’ll bring up progressives’ widely mocked Green New Deal for a vote. The move is often used as a political tactic, which would force several Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to go on the record either for or against the radical proposal that has a massive scope and cost.

According to Politico, McConnell told reporters, “I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate. We’ll give everybody a chance to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — who are running for president in 2020 — have all endorsed a resolution in support of the Green New Deal introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also expressed his support for the initiative, but has not formally announced whether he will run for president in 2020.

The Green New Deal was introduced with great fanfare last week, as dozens of members of Congress gathered for a news conference to roll out the sweeping new initiative aimed at weaning the U.S. completely off fossil fuels over the next decade.

The rest of the details of the plan are muddled, after a widely mocked summary of the Green New Deal was published and subsequently removed by staffers of Ocasio-Cortez, promising jobs for people “unwilling to work” and vowing to get rid of “cow farts.” Days later, the congresswoman’s chief of staff called the release of the document a mistake, saying it “doesn’t represent the [Green New Deal] resolution,” the New York Times reported.

Regardless, Ocasio-Cortez has admitted that implementing her multi-trillion-dollar proposal would require “massive government intervention,” which the average American voter may not be willing to get behind.


Rep. Escobar Wants to Be Sure New Border Fence Doesn't 'Stop Wildlife'

She said she does not oppose certain types of fencing, as long as those fences "don't stop wildlife, don't harm wildlife, but are a tool for Border Patrol to stop vehicles."

Among other things, the deal produced by a congressional conference committee gives President Donald Trump $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fencing.

"Are you okay with 55 miles of new fencing along the border?" Willie Geist, an MSNBC "Morning Joe" contributor, asked Escobar Wednesday morning:

"You know, Willie, I need to know what kind of fencing, honestly," said Escobar, who is from the border city of El Paso:

"Because what we've seen in Homeland Security bills on the border, we've seen fencing being replaced, we've seen fencing going up. I am not anti, you know, the Normandy fencing out in the rural areas, things that -- that don't stop wildlife, don't harm wildlife, but are a tool for Border Patrol to stop vehicles. So I need to know what kind of fencing exactly it is."

Escobar, speaking about the broader deal, said she wants to know, "does it have investment in the ports? Does it have investments in judges? Does it have investments in the kind of humanitarian needs that we're seeing on the U.S.-Mexico border right now.

"And then finally, one of the most important points for me, and I know for the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, does it invest in the Northern Triangle so we can begin to stem the flow of families leaving very insecure and violent places so that we can actually get to the root of the issue, something the president has never even bothered to talk about.

"So there is still a lot for me to review before I say whether or not I support it," Escobar said.

Escobar accused the Trump administration of "cruelty" in the way it is treating "those coming to our front door, seeking legal asylum."

"In El Paso, we are still seeing hundreds of families arriving each day," Escobar said. She praised her community for receiving the asylum seeks with "kindness and generosity."

"But I'll tell you, as soon as the weather starts warming up, we are going to probably see even more families arriving at our doorstep, which is why it's really important that we deal with the root causes of migration and not just deal with them via cruelty, which is essentially the Trump administration response."

Escobar said improving living conditions in Central America is the key to stemming the flow of migration:

"We saw Mexican males, their migration, or their trying to enter the country decreased when their economy improved, when unemployment improved. If we do the same with other countries, then people can stay in a safe and secure place.

"They are running from a place where they can no longer live to a place they knowing that running to a place where they're not wanted. Can you imagine the desperation?" Escobar asked.


Green New Deal Would Barely Change Earth’s Temperature. Here Are the Facts

Here’s the most important fact about the Green New Deal: It wouldn’t work. Ultimately, fully implementing the Green New Deal would have no meaningful impact on global temperatures.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., released their much-anticipated blueprint for a Green New Deal Thursday.

And make no mistake: If implemented, the Green New Deal would bring huge changes to our country. According to an FAQ put out by Ocasio-Cortez’s office, this new deal is “a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The plan additionally asks Americans to “upgrade or replace every building in U.S. for state-of-the-art energy efficiency” and to “build out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

That’s not even all. Far from being just an energy and climate resolution, the Green New Deal resolution is a wish list for big government spending, expansive government control, and massive amounts of wealth distribution.  As Ocasio-Cortez told NPR, “the heart of the Green New Deal is about social justice.”

Ultimately, this deal would fundamentally change how people produce and consume energy, harvest crops, raise livestock, build homes, drive cars, travel long distances, and manufacture goods. And it wouldn’t even work.

Green New Deal Wouldn’t Change Climate Significantly

But here’s the key thing: Even if Americans were on board with this radical change in behavior and lifestyle, it wouldn’t change our climate.

In fact, the U.S. could cut its carbon dioxide emissions 100 percent and it would not make a difference in abating global warming.

Using the same climate sensitivity (the warming effect of a doubling of carbon dioxide emissions) as the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assumes in its modeling, the world would be only 0.137 degree Celsius cooler by 2100. Even if we assumed every other industrialized country would be equally on board, this would merely avert warming by 0.278 degree Celsius by the turn of the century.

