Monday, July 09, 2018

Here Are Five Of The Biggest Wins Pruitt Racked Up During His Time At The EPA

President Donald Trump accepted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation letter Thursday, but the embattled agency chief managed to complete a large chunk of the president’s climate agenda before leaving.

Trump pegged Pruitt to lead the agency in February 2017 as the president sought to nix huge swaths of former President Barack Obama’s regulations. The former Oklahoma attorney general was famous for filing nearly a dozen lawsuits against Obama’s EPA.

Pruitt cited death threats and the seemingly never-ending reports about his flight travels and excessive spending for his decision to resign. Trump praised his embattled EPA head in a tweet Thursday, telling his followers that “Pruitt has done an outstanding job.”

Here is a list of five of Pruitt’s most significant accomplishments during his time manning the helm at the EPA.

* Convincing Trump To Ditch The Paris Climate Agreement

Pruitt was instrumental in convincing Trump to permanently “cancel” the Paris Agreement, a non-binding agreement Obama signed in 2015 pledging to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The White House was split on the issue, even as the president issued executive orders peeling away Obama-era global warming regulations.

Trump said the Obama administration poorly negotiated the accord and failed to put American workers first while hashing out the agreement’s details. White House aides said the administration would withdraw from the Paris accord using the process laid out in the agreement.

The pro-Paris contingent within the White House argued Trump should stay in the agreement for diplomatic reasons. It also said since the Paris Agreement was not legally binding, it would have no effect on Trump’s domestic agenda — a point contested by Paris opponents. But Pruitt and former White House adviser Stephen Bannon were two of the voices that ultimately convinced Trump to pull the trigger.

* Rolling Back The Clean Power Plan And Other Obama-Era Rules

Pruitt announced in October 2017 that the Trump administration would begin the process of repealing one of Obama’s signature environmental regulations: the Clean Power Plan.

Obama first proposed enacting the CPP in 2014 and finalized in 2015 — the rule was designed to limit the amount of greenhouse gases power plants can emit. The plan aimed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It was a centerpiece of what Obama critics referred to as his “war on coal.”

Undoing the rule, which Obama argued was needed to fulfill the U.S.’ Paris Agreement pledge, will save Americans $33 billion in compliance costs, despite the previous administration claiming it would only cost $8.4 billion and millions through public health benefits.

Pruitt moved to undo, delay or block more than 30 environmental regulations during the first few months of his tenure. The rollbacks were more than any other administrator in the agency’s 47-year history over such a short period of time, according to a February 2017 report from The New York Times.

* Nixing Obama’s Waters Of The United States (WOTUS) Rule

The Clean Water Rule, or WOTUS, was enacted in 2015 to clarify which bodies of water and wetlands are designated for federal protection. The regulation was met with immediate backlash as critics pointed to ambiguity in the rule opening the door for possible government overreach.

Pruitt announced on June 27, 2017, that the Trump administration would begin repealing the Obama-era rule, promising to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to farmers and energy providers. (RELATED: Trump’s EPA To Repeal Obama’s ‘Waters Of The US’ Rule)

The EPA began its repeal of WOTUS in July to reconstruct the rule in a manner consistent with former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case. The now-deceased jurist decided Obama’s regulation was vague and affected nearly every waterway in the country. Obama argued the rule was necessary to protect water quality and end the confusion over jurisdiction in the wake of two Supreme Court cases. Environmentalists echoed that view.

* Rewrote And Dramatically Reduced Obama’s Fuel Emission Standards

The Obama administration adopted stringent new vehicle emissions standards in 2012, most of which would have applied to vehicles made between 2022 and 2025. The standards would have required automakers to nearly double their vehicles’ average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon.

The new emissions standards were a component of Obama’s pledge to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Pruitt presided over the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s re-drafting of the mileage standards. The move ignited a fight with California, a state with a waiver to set its own car regulations. State officials vowed to keep intact Obama’s tougher regulations — Pruitt expressed interest in removing California’s waiver.

* Refashioned EPA Into An Agency Dedicated To Protecting Public Health

Pruitt expressed concerns that the EPA had swayed for years away from its initial mission: protecting public health. The agency adopted a new strategy of saving the earth from global warming, he’s argued, instead of assuring Americans have access to clean drinking water.

“Everyone looks at the Obama administration as being the environmental savior. Really? He was the environmental savior?” Pruitt said during a September 2017 interview before rattling off a list of examples where Obama’s EPA stumbled on environmental matters.

“Well, he left us with more Superfund sites than when he came in,” he said. “He had Gold King [the 2015 mine wastewater spill] and Flint, Michigan [drinking water crisis]. He tried to regulate CO2 twice and flunked twice. Struck out. So what’s so great about that record? I don’t know.”

