Friday, August 31, 2018

More crooked science:  Another researcher who won't release the raw data behind his controversial claims

We see below that Warmists are not alone in that fraud.  Making your raw data available is basic to science.  But since the Left has become overwhelmingly influential in the universities, scientific ethics are much decayed.  Why be honest about your research when you believe that "There is no such thing as right and wrong"?  The Replication crisis has revealed that up to 70% of published research is unreplicable, meaning that its conclusions are almost certainly wrong

A shock 2016 study argued that the U.S. accounted for nearly one-third of all mass shootings, sparking global headlines about the dangers of an American gun culture.

Now another researcher says the original study “botched” the data.

John R. Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, crunched the numbers and said his count shows that the U.S. had less than 3 percent of the world’s mass public shootings over a 15-year period.

That is smaller than the 4.6 percent of the world’s population that the U.S. accounts for — and way less than the 31 percent of global mass shooters that Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, claimed in his widely publicized studies.

“If you fix the data, you get the opposite result from him,” Mr. Lott said. “He has the United States way out there, all by itself in terms of mass public shootings. He’s simply wrong. The United States, when I go through this, ranks 58th in the world in the rate of mass public shootings and 62nd in the world in terms of murders from mass public shootings.”

Mr. Lott said he tried to get Mr. Lankford to disclose his data but the professor won’t share it with him or other researchers, making it impossible to double-check the original claims or to figure out why Mr. Lott’s numbers are so different.

Mr. Lankford’s research, first released in 2015 and presented to the American Sociological Association in 2016, garnered stories from The New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and The Washington Post, among dozens of others, that said it was proof, as CNN put it, that “the U.S. has the most mass shootings.”

Mr. Lankford studied the period from 1966 to 2012 using data from the New York City Police Department’s active shooter report, a 2014 FBI active shooter report and some foreign accounts.

He identified 292 incidents worldwide in which at least four people were killed — the FBI’s definition of a mass murder. Of those, 90 were in the U.S. — 31 percent of the total among 171 countries.

The professor also found that shooters in the U.S. were more likely to arm themselves with multiple weapons and more likely to attack at schools and business locations.

Mr. Lankford, who claimed to be the first to attempt a global survey, said his results suggested there was something to the American psyche that left people disaffected when they failed to achieve the American dream. He said they turn to violent outbursts with firearms.

“It may thus be the lofty aspirations and broken dreams of a tiny percentage of America’s students and workers — combined with their mental health problems, distorted perceptions of victimization, delusions of grandeur, and access to firearms — that makes them more likely to commit public mass shootings than people from other cultures,” he postulated in his 2015 paper.

Yet he has failed to post the data on all 292 shootings. Early academic critics said it’s easy to find data for U.S. shootings but trickier for tracking incidents in foreign countries.

Mr. Lott, meanwhile, turned to data from the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database and followed up with Nexis and web searches to try to catch cases that the database missed.

He said good data exist only for recent years, so he looked from 1998 to 2012 and found 1,491 mass public shootings worldwide. Of those, only 43 — or 2.88 percent — were in the U.S. Divide that by per capita rates, and the U.S. comes in 58th, behind Finland, Peru, Russia, Norway and Thailand — though still worse than France, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Looked at from the number of victims in those shootings, the U.S. again ranks low, with just 2.1 percent of mass shooting deaths, Mr. Lott said.

He has released a 451-page appendix detailing each of the shootings and his thoughts on how he classified it, and he shared his data with other academics, including, he said, Mr. Lankford.

The professor, though, told The Washington Times that he wasn’t going to get drawn into a back-and-forth over the issue.

“I am not interested in giving any serious thought to John Lott or his claims,” he said in response to an email seeking comment.

Another professor, Carl Moody, an economist who studies crime at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said Mr. Lott got it right.

“When I saw John Lott’s paper, I went to the Global Terrorism Database … and counted the number of mass shootings in the U.S. compared to everywhere else. Lott is right,” he said by email.

He added: “By the way, anybody can do this. The GTD database is free and available to all.”

Mr. Lott said his study still overstates the U.S. problem compared with the rest of the world.

He said it’s easy to get good data about shootings in the U.S., but tracking down attacks in far corners of the globe is tough. In some countries, he said, violence is so common that shootings of four people — the minimum for a mass public attack — merits little or no coverage.

Then there are places such as the Solomon Islands that suppress news reports “The police made it clear that since their nation gets most of its revenue from tourism, they saw little benefit to providing this information,” he said.


Global Warming Brings Snow To Europe In Summer

In case you missed it, there is repeated allusion below to a statement made in 2000 by Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia.  He said: "Within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is".  One of Warmism's more amusing false prophecies.  Note that Britain's CRU is one of the great temples of Global Warming

Good news. Children who don’t know what snow is can now ski in summer. Heavy Summer Snowfall in the European Alps – Austria, Italy, Germany & Switzerland Receive Up To 40cm -- Matt Wiseman, Mountainwatch

Heavy snow fell above 1500 meters across the European Alps this weekend with a number of destinations reporting over 40cm of the fluffy white stuff.

While it is still summer in Europe, temperatures dropped over 15 degrees and dipped into the negatives in less than 24hrs

European heatwave comes to an abrupt end -- Debbie White,  Mail Online

There’s been a dramatic plunge in temperature across parts of Europe where searing heat has suddenly given way to heavy snowfall of up to 40cm – despite it still being summer.

About 25cm of snow was dumped on Germany‘s highest peak, the Zugspitze, where temperatures reached a decidedly chilly 19.4F (-7C) yesterday.

Even Italy gets snow and a minus 8 C freeze.  A ski resort in northern Italy was coated with 10cm of snow on Sunday as  temperatures plunged to -8C.

Snow is also falling on Calgary and Alberta too.

Locals are a bit surprised: Monday, August 27, 2018, 9:59 AM – We know it’s Monday, so we won’t blame you for doing a double or even triple take of this August snow in Alberta. That’s right we said SNOW.

No doubt, climate change will be blamed for this freak weather.

Soon, children won’t know what science is.


France’s environment minister quits, raps Emmanuel Macron

Macron is actually less popular than Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron’s reputation as a leading climate change activist suffered a blow Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of his environment minister.

Nicolas Hulot, an outspoken environmentalist and former journalist, unexpectedly announced his departure in the midst of a routine interview on France Inter radio. He cited constant disappointments with what he considers the French government’s lax approach to tackling climate change, as well as its dependence on nuclear power.

"I no longer want to lie to myself," he said. "I don’t want to give the illusion that my presence in the government signifies that we are answering these problems properly. So I have made the decision to leave the government."

The president has been widely seen as the chief defender of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Accords, as well as one of the few world leaders willing to stand up to President Trump on the issue.

After Trump announced in June 2017 the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement, Macron pledged to "make our planet great again." He has received positive press for luring US climate scientists to France.

Hulot suggested on Tuesday that there was little substance behind those grandiose declarations.

"Have we begun to reduce the use of pesticides? The answer is no. Have we started to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? The answer is no. Or to stop the erosion of biodiversity? No."

Hulot’s resignation was particularly striking because it took Macron’s government by surprise. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, a guest on BFM TV at the same time as Hulot’s bombshell interview, acknowledged that Macron had not been warned. Some of Hulot’s colleagues, making the usual rounds on the morning shows, were visibly stunned when presented with the news.

"Is that a joke?" asked Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, her face angled in an amused smile.

They also struck back at Hulot’s criticisms. "I hear his disappointment, but we must give him and the government credit for what has been done over the course of a year," Griveaux said, citing incremental progress on saving species and transitioning away from nuclear energy. "We can’t have results in just one year, and Nicolas Hulot knows that."

Macron was elected in early May 2017 and took power shortly thereafter.

Hulot’s departure means the loss of one of the most popular members of Macron’s entourage. The minister is a former TV personality whose program endeared him to many in the generation of younger voters who came of age in the 1990s.

It also adds to a quiet but constant stream of turbulence at the Elysee Palace. Although Macron is often seen abroad as the composed, stable antidote to the political tumult in the London of Brexit and the Washington of Trump, four members of his Cabinet have resigned after charges related to political corruption.

Additionally, Macron’s chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, is under investigation for alleged influence peddling and violations of conflict-of-interest rules. Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen is under investigation for having illegally enlarged the premises of the publishing house she ran before entering the government. Budget Minister Gerard Darmanin was investigated for rape earlier this year; the charges were later abandoned. Hulot, too, came under fire in February for allegedly sexually assaulting a granddaughter of former French president François Mitterand in the late 1990s — an allegation from 2008 that he denied. The government stood by him.

