Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As new EPA chief, Gina McCarthy vows to act on climate change

A malediction on the old trollop.  She admits to no concern about job losses from her policies

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency told an audience at Harvard Law School on Tuesday that cutting carbon pollution will “feed the economic agenda of this country,” and vowed to work with industry leaders on shaping policies aimed at curbing global warming.

“Climate change will not be resolved overnight,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the 310-person audience. “But it will be engaged over the next three years. That I can promise you.”

McCarthy made a full-throated defense of her agency’s right to address greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, saying that air-quality regulations and environmental cleanup efforts have already produced economic benefits in the United States.

“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please?” she asked, prompting loud applause. “We need to embrace cutting-edge technology as a way to spark business innovation.”

McCarthy, a veteran of Republican administrations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, has spent much of the past four years at the EPA shepherding through air regulations, which have come under attack from business groups for helping shut down power plants. Her nomination to succeed former EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson dragged on for more than four months as several GOP senators used the pick as a way to highlight their problems with Obama’s environmental agenda.

In her Tuesday speech, McCarthy pointed to the EPA’s history of improving the environment in places such as Lowell, Mass., where she watched the river run blue, yellow and other colors depending on what dyes the textile mills dumped in the water.

She said climate change was now the top priority for the agency, which plans to model its efforts on the administration’s earlier agreement with the auto industry on stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.

“EPA cannot dictate solutions,” McCarthy said. “We have to engage.”

McCarthy has already been meeting with utility executives and coal industry officials, some of whom fear that the administration’s plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants will close many plants.

McCarthy also said the agency would continue to focus on water quality and environmental justice, a hallmark of her predecessor, which refers to the problems facing poorer communities that bear the brunt of pollution and other environmental risks.

Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the National Mining Association, said that McCarthy was “keenly interested” in the group’s technical assessments of the impact of EPA rules during a meeting earlier this year.

But Quinn said he remains worried that the agency will press for unrealistic carbon standards. He said a 2011 rule on mercury and air toxins had forced utilities to retire at least 40,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity.

“The investments that have been made in utilities . . . could be jeopardized or stranded because of the rules on greenhouse gas emissions,” Quinn said.

In an interview Tuesday, McCarthy said the utility-closing announcements came far in advance of any EPA rule requirements. “It’s hard for me to think our rule is the driving factor behind these closures,” she said. “This is about the abundance of low-cost natural gas. It’s about how utilities are making decisions, company-wide, about how to invest in the future the way they see it right now.”

On the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, McCarthy said in the interview that the EPA would not weigh in on the issue until the State Department releases a final environmental assessment of the project. While she did not indicate what position the agency would take, McCarthy noted that Obama “sent a very strong signal” during his June climate speech “that climate’s impact would be taken into consideration in this decision, and in others.”

During the question-and-answer portion of Tuesday’s speech, McCarthy jokingly began to cut off the session once a Sierra Club member posed a question about the Keystone pipeline.

But she vowed to “continue to work with the administration as difficult decisions are made,” and compared charting national environmental policy to reconciling interests in a noisy family.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be all the different voices coming together screaming at the top of their lungs like three children,” she said, saying she would work to allow “all those voices to be heard and to listen to them. And it’s my obligation to keep peace in the family, whether it’s my EPA one or my little one.”


US shale threatens Saudi funding crisis and demise of OPEC

Saudi Arabia and the Opec oil states must wean their economies off energy exports immediately or spiral into decline as America’s shale revolution shatters the world order, a top Saudi business leader has warned.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the country’s best-known global investor, said the business model of Middle East oil exporters risks unravelling rich industrial states find ways of cutting demand. “Our country is facing a threat with the continuation of its near-complete reliance on oil: 92pc of the budget for this year depends on oil,” he said in a letter to Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Mr Al-Naimi and Opec leaders have taken a relaxed view of growing US shale output. “This is not the first time new sources of oil are discovered. There was oil from the North Sea and Brazil, so why is there so much talk about shale oil now?” he said last month.

Opec admits that new output from hydraulic “fracking” could chip away its dominant position in the market but secretary general Abdalla El Badri still insists that Opec “will be around after shale oil finishes”. The group is more worried about recession in Europe and a hard landing in China.

Prince Alwaleed said oil demand from OECD rich states is in “continuous decline”, and the Saudis will not be able to ratchet up their output from 12.5m to 15m barrels per day (bpd) to cover growing budget costs. “It is necessary to diversify sources of revenue, establish a clear vision, and start implementing it immediately,” he said.

A report last month by Leonardo Maugeri at Harvard University said US shale oil output could triple to 5m bpd by 2017, turning America into the world’s top producer once again.

The great unknown is how quickly the US technological feat can be replicated in Argentina, Britain, Poland, Russia, and above all China, where there is a chronic shortage of water needed for fracking. France, Germany and several European states have cut themselves off for ecological reasons but this may become untenable if others succeed.

If shale does deliver on its promise and keeps prices low for decades, it will be a mortal threat to OPEC states that rely on oil revenue to cover social spending and placate fast-growing populations. The “break-even cost” for their budgets has doubled over the last decade, reaching $140 (£91) in Iran, $115 in Bahrain, $100 in Iraq, $80 in Saudi Arabia, and $75 even in the lightly-settled Emirates. Russia too has topped $100.


Frack the 'desolate' North East, says Tory peer

Some reasonable comments  fall foul of political correctness.  The Northeast has high unemployment fueled by the difficulty of getting the workers to work

Lord Howell, a Government energy adviser and father-in-law to George Osborne, has described parts of the North East of England as “desolate” and suggested controversial fracking should be concentrated away from the south.

The Conservative peer, who advises William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, on energy and resource security, called for fracking to be concentrated in the North East because it has “large, desolate and uninhabited areas”.

He claimed that it could be a “mistake” to discuss shale gas drilling – known as fracking – in terms “of the whole United Kingdom in one go”.

In comments sure to cause controversy, he seemed to suggest that there are not “beautiful” areas in the North East and that it would be ripe for shale gas exploration.

“There are obviously in beautiful rural areas, worries not just about the drilling and the fracking, which I think are exaggerated, but about the trucks, the delivery and the roads and the disturbance,” Lord Howell said. “And those are quite justified worries.”

“But there are large uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly up in the North East where there’s plenty of room for fracking well away from anyone’s residence where it can be conducted without any kind of threat to the rural environment.”

He added that “a distinction should be made between one area and another rather than lumping them all together”.

A Government spokesman immediately slapped down Lord Howell, saying he "is not a minister and does not speak for the Government".

Downing Street immediately tried to distance itself from Lord Howell, saying he has not been an adviser since April. Lord Howell was until this afternoon still listed as an adviser on the Government's own website.

Lord Howell is father to Frances Osborne, the Chancellor’s wife.

The controversial comments by someone so close to the Chancellor will raise questions about the Government’s energy policies.

The Tories have also repeatedly faced accusations that they ignore the north of England because it is largely dominated by the Labour Party.

David Cameron has said that shale gas drilling could help cut the cost of living for families struggling with average bills of more than £1,300 per year.

Earlier this month Mr Cameron gave some of his strongest ever comments in favour of shale gas.

"In America they are now almost self-sufficient in gas," he said. "Their gas prices to business are now less then half as much as ours are and the reason for this is they have put a lot of investment into unconventional gas.

"The figures are actually quite frightening. Europe as a whole has 75 per cent as much unconventional gas as America. So we’ve got less in Europe as America.

"But whereas they are digging 10,000 wells a year, so far in Europe we’ve dug just 100. So we are way behind, so I’m in favour of fracking, the government is making it easier."

Labour peer Jeremy Beecham, a councillor in Newcastle, said: “Neville Chamberlain spoke of pre-war Czechoslovakia as 'a far away country of which we know nothing'. Lord Howell clearly has a similar view on the North East – and his comments once again highlight the Tories problem with the North.

“Perhaps he’s forecasting the future the North East faces as a result of Government policy – a ‘largely uninhabited and desolate’ place where there’ll be few people to object?”.


The spotted owl’s Who: We won’t get fooled again

By Rick Manning

The Northern Spotted Owl is back in the news, as the U.S. government is moving forward with plans to kill its larger cousin the Barred Owl to help save it from possible extinction.

But why should we care about this news that the biggest threat to the Northern Spotted Owl’s survival is not logging, but instead, is the invasion of its stronger, more adaptable cousin?

The case of the spotted owl should force any thinking person to ask the question, “If the environmental lobby could be so wrong on the Northern Spotted Owl with devastating consequences to local economies, could they also be wrong about their war on available energy production like coal and hydraulic fracturing?”

Starting in the 1980s, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups turned a small owl found in the timberlands of the northwestern United States into a fundraising star.  Saving the spotted owl became the cause of the moment, and the greens rejoiced when the federal government dramatically curtailed logging throughout the region.  The bird had been presumed “saved”, and it did not matter that sawmills and the towns that grew up around them became virtual ghost towns.

Oregon Public Broadcasting spoke with the former president of the Northwest Forestry Association, Jim Geisinger about the broken promise of the Clinton Administration’s Northwest Forest Plan which pledged a balanced approach between logging and Northern Spotted Owl protection efforts.

