Friday, August 24, 2018

Who's the "Cleanest" of Them All

Take a wild guess what country is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions the most? Canada? Britain? France? India? Germany? Japan? No, no, no, no, no and no.

The answer to that question is the U.S. of A. Wow! How can that be? This must be a misprint. Fake news. America never ratified the Kyoto Treaty some two decades ago. We never enacted a carbon tax. We don't have a cap-and-trade carbon emission program. That environmental villain Donald Trump pulled America out of the Paris climate accord that was signed by almost the entire rest of the civilized world.

Yet the latest world climate report from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy finds that in 2017, America reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries. That's especially impressive given that our economy grew by nearly 3 percent — so we had more growth and less pollution — the best of all worlds. The major reason for the reduced pollution levels is the shale oil and gas revolution that is transitioning the world to cheap and clean natural gas for electric power generation.

Meanwhile, as our emissions fell, the pollution levels rose internationally and by a larger amount than in previous years. So much for the rest of the world going green.

The world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions is China. According to the invaluable Institute for Energy Research, "China produces 28 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. India is the world's third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide and had the second-largest increment (93 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, more than twice as much an increase as the U.S. reduction."

This means it doesn't really matter how much America reduces its greenhouse gases because China and India cancel out any and all progress we make. Those who think they are helping save the planet by purchasing an electric car or putting a solar panel on their roof are barking up the wrong tree. There is no way to make progress on greenhouse gases without China and India on board — which they clearly are not.

This latest data also proves that despite all of the criticism across the globe and in the American media, Trump was right to pull the U.S. out of the flawed Paris climate accord. Nearly every nation that signed on to Paris and has admonished America for not doing so, has already violated the agreement. According to Climate Action Network Europe, "All EU countries are failing to increase their climate action in line with the Paris Agreement goal." All but five countries have even reached 50 percent of their current targets.

So there you have it. The countries in the Paris climate accord have broken almost every promise they've made and the nation (the U.S.) that hasn't signed the treaty is doing more than any other nation to reduce global warming. Yet, we are being lectured by the sanctimonious Europeans and Asians for not doing our fair share to save the planet. It's another case study in how the left cares far more about good intentions than actual results. What matters is that you say that you will wash the dishes, not that you actually do it.


Trump’s Rollback of CAFE Mandates Is a Big Win for Car Buyers, Consumer Choice

The Trump administration recently proposed the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule. The proposed rule offers modifications to Obama-era Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards with a “preferred alternative” for model years 2021 through 2026.

Without a doubt, the Trump administration’s proposed revision is a welcome victory for consumers’ wallets and for consumer choice.

The Obama administration implemented fuel-efficiency mandates that would force auto manufacturers to have a fleetwide fuel-economy average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The new rule’s “preferred” change would maintain the existing fuel-economy mandate through 2020 (increasing to 37 mpg) and keep the level at 37 mpg through 2025.

New fuel-efficiency standards create a number of unintended consequences, including higher prices for new cars and costly retooling of existing auto plants.

A 2016 Heritage Foundation analysis estimates the Obama fuel-economy mandates increased new-car prices $6,800 more than the pre-2009 baseline trend, and that eliminating the more aggressive standards would save 2025 car buyers at least $7,200 per vehicle.

As my colleagues detail, “Economists and engineers accurately predicted that the [model year] 2016 standards would hurt consumers by at least $3,800 per car.”

Consumers—not government bureaucrats—should make decisions about what cars they drive.

If consumers value saving money on gasoline, they will simply choose to purchase more fuel-efficient cars, and automakers will meet that demand without a federal mandate. If consumers value other attributes—vehicle weight, engine power, safety—Washington shouldn’t force automakers to ignore consumers’ preferences.

In fact, a 2011 paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that if vehicle weight, horsepower, and torque were held constant at 1980 levels, fuel efficiency would have increased 60 percent from 1980 to 2006 instead of the 15 percent increase that did occur.

The reason fuel-efficiency increase occurred at 15 percent instead of 60 percent is because auto manufacturers met buyers’ demands for heavier vehicles with more torque and horsepower. When the federal government comes in and says we need to have a fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon, regulators override those preferences.