Pruitt was referring to toxic waste sites folded into the government’s Superfund program, which is intended to clean the most dangerous and polluted places in the U.S. The agency has either been unable or unwilling to decontaminate many of the program’s 1,300 locations, allowing pollution to fester.


‘Father of Global Warming’ Scientist Finally Admits Theory Is Wrong

The scientist widely known as the "Father of Global Warming" has admitted for the first time that data used to promote his climate change theory was false and fradulently manipulated by Al Gore to suit an agenda.
The scientist widely known as the “Father of Global Warming” has admitted for the first time that data used to promote his climate change theory was false and fradulently manipulated by Al Gore to suit an agenda.

In 1986 the former NASA scientist, James Hansen, testified to Congress during a hearing on global warming organized by then-Congressman Al Gore to produce scientific models based on a number of different scenarios that could impact the planet.

According to Hansen, Al Gore took the data provided in a “worst-case scenario” and intentionally twisted it, rebranding it as “Global Warming,” making tens of millions of dollars in the process.

The model was titled “Scenario B” and was one of many provided to Congress by Hansen, however it left out significant factors meaning it didn’t reflect real-world conditions. This didn’t stop Al Gore and climate alarmists using the data to mislead millions of people all over the world.

However a new study that compares real-world data to the original Scenario B model — finding no correlation — has received Hansen’s backing, with the “Father of global warming” admitting he is “devastated” by the way his data has been used by climate alarmists.

Real World data shows “the science is not settled”

The dire climate prediction that was taken from Hansen’s data model “significantly overstates the warming” observed in the real world since the 1980s, according to the new analysis.

Western Journal reports: Economist Ross McKitrick and climate scientist John Christy found observed warming trends match the low end of what Hansen told Congress during a hearing on global warming organized by then-Congressman Al Gore.

“Climate modelers will object that this explanation doesn’t fit the theories about climate change,” the two wrote.

“But those were the theories Hansen used, and they don’t fit the data.

“The bottom line is, climate science as encoded in the models is far from settled.”

Cato Institute climate scientists Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue wrote that “surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect.”

“But we didn’t. And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong,” Michaels and Maue wrote in The Wall Street Journal in June.

The WSJ op-ed set off a fierce debate over the accuracy of Hansen’s predictions.

Several media reports interviewing climate scientists claimed Hansen’s predictions — issued in 1988 — were pretty much correct.

Hansen’s dire global warming predictions turned 30 this year, sparking fawning media coverage of their accuracy.

The so-called “godfather” of global warming even told The Associated Press “I don’t want to be right in that sense.”

Some scientists moved the goalposts and argued even though Hansen’s temperature predictions were off, he got the radiative forcing from greenhouse gas emissions correct.

Al Gore took ‘worst-case scenario’ data, rebranded it as ‘Global Warming’, and became a multi-millionaire.

However, McKitrick and Christy’s analysis takes into account such objections, pointing out that Hansen’s prediction of carbon dioxide emissions was actually close to what was observed — there just wasn’t much warming.

It turns out Hansen’s worst-case scenario projection of global warming, known as Scenario B, only takes carbon dioxide emissions into account, but still showed too much warming, McKitrick and Christy wrote.

“What really matters is the trend over the forecast interval, and this is where the problems become visible,” McKitrick and Christy wrote.

Hansen’s conclusion, they wrote, “significantly overstates the warming.”


Warming REDUCES Extreme Weather Event Frequency, Intensity

Since 2015, at least 18 papers have been published suggesting the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events — droughts, floods, and storms — have either been reduced or no detectable trend is indicated for recent decades.  This directly contradicts the claim that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will worsen due to rising CO2 concentrations.
Below is a list of 18 peer-reviewed scientific papers indicating that there has been no detectable increase — and in many cases there has been a decrease — in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (floods, droughts, storms) in recent decades.

Scientists have found that more frequent instances of unstable and intense weather occurred during cool periods such as the Little Ice Age (approximately 1300 to 1900 A.D).  Warmer periods such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (approximately 900 to 1200 A.D.) and the 20th/21st centuries were associated with a reduction of extreme weather events.

This warmer-climates-stabilize-weather conclusion finds experimental support in a 2015 paper published in the journal Science (full paper available here).

Entitled ‘”Constrained work output of the moist atmospheric heat engine in a warming climate”, Lalibert√© and co-authors use a heat engine model to detect how warming affects work intensity, or the capacity for the hydrological cycle to produce “very intense storms”.  They found that warming constrained the hydrological cycle’s ability to generate “global atmospheric motion”, which effectively means that warming has a stabilizing and calming effect with regard to generating energy for storms and precipitation extremes (droughts and floods).

