Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Thank Trump for cutting the environmental red tape strangling infrastructure development

Cutting red tape is tough. President Trump deserves praise for his latest effort, which should end the choke hold that the environmental movement has placed on economic growth and jobs.

Ironically, the reforms proposed by Trump must now clear a unique hurdle: the additional red tape which surrounds every effort to change existing regulations.

Long-entrenched regulations have allowed the misuse of the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act. These abuses often block improvements to infrastructure.

Just ask eco-friendly Colorado about the 13 years it took to produce an environmental impact statement for widening super-congested Interstate 70 near Denver. The monster document required hundreds of public meetings and was 15,951 pages long. That much paper also kills a lot of trees.

Almost two-thirds of highway projects must wait six years or more for environmental reviews, and only 7% of reviews are done within two years, according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council in January issued Trump's revised regulations to streamline the process of these environmental reviews.

The average impact statement now runs over 600 pages. The new maximum would be only 150 pages, unless "senior agency officials" approve 300 or more pages.

A new time limit is also set. Environmental assessments must be completed within one year, and environmental impact statements must be finished within two years (again, unless exceptions are granted by senior-level officials, who must be assistant department secretaries or higher).

Standardized NEPA policies are established to prevent rogue agencies from designing their own.

Also added is a new requirement saying, "These regulations do not create a cause of action or right of action for violation of NEPA, which contains no such cause of action or right of action," and "minor, non-substantive errors that have no effect on agency decision making shall be considered harmless and shall not invalidate an agency action."

Hopefully this will end lawsuits that use technicalities to block projects for additional years and waste millions of dollars.

But these and other reforms must survive a bureaucratic gauntlet before they go into force. A 60-day public comment period is underway until March 10. Then, unless the new rule is made final before the end of May, in 2021, the new Congress and president (should Trump not win reelection) would have time to block it under the Congressional Review Act.

Overzealous environmental pressure groups are trying to use the online public comment portal to raise questions and create delays. Already they have organized and posted over 11,000 complaints based on "climate change," more than 4,000 objections from people calling themselves a "national park lover," 3,000-plus protesting a "negative impact on birds," and over 12,000 who label the reforms as "misguided" or "dangerous."

The pro-growth forces are not nearly as well-organized as the green machine. But the red-tape delays can also hurt green causes:

Citing NEPA, activists have filed lawsuits halting a major wind energy site at Lake Erie. That type of lawsuit might not be possible under the proposed new regulations.
Of course, fossil fuel projects are also hampered by NEPA. So are many transportation projects. In addition to Denver's:

A new transit line in Maryland was delayed 14 years.
The Taos, New Mexico, airport had a 20-year delay.
Seattle's airport suffered a 15-year environmental review delay. The New York-New Jersey Bayonne Bridge had a 10-year wait.

There are many other examples and too many lawsuits. A Federalist Society report documents billions of dollars wasted and over 4,000 NEPA lawsuits against federal agencies, often with taxpayers footing the bill for lawyers on both sides.

Trump's proposal won't end environmental protections, but it will speed up the studies and cut out the nonsense. Winning this fight against the Red Tape Monster will benefit people all over the country.


The unholy crusade against gas appliances

Eco darling natural gas gives way to wind, solar and battery electricity – and slave labor

Duggan Flanakin

When Berkeley, California last year became the first U.S. city to ban the installation of natural gas lines to new homes, Mayor Jesse ArreguĂ­n proudly stated, “We are committed to the Paris Agreement and must take immediate action in order to reach our climate action goals. It’s not radical. It’s necessary.”

Phasing out natural gas-fired electric power generation by 2030 is bedrock dogma in the Green New Deal. In fact, it’s become an unholy crusade. So it should be no surprise that climate alarmists would jump at the chance to ban new natural gas lines. Many other cities in California have already followed Berkeley’s lead, as has Bellingham, Washington. More gas bans are in the offing nationwide.  Connecticut lawmakers actually want a law that would pressure insurers to stop insuring homes that have gas appliances or heating systems!!

But Takoma Park, Maryland, which proudly bills itself as “the Berkeley of the East,” wants to go even further. City officials have proposed to ban “all gas appliances, close fossil fuel pipelines, and move gasoline stations that do not convert to electric charging stations outside city limits by 2045.” The Takoma Park proposal also mandates all-LED lighting by 2022 for all buildings, including single-family homes. Composting would also become mandatory.

