Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Carbon Tax May Bring Down Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a problem: the only way his government can keep a promise is to make millions of voters angry just as the next federal election rolls around. It’s a pickle, but it’s one of his own creation.

The promise (threat?) was to impose a federal carbon tax next year on any province that did not develop a version of its own that met federally dictated benchmarks. The tax would begin at $10 per emitted tonne of carbon dioxide before rapidly increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022 — estimated to be equivalent to more than 11 cents per litre of gasoline. This is all, of course, in the name of meeting Canada’s international pledges to reduce our CO2 emissions.

The problem is that Prime Minister Trudeau now faces a much different political environment than he apparently took for granted. A year ago, nine of 10 provinces were on board with the Liberal plan (though in some cases this meant agreeing to implement provincial versions). Today (as anti-carbon-tax campaigner Jim Karahalios happily pointed out this week in the Financial Post) Saskatchewan, the original renegade, has been joined in opposing Trudeau’s carbon-tax plan by Ontario and Prince Edward Island, with Newfoundland and New Brunswick signalling they too might bail. Alberta’s NDP government is four-square behind the plan, of course, but it’s very likely be toppled by the United Conservative Party next year, in part over this very issue.

The federal Liberals certainly can push ahead with their threat to “backstop” unco-operative provinces, which is a polite word for imposing a federal tax against the popular will. But doing so during an election year cannot be an appealing prospect. Their softening poll numbers suggest the election will be competitive and that the Liberals will need to be strong in Ontario. Does Trudeau really want to spend an election campaign telling Ontarians he’s going to force a tax on them over the sustained (and, no doubt, loud) objections of Premier Doug Ford?

Does he want to risk his Atlantic Canadian stronghold by going to war with P.E.I., New Brunswick and/or Newfoundland? And if Alberta defenestrates it’s pro-carbon-tax government, does Trudeau suppose he’ll stand a chance even holding what little he has now in Alberta in a federal election shortly afterward? And most importantly: Does any of those bode well for federal-provincial co-operation or national unity?


Secretary Zinke unveils plan to reorganize the Department of Interior

By Printus LeBlanc

When Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke was sworn in, he came into a department that has not reorganized in 150 years. However, in the same timeframe new agencies were created, miles of red tape were introduced, and volumes of rules were added. The mammoth bureaucracy and inefficiencies have made the department one of the more despised government arms. Secretary Zinke sees that as a challenge and has embarked on an ambitious reorganization mission to make Interior more user friendly and less hostile to the people it is supposed to serve.

The Department of Interior is responsible for conservation and management of most federal land and natural resources. The agency is operating in 2,400 locations with over 70,000 employees around the U.S. Interior sites get over 500 million visitors to them each year. Everything from the food in the grocery store to the raw materials used to make Navy ships has at some point fallen under the purview of Interior. It would not be a stretch to say the department touches more lives everyday than any other federal agency, with the exception of the IRS. For this reason, it is important the agency run smooth and efficiently delivering the seamless customer service. But it doesn’t.

Imagine two fish in a river, one salmon and one trout. The salmon falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce and the trout us under the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the Department of Interior. Upstream is a dam built and controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, and downstream is another dam maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) also in the Department of Interior. The river continues with forests on one bank, under the U.S. Forestry Service (USFS) of the Agriculture Department, and the other bank has an Indian Reservation, falling under the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Now imagine a bridge is needed across the river.

The proposed bridge would have to get approval from multiple cabinet level agencies, waste thousands of man hours on red tape, and spend millions before a single shovel of dirt is even removed. By time the project is started, it is outdated, let alone finished. If it is an energy production project, the extra time and bureaucracy will cost the companies involved millions of dollars. That alone could sink the project.

To get an idea of how egregious the bureaucracy in the Department of Interior one only has to look at time it takes to approve Applications for Permit to Drill (APD). In FY 2016, the average wait time for drilling permits was 257 days, despite the rules requiring the permits to be reviewed within 30 days. With a wait 8 times longer than the rule states, why would anyone want to do business with the federal government?

Zinke’s reorganization plan will redraw the regional maps. The new regions were drawn using watersheds and ecosystems generally following county lines. The new regions will be more involved in the decision process instead of D.C. making all the decisions. More authority will be given to personnel in the field. How does someone in Washington D.C. know what is happening in Utah or Arizona?

The new regional maps will also put someone in charge. As often is the case today no one knows which agency takes the lead on projects that deal with multiple agencies, which is almost all of them. The new regions will have Interior Regional Directors (IRDs). The IRDs will report directly to the Deputy Secretary and be responsible for corralling the multiple agencies in their region while moving the ball forward on projects. This is what halts so many current projects. No one knows which agency will take the lead.

