Sunday, September 23, 2018

Morano on the authoritarian Elizabeth Warren

Climate Depot’s Marc Morano appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” to discuss Democratic senators attempt to vastly expand federal “climate” rules for U.S. businesses and discuss the new 2018 book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.”

Excerpt: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is leading a push to compel companies to disclose more information about how their businesses impact and could be impacted by climate change. On Friday, Warren introduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2018, which would mandate that publicly traded companies provide extensive climate-related information, such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel investments, and risk management strategies for things like rising sea levels and increased temperatures.

Not everyone, however, is a fan of Warren’s legislation… “This is virtue signaling of the highest order for her Democratic base, Marc Morano, the editor of, said on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday. He argued that Warren’s bill would give the U.S. government and the Securities and Exchange Commission extensive power to go after companies and “shake them down.”

“They’re going to use these disclosures now — and they’re going to [be] the size of the phone book in the end — and they’re going to go after them and sue them for money for causing bad weather,” Morano said.

He drew a parallel to how the Washington Post editorial board wrote a column that said President Trump is “complicit” in extreme weather like Hurricane Florence, due to his skepticism of human-induced climate change and his administration’s efforts to “dismantle” environmental regulations.

“Donald Trump does not get credit for our economic growth, but the media is perfectly willing to blame him for a hurricane,” Morano said. “How does that work? It makes no sense whatsoever.”


Feel-Good Bans on Straws and Plastic Bags Don’t Help the Ocean

They increase plastic use, energy consumption, and health risks. Better idea: Improve trash collection in Third World countries.

Politicians in Seattle and San Francisco are being cheered on by some voters for their recent bans on plastic straws, having already banned plastic bags years ago. California in 2016 became the first state to ban plastic bags, New York and New Jersey are mulling similar laws, and countries from Slovenia to New Zealand are planning on banning them in 2019.

Supporters of laws prohibiting plastic products encourage politicians to make meaningless gestures rather than focus on ridding the oceans of plastic and other waste. A 2015 study in the journal Science found that of the estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic that entered the ocean from 192 of the world’s coastal countries, as little as 0.9 percent of it came from the United States.

A more recent study, from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, found that 90 percent of plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia; two are in Africa. In other words, developed countries such as the United States and New Zealand aren’t part of the problem, and taking away the freedoms of their citizens isn’t part of the solution either.

As with most government dictates, plastic bans can have unintended consequences such as increasing energy use and water pollution, heightening public-health risks, increasing overall use of plastics, or harming groups in society such as the disabled and poor. For example, a recent Danish Environmental Protection Agency study found that an organic cotton bag uses more than 150 times as much energy and causes over 600 times as much water pollution when compared with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) grocery-store bags.

A University of Arizona study found that 97 percent of users of reusable grocery bags never wash or bleach them. The research found bacteria levels in bags “significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even lead to death.” Paper bags have their own drawbacks vs. LDPE ones. These are even more pronounced when one considers how much more frequently supermarkets double up paper bags in an effort to match how remarkably strong LDPE is for its weight. A Scottish report concluded that paper bags, compared with plastic bags, resulted in “higher environmental impact” when it comes to “consumption of water, emissions of greenhouse gases, and eutrophication of water bodies (rivers, lakes, etc.).”

Referring to plastic grocery bags as “single use” is almost certainly a misnomer. An Australian government study estimated their re-use rate to be as high as 75 percent. Consumers in jurisdictions with bans who reused LDPE grocery bags to line their household trash cans, pack lunches, or even pick up their dog’s poop most often have little choice but to purchase significantly higher-density plastic bags for these purposes. Bans on plastic straws have also been documented to lead to increased use of plastics, most notably at Starbucks, where the new nitro lids actually use more plastic than the old lid-straw combo they’re meant to replace. To the extent that restrictions on plastics force consumers to switch to other products, the overall environmental impact can be significantly negative.

Banning plastic bags and straws is akin to sticking your finger in the hole of a dike with a thousand holes; it’s not going to help our oceans. If you worked in a small business that was losing $1,000 a month and you told your boss you’d come up with a way to save a dollar next month, you’d soon be out of a job. Cheering on politicians who propose and implement token bans on plastic encourages them to avoid doing the hard work required to solve the real problem.