“The net effect has been about a 90 percent reduction in our federal timber supply. And when you take almost four billion board feet off the market, the economic effects on rural communities is just inescapable.”

Geisinger continued to explain, “It’s interesting that in spite of everything that’s happened to our industry, we’re still the second-biggest industry in the state [of Oregon], behind high tech. But with that being said, our industry is not what it used to be. Hundreds of mills closed, and tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, and those jobs haven’t been replaced.”

Back in the 1990’s, environmentalists argued that the Northern Spotted Owl could only exist in “old growth forests,”  yet now they are forced to admit that the subspecies can live in young forests as is witnessed in California.

Over the years, in spite of various forestry plans designed to save the spotted owl, the bird continues on a precipitous decline, and some question whether the challenges faced by the owl was related to the presence of old growth forests at all?

In fact, research conducted on Green Diamond Company’s timberland in coastal northern California indicated that this theory was untrue. The species not only survived, but also often flourish on commercial timberlands in this region. In fact, Green Diamond’s timberland proved to be one of the most populous spotted owl areas in the Northwest. Since Green Diamond’s owl research began in 1990, they have identified over 1,700 adult and juvenile spotted owls on their property alone.  This is quite a powerful repudiation of the theory that timbering and the Northern Spotted Owl cannot co-exist.

The actions taken by Green Diamond have been so successful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded their timber operations the first ever Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the spotted owl.

California Forestry Association President David Bischel sums up the situation saying, “Ironically, some of the most robust populations of Northern Spotted Owls occupy sustainably managed private forests of Northern California.”

Bischel’s statement is startling in its simplicity, and the massive implications are difficult to miss.

If the Northern Spotted Owl thrives in managed private forests, and yet it continues to decline on federal lands where timbering has been outlawed to save the species, one can logically conclude that the owl would be better off in habitat where sustainable forest management is practiced.

Twenty years later, tens of thousands of good paying jobs have been destroyed, thousands of lives have been ruined, communities shuttered, and it turns out that the entire habitat based premise of the species recovery plan was wrong.

Now, the same characters are engaged in a monumental war on our nation’s real energy resources.  They are evangelic in their attempts to destroy the use of coal, and they are equally fervent against the Keystone XL pipeline as well as the use of hydraulic fracturing to develop shale oil resources.

They claim that the climate is warming and that everyone who is anyone agrees.  Of course, this claim ignores prominent Russian scientists who claim that our world is on the verge of a prolonged cooling period.

They ignore the inconvenient fact that their global warming models have been absurdly wrong as the average global temperatures have been stable for the past fifteen years.

Even those who set off the initial climate alarm have been forced to come to terms with this reality, as James Lovelock, the godfather of the global warming movement who previously warned that billions would die before the end of this century admitted, “The problem is that we don’t know what the climate is doing.  We thought we knew 20 years ago.  That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.”

When you compound the growing doubts about the premise that the planet is warming with the even more tenuous theory that man-made carbon dioxide is the culprit in causing the “warming,” you have a very thin reed to stand on.

Yet that is exactly the rationale that the EPA and the environmentalists pin their entire anti-carbon regulatory assault on American industry on.

Twenty years ago, the environmentalists were going to save the Northern Spotted Owl and with the same certainty that they possess today, they convinced the federal government to effectively wipe out timbering in federally controlled forests in the northwest.  Now, we know that the bird thrives on timbered land, while it is struggling in non-managed forests.

The Northern Spotted Owl decisions cost tens of thousands of jobs, a drop in the bucket when compared to the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are likely to be lost should the EPA succeed in implementing their full global warming agenda.

As my father used to tell me, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”


The Cloud Begins With Coal

The computer industry may seem "clean" but it uses vast amounts of electricity -- much of which is provided by burning coal


The information economy is a blue whale economy with its energy uses mostly out of sight. Based on a mid range estimate, the world’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) ecosystem uses about 1,5 00 TWh of electricity annually, equal to all the electric generation of Japan and Germany combined -- as much electricity as was used for global illumination in 1985. The ICT ecosystem now approaches 10% of world electricity generation . Or in other energy terms – the zettabyte era already uses about 50% more energy than global aviation.

Reduced to personal terms, although charging up a single tablet or smart phone requires a negligible amount of electricity, using either to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year.  And as the world continues to electrify, migrating towards one refrigerator per household, it also evolves towards several smartphones and equivalent per person.

The growth in ICT energy demand will continue to be moderated by efficiency gains. But the historic rate of improvement in the efficiency of underlying ICT technologies started slowing around 2005, followed almost immediately by a new era of rapid growth in global data traffic, and in particular the emergence of wireless broadband for smartphones and tablets. The inherent nature of the mobile Internet, a key feature of the emergent Cloud architecture, requires far more energy than do wired networks. The remarkable and recent changes in technology mean that current estimates of global ICT energy use, most of which use pre iPhone era data, understate reality. Trends now promise faster, not slower, growth in ICT energy use.

Future growth in electricity to power the global ICT ecosystem is anchored in just two variables, demand (how fast traffic grows), and supply (how fast technology efficiency improves):

 *  As costs keep plummeting, how fast do another billion people buy smartphones and join wireless broadband networks where they will use 1,000 times more data per person than they do today ; how fast do a nother billion, or more, join the Internet at all; how fast do a trillion machines and devices join the Internet to fuel the information appetite of Big Data ?

 *  Can engineers invent, and companies deploy, more efficient ICT hardware faster than data traffic grows ?

To estimate the amount of electricity used to fuel everything that produces, stores, transports, processes and displays zettabytes of data, one must account for the energy used by:

*  Data centers that have become warehouse scale supercomputers unlike anything in history ;

*  Ubiquitous b roadband wired and wireless communications networks;

*  The myriad of end use devices from PCs to tablets and smart phones to digital TV, and,

*  The manufacturing facilities producing all the ICT hardware.

Hourly Internet traffic will soon exceed the annual traffic of the year 2000. And demand for data and bandwidth and the associated infrastructure are growing rapidly not just to enable new consumer products and video, but also to drive revolutions in everything from health care to cars, and from factories to farms.

Historically, demand for bits has grown faster than the energy efficiency of using them. In order for world wide ICT electric demand to merely double in a decade, unprecedented improvements in efficiency will be needed now.

Electricity fuels the infrastructure of the world’s ICT ecosystem the Internet, Big Data and the Cloud. Coal is the world’s largest single current and future source of electricity. Hence the title of this paper.


Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything

By Jo Nova, writing from Australia

THE paradox du jour: people who like free markets don't want a carbon market, and the people who don't trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this "market" is a bureaucrat's wet dream.

A free market is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. "Free" means being free to choose to buy or to not buy the product. At the end of a free trade, both parties have something they prefer.

A carbon market is a forced market. There is little intrinsic incentive to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It says a lot about the voluntary value of a carbon credit that when given the option to pay $2 to offset their flight emissions, 88 per cent of people choose not to. A few do it as a form of green penance to assuage guilt, and others do it for their eco public relations campaign or branding.

To create demand for emissions permits, the government threatens onerous fines to force people to buy a product they otherwise don't need and most of the time would never even have thought of acquiring. Likewise, supply wouldn't exist without government approved agents. Potentially a company could sell fake credits (cheaper than the real ones) and what buyer could spot the difference? Indeed, in terms of penance or eco-branding, fake credits, as long as they were not audited, would "work" just as well as real ones.

Despite being called a commodity market, there is no commodity: the end result is air that belongs to no one in particular that has slightly less of a trace gas. Sometimes it is not even air with slightly less carbon dioxide, it is merely air that might have had more CO2, but doesn't. It depends on the unknowable intentions of factory owners in distant lands.

How strange, then, that this non-commodity was at one time projected to become the largest tradeable commodity in the world - bigger even than the global market for oil. In 2009, Bart Chilton, chairman of energy markets at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, estimated global carbon markets would be worth $2 trillion within five years.

The UN may claim that carbon is "tracked and traded like any other commodity", but if I buy a tonne of tin, I either get a tonne of tin or I get $20,000 because I onsold it. Fraud is easy to spot.

Unfortunately, fraud has been a big, ongoing problem with emissions trading. This market needs auditors, and the auditors need auditing (the top two auditors in the EU emissions trading scheme were suspended in 2009 for irregularities). The EU has already lost €5 billion to carbon-trading value-added tax fraud. The mafia is laundering money in Italy through renewables schemes, and after one tax loophole was closed, market volume in Belgium dropped by up to 90 per cent.

The carbon market also depends on the honesty of people claiming: "We wouldn't have built that dam without that carbon credit." How would we know? The Xiaoxi dam in China was already under construction two years before the owners applied for credits "to build it".

Since an ETS exists by government fiat and has no intrinsic value without it, it is technically a fiat currency rather than a tradeable commodity. Supply and demand is set by bureaucrats in the EU. If the price is too high, politicians will issue more credits, and if it's too low they will delay them (as the EU is planning to do). Bureaucrats can also give exemptions to trade-affected industries (or their friends, and to their fans in marginal seats).