Zinke plans on rolling out the plan in Alaska first. The nation’s largest state is in a single time zone almost all DOI bureaus operate there, and there is only one state government to deal with. The conditions make it perfect for the pilot program.

Secretary Zinke is right, it is time for Interior to be reorganized. The massive bureaucracy answers more to the D.C. swamp than it does the people it is supposed to serve. Zinke’s plan should be embraced by all limited government politicians in Congress. Here is another chance to drain the swamp, hopefully Congress will bite.


Europe Drought Not Due To Climate Change Says Austria’s ZAMG

Northwest Europe has been awfully dry since April this year, and Germany is on track to set a new record for most days over 30°C this year. Real experts says it’s due to natural cycles.
Moreover, acute drought conditions have taken hold across parts of northern Europe and the situation threatens to significantly worsen before things improve.

Naturally the climate change ambulance chasers are coming out and pointing the finger at manmade climate change.

The online Austrian Wochenblick reported here, however that the finger pointing is misguided, and writes that the northern European heat is merely weather and not related to manmade climate change.

Klaus Haslinger, climate scientist at the Austrian Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), told the Wochenblick that the very dry conditions fundamentally are “nothing more than a weather phenomenon and that it has nothing to do per se with ‘manmade climate change.”

Haslinger, who specializes in regional climate analysis, modelling, hydrology and drought, explains that the dry weather is due to a blocking high positioned over Scandinavia and that acts to prevent moist Atlantic air from reaching Northern Europe. He told the Wochenblick that the situation, however, looks very different in southeastern Austria.

Southern Europe wetter than normal

While extremely dry conditions persist over northern Europe, much of southern Europe is seeing the opposite.

A couple of days ago meteorologist Joe Bastardi of WeatherBell Analytics tweeted charts which show that although a large part of Europe is dry, the situation was far worse across much of Europe back in 2003:

Joe explains that the northern European drought is likely because of the sudden cooling in the northwest Atlantic, which leads to the development of the summer ridge.

In his most recent Saturday Summary beginning at the 14:10 mark, Joe explains more what’s behind Europe’s recent weather anomalies: natural ocean cycles – namely El Nino and a cold North Atlantic.

Central Europe summers tending wetter

And when it comes to drought and climate change, climate alarmists like to tell us that periods of extreme dryness are only going to get worse as global temperatures rise. Yet a recent long term study shows worldwide droughts have decreased over the recent decades:

Central Europe has trended wetter over the past 15 years

Concerning Central Europe going dry during the summer, as a number of climatologists warned in the wake of the extremely hot and dry 2003 summer, Central Europe summers have in reality gotten wetter, and not dryer.

In 2016 I wrote here that 11 of 13 the previous summers had seen either normal or above normal precipitation in Germany. Since then the years 2016 and 2017 were normal and above normal in terms of precipitation respectively. That now means 13 of the past 15 years have been normal or above normal wet.

After this summer Germany will finally be able to book a dry one.

The climate “experts” have once again been shown to be totally wrong with their forecasts of scorched Central European summers.


NYT 'News' Story Is Full-Page Ad for Latest Children's Crusade Against Climate Change

“Teenagers Fight Climate Change, From the Front -- Meet the Leaders of a National Movement Called Zero Hour," reads the headline. Is it a press release? An opinion piece? No, a full-page “news” story in Sunday’s New York Times, following the same laudatory tone and lack of journalistic rigor that characterized the paper's coverage of the last children's crusade, for gun control.

Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, intern-reporter at the New York Times, orchestrated the fawning interviews of six representatives of the ostensibly teen-led movement at the D.C. offices of the Sierra Club – all participants having no doubt arrived from all over the country by non-polluting means:

Some of them met on Instagram. Others coordinated during lunchtime phone conferences. Most of them haven’t even graduated from high school.

The teenagers behind Zero Hour -- an environmentally focused, creatively minded and technologically savvy nationwide coalition -- are trying to build a youth-led movement to sound the alarm and call for action on climate change and environmental justice.

Zero Hour’s website is headed with an Obama slogan, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which is certainly a clue as to the left-wing activist bent of the organization.

The story was less a journalistic experience than free full-page publicity for yet another left-wing “climate change” crusade (but without the ideological labels), complete with posed pictures of the six teens [emphasis mine]:

For the last year, a tight-knit group spanning both coasts has been organizing on social media. The teenagers kicked off their campaign with a protest on Saturday at the National Mall in Washington, along with sister marches across the country.