The government has also been plagued by a scandal concerning one of Macron’s former personal security guards, Alexandre Benalla, who was caught on camera beating and dragging two protesters during the annual May Day demonstrations.

The way Macron appeared to protect Benalla before the footage was revealed in the press has cost him significantly. The most recent Ifop poll, published Sunday, showed 66 percent of the French public is dissatisfied with his performance, a five-point boost from the month before. Thirty-four percent of those consulted expressed a favorable view.

Hulot’s resignation may portend a shift in the public identity of a government that styles itself as "neither right nor left." From the beginning, the key players in the Macron Cabinet were defectors from France’s traditional center-right party, and Hulot’s absence will mean even less of a voice for those on the left.

Macron’s nominally centrist party, La République En Marche ("Republic on the Move”), holds an absolute majority in Parliament. But what remains of a political opposition immediately seized on Hulot’s resignation as a sign of further trouble ahead.

"The resignation of Nicolas Hulot serves as a vote of censure against Macron," announced Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left France Unbowed faction, on Twitter. "Macronism begins its decomposition."

The president took the news in stride. On an official visit to Copenhagen, Macron refrained from criticizing Hulot, saying he hoped "always to be able to count on the engagement of this free and convinced man."


Climate Activists Want Gov. Brown To Shut Down Fossil Fuel Production In Calif.

On the heels of Judge William Alsup’s decision to dismiss San Francisco’s and Oakland’s climate change lawsuits, local California officials are turning to new symbolic tactics, including pressuring Governor Jerry Brown ahead of his Global Climate Action Summit.

A group of 150 local elected officials sent an open letter to Governor Jerry Brown last week to chastise him for not completely shutting down fossil-fuel production in the state.

In the letter, the local officials demanded that Governor Brown pursue a meaty list of harmful and unrealistic policies:

"Recognizing that we are in a climate emergency, as you have rightly done, and given the grave public health and environmental justice consequences of fossil fuel production in California, we respectfully urge you to make a new statewide commitment and lay out a plan for California to achieve the following:

"End the issuance of permits for new fossil fuel projects, including permits for new oil and gas wells, infrastructure for fossil fuels, and petrochemical projects in California.

"Design a swift, managed decline of all fossil fuel production, starting with a 2,500-foot human health buffer zone around all occupied structures, public parks, and farms to protect public health and vulnerable communities.

"Commit the state to 100% clean, renewable energy, starting with significant investments in disadvantaged communities and areas that are already suffering the most from the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction.”

To attract additional attention to the letter, Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Richmond Vice Mayor Melvin Willis wrote an op-ed that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and decried the "toxic consequences of California’s complicity in one of the most toxic, polluting, dangerous industries on Earth…”

It is important to note that Richmond is one of the cities that filed a climate change lawsuit nearly identical to the lawsuits dismissed from officials in San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City.

The letter comes after reports that extreme environmentalists are livid that Governor Brown has refused to deny all new fossil fuel development in the state.

Kassie Siegel, a climate program director at the activist group Center for Biological Diversity, articulated this goal in response to a statement from the California Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources about California’s stringent environmental standards.

"There’s no way that any new fossil-fuel development can be compatible with a safe climate,” Siegel claimed.

In addition to the Center for Biological Diversity, anti-energy groups like, Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Hollywood United for a Healthy California, Oil Change International and others have partnered to create a campaign ominously named Brown’s Last Chance to pressure the retiring Governor ahead of his climate summit.

The campaign also calls for the immediate ban of new fossil fuel production in California, as well as a plan to "phase-out all fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

Notably absent from the list of activists attacking the governor are some of the country’s largest environmental groups, such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council, and even the Sierra Club.

In an op-ed ‘bravely’ written for the New York Times, a newspaper published approximately 3,000 miles east of Sacramento, founder Bill McKibben attempted to explain the intense focus on Governor Brown:

"So far, Mr. Brown has not stood up to the oil industry. He’s not alone, of course — very few leaders have shown this kind of courage. (In Canada, the theoretical climate champion Justin Trudeau recently nationalized a pipeline in order to make sure that the exploitation of Alberta’s dirty tar sands could continue.) But Mr. Brown is term-limited, not to mention 80 years old; he’ll never run for office again, so like no other leader, he could resist the financial might of the fossil fuel industry.”

In other words, Governor Brown has nothing to lose since he is on his way out the door.

As the climate change lawsuits brought by local governments continue to fail, local officials and radical environmentalists are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to take down the oil and gas industry.

Instead of recognizing Governor Brown’s role in enacting aggressive climate change policies, local officials are now throwing the Governor under the bus to distract from their own failed efforts.

Instead of working toward consensus-oriented solutions to mitigate climate change, environmentalists continue to fight amongst each other over how best to attack oil and gas companies.

We can only wonder how much more chaotic this will become if additional climate lawsuits are similarly thrown out by the courts, as many legal experts expect to happen.


Australia to prioritize electricty prices over climate policy. Power bills to drop more than $400

Household energy bills could drop by as much as $400 under Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor's new plan. Mr Taylor set out his priorities before his first speech to parliament today after being sworn into the role.

He will outline the plan, which is focused around better competition, better reliability, a price safety net for consumers, and steps to end price gouging, at a small business summit in Sydney. 

'I'm focused on getting prices down while I keep the lights on. I've got one KPI. I've got one goal,' he told on The Australian on Thursday.

'At the end of the day, we just want to get prices down. We're not going to get ideological about it; we just want to get the outcome. It's very pragmatic,' he said.

Mr Taylor says reducing emissions in line with Paris Climate Agreement targets, which previous plans had said was needed to provide certainty to the industry, is not part of his brief.  'Frankly, I think there is some naivety in the idea that governments can largely eliminate uncertainty, or should even try,' Mr Taylor said.

The price safety net Mr Taylor wants to implement is based around the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's proposed default market price to replace unregulated standing offers, which could save households up to $416 a year and small businesses up to $1457. 

Mr Taylor takes charge of energy after it was broken off from the Environment portfolio by new PM Scott Morrison in a gesture signalling major market reform.

While working as a financial analyst for Port Jackson Partners in 2013, Mr Taylor authored a report that suggested the costs of electricity could be reduced by dropping the Renewable Energy Target. Speaking at an event in 2013, Mr Taylor said dropping subsidies for wind farms would cut energy bills by more than $3billion. Mr Taylor also argued emission targets could still be met and the savings could be up to $300 per household by 2020.

Energy and emissions targets have long been a dividing issue in party rooms with policies going as far back as the Rudd government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme failing to gain consensus.

The latest iteration of the policy, which Mr Turnbull called the National Energy Guarantee, was instrumental in his downfall because the conservative faction in the Liberal Party is staunchly opposed to the plan.

A key point was to legislate a reduction in emissions of 26 per cent, a number in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, but one critics said was pointless if big emitters did not follow suit.

As the new front bench was sworn in on Tuesday, Mr Morrison labelled Mr Taylor his 'most important minister'.

'A tough job, but an extremely important one that has a big impact on so many Australian households and businesses,' Mr Taylor tweeted of the appointment.

Many see Mr Taylor, who has a Master of Philosophy in Economics from Oxford University, as the man to bring sense to the debate.

'The problem with energy policy for years is it doesn't focus on the energy, it focuses on if you are in favour of coal, wind, solar or hydro,' Mr Taylor said. 'What we should be wanting is reliable, affordable power that brings down our emissions.'

The 'Minister for getting energy prices down' as the new PM labelled him when he announced his new front bench on Sunday, has long been a critic of rushing into a transition to renewable energy, particularly the wind farms being built in his electorate of Hume.

'The obsession with emissions at the expense of reliability and affordability has been a massive mistake,' he told radio shock jock Ray Hadley two weeks ago. 




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


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Polluted air causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals (?)

Here we go again.  This is a typical air pollution study complete with the typical faults. It is a correlational study with no obvious causal chain between pollution and IQ, so the attribution of the IQ variations to pollution is entirely speculative.  And as usual the likely confounding factor -- income -- was not considered.  The likelihood is, as usual, that the poorer people lived in the most polluted areas and the poor are known to have lower IQs.  Pathetic!

It's a wonder after all these years that nobody has tackled this problem of control and done a study with a full range of socioeconomic controls applied. My guess is that there has been but the results were too embarrassing to report

I append the journal abstract

Air pollution causes a 'huge' reduction in intelligence, scientists say.

