Friday, June 01, 2018

2018 TORNADO ACTIVITY NEAR RECORD LOW…Hurricane Season Looks Weaker…

These are tough times for the US climate-ambulance chasers, who like to use every extreme-weather event as a God-sent sign the climate is going to hell in a handbasket.

Tornadoes AWOL, models contradicted

But even weather extremes aren’t cooperating with the climate predictions and models. For instance, yesterday meteorologist Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell noted that US tornado activity is near a record low so far this year.

And despite claims by some US alarmist agencies of record high global temperatures occurring year after year, tornado activity over the past decades has in fact been trending downward, and so stands in stark contrast to the media and climate alarmism hysteria of greater and more frequent weather extremes.

Moreover, a number of meteorologists are also hinting that the 2018 hurricane season could be weaker than normal, due to unusually cool tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures – especially off the west coast of Africa where many hurricanes are spawned.

For example, at Twitter Levi Cowan of Tropical Tidbits recently commented how the sea surface temperature anomaly off the coast of West Africa was “brutal”.

Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are extremely low off the coast of Africa, which may dampen the hurricane formation.

Joe Bastardi also noted in his most recent Saturday Summary that the current pattern has been seen off and on before in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and adds that “most of those seasons aren’t big hurricane seasons”.

When the Madden-Julian Oscillation enters phase 5 and 6 in June with cold sea surface temperatures off western Africa, it is indicative of lower accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) for the upcoming season, Bastardi suggests.

Currently, Bastardi has his ACE projection at 65 to 85% of normal. The veteran meteorologist does warn, however, of “in-close” development, where storms can form not far off US coast.

Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming hurricane season pans out in comparison to last year’s when conditions in the Atlantic were quite different.

Arctic “death spiral” in its death throes

And there’s more bad news for the climate ambulance chasers – at their beloved Arctic.

Japanese skeptic climate blogger Kirye  at Twitter recently tweeted that Arctic sea ice volume late this spring is at the 2nd highest level in 11 years!

As the Arctic has seen very warm surface temperatures over the past winter, the current elevated sea ice volume tells us that there’s much more behind the ice than surface temperatures. This is something we’ve been trying to tell alarmists for years.

Greenland adds 600 billion tonnes

Moreover, Greenland has added 600 billion tonnes of ice, Kirye shows.

So in summary, for the time-being climate alarmists will have to content themselves with insignificant weather anecdotes to keep their alarmism and climate quackery alive.


At last a victory for Martha Boneta

A husband-and-wife real estate team accused of teaming up with environmental activists and government officials to interfere with a Virginia farmer’s business have reached a legal settlement with the farmer, according to court records.

Martha Boneta, who owns and operates the 64-acre Liberty Farm at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Paris, Virginia, sought damages from the real estate agents, her neighbors, in a lawsuit filed in Fauquier County Circuit Court.

Under the terms of the legal agreement, Boneta is not permitted to disclose the amount of money attached to the settlement. She sued the neighbors, Phillip and Patricia Thomas, for $2 million, court papers show.

Phillip Thomas owns Thomas & Talbot Real Estate, based in Middleburg, Virginia, and used to own Boneta’s Liberty Farm. His wife, Patricia, also is a lawyer admitted to the bar in Virginia. Their farm, Liberty Hall, is across the road from Liberty Farm.

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

The Thomases are members of Piedmont Environmental Council, a nonprofit land trust headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia, that also was named in Boneta’s litigation. Their real estate company’s website identifies at least four other Thomas & Talbot agents associated with the land trust.

Council Said to Overstep Authority

Phillip Thomas did not reply to a request for comment.

Boneta, who spoke with The Daily Signal before the settlement was reached, had sued the Thomases for what she described as “malicious interference with her business” and “harassment.”

The lawsuit accused Piedmont Environmental Council of violating the terms of a conservation easement on Liberty Farm. Phillip and Patricia Thomas had entered into a joint agreement with the land trust related to the litigation.

Related: Farmer Turned Property Rights Activist Presses Court Fight With Green Group, Realtors

The idea behind conservation easements is for property owners to receive tax breaks in exchange for agreeing to restrict future development on a portion of their land.

As co-holders, Boneta’s easement lists the environmental council and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which the state General Assembly chartered in 1966 to monitor easements and promote land conservation.

In her litigation, Boneta claimed the environmental council overstepped its authority under state law in monitoring and inspecting her property. She also said she never received tax breaks through the easement.

Boneta’s case against the environmental council, dismissed in January 2017 by the county’s circuit court, could still be heard on appeal before the Virginia Supreme Court.