One of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions is developing countries.

But while one of the priorities of the Green New Deal is to make the U.S. a lead exporter in green technologies, assuming developing countries will forgo cheap, abundant carbon dioxide-emitting energy for more expensive intermittent sources is pure fantasy.

Yes, developing countries will likely expand their use of renewable power sources over time, but not to the extent it will have any meaningful impact on global temperatures. While some countries are shuttering their coal-fired plants, others in both developed and developing countries are building new plants and expanding the life of existing generators.

After all, affordable, reliable, and widely available energy is essential to lifting people out of poverty and improving the life, health, and comfort of people trying to reach a better standard of living. 

Americans Could Face Hundreds of Dollars in New Energy Costs Monthly

But not only would the Green New Deal be ineffective, it would also almost certainly impose steep costs on Americans, via increased energy bills.

The resolution calls for deriving 100 percent of America’s electricity from “clean, renewable, and zero-emission” energy sources—a steep increase from the 63 percent of electricity that came from carbon dioxide-emitting conventional fuels in 2017. Nuclear power was responsible for another 20 percent. But, according to the FAQ sheet, “The Green New Deal makes new fossil fuel infrastructure or nuclear plants unnecessary. This is a massive mobilization of all our resources into renewable energies.”

The proposal also calls for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and other infrastructure as much as technologically feasible. Yet, as recently as 2017, petroleum accounted for 92 percent of America’s transportation fuel.

To achieve these targets, the resolution proposes a massive government spending program in addition to carbon dioxide taxes, subsidies, and regulation. How are Americans going to pay for it?

Don’t worry, the FAQ answers that one: “We will finance the investments for the Green New Deal the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich, and decades of war—with public money appropriated by Congress. Further, government can take an equity stake in Green New Deal projects so the public gets a return on its investment.”

Credibly estimating the cost of the Green New Deal for American taxpayers, households, and businesses is exceedingly difficult. Even projecting the cost of switching to 100 percent renewable power for electricity relies on a set of largely unknowable assumptions. How companies would make large-scale investments to meet the mandate and how intermittent power sources would receive backup power is mostly a guessing game.

Technological challenges aside, the upfront capital costs would reach trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars of energy existing assets (coal, nuclear, natural gas plants, etc.) would be stranded and lost.

In effect, the result would be households potentially paying hundreds of dollars more per month in their electricity bill.

Green New Deal Could Lead to Millions of Lost Jobs

Even more concerning, the direct impact from higher energy costs is just a small part of the story. Energy is a necessary input for nearly all of the goods and services consumers buy. Consequently, Americans will pay more for food, health care, education, clothes, and every other good or service that requires energy to make and transport.

In fact, Heritage Foundation economists used the Heritage Energy Model, a derivative of the Energy Information Administration’s National Energy Modeling System, to model the economic impacts of a carbon tax, which Green New Deal advocates admit would only be one tiny fraction of the entire plan.

Each carbon tax analysis found an average shortfall of hundreds of thousands of jobs with peak year unemployment reaching over 1 million jobs lost and half the job losses coming in energy-intensive manufacturing industries.

Over a 20-year period, the total income loss would be tens of thousands of dollars and the aggregate gross domestic product loss would be over $2.5 trillion. If policymakers spent, taxed, and regulated to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for America’s transportation, agricultural, and industrial sectors, the costs would be several orders of magnitude higher.

Importantly, Americans have little appetite to pay such costs. In fact, a recent Associated Press poll found that 68 percent of Americans oppose paying an additional $10 per month to fight climate change. The protests in France are quite indicative of how people feel about costly climate policies.

The Broad Scope of the Green New Deal

Furthermore, the Green New Deal would affect a lot more than energy. Guaranteeing high quality health care, education, and a job with a family-sustaining wage are all part of this new deal.

And don’t forget the egregious amount of spending that would result in energy cronyism and corporate welfare on steroids—essentially, taxpayer dollars from hardworking families going to line the pockets of companies like Tesla and Solyndra.

Don’t worry, though. These Green New Deal proponents do admit they can’t quite get everything done in 10 years. According to the FAQ sheet:

We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero.

Moderation itself.

In the end, this massive government-planned, taxpayer-funded plan is a raw deal for Americans—and a totally ineffective climate policy.


The Green New Deal’s toughest transition will be returning its supporters to reality

The Green New Deal's timeline is a challenge because there is substantial inertia built into economies. Replacing working, costly infrastructure and technology won't happen for decades.

A central part of this new deal is the proposal that the U.S. eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas by 2030. As fossil fuels now account for 80 per cent of American energy consumption, the Green New Deal would entail a profound and rapid “decarbonization,” or transformation of the energy economy to alternative fuels.

In a report published this week by the U.K Global Warming Policy Foundation, I describe the problems that governments would have to address if they seriously were to attempt to manage a transition such as that proposed in the Green New Deal.