Congress established fuel-economy mandates in the 1970s as a response to the Arab oil embargo. A fear existed that the world was running out of oil and that America was too dependent on foreign oil.

CAFE standards were sold under the false notion of scarcity. It makes no sense now that we have an abundance of oil.  But even if the world were running out of oil, fuel-economy mandates were not a good policy then and are not a good policy now.

CAFE standards are not just a relic of the past, but a systemic problem of the way policymakers, regulators, lobbyists, and pundits treat energy markets. Policies and regulations are based on alleged expertise and on making bold predictions about the future of energy supply and demand.

Rather than rely on regulations to tell producers and consumers what to do, we have price signals for that. Higher gas prices communicate information to energy producers to drill for more oil. They communicate information to entrepreneurs to invest in new extraction technologies, alternative vehicle technologies, or more fuel-efficient cars.

Prices also communicate information to energy users to buy more fuel-efficient products, to carpool, or to find other modes of transportation.

When Obama-era regulators set CAFE standards and estimated the alleged savings to consumers, they demonstrated the same level of hubris our politicians did in the 1970s.

When crafting these standards, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that gas prices would be $3.87 per gallon in 2025, increasing to $4.24 per gallon by 2040. They used these price projections to project how much money consumers would save on fuel costs.

While those price-projection scenarios are certainly plausible, increases in supply could also certainly drive prices down, and consumers would save less money on gas by purchasing a more fuel-efficient car.

Alternatively, gas prices could rise even higher than the government projections, and consumers could save even more money from mandated fuel efficiency.

The reality is, we don’t know. It is difficult to project gas prices 22 weeks ahead, let alone for the next 22 years, and it’s dangerous to base policy on those predictions.

Trump’s course correction on CAFE is a welcome step. Congress should demonstrate similar courage and recognize that we don’t need to mandate energy use for cars, dishwashers, or even clocks on microwaves, and scrap these standards altogether.


Don’t subsidize coal; just stop trying to kill it off

When President Trump speaks Tuesday on energy policy, he is speaking on an industry utterly changed in the past 20 years.

At the turn of the century, Americans fretted over how much we depended on foreign oil. We worried so much about running out of gas that import terminals were built so that foreign firms could ship liquefied natural gas for use in our pipelines.

How things have changed. U.S. dependency on foreign oil isn’t even an issue anymore, as the U.S. approaches its new role as a net exporter. And natural gas has proven to be so abundant, thanks to fracking, that prices have plummeted. Not only are those import terminals being refitted to serve as export terminals, but gas has also overtaken coal as the largest source of electrical generation in the U.S.

This has mostly come about thanks to market forces. But there was an unfortunate interlude — the Obama administration’s concerted effort to bankrupt ( as former President Barack Obama himself put it) coal generators. His overt effort to drive coal out of existence through regulation, heedless of its effect on local communities, left very bad feelings toward Obama and Democrats in some regions of the country and led directly to the election of Trump.

Where Obama wanted to obliterate coal, Trump’s response has often been no better. He has actually proposed bailing out the coal industry, whose chief advantage as a fuel until now had been its economy. His idea is to somehow use national security as an excuse for mandating above-market prices for coal.

This is every bit as bad as similar schemes for so-called green energy, by which ratepayers are fleeced so that politically correct but unfeasible sources of energy are used. Coal, like all other fuel sources, must be allowed to sink or swim on its own economic strength. If it cannot survive in the market, it deserves to be replaced, just like anything else.

There are still ways to help the coal industry today and yet respect this basic principle. That begins with the repeal of unreasonable regulations that Obama created in order to kill the industry as fast as possible.

The abandonment of the Clean Power Plan is a good start in this regard. Trump announces today from West Virginia his intention to let states make their own decisions about carbon regulation. After all, control of carbon was only handed over to the EPA in the first place by a dubious 5-4 Supreme Court decision, in which only two of the current justices voted with the majority, claiming that the Clean Air Act required the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide (the stuff we exhale and trees inhale) as a "pollutant."

Environmentalists are skittish and seem to believe that state regulation will cause hundreds of new coal power plants to spring up overnight. Their concerns only reflect their persistent and wrong-headed mentality that prizes government regulation over actual results. U.S. carbon emissions from electrical power have been falling since the mid-to-late Bush era. There’s a reason no one was rushing to build new coal plants, even before Obama’s regulatory assault on the industry. Utility customers generally don’t pay higher prices just to make a point, unless government stupidly makes them do so.

