Thursday, June 21, 2018

Michigan Dems Call New Curriculum ‘Far-Right’ Over Climate Change Exclusion

Now even something you DON'T say is “far-right”

Michigan Democrats are petitioning against a “far-right” school curriculum revision over its removal of references to climate change, the LGBT community and Islam.

The recently proposed social studies standards, drafted largely by Republican state senator Patrick Colbeck, have plucked out climate change information from the 6th grade geography unit and dropped references to various minority groups, according to MLive. The phrase “core democratic values” was also eliminated.

A petition — seeming launched by Ann Arbor school board secretary Jeff Gaynor — claims the revisions are “far-right” and “endanger not only our past, but our future.”

“By altering the standards for teaching history in Michigan, they cut many people out of history – and silence the work of those who have worked to fulfill the American promise of liberty and justice for all,” the petition states, seeking 5,000 signatures.

The curriculum would be applied to K-12 students throughout Michigan.

State senator David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) claimed it’s “mind-numbing” how the proposed curriculum describes the KKK as an anti-Republican group and not anti-black.

“Five references to the NAACP and the role that they played in desegregation, eliminated. Every reference to the LGBT community, eliminated. Every reference to Roe v. Wade, eliminated,” Knezek argued during a speech last Tuesday, adding that Republicans are “quite literally attempting to rewrite history.”

Knezek also accused Colbeck of misinterpreting the “core democratic values” phrase as a reference to the Democratic Party.

The petition authors created a “Defend MI History” Facebook page calling the conservatives “extremists.”

Michigan’s education board in August will review public comments on the matter, but a final vote on the curriculum is not yet scheduled, Bridge Magazine reports.

Colbeck, representing Wayne County north of Detroit, is currently running for governor.


Solar 'Incentives' Are Busting Out All Over

Ever wonder why installations of household solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and utility-scale solar power have surged since 2014? The declining cost of solar technology is part of the reason. But a bigger factor may be the profusion of state and federal “incentive” programs, i.e. subsidies.

A new report by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) examines solar power incentive programs in 25 states. The report considers five categories of “direct” incentives: federal tax incentives, state tax credits, state rebates, utility programs (such as net metering), and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Amazingly, in eight states (Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Minnesota), incentives exceed 100 percent of the costs of installing solar PV systems. Massachusetts leads the pack, with incentives equaling 218 percent of installation costs. Subsidies equal or exceed 77 percent of costs in all but five of the states surveyed.

“Residential solar PV systems receive, on average, between 104 percent and 140 percent of total system costs in incentives,” CEA finds. In contrast, utility-scale solar installations receive “about 45 percent of total system costs in incentives.”

Of course, solar subsidies do not fall like manna from heaven. Governments cannot give to some without taking from others. Taxpayers and consumers foot the bill for solar incentives.

“Through the 30 percent federal tax credit, various state tax credits and state rebates ranging between 10 percent and 65 percent, and the additional tax deductions provided by the depreciation of the solar assets for third-party-owned systems, taxpayers as a whole are covering a significant portion of the cost of an individual’s residential solar PV system in the United States,” according to the CEA report.

Similarly, through “utility programs and utility purchases in REC markets, utility customers in all customer classes share the cost of residential solar PV systems,” with general ratepayers contributing directly in about half the states analyzed and paying about 30 percent of costs in at least five states.

Plus, in a majority of jurisdictions, net metering programs, which allow solar PV owners to sell power back to the grid, pay none of the “capital expenditures for the poles, conductor, transformers, switches, and metering devices, as well as additional operation and maintenance expense to operate the system safely and reliably.”

CEA acknowledges that net metering programs may “shift fixed infrastructure costs onto non-solar customers” and even “shift costs onto less affluent customers.” However, the report does not suggest that a retrenchment would be desirable for reasons of either equity or efficiency.


This Obama-Era UN-EPA Agreement Has To Go

As the Trump White House continues its cleanup of the mess — foreign and domestic — left behind by the Obama administration, it should toss out a little-noticed document that entangles the U.S. in some of the worst schemes ever cooked up by U.N. bureaucrats and their cronies in the global environmental movement.

On September 16, 2016, the Obama EPA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Concluded just a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, the MOU bears the signature for the U.S. of then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In the document, UNEP and the Obama EPA vow to “consolidate, further develop and intensify their cooperation and effectiveness to achieve their common goals and objectives in the field of the environment.”

