Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Alaska Senator: We Can’t Build ‘a Simple Road’ Without ‘Radical Extreme Environmental Groups’ Suing Us

Members of Congress who claim that building “a simple road” in his state will harm wildlife, like the porcupine caribou, “don’t know what they’re talking about,” Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan (R) told in an exclusive interview last Wednesday.

“No offense to my colleagues here, but they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Sen. Sullivan said. “There was this notion that the porcupine caribou herd was going to be hurt by a road - that’s literally absurd. That was the big thing that everyone was saying when we built the trans-Atlantic pipeline system and the caribou herd increased four-fold.”

“So, a lot of this, unfortunately, I think is driven by their desire to fundraise and environmental groups’ desire to fundraise off this kind of stuff, so it’s a never-ending battle,” Sullivan said.

“These issues pop up on a regular basis, where you have, you know, my colleagues, but to be honest, most of my Democratic colleagues who take a lot of interest in what I think is shutting down building infrastructure, resource development in my state,” Sullivan told “It frustrates me and it’s kind of across-the-board in a number of issues.”

“The irony, of course, is that Alaska has the highest environmental standards of literally, probably anyplace in the world - for resource development, for oil and gas development, for mining, for building roads. And yet, as I like to say, we’re a resource-rich, but infrastructure-poor state,” Sullivan said.

“Whenever you try to just build a simple road in Alaska - most Americans just take that for granted - but we’ll have, several what I would consider radical extreme environmental groups sue to stop it. Happens all the time.”

In June, Sen. Sullivan shared a Twitter video from a meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee highlighting his frustration with how environmental activists and some of his colleagues’ attempt to obstruct construction of infrastructure in his state.

During the hearing, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) claimed that a proposed plan to build a road in Alaska would have “a huge impact” on the migration of the western Arctic caribou and told Sullivan he expected him to “work with us to make sure that damage does not occur.”

Committee member Sullivan responded by saying he was astounded that the Massachusetts senator singled out Alaska when Markey’s home state is much smaller, but still has three times as many roads.

“Unfortunately, radical environmental groups always do this ‘Oh, my God, everything’s going to die,’ when you build a road, a damn road,” Sullivan said, “In most states, you can build a road anywhere you want. You don’t have 80 environmental groups suing to stop it, but in my state, you try to build one damn road, and you’ll have so many outside groups that don’t care about my constituents suing to stop the road.”

The state of Alaska has some unique infrastructure challenges. It is the largest state in the nation, two and a half times the size of the second-largest state (Texas), and almost 500 times the size of Rhode Island, the smallest state. Most of the state is wilderness, and its major cities tend to be far apart. Its largest city, Anchorage, is almost 600 miles away from its capital of Juneau and over 350 miles from Fairbank. In spite of this distance, or perhaps, because of it, there are very few roads connecting the major population centers.


Americans Reject Bill for Climate 'Mitigation'

And make no mistake: The cost will eventually hit everyday Americans in the wallet.

Climate anxiety has apparently reached such a critical juncture for some people that there exists a climate guide, courtesy of the American Psychological Association/ecoAmerica, to ameliorate the panic. Reuters hits on this concern in a new report by claiming, “Nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, want the United States to take ‘aggressive’ action to combat climate change.”

There’s just one problem: “Only a third would support an extra tax of $100 a year to help, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday.” In other words, most people oppose scraping together less than $10 a month — which is comparable to many subscription services including television streaming — for an issue that evidently creates near-universal trepidation.

And who’s to blame them? Yet there’s plenty of irony in this, especially when presidential candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris claim, as she did during Thursday night’s debate: “What is the greatest national security threat to the United States? It’s Donald Trump. And I’m gonna tell you why. Because I agree: Climate change represents an existential threat. [Trump] denies the science.”

If Trump denies the science, then Democrats deny the math. Even if we assume that global warming is man-made — and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest it’s far more complex than that — it’s plainly evident that, economically speaking, there is a huge lack of decisive concern among voters. Several Democrat lawmakers envision climate-mitigation programs that add up to trillions upon trillions of dollars. In case you haven’t noticed, the U.S. can’t exactly afford that. According to the Reuters poll, most Americans can’t either — or they simply don’t want to waste their hard-earned money.

Of course, the reality is that the average Joe may claim to have concerns about the climate, but when push comes to shove, even they understand the situation isn’t as dire as alarmism and the accompanying pollaganda make it out to be. Democrats may get around this by assuring their constituents that it’s the obligation of “the wealthy” and Big Oil to pony up. But voters and consumers need to understand that those costs, one way or another, eventually circle back to them.

And let’s not lose sight of the biggest problem of all: There is absolutely no guarantee that these “green” programs will actually benefit the climate. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proved that there are ulterior motives at work with the Green New Deal, the impact of which, by the way, “would be barely distinguishable from zero,” according to the American Enterprise Institute. Which just goes to show that talk is cheap. If only politicians were as hesitant as their constituents are to spend $100 on a contentious issue.


U.S. Oil Output Tops 12 Million Barrels a Day for First Time

U.S. crude output soared to new heights in April, highlighting OPEC’s dilemma just days before the producer group meets amid growing geopolitical threats.

A government report on Friday showed U.S. production grew 2.1% in April to 12.16 million barrels a day. Booming shale production from places like the Permian basin of West Texas have enabled U.S. oil output to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia.

At the same time, trade disputes and escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf have clouded the outlook for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which is expected to extend current output cuts next week.