Those who say that a carbon market is "like" other derivatives markets are wrong. Derivatives markets are sometimes quite disconnected from actual products such as pork bellies or gold bars, but eventually the supply and demand for real goods will determine the price. In some places the size of the derivatives market exceeds that of the commodity market, but that's a reason to question those schemes, not to set up a market in an atmospheric nullity or something as frivolous as an "intention" not to build a dam.

So, who profits from the carbon market? The brokers in a carbon market - almost every large investment bank - make money on every trade. The global carbon market turned over $176bn in 2011. These groups have been lobbying for a market, not a tax, and the reasons are obvious.

Most of the key factors in a carbon market are misnamed. The market is not free. An essential plant fertiliser is called pollution. The aim of the market is not to make clean energy but to change global temperatures by an amount that rounded to the nearest degree, equals zero. The US has no market but has reduced emissions (largely thanks to shale gas), while any reductions in EU emissions were largely due to falling gross domestic product. Yet the government wants to join the EU scheme.

Ironically, the reason for having any carbon scheme at all comes from monopolistic research. There are virtually no grants specifically available for sceptical scientists, but funding galore for unsceptical ones.

We need a free market in science before we even discuss the need for a free market in carbon.

But don't hold your breath - the global warmers prove to be mostly global hypocrites.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  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


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Record-setting warm temperatures in the United States during early 2012 were mostly the result of natural weather events and had little connection with global warming, a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado report in a new peer-reviewed paper. “This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating that most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event,” the scientists explained.

The Making of An Extreme Event: Putting the Pieces Together

By Randall Dole et al.


We examine how physical factors spanning climate and weather contributed to record warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012, when daily temperature anomalies at many locations exceeded 20°C. Over this region, approximately 1° C warming in March temperatures has occurred since 1901. This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating the most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event. The 2012 temperature anomalies had a close analogue in an exceptionally warm U.S. March occurring over 100 years earlier, providing observational evidence that an extreme event similar to March 2012 could be produced through natural variability alone. Coupled model forecasts and simulations forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) show that forcing from anomalous SSTs increased the probability of extreme warm temperatures in March 2012 above that anticipated from the long-term warming trend. In addition, forcing associated with a strong Madden-Julian Oscillation further increased the probability for extreme U.S. warmth and provided important additional predictive information on the timing and spatial pattern of temperature anomalies. The results indicate that the superposition of a strong natural variation similar to March 1910 on long-term warming of the magnitude observed would be sufficient to account for the record warm March 2012 U.S. temperatures. We conclude that the extreme warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012 resulted primarily from natural climate and weather variability, a substantial fraction of which was predictable.

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 2013

Warmists Debunk Arctic Methane Claims

The U.K. Guardian and dozens of additional media outlets are hyping a claim this week that rapidly receding Arctic sea ice will trigger a methane-release catastrophe within just a few years. While the media predictably tries to scare the pants off of people who don’t closely follow the scientific debate, skeptics, mainstream warmists, and even prominent global warming alarmists agree the predictions of a methane catastrophe are over the top and ridiculous.

A new paper in the journal Nature claims summertime Arctic sea ice could disappear within a couple of years, triggering a chain of events that will release catastrophic amounts of frozen and trapped methane into the atmosphere. The warming effects of the methane release, the Nature paper claims, will send the planet over a tipping point for immediate, rapid, and catastrophic global warming.

Judith Curry, who generally agrees with the global warming narrative provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted on her Climate Etc. Web site that the predicted methane apocalypse “rests on two assumptions: (1) the ‘spiral of death’ loss of Arctic sea ice and (2) connection of the sea ice loss to a massive release of methane hydrates into the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade. Each of these assumptions is highly implausible, based upon my understanding; the combination of these two assumptions into a single scenario seems impossible to me.”

Even high-profile global warming extremists are calling B.S. on the methane apocalypse claims. Gavin Schmidt, for example, noted that even under a “worst case” scenario, methane “will probably not be a huge player in climate change in the coming century.”


Green levies on energy bills hit poor hardest, say British MPs

Ministers were last night criticised for funding billions of pounds-worth of green schemes and climate change programmes through levies on household gas and electricity bills rather than recouping the money directly from taxpayers.

A hard-hitting report said the “regressive” tactic was placing a huge burden on vulnerable customers, such as the elderly and low income families, and that raising the money through tax was more equitable, as it would be based on an individual’s ability to pay.

The blast comes just days before British Gas-owner Centrica is expected to warn that it will have to raise bills for millions, because of rising wholesale energy prices and the huge cost of paying for the Government’s renewable revolution.

In its report, the Commons Energy Climate Change Committee said environmental charges account for 9pc of everyone’s gas and electricity bill, regardless of their income.

The Government’s own estimates are that its policies will add 33pc to the average electricity price paid by households in 2020.

The Committee said: “The use of levies on bills to fund social and environmental programmes will add to the burden faced by energy bills payers, particularly in low-income households.

“Public spending is less regressive in this respect. If Government is to continue raising levies in this way, it must ensure that the public understands the different components of an energy bill and how these relate to costs.”

The report claims consumers foot the £700m cost of the EU Emissions Trading System, the £2.2bn cost of the Renewables Obligation as well as the £196m that is spent on feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewables.

Watchdogs believe most households have no idea they are paying for such schemes while energy execs are furious they continue to be blamed for rising bills when ever more Government costs are being passed onto homeowners. One source said: “Labour started it, thinking it was a good idea to recoup the money through bills as it was less obvious, but it’s just carried on since then.”

Scottish Power last week said the cost of implementing green schemes such as a new carbon tax, fitting solid wall insulation and wind farm subsidies had soared by nearly 140pc in the past year. Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief executive, said: “We are seeing a big increase in our costs. What we are seeing coming through is in line with what we predicted, not what the Government predicted.”

Energy minister Ed Davey insists household bills will fall over time, as homes become more energy efficient, through insulation or 'greener’ products such as washing machines. The claim has been largely ridiculed by City analysts and stockbrokers.

The Select Committee insists the Government should do more to tackle fuel poverty, but is also scathing at the lack of transparency on household bills and the efforts of Ofgem, the industry regulator, to force the 'Big Six’ energy suppliers to do more.

The Committee said it was “astonishing” Ofgem had not taken up the recommendations of accountants BDO, which suggested measures such as forcing each of the Big Six to report accounts to the same year end and simplify bills in a bid to improve transparency. It said the failure “lays Ofgem open to criticism that it is unwilling to use the teeth it has.”

Speaking last night, Richard Lloyd, exec director of Which? said: “The reality is that consumers are going to foot the bill for upgrading our energy infrastructure. Whichever way it’s funded - tax or bill levies - the Government must work with industry and regulators to ensure there is proper scrutiny and transparency.”

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change insisted the Government was doing “all we can” to help consumers “keep their bills down”.

He added: “Our policies to support renewable energy and reduce energy waste are insulating consumers from the rising cost of fossil fuels.”


Ethanol industry has EPA as ally in battle against Big Oil

Drama is high these days for ethanol makers, whose fate is on the line in Washington -- fitting for an industry dependent on government.

The oil industry has launched an assault on the ethanol mandate that drives demand for the plant-based fuel. The Senate recently confirmed an industry friend to head the Environmental Protection Agency. And the EPA is finalizing a controversial rule to allow higher blends of ethanol in gasoline.

Ethanol is a fuel made from fermenting and distilling plant matter -- mostly corn in the U.S. From the industry's earliest days, government has subsidized the fuel. The most important benefit for the industry today is the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The 2005 Republican-passed energy bill created the RFS, known as the "ethanol mandate," and the 2007 Democrat-passed energy bill expanded it. Under the law, oil refiners must purchase a set quantity of ethanol every year.

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Thanks largely to cars' improving fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption has fallen steadily over the past few years, so refiners aren't selling enough gasoline to blend with the ethanol. Under the complicated structure of the ethanol mandate, this will drive up costs for refiners, and thus drive up the price of gasoline.

The oil industry has never loved the ethanol mandate, which, among other things, adds to their costs. Many oil companies invested in ethanol -- Koch Industries owns some massive ethanol distilleries, and Valero is a major ethanol player.

But current market conditions have driven the oil lobby to take up arms. The American Petroleum Institute is running radio ads attacking the mandate. The National Council of Chain Restaurants is attacking the mandate, too, arguing that it drives up food prices by shifting cropland to fuel production. Three senators have proposed a bill to end the mandate.

So ethanol is fighting back. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association flew into D.C. this month to defend the mandate. The National Biodiesel Board retained a new lobbyist this month -- former Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Poet, the country's largest ethanol producer, hired a new top lobbyist, former House Science Committee staffer Rob Walther.

Ethanol's best asset may not be on K Street, but in the EPA: new Administrator Gina McCarthy. McCarthy, just confirmed by the Senate, is a consistent ethanol industry defender.

Late last year, for instance, governors from both parties and five states petitioned the EPA to waive the ethanol mandate. The governors weren't petitioning on behalf of drivers or Big Oil, but on behalf of ranchers. Feed prices were going sky high thanks to drought, and the ethanol mandate diverts corn from cattle feed to gas stations.

"Severe economic harm is being experienced by the state of North Carolina and many of its agricultural regions, as well as important economic sectors in the state, as a direct result of the implementation of the applicable volume requirements of the RFS," wrote Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in late 2012, as reported in CQ.