Laliberté et al., 2015

“Global warming is expected to intensify the hydrological cycle, but it might also make the atmosphere less energetic. Lalibert√© et al. modeled the atmosphere as a classical heat engine in order to evaluate how much energy it contains and how much work it can do (see the Perspective by Pauluis). They then used a global climate model to project how that might change as climate warms. Although the hydrological cycle may increase in intensity, it does so at the expense of its ability to do work, such as powering large-scale atmospheric circulation or fueling more very intense storms.”

“Incoming and outgoing solar radiation couple with heat exchange at Earth’s surface to drive weather patterns that redistribute heat and moisture around the globe, creating an atmospheric heat engine. … On a warming Earth, the increase in perceptible water has been identified as a reason for the tropical overturning to slow down,  and studies over a wide range of climates suggest that global atmospheric motions are reduced in extremely warm climates.”

In sum, there is little to no support for the position that anthropogenic global warming results in more extreme weather events.  The validity of the “dry gets dryer, wet gets wetter” paradigm has not been affirmed (Greve and Seneviratne, 2015, Byrne and O’Gordon, 2015).

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Leading Japanese Scientist Tells National Audience Focus Needs To Be On Cooling, Not Warming!

Two days ago, on July 4th, Chubu University scientist Professor Kunihiko Takeda told a national audience on popular Japanese TV program ‘HONMADEKKA! TV’ that cold will be reported on rather than global warming in the second half of 2018.

Dr. Takeda said we will be reading in the newspapers about global cooling and not global warming in the second half of this year’. ‘HONMADEKKA!? TV’ is broadcast nationwide ever Wednesday evening on Fuji TV. And when questioned about an mini ice age, he affirmed it – adding crops would be adversely affected.

He also said that sunspots have been decreasing, and so the amount of cloud cover will increase as cosmic rays from space increase and the magnetic field of the sun diminishes. In that case the temperature of the Earth would fall somewhat.

The story that the ice of Antarctica and Arctic is melting is a lie, he stated further.

“Global warming is a hoax”

It’s not the first time Professor Takeda appeared on national television to dismiss global warming. In January 2017, on the popular ‘HONMADEKKA!? TV’ program, Takeda told the audience that it would be exposed that global warming was “a hoax” and that the earth is not warming as claimed. Read our post here.

In the January, 2017, show he reminded the audience that the earth in fact currently finds itself in an ice age and that “Antarctic ice is increasing”.

Takeda also said “CO2 in the early times of the Earth was 95%; now it’s 0.04%”.

Dr. Takeda was also once featured as a prominent skeptic by CFACT

And Dr. Takeda once commented that global warming was “a political vehicle that keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.”


Why the Future is Not Solar

The point is not that solar should not be considered, but that it should be considered, warts and all, alongside coal, nuclear and hydro with all their drawbacks. Too often, renewables' drawbacks and deficiencies are glossed over, not the least of these being that are unlikely ever to meet global energy needs

The future is solar—apparently. This was the argument advanced by Andrew Blakers and Matthew Stocks (2018) of the ANU on the blog The Conversation, which tells us on its masthead it combines academic rigour with journalistic flair. Unfortunately, the piece in question demonstrates considerable flair and enthusiasm for solar, but academic rigour is rather harder to find.

An energy future without fossil fuels is appealing, and people frequently imagine that solar energy will allow us to achieve that at little or no cost. Blakers and Stocks had earlier joined with a colleague to tell us that Australia could meet its target under the Paris Agreement with zero net cost (Blakers, Lu and Stocks, 2017). Blakers and Stocks’s piece reinforced the current belief among many that renewables are now competitive with coal-fired electricity generation, just as their enthusiasts said they would become—if only governments supported them with the right policies.

The Australian electricity market might be in a mess, and wholesale prices might have doubled, but—the Blakers and Stocks meme would have it—we are about to reap the rewards of a solar-based cornucopia that will make it all worthwhile. The Blakers and Stocks piece is, unfortunately, based upon an uncritical view of the place of solar energy that is far too sanguine about the prospects for solar, making several errors and glossing over some inconvenient truths.

Blakers and Stocks are leading scientists in the development of solar cells, but they do not seem sufficiently endowed with the scepticism that should accompany any technology. They remind me most of all of the engineers I studied in electric utilities in Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand, Ontario and British Columbia (Kellow, 1996) who found ways to ensure that their evaluations of alternatives always managed to support their preferred project. Langdon Winner (1978) referred to this as “reverse adaptation”, or the adaptation of ends to suit preferred means, but Abraham Maslow perhaps put the problem most elegantly when he remarked that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to resemble a nail. Experts, in other words, tend to favour the things they are expert in.

