Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Experts Mock California Enviro Push To Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles In The State

Analysts and conservatives believe a Democrat-led plan to propose a ban on gas-powered cars in California later this year is a pie-in-the-sky scheme that ignores important factors about the state’s auto industry.

Assemblyman Phil Ting plans to introduce a bill in January that would ban the sale of gas-powered cars produced after 2040. The Democratic lawmaker said California drivers must adopt electric vehicles if the state is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – but some are scoffing at the push.

“The market is moving this way. The entire world is moving this way. At some point you need to set a goal and put a line in the sand,” Ting told reporters Friday. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have joined his push to wipe out the state’s fossil fuel industry.

“It’s an important conversation to have and we’re glad it’s starting to get some traction,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, an official with the Sierra Club who works on promoting green energy technology. Ting and Sierra Club are meeting some stiff resistance from people who suggest the idea probably not doable.

Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free market non-profit group, for instance, told reporters that the push to force citizens to abandon their gas-powered cars is another example of the state’s overzealous environmentalism.

“The reaction is like, ‘Gee, somebody has been reading The Onion and they got taken in by the parody,” he said, responding to lawmakers’ desire to delete the fossil fuel industry. “But then it fades a little bit and you go, ‘Yeah, this is California.'”

Electric vehicle sales in California amount to less than five percent of the state’s overall car sales, despite the Golden State’s title as a champion for the electric vehicle market. Analysts, meanwhile, believe the market for these types of vehicles is not anywhere near large enough to overcome gas-powered cars.

“I think really the lag here is consumers,” Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds, told reporters Friday. “For the automakers, they have to balance the lawmakers’ desires versus what they can actually sell.”

Ting is one several California Democrats pushing to increase incentives for drivers to adopt electric vehicles. His overall push could hit stiff resistance from an unlikely foe: Democrats who are still tied in with the state’s strong manufacturing unions.

Democrats passed an amendment to a California program earlier this month requiring manufacturers verify that they are “fair and responsible in their treatment of workers” before they can take advantage of a $2,500 rebate encouraging citizens buy Tesla vehicles.

The legislation was a shot across the bow of Tesla, a company that relied on a $82.5 million subsidy from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which gives extra incentive to 32,842 Tesla buyers in seven years.

California’s legislature defeated a pair of bills that would have required all electricity in the state to come from non-carbon sources by 2045. Unions vehemently opposed the bill, primarily because they feared the bill didn’t do enough to help protect union workers.

The bill was derailed despite California’s huge Democratic margins in both houses and the Gov. Jerry Brown, who consistently promotes himself as a climate change warrior. Activists were disappointed that unions stymied the effort.


"Clean" diesel was an expensive fraud

Heavily pushed by European governments

A backlash against diesel​sparked mostly by the Volkswagen AG emissions scandal has upended Europe’s big oil refiners, which invested roughly $10 billion​in recent years to equip plants to churn out more of the fuel and now are bracing for plummeting demand.

​ Total SA of France, Repsol SA and CEPSA of Spain, and Saras SpA of Italy are planning to use facilities built to produce diesel mostly for passenger cars to instead provide chemically similar products like container-shipping fuel and jet fuel. They hope to at least minimize the latest blow to an industry that was already being squeezed by competition from Asian and Middle Eastern refiners.

Friday, reverberations continued from the 2015 scandal, as Volkswagen said it would take a fresh charge of €2.5 billion ($2.94 billion) due to higher-than-expected costs of fixing cars in the U.S. The charge brings to nearly $30 billion the total fines, penalties and compensation Volkswagen has paid since it admitted that as many as 11 million of its diesel vehicles world-wide contained software that helped the cars appear to meet standards for toxic emissions. In late 2016, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government over the scandal.

Oil refiners had pinned their hopes on European diesel as the Continent’s fleet of personal diesel-powered vehicles grew to 45% by 2015, compared with 2% in the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency.

The Volkswagen scandal sent sales of diesel vehicles plummeting, particularly in the company’s home country of Germany, where politicians threatened to restrict diesel cars in some cities. Diesel, which emits nitrogen oxide, is now considered a much more serious pollutant than it was just a few years ago, when European governments were promoting the fuel as a cleaner alternative to gasoline, partly through lower taxes.