And therein lies the problem. For the “common goals and objectives” shared by the U.N. body and the Obama administration are specifically crafted to hamstring American fossil-fuel energy development, promote an assortment of politically fashionable, but otherwise uncompetitive, green technologies and products, and perpetuate the deplorable living conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

An Instrument of the Paris Climate Accord

The document was signed nine months after the adoption of the U.N.-sponsored Paris climate accord, and the wording of the MOU leaves little doubt that it was seen as an instrument to underscore America’s commitment to curtail its production and use of energy in the name of combatting climate change. Thus, UNEP and the Obama EPA agreed to “cooperate on responses to climate change,” including mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing short-lived climate forcers and supporting adaptation and resilience to climate change.

Taking these and similar steps, the MOU says, will enable the advance “toward green economies and resource-efficient societies through collaborative activities to promote and support sustainable consumption and production.” In truth, “green economies” are those with taxpayer-subsidized and government-mandated renewable energy (primarily wind and solar). And what constitutes “sustainable consumption and production” is in the eyes of the beholding bureaucrat, empowered either by the administrative regulatory state or by legislation adopted at the behest of deep-pocketed special interests.

All of this is to be pursued through jointly held symposia, seminars, workshops, study tours, collaborative research and development projects, exchanges and training programs and other forms of cooperation that strengthen the bonds between UNEP and the U.S. Under the MOU, each side is to name a “Senior Coordinator” to oversee the holding of “regular joint meetings on matters of common interest.” To make sure the two sides stay in touch, “such meetings are to take place at least once every six months in accordance with an agenda approved by them in advance of every meeting.”

The outfit the Obama administration teamed up within the MOU, UNEP, was founded in 1972 by wealthy Canadian businessman Maurice Strong; it is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and has an office conveniently located in Washington, D.C. Strong (1929–2015) was Under-Secretary-General of the U.N. when he founded UNEP and was an early advocate for combatting what he said was human-induced climate change, then known as global warming.

In keeping with Strong’s vision, UNEP has worked closely with the Bonn-based United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For its part, UNFCCC has enthusiastically spread climate alarmism and gone to extraordinary lengths to deny the residents of the world’s poorest access to reliable and affordable electricity and transportation fuel, thereby perpetuating their poverty.

Anti-American Agenda

Given UNEP’s pedigree and the Obama administration’s unbridled hostility to fossil fuels, President Trump should scrap the UNEP-EPA MOU. Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt inherited the MOU from their predecessors and are under no obligation to adhere to its content. The White House has already withdrawn from the Paris climate accord, and President Trump chose to skip the climate-change session at the recent G7 meeting in Quebec.

Continued fealty to the Obama-era MOU runs counter to the president’s goal of American global energy dominance, which is anchored to our abundance of oil, natural gas, and coal. The ties that bound the UN and the Obama administration should not be allowed to constrain the choices of everyday Americans.

Even if the MOU is “non-binding,” so, too, are the commitments all parties agreed to under the Paris climate accord.  But recognizing the threat the Paris accord posed to U.S. energy security, the Trump White House wisely walked away from it. The UNEP-EPA memorandum is little more than an implementation tool of the Paris agreement and should suffer the same fate.

Both are part of what is, at its core, a decidedly anti-American agenda.


Florida Utility Becomes US Leader In Renewables Thanks To Taxpayers

NextEra Energy has successfully leveraged government mandates and taxpayer-funded subsidies to become an international powerhouse in the renewable energy market.

NextEra — a major U.S. company that boasts a large wind energy portfolio — has served as a model of unprecedented growth over the years. The Florida-based utility company was ranked the 30th largest American power company in 2011 and carried a $10.2-billion valuation. The company currently touts a market capitalization of $74 billion and is heralded as the world’s biggest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Fortune Magazine ranked the company in 2018 as one of the most admired among gas and electric utilities, earning the distinction for the 11th time in 12 years.

NextEra has been able to experience rapid growth, with its expansion even more impressive considering demand for power has mostly flatlined. Credit is given to its executive leadership members — including chief executive James Robo — who have carefully managed longterm contracts and avoided debt. (RELATED: Germany Won’t Meet Its Global Warming Targets Despite Spending $200 Billion On Green Energy)

However, there is another entity that deserves major credit for the company’s rise: the U.S. government.

NextEra has been able to capitalize off federal subsidies and state mandates implemented over the years to promote wind and solar technology, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Congress began handing out tax credits in earnest for renewables in the 1990s. At the time, the wind and solar industry was minuscule, and no one anticipated the industry to take off. As the sector grew, so did the number of companies wanting credits. NextEra has been especially aggressive at obtaining them. For example, wind farms in 2008 produced around $600 million in tax credits. They are estimated to produce $4.8 billion in 2018. NextEra has been able to use $401 million of these tax credits in the past three years to offset taxes.