“It really means that OPEC has to make a decision to balance the market or shale will do it for them,” said Jim Lucier, managing director of Washington, D.C.-based Capital Alpha Partners LLC. “Despite all the talk about Wall Street forcing capital discipline, we’re not seeing any diminishing production yet.”

Crude output from the Permian is expected to jump 50% by 2025, according to BloombergNEF. ESAI Energy forecasts crude and condensate from the Bakken, another prolific play, will surpass record output into next year.


The math behind “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking”

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor, policymaker or pundit joining the rush to demand, or predict, an energy future that is entirely based on wind/solar and batteries, freed from the “burden” of the hydrocarbons that have fueled societies for centuries. Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.”

He’s right. So, in my recent Manhattan Institute report, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” I did just that.

Herein, then, is a summary of some of bottom-line realities from the underlying math. (See the full report for explanations, documentation and citations.)

Realities About the Scale of Energy Demand

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80% of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.

2. The small two percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use entailed over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period; solar and wind today supply less than 2% of the global energy.

3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace 5% of global oil demand.

5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” 10-fold.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

7. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would leave untouched 70% of U.S. hydrocarbons use—America uses 16% of world energy.

8. Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, global energy efficiency improved 33%, the economy grew 80% and global energy use is up 40%.

9. Efficiency increases energy demand: Since 1995, aviation fuel use/passenger-mile is down 70%, air traffic rose more than 10-fold, and global aviation fuel use rose over 50%.

10. Efficiency increases energy demand: since 1995, energy used per byte is down about 10,000-fold, but global data traffic rose about a million-fold; global electricity used for computing soared.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50%, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.

12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.

13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.

14. To make enough batteries to store two-day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year—and rising.

16. Every $1 billion spent on datacenters leads to $7 billion in electricity consumed over two decades. Global spending on datatcenters is more than $100 billion a year—and rising.

Realities About Energy Economics

17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh respectively: $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hour, the shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

20. Cost models for wind and solar assume, respectively, 41% and 29% capacity factors (i.e., how often they produce electricity). Real-world data reveal as much as 10 percentage points less for both. That translates into $3 million less energy produced than assumed over a 20-year life of a 2-MW $3 million wind turbine.

21. In order to compensate for episodic wind/solar output, U.S. utilities are using oil- and gas-burning reciprocating engines (big cruise-ship-like diesels); three times as many have been added to the grid since 2000 as in the 50 years prior to that.

22. Wind-farm capacity factors have improving at about 0.7% per year; this small gain comes mainly from reducing the number of turbines per acre leading to 50% increase in average land used to produce a wind-kilowatt-hour.

23. Over 90% of America’s electricity, and 99% of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market demands it.

24. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25%–30% of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

25. The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70% of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20% since 2008. Direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind consumed those savings.

Energy Physics… Inconvenient Realities

26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

27. The common cliché: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliché is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

28. If solar power scaled like computer-tech, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. That only happens in comic books.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

30. If combustion engines scaled like computers, a car engine would shrink to the size of an ant and produce a thousand-fold more horsepower; actual ant-sized engines produce 100,000 times less power.

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33% of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26%.

32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60% of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45%.

33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500% greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.

34. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.

35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.

36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

37. Carrying the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would require $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.

38. It takes the energy-equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.

39. A battery-centric grid and car world means mining gigatons more of the earth to access lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, cobalt, etc.—and using millions of tons of oil and coal both in mining and to fabricate metals and concrete.

40. China dominates global battery production with its grid 70% coal-fueled: EVs using Chinese batteries will create more carbon-dioxide than saved by replacing oil-burning engines.

41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel—doable with elaborately expensive logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.


Prominent Australian Greenie seeks $500,000 to train anti-coalmine activists

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched a last-ditch effort to halt the planned Adani coal mine, rallying supporters to raise half a million dollars to purchase land to establish a base to train activists and plan protests against the mine.

Dr Brown, whose ‘Stop Adani’ anti-coal convoy through central Queensland during the election campaign has been credited with increasing a swing towards the Coalition, yesterday launched a crowdfunding page with a group, Friends of the Galilee Basin, to establish a “last line of defence” anti-Adani campaign headquarters in regional Queensland.

The target is to raise $500,000 to set up “a base for the campaign” at Binbee to “ensure that people can keep protecting country and put their bodies on the frontline”.

“Having a safe camp to train activists and plan protests is critical to getting thousands to the frontline.” the crowdfunding page states.

“Despite outcry from the scientific community, the Australian government has given the Adani Coal mine the final tick of approval.

“The good news is there are people on the frontline who are prepared to protect water, community and living systems to leave a safe planet for future generations.

“So far activists have helped to delay, disrupt and reduce the size of the Adani mega mine for over 5 years. Now is the time to come together and stop it for good.

“Mass civil disobedience is our last position to stop Adani in one of the biggest environmental battles in Australian history.” it said.

The campaign had raised $2,490 as of 8am this morning.

Queensland’s Environment Department gave the green light to Adani’s groundwater management plan last month, the final major approval needed for stage two of construction to begin on the controversial $2 billion.

Surveying and clearing work on the mine’s main site began on June 19.

Dr Brown gained notoriety when he led opposition against Tasmania’s Franklin Dam in the 1970s.

Many Coalition figures have stated the activist’s ‘Stop Adani’ convoy, which was heckled in when travelling through Queensland, helped the government’s election result in May.

Dr Brown has previously rejected those claims as “hogwash”.



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