McCarthy, then assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, denied the request.

In the past four years at EPA, McCarthy's most important work was probably approving higher blends of ethanol in gasoline -- a fight in which ethanol is on the free-market side.

Too much ethanol in gasoline can damage car engines. Current law prohibits blends of more than 10 percent ethanol, or E10. McCarthy spent more than four years working out rules to allow blends as high as E15 -- trumping the objections of automakers and oil companies.

This summer, the rule allowing E15 cleared some important hurdles. It could go into effect soon.

Given this record, it's no surprise the ethanol industry applauded McCarthy's nomination back in March.

The American Coalition for Ethanol announced at the time, "We appreciate President Obama nominating Gina McCarthy as administrator of EPA, a step which shows the president's continued commitment to ethanol and other renewable fuels."

"President Obama has made an outstanding choice in his decision to nominate Gina McCarthy to be the next administrator of the EPA," declared Tom Buis, president of Growth Energy, another ethanol lobby. The Renewable Fuels Association and the Advanced Ethanol Council also applauded her nomination.

In Washington, most policy fights are really battles between industries. These days, ethanol is on the defensive, but it still seems to be warding off Big Oil.


Obama says Keystone pipeline won’t create many jobs

President Obama in an interview released Saturday accused Republicans of exaggerating the job gains that would come with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, emboldening critics of the project as his administration weighs whether to give the project the green light.

“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true,” he said in the interview published by the New York Times. “And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.”

If approved, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries — the State Department is now reviewing the environmental impact of such construction. In a high-profile speech unveiling his plan to combat climate change, Obama last month said he would approve the pipeline only if he was convinced that it would not exacerbate greenhouse gases.

Obama, in this latest interview, stood by that pledge.

“I meant what I said. I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release,” Obama said.

At one point, Obama even suggested that the Keystone pipeline could lead to higher gas prices.

“Oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States,” he said. “In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.”

Keystone supporters have accused Obama of dragging his feet on the issue to placate green groups, noting that the original State Department analysis said the construction of the pipeline would not significantly increase carbon emissions.

Regardless of his decision, the president is likely to alienate at least part of his political base. Labor unions have welcomed what they consider a badly needed infusion of new jobs, while environmentalists say the climate ramifications of the project far outweigh minimal economic gains.

For his part, Obama seemed unconvinced by the arguments being made by labor interests.

“Well, look, [unions] might like to see 2,000 jobs initially,” he said. “But that is a blip relative to the need.”

Obama gave no indication of when he expects to give the final verdict on Keystone.


Obama’s rogue EPA makes an end-around Congress

By Bill Wilson

A national carbon tax masked as an “emissions marketplace” is one of the few pieces of anti-free market legislation Barack Obama has failed to pass during his first four-and-a-half years in office. Clearly this defeat has irked Obama, who is now attempting to bypass Congress and use his rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose sweeping new regulations on America’s energy industry.

Rather than taxing utilities into submission legislatively, Obama now plans on regulating them to death administratively. To that end, by 2015 Obama’s EPA will unveil strict new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired facilities under his so-called “Climate Action Plan.” These “Flexible Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants” will be promulgated as state regulations under the auspices of the Clean Air Act.

“You shall ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that you develop approaches that allow the use of market-based instruments, performance standards and other regulatory flexibilities,” Obama’s plan states.

This level of environmental regulatory overreach is unprecedented.

Under the administration of former president George H.W. Bush, the EPA was granted authority to oversee sulphur dioxide emissions trading. However the creation of this “marketplace” was explicitly authorized via amendments to the Clean Air Act — amendments approved by overwhelming majorities of both the U.S. House and Senate.

Meanwhile prior efforts to force the EPA to arbitrarily impose such government-run “marketplaces” — absent congressional approval — have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Obama will never receive congressional support for his carbon dioxide emissions scheme — and he knows it. In fact several members of his own party are already blasting these anti-competitive measures.

“Overzealous regulations are harmful to our economy,” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) said in response to Obama’s proposals.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) referred to Obama’s plan as the declaration of a “war on coal.”

Manchin isn’t exactly right. Obama actually declared his “war on coal” five years ago as a candidate for president, when he told a liberal editorial board “if someone wants to build a coal-powered plant they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Unable to convince a Democratic-controlled Congress to go along with this radical scheme, Obama is now trying to impose it arbitrarily — a plan which will raise energy costs on consumers, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and deprive the American economy of nearly $1.5 trillion worth of income, according to one estimate.

Then there’s the dirty little secret of “pricing coal” when it comes to domestic emissions — namely its utter failure to make a dent in the global atmospheric situation. According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency, America led the world in reducing carbon emissions a year ago — lowering our output by a total of 200 megatons. However carbon emissions soared globally by more than 400 megatons in spite of these efforts — reaching a new all-time high.

Also, it’s worth noting government “green initiatives” did not create America’s declining emissions levels: Good old-fashioned free market economics did that. Attacking coal on the other hand will have unmistakably adverse market affects — most notably increased natural gas prices for consumers.

“The primary reason for the U.S. emissions decline is the result of new technologies from the fossil fuel industry that are leading to cheap coal being displaced by even cheaper natural gas for the generation of electricity,” writes Paul C. Kanppenberger of the Cato Institute.

In other words Obama is circumventing Congress to advance economically crippling new regulations that won’t even accomplish his stated objectives. And even if Obama’s scheme were constitutional — or the fuzzy science of climate change valid — America’s economy cannot afford the incredibly steep price he is asking us to pay.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  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


Monday, July 29, 2013

Global warming is causing lobsters to become cannibals:  Yes, too many lobsters is a bad thing (?)

The Warmist right hand does not know what the Warmist left hand is doing...  The usual Warmist story is that all that extra CO2 in the air will "acidify" the oceans and that will melt crustacean shells, thus killing off all crustaceans.  This story exactly contradicts that prophecy

The waters off the coast of Maine are overflowing with lobsters, which, according to Mother Jones, is actually a bad thing.

Two main factors are causing the lobster population to explode. First, rising sea temperatures brought on by global warming are encouraging the crustaceans to grow quicker and reproduce more often, says Noah Oppenheim, a marine biology graduate student at the University of Maine.

Second, Oppenheim tells Mother Jones, over-fishing has rid the ocean of the lobster's natural enemies, which include cod, herring, and other fish.

The result is a lot of lobsters that have nothing eat — which is why, as footage taken by Oppenheim shows, they have resorted to cannibalism.

Oppenheim tells Mother Jones that young lobsters left under his camera overnight are 90 percent more likely to be eaten by another lobster than by any other sea creature. That's a massive change from the 1990s, when similar experiments found that fish were usually the ones chowing down on lobsters.

This glut of lobsters is bad for just about everyone. As the lobster haul hit an all-time high of 126 million pounds in 2012, prices fell to $2.72 per pound, the lowest since the Great Depression. (Offshore water temperatures in Maine, coincidentally, have hit a century high). That is making it harder for Maine lobstermen to make ends meet.

For any seafood lover hoping this means buckets of cheap lobster, you might want hold off on melting that butter. That's because the low prices lobstermen get for their catch doesn't necessarily translate to low prices for the consumer.

Ideally for the consumer, lobster could be shipped across the country like chicken, meaning you could find lobster as readily in Iowa as on the coast of Maine. But as Slate's Matthew Yglesias explained last year, the fact that we like our lobsters fresh means they have to be transported alive in buckets of water, an expensive process that keeps the market clustered in the Northeast.

Ultimately, higher ocean temperatures could be bad for the creatures themselves. While they are in abundance now, New England saw a similar explosion in population in the 1990s, only to watch it crash. Warmer waters could also be a factor in lobster shell disease, a bacterial infection that can kill the animal.

Right now, lobstermen in Maine can only hope that resurgent predators or cooler waters will return to keep the population in check.

"It's a lot more work for the same money," Lyford Alley complains to Mother Jones. "We're just barely making it."


Public opinion in Europe

The European Commission, Directorate General for Communication, has recently released the results of an opinion survey carried out in all the countries of the EU.  Below is one of the resultant graphs.  Note that only 4% of Europeans thought that environmental issues were the most important issues for their country.  The British were spot on the average of 4% but the Germans were keener, with 10%.

The only country that came close to taking environmental issues seriously was  -- of all places -- Malta.  Why Malta?  I can only guess.  Malta is a pretty arid place so maybe that has something to do with it.  Maybe they believe the irrational Warmist prophecies that warming will bring more drought.


The Dirty Politics of "Clean" Energy

Gas pump signage declaring “contains up to 10% ethanol” is so ubiquitous, most of us probably don’t even see it anymore—let alone think about why it is there, what it really means, or how it impacts the price of the gallon of gas being pumped. Despite its omnipresence, ethanol is suddenly center stage.

On July 24, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power concluded a two-day hearing: “Overview of the renewable fuel standard (RFS): Stakeholder perspectives.” Just the week before, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an interesting opinion piece that pointed to ethanol as an environmental elixir, whose “abstract idealism” is trumped by “real-world concerns.” Apparently, in the “liberal bastion” known as Cambridge, MA, clean energy is praised as “one of our best solutions for moving beyond dirty fuel,” yet a proposal to expand a nearby ethanol facility that involved shipping ethanol by train through Cambridge has been met with almost universal political opposition—not in my backyard.