State governments have also served as a major contributor to the proliferation of renewables. Almost no state governments enforced a renewable energy mandate at the turn of the 21st century — a requirement that utilities obtain a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nearly 30 states have some form of a renewable energy mandate in 2018. This total will only rise as states, such as Michigan and Arizona, have experienced environmentalist-lead campaigns to increase their renewable portfolios.

Unable to produce enough energy from wind turbines, many utilities sought to purchase electricity from companies that could. NextEra, a top producer of wind energy, has been able to gobble up many of these contracts, providing renewable energy to companies that are facing higher and higher standards.

NextEra’s renewable energy arm raked in nearly $3 billion in net income in 2017.

As for the future, the company aims to keep expanding. NextEra expects to boost the number of wind and solar projects that are in different stages of the leasing and permitting process.


Fake Support for a Free Market in Energy

All of a sudden, everyone on the Left wants “free markets in energy policy.” As someone who’s advocated for that for, oh, about three decades, this riff should be music to my ears. But is laissez faire energy policy really what liberals are seeking?

First, some context. A few weeks ago, liberal activists leaked a draft of a Trump administration directive that would order utilities to purchase coal and nuclear power as part of their energy mix in supplying electricity to homes and businesses. There are good arguments for and against this policy — I’m fairly neutral — but what was fascinating was the indignant response from those on the Left who hate fossil fuels. “Crony capitalism!” they shrieked in unison. Catherine Rampell, an economic columnist at The Washington Post, moaned that President Donald Trump “is wielding the power of the state to keep uncompetitive companies in business, and costing taxpayers and consumers lots of money in the process.” “If that doesn’t count as ‘picking winners and losers,’ it’s hard to say what would,” Rampell wrote.

The Los Angeles Times slammed the Trump plan as “a preposterous idea”: “Continuing to operate financially nonviable power plants and forcing grid operators to buy power they don’t need or want is an unacceptable governmental intrusion into the power market that, by one analysis, would needlessly cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.”

This could cost hundreds of millions of dollars? That’s bad, for sure, but have you ever heard the Los Angeles Times rail against subsidies for wind and solar power? I haven’t. The Obama administration’s policy was to try to bankrupt coal, oil and other fossil fuels through regulation, while enriching their renewable energy pals in Silicon Valley with lavish subsidies.

Remember Solyndra? That was the company that was going to revolutionize solar power, and it went bankrupt after the Obama administration gave the firm hundreds of millions of dollars. All told, $150 billion was pipelined into the green empire under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and most of the money funded such fiascoes. But now Trump is the one who is accused of “picking winners and losers”?

An even bigger farce is the idea that Adam Smith’s invisible hand of free-market forces is what is driving certain nuclear power and coal plants into bankruptcy. (Coal still provides five times more electric power than wind and solar combined.) Rampell of The Washington Post explains: “The reason these [coal and nuclear] plants are struggling, after all, is that they can’t compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables.” That’s half-true. Yes, $3 natural gas prices have revolutionized the electric power markets and driven down costs.

But the idea that renewables are “cheap” is a lie, and those on the Left know it. Let’s be clear about an economic reality that environmentalists have spent four decades trying to hide: Without massive government subsidies, there would be no wind or solar energy to speak of. They are complete creatures of government favoritism, and after 30 years, we still can’t cut the umbilical cord.

Consider how gargantuan the green-energy subsidies are. First, wind and solar receive a tax credit that is basically a 35 percent-off coupon for the energy they supply, with taxpayers picking up the tab. If coal or nuclear power got a 35 percent taxpayer subsidy for every kilowatt of electricity they supplied, they would be basking in profits. I helped write and negotiate the just-passed Trump tax bill. When we tried to get rid of the renewable energy tax credit (i.e., create a “free market in energy”), the green lobby went ballistic and told Republicans this would put much of the industry out of business.

For every dollar of subsidy that coal and nuclear power receive, wind power gets almost $5 and solar receives about $20. This does not even include the biggest subsidy of all: About half the states have renewable-energy standards requiring utilities to buy 20 percent to 30 percent of their power from wind and solar, regardless of the price. What other industry in America has that kind of golden parachute?

In terms of assessing the merits of energy alternatives, we ought to have an insurance policy against brownouts and blackouts. Other nations and California have suffered from these because of overdependence on intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. We may regret shutting down reliable nuclear or coal plants, which can’t be easily powered up again, during storms, cold winters or hot summer days when we need electricity the most.

In the meantime, enough hypocrisy from liberals who lecture us about bailouts and subsidies as if they were Milton Friedman disciples. There is nothing more horrifying to proponents of renewable energy than a genuine free market in energy.




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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