Which is to say, government should not prop up coal, but nor should government tear coal down unnecessarily.

Trump should drop all ideas about subsidizing coal. If the market demands, coal should be allowed to make a graceful exit. If coal cannot even survive in a friendly regulatory environment, then it simply cannot be saved. This is, as they say, the way the world works.

If that proves to be the case, then workers in the industry whose jobs are threatened by modern developments must adapt, as in all other industries that automate or fall afoul of consumer demand. That might mean making career a move to natural gas or some other related energy industry. But it is not the role of government to keep entire dying industries alive, just to satisfy political or other ambitions.


ALGF Releases Report on the Problems of Solar Energy

Today, Americans for Limited Government Foundation released a study entitled, “Solar Power Harms Taxpayers and Consumers and Endangers the Reliability of the Grid.” The study points out the problems with solar energy from taxpayer-funded subsidies and increased costs for utility customers to grid reliability concerns.

Solar energy receives heavy federal subsidies that are far more generous than the subsidies for natural gas, coal, or even wind. In addition to federal support, states have also enacted policies to prop up solar power. State renewable energy mandates have encouraged the generation of solar energy. In dozens of states, utility companies are forced to compensate solar panel owners for the excess electricity that they supply to the grid. Those programs are funded by other utility customers.

But in the rush to increase solar power generation, some of the disadvantages of solar power are being overlooked. The intermittency of solar power is a particular problem. This intermittency necessitates the availability of ample backup power plants to ramp up when clouds obscure the sun. Solar power’s intermittency also complicates the job of grid operators to keep the grid adequately supplied with electricity.

The money spent on solar subsidies and new solar plants would be better spent on maintaining and upgrading the creaky, aging grid. After all, huge portions of the grid are at or beyond their expected service life.

“The mandates and incentives to build solar plants and install solar panels have to stop. Taxpayers are being fleeced, working class consumers are subsidizing their wealthier neighbors’ solar panels, and the reliability of the grid is being threatened,” said Richard McCarty, Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

“The money being spent to build new solar power plants in remote locations, to connect them to the grid, and to maintain backup power plants would be much better spent on upgrading our aging grid,” said Richard Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government.


Australia: Time to Clean the Stables in Canberra

Viv Forbes

Australia is facing an energy/infrastructure crisis caused by years of bipartisan stupidity and driven by a global green agenda. This mess becomes worse and more obvious every day. The Canberra stables are full of horse manure and need cleaning.

Fix Real Infrastructure, Dump Green Grandstanding

Here are two messages for Canberra:

Firstly, Australia does not have a problem with too much carbon dioxide going to the sky – we have a problem storing enough of the water coming from the sky.

Secondly, Australia does not have a shortage of wind and solar “farms” - we have a shortage of water, stock feed and low-cost electricity on real farms.

Politicians fritter our money on dubious “research”, climate propaganda, foreign adventures and handouts for trendy, vote-seeking green causes. But they have not built a serious water supply dam since the 1980’s, and the last big coal-fired power station was opened 11 years ago. For a country with a growing population, abundant supplies of coal and uranium, and a history of severe droughts, these are serious omissions.

The Snowy Mountain Scheme (opened nearly 50 years ago) was a visionary project that produced large volumes of low-cost water for irrigation plus reliable hydro-power for industry.

The new Snowy 2.0 Scheme is a fraud – it will produce no extra water and will be a net consumer of power. Its sole purpose is to try to plug the holes and fluctuations in electricity supply caused by a bi-partisan love affair with expensive green energy toys producing unreliable, intermittent electricity.

Cease this baseless war on carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide does not drive global warming – it is driven out of sea water by ocean warming.

Australia should cancel Snowy 2.0, withdraw from all Paris and Kyoto Climate Treaty obligations, dump the NEG “plans”, remove all green energy subsidies and start building some real power stations and real water supply dams and pipelines.

No matter what the weather does, we will need more cheap, reliable water and electricity.




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


1 comment:

Spurwing Plover said...