“Diesel was the darling and has become the devil,” said Dario Scaffardi, executive vice president at Saras.

Total had poured more than $2.4 billion into diesel-friendly upgrades at its two largest European refineries. Repsol and CEPSA invested $4.76 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively, on similar upgrades and modernization projects. Even independent refiners like Saras that aren’t tied to big oil-exploration companies shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars.

Between 2005 and 2017, European refiners invested a total of around $10 billion equipping their plants to churn out diesel, a capacity increase of nearly 60%, according to IHS Markit.


Nature, German Politics and Science

Last week I received links to three Nature editorials that were published on 6 September. The first strongly endorsed Angela Merkel in the German election to be held on 24 September, extolling the virtues of German science while accusing the USA and the UK of being anti-science. Merkel deserves another term as German chancellor is a must read. The second extols the virtues of Germany’s failing Energiewende. Germany must go back to its low-carbon future. Pro-Germany, pro-Merkel, pro-Energiewende, pro-renewables and anti-USA, anti-UK and anti-fossil fuels. So much for political neutrality and objectivity in science publishing!

The leader from “Merkel deserves another term as German chancellor”:

The former physicist shows a welcome immunity to the mood of anti-science resentment that has infected some democracies.

It is critical here to have a clear understanding of what the term science means. Some democracies have not abandoned science but they are abandoning Greenthinking as it is applied in climate and energy research. Greenthinking is not science as I will explain in an forthcoming post and briefly describe in the Appendix. The democracies abandoning Greenthinking are walking towards the enlightenment of true science.

Let’s take a look at some of the passages from this Nature editorial:

"Like most modern nations, Germany owes its affluence to a powerful composite of liberal democracy, education and curiosity-driven advances in knowledge and technology. But unlike some democracies — the United Kingdom and the United States among them — Germany has wisely chosen not to weaken its scientific base through neglect, isolation or arrogance on the part of the powers that be"

I am not aware of any evidence that supports the contention that the USA or the UK have chosen a path that has deliberately weakened their respective scientific bases. There would be no advantage for either country to do so.

Substitute the word science with Greenthinking in the climate and energy disciplines and you find the whole Nature editorial is duplicitous.

Here is one definition of duplicitous:

"deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing".

Duplicity, deceit, guile, hypocrisy, fraud, trickery refer either to practices designed to mislead or to the qualities that produce those practices. Duplicity is the form of deceitfulness that leads one to give two impressions, either or both of which may be false.

The move away from Greenthinking (non-science) in the USA and the UK, if this is indeed happening, is cast by Nature as a wholesale abandonment of true science in those countries. The exact opposite is true which Nature conveniently and ironically confirms in a third editorial in the same issue: The secret to Germany’s scientific excellence. This editorial goes deeply into the history of German science and its funding. One can only admire the many German achievements in science and technology.

However this alleged lamentable performance is not borne out by other data:

The useless Brits and Yankees are still ahead of Germany when it comes to journal citations (this admittedly will include non-science disciplines). However, publishing in mother tongue offers English speaking nations a clear advantage. But another statistic conveys US and UK academic excellence against a very poor German performance. Below is a list of the top 10 universities in the World.

University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
California Institute of Technology
Stanford University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Princeton University
Imperial College London
University of Chicago
ETH Zurich

The UK has 3 in the top 10 and the first German entry comes in at 34. The UK is punching way above its weight.

The third editorial, published on the same day, leaves us in no doubt what the Nature editorial team are thinking. Germany must go back to its low-carbon future.

This article bemoans the fact that Germany is one of the dirty Men of Europe and will miss all of its 2020 targets.

"Unfortunately, progress has stalled. The Energiewende milestones for 2020 are already out of reach. Poor policy choices and lobbying by the fossil-fuels industry mean that Germany will not reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2020, and so will fail to meet its goals under the Paris agreement to keep global temperature increases well below 2 °C."

The author of the article and/or the editorial board at Nature appear not to know that Germany is closing nuclear power stations at the same time as trying to cut CO2 emissions which is a futile exercise. Nuclear power is barely mentioned in the piece.