Historically, the availability and use of energy sources was determined largely by geography and technology. The changes over time followed a pattern in which diffuse energy sources, such as wood, that needed large areas of land to produce, were replaced by denser ones, such as oil and natural gas. The choice as to which new technology to adopt was made in energy markets; generally, the technologies and fuels that offered more advantages in terms of cost, performance and reliability won out. Past transitions were slow, painstaking and difficult to predict.

There has been much recent academic research on the timescales involved. Professor Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba is a leading authority in the field and suggests that a timeframe of 50 to 70 years or longer is normal. This is because there is substantial inertia built into economies. Important capital goods and infrastructure have long economic lives; cars may average lives of only 10 years, but the average lives of other assets can be much longer — 30 years for locomotives, 35 to 80 years for electricity-generating plants, and 50 to 100 years for bridges and dams. Typically, hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars of society’s capital are invested in these assets. Replacing them because a new technology arrives would impose enormous costs, which would be even higher to the degree that the technology is immature or unproven.

The likely high cost of decarbonization has been amply demonstrated in the case of renewable energy. In Germany, the costs of transition from coal and nuclear energy to wind and solar plants has already exceeded $1 trillion, with so far only modest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Those who foresee rapid decarbonization assume that all economic sectors and services can be electrified and that electricity can be delivered by intermittent renewable energy sources. Yet today, the technologies needed to make this feasible, especially affordable grid-scale electricity storage, do not exist. This is especially so in transportation, where the high energy density of oil products makes them the ideal source of motive power. Decarbonization involves reversing the historic transition from less dense to more dense energy sources, and thus major changes in the land requirements for energy production.

At the core of the policy thrust for rapid decarbonization is the view that people cannot be relied upon freely to make the right decisions as to which fuels to buy and sell and that governments must adopt policies and regulations to force the pace of change. Successful planning decisions concerning future energy supplies would depend on governments being able to judge future energy market conditions and prices in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive world.

The question is whether governments have the information needed to make good decisions about which products, services and technologies are the right ones. The history of government economic regulation, industrial planning and ultimately central planning of the economy has generally been one of failure far more often than success.


Australia: NSW government projects big jump in coal shipments

The Greenies are squawking but in view of Australia being a relatively short and direct sail from Japan, Korea, China and India, the projection is a reasonable one and may be understated.  Asia still likes coal

The Berejiklian government is projecting NSW will sharply increase coal shipments over coming decades, a forecast increase at odds with international climate goals and its own target for the state to reach net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.

Figures used for the NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 and obtained by the Greens, show transport projections out to 2056 also imply thermal coal use will increase by 2036 - even though four of the state's five remaining coal-fired power plants are scheduled to have closed by then.

Annual shipments of coal for domestic power generation would rise from 23 million tonnes in 2016 to 24 million tonnes in 2036. They will drop only to 21 million tonnes by 2056 - a date well beyond the expected life of all existing plants.

The government's figures, prepared in 2017-18 by Transport for NSW's analytics team, are even more bullish about exports of both thermal and coking coal.

The former is forecast to rise steadily from 139 million tonnes in 2016 to 158 million tonnes by 2056, counter to expectations that thermal coal use will have to be cut if Paris climate goals - including net-zero emissions by developed nations by about 2050 - are to be met.

Coking coal, used to make steel, would almost double over the 40 years to 47 million tonnes by these predictions.

Even though nations burning NSW coal are accountable for the resulting emissions, the extraction and transport of the fossil fuel are sizeable contributors to the state's own pollution. The Berejiklian government has an aspirational goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The NSW Minerals Council says the state is well-placed to grab a share of increased Asian demand for thermal coal that might top 400 million tonnes by 2030, citing researcher Commodity Insights.

But Tim Buckley, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said growth forecasts for coal imply the world ignores the Paris targets.

"Under its Sustainable Development Scenario, the International Energy Agency forecasts seaborne thermal coal would decline by 65 per cent by 2040, and cease by 2050," Mr Buckley said.

"It is telling that NSW government forecasts for coal demand are entirely consistent with the 'forecasts' of the Minerals Council of Australia, a group that releases a 50-page 2018 report forecasting a rosy picture for thermal coal demand over the coming decades, but without even mentioning climate change," he said.

Mr Buckley said Japan currently takes 44 per cent of the state's thermal coal exports but major companies are already planning to reduce coal use. Itochu, a trading giant, last week announced it would stop developing new coal-fired power plants and thermal coal mines - a move marking "a major pivot" for the company, he said.

The NSW Minerals Council is pushing for NSW to back new coal-fired power plants, saying "multiple sets of polling conducted by the industry show greater than 60 per cent support", according to its election policy priorities.

A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said it was "uncertain whether the existing coal power stations in Australia are being closed down without like-replacement". "The Commonwealth government is considering the bids, which include coal-fired power stations," she said.



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