For hardliners whose only focus is ridding the world of carbon (dioxide), the moves are obvious and necessary. With wind and solar prices dropping, they argue, natural gas is no longer needed as a “bridge fuel.” They envision an all-electric future, magically, right away, co-friendly, sustainable. Or not.

The price claim is nonsense. It’s based on comparing operating costs for wind and solar installations. It deliberately ignores the far larger capital investment and environmental costs: building thousands of wind turbines and millions of solar panels, hauling and installing them across millions of acres, connecting them to the grid, backing them up with batteries or pumped storage (or coal or gas power plants), replacing them far sooner and more often that we’d have to replace coal, gas or nuclear plants, and disposing of broken and worn out panels, blades and other parts that cannot be burned or recycled.

The phony price parity claim also ignores the massive amounts of overseas mining for metals and other materials, which are needed in far greater amounts per megawatt for wind, solar and battery power than for stand-alone gas, coal or nuclear plants. And that mining is done under horrific conditions, with little attention to air and water pollution, workplace health and safety, fair wages, or rampant child labor.

That’s reason enough to rise up in anger. But natural gas companies, gas appliance manufacturers, restaurants and ordinary citizens have additional reasons for not taking these radical demands lying down.

If implemented , the Takoma Park proposal would force those with gas stoves, hot water heaters, clothes dryers, furnaces, outdoor grills and propane heaters (for outdoor winter dining venues) to replace them with electric units. That could double electricity demand – and turbine and panel numbers and impacts.

Homeowners, landlords and businesses that currently rely on natural gas would have to upgrade their electrical systems to handle the additional load from going all-electric. Estimates run s high as $25,000 per resident (not household) to make the switch.

Last November The California Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, claiming that Berkeley’s action violates “long-established state and federal law.” The CRA further claims the action is invalid and unenforceable under the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and under California’s Energy Code and Building Standards Code, and that it is an unlawful to use police powers to amend state building codes.

A CRA press release further explained that the natural gas ban would force higher energy costs on businesses and consumers alike and, wurst of all, “effectively prohibit the preparation” of flame-seared meats, sausages and charred vegetables, and the use of intense heat from a flame under a wok (the essence of Chinese cooking). Top chef Robert W. Phillips explains: “An overwhelming majority of chefs and cooks are trained using natural gas stoves, with pots and pans over a flame produced by natural gas.”

SoCalGas, whose service area covers half the state, is also a strong opponent of building electrification.

Alarm over this fast-spreading virtue signaling has spread to Washington and Oregon, where the Seattle Times says gas companies are forming a coalition of unions, businesses and consumer groups to tout the benefits of natural gas and help “prevent or defeat” initiatives that would inhibit or prohibit its use.

Comparisons between electric and gas appliances show that gas appliances often cost more up front (especially if you have to run a gas line) but save money while in use. More important in many parts of the country is the fact that gas stoves can operate even when the electricity goes out – and a small generator will allow gas furnaces to continue operating during power outages. (Prolonged outages have become frequent in California of late, due to efforts to reduce catastrophic wildfires associated with power lines but caused by the state’s failure or refusal to thin and manage brush, grass and trees.)

Until now, people have been able to choose between electric and gas. One energy choice service notes that gas water heaters typically cost about $30 a month, while electric heaters cost $42 on average. Gas units also heat water more rapidly and provide hot water during power outages. 

Gas dryers average about 8 cents less per load to run than electric units, partly because they heat up instantly, whereas electric units use a coil that can make loads take twice as long to dry. Electric dryers can also be harder on clothes because of their longer drying times. Electric dryers do not require a gas line, can be installed wherever there is a 220-volt power outlet, and do not require vents for carbon monoxide.  On the other hand, an improperly grounded electric dryer can be dangerous.

Gas stoves provide instant heat for top burners, but gas ovens heat up more slowly, according to TopTenReviews. Gas stoves may be harder to clean, and there is a risk of fire from the open flame.  Both gas and electric stovetop burners remain hot long after the knob is turned off.  Most importantly, gas stoves are cheaper to operate, because gas prices have fallen some 85% since their historic high in 2006.

In sum, both gas and electric appliances have their pluses and minuses. However, “choice” (for women or men) is not high on the list for many virtue-signaling politicians today, except in one other acrimonious arena, which Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently addressed in the context of a pending Supreme Court case. They therefore push the envelope every time – and sometimes get their way. Yet in the process, they make new enemies of people who previously were not politically motivated at all.