Shocking new research suggests air pollution has a serious impact on mental capabilities as well as physical health in human beings.

High levels of pollution can trigger a decrease in language and arithmetic skills – with the average impact of 'dirty air' equivalent to losing a year in education.

The United Nations has blamed air pollution for seven million deaths worldwide each year, while campaigners have urged local government to take more action.

An international team of researchers led by Beijing Normal University analysed language and arithmetic tests conducted on 20,000 people across China between 2010 and 2014.

However, the study is relevant worldwide, as the latest figures show around 95 per cent of the global population are now breathing unsafe air.

Scientists conducted the tests across China in areas with varied levels of pollution.

According to the latest findings, air pollution is a significant cause of loss of intelligence – roughly equating to the impact of losing a year of education.

Although previous research had found air pollution is capable of harming cognitive performance in students, this latest study is the first to examine people of all ages.

It also analysed the difference between men and women.

'Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,' researcher Xi Chen of Yale School of Public Health told the Guardian.

'But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education.

'If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education', he said.

Worse still, the researchers found that the longer people are exposed to dirty air, the greater the damage to their intelligence levels.

'We find that long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests', researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

'We provide evidence that the effect of air pollution on verbal tests becomes more pronounced as people age, especially for men and the less educated.

'The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions'.

For the latest study, scientists accounted for the gradual decline in cognition seen as people age.

They also ruled out the possibility that people are more impatient or uncooperative during tests when the pollution levels were especially high.

Following the publication of the latest study, Aarash Saleh, a registrar in respiratory medicine in the UK and part of the Doctors Against Diesel campaign, told the Guardian: 'This study adds to the concerning bank of evidence showing that exposure to air pollution can worsen our cognitive function.

'Road traffic is the biggest contributor to air pollution in residential areas and the government needs to act urgently to remove heavily-polluting vehicles from our roads.'

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the results of its study into fine particle air pollution in nearly 110 countries.

These microscopic particles are invisible to the human eye – but can penetrate deep into the lungs, and also cause heart disease and cancer.


The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance

Xin Zhang, Xi Chen, and Xiaobo Zhang


This paper examines the effect of both cumulative and transitory exposures to air pollution for the same individuals over time on cognitive performance by matching a nationally representative longitudinal survey and air quality data in China according to the exact time and geographic locations of the cognitive tests. We find that long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests. We provide evidence that the effect of air pollution on verbal tests becomes more pronounced as people age, especially for men and the less educated. The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions.


Ohio Man Gets Five Years For His Role In $47 Million Biofuel Scam

The owner of a New York-based renewable fuels trading company was sentenced to over five years in prison and fined roughly $26 million Monday for his role in a massive biofuel fraud scheme, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Ohio resident Gregory Schnabel used his company GRC Fuels as cover to produce and sell fake Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) worth over $47 million.

Schnabel also defrauded the IRS out of $12 million worth of renewable fuel tax credits. He pleaded guilty to the crimes in court.

“Today’s sentencing shows that the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who seek to defraud the federal government and the public through unlawful renewable fuel credit schemes,” DOJ acting assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood said in a statement. “This sentencing serves as a powerful deterrent to those who would consider participating in similar schemes in the future.”

Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refineries are required to mix a certain amount of biofuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel, in every batch of fuel produced.

The EPA gives refineries a quota of biofuel to meet and tracks the amount of biofuel each uses through RINs, a 38-digit code attached to every gallon of biofuel.

Gallons of biofuel and their corresponding RINs are sold by producers to oil and gas refineries. If a refinery falls behind on its biofuel quota, it may buy RINs separately and leave the fuel to be distributed elsewhere. The purchased RINs will count toward its biofuel quota.

The market for selling RINs separate from the fuel produced has created firms such as Schnabel’s that operate on trading RINs separate from the fuel they made with.

The market has also attracted fraud as biofuel producers and RIN traders forge fake RINs and sell them to oil and gas companies.

Two brothers operating a Utah-based biofuel producer and a California businessman were recently charged by a grand jury for carrying out a similar scheme that involved defrauding the IRS of $511 million worth of renewable energy tax credits.


‘Green’ California Is More Reliant On Foreign Oil Than Ever Before

There’s a growing call for California Gov. Jerry Brown to stop issuing oil and natural gas leases in the state, with some even arguing that all state fossil fuel production should be shuttered.

Yet continuing the current trend of dwindling in-state crude production wouldn’t mean California stops using oil. The state, ranked as one of the “greenest” in the country, would still use lots of oil, it would just come from other countries.

In fact, more than 56 percent of the crude oil received by California refineries were extracted in foreign countries, according to California Energy Commission data. California, once the third-largest oil state, is now more reliant than ever on foreign oil.

The biggest share of California’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia, which makes up 29 percent of foreign crude flowing into the state. More than 70 percent of foreign oil imports to the state come from OPEC members, including Iraq, Kuwait and Ecuador.

California’s share of oil coming from foreign sources has ballooned since the late 1990s. Decades of state policies restricting drilling played a role, as did declining production in Alaska.

The state legislature also completely banned new offshore drilling leases in 1994, decades after the massive Santa Barbara oil spill. Geological factors also make it expensive to pump out crude compared to other states.

While environmentalists have chastised California for its oil production, the state’s eschewing of crude extraction has contributed to its increased reliance on foreign oil. (RELATED: Three Times The Media Actually Silenced Global Warming Dissenters)

California’s oil production has fallen 56 percent since 1985, according to state data. Much of that is being replaced by oil imports from countries without the same level of environmental and public health protections that U.S. agencies require.

“The West Coast used to be the part of the country least dependent on oil imports, with heavy California and Alaska production meeting most of their needs,” said Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the free-market Institute for Energy Research.

“But as the U.S. becomes less dependent on foreign oil, California is racing to the bottom,” Kish told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

California refineries supply almost exclusively in-state because of the costly upgrades to facilities needed to comply with blending requirements. Refineries are also geographically isolated from facilities in other states, and pipelines connecting California plants to other states are meant for exports, not imports.

Experts expect the U.S. to become a net exporter of crude oil by 2022, thanks to abundant shale reserves and a boost in offshore drilling. The port of Houston-Galveston exported more fuel than it imported for the first time ever this year, federal data showed.

All in all, the U.S. is becoming less reliant on foreign energy, while California becomes more reliant on oil imports. And that’s a trend environmentalists want to continue in the name of fighting global warming.

“Although no one expects oil and gas drilling to end overnight, California doesn’t even have a plan for how to begin phasing it out,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune wrote in an op-ed, calling on Brown to shut down in-state oil and gas production.

Brune’s call is only one of many urging Brown to stop fossil fuel production in California. Activists have also urged state lawmakers to pass legislation mandating 100 percent green energy by 2045.

“In fact, under Governor Brown’s leadership, California has approved more than 20,000 new oil and gas wells,” Brune wrote in early August. “That’s leadership — in precisely the wrong direction.”

Two San Francisco Bay area officials wrote an op-ed calling on Brown “to make a plan to phase out oil and gas production in California, to clean up our cities, towns and agricultural lands, and protect our people.”

Mayor Elizabeth Patterson of Benicia and Vice Mayor Melvin Willis of Richmond joined 183 other local officials from 31 California counties asking Brown to end fossil fuel production in the state.

Those local officials joined environmentalists in demanding no new drilling permits be issued and no new refineries be allowed in California. They also want “a swift, managed decline of all fossil fuel production” by shutting down wells within 2,500 feet of “all occupied structures, public parks and farms.”

Their ultimate goal, however, is a state that runs completely on “renewable energy,” according to a public letter of demands.

However, this ignores an obvious criticism of environmentalists’ anti-fossil fuel campaign — California will still use oil, but it will come from overseas. In fact, that’s what state data clearly shows.

“It’s sad for a state that could use the oil and the money developing it would bring, especially since they have huge potential,” Kish said.

In-state refineries still took in nearly 623 million barrels of oil in 2017. That can’t be phased out overnight.

California also gets a small amount of foreign imports from Canada, but state refiners have been using less Canadian oil in recent years. Even if that trend were to reverse, state planners still see refiners offsetting Canadian crude “with other types of oil to maintain consistent average blended properties.”

California’s demand for gasoline declined from 2004 to 2009, but has since been on the upswing as the economy continues to recover from the recent recession and because of population growth.