The day after the House hearing, ethanol was in the news once again for a totally different reason: “Ethanol spills from derailed train near port of Tampa in Florida.” 35,000 gallons of ethanol were being transported by train from Chicago to the docks of the Port of Tampa. 4,500 gallons were spilled when 11 train cars derailed—closing the port and causing employees in the industrial area to miss work.

So why are we shipping ethanol hither and yon? Why does our gasoline contain 10% ethanol?

In 2005, back when global warming was still believed to be a manmade crisis and before the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to unleash a new energy boom in the US, the Energy Policy Act was passed—mandating that renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biofuel, be added to transportation fuels in increasing amounts over the next decade: the RFS. It was thought that growing our fuel would give America energy independence and reduce carbon emissions. Neither has turned out to be the case.

As usually happens when government decides to pick winners and losers, problems arise. Both sides of the aisle and both houses of Congress have concerns about the RFS. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee says; “The current system cannot stand.” The National Journal reports that Senate Democrats such as Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Casey (PA), Kay Hagan (NC), Thomas Carper and Christopher Coons (DE), and Chuck Schumer (NY) are worried about the RFS. While they do not support a full repeal of the RFS, they are questioning “their party’s steadfast support for a policy whose goal is to promote renewable-energy fuels over oil.” Senate solutions range from legislation to reform of the RFS to asking the Obama administration for a temporary waiver or modification of the portion of the law that requires increasing amounts of biofuels be blended with gasoline each year.

While ethanol and biofuels can be made from a variety of sources—though some, such as cellulosic ethanol (wood chips, switchgrass, and agricultural waste) and algenol (algae), have yet to be commercially viable, most ethanol in US is made from corn. However, last summer’s drought put pressure on the corn supply—raising questions about the viability of corn-based ethanol and making allies of the fossil fuel and livestock industries and environmentalists.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Bill Roenigk of the National Chicken Council said his producers are confronting higher and more volatile feed prices, the result of diverting corn into gas tanks. He sided with Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute who described the RFS as “completely untethered from reality” and a “grave economic threat” that must be stopped. The high corn prices are making ethanol more expensive and raising the price of gasoline. Scott Faber from the Environmental Working Group said the corn ethanol mandate has increased greenhouse gas emissions and caused other environmental harm.

Ethanol has been made in the US for 32 years, yet 2012 production was 600 million gallons less than the previous year. Regardless of production, the law mandates that ever-increasing amounts of ethanol be blended into gasoline. The difference is being made up by importing Brazilian sugar-based ethanol—roughly 336.7 million gallons were imported in the first 10 months of 2012. In December 2012, the WSJ reported: “U.S. ethanol output will fall by 10% next year to about 12.6 billion gallons.” Seldon B. Graham, Jr., an energy engineer with 59 years of experience and the author of Why Your Gasoline Prices are High, says: “It is ludicrous to replace imported foreign oil with imported foreign ethanol.”

The House hearing addressed a range of topics including the RFS’s potential effect on fuel and food prices, blend-wall and compatibility issues, and impacts on the nation’s agricultural sector and the environment. But, it didn’t cover how much the biofuel mandates are costing the American taxpayer, the number of ethanol companies that have gone bankrupt while receiving taxpayer subsidies, grants or loans, or the potential for crony corruption.

As I’ve repeatedly addressed over the past year while covering Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal with researcher Christine Lakatos, when government mandates something that doesn’t exist, it gives rationale to fund experimental projects (often involving Obama donors and/or insiders) designed to meet the need. The Department of Energy awarded up to $564 million in stimulus funds to 19 integrated biorefinery projects and since 2009 the Biorefinery Assistance Program has given out about $1.2 billion in treasury-backed loan guarantees for 10 biofuel companies.

Range Fuels provides a tidy case history. In March 2007, Range Fuels received a $76 million grant from the DOE and another $80 million from the Obama administration in 2009 to produce cellulosic ethanol. Vinod Kholsa, part of Obama’s election team and a big Democrat donor, was an original investor through his greentech venture capital firm. Despite the approximately $300 million in a combination of private, state, and federal funding, Range Fuels never produced cellulosic ethanol. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2011.

In her newest post to the Green Corruption Files, Lakatos highlights three biofuel companies that are a part of Obama’s green slime fuel dream (there are others that she’ll cover soon). During an energy speech in Florida, he stated: “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae.” Right there in Florida is Algenol Biofuels—which Forbes calls “Obama’s favorite algae company.” In December 2009, Algenol Biofuels received $25 million in federal stimulus grants from the Obama administration and a $10 million grant in 2010 from Lee County’s Economic Development Committee.

Then there’s Sapphire Energy, which received a $50 million grant from the DOE and a loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefinery Assistance Program for their “Green Crude Farm” in Southern New Mexico. Surprise! Executives, board members and employees at Sapphire contributed almost exclusively to Democratic campaigns. Michelle Malkin reports: Sapphire's “website reads like a satellite White House communications office.” Even the Private funds raised for Sapphire have Obama connections: Bob Nelsen, a founding partner of ARCH Ventures—a Sapphire investor, served on Obama’s National Finance Committee during the 2008 campaign, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates is also a Sapphire investor. In 2008, Microsoft donated $852,164 and $814,645 in 2012—making them number four and number two, respectively, on the top Obama donor lists. In 2012, Bill and Melinda Gates personally contributed $71,800 to Democrats.

The really interesting story is Solazyme, as it got both a $21 million DOE stimulus grant in 2009, and then in 2011 was rewarded with a guaranteed government customer for its biofuel that will pay four to seven times the regular fuel price: the US Navy. TJ Glauthier is a “Strategic Advisor” for Solayzyme. Previously Glauthier held key positions in the Clinton administration and the DOE and served on Obama’s 2008 White House Transition Team. He is widely credited with helping to develop the energy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Solayzyme’s officials, including Glauthier, contributed at least $360,000 to Democrats between 2007 and 2012. Other Solayzyme Obama/Democrat connections include:

 *   Drew Littman, head of Solayzyme’s Washington lobbying office, who was chief of staff for Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

 *   Jerry Fiddler, chairman of the board of directors, is a large Democrat donor, who contributed $24,000 to Obama’s Victory Fund.

 *   Sanjay Wagle, was a Solayzyme investor through VantagePoint. He was an Obama fundraiser for the 2008 campaign and joined the administration, as a “renewable energy grants advisor” at the DOE.

 *   Jonathan Wolfson, Solayzyme co-founder, sat on the board for the Center for American Progress (CAP) Clean Tech Council. CAP is responsible for crafting and promoting many key Democratic policies and is a major force behind Obama's green-energy agenda.

No wonder Solayzyme got the deal for the “Single largest purchase of biofuel in government history” that Investors.comcalled a “two-for-one bad deal—swindling taxpayers while ravaging national security.”

Maybe ethanol’s part in the green-energy crony-corruption scandal will need its own hearing. There’s a lot more to cover! With Gina McCarthy as the new administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency there’s bound to be more as she’s reported to be “a consistent ethanol-industry defender.”

Ethanol is a dichotomy for the Obama administration, which has mandated higher MPG for vehicles and at the same time mandates the blending of ethanol that actually lowers MPG. Obama’s climate change policy calls for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, yet, according to the DOE website, ethanol increases them.

The RFS was ostensibly a move to combat the impact of fossil fuels and decrease imported oil, but it became a giveaway to agricultural interests in electorally important states and to those important to the president and the Democratic Party.

While several members of the Energy and Power Subcommittee agree: “There’s probably not enough congressional support for completely repealing the standard,” Upton concluded: “I hope we can start a discussion that considers a host of potential modifications and updates to the RFS, with the end goal being a system that works best for the American people. I am absolutely committed to ensuring we deliver workable reforms.”


The Environmental Lobby's Great Forest Con

Environmental activists constantly pressure government agencies to intervene in the lives of others, whether it is telling them how to run their businesses, where they can build their homes, or what types of food they can and cannot eat, among countless other examples.

Another area activists are increasingly focusing on is forest management, telling tree farmers how they should manage their land. Common sense would tell you that a one-size-fits-all system of land management would not fit the diverse landscapes of the U.S., in terms of climate, elevation, and many other variables.

Unfortunately, common sense is not that common among those with the loudest voices on this issue.

Last year, we wrote about the detrimental effects of a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) monopoly in timber markets, and its negative impact on consumers and entrepreneurs around the world. Since that time, additional research has shown the real financial costs resulting from such a framework.

A study released last month by EconoSTATS at George Mason University concludes that forcing the preferred land management program of environmental activists –the FSC – would lead to over 40,000 job losses in Oregon and Arkansas alone.

Another report released last year by the American Consumer Institute quantified the economic loss in wood products and paper markets if FSC were made a controlling requirement for American forests. The study put these amounts at a staggering $10 billion for wood products and $24 billion for paper products markets. It follows, as night follows day, that such a steep reduction in commerce leads to massive job losses.