I will return to the economics of solar in Blakers and Stocks’s analysis below, but first I point to some of the other statements where they simply gloss over the faults and limitations of solar (and wind) energy—including their environmental limitations.

Some inconvenient solar (and wind) truths

Blakers and Stocks make the following statement:

PV [photovoltaic cells] and wind have minimal environmental impacts and water requirements. The raw materials for PV—silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, aluminium, glass, steel and small amounts of other materials—are effectively in unlimited supply.

Most of these raw materials require energy to produce. There is a debate over whether the energy embodied in various technologies is large enough to offset that which they produce (Fthenakis and Kim, 2007; Ferroni and Hopkirk, 2016; Raugei, et al, 2017; Ferroni, Guekos and Hopkirk, 2017). After dealing with criticisms of their original paper, Ferroni, Guekos and Hopkirk (2017: 498) conclude:

Any attempt to adopt an Energy Transition strategy by substitution of intermittent for base load power generation in countries like Switzerland or further north will result in unavoidable net energy loss.

Australia has better insolation, but there is a global concern here.

What Blakers and Stocks also gloss over with their dismissive “small amounts of other materials” is that the manufacture of PV panels requires the use of small—but still significant—amounts of solvents that have Global Warming Potential numbers around 20,000 times that of carbon dioxide. Nitrogen trifluoride was not covered by the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, but is 16,000 times more powerful a greenhouse gas (GHG) than carbon dioxide, and sulphur hexafluoride is 23,900 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This means that—on a life-cycle basis in Germany—Ferroni (2014) has suggested that PV solar is worse for climate forcing than gas or coal. Ferroni has calculated that lifetime (twenty-five years) emissions from solar energy in Germany (panels made in China, shipped to Germany, including transport and peripherals) is 978g carbon dioxide equivalent per kWh. For state-of-the-art coal the figure is 846g and for gas (CCGT) 400g.

This is, of course, partly a reflection of the poor insolation in Germany, and Mexico or Australia are more propitious sites. The advantage, in terms of virtue, is that only some of these were covered by the Kyoto Protocol, and the emissions (from inefficient fossil fuel electricity) related to manufacture mostly occur in China and those stemming from energy expended in transport are not charged to Germany.

Moreover, it cannot be assumed that covering vast areas with solar panels has “minimal” environmental impacts. While rainforest has greater aesthetic appeal (especially for environmentalists), the deserts often favoured for PV or solar thermal installations are not without significance. Indeed, there is research that suggests deserts have greater biodiversity than rainforests (Fierer and Jackson, 2006), and covering them with solar arrays does not constitute a minimal impact.

Blakers and Stocks also state that “Wind energy is an important complement to PV because it often produces at different times and places, allowing a smoother combined energy output.”

This is nonsense on stilts.

Often it does—but often it doesn’t. And often both produce negligible amounts—simultaneously. And while the sheer length of the grid in Australia is often used to suggest that the sun is likely to be shining or the wind blowing somewhere, there are substantial transmission losses to be considered. The sun shining in North Queensland is not much help when it is cloudy and calm in South Australia.

Indeed, the Australian Energy Market Operator recently slashed the “marginal loss factor” (MLF) (which reflects transmission losses) for renewables by up to 22 per cent after finding that the contribution of solar and wind to the market was less than expected (Parkinson, 2018). (The MLF calculates the difference between how much is produced by the generating facility, and measured at its meter, and how much is estimated to be delivered to customers.)

There are times in Germany, particularly in winter, when the output from solar and wind has been close to zero. Calm and mists and fogs often go hand-in-hand, as any meteorologist will tell you. This is why Germany continues to use coal and looks to continue to do so in the future. It has little prospect for pumped storage (which is only around 80 per cent efficient, let’s remember), and inquiries to use the more favourable geography of Norway and Switzerland have been met with polite refusals. (Blakers and Stocks have been advocating for pumped storage in Australia, identifying numerous potential sites; the costs—and environmental impacts—of these would have to be charged to an all-renewables future.)

The result of Germany’s Energiewende has been essentially no reduction in GHG emissions because thermal plant often runs at reduced and less efficient loads to accommodate the variability of renewables, and prices that sometimes turn negative, with excesses dumped on neighbours in the European market (undermining their own renewables generators) and increased prices overall for consumers. Germany and Denmark, with the highest proportion of renewables, have the highest prices in the developed world—although South Australia eclipses them both on a pre-tax basis. Subsidies are now ending, and the solar industry in Germany in particular is tottering.




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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