In Takoma Park, which four decades ago became the nation’s first “nuclear-free city,” sustainability manager Gina Mathis says, “Yes there are ways that we could soften” these policies, “but we know that voluntary programs are not going to get us to net zero.” As in net-zero plant-fertilizing CO2 emissions.

The mandates tend to generate anger. According to the Washington Post, one Takoma Park resident complained that “the number of times the word ‘require’ is used in this [proposal] is stunning.”

It could get far worse. Socialist Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is committed to 100% “renewable” energy for electricity and transportation “by no later than 2030.” His plan would also take our entire energy system out of the private sector, and put it in government hands, with more mandates.

Meanwhile, China already has 900,000 MW of coal-fired power plants and has another 350,000 MW under construction or in planning. It’s also building or financing hundreds of coal and gas power plants in Africa and Asia. India likewise has hundreds of coal-fired units and is planning nearly 400 more. They will not stop using fossil fuels to build their economies, create jobs and improve living standards.

So even if manmade CO2 is a major factor in climate change, these scattered, silly natural gas bans might reduce future warming by 0.0001 to 0.001 degrees 80 years from now. But the con goes on.

Via email

Big firms good at talking Greenie talk but they don't walk the walk

Both in Australia and elsewhere

You've probably never heard of Rupert Read, the philosophy academic with a collection of colourful waistcoats working in the small British city of Norwich. He's the environmentalist who last month leaked an explosive report by JP Morgan that warned "life as we know it is threatened".

The report, Risky Business: The climate and the macroeconomy, was written by the investment bank's chief economist David Mackie and colleague Jessica Murray. It warned, in no uncertain terms, that burning fossil fuels is warming the planet on a trajectory that will cause famine, displacement, mass species extinction and economic collapse. "Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive," the report said.

Although JPMorgan's brand is water-marked on each of the report's 22 pages, the $US350 billion ($530 billion) banking behemoth initially distanced itself from its findings. Yet only a few days later at its annual investor day in New York City on February 25, it promised to stop financing coal mining, coal power and Arctic oil and gas drilling. It would also offer $US200 billion ($302 billion) to support clean energy and other sustainable projects.

The pledge put the bank on a par with its peer Goldman Sachs, which in December became the first large US bank to rule out future financing of oil drilling in the Arctic and new thermal coal mines. Then in January, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager said it would no longer actively invest in companies that generate more than 25 per cent of revenue from thermal coal.

As the world distances itself from the fossil fuel industry, Australia is stuck in a hard place. Oil and thermal coal account for about 80 per cent of our electricity generation and resources make up about one fifth of the ASX/200. Coal and iron ore remain two of the nation's biggest export earners.

This week, the $168 billion government-run Future Fund ruled out divesting from thermal coal. And the portfolio manager of the country's largest retirement savings fund, AustralianSuper, said there was no immediate plan to go fossil-fuel free. "The point is, it's easy if you're in New York. But it's Australia's second-biggest export so it's not a decision we can make lightly," senior portfolio manager Shaun Manuell told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald this week.

As the global fossil fuel divestment push gathers momentum, Australia's financial sector is being forced to re-evaluate its support for fossil fuels. But for an economy heavily dependant on resource extraction, this is no easy feat.

'Call it what it is'

While many major Australian companies are boasting of green futures and a willingness to do good by the environment the situation in the investment is more nuanced. The Age and Herald continue to expose underlying investments by major super funds that fail to live up to their green promises.

A similar dynamic is playing out in the US. Critics argue JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs can still fund major emitters – those involved in fracking, tar sands and liquefied gas terminals –under their policies. And they can still do deals with the biggest coal-mining companies and provide loans to oil and gas projects outside the Arctic, where the bulk of the resources lie.

BlackRock's thermal coal exclusion applies to less than a third of its total assets and the revenue cap means it can still invest in major coal-producing companies, including Glencore and BHP.

The chief executive of $US3.8 billion ($5.5 billion) sustainable asset management group Trillium Matthew Patsky, speaking from Boston, says the announcements sent a message to the community: "We're paying attention, we hear what you're saying and we're going to talk about it now" but fell short of committing to significant change.

"Some of this is unfortunately just that. It's marketing, public relations. You have to call it what it is," Patsky says.