Both government policies and non-market pressures from activists seek to promote FSC at the expense of competing programs, such as the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which combined certify tens of millions more acres of land in America than FSC.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) “LEED” rating system, for example, exclusively awards its ‘certified wood’ credits to FSC timber. With the rapid growth of LEED-certified buildings nationwide, a majority of our forest products businesses are getting unnecessarily obstructed or blocked from participating in more and more projects.

FSC’s activist allies constantly brag how they intimidate Fortune 500 companies into revising their supply chains or stopping them from stocking their stores with products certified by other credible programs. This limits the customer base for forestry-based businesses and raises prices for consumers.

Such efforts do not help the environment either.

Since FSC certifies 90% of its property outside the U.S., policies that promote its use increase the chances that lumber will be imported from abroad. FSC enforces dozens of different standards across the globe and holds landowners in other nations to far lower standards than it does for American tree farmers. Relatively lower-quality timber from Russia or Brazil can end up displacing American wood in domestic markets. Even Greenpeace, an FSC supporter, is now calling FSC’s credibility into question because of its varied standards.

As the EconoSTATS study stated, “the FSC program imposes large economic costs and greater global environmental degradation unintentionally creating the worst of both worlds. And, due to the labeling requirements, consumers and businesses have no definitive way of knowing the actual conditions under which their FSC certified forest products were harvested.”

It is ironic that FSC supporters promote the program as the alternative to other credible programs, which supposedly represent “big business.” But it is often smaller landowners who often cannot meet FSC’s steep standards in America. If they are denied from choosing other certification programs or the economic returns from ATFS and SFI certification are diminished (as they are in LEED projects), then these landowners could give up certification altogether or even sell their property to developers.

Thinking beyond step one has never been a priority for environmental extremists. But that is no excuse for the rest of us not to do so.

This type of environmental extremism hurts consumers, businesses, and workers – including family farmers, millworkers, woodworkers, carpenters, and truckers – alike. Denying them options in certification markets or entry into green building projects does nothing for the environment or the economy.

It is time for those who understand these facts to inform others, before they get misinformed by people and groups whose job is to misinform. Too many livelihoods are at stake to ignore the detrimental effects of wrongheaded policies that are dressed up in the rhetoric of idealism.


Fracking brings employment and economic revival

Paul Driessen

Signs of pride and prosperity were evident all over Williamsport and the gorgeous northern Pennsylvania countryside around it. Friendly, happy people greeted us. New cars, trucks, hotels and restaurants sparkled in a clean, bustling downtown. New roofs topped barns and houses, while late model tractors worked the fields. Formerly dirt roads are now paved.

Men and women again have high-paying jobs, young people are coming back instead of moving away, their salaries are supporting other businesses and jobs, and many are taking college programs in oilfield technical and business specialties, Vince Matteo told me. As president and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, he’s witnessed the transformation.

“98 percent of the change has been positive,” he says. Contributions to United Way are increasing each year, county infrastructure has improved enormously, and environmental impacts are minimal.

Visits to several Anadarko Petroleum drilling and fracking sites explained why. The operations are far more high-tech than what I had seen previously on rigs in the Rocky Mountains, off the Louisiana and California coasts, and last fall in Alberta’s oil sands region. Hydraulic fracturing was first employed in Kansas in 1947. But steadily improved fracking technology is now combined with computers, down-hole sensors and microseismic instruments. Drilling equipment, lets crews send a bit 6,000 feet down and 8,000 feet laterally into Marcellus Shale formations – and end up within three feet of their intended target!

The operations are conducted from atop a multi-layered felt and impermeable plastic pad, surrounded by a berm, to keep unlikely spills from contaminating farm and forest land. Multiple wells are drilled from a single pad and “kicked out” horizontally in various directions. The drilling rig is skidded a short distance to four or five more locations around the pad, the entire array is fractured at high pressure, and short wellheads are installed to collect natural gas, and send it to local and interstate pipeline networks.

A nearby impoundment is also lined with plastic to hold water for fracturing operations. Topsoil removed to prepare the pad and pond is stored nearby. As operations are finished, the land is reclaimed, topsoil is replaced, and local grasses, flowers and shrubs are planted, to create meadows for deer and wild turkeys – or anything else the landowners prefer. To launch 20-40 years of hydrocarbon production from a 15,000-acre (23-square-mile) area requires barely 2% surface disturbance, most of it for just a few months.

Once the work is completed, the area quietly and unobtrusively produces decades of energy – and revenue for farmers, wildlife organizations, hunting groups, and local, state and federal treasuries.

Hydraulic fracturing takes place some 5,500 feet (almost four Empire State Buildings) below the water table. To prevent groundwater contamination, pipe penetrating the first seven hundred feet is surrounded by layers of steel casing and specialized cement. During the drilling and fracturing process, even rainwater collected from the drill pad is saved and used. Some of the water used to fracture the shale is also recovered during gas production; this “flowback” water itself is filtered, treated and reused.

The hydraulic fracturing process requires some 2.0-4.2 million gallons of water per well, but fresh or brackish water works equally well. A 2013 Ceres study concluded that hydraulic fracturing consumed 75 billion gallons of water per year on average nationwide, in 2011 and 2012. EPA says fracking consumes 70-140 billion gallons a year nationally, and the Texas Water Resources Board estimates that Lone Star State oil and natural gas companies used 27 billion gallons of water for fracking statewide in 2011. However, Texas homeowners used 495 billion gallons for lawns and gardens, the TWRB found (18 times what fracking consumed), and household landscape irrigation nationwide consumes nearly 3 trillion gallons of water annually, according to EPA (21-43 times the EPA and Ceres estimates for hydraulic fracturing).

Even more revealing, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, fracking requires just 0.6 to 5.8 gallons of water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, “renewable” and “sustainable” corn-based ethanol requires 2,510 to 29,100 gallons per million Btu of usable energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!

As to chemical contamination, fracturing fluids are 99.5% water and sand. Moreover, the 0.5% chemicals portion is increasingly basic, nontoxic household or kitchen stuff. Anadarko’s chemicals today are only “slickeners” (to help the sand get further into cracks created by the pressurized water) and “biocides” that prevent bacterial buildup in the well pipes. Which chemicals are used for any single well in the United States can be determined by going to – and every EPA, DOE and other study conducted to date has concluded that fracking has never contaminated a single US well.

Hydraulic fracturing has created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs in the United States, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next seven years, IHS Global Insight reports. It has injected billions into North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and other state economies. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could provide over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.

In the process, fracking has revived America’s petrochemical, steel and other manufacturing industries, and reinvigorated American ingenuity and economic competitiveness. One shudders to think how awful the US unemployment, part-time employment and economic picture would be in its absence.

This game-changing technology has also transformed US, EU and global political equations and power structures. With the United States, Argentina, Britain, China, Israel and many other countries collectively sitting atop centuries’ worth of now economically producible oil and natural gas, OPEC and Russia can no longer control prices and threaten customer nations. For poor developing countries, natural gas from shale provides fuel to generate abundant, affordable electricity that will transform lives.

Then why do Hollywood and radical greens celebrate misleading films like Gasland and Promised Land – even after Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney’s documentary FrackNation completely demolished Gasland‘s lies and half-truths? Why do outfits like Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club, and ill-informed activists like Yoko Ono, continue to scream hysterical nonsense about the process?

Follow the money – and the ideology. Big Eco is big business, and big egos. It seeks ever more power and every greater control over our lives. Fracking threatens all of that.

“What you get in your mailbox is a never-ending stream of crisis-related shrill material designed to evoke emotions,” former National Audubon Society COO Dan Beard once admitted, “so that you will sit down and write a check” – or click the “Donate Now” button. This multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry would collapse without the crisis du jour it conjures up, with help from the news media, politicians and regulators.

Deep Ecology adherents view fossil fuels as evil incarnate, and believe fervently in “peak oil” and Climate Armageddon. They are frustrated that fracking guarantees a hydrocarbon renaissance and predominance for decades to come, and helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions without massive economic sacrifice.

They also tend to be well-off, and clueless about the true sources of modern living standards. They have disturbingly callous attitudes about people who have lost their jobs because of Mr. Obama’s war on coal and cheap energy – and about poor rural New York families that are barely hanging onto their farms, unable to tap the Marcellus Shale riches beneath their land, because Governor Cuomo refuses to lift his moratorium on fracking. Many don’t give a spotted owl hoot about the world’s impoverished billions, whose hope for better lives depends on the reliable, affordable electricity that “frack gas” can help bring.

These shameful attitudes hurt people and planet. We need to frack for a better, cleaner, happier world!

Via email

Carbon tax raises costs, cuts jobs, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry audit reveals

THE carbon tax has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from company profits and forced struggling manufacturing firms to shift production - and jobs - offshore.

A national survey of Australia's $110 billion food processing industry has revealed nearly 30 per cent of businesses reported cost increases of 5 per cent or more since the carbon tax was introduced.

And 67 per cent of companies - including many small businesses - have been unable to pass on these higher costs to their customers.

Instead, they have been forced absorb the price hit on their bottom line.

Another audit by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reveals 82 per cent of businesses report the carbon tax has reduced profits - a year since the greenhouse scheme was introduced.