In response to an inquiry from The Daily Signal, Diana Norris, the in-house attorney for Piedmont Environmental Council, said in an email that the land trust will continue to fight Boneta’s accusations.

The county court dismissed Boneta’s 2015 case in January 2017, Norris noted, while the state Supreme Court denied her appeal in July 2017. The county court on April 24 also dismissed Boneta’s 2016 lawsuit against the environmental council, she said, though Boneta filed a notice of appeal.

“PEC will continue to vigorously defend itself from the false allegations,” Norris said.

Boneta told The Daily Signal that her lawyers “made a technical error” in the appeal to the state Supreme Court and she is “weighing her options,” which include an appeal based on the merits.

Litigation ‘Exposed Collusion’

Boneta filed a separate but related suit against the Piedmont Environmental Council, arguing that the group knowingly and falsely said while selling the property to her that Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson once camped on land that is now part of  Liberty Farm. That litigation remains active at the circuit court.

Related: Did ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Sleep Here? Farmer Sues Green Group Over Claim

Phillip Thomas, a fifth-generation landowner, previously owned Liberty Farm, which is across the street from his 20-acre farm called Liberty Hall.

Thomas transferred ownership of Liberty Farm to the Piedmont Environmental Council in December 2000 while maintaining ownership of Liberty Hall.

Boneta purchased Liberty Farm, also known as Paris Farm, from the environmental council for $425,000 in June 2006. The conservation easement was put in place simultaneously.

Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, said he views the settlement as a major turning point in the long, protracted legal battle.

“Martha Boneta’s yearslong litigation, undertaken at a huge financial and emotional cost, has exposed collusion involving public officials, radical environmentalists, and well-connected Realtors,” Cohen said in an email, adding:

For all the venality that has come to light, the whole exercise appears to have served the simple purpose of driving her off her land. By standing up to her well-heeled tormentors, she has shown how David can bring down Goliath. The lesson for farmers and other landowners is clear: Steer clear of conservation easements, because once you start surrendering your property rights, you are entrusting your future to people who don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart.

Boneta told The Daily Signal that her settlement with the Thomases could have reverberations across state lines.

“The lesson here is that you will pay a steep price for colluding with special interests to violate the property rights of average Americans,” Boneta said in a phone interview. “I want every American to never give up and to fight back against this type of abuse, no matter how long it takes. Stand your ground and justice will be served. We need land trust reform that will stop the corruption that is destroying property rights and hurting farmers.”


Environmental red tape stalls border agents trying to fill drug-smuggler tunnels

Environmental laws delay filling of illicit border tunnels
Why some lawmakers and border patrol agents are frustrated over environmental laws that are delaying the filling of illicit border tunnels.

Environmental red tape is causing “long delays” for border agents as they try to fill tunnels used to smuggle people and dangerous drugs into the U.S. from Mexico, according to border officials and Republican lawmakers who have discussed the problem with agents.

Frustrated agents complain the lengthy federal review process can stall critical tunnel-plugging efforts for months after passageways are first discovered. 

The tunnels are being used to move people, illegal drugs and even fake pharmaceuticals. But regulations stemming from laws like the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are putting "remediation" on hold.

“I heard firsthand accounts from our Border Patrol agents that environmental red tape is hindering their ability to secure the border,” Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, told Fox News this week.

Tunnel Split

In February of 2015, agents discovered a sophisticated border tunnel the length of three football fields in the town of Naco, Arizona. The tunnel was outfitted with wooden supports and a cement shaft with a hydraulic lift.

Bishop, along with Arkansas GOP Rep. Bruce Westerman, traveled to the Arizona border in February to meet with border agents and discuss how environmental laws and regulations are impacting security. Bishop, who has legislation aimed at addressing these issues, said they learned of the "significant delay in remediating illicit tunnels," a process where they are filled with gravel and concrete.

A Customs and Border Protection official confirmed to Fox News they've encountered “long delays” in remediating tunnels, acknowledging environmental regulations make up a “good portion of the delay.”

The official said other delays come with “clearing out a tunnel, mapping out the tunnel underground to know where to remediate from above, getting funding for the remediation and fulfilling a contract to a construction company to carry out the remediation.”

One particularly protracted response revolved around a sophisticated border tunnel -- the length of three football fields -- discovered in the town of Naco, Ariz., in February 2015. Photos show the tunnel complete with wooden supports and a cement shaft with a hydraulic lift.

Fox News learned it took between nine months and a year before it was fully remediated. Agents were told it was because of environmental concerns.

While this played out during the Obama administration, officials say agents are still encountering these kinds of delays under the current administration.

