Wednesday, April 11, 2018

British Government cools energy efficiency ambition

The Government’s effort to bring down the cost of energy by upgrading Britain’s draughtiest homes is under attack after it emerged that cuts to the scheme mean it would take 400 years to complete.

Under new plans ministers intend to slash the pace at which the least efficient households will receive insulation upgrades. Better heat conservation can knock hundreds of pounds off a year of electricity and gas bills.

The blow to energy efficiency has raised eyebrows among energy bosses who are braced for Government plans to intervene in energy supply prices for the first time since privatisation, in a controversial move which may result in only a fraction of the savings.

The new energy efficiency proposals were published over the Easter weekend and set a target of insulating just 17,000 solid walled homes a year.

It means it would take over 400 years to upgrade the 7 million remaining solid wall homes in Britain, according to energy policy researchers at the University of Exeter.

By contrast the efforts made during the coalition Government secured efficiency upgrades for 1.8 million homes since January 2013, an average rate of 360,000 homes a year.

As many as 2.2 million homes could have received upgrades through the energy companies obligation (ECO) programme, but the plans were watered down by former Prime Minister David Cameron who reportedly called for officials to “cut the green crap”.

Richard Lowes, a researcher at the university, branded Government’s decision to level the latest efficiency blow on the Good Friday bank holiday “a deeply cynical tactic to hide what is clearly bad news” and “at odds with their public commitment to deliver a fair and sustainable energy system”.

“Meanwhile it is the UK citizens who live in some of the least efficient homes in Europe, with highest levels of energy unaffordability in Europe who suffer with cold, damp, drafty and expensive homes,” he added.

A spokesman for E.On UK, the big six energy supplier, said: “Overall, as a country we need to bring the energy efficiency of homes up to the level that is right for the 21st century, and which could save many hundreds of pounds off the annual energy bill.”

The cost of insulating drafty homes is paid for by energy companies which then smear the costs across their customer base. By cutting the ECO programme ministers saved around £30 to £35 on each average annual energy bill, but lost the chance to save hundreds of pounds for the most vulnerable energy users in society.

The UK Energy Research Centre estimates that energy efficiency has meant that the average annual dual fuel bill is £490 lower than it would have been without reducing energy use.

“This is a far more sustainable policy which politicians should consider embracing as opposed to implementing a temporary market wide price cap,” the spokesman said.


Polar Bear Numbers Are For Kids, Says Specialist Andrew Derocher

Polar bear specialists made global population numbers the focus of the world’s attention when they predicted a dramatic decline and possible extinction of the species.

But now that the numbers have increased slightly rather than declined, the same scientists say global numbers are meaningless: the public should give those figures no credence and anyone who cites global population numbers should be mocked.


Conservative Leaders, GOP Lawmakers Voice Support for Scott Pruitt

A growing number of conservative leaders and GOP lawmakers are voicing their support for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt amid some calls for him to resign.

The Conservative Action Project released a letter Friday with 113 signatures of conservative leaders calling on President Donald Trump to keep Pruitt in the administration.

“Conservatives stand behind Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency … and thank him for the significant actions he has taken to implement President Trump’s deregulatory agenda,” the letter read. “President Trump campaigned on reducing Washington’s bureaucracy, and Administrator Pruitt has been instrumental to that effort.”

Signatories included American Legislative Exchange Council CEO Lisa Nelson, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, former Virginia Attorney General and Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli, and Citizens United President David Bossie.

Another group, CNP Action, sent a letter directly to Trump on Friday, praising Pruitt’s actions at the EPA.

“We write to thank you for your ongoing support of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and to add our names to a growing list of people who recognize him as a capable administrator who is finally reining in the EPA and restoring its core mission,” CNP Action’s letter read.

The letter was signed by CNP Action Chairman William L. Walton, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Heritage Action for America CEO Michael A. Needham, FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon, Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell III, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Chairman Jenny Beth Martin, former U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen of Ohio, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, and former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, chairman of the Constitutional Congress Inc. (Walton is a Heritage Foundation trustee and Meese is the think tank’s Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus.)