Around 30 firms were surveyed by AFGC with several deciding to shift production overseas to escape the carbon impost.

While higher energy bills is the biggest expense, the carbon tax has also added to rising packaging, transport and other expenses.

One food processing firm said the carbon tax had added nearly $5 million to operating expenses - including $500,000 in packaging and $240,000 in freight and storage fees.

Murray Goulburn, Australia's largest dairy firm, says the carbon tax has added $14 million to its annual expenses for the year to June 30.

Robert Poole, general manager, shareholder relations, said Murray Goulburn "cannot pass on these costs" because the price of dairy was "primarily" set by the global market.

But higher energy bills remains the biggest cost burden for manufacturing with nearly 50 per cent of those firms surveyed reporting their electricity bill had jumped 15 per cent or more.

One of Kevin Rudd's first decisions after ousting Julia Gillard as Prime Minister was to accelerate by a year plans to shift to a floating carbon price - in order to reduce the impact on business.

But AFGC chief executive Gary Dawson said it was already too late for a number of companies who are "reassessing their production planning in response to high costs".

"For a big energy user the additional cost of the carbon tax on their energy bill alone runs to millions of dollars a year so of course it forces an assessment of whether there are lower cost options (offshore)," Mr Dawson said.

ACCI chief economist Greg Evans lashed out at the carbon tax and other green programs which he said "have encouraged a de-industrialisation trend in the economy".

"We are already seeing an impact on jobs and investment in industries reliant on energy. This includes food processing, plastics and chemicals, metal manufacturing and oil refining, where we have seen successive announcements of winding back investment or relocating production facilities offshore," Mr Evans said.

Innovation and Industry Minister Kim Carr said the Government's decision to move from a fixed to a floating carbon price one year early "will link Australian businesses with international markets, reduce carbon liabilities from 1 July next year and provide certainty for firms looking to invest in Australia's future".

"The food processing sector stands to benefit substantially from the Asian Century and Labor will do everything it can to see business realise the opportunities on offer," Senator Carr said.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  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


Sunday, July 28, 2013

EU and China resolve solar trade row

The European Union and China have ended a row over solar panels, dampening fears of a looming trade war

Two of the world’s largest economies reached a deal to resolve the dispute over alleged “dumping” of solar panels in the European market, with a minium price agreed for panels from China.

The settlement was made on terms favourable to the Chinese.

Europe had claimed that China was using huge state subsidies to sell £18bn worth of panels at below cost prices, which is known as “dumping” them in the market, hitting domestic manufacturers.

The agreement between the EU’s trade chief and his Chinese counterpart comes before an August deadline which would have imposed punitive tariffs.

“We found an amicable solution,” EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said. “I am satisfied with the offer of a price undertaking submitted by China’s solar panel exporters,”

Shen Danyang, a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman called the deal a “positive and highly constructive outcome”.

However, some European manufacturers said the minimum price still constitutes dumping.

The agreement will allow Chinese businesses to export up to seven gigawatts per year of solar products without paying duties, provided that the price is no less than 56 cents per watt.

European solar panel manufacturers had been pushing for a minimum price of 80 cents or more.

EU ProSun, a trade association for EU manufacturers, said it will go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to challenge the deal.

The solar row was the largest of a series of trade conflicts between the EU and China.

Chinese officials are reviewing the production and import costs levied by some of the world’s largest drug companies and the prices set by international producers of infant milk formula.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to challenge abuses of market power.

Apple and fast food giant Yum! Brands Inc. are among foreign companies that have been forced to apologise this year to consumers in China after authorities began investigating their operations.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline is currently under investigation in China over allegations of fraud.

The EU, meanwhile, is still threatening to launch an investigation into Chinese-made telecommunications network equipment.


China threatened to embargo French wine.  NOBODY crosses French wine-growers so the EU had to cave

Green cops coming

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Buys 72,000 Rounds of Ammo

Not satisfied with last year’s purchase of 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently solicited bids for an additional 72,000 rounds.

A solicitation by the scientific agency posted on July 8 on the Federal Business Opportunities web site requested “56,000 rounds of .40 caliber 180 grain jacketed hollow points” and “16,000 rounds of .40 caliber frangible lead free rounds.”

The NOAA appears to have had an immediate need for the rounds as their requested response date was only four days later on July 12.

Jacketed hollow points (JHPs) are not practice rounds.

They are designed to expand (or “mushroom”) on impact and are more expensive than ball ammo used for practice.

As reported last August by Paul Joseph Watson, the National Weather Service, which operates under the NOAA, supposedly purchased 46,000 JHPs and 500 paper targets for various weather stations.

The Washington Times later reported, via a statement from NOAA spokesperson Scott Smullen, that last year’s ammunition request contained a “clerical error” and that the “solicitation for ammunition and targets for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement mistakenly identified NOAA’s National Weather Service as the requesting office.”

As Watson pointed out, this explanation still doesn’t explain why JHPs are needed for paper targets when they are obviously not practice rounds.

“You should always practice with what you’re going to use in real life,” Steven Howard, a former federal agent said in support of training with JHPs, in an interview with TribLive.

Yet with “defense load” JHPs costing at least one dollar a round for common service calibers, it is hard to imagine concealed handgun license holders and local police departments constantly spending that much money to stay proficient in shooting.

Even if costs are not an issue, local police departments may still have trouble procuring enough ammo for training due to the ammo shortage encouraged by our federal government, as Steve Watson reported back in May.

But in further response to Howard’s comment, bullet designs are not that significant in training as long as shooters use ball ammunition that is just as powerful as their defense load JHP, generating the same recoil and shooter reaction.

An expanding bullet means little to a paper target.

In regards to the quantity of ammo requested by the NOAA, why does the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement (FOLE) even need 56,000 JHPs, especially if the agency supposedly received 46,000 rounds last year?

Assuming that this latest solicitation is going directly to the FOLE for the agency’s own use and not somehow funneled into the Department of Homeland Security.

The FOLE is tasked primarily with enforcing fishing regulations, supporting scientific studies and protecting endangered marine species.

According to Smullen in a Fox News interview, the ammunition purchased is “standard issue” and will be used by 63 agents during training and qualifications.

That is the key point.

Sixty-three federal agents are armed with .40 caliber sidearms in order to enforce fishing regulations, “protecting the ecosystem” and “promoting marine conservation.”

As more regulations are added every year and more agents are hired for enforcement, more ammo will be purchased compared to the previous years.

This is true with the entire federal government as the cancer of tyranny grows and the roots of liberty decay.

As surreal as it sounds, the NOAA’s massive purchase of over 100,000 rounds of JHPs in the past two years follows the trend of other federal non-military agencies which combined have purchased conservatively 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in little over a year.

In an interview with Breitbart, Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Collective said that it’s the number of feds with guns that’s important, not necessarily the number of rounds.

“There are currently more than 70 different federal law enforcement agencies employing over 120,000 officers with arrests and firearms authority,” Knox said. “That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2008.”

“If the trends have continued upward at a relatively steady rate, that would put the total number of federal law enforcement officers at somewhere between 135,000 and 145,000.”

Knox said that’s a staggering number considering there’s only an estimated 765,000 state and local law enforcement officers.

“That means that about one in seven law enforcement officers in the country works directly for the federal government,” he said. “Not a local jurisdiction.”

The Second Amendment may simply suffocate under the weight of big government as ammunition manufacturers struggle to equip additional federal agents, leaving the ammo cans of the American people empty.


Drowning in Sea Level Nonsense

By Alan Caruba

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D) and forty members of Congress believe the sea levels are rising, that a panel should be created to determine what should be done, and, of course, to throw billions of dollars at a problem that does not exist. Politicians were eager to scare the public with the discredited global warming hoax and now they have found a new one.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a $20 billion flood barrier system to protect the city from future hurricanes and rising sea levels. Well, hurricanes like tropical storm Sandy are real, but rare. Rising sea levels, however, represent no threat at all.

William Happer who researched ocean physics for the U.S. Air Force and is currently a physics professor at Princeton University notes that “The sea level has been rising since 1800, at the end of the ‘little ice age’”, a cooling cycle last from around 1300 to 1850. Far from heating up, the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996 or so.

Harrison Schmitt, a former Apollo 17 astronaut, U.S. Senator, and a geologist, says “Predicting a sea level rise of seven feet over the next few thousand years would seem too risky a prediction on which to spend tax dollars” and that is surely an understatement. Wasting billons on “climate change”, however, is the new siren call of the Obama administration, but the National Research Council is warning, as Fox News reported, “that those kinds of subsidies are virtually useless at quelling greenhouse gases.”

In fact, as the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas—alleged to “trap” heat—has risen and has had zero effect on the cooling cycle.

A recent article in the British newspaper, The Register, reported on a study by scientists in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, that was published in “Nature Geoscience” that concluded there was no “scientific consensus” to suggest the rate of the seas’ rise will accelerate dangerously.

The notion of the seas rising, swamping coastal cities, and creating havoc is the stuff of science fiction, not science. This is why spending millions or billions on the assertions of some who have a real stake in keeping the public frightened is a very bad idea.