“Border security should never take a backseat to the EPA, when you consider the dangerous drugs that come into this country, such as fentanyl," Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, said in an interview. "That tunnel was assuredly used to bring fentanyl into this country, and other dangerous drugs. They don’t use tunnels like that simply to bring in illegal immigrants. They use those for their high-dollar products, such as illicit drugs.”

The tug-of-war over access to federal land has gone on for decades and flared frequently under the Obama administration. While border agents need to patrol that territory, several other agencies are tasked with protecting that land from human interference. Everything from moving surveillance equipment to improving a road can take months.

While Judd mentioned the EPA, the process actually involves a range of agencies – especially those within the Interior and Agriculture departments. A 2006 agreement with those departments gave border agents access to federal land under certain conditions. When Bishop raised this issue during the prior administration, the Interior Department stressed that the agencies work closely together – and that they have to balance security needs with environmental protection.

But delays in filling tunnels have become a source of frustration.

Judd said agents are frustrated when they have to "babysit" a tunnel during an environmental review because it takes up resources that could be used elsewhere.

Tunnels are most common in the San Diego sector, according to the Natural Resources Committee. But even the most seemingly simple tunnels to fix can take several months.

In 2014, according to the committee, San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents discovered a small tunnel that used a rail system to move items under the border into the United States.

The tunnel itself was nearly 4 feet, 6 inches high and 2 feet wide. It ran 2,500 feet in length and ran about 1,000 feet into the United States.

The area contained a small wetland. It took about four months to complete a bird study and fill in the tunnel.

The committee has cited that example as a “best-case scenario,” in comparison with other tunnels, where remediation has taken longer because of various regulations.

Other border tunnels discovered in the San Diego area have made news before. Last August, border agents arrested 30 illegal immigrants, including 23 Chinese nationals, outside a smuggling tunnel. The tunnel was near a border fence line, but was hidden by dry brush and branches. It's unclear whether there were any delays in filling that passageway.

Bishop is now pushing legislation to make the remediation of tunnels on federal lands -- and a range of other CBP activities -- exempt from the requirements of environmental laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Bishop’s proposal, tucked into two border security bills, would specifically limit the power of the Interior and Agriculture departments to hinder border agents on the job. Neither department has responded to a request for comment from Fox News. 

“Our border patrol agents need the tools and authority to secure our Southern border, and without streamlining the bureaucracy, that won’t happen,” Bishop said.


‘This Is a Job-Killing Regulation That Will Put Our Company Out of Business’: Some Push EPA to Reverse Obama-Era Regulation

When is a glider not a glider?  When it's a truck

Trucking industry interests successfully lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to impose “job-killing” regulations on remanufactured vehicles known as gliders that are cheaper to purchase than new trucks, an energy policy analyst and a maker of the vehicles say.

Gliders range in size from medium to heavy trucks. They are constructed from “glider kits” that include new truck parts, such as the tractor chassis, with a frame, front axle, cab, and brakes. The glider is manufactured by combining the glider kit with a powertrain from a used vehicle.

While gliders include new truck parts, they should not be considered new trucks, since the engine and other parts are used, industry representatives have argued. Yet, the EPA under President Barack Obama issued a new rule reclassifying gliders as new trucks in October 2016.

This distinction matters because the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions only from new trucks, not old ones. Most glider trucks cannot meet the emissions standards the Obama EPA imposed for new vehicles.

“This is a job-killing regulation that will put our company out of business,” Jon Toomey, director of government affairs for the Tennessee-based Fitzgerald Glider Kits, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.

“Based on the business we do with parts suppliers and family-run businesses, we estimate this Obama-era rule could cost 900 jobs in Tennessee and possibly 22,000 jobs across the country. We hope the rule can be reversed,” he said.

Toomey and Steve Milloy, a member of President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team, have identified the Volvo Group as the company that most aggressively lobbied the EPA to impose the new emissions standards against glider trucks.

In May 2016, Volvo Group submitted comments to the EPA expressing support for the imposition of new greenhouse gas regulations on glider trucks.

In testimony delivered before an EPA hearing last December, a Volvo public affairs official told agency officials that glider trucks had been permitted to “skirt” both emissions and safety regulations. The official also made the point that some glider kits are manufactured in Mexico, while every truck manufactured by Mack Trucks and Volvo is built in the U.S.

The glider market represents a very small percentage of the trucking industry, with between 5,000 and 7,000 sold annually, compared with 300,000 new trucks sold annually, Toomey estimates.

He also notes that gliders sell for about 25 percent less than what it costs to buy a new truck.

“We serve a vital interest for small, independent trucking operations,” Toomey said. “The EPA regulation would be devastating.”