Most of the letter’s signatories added their names to the Conservative Action Project letter as well.

The Congressional Western Caucus also released a statement in support of Pruitt with remarks from Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar, R-Ariz.; House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas; House Committee on Appropriations subcommittee on interior, environment, and related agencies Chairman Ken Calvert, R-Calif.; and Western Caucus members Reps. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.

“EPA Administrator Pruitt has proven himself one of the most effective Cabinet members in the Trump administration,” Gosar said in a statement. “His track record on energy, the environment, deregulation, the rule of law and science-based decision-making is exceptional. Because he is an important part of the ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda, it should come as no surprise that a lynch mob of opportunistic politicians and certain members of the media are doing everything they can to attempt to remove him from office.”

The outpouring of support came amid new calls on Pruitt to step down from his post. The EPA chief has faced criticism for his first-class travel, Washington living arrangements, and staff salaries. Pruitt, in interviews with The Daily Signal and Fox News this week, defended his actions and said he is taking steps to correct problems at the agency.

For some lawmakers, including three Republican members, that’s not enough. This week, Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, and Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida called on Pruitt to step down.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Friday that she also wants Pruitt to resign, claiming he has brought a “culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence” to the EPA.

Trump has continued to support Pruitt, tweeting Friday that the EPA administrator “is doing a great job.”


Greens in British Columbia are blocking an important pipeline

The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion may be scrapped entirely unless agreements can be reached by May 31 to resolve “uncertainty” created by the opposition of the B.C. government

The Alberta government is prepared to buy a stake of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to ensure it gets built, Premier Rachel Notley said Sunday.

In a rare show of being on the same page, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney agrees.

The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan project may be scrapped entirely unless agreements can be reached by May 31 to resolve uncertainty created by British Columbian government opposition to the project, the company announced Sunday.

In a news release, Kinder Morgan said without an agreement in place, “it is difficult to conceive of any scenario in which we would proceed with the project.”

Notley came out swinging late Sunday afternoon, her comments aimed squarely at B.C. Premier John Horgan.

It wasn’t wrath — she’s not even angry, she said, just calmly trying to get on with the job at hand — but it was a direct message.

Horgan may think he can harass the project without economic consequences for his province, Notley said, “but he is wrong.”

Her government will introduce legislation to turn off the taps to B.C. in the coming days, she said, giving Alberta the power to impose serious economic consequences on the province should it continue on its present course.

And if Horgan thinks he can mess with the project via legal means, Notley says, he’s wrong again. “Let me be absolutely clear — they cannot mess with Alberta,” she said, adding her government is prepared to invest public money in the pipeline project.

“If we take that step, we will be a significantly more determined investor than British Columbia has dealt with up to this point,” Notley warned. “Never count Alberta out. This pipeline will be built.”

Non-essential pipeline spending halted

For now, the company said all non-essential spending on the expansion project has been suspended to protect shareholder interests while consultations are held to provide clarity on the firm’s ability to construct through British Columbia.

The company needs to protect its value, chairman and chief executive officer Steve Kean said, rather than risk billions of dollars on an outcome outside of its control.

“A company cannot resolve differences between governments. While we have succeeded in all legal challenges to date, a company cannot litigate its way to an in-service pipeline amidst jurisdictional differences between governments,” the release said.

Kinder Morgan’s move is the latest development among myriad political and legal wrangling over the Trans Mountain project, which was approved in 2016 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Notley and Kenney both want Trudeau to step up and take concrete actions to support the pipeline, echoing sentiments they have thrown at Ottawa for months.

“We are calling on the federal government to work in the defence of Alberta and working people in Western Canada in the way they have in the past for other parts of this country,” Notley said Sunday, pointing to the assistance Ottawa provided Ontario during the auto crisis, and to Quebec when aerospace needed a bailout.

“Federal approval of a project must we worth more than the paper it’s written on.”