Concern about windmills in Ireland

Roscommon County Councillors have agreed for an independent noise monitoring survey to be carried out on Sliabh Bán following concerns raised by residents.

The monthly meeting of the local authority also heard calls for CE Eugene Cummins to withdraw comments he made after an unveiling of an amenity on Sliabh Ban earlier this month.

A number of wind farm protestors from Sliabh Bán packed into the gallery in Roscommon County Council on Monday to hear an almost hour-long debate about the controversial wind turbine project.

Chief executive Eugene Cummins came in for strong criticism from a number of councillors following comments he made in the days after unveiling an amenity on the mountain earlier this month in which he allegedly criticised local protestors.

At Monday’s meeting, the CE was called on to withdraw his remarks but the chief executive said his comments at the time were in the context of the opening of the amenity on the mountain and claimed that he is employed to bring investment into the county and to encourage green energy projects.

Councillors did agree a proposal that an independent noise monitoring survey be carried out, while a minimum set-back distance of 1500m from all turbines should also be enacted.

Speaking to Shannonside FM – Frank Kearns, a member of the Sliabh ban residents group said he was pleased that the council were finally listening to residents:


South Australian dairy farmers are exploring becoming independent of state's high-cost "green" power grid

SURGING power prices are pushing South Australian dairy farmers such as James and Robyn Mann to go off-grid. The Manns’ electricity costs have more than doubled in five years, from about $200,000 per annum to $500,000. “It is a pain in the backside,” Mr Mann said.

Due to the high prices, the family will this summer switch to diesel power to run their 116-stand rotary dairy and 14 irrigation centre pivots at Wye in the lower south east of South Australia.

And, as a longer-term measure, they are investigating the economics of installing an on-farm energy solar-diesel-­battery energy generator entirely independent of the mains power grid.

The Manns are among Australia’s top 10 dairy producers, in terms of volume, milking up to 2300 cows and producing 19-21 million litres annually.

Their move comes as South Australia’s dairy lobby has calculated the state’s dairy farmers paid about 40 per cent more for power than their Victorian neighbours last season. And it was the peak times that hurt the most.

Mr Mann said during the past summer’s irrigation times, electricity costs “suddenly became 20 per cent of your milk cheque for some months and that just doesn’t work”. “We have to be mindful about when power becomes expensive, so we’re investigating options to become less reliant on the grid,” he said.

“Its embryonic, but information we have is saying we could get a payback within five years of (setting up a system on-farm) not connected to the grid, a combination of solar, diesel and batteries. “We’ll work out which way we want to go in the next few months; I don’t know yet if we’ll do it.”

Regardless of the outcome of these investigations, Mr Mann said he was planning on switching to diesel to run his dairy and irrigation pivots this summer.

His dairy has had a diesel back-up system, which has been used intermittently as the reliability of the mains power has fallen in the past five years.

The cost of running diesel-powered irrigation pivots, compared with mains electricity powered pivots, were “line ball” last year, Mr Mann said. “Power has just gone up again so I suspect this year diesel will be cheaper,” he said.

“It doesn’t look like there will be much relief on power prices coming and that is likely to get worse.”

South Australian Dairyfarmers Association chief executive Andrew Curtis said comparing SA dairy farmers’ electricity prices to those in Victoria’s Dairy Farm Monitor report last season showed SA dairy farmers paid about 40 per cent more per kilogram of milk solids.

He suspected this could rise to 45 per cent more this season, as all power prices were increasing and SA has the “highest prices in the world”.

Mr Curtis said irrigation had traditionally been the largest user of power on SA dairy farms with more farmers now turning to diesel generators as the cost was comparable for modern efficient generators and they could rely on them.

In the past year he said there had been up to 40 dairy farmers who had lost power four-to-six times, with the power out long enough to affect at least one milking, he said.

The cost of power to a dairy farm business is creeping up, with many farmers reporting a doubling in costs in the past year, Mr Curtis said.

He said SA did not have the base-load power generation of other states and this was predominantly due to a mix of power sources, with more than half of its power coming from renewable sources.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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