Conservatives Call On EPA To Go Even Further In Limiting Its Own Power

Conservatives applauded the Trump administration’s proposal to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power plant regulations, however, many want this to be a stepping stone to strip the agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

“The one Obama era rule that still needs to be revisited is the endangerment finding that labels life-giving carbon dioxide as a threat to public welfare,” former Trump transition official Steve Milloy told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Milloy is referring to an EPA regulatory document from 2009 that found greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, indirectly harm public health through global warming. That endangerment finding gave EPA the legal cover it needed to issue global warming regulations.

The endangerment finding authority underlies sweeping regulations on power plants, vehicles and oil and gas operations estimated to cost billions of dollars, including the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Milloy and others want EPA to put the CO2 genie back in the bottle by reopening the 2009 endangerment finding. The hope is re-examining the evidence would show flaws in the 2009 finding

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC) petitioned EPA in 2017 to reconsider the endangerment finding. CEI hopes EPA will consider its petition.

Moreover, CEI argues the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a more lenient alternative to the Clean Power Plan, will likely be challenged in court.

“We think that granting the petition remains the best option if the court decides that the new rule doesn’t do enough to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal and natural gas power plants,” said Myron Ebell, director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican, gave conservative groups some hope on Tuesday when he said “the issue is still alive,” referring to considerations over reopen the endangerment finding.

“I think we’ll eventually see changes there, but that hasn’t happened yet,” Inhofe said, E&E News reported.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced ACE on Tuesday, rolling back the Obama administration’s plan to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants. Twenty-seven states challenged the 2015 regulation, scoring a legal victory in early 2016 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against implementation.

“The ACE proposal establishes breathing space for the endangerment finding rollback to occur in the future,” said Milloy, a lawyer and policy expert who runs the website

However, the head of EPA’s air and radiation office suggested the agency had no plans to reconsider the endangerment finding any time soon.

“We are not proposing to rescind to the endangerment finding. We are not proposing to find that power plants do not contribute to that endangerment,” EPA’s Bill Wehrum told reporters Tuesday on a call about the ACE rule.

Instead, Trump’s EPA seems content with scaling back or repealing Obama-era climate regulations that target coal plants, vehicles and oil and gas operations.

Environmentalists oppose revisiting the endangerment finding, going with the oft-used argument that the “science is settled” when it comes to global warming. Some attorneys have also been vocal about how difficult it would be to nix the 2009 finding.

Wheeler told The Washington Post in July he saw no “compelling reason” to review the endangerment finding.

“There would have to be a major, compelling reason to try to ever reopen that. I don’t think that’s an open question at this point,” Wheeler said.

However, Ebell said leaving the endangerment finding in place left the door open for future administrations to impose sweeping regulations over the economy.

“The ‘Clean Power’ Plan was a key part of the Obama administration’s war on affordable energy and based on the finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare,” Ebell said in a statement.

“However, the best and most recent science undermines that claim and therefore reconsideration is warranted,” Ebell said.


Australia: It was climate policy that sank PM Turnbull

Turnbull was a Global Warming believer.  Most of his party were not

Chris Kenny

Readers of The Australian will not have been surprised that Malcolm Turnbull ran into internal strife over climate and energy policy. The media voices Turnbull and his supporters blame for fuelling moves against him surely were the ones warning him. His handicap was not in having critics but in ­ignoring them.

Political commentary is abuzz as journalists, especially from the public broadcasters, offer the absurd proposition that this crisis was about nothing, came out of nowhere and failed because Peter Dutton, the original challenger, didn’t get the leadership.

As with any leadership coup, a range of factors was at play, including resentment, ego, polling and ambition. Turnbull failed the Newspoll test he set, making him vulnerable from the day he lost his 30th in a row. The Longman by-election, where a Liberal National Party primary vote below 30 per cent put the fear of obliteration into Queensland MPs, supercharged anxieties.

All the while, Tony Abbott and his loyalists had worn their sense of injustice like blue ties pulled too tight around their necks. With flushed faces and bursting veins, they were always going to erupt if an opportunity arose.

In this climate, Turnbull must have known he needed to avoid provocations. Yet he walked into this conflagration in the most predictable way. A party voted into office largely on a pledge to repeal costly carbon emissions reduction policy (axe the carbon tax), led by a man who previously had lost the leadership for trying to do a deal with Labor on climate policy and was trying to bed down another costly emissions reduction plan by striking a deal with Labor — this was ­always going to end in tears.

This is not hindsight. On radio, television and in the pages of The Australian, Turnbull was warned his national energy guarantee would test internal accommodations. The NEG was conceived in the wake of such a fright, almost two years ago, when environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg floated an energy intensity scheme. Turnbull had to move quickly to repudiate it and reassure MPs.

Editorials in The Australian have long warned of potential disruption over the NEG. “The prime minister and his team must act decisively to put solutions in place — which, to be fair, they are working towards — as they battle disunity within the Coalition on this issue,” the paper said in April. In July concerns were raised about the leap of faith involved: “Regardless of the former prime minister’s personal motivation, it is alarming but true, as Mr Abbott said on Monday, that the Turnbull government will be relying on the support of Labor states to back its national energy guarantee at next month’s crucial COAG meeting.”

Early this month I wrote that the Coalition was in dire strife and that “government MPs are torn between enjoying the ride as they go over the cliff and mustering the courage to do something about it”. The main problem was obvious. “In a twist of self-harm difficult to believe given Turnbull’s history on the issue (in 2009 he lost the leadership over climate activism), the Coalition is shrinking from a ­potential contest with Labor over climate and energy; preferring to appease the gods of Paris rather than reclaiming the nation’s cheap energy mantle.”

Turnbull’s media boosters at the ABC and elsewhere either didn’t see the looming problem or underestimated it because they supported the policy — wishful thinking. My columns were not informed by any plotting but, rather, assessments of policy and political trajectories. Given I worked for Turnbull when he lost the leadership in 2009 over climate policy, perhaps I was more sensitive to the dynamic. But a clutch of commentators was vigorously attacking the policy and Abbott and his backbench ally Craig Kelly were openly opposing it.

As far back as April 7, I wrote: “The prime minister has been given an opportunity to retreat in the name of common sense, economic sanity and political advantage. But he stands in a no man’s land of stranded coal assets and stored hydro schemes where he risks another insurrection on the same futile battleground.”

Nine days before he called last week’s first spill, my column said Turnbull would “face open revolt over his national energy guarantee; the outstanding questions are how widespread it will be, whether it derails the policy and/or his prime ministership”. A week later I wrote about the “climate and energy debate that is so volatile it could yet destroy Turnbull’s prime ministership and/or the Coalition government”.

On that day this newspaper’s editorial warned: “Malcolm Turnbull needs a circuit-breaker to rescue his national energy guarantee, revive his government’s direction and protect his leadership … The Coalition was elected in 2013 largely on a promise to defend electricity prices from conceitful climate gestures. (Turnbull and Frydenberg) will abandon that policy and political ground at the grave peril of their own positions and that of the Coalition.”

Turnbull and his cabinet persisted with the policy too long. Even after the Coalition partyroom approved it a fortnight ago, MPs’ concerns deepened as they realised Australia would become the only country to write the Paris targets into law. It became an issue of economic sovereignty.

The policy fell apart and on ­August 20 Turnbull effectively shelved it, saying he would not put the legislation to parliament, ostensibly because it wouldn’t pass but more likely because it might pass with Labor support while a dozen or more government MPs crossed the floor to oppose it.

Announcing this capitulation, the prime minister looked broken and a challenge suddenly appeared inevitable. Until a few days earlier, it had been all about changing the policy, not the leader. Now it would be both.

This week the ABC’s Media Watch portrayed the event as a media-driven panic. Host Paul Barry failed to mention the critical energy conflict that triggered the crisis or report the detailed warnings about Turnbull’s perilous path. Barry, in line with much of the gallery, drew other lessons that entirely missed the point. “Well, one is not to let a cabal of conservative commentators persuade the Liberal Party to do something the public hates — knifing an elected prime minister.”

This is an extraordinary distortion. Media Watch argues loud ­voices antipathetic to Turnbull from the moment he seized the prime ministership from Abbott — Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Peta Credlin, Ray Hadley and others — killed off a prime minister by spooking his party. Other commentators have promoted media conspiracy theories. This not only insults the MPs and grossly exaggerates the role of open and honest opinion, it also ignores the majority of media voices at the ABC, SBS, Fairfax Media, commercial TV and radio, online publications and many in News Corp papers who have been supportive of Turnbull and sympathetic to his energy and climate aims. Turnbull’s problem was not (admittedly aggressive and relentless) conservative commentators polluting the minds of his MPs but green-left journalists insulating him from reality.