The federal government approved the Trans Mountain project using its constitutional authority, he said, but that government has “stood by passively uttering meaningless bromides for the past nine months.”

“Now is the time for federal action. It is time for the federal government to act like a federal government, for our prime minister to lead like a prime minister should — in the national interest,” Kenney said.

As for buying into the pipeline expansion, Kenney is on board if Ottawa also comes to the table.

“I am philosophically opposed to corporate welfare, but when there is a major market failure … there is a compelling case for the state to come forward, using its credit, its financial leverage, to ensure economic progress. I believe this is such an instance,” he said.

Horgan denies project harassment

Trudeau said during a recent trip to Fort McMurray that the pipeline would get built. On Sunday, federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr issued a statement saying the project is in Canada’s national interests.

Carr also called on Horgan to end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion.

“His government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy,” Carr stated. “Our government stands behind this project and has the jurisdiction in this matter.”

Although the project has the support of the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, Horgan — who took power last spring with backing from the province’s Green party — has vowed to use every tool at his disposal to block it.

At a news conference Sunday, Horgan said the interests of Texas boardrooms are not the interests of British Columbians.

He denied his government has been harassing the project, adding he has told Trudeau that he doesn’t think the pipeline expansion is in the national interest.

“It’s been said we are somehow compromising the climate action plan for the country and I profoundly disagree with that,” Horgan said.

“I reject the notion that somehow our opposition to risk to our coast and our economy is somehow tied to the national climate plan.”

He also dismissed any suggestion that his government’s position could lead to a constitutional crisis.

But the stance of Horgan’s government has helped to create “unquantifiable risk,” Kinder Morgan said in its statement Sunday, and it’s unclear if some of the province’s obstructive actions can succeed.

“Unfortunately B.C. has now been asserting broad jurisdiction and reiterating its intention to use that jurisdiction to stop the project,” the company said. “B.C.’s intention in that regard has been neither validated nor quashed, and the province has continued to threaten unspecified additional actions to prevent project success.”


British Antarctic Snowfall Study Deepens the Mystery of Global Warming

It's only a mystery to Warmists

Over the past century, the Antarctic has gone from being a vast Terra Incognita to a continent-sized ticking time bomb: according to NASA, Antarctica has lost "approximately 125 gigatons of ice per year [between 2002 and 2016], causing global sea level to rise by 0.35 millimeters per year."

If global temperatures continue to rise, Antarctica's melting glaciers will cause the oceans to rise, as well as drastic changes in climate. However, new research by British Antarctic Survey shows that Antarctica paradoxically saw a 10 percent increase in snowfall over the last 200 years.

The research comes from 79 ice core samples collected across the continent, and the estimated increase in snow represents about 272 gigatonnes of water.

"There is an urgent need to understand the contribution of Antarctic ice to sea-level rise and we use a number of techniques to determine the balance between snowfall and ice loss," said lead author on the study, Dr. Liz Thomas.

"When ice loss is not replenished by snowfall then sea level rises...Our new results show a significant change in the surface mass balance [from snowfall] during the 20th century. The largest contribution is from the Antarctic Peninsula, where the annual average snowfall during the first decade of the 21st century is 10 percent higher than at the same period in the 19th century."

The increase in snowfall doesn't contradict previous estimates of ice loss around Antarctica's coast, but it does make the picture more complicated.

Previous climate change models, proposed in 2013, predicted that global sea levels would rise by a meter by the year 2100 due in part to melting Antarctic ice, but those estimates have proven to be flawed.

Dr. Thomas echoes the advice of Tim Naish, who acknowledged that the Antarctic is an important factor in climate change, but still a poorly understood one:

"There is an international effort to create computer simulations of future sea-level rise in a warming world. It is complex and challenging for scientists to fully understand and interpret changes in the ice that we see happening today. We know that the two major influencers affecting change—the mass gain (from snowfall) and the mass loss (from melt)—are acting differently from one another. Our new findings take us a step towards improving our knowledge and understanding."




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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