Fitzgerald has joined with other glider truck manufacturers to call on the Trump administration to reverse the Obama rule.

While he’s concerned about the actions of “careerists” inside the EPA, Toomey says he is encouraged by steps taken by Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA administrator.

Pruitt issued a statement in November that said he would be working to “undo the regulatory overreach of the prior administration.” Because of the “unique way gliders are manufactured,” the EPA is now proposing that gliders not be regulated as new vehicles, Pruitt explained in his statement.

“The previous administration attempted to bend the rule of law and expand the reach of the federal government in a way that threatened to put an entire industry of specialized truck manufacturers out of business,” Pruitt said in his statement. “ … Gliders not only provide a more affordable option for smaller owners and operators, but also serve as a key economic driver to numerous rural communities.”

Tommy Fitzgerald, the owner and founder of Fitzgerald Glider Kits, expressed his gratitude toward the Trump administration for moving forward with regulatory reforms that he said would enable small businesses to continue to innovate and create new jobs.

“The Trump administration and Administrator Pruitt are walking back the blatant regulatory overreach of their predecessors,” Fitzgerald said in an email.

“In this case, the Obama EPA, at the urging of a few corporate elites, sought to regulate gliders out of existence. We cannot thank President Trump enough for his relentless work to save small businesses and promote American industry first,” he said.

“Fitzgerald USA is a family-run business, and I am pleased that we have been able to create good-paying jobs and other opportunities in rural communities. Our mission is to bring jobs back to the proud, hardworking people left behind by manufacturers who offshored jobs just to save a few bucks.”

The comment period for the rule Pruitt proposed to reverse the Obama EPA regulations on glider trucks ended on Jan. 5 and is expected to move up to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review within the next few weeks.

“Administrator Pruitt is doing a great job protecting the environment while adhering to the rule of law,” Toomey told The Daily Signal in an email.

“His opponents believe that they can make enough noise to have him removed. President Trump is far too smart to fall for such a scam by the liberal elitists and Volvo, a foreign truck manufacturer.”

Critics of glider trucks are “being disingenuous” when they claim those trucks exceed emissions standards, Toomey explained, because they fail to point out that glider trucks actually emit less carbon dioxide than newer ones.

The challenge with emissions for glider trucks relates to particulate matter, not carbon dioxide, he said.

The EPA defines particulate matter as “a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air” and “cause serious health effects” if inhaled. The Clean Air Act requires the agency to set national air quality standards for particulate matter.

An EPA laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, performed tests in October on two glider trucks and found they exceeded emissions standards for particulate matter. But Milloy, who is also the editor of, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview that the tests were performed under questionable circumstances—without Pruitt’s knowledge and with no peer review process.

Moreover, what he called the “renegade report” was not printed on an official EPA letterhead and did not receive an internal EPA document number, he said.

“This was an easy layup for Volvo and the new truck industry at the Obama EPA,” Milloy said. “This was classic rent-seeking. With more stringent air standards, Volvo gets to sell more expensive items.

“The fact that this would happen with the Obama administration is not surprising. But what is surprising and disturbing is to have these bogus tests take place in the new administration without Pruitt’s knowledge,” he said.

With regard to some of the environmental concerns that have been raised about glider trucks, Fitzgerald pushed back on what he described as “false narratives” Volvo has circulated to environmental groups. He also explained why glider trucks might have some environmental benefits.

Environmental groups have been misled by the Volvo Trucks of the world that have actively sought to kill off the glider industry for years.

They were given misleading and unfounded data points about glider emissions, and they were encouraged to repeat false narratives about the carbon footprint and efficiency of gliders. In reality, gliders are the best example of ‘upcycling’ that the truck industry has.

Upcycling is the process of transforming products into new materials or products of better quality for better environmental value. It is a concept that is very familiar to environmental groups.

Every glider assembled accounts for approximately 4,000 pounds of upcycled cast steel that would otherwise be junked and tossed in a landfill. Glider assemblers are developing ways to make trucks that are more fuel-efficient and emit less carbon dioxide than new trucks, all without adding to our nation’s landfills.

The Daily Signal contacted Volvo and asked why the company saw fit to lobby for regulatory changes on emissions that would impact the glider truck industry. John Mies, a communications official with Volvo Group of North America, responded in an email and said, “We are seeking a level playing field. All manufacturers, whether of original equipment or gliders, should have to abide by the same emissions regulations.”

He also sent testimony from Susan Alt, Volvo’s senior vice president of public affairs, that was delivered as part of an EPA hearing on Dec. 5.