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


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Climate change makes trees grow... faster?

An amusing attempted scare below.  They found that wood in trees these days is less dense than wood from 150 years ago.  They admit that they don't know why but suspect that it might be an effect of increasing CO2 in the air over the years. I think they are right.  Increased CO2 makes all green things grow faster and faster growth probably is less dense growth.

But where is tha problem?  Trees already vary greatly in density.  Tropical trees such as black bean are like iron.  I once broke my drill bit trying to drill a hole in a black bean stud.

And, conversely, some wood is very light.  Most types of pine are very low in density.  And pine grows just about everywhere.  And what type of wood is used in house framing?  Pine.  Douglas fir and Oregon are both pines and are higly valued for their light but strong properties.  And in Tasmania Huon pine is greatly valued in making artisan furniture and other beautiful things.  The conclusion?  We LOVE low density wood

Trees are growing more rapidly due to climate change. This sounds like good news. After all, this means that trees are storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their wood and hence taking away the key ingredient in global warming. But is it that simple? A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) analyzed wood samples from the oldest existing experimental areas spanning a period of 150 years -- and reached a surprising conclusion.

The team led by Hans Pretzsch, Professor for Forest Growth and Yield Science at the TUM, examined wood samples from several hundred trees and analyzed every single annual ring using a high-tech procedure -- a total of 30,000 of them.

Pretzsch explains the analysis procedure: "The heart of the Lignostation is a high-frequency probe which scans each sample in steps of a hundredth of a millimeter. By doing so, we measure the specific weight of the wood with an accuracy and resolution which until recently was unthinkable."

The wood samples come from the oldest experimental forest plots in Europe which were created at the same time the TU Munich was founded 150 years ago. The samples were taken from common European tree species such as spruces, pines, beeches, and oaks. "We have detailed knowledge of the history of every single plot and tree," says Pretzsch. "This allows us to rule out the possibility that our findings could result from the forest being managed differently now as compared to a hundred years ago."

Climate change is making the wood lighter

With the combination of wood samples from the 1870s to the present day coupled with the latest measurement technology, the team at the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan were able to demonstrate that the annually growing wood has gradually become lighter since observations began: By up to eight to twelve percent since 1900. Within the same period, the volume growth of the trees in central Europe has accelerated by 29 to one hundred percent.

In other words: Even though a greater volume of wood is being produced today, it now contains less material than just a few decades ago. However, the explanation which immediately comes to mind does not apply.

"Some people might now surmise that the more rapid growth could itself be the cause for our observations," says Dr. Peter Biber, co-author of the study -- "In some tree species, it is in fact the case that wider annual rings also tend to have lighter wood. But we have taken this effect into account. The decrease in wood density we are talking about is due to other factors."

Instead, Pretzsch and his team see the causes as being the long-term increase in temperature due to climate change and the resulting lengthening of the vegetation period. But the nitrogen input from agriculture, traffic, and industry also play a part. A number of details lead experts to surmise this, such as the decrease in the density of late wood and the increase in the percentage of early wood in the annual rings.

Lighter wood -- What's the problem?

Lighter wood is less solid and it has a lower calorific value. This is crucial for numerous application scenarios ranging from wood construction to energy production. Less solid wood in living trees also increases the risk of damage events such as breakage due to wind and snow in forests.

But the most important finding for practical and political aspects is that the current climate-relevant carbon sequestration of the forests is being overestimated as long as it is calculated with established but outdated wood densities. "The accelerated growth is still resulting in surplus carbon sequestration," says Pretzsch. "But scaling up for the forests of central Europe, the traditional estimate would be to high by about ten million metric tons of carbon per year."


Are Western Wildfires Driven by Global Warming — Man-Made or Otherwise?

The news media has made the number and intensity of wildfires in western states this summer a household topic. As of Aug. 14, there were hundreds of them, and of major ones, 17 were burning in Alaska, 11 in Arizona, 10 each in Oregon and Colorado, and nine in California. The media and many environmentalists blame them on global warming.

The numbers sound bad to people not studied in the field, but in actuality they’re not unusual. In fact, the number of fires has been decreasing since the 1970s. But the total acreage burned has been increasing over that period. But an even longer view shows an entirely different picture, according to data kept by the National Interagency Fire Center shown in this graph:

Clearly, both the number of fires and the number of acres burned were far higher from the late 1920s through the 1940s than since 2000.

Nonetheless, global warming alarmists and their media lapdogs get it wrong.

“The effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture are turning many of our forests into kindling during wildfire season,” says the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Associated Press claims "Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires.“

The Chicago Sun Times handles it this way:

As human-caused climate change has warmed the world over the past 35 years, the land consumed by flames has more than doubled.

Experts say the way global warming worsens wildfires comes down to the basic dynamics of fire. Fires need ignition, oxygen and fuel. And what’s really changed is fuel — the trees, brush and other plants that go up in flames.

"Hotter drier weather means our fuels are drier so it’s easier for fires to start and spread and burn more intensely,” said University of Alberta fire scientist Mike Flannigan.

But University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass pointed out in a recent interview with the Daily Caller:

Correlation is not causation. Temperatures are warming, that is true. Wildfire area is increasing in parts of the west, also true. But one does not necessarily cause another. Wildfire area could well be increasing because of previous fire suppression, mismanagement of our forests, and a huge influx of people into the west, lightning fires and providing lots of fuel for them.

Likewise, University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science John Christy says human mismanagement is the more important cause of the huge fires:

If you don’t let the low-intensity fires burn, that fuel builds up year after year. Now once a fire gets going and it gets going enough, it has so much fuel that we can’t put it out. In that sense, you could say that fires today are more intense, but it’s because of human management practices, not because mother nature has done something.

Yes, what’s really changed is fuel — not how dry it is because of rising temperature or declining precipitation (neither of which has a trend sufficient to make much difference in combustibility) but how much of it there is.

Driven largely by environmentalists who insisted that human management of nature is somehow bad, western states and the federal government generally adopted policies of suppressing fires and not removing undergrowth from forests. Yet fires are a natural phenomenon essential to long-term forest health. Preventing and suppressing them results in denser undergrowth, which means more fuel. Fires then burn hotter and move faster, accounting for the fact that acres burned have generally increased (though not greatly) since the 1970s, while the number of fires has not.


Corrupt environmental police in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State Police isn’t the only state law enforcement agency mired in a payroll morass.

Members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police regularly take overtime assignments and off-duty details in the middle of the workday, scheduling their normal state work around more profitable side gigs, according to payroll records.

Agency officials and Governor Charlie Baker vowed to crack down on the practice following media reports two years ago, but the routine continues today.

Despite earlier warnings, environmental officers also continue to stay on the clock while traveling between regular and extra shifts, records show. They also use paid time off to stretch their schedules and ensure overtime payouts, according to timesheet data.

“It’s a situation that’s ripe for corruption,” said Thomas Nolan, a criminology researcher and former Boston Police lieutenant.

Still, the ongoing situation at Environment Police has not risen to the same level as the alleged criminal overtime fraud at State Police, which erupted into a major scandal this year. Two troopers have pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement charges, four others are being prosecuted, and dozens more are under investigation.

The low-profile Environmental Police, which employs 83 officers on a $11 million annual budget, enforces fishing, hunting, boating, and recreational vehicle laws. It is led by Colonel James McGinn, a former State Police sergeant who served as Baker’s personal campaign driver before Baker appointed him to the agency’s helm in 2014.

Officials from the state’s executive environmental office told the Globe scheduling flexibility allows officers to do critical work.

Spokeswoman Katie Gronendyke said the work officers do on split shifts is “a crucial component of the Environmental Police’s mission to protect the health, safety, and rights of the public while preserving the environment for future generations.”

Officials also insisted officers can work while traveling between assignments and that the agency is largely powerless to tell officers how they can use time-off benefits.

The average base pay of environmental officers is about $80,000, though about half the force earned six-figure payouts last year with overtime and private details. The highest-paid officer made $181,300, including $26,645 in overtime and nearly $68,000 from details and other pay, records show.

McGinn, who retired from State Police in 2005, earns an annual salary of $132,200. He declined an interview request.

In the fall of 2016, a series of media reports exposed the agency’s “split-shift” policy, allowing officers to interrupt regular shifts, work some hours of higher-paying overtime or detail work, then finish their regular shift.

WCVB-TV also found some officers spent work hours at home or sitting in their trucks during security details.