At the center of the global warming scare campaign is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its most recent report said that “no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone” but that does not discourage the IPCC from forecasting an increase due to global warming. This organization should be disbanded and, if I were in charge, many of its leaders would be in jail right now for fraud.

Who can you believe? One such person is Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, the former chair of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is the past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. He has been studying sea level and its effects on coastal areas for more than 35 years. I cited his credentials because others making predictions lack the same level of authority.

Dr. Morner acknowledges that “sea level was indeed rising from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. (Emphasis added). Get out your pocket ruler and look at what one millimeter represents. It is small. It is very small. Not surprisingly Dr. Morner is very critical of the IPCC and its headline-grabbing doomsday predictions. He scorns the IPCC’s claim to “know” that facts about sea level rise, noting that real scientists “are searching for the answer” by continuing to collect data “because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!”

A recent paper reviewed by CO2 Science finds that sea levels have risen from 2002-2011 at a rate of only 1.7 millimeters per year over the past 110 years, the equivalent of 6.7 inches per century. This is close to Dr. Morner’s assertion that, at most, there has been a rate of increase that tops out at 1.1 millimeter per year. The review concluded that there is no evidence of any human influence on sea levels.

Even so, in early July a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Josh Willis, told Fox News, that “There is no question that the time to prepare for sea level rise is now…We will definitely see seven feet of sea level rise—the only question is when.” And who funds NASA?

Between the scientists trying to gin up more government money for their agencies and departments and the politicians trying to find a new reason to spend more money, the public is left wondering if the oceans are rising and whether that represents something worth worrying about. The answer is (a) yes, sea levels are rising in infinitesimal amounts and (b) no, we need to stop spending money based on such claims.

It’s not the sea level rise you should worry about. It is the rising levels of national debt and the deficit.


Free markets for sustainability!

by Tim Worstall

I expect we're all wearily familiar with the population prodnose. Those who comment (most often seen at Comment is Free but they do spread themselves around a bit), endlessly, along the lines that "this is the problem that cannot be mentioned, the rising population". And who then go on to suggest the compulsory sterilisation of anyone a little browner than they think people ought to be. With rather fewer fascistic overtones we get similar stuff from people like Johnny Porritt and the Optimum Population Trust. There's just too many people, too many of them are peasants who won't do what Baronets tell them to and it's all just appalling.

Very strangely indeed it's largely these same people who insist that there must be a plan to deal with this population thing. Despite the fact that population is one thing that free markets deal with very well indeed thank you very much. As Ron Bailey over at Reason points out:

The crucial point is that increasing economic liberty correlates with increasing life expectancies, and thus falling fertility rates. As data from the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index shows, average life expectancy for free countries is over 80 years, whereas it’s just about 63 years in repressed countries.

The causal chain is as follows: economic freedom increases wealth: increased wealth leads to longer lifespans. Longer life spans for women reduce fertility rates (I know, you might think it works the other way: but it doesn't). Therefore economic freedom reduces population growth.

And there we have it: we don't need grand plans to sterilise everyone a racist wouldn't like to bring home to mother for tea. We don't need to pressure the peasantry into doing what an Old Etonian thinks they ought to. We just have to leave people to get on with it themselves. People generally like economic freedom, they certainly like increased wealth and longer lifepsans and the end result of all three is that population growth falls, falls to below replacement rate and thus the gross population falls over time.

No plans, no pressure, no coercion, just free markets and the rule of law saving the planet. Great, eh? Now if only we could get the population prodnoses to understand this....


Global Warming Alarmists Seek to Restrict Air Conditioning

Goodbye, incandescent light bulbs that provide bright white light rather than the nauseating yellow of compact fluorescents. Goodbye, affordable coal-powered electricity under EPA’s current and upcoming carbon dioxide restrictions. Goodbye, muscle cars and SUVs under EPA’s soon-to-be tightened fuel economy restrictions. Is air conditioning next to go? Frighteningly, global warming alarmists are increasingly setting their sights on the air conditioners that make life in the summer time so much more pleasant.

Time magazine this week gave a prominent platform to the voices of climate intolerance, publishing an article by New York University sociology professor Eric Klinenberg saying it is “indefensible” for people to use air conditioning the way we do. Klinenberg argues that air conditioning requires too much electricity, the generation of which accelerates global warming.

“What’s indefensible is our habit of converting homes, offices and massive commercial outlets into igloos on summer days, regardless of how hot it is outdoors,” wrote Klinenberg.

Klinenberg also argued for laws requiring businesses to keep summer temperatures at their facilities above a government-dictated mandatory minimum.

Welcome to the Next Great Idea championed by global warming alarmists.


Dems’ recess game plan: Push climate message

The White House, congressional Democrats and their allies are plotting an August recess offensive to promote President Barack Obama’s climate change plan and head off Republican opposition.

The full-court press shows that liberals have learned from past August congressional recesses, when Republicans, aided by the tea party, out organized Democrats and managed to demonize cap and trade and blame them for high gas prices.

“The Democrats should seize the opportunity to contrast themselves with the nihilistic House Republicans by advocating solutions to these challenges — including climate change,” said Daniel Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The strategy is two-fold. First, liberals hope to better articulate the threats posed by climate change to the average citizen, including sea level rise, drought and wildfires. Second, they plan to call out Republicans in Congress who are skeptical about climate change science.

The president’s climate change plan includes a range of measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including new Environmental Protection Agency regulations for power plants.

Organizing for Action, the successor to Obama’s campaign arm, is planning a “national action” day Aug. 13, which will focus on climate change.

Ivan Frishberg, climate change campaign manager at OFA, said the group is organizing events in the states and districts of the 135 lawmakers it has labeled “climate deniers” as part of the action day. The events are aimed at “holding them accountable” for questioning climate science, he said.

“With these folks, it’s hard to get to a conversation about solutions when they deny the science,” Frishberg said.

OFA’s strategy is designed to show lawmakers who oppose measures to tackle climate change that there is support for the president’s plan.

“This is a chance for people at the grass-roots and the local level to say, ‘Yes, that’s what we want,’” Frishberg said.

The Obama administration has launched its own campaign to sell the climate plan, with the president dispatching key members of his administration — including newly confirmed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — to take part in “an aggressive outreach effort,” a White House official said in an email.

“[I]n the coming weeks and months you will continue to see the President, senior officials, and members of the Energy Cabinet, highlight the importance of this plan for our public health and our ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes,” according to the official.

Starting next week, McCarthy will begin traveling around the country to discuss the importance of acting on climate change. The White House official said her schedule includes speeches, media events and meetings with outside groups — all of which will be promoted heavily on social media. And the official added that McCarthy will begin meeting with states soon to discuss the agency’s pending climate regulations.

Meanwhile, White House energy adviser Heather Zichal has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill this month, briefing Senate and House Democrats on the details of the plan and strategizing about how best to sell the president’s climate agenda.

Democrats who attended the closed-door meetings say Obama and his allies will focus on building support for the climate plan at the local level by explaining how communities will be affected by climate change.

“The public education [and] public information piece is critical,” Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), co-chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, said last week after meeting with Zichal. “Not only does the public have the right to know, but it’s essential that they do know because inaction here can allow very bad things to happen.”

And Democrats in both chambers are organizing climate change events around the country during the recess.

A Democratic leadership aide said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are working with OFA and outside groups to promote the president’s agenda broadly, while Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer told POLITICO she is organizing a “climate trip” around California during the recess.

“I’m going to some of the communities that are experiencing wildfires due to climate,” Boxer said.

An official at one major environmental group said the green community will work overtime during the recess to tout the president’s plan. But the official declined to offer details because they are still being finalized. A coalition of environmental and local groups called the Climate Action Campaign has already launched a summer bus tour aimed at building support for the president’s plan that will snake through Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri and other states.

Other Democrats are already pointing to the devastating wildfires that have ravaged much of the Western United States as a symptom of a warming planet.

“The West is being devastated by wildfires,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters last week. “Millions of acres are burning — millions of acres have burned. … Why? Because the climate has changed.”

But Republicans are working on an August recess strategy of their own. Their plan focuses more on energy and largely avoids a discussion of climate change, though individual lawmakers are certain to go after the president’s plan on their own.

The House Republican Conference has distributed a 31-page August recess messaging guide to GOP lawmakers called “Fighting Washington for All Americans.” The document makes no explicit mention of climate change, but it encourages Republicans to hold events with constituents focused on “energy independence” and “reining in red tape.”

For example, it recommends that lawmakers set up a tour of an energy production facility.

“As Congress continues to debate an all-American energy plan, this event will feature the district’s own natural resources and highlight the innovation taking place at home,” the document says. “The Member will visit a local energy production facility, learn about the technology being utilized, and use the experience to promote a discussion on the jobs — and energy independence — that will be created by producing more domestic energy and promoting an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy solution.”

A Senate aide said Republicans in the upper chamber will most likely focus on energy and the Keystone XL oil pipeline during the recess.

While Republicans in Congress aren’t likely to specifically home in on climate change, some outside groups are preparing to take direct aim at the president’s plan.

The American Energy Alliance, for example, will criticize the president’s plan on Facebook and Twitter. And the group is considering organizing a digital or tele-town hall with its supporters that will outline what the group says are the negative consequences of the plan.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  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