Sunday, April 08, 2012

The EPA an out of control monster

Government arrogance and pious hypocrisy reaches a new high when the sinister Environmental Protection Agency strikes out to save the children. The official position on the EPA website has one singing the Amerika version of "Don’t cry for me Argentina". EPA Proposes First Carbon Pollution Standard for Future Power Plants
"Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids."

What is missing from this statement is that regular citizens are under direct assault from their utility companies that force "so called" Green electric generation into the mix. Soon people will be living like beggars in order to pay the overpriced schemes that impoverish the population.

The latest outrage from the EPA bootjack thugs is the EPA Emission Rules To Effectively Ban New Coal Plants. "The Environmental Protection Agency effectively banned new coal-fired power plants Tuesday, announcing emission rules that will make them uneconomical to build. This follows other recent rules squeezing coal. The actions show the administration following through on an earlier promise to crack down on the industry via regulation after the "cap and trade" carbon bill stalled in Congress in 2010."The proof of Obama ‘All the Above’ Strategy Does Not Include Coal, is seen by his EPA policy.
"The goal of President Obama’s "all of the above" energy policy is to drive up the costs on traditional energy sources, leveling the playing field so green energy power can someday become competitive economically.

But if the White House energy policy begins to phase out coal power before green energy sources are ready to take over, how is President Obama going to charge the battery in his Chevy Volt?"

With the demise of the nuclear alternative after the Fukushima cover-up, where is the sensible acknowledgement that electric generation requires a reliable source of energy?

Investor Business Daily cites the crucial reality. "Coal is an essential part of a diverse, reliable and affordable energy mix, supplying nearly 40% of our electricity," said Bruce Josten, the Chamber of Commerce's executive vice president, in a statement. "It remains a cost-effective and secure source of power in a time of soaring energy prices."

The video President Obama's Energy Promises Overlook Coal adds upon this analysis.

Environmental whacks that hail shutting down electric generation from coal are utterly mad. Since this country has abundant and cheap coal deposits, powering generation plants just does not fit with their goal of turning the consumer into a subservient slave. Left out of this equation is that effective banning of new coal generation will simply divert coal sales for export to China and India.

With the intense use and continuous building of new coal facilities, the notorious record of the Chinese and India subcontinent to foster clear air standards is pale in comparison to the current emissions from U.S. generation. The EPA will do nothing to stop the use of coal oversea.
The Wall Street Journal writes in EPA Tips Scales Toward Natural Gas in Power Generation; Miners, GOP Cry Foul.
"Despite the EPA's insistence that the new rule will still allow advanced coal plants to be built, many critics aren't convinced. "This really is a ban on new coal-fired generation. The EPA knows that," said Jeff Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Washington and former head of the EPA's air office under President George W. Bush.

With the new rule, the mining industry will look to the export market for relief. Asian coal demand more than doubled in the past decade, led by China and India. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects Chinese coal demand to rise by 2.4% annually through 2035, almost ten times as fast as U.S. demand. However, U.S. miners are constrained by rail and port limitations, and exports will only partially offset declining domestic consumption."

The You Tube of Pompeo responds to EPA's regulatory overreach has a Congressional hearing worth viewing.

The fundamental issue with the EPA is that it is an out of control agency. Accountability for its abuses is long overdue. However, recent Presidents and Congresses refuse to set a rational energy policy because the hidden objective is to destroy the domestic economy.
EPA CO2 Regulation Effectively Bans New Coal Facilities adds the details.
"Case in point: regulations subjecting existing coal plants that wish to make upgrades to costly and exhaustive New Source Review requirements, which actually discourage energy efficiency and safety improvements that plants would undertake on their own accord.

Congress should step up and stop the EPA from bypassing Congress’s sound rejection of cap and trade. The EPA regulations on CO2 are just one of those other ways to skin the cat, as President Obama famously promised."

Such excess and high-handedness from the EPA is even more evident in the following example.

Bloomberg reports in EPA Enforcement Tool Blunted by High Court in Wetlands Case,
"The U.S. Supreme Court blunted a commonly used Environmental Protection Agency enforcement tool, siding with landowners and companies that said the federal agency was abusing its power.