Baker has pledged changes within the agency, including recently activating GPS tracking technology in State Police cruisers to strengthen accountability.

In contrast, Environmental Police removed GPS tracking devices from its patrol vehicles three years ago at the union’s request. The agency said tracking capabilities have not been restored.

The Globe reported last summer the executive environmental office’s leader Secretary Matthew Beaton used taxpayer funds to pay for a plane ticket during a Florida vacation and was shuttled between the State House and Boston’s airport in an unmarked, fully equipped Environmental Police vehicle, with Perrin as his chauffeur.

Beaton quietly paid back the money only after it was found by an internal audit months later. He faced questions about whether he was qualified for his job when Baker picked him in 2014.

In spring 2017, the Globe detailed how state environmental agencies were rife with employees who have political and family ties, despite Baker’s campaign vow to ban patronage hires. That spurred the state’s Democratic Party to call for an investigation and at least one employee abruptly left months later.

It came on the heels of a series of embarrassing revelations in fall 2016 over environmental agencies’ staff misusing state resources, along with allegations of political intimidation, prompting Baker to order suspensions and firings.


Wind turbine is BLOWN OVER: 196 foot structure is toppled in a park as powerful typhoon hits Japan

A 196-foot wind turbine toppled over after a powerful typhoon tore through Japan. The structure in Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park was built in 2002 in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which devastated parts of Hyogo prefecture in 1995.

It was uprooted early this morning as powerful Typhoon Cimaron hit the western part of the country.

The turbine was pictured lying fragmented on its side with pieces littered across a road running alongside the park.

The storm caused scattered damage, flooding and landslides as it swept across western Japan.

A worship hall collapsed at a Shinto shrine in Kyoto, leaving the roof almost on the ground.

Strong winds also tipped over trucks on the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge that connects Awaji Island and Honshu.

Japan's disaster agency tallied 30 people injured, two seriously.

More than 300 flights have been cancelled and high-speed bullet train service was suspended in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Cimarron, now a tropical storm, was back at sea and heading for northern Japan after bringing heavy rain and high winds to the port city of Kobe and elsewhere in western Japan overnight.


Australia: Green groups want to send water out to sea rather than give it to drought-hit farmers

Environmentalists have lashed Barnaby Joyce's call to divert water to drought-stricken farmers, labelling the special drought envoy's "kneejerk" plan as ill-informed.

The former Nationals leader made a splash as he kicked off his new job, calling for environmental water from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be used to grow fodder for stock.

"You either accept this is a national emergency and you're going to do something distinct to deal with it or you just say 'no, no, we really like the pictures of starving cattle'," he told ABC radio on Tuesday. "The water that is going to the environment is going past the irrigation properties that grow the fodder to keep cattle alive."

But the Australian Conservation Foundation's Paul Sinclair said the Murray-Darling river system was also suffering through the drought.

"Mr Joyce's kneejerk and ill-informed reaction risks the health of flood plains, wetlands and wildlife, not to mention the communities downstream that rely on a living river for their livelihoods," Dr Sinclair said.

He said water clawed back from irrigators cost the government billions, and needed to be used to make sure everyone could benefit from a healthy river.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young slammed Mr Joyce's plan, saying he should ask his "corporate irrigator mates" to help drought-affected farmers. "Barnaby Joyce has used his first day on the job to go back to his old tricks - trying to rip water off of the environment," Senator Hanson-Young said.

Nationals cabinet minister Matt Canavan said the former agriculture and water minister's plan should be considered. "It's almost like he was born for this role to be the drought envoy," Senator Canavan told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Joyce insists he's not eyeing off a return to the front bench after being handed extra responsibility. "I really want to get stuck into this, not because of some ulterior plan, because the drought is there," Mr Joyce said. "I'm going to do my bit to help them with that and if that's where it stops that's where it stops."

Mr Joyce was deputy prime minister until February when he was forced to quit amid a storm of controversy surrounding his affair with a staffer.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison made him drought envoy on Sunday as he announced his ministerial team.




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


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Court Order for EPA to Ban Pesticide, Spotlights Need for ‘Transparency’ Rule

The "Six Cities" study mentioned below is certainly rubbish. Based on it, the Obama EPA claimed that outdoor air kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. EPA then used this claim to: wreck the coal industry; justify expensive and job-killing air quality and climate rules; and to scare Americans about the air they breathe.

It is yet another very careless air pollution study.  I have over time reviewed a lot of them (e.g. here and here and here) and found that they were all naive about controls to the point of making their findings at best moot.  A very simple demolition of the garbage mentioned above is here. Note that the alleged 2005 confirmation of the original results was simply a re-analysis of the original data that did nothing to address the lack of basic controls

Also, Steve Milloys's book “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” shows that there is nothing remotely scientific or honest about the Harvard Six Cities and Pope ACS studies, or the alleged HEI review. Steve says that the only thing that was “rigorous” in the studies was the fraud.

How can Americans be certain that scientific studies that are the basis of costly EPA regulations are accurate, and that the benefits of the regulations outweigh the expense?

Contrary to what critics say about a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, part of the answer lies in greater openness and transparency by federal officials, according to a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank.

The rule, called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science,” would require the EPA to publish the scientific data behind regulations so that the information would be available for public scrutiny.

The value of the proposal became apparent Aug. 9, when a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos within 60 days, says CEI senior fellow Angela Logomasini, who authored the study.

“The Trump administration should certainly challenge this ruling, which goes beyond the bounds of reason and conflicts with all the best science on chlorpyrifos,” Logomasini, who specializes in environmental and consumer issues, said in a press release, adding:

The EPA is currently pursuing a scheduled scientific review on chlorpyrifos, and there is no reason they should stop that because of a misguided activist petition. The Trump administration was right to reject the proposed ban because it was based on a single study that EPA’s science advisory board indicated was inappropriate for drawing any conclusions.

In addition, the researchers refuse to release the underlying data of this study, preventing anyone from doing legitimate scientific review to ensure its validity. This case offers yet another reason why EPA should finalize its pending rule to increase scientific transparency at the agency.

If Congress decided to impose a ban, it would hinder farming and raise consumer prices for food, Logomasini noted in a recent op-ed. Proponents of a ban on chlorpyrifos see a connection between the pesticide and developmental disabilities in children.

A report in The New York Times about the order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit cites studies concluding that the effects of  chlorpyrifos on children “included lower birth weight and reduced I.Q., with farm workers also reporting loss of working memory and other health consequences that at times resulted in hospital admissions.”

Court watchers consider the 9th Circuit to be one of the most liberal federal courts in the nation, and President Donald Trump hopes to reshape it through his appointments.

What the Rule Would Do:

The EPA’s transparency rule would help to counter unsubstantiated claims against pesticides such as chlorpyrifos that protect crops from insects, Logomasini argues.

The proposed rule would require the EPA to “use peer-reviewed information, standardized test methods, consistent data evaluation procedures, and good laboratory practices to ensure transparent, understandable, and reproducible scientific assessments.” It is modeled after legislation that would have banned the practice of “secret science.”

Several versions of the bill passed the House, but not the Senate.

The EPA’s proposed transparency rule includes language similar to the legislation. EPA officials also included provisions that are quite different from what advanced through the House.

“The rule affords the EPA administrator considerable leeway to permit regulators to use research in cases where privacy or other concerns limit public availability,” Logomasini writes, adding:

In fact, under some laws, such as the newly reformed Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA must use such research if it constitutes the ‘best available science’ on an issue. In that case, even if data were not fully available, the agency would still be required to rely on those critical studies. However, in cases where data can be more transparent without privacy concerns, the EPA could not refuse to release the data on arbitrary grounds.

If implemented, the transparency rule would not cover all EPA regulatory activities, but it would be applicable to regulations that would be expected to cost at least $100 million a year, according to the report. The rule also includes provisions that safeguard “confidential business information” and is “sensitive to national and homeland security,” Logomasini writes.

The transparency proposal has attracted criticism from some researchers who have expressed concern that it would hinder the scientific process. Logomasini analyzes some of these arguments in the report.

For example, John Ioannidis, a Stanford University professor of medicine, warns in a recent editorial that if the rule is implemented, “science will be practically eliminated from all decision-making processes” and that any new regulations “would then depend uniquely on opinion and whim.”

Despite his expressed misgivings toward the EPA proposal, the CEI report notes that Ioannidis raises “some good points” that make a strong case for greater transparency in science.