Her remarks read in part:

We are here today to voice opposition to EPA’s proposal to repeal the emissions standards for heavy-duty glider vehicles. A glider vehicle is essentially a new truck that’s been equipped with a used engine.

Their original purpose was to allow truck owners to salvage working powertrains after severe accidents by installing the wrecked truck’s engine and transmission into new cab-and-chassis assemblies.

The glider vehicle market was just a few hundred per year for decades, and Volvo has never objected to gliders used for the aforementioned purpose.

In fact, the Phase 2 rule as finalized provides for production of a volume of glider vehicles to meet this market need. In 2010, a significant emission reduction was required for newly manufactured diesel engines.

Not coincidentally, we’ve watched the glider-vehicle market grow more than tenfold since 2010, now reaching ‘significantly over 10,000 gliders in 2015,’ according to EPA records.

Why did the volume grow so dramatically? Because some companies exploited the opportunity to offer glider vehicles with older ‘pre-emissions’ engines to customers seeking to avoid modern emissions-control systems.

Today, almost no glider vehicles use 2 of 3 donor components from the same truck to be installed into his new truck. Most glider vehicles today are mass produced, custom-built new trucks with donor components that come from any possible source.

Most glider vehicle buyers today are not small operators trying to salvage their truck after an accident or unable to afford new trucks. The glider buyers today are small, medium, and even large fleets buying new replacement trucks, equipped with noncompliant engines, to haul for-hire loads on America’s highways.

These glider vehicles not only skirt current emission regulations, but they also skirt safety regulations, such as electronic stability control—technologies that help keep both the driver of the truck and the cars safer.

But Nick Loris, an energy policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation, sees an effort at work to put small business at a disadvantage.

“These onerous regulations are the epitome of the federal government crushing small business,” he said in an email. “In many cases, it is a single individual who owns a truck or a small fleet of trucks. The businesses that have and use gliders passionately defended them, because the gliders often have better gas mileage and break down less.

“Regulating them out of existence would also likely backfire environmentally, by forcing companies to hold onto their older trucks longer, rather than buy new ones,” he said.

In her testimony, Alt insisted that the proposed rule change “will hurt a much larger number of small businesses who are not selling glider vehicles.”

She also warns that glider vehicles will undercut new-vehicle sales and that that would directly affect the “livelihoods of the more than 14,000 Americans” these dealers employ.

Where the interests of small business are concerned, Fitzgerald anticipates that the Trump EPA’s planned regulatory relief will help to level competition between larger and small companies while providing smaller trucking fleets with affordable options.

“The vast majority of our customers are small fleet owners and owner-operators who cannot afford to buy or maintain new trucks, but nonetheless want the latest safety features, amenities, and styling,” he said in an email.

“Small fleet owners and owner-operators buy gliders because the alternatives—sticking with their old, unsafe truck or buying another used truck that likely lacks the latest safety features—are not viable, long-term business strategies.”

Fitzgerald added: “Consolidation in the trucking industry is making life increasingly difficult for independent owner-operators and small fleets. Gliders—which are more reliable, cost less to buy and maintain, and are more fuel-efficient than new trucks—help them keep the lights on and the doors open.

“Gliders allow the small fleets and owner-operators to stay competitive with the big corporate fleets that want to eat their lunch. Destroying the glider industry would put tens of thousands of people out of business, and the impact on small businesses and rural communities throughout the country would be profound,” he said.


DOT Repeals Rule Forcing States To Monitor Tailpipe GHG Emissions

President Donald Trump’s administration repealed a rule forcing states to comply with a policy monitoring greenhouse gas levels from tailpipes of American automobiles.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed a final rule May 22 that eliminates a mandate requiring state agencies to establish emission targets, calculate their progress toward those targets, and determine a plan of action if they failed to make progress during a performance period.

The rule repealed the performance management measure assessing the percent change in tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions on the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) measure. It also measured total annual tons of carbon emissions from all on-road mobile sources.

States and other locals across the country can still pursue similar actions locally. The repeal of the GHG measure does not affect implementation of the other national performance management measures states are responsible for administering.

This is one of several regulations Trump’s administration has sought to rollback.

Trump announced in April preparations to scrap an Obama-era rule that would have dramatically ratcheted up fuel efficiency guidelines over the course of a decade. The plan would also target California’s ability to set its own vehicle efficiency standards.

California’s high standards have forced automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles, which ultimately effects national efficiency standards. Former President Barack Obama aimed to raise the average fuel economy of automobiles to more than 50 miles per gallon within 10 years.

The Golden State got permissions from the Obama administration to issue its own, higher emissions standards.

They require cars get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The rules would cut 540 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save consumers money, officials estimated.




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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