The justices today unanimously ruled in favor of an Idaho couple blocked by the EPA from building a home on land the agency says is restricted wetlands. The justices said the couple can go directly to court to challenge an EPA order requiring them to restore property they had begun preparing for construction.

The decision weakens the force of so-called administrative compliance orders that the EPA issues on average 1,500 times a year to businesses and individuals. The orders demand an end to alleged violations, applying fines that pressure owners to settle. The government said those orders couldn’t be appealed to a court."

The Environmental Protection Agency functions as a gatekeeper for the all knowing and powerful Wizard of Oz, the despotic State. The legal hurdles that forced a Supreme Court case just to obtain permission to file a court challenge against the EPA draconian rules are absurd. Likewise, the motivation to prohibit the use of coal for electrical generation solidified the rule of the tyrants.

Then again, do not place your faith that the Supreme Court gets it correct often.
An analysis by Steven F. Hayward in the American Enterprise Institute, applies today as it did when first published back in 2006.
"This is preface to a big story that is getting surprisingly little coverage in the media this week, namely, the design of the Environmental Protection Agency to double its budget, and to increase its number of employees more than tenfold, from the current level of about 18,000 to more than 230,000, over the next four years. And this just for one single program: the greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act. And all of this arises from the Supreme Court's botched 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which said the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, even though Congress never intended this, and even said so at the time during floor debate over the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Here's the problem, long predicted by me and lots of other folks who know how the Clean Air Act works. The Act says any stationary source that emits as little as 100 tons a year of a pollutant must get annual permits from state agencies and the EPA. 100 tons is a lot if you're looking at pollutants like volatile organic gases (unburned hydrocarbons) that contribute to ozone, but is a tiny amount for carbon dioxide. Your average fast-food restaurant or donut shop or apartment building easily emits 100 tons of CO2. Right now about 14,000 stationary sources have to get annual emission permits under the Act. By regulating CO2 through the Clean Air Act, the number of businesses that will require EPA permits will be over 6 million."

The Federal executive branch has scores of agencies that act well beyond the intention, if not, the spirit of the law. Power hungry autocrats that lost the cover of "good intentions" decades ago, devise these governmental regulations. The ultimate goal is to synchronize a Cap and Trade policy through administrative ordinances. Congress needs to focus on repealing legislation that creates and funds rogue agencies like the EPA. Clean air is important, but singling out coal for replacement by "Green" alternative energy is simply suicidal.

Soon the EPA will impose a tax on your own breathing, since you are a CO2 exhaling machine.


California declares war on single family, detached homes to 'save the planet'

Planners want to herd millions into densely packed urban corridors. It won't save the planet but will make traffic even worse.

It's no secret that California's regulatory and tax climate is driving business investment to other states. California's high cost of living also is driving people away. Since 2000 more than 1.6 million people have fled, and my own research as well as that of others points to high housing prices as the principal factor.

The exodus is likely to accelerate. California has declared war on the most popular housing choice, the single family, detached home—all in the name of saving the planet.

Metropolitan area governments are adopting plans that would require most new housing to be built at 20 or more to the acre, which is at least five times the traditional quarter acre per house. State and regional planners also seek to radically restructure urban areas, forcing much of the new hyperdensity development into narrowly confined corridors.

In San Francisco and San Jose, for example, the Association of Bay Area Governments has proposed that only 3% of new housing built by 2035 would be allowed on or beyond the "urban fringe"—where current housing ends and the countryside begins. Over two-thirds of the housing for the projected two million new residents in these metro areas would be multifamily—that is, apartments and condo complexes—and concentrated along major thoroughfares such as Telegraph Avenue in the East Bay and El Camino Real on the Peninsula.

For its part, the Southern California Association of Governments wants to require more than one-half of the new housing in Los Angeles County and five other Southern California counties to be concentrated in dense, so-called transit villages, with much of it at an even higher 30 or more units per acre.

To understand how dramatic a change this would be, consider that if the planners have their way, 68% of new housing in Southern California by 2035 would be condos and apartment complexes. This contrasts with Census Bureau data showing that single-family, detached homes represented more than 80% of the increase in the region's housing stock between 2000 and 2010.