Transparency as ‘Inherently Pro-Science’

“Many critics of EPA’s transparency rule claim it is ‘anti-science’ and represents an ideological attack on regulation,” Logomasini says in her report. “It is true that those who prefer less regulation hope that the rule would eliminate unnecessary regulations that are based on poor-quality science. And it is also true that many oppose the rule because they fear it will weaken regulation. But irrespective of these ideological views, increasing transparency in science, whether used for government regulation or not, is an inherently pro-science goal.”

Logomasini also addresses claims raised in some news stories that suggest the transparency rule is laced with a “hidden pro-industry agenda” aimed at undermining air quality regulations.

The EPA implemented those rules for the purpose of alleviating airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, known as PM2.5. The regulations were based on science produced in a taxpayer-funded study from Harvard and Brigham Young University researchers that the agency kept sealed from public scrutiny.

The 1993 study, known as the Six Cities Study, is built around a statistical analysis that found a relationship between the life span of people living in six cities and the levels of the small airborne particles. The study concluded that people living in cities with higher levels of PM2.5 had shorter life spans than those in cities with lower levels.

Researchers who were part of the Six Cities Study have said they never agreed to release the data attached to the study and cited a need for anonymity. The EPA repeatedly has resisted congressional requests to disclose the information.

If researchers have genuine privacy concerns, the transparency rule can accommodate them, Logomasini says in the report. But she also points out that if the study’s findings are accurate, release of the data would serve only to strengthen the case for the air regulations:

Privacy concerns might be a legitimate challenge for releasing some or all of the Six Cities data. If that is the case, the rule, as noted, provides exemptions for rare cases where data cannot be made anonymous and privacy must be maintained. Accordingly, regulators can still use the Six Cities data, if legitimate privacy concerns prevent full release.

In cases where the data can be made anonymous, it should be released regardless of whether it supports weakening or strengthening regulations. After all, if a study’s findings are valid, releasing the data will only strengthen claims about the benefits of these regulations. If the findings are not valid, then we know that regulatory costs may not be justified, and that society actually suffers net negative effects because of those costs.

Indeed, regulation can translate into higher prices for food, transportation, consumer products, and even medicines. The debate over the rule is not about whether it benefits industry or not, but about how it impacts public health and well-being overall.

A Matter of Trust

The EPA’s public comment period for the transparency proposal ended Aug. 16.

Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow in agricultural policy at The Heritage Foundation, submitted comments that same day and credited the agency for recognizing the importance of public participation in the regulatory process.

“A transparent rulemaking process helps to ensure that decisions are being made in a proper fashion,” Bakst wrote, adding:

The public should not be expected to just trust the EPA (or any agency) to promulgate any rule it wants and draw its own conclusions without the public knowing how those conclusions were reached. This expectation does not change simply because the agency is dealing with a scientific study. Further, the EPA is not immune to seeking preferred policy outcomes and using questionable science to achieve those outcomes. Transparency helps to minimize these problems.

But the proposed rule remains the subject of criticism from other researchers and environmental advocacy groups.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit based in New York, argues in a blog post that the rule would “roll back health protections” because it could be used to prohibit studies that were the basis for regulations that protect the public from pollution and other dangers.

“There are many reasons why a  study cannot be made fully public, or replicated,” the NRDC blog says, adding:

For example, the original raw data may no longer exist, the original exposure conditions may no longer exist (such as lead exposures from leaded gasoline), and patient protection and privacy rules may prevent full disclosure of the raw data and information. EPA has long-established and transparent methods for evaluating data in these situations.

Supporters of the EPA proposal view it as a commonsense measure that will bring an added element of accountability to the regulatory process.

“EPA’s proposed rule strengthening science transparency is as common sense as rules come,” Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“The public must be able to hold government institutions accountable and that can only be done if the science used to justify costly regulations is rigorous, reproducible, and holds up to independent scrutiny,” Pyle said. “Peer review and factual analysis are hallmarks of scientific research. If the EPA doesn’t have to follow these standards, how can we trust that the rules they put forward are based on sound science and not political science?”

The Institute for Energy Research is a Washington-based nonprofit that favors free-market solutions in setting energy policies.

The EPA said it has begun to review the more than 479,000 comments, a process that could last through fall. The agency then will determine a timeline for making a final decision.


CA: News from Death Valley

A reader takes an interest in temperatures in Death Valley, often said to be the hottest place on earth.  He has not given me a full report of what exactly he has done but the following summary may be of interest.  The valley is NOT warming

I continue to monitor the temperatures of Death Valley and while August has typically the hottest days the temperature as of today has not exceeded 120 deg F, while past years typically reach the mid to high 120's. And compare this to the reported heat wave and drought present across much of the USA and a CO2 level of about 410 ppm. In addition humidity has been relatively low as well in Death Valley. The data from Death Valley would not support Global Warming theories. For the last 8 years the yearly temperature maximums have been dropping lower and lower but also the overnight temperature drop has been much lower than past periods.

There are a number of factors that could have a significant impact on surface temperatures. After thousands of years of sun heating the surface material there would be a certain residual inertia. It is possible that the air mass at the surface is not getting as warm but the near surface earth still has a significant reservoir of energy. There has to be some other explanation for lower max air temperatures as well as  lower overnight cooling even with higher CO2 concentrations and low humidity.

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Trump ends Obama's war on American coal

Donald Trump promised when he was running for president that he would repeal regulations that kill jobs. The Clean Power Plan of the Obama administration is Exhibit A. On the campaign trail in states like Ohio and West Virginia, I saw firsthand how the Clean Power Plan regulations were decimating proud coal towns where economic activity was replaced with unemployment lines and drug use.

This week, the White House announced its plan for overturning the most onerous features of that law, which will throw a lifeline to the American coal industry. Trump is not eliminating clean air standards as the environmentalists are moaning. The new rules would continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but in a way that would ensure that the regulatory steamroller does not flatten an industry that employs tens of thousands of Americans and contributes tens of billions of dollars to our economy. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that the new rule will save coal producers $400 million a year in compliance costs and thousands of jobs.

But the left is apocalyptic about these new rules because they want to destroy the American coal industry, no matter how clean coal gets. The Clean Power Plan intentionally set such stringent emission rules that coal producers could not possibly meet them. So coal companies one by one would go bankrupt. Cheap natural gas has proved to be a formidable competitor to coal producers. But the main problem for coal today is not due to Schumpeterian market based “gales of creative destruction.” This is a government directed execution. Hillary Clinton promised that if she were elected president, she would eliminate every coal job in America, yet she wonders why she got clobbered in Ohio, Kentucky, Wyoming and West Virginia.

The left wants coal production stopped, even though clean coal is not a fiction. It is here. Coal production and coal burning is much cleaner than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The real pollutants from burning coal including lead, soot, carbon monoxide and smog have fallen by 50, 60, 80 and even 90 percent over the last several decades. The air we breathe today is much cleaner than it has been 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Even with the new Trump administration rules, the Energy Information Agency projects carbon output to decline 28 percent by the end of the next decade.

Trump is right to stop the government massacre of coal. America was - and still is built on fossil fuels. In my book, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy,” I point out the irony that the industrial revolution, when our nation built factories, steam engines, railroads and so on, was made possible by an energy revolution that ditched the inefficiencies of windmills and sundials for powerful coal and oil. But now we have environmentalists who want to turn back the clock and force us to power our $20 trillion industrial economy with energy sources from before the industrial age. Left wing environmental groups are even admitting that once they have killed coal, they are coming after natural gas and oil.

This is an economic death march. Despite all of the talk about a green energy takeover, we still get about 70 percent of our energy from fossil fuels including coal. In 2017, a third of all our electric power came from coal, while solar power and its tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies provided less than 2 percent. The United States is also the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have a 500 year supply of coal, far more than any other nation. For America not to produce coal would be like Nebraska not growing corn. At the very least, coal plants are necessary to back up wind and solar energy, otherwise America is going to experience rolling blackouts and brownouts that will greatly jeopardize our economy and our safety.

Here is the most important point of all. Let us assume for a moment that, God forbid, America were to shut down every coal plant on the continent and every coal miner in America were issued a pink slip. What impact would this have on global carbon emissions? Almost zero. This is because China and India, with their two billion people, are massively increasing their carbon emissions every year. For every coal plant we shutdown, China and India build at least five, and their coal is much dirtier than ours. In 2017 under Trump, the United States reduced our carbon emissions by 0.5 percent (even as our economy grew by 3 percent) while China and India belched out of their factories and cars record amounts of black smoke and added to their carbon footprint.