Nonetheless, the concessions made by the financial giants has emboldened environmental activists to ramp-up pressure and refocused the discussion around the future of fossil fuel investing. "The last few weeks have proven that this will be a crucial year to end the age of fossil fuels," environmental activist group 350's website says.

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion contribute about 78 per cent of total greenhouse case emissions, according to the IPCC's most recent report, and there is overwhelming agreement within the scientific community that without additional effort to reduce these emissions, the world was bracing for irreversible change. The Paris climate agreement recognises that governments around the world must commit to keep the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground.

Back home, the effects of climate change were brought into sharp focus after the unprecedented fire season that burnt an area the size of South Korea, roughly 12.2 million hectares, and killed 34 people and more than 1 billion animals.

Big four predicament

The big four banks have climate action policies and have thrown their support behind the Paris climate agreement's commitment to limit global emissions. The banks have unilaterally pledged to reduce financing of thermal coal projects within the decade and have varying ambitions around financing new fossil fuel projects. Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank declined interviews to explain finer details of these policies.

Research by shareholder activist group Market Forces, obtained exclusively by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, claims the banks are breaking their own climate policies by lending to projects that expand the use of fossil fuels.

An analysis of company records, financial databases and public disclosures found the big four loaned more than $7 billion to expansionary fossil fuel projects between 2016 and 2019 and a further $6.8 billion to companies with business practices that contradict the Paris goals to reduce warming within the century by 2 degrees.

Julien Vincent and Will van de Pol lead Market Forces that has provided research to show the big four are funnelling billions into expanding fossil fuel production.
Julien Vincent and Will van de Pol lead Market Forces that has provided research to show the big four are funnelling billions into expanding fossil fuel production. CREDIT:JASON SOUTH

In September, CBA financed an American gas pipeline designed to transport up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through Texas. According to scientific journal Nature, little or no carbon-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.

"This is significant for CBA," Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent says. "There are supposed to be compliance mechanisms and people held to account if their policies are not followed."

In a statement, CBA said it could not comment on individual customers, but its environmental and social policy had evolved "very significantly" over the last three years.

“The underpinning principle of our policy is to support a transition to net zero emissions, and to do that as quickly and efficiently as possible in the context of working with our customers," the CBA spokesman said. "As part of that transition approach, we regard gas, for example, as a transition fuel which enables substitution away from coal-fired power. That is a step towards lower net emissions and then ultimately to zero net emissions.”

Similarly, NAB's climate policy prevents it from financing new thermal coal projects. But in October 2018, after NAB pledged it would no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects, the bank co-financed a $720 million deal with Coronado Global Resources which owns Queensland's Curragh coal mine, a largely coking coal plant –coal used for steel making – that recently agreed to continue supplying Stanwell power station with thermal coal until 2038. In September last year, Market Forces claimed NAB committed to co-finance an additional $US200 million to fund the expansion of the Curragh mine.

In a statement, NAB said it could not comment on specific customers but said it was working to limit thermal coal exposure. "We are capping thermal coal mining exposures at current levels and reducing thermal coal mining financing by 50% by 2028 and intended to be effectively zero by 2035, apart from residual performance guarantees to rehabilitate existing coal assets."

Westpac and ANZ loaned a combined $258 million to ASX listed energy giant Woodside in October for development of the Burrup Hub in WA, which according to its website “could process more gas than the entire volume extracted from the North West Shelf since startup in 1984”.

ANZ said it will continue to reduce its thermal coal exposure over time but this "has not been in a straight line". The spokesman said the overall exposure had reduced by 50 per cent since the Paris Agreement and pointed to its work in funding green projects. "We have been working closely with a number of our customers in recent years to assist them with their plans to transition to a lower carbon economy."

Lending to the thermal coal industry is at its lowest point in four years, Market Forces found, but Vincent says the trend is partly due to the increasing use of non-disclosure agreements around financing fossil fuel projects.

Last March, Queensland's thermal coal company New Hope secured $900 million from Australian banks to expand its New Ackland thermal coal operation, but the company's chief executive declined to identify the lenders. This happened around the same time energy finance project Project Finance International reported potential lenders to Western Australia's Bluewaters coal-fired power stated were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

"The industry and the lenders know they're being watched," Vincent says. "It's reputationally risky to be seen lending to the coal sector and expanding it. So instead of trying to change behaviour, or operate more cleanly, the banks and companies are trying to keep this information from public view."