As sea levels rise, ice caps melt and erratic weather affects communities across the globe, they say time is running out to address climate change. The core organizing group of about 20 met with almost 40 federal lawmakers about their platforms on Thursday, and hope to inspire other teenagers to step up and demand change.

“The march is a launch. It isn’t, ‘That’s it, we’re done,’” said Jamie Margolin, the founder of Zero Hour. “It means it doesn’t give them an excuse to be like, ‘I don’t know what the kids want.’ It’s like, ‘Yes, you do.’”

They are trying to prove the adults wrong, to show that people their age are taking heed of what they see as the greatest crisis threatening their generation.

....for the last few years, Ms. Margolin has worked to raise awareness about climate justice issues. A passionate writer, she went through an “op-ed phase,” submitting essays to publications, like one titled “An Open Letter to Climate Change Deniers” published in the monthly magazine Teen Ink.....

At a Princeton University summer program last year, she met other teenagers interested in taking action on climate change and created Zero Hour. They began to plan a huge protest in the nation’s capital. On social media, Ms. Margolin espoused factoids and reached out to other young activists.

Yoon-Hendricks let another activist throw in an attack on SeaWorld:

Before joining Zero Hour, Nadia Nazar considered herself mostly an animal-rights activist. When she was 12, she saw a PETA video on slaughterhouses and immediately became a vegetarian.

“I had just gotten a cat,” Ms. Nazar said. “What if my cat was that cow?”

She got her start as an activist by trying to persuade people in her neighborhood not to go to SeaWorld, which has been criticized over its treatment of animals. (“I was slightly successful in that.”)

The Times has always looked to “the children” to save the planet, even back in 1970, although back then the paper’s coverage, while just as promotional, was at least more frank in discussing the left-wing milieu that surrounded such "environmental" crusading.


Electricity Bills in South Australia and Other Australian States Skyrocket

South Australians pay three times as much as Americans for electricity

Like many European countries, South Australia is betting on renewable energy for its electricity, closing coal plants in favor of less carbon sources, with the outcome that its residents are becoming energy poor due to skyrocketing electricity prices.

The region’s reliance on subsidized, intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power has resulted in skyrocketing power prices. Over 100,000 Australian families had their power cut off last year, and another 100,000 are on payment plans with their power providers, making over 200,000 residents energy poor in one of the most energy-rich nations in the world.

109,000 Australian households had their electricity disconnected last year because they were unable to afford their electricity bills, which included over $3 billion in subsidies for Chinese- made solar panels and wind turbines. Electricity bills include the cost of generating power, transmitting it through high-voltage lines, distributing it to homes and businesses, and government subsidies provided to encourage development of renewable energy.

In Victoria, one of Melbourne’s bayside pubs is rationing its heating and cooling and cutting down on staff because of power bills that have reached $24,000 a month. The pub will have to sell over 120 additional pots of beer each day to keep pace with power bills that have tripled from $8000 a month after last year’s closure of the Hazelwood coal power plant. The closure of the 1600-megawatt Hazelwood plant in March 2017 resulted in the loss of over 20 percent of the state’s generation capacity. The electricity company blames the closure of the Hazelwood plant for the tripling of the pub’s power bill.

In Victoria, average retail household power bills increased almost 16 percent to $1275 compared to a year earlier. Average wholesale prices in 2017 increased 85 percent in Victoria (VIC) and 32 percent in South Australia (SA). Average wholesale prices in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) increased 63 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

Prior to the Hazelwood plant’s closure, the plant’s access to low-cost coal kept power prices among the lowest in the electricity market that supplies eastern Australia. Without the Hazelwood plant, the region became a net importer of electricity in the second half of 2017. To cope with the loss of coal-fired electricity, 500 percent more natural gas was used for power generation in 2017 and renewable energy surged, particularly roof-top solar as consumers looked to alternate sources rather than their power supplier.


South Australia, Victoria, and other Australian states are suffering from high electricity prices and potential blackouts because of their unsustainable mix of intermittent renewable energy with insufficient back-up power. Because of high electricity prices and energy poverty, residents with the help of the government are looking towards solar rooftop panels and home storage batteries, which are also costly, to form a virtual power plant and hopefully lower prices.

The United States should learn from Australia’s experience and not be too hasty at turning its generating sector over to intermittent renewable energy. Wind and solar power represent almost 8 percent of the current U.S. generating mix, which so far has not destabilized the grid.

But, costly tax credits for wind power have caused negative electricity prices that have resulted in traditional technologies, at times, being uncompetitive.  Wind generators are awarded tax credits equivalent to cash from taxpayers for generating power even when there is no financial need for it. Without the proper back-up power and policies that support it, the United States could end up facing similar cost and unreliability issues and challenges as these Australian states.




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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