America is already doing more than its part to clean the planet. We all want clean air and a safe environment. But that doesn’t have to come at the cost of destroying jobs and putting our entire economy at risk. Trump is proving is that economic growth, jobs and a cleaner environment are compatible, and he’s producing all three at once.


Coal comeback? EPA plan would prolong life for power plants seen as climate change culprit

Aging coal-fired power plants could get a new lease on life under an industry-friendly proposal by the Trump administration that would replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama's signature plan to confront climate change.

Unveiled Tuesday, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule would give states broad latitude in how they would regulate power plants' greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming as well as other pollutants, such as smog, soot and mercury.

"Today we are fulfilling the president's agenda. We are proposing a (plan) that promotes affordable, clean and reliable energy for all Americans," Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters Tuesday, adding that the Clean Power Plan "exceeded the agency's legal authority."

But by the EPA's own admission, the proposal could lead to more than 1,000 premature deaths a year, a statistic opponents pounced on.

“With today’s Dirty Power Plan proposal, the Trump EPA once again proves that it cares more about extending the lives of old coal plants rather than saving the lives of the American people,” said Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the Clean Air Task Force.

 Environmental groups and some states vowed to sue to stop the plan's implementation, just as opponents of Obama's Clean Power Plan have done.

In a tweet, California Gov. Jerry Brown  called the EPA proposal "a declaration of war against America and all of humanity" that will not go unanswered.

The Clean Power Plan rule was finalized in 2015, mainly targeting coal-fired power plants that account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. But it remains on hold under a Supreme Court stay pending the outcome of a legal challenge from states.

In October, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rolled it back,carrying out a promise by Trump to push an energy agenda that encouraged the use of coal. The president, who has called global warming "a hoax" perpetrated by China to gain a competitive edge, wrote in a tweet May 18 that "we have ended the war on coal."

Aimed squarely at coal-fired power plants, Obama's proposal would require existing power plants to cut harmful emissions based on  2005 levels. By 2030, the reduction would be 32 percent for carbon, 90 percent for sulfur dioxide and 72 percent for nitrogen oxides.

Wheeler called the Obama plan "overly prescriptive and burdensome" and said it would have led to "double-digit" increases in electricity prices in as many as 40 states, Wheeler told reporters on a conference call. EPA officials on the same call said consumer prices will fall slightly under the Trump plan by 2025.

According to the EPA, the Trump plan would:

Define the “best system of emission reduction” for existing power plants as on-site, heat-rate efficiency improvements.

Provide states with a list of “candidate technologies” that can be used to establish standards of performance and be incorporated into their state plans.

Update the New Source Review permitting program to further encourage "efficiency improvements" at existing power plants.

Give "states adequate time and flexibility" to develop their own plans.

Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which serves 42 million consumers nationwide, supports the plan.

“The proposed rule appears to provide electric cooperatives with a more achievable plan that adheres to EPA’s historic approach to using the Clean Air Act," he said in a statement. "This is necessary to provide electric co-ops the certainty and flexibility they need to meet their consumer-members’ local energy needs."

But environmental groups decried the plan as a sop to the coal industry at the expense of public health and the reality of climate change.

Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator under Obama and an architect of the Clean Power Plan, called the Trump administration's move "a huge gimme to coal-fired power plants" by giving them a "free pass" to increase not just carbon emissions but other unhealthy pollutants as well.

"They are continuing to play to their base, and they are following industry's playbook step by step," she told reporters. "This is all about coal at all costs."


America First Energy Conference – “an amazing day”

New Orleans event reveals much of what has been hidden from the energy debate

Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris

“It will be an amazing day,” Dr. Tim Huelskamp announced at the start of the America First Energy Conference (AFEC) held August 7 in New Orleans. “You’re going to learn a lot … about so many issues – issues many in the media do not want us to know about.”

Indeed, we did. As Huelskamp, former Kansas Congressman and now President of conference organizer The Heartland Institute, explained to the audience of 225, packed into that single day were presentations from leading representatives of government, science and think tanks determined to set the record straight on where America stands and where it needs to go on energy. Here are samples.

In his morning keynote address Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry summarized the benefits of energy independence. “An energy independent America creates a safe America; it creates a prosperous America. It builds the middle class. It provides good jobs, good schools. It gives government the ability to give teachers a raise, to give our police and firefighters raises. It secures the safety and liberty of the entire world.”

Using the electricity required to power the Houston metropolitan area as an example, Landry discussed the impracticality of trying to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. To produce that power using corn ethanol would require over 21,000 square miles of corn fields.

“Think about that footprint!” he exclaimed. To produce the same amount of electricity from wind power would take almost 900 square miles of wind turbines, or 150 square miles of solar panels, he added.

Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was an ever-present voice at the conference. He received an award for valor in the face of extreme opposition to his outstanding work on satellite measurements, which show conclusively that carbon dioxide (CO2) has played no significant role in altering Earth’s temperature.

In his panel presentation on CO2, he made the unarguable case that there are no negatives for the rising amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. It is a miracle molecule that makes life possible on Planet Earth.

Kathleen Hartnett White, Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, Texas Public Policy Foundation, talked about the positive impact that her book “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the mad war on energy,” coauthored with Steve Moore of the President’s transition team, has had on the US energy picture.

She also focused on the horrific impacts outcomes forced upon world’s poorest families, when they are deprived of efficient, inexpensive fossil fuels in favor of costly solar and wind energy that can never compete in the free market without major taxpayer subsidies.

Joe Leimkuhler, vice president of drilling for Louisiana-based LLOG Exploration, shocked the audience with incredible data on the efficiency and economics of continuing to developing our vast offshore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of the great advances in development of shale gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, less attention is being paid to more conventional off shore vertical wells. But in fact, three-dimensional seismic data, combined with technological advances that allow multiple wells from the same platform, have costs down and yields up.

Leimkuhler said that in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that are currently open to leasing (i.e., the Central and Western Gulf) more and more offshore leases are likely to receive bids in the future, due to the increased value of Gulf Coast Crude relative to oil from fracking. For the Gulf Coast refineries, offshore Gulf of Mexico crudes provide higher yields of the more valuable products desired by the market (fuel, diesel).

Sterling Burnet, Editor of the Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News, moderated a panel on coal, oil, and natural gas. Panelists demonstrated America’s good fortune of holding huge inexpensive reserves that can maintain America’s energy costs dramatically below that of other nations. Burnett said we must end the war on fossil fuels by continuing to explain the economics, safety and efficiency of coal, oil and natural gas.

He described the large numbers of coal fired plants that were shut down by the Obama administration. This trend must be stopped, Burnett emphasized. Coal needs to be brought back as a great American resource in the hearts and minds of the American public.

Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, led the Trump administration’s transition team on energy regulation. At AFEC he reviewed the many regulations being eliminated.

He noted that President Trump called for two rules to be eliminated for every new rule that would be established in his administration; but in fact his administration has eliminated twenty regulations for every new one established. We still have a long way to go to fully unencumber America’s economy, Ebell said, but the start has exceeded most expectations.

Marc Morano, publisher of the influential Washington, DC-based, revealed that many of America’s most strident leftist environmental activist groups are heavily financed by Russian money in an effort to hurt the US economy through inhibiting the use of fossil fuels and promoting the waste of government funds for research into implausible man-caused climate change.

Morano’s new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change, is considered one of the most complete guides to the true history of the greatest fraud in history, man-caused climate change.

It was heartening to learn the participants in Panel 6: Reforming the EPA all felt the new administrator Andrew Wheeler will carry on the excellent work of former administrator Scott Pruitt. The problem is, and will continue to be, that the vast majority of EPA staff remain Obama appointees who will continue to impede efforts to make significant reforms. In spite of this, changes for the better are occurring almost daily as Wheeler meets with state groups across the country.

In his keynote address at the conference’s closing session, philosopher and President of the Center for Industrial Progress Alex Epstein explained how to win the energy debate. First establish an agreement on the correct framework, one that is even handed, precise and values human health, living standards and betterment. Then the facts in support of fossils fuels are more likely to be well-received.

Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, showed a video of his exchange with Senator Barbara Boxer of California at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Boxer wondered what a philosopher was doing lecturing the committee. He smoothly answered, “to help you learn how to think clearly.” This brought the house down.

All AFEC sessions – including Carbon taxes, cap & trade, and other bad ideas, Fueling freedom and prosperity, Cafe standards: Why they need to go, Climate lawsuits against energy companies and the government – may be viewed on the conference web site:

Everyone needs to watch these educational conference presentations. It was a day to remember.

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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