An analysis of the world's largest 100 banks by Moody's found the lenders had very limited information available on financed emissions, with fewer than a third of banks providing a description of their climate risk assessment and monitoring methodologies. "Most banks' climate risk management is at an early stage," Moody's vice credit officer Olivier Panis says. "The visibility for investors over the potential impact of climate risks and opportunities on banks' financial performance remains limited."


A Misguided Approach to Nuclear Power in ‘Energy Innovation’ Bill

Being “well intentioned” isn’t the same as doing well. Look no further than the recently introduced American Energy Innovation Act.

The bill proposes an extensive federally funded and directed research, development, and demonstration program for advanced nuclear technologies through the Department of Energy.

It’s Act 2 of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, the first half of which was quietly passed in December’s massive spending bill.

The proclaimed purpose is to help the nuclear industry innovate and compete, both now and in the future, and in competitive markets at home and abroad.

But rather than improving private-sector access to federal assets, reducing regulatory barriers, and addressing the political risks that nuclear energy faces, it quite literally proposes that the government do the work of private companies for them—to improve their product, acquire financing, and find potential customers.

Such a program is far outside the responsibility of the federal government—and of the federal taxpayer. But it could also erect new barriers for companies that don’t go through the Energy Department program.

In the end, it makes the nuclear industry politically dependent, and consequently politically vulnerable. But what’s worse is, we’ve tried this all before, and the track record isn’t good.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 set out on the same grand mission. In that not-so-distant past, Congress authorized, among many other favors for the nuclear industry, $1.25 billion for a public-private partnership, the Next Generation Nuclear Power Plant. Congress spent $528 million through 2010, only to abandon it in 2011 during the pre-licensing process.

The Energy Policy Act also created a subsidy for 6,000 megawatts from new nuclear reactors. Even with the enthusiasm of the hailed “nuclear renaissance” and an extension of the subsidy, we got less than that. Rather than fix underlying government-imposed issues challenging the nuclear industry, Congress subsidized two reactors that were half-built before being canceled and another pair that have doubled in cost and construction time.

In fact, one could argue that the industry is worse off because of the Energy Policy Act, having shaken customer confidence and convinced others that nuclear energy can’t be built affordably.

Instead of bringing about a “nuclear renaissance,” subsidies have tied nuclear energy investment and innovation to political whims rather than smart business decisions, common sense, and good ideas.

Additionally, the American Energy Innovation Act creates a program of the same flavor for existing light-water reactors (the class of reactors operating today around the U.S.).

For a few examples, the bill declares it the responsibility of the government (aka the taxpayer) to “enable the continued operation of existing nuclear power plants,” to “improve [their] performance and reduce operation and maintenance costs,” and to develop an “integrated investment strategy” for nuclear technologies and capabilities.

This is industrial policy, plain and simple.

On the whole, Congress did good work with the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act in 2018 and the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act in 2019.

What the American Energy Innovation Act proposes is a bridge too far.

Unfortunately, the bill totally ignores issues where congressional leadership is desperately needed and is uniquely suited to address.

If Congress were really interested in helping the nuclear industry—both existing nuclear power plants and the advanced reactors of tomorrow—it should address the regulatory burdens and uncertainties created by government itself.

One painfully obvious place for Congress to start is the nuclear waste impasse. That an “all-encompassing” energy bill misses such a critical issue for the industry, and a costly one for taxpayers, is baffling. 


Australia: Public broadcaster seeks extra $5m for cynical campaign on climate

The delinquency of the ABC on climate issues knows no bounds and we must continue to call it out because if we don’t, who will?

The annual expenditure of more than $1.5bn of taxpayers funds in public broadcasting ought to be used to inform the public rather than to try to deceive them and campaign against their interests.

Not content with repeatedly and dishonestly asserting that global warming was the critical factor in our summer of bushfires, the national broadcaster has now been ghoulish and crass enough to try to use the tragedy of those fires, together with their disingenuous spin on climate change, to demand even more taxpayer largesse.

“We estimate it’s going to cost an extra $5m per annum from next financial year, where we’re going to have to build up our capacity to respond — this being the new normal,” said ABC managing director David Anderson before Senate estimates.

That the government has neither condemned this tactic nor ruled out this request speaks volumes about the Coalition’s crisis of conviction. But let me unpack some of the travesties in this request.

First, there is the false assertion the bushfires were somehow different or worse than fires or other natural disasters we’ve seen before.