The campaign against suburbia is the result of laws passed in 2006 (the Global Warming Solutions Act) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in 2008 (the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act) on urban planning. The latter law, as the Los Angeles Times aptly characterized it, was intended to "control suburban sprawl, build homes closer to downtown and reduce commuter driving, thus decreasing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions." In short, to discourage automobile use.

If the planners have their way, the state's famously unaffordable housing could become even more unaffordable.

Over the past 40 years, median house prices have doubled relative to household incomes in the Golden State. Why? In 1998, Dartmouth economist William Fischel found that California's housing had been nearly as affordable as the rest of the nation until the more restrictive regulations, such as development moratoria, urban growth boundaries, and overly expensive impact fees came into effect starting in the 1970s. Other economic studies, such as by Stephen Malpezzi at the University of Wisconsin, also have documented the strong relationship between more intense land-use regulations and exorbitant house prices.

The love affair urban planners have for a future ruled by mass transit will be obscenely expensive and would not reduce traffic congestion. In San Diego, for example, an expanded bus and rail transit system is planned to receive more than half of the $48.4 billion in total highway and transit spending through 2050. Yet transit would increase its share of travel to a measly 4% from its current tiny 2%, according to data in the San Diego Association of Governments regional transportation plan. This slight increase in mass transit ridership would be swamped by higher traffic volumes.

Higher population densities in the future means greater traffic congestion, because additional households in the future will continue to use their cars for most trips. In the San Diego metropolitan area, where the average one-way work trip travel time is 28 minutes, only 14% of work and higher education locations could be reached within 30 minutes by transit in 2050. But 70% or more of such locations will continue to be accessible in 30 minutes by car.

Rather than protest the extravagance, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris instead has sued San Diego because she thinks transit was not favored enough in the plan and thereby violates the legislative planning requirements enacted in 2006 and 2008. Her predecessor (Jerry Brown, who is now the governor) similarly sued San Bernardino County in 2007.


Report: Solyndra loan was “rushed”: because Green is unquestionably good

- Federal financial experts weren't consulted on a half-billion-dollar federal loan to a failed solar company until the last minute and only then had "about a day" to complete their review, an internal watchdog concluded Wednesday.

The report from the Treasury Department's inspector general found that the department's review was "rushed" and began only after the Energy Department was poised to sign off on the terms of a $528 million loan to Solyndra Inc.

The review was completed a day before Energy issued a news release saying it was approving the loan with conditions.

Treasury officials complained to the White House that regulations governing federal loan guarantees say that the department should have been involved earlier in the process, but the inspector general said it was unclear whether the review's late start violated the law.

Treasury officials also told investigators that the shortened time frame was sufficient to review the loan.

But investigators found no evidence that concerns raised by those officials, such as the debt-to-equity ratio in the project, were ever addressed by the Energy Department.

The investigation is the latest to look closely at the Obama administration's decision to back Solyndra. Congress also is examining the deal, which was used to showcase the economic-stimulus bill's support for renewable-energy projects and so-called green jobs.

Solyndra was the first renewable-energy company to receive backing from a loan program created by the stimulus bill. But last year, it declared bankruptcy and laid off more than 1,000 people.


Little Ice Age Was The Coldest Period For 10000 Years

We regularly hear claims of “record breaking” and “unprecedented” temperatures in Arctic regions. However, as the records usually only go back to the 19th C, these statements are pretty meaningless.

There are in fact many scientific studies that show the Little Ice Age, which came to end in the late 19th C, was the coldest period in these regions for maybe 10000 years.

We have already seen studies by Jorgen Peder Steffensen (based on ice cores) and Ribeiro et al (dinoflagellates), which both come to the same conclusion. Let’s take a look at four more.

1) Kelly and Long – “The Dimensions of the Greenland Ice Sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum”

Based on radiocarbon ages of marine shells and reworked terrestrial organic material incorporated into historical moraines, environmental conditions registered in lacustrine sediments, and submerged coastal features, it has been suggested that the Greenland Ice Sheet receded tens of kilometers within its present day margins during the early and mid Holocene (e.g., Kelly, 1980 and references therein). This ice sheet recession was likely a response to the warmer temperatures of the Holocene Thermal Maximum (9-5 ka) (e.g., Kaufman et al., 2004), which is registered by Greenland ice cores as ~2.5°C warmer than at present (Dahl-Jensen et al., 1998).

A critical question is to determine the dimensions of the ice sheet at the end of this warm interval, prior to the Neoglacial (~4 ka-present) readvances. In many locations the ice sheet and mountain glaciers reached their maximum extents since the early Holocene during the Little Ice Age (ca. A.D. 1290-1850) (e.g., Kelly, 1980; Hall et al., 2008b; Kelly et al., 2008).

2) C J Caseldine – “The Extent of Some Glaciers in Northern Iceland during the Little Ice Age”

Lichenometric studies from four glaciers in Northern Iceland are used to determine the dates of their Little Ice Age maxima. In all cases these date to the last half of the 19th C and probably marked the maximum Neoglacial extent of the glaciers.

3) Vinther et al – “Holocene of the Greenland Ice Sheet”

The previous interpretation of evidence from stable isotopes (δ18O) in water from GIS ice cores was that Holocene climate variability on the GIS differed spatially3 and that a consistent Holocene climate optimum—the unusually warm period from about 9,000 to 6,000 years ago found in many northern-latitude palaeoclimate records4—did not exist. Here we extract both the Greenland Holocene temperature history and the evolution of GIS surface elevation at four GIS locations. We achieve this by comparing δ18O from GIS ice cores3, 5 with δ18O from ice cores from small marginal icecaps. Contrary to the earlier interpretation of δ18O evidence from ice cores3, 6, our new temperature history reveals a pronounced Holocene climatic optimum in Greenland coinciding with maximum thinning near the GIS margins. Our δ18O-based results are corroborated by the air content of ice cores, a proxy for surface elevation7

4) Levac et al – “Sea Surface Conditions in Northernmost Baffin Bay during the Holocene”

The analysis of cores collected in northernmost Baffin Bay, from within the area of the North Water Polynya, permits definition of a composite sedimentary sequence ca. 12 m thick spanning the last 10 000 14C yr, with only a few discontinuities. Palynological analyses were performed in order to reconstruct changes in surface water conditions and biogenic production. Transfer functions, using dinocyst assemblages, were applied to estimate sea-surface temperature (SST) and salinity, as well as the seasonal duration of sea ice cover. At the base of the record, prior to 9300 14C yr BP, dinocysts and organic linings of benthic foraminifers are sparse, indicating harsh conditions and low productivity. After ca. 9300 14C yr BP, the increased concentration of benthic foraminifers (up to 103 linings cm−3) and dinocyst fluxes (102–103 cysts cm−2 yr−1) reveals high biological productivity related to open-water conditions. The early to middle Holocene, from ca. 9000 to ca. 3600 14C yr BP, is marked by relatively high species diversity in dinocyst assemblages and the significant occurrence of autotrophic taxa such as Spiniferites elongatus, Pentapharsodinium dalei and Impagidinium pallidum. This assemblage suggests conditions at least as warm as at present. From ca. 6400 to ca. 3600 14C yr BP, transfer functions indicate warmer conditions than at present, with SST in August fluctuating up to 5.5°C. After 3600 14C yr BP, the dinocyst record suggests a trend of decreasing temperature toward modern values, marked by recurrent cooling events.

Why does any of this matter?

We are told the current climate is “unprecedented” - it is not.

We are told Arctic warming will have dangerous consequences – it did not.

We are told of dangerous tipping points – they did not happen.

The reality is that for the last 4000 years the climate, at least in much of the Northern Hemisphere, has been steadily cooling down, albeit interspersed with warmer interludes. If the pattern continues, the next Little Ice Age, due in a couple of hundred years or so, will be colder than the last. Then we really will have something to worry about.


Some Ecosystems More Resilient To Warming Than Previously Believed

Study suggests global warming may have less of an impact on runoff and stream flows in drier areas than previously believed

Some headwaters ecosystems may be more resilient to climate change than previously believed, according to Oregon State University scientists who meticulously studied temperature and runoff data at a network of 26 long-term ecological research stations around the country.

After analyzing records in 35 headwater basins in the United States and Canada they found that the impact of warmer air temperatures on streamflow rates was less than expected in many locations.