Second, there is the false assertion, linked to climate alarmism, that we can expect this annually from now on.

Third, there is the outrageous proposition that an organisation generously funded by taxpayers to cover news is suddenly complaining that, because it covered bushfire news this summer, it requires more money.

Fourth, there is the rank opportunism of using the damage and deaths of the nation’s worst bushfire season for a decade to bolster its bid for extra cash.

Frankly, the ABC should have $5m stripped from its funding as a punishment for this effort. Instead, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked the ABC to detail its case.

But back on honesty in reporting, readers of The Australian or viewers of Sky News will be aware the CSIRO was caught out burying a significant fact when it comes to bushfires and climate change.

In a recent two-page document, The 2019-20 Bushfires: A CSIRO Explainer, the organisation outlined the impact of weather and vegetation on bushfire behaviour, the need to better plan and prepare for them and said climate change was already making fire seasons longer and more intense.

But it did not include important information contained in the CSIRO’s technical report, Climate Change in Australia. That document is more than 200 pages long and on page 51 talks about increases in fire weather conditions but noted: “However, no studies explicitly attributing the Australian increase in fire weather to climate change have been performed at this time.”

This has only come to light because of questioning by Senator Matt Canavan in an estimates committee hearing last week. The embarrassing pauses and jumbled explanations from the CSIRO representative made for excruciating theatre.

Yet the story was not covered by the ABC. This is par for the course — inconvenient facts are censored and only the alarmist line or information to support it will be ventilated by the national broadcaster.

Remember, the ABC has failed to report and analyse the scientific conclusions of Professor Andy Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre for Excellence on Climate Extremes at the University of NSW, when it comes to drought.

His conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to directly link the current (almost past) drought to climate change has been studiously ignored by the ABC — except for pathetic attempts by Media Watch host Paul Barry to pretend his detailed findings were turned on their head by the ex post facto inclusion of one word; “direct link” rather than “link”.

This is crucial because it has been the drought-induced drying of vegetation that has helped create the bad fire conditions, along with the weather which delivered record highs in some bushfire-affected areas in early summer.

The science on all this is highly relevant and deeply interesting. The most recent peer-reviewed research says observational data reflects a higher frequency of fire weather extremes, but that it is too early to separate natural variability from climate factors.

“Impacts of anthropogenic climate change on fire weather extremes and fire season length are projected to emerge above natural variability in the 2040s,” says ScienceBrief Review’s summary.

Against this backdrop the ABC last week conducted a fact check on a crucial point made by Liberal MP Craig Kelly when he was engaged in a slanging match on British television in January over our bushfires and whether climate change was to blame. Kelly insisted that “the first 20 years of this century we’ve had more rainfall in Australia than the first 20 years of the last century”.

To those who have read a bit on these issues, this will not have been a surprising claim but the ABC and its fact-check partners, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, decided to test it.

They shared Bureau of Meteorology records and a graph showing a long-term average increase in Australian rainfall.

“Data collected by the Bureau of Meteorology shows an increase in Australia’s annual average rainfall for the first two decades of this century compared to the years 1900 to 1919,” the fact-check article duly reported.

In other words, the assertion made by Kelly was 100 per cent accurate — no ifs, no buts, just demonstrably correct.

So, what was the ABC/RMIT fact-check verdict? “Mr Kelly’s claim is flawed,” it declared. I kid you not.  Flawed claim ... or flawed fact-checking?

This is how far from their charter the ABC has strayed; how far our universities have wandered from searching for truth.

These publicly funded institutions now demean the truth and seek to either hide it or mischaracterise it. They have arrived at a bad place and we all ought to be deeply concerned.

The justification for this “flawed” finding is that national rainfall averages, experts argue, are not the best way to measure climate effects because rainfall patterns vary region by region.

While the nation is receiving more rain, some parts are receiving less, others more, and others still, might be receiving less when they need and more when they don’t.

While these are facts — other facts and relevant facts — they don’t disprove, undermine or render “flawed” the empirical fact shared by Kelly. Introduce such facts into a debate to provide context or support your different conclusions, sure. But don’t pretend they render false or “flawed” other facts cited by others.

It is dishonest to take a known fact and pretend it is not correct. The only reason anyone would attempt to portray claims, data and facts in this way would be to deceive the public in pursuit of an ideological agenda.

Fact check that.



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.  

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


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