Air temperatures increased significantly at 17 of the 19 sites that had 20- to 60-year climate records, but streamflow changes correlated with temperature changes in only seven of those study sites. In fact, water flow decreased only at sites with winter snow and ice. There was less impact in warmer, more arid ecosystems, said OSU geoscientist Julia Jones, lead author of the study recently published in the journal BioScience.

“It appears that ecosystems may have some capacity for resilience and adapt to changing conditions,” Jones said. “Various ecosystem processes may contribute to that resilience. In Pacific Northwest forests, for example, one hypothesis is that trees control the stomatal openings on their leaves and adjust their water use in response to the amount of water in the soil.

“So when presented with warmer and drier conditions, trees in the Pacific Northwest appear to use less water and therefore the impact on streamflow is reduced,” she added. “In other parts of the country, forest regrowth after past logging and hurricanes thus far has a more definitive signal in streamflow reduction than have warming temperatures.”

LTER sites were established to investigate ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales throughout North America, including the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon, as well as sites in Alaska, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Antarctica and the island of Moorea. Not all were part of the BioScience study.

In the study, warming temperatures at some of the headwater basins analyzed have indeed resulted in reduced streamflow due to higher transpiration and evaporation to the atmosphere. But these changes may be difficult to perceive, Jones said, given other influences on streamflow, including municipal and agricultural water usage, forest management, wildfire, hurricanes, and natural climate cycles.

“When you look at an individual watershed over a short period of time, it is difficult to disentangle the natural and human-induced variations because hydrologic systems can be quite complex, she said. “But when you look at dozens of systems over several decades, you can begin to gauge the impact of changing vegetation, climate cycles and climate trends.

“That is the beauty of these long-term research sites,” she said. “They can provide nuanced insights that are crucial to effective management of water supplies in a changing world.”

Jones said the important message in the research is that the impacts of climate change are not simple and straightforward. Through continuing study of how ecosystems adapt to changing conditions, resource managers may be able to adapt policies or mimic natural processes that offer the most favorable conditions for humans and ecosystems to thrive.


Australia now a nation of enviro-sceptics

SUPPORT for the environment has slumped to new lows and Australians are increasingly sceptical of global warming, new research has found.

Quantum Market Research, which has interviewed 2000 Australians annually since 1992 to track social change, released its latest Australia SCAN in Adelaide this week.

When asked if Australians should all make sacrifices for the sake of the environment, the answer is increasingly "no", Australia SCAN consultant David Chalke says.

The research underscores the problems faced by the Gillard Government as it tries to sell its carbon tax, which takes effect from July 1.

Mr Chalke said there was a clear trend of declining support for the environment, falling from a high of about 50 per cent in the mid-1990s to the current low of about 30 per cent.

"There's a bit of a bump from Flannery and Al Gore in 2007, then Copenhagen," Mr Chalke said.

"You can see why carbon tax isn't particularly popular ... They are confused by the science, they don't understand it, they think it's probably natural, maybe - is the carbon tax going to make any difference? No."

In the environment category, global warming was well down the list of priorities at No. 15, with only 27.7 per cent of people surveyed rating the issue as "extremely serious".

At the top of the list is nuclear accidents and waste disposal (44.4 per cent), followed by a shortage of clean water (44.1 per cent) and loss of habitat for native animals (38.7 per cent).

Australians are making an effort to help the environment, most commonly by recycling newspapers, glass and cans (85.9 per cent), reusing plastic bags or taking their own shopping bags to the supermarket, and washing clothes in cold water.

A CSIRO survey of 5030 Australians on attitudes to climate change published late last year found that while most people agreed climate change was happening, they were evenly divided on the role human activity had on changing temperatures.



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1 comment:

Hakally said...

Great blog! I'm here in California and your article is dead on about the housing crisis here. My husband and I (two professional people who save) have been looking for 7 years- still in an apartment.
Glad I found your blog. Your comments on sociology (in your background) are interesting- I recall having a real showdown in the classroom with my sociology professor (all of us bio/chem majors were required to take sociology). It was over the same issue you mentioned. I laughed at my professor's demand that I refer to sociology as a "hard" science. He didn't like that...

Anyway, great analysis on the articles. I look forward to further posts.