Drastic reductions of plastic and other waste in our oceans will come about only through working with countries in Asia and Africa to stop plastic pollution at the source. The developed world needs to encourage or assist governments in developing countries to better manage their waste. Private-sector innovation also shows promising ways it might help.

The Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment found that improving trash-collection rates to just 80 percent in only five core Asian countries could reduce ocean plastic waste by 23 percent at a cost of around $5 billion a year. Foreign-aid budgets could be redirected to assist cities with waste collection. The Christian relief and development agency Tearfund is urging the British government to spend the equivalent of half a billion dollars of its annual foreign-aid budget to do just that. This would represent a tenfold increase; other governments could do the same.

Private-sector innovation might yield even more promising solutions. David Katz recently gave a TED talk outlining how innovation could help solve this problem. Noting that 80 percent of ocean plastic is coming from countries with extreme poverty, Katz set out to motivate Third World citizens to recycle. He created the Plastic Bank, the world’s largest chain of stores for extremely poor people. Everything in the stores — including school tuition, Wi-Fi, cell-phone minutes, and electricity — can be purchased with plastic garbage.

Using this concept of “social plastic,” Katz has partnered with global corporations such as Britain’s Marks and Spencer and Germany’s Henkel. These companies are incorporating in their products and manufacturing the resources that the Plastic Bank encourages the world’s poor to recycle.

Significant investments are necessary to create effective waste-management systems in developing countries. With this in mind, Circulate Capital was recently formed with the support of major corporations, including 3M, PepsiCo, Dow, and Procter and Gamble. With a focus on South and Southeast Asia, this new investment fund is seeking to remove capital as a barrier to the projects required to prevent plastic and other waste from flowing into the world’s oceans. Operating from the principle that tangible social change and strong financial returns are not mutually exclusive, the fund is actively seeking proposals from businesses interested in projects in three areas of the waste-management supply chain: waste collection, the processing of mixed solid waste, and the transformation of “waste” plastics into new products.

The Plastic Bank’s David Katz has rightly observed that, when faced with an overflowing sink, “it would be pointless to mop or plunge or scoop up the water if we don’t turn off the tap first.” Politicians in developed nations are ignoring the source of the ocean’s problems when they place bans on their citizens that will effectively do nothing to improve the marine environment. Solving this problem requires hard work and tough choices, something too many politicians are shirking. Voters who encourage their leaders by supporting these token gestures are simply perpetuating the problem. In the meantime, entrepreneurs such as Katz and private-sector investors are on track to do more for our oceans than the developed world’s governments combined.


Europe’s Business Lobby Prepares Pushback Against EU’s New Climate Goals

The memo from BusinessEurope, dated 13 September, shows how Europe’s biggest employer association intends to “challenge” EU plans to aim higher in the fight against climate change.

The document, which will be discussed at an internal meeting on Wednesday, says the main line to take about the EU’s climate policy should be “rather positive, as long as it remains a political statement with no implications” on the EU’s existing commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Miguel Arias Canete, the EU climate action commissioner, has suggested updating the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, arguing that the EU’s level of ambition had “de facto” been raised after an agreement was struck on renewables and energy efficiency targets earlier in June.

Currently, the EU envisages cutting its emissions by “at least 40%” by 2030 based on 1990 levels. That target would effectively be raised to 45% following the deal on renewables and energy efficiency, Cañete said.

The EU’s top energy and climate official revealed on Wednesday (20 June) that the bloc is now set to increase its emissions reduction pledge from 40% by 2030 to 45%, after EU negotiators sealed agreements on three clean energy laws in the past fortnight.

That was later backed by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said in his annual “State of the Union” address to Parliament that it was “scientifically right” to raise the EU’s climate goals.

But Germany is sceptical of any such move, fearing for the competitiveness of its export-dependent industry.

In August, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out against revising the EU’s climate objectives, saying “we should first stick to the goals we have already set for ourselves”.

The internal memo from BusinessEurope follows the same line, recommending “to oppose the new increase in ambition, using the usual arguments” that Europe cannot take action on its own, and should seek a level playing field with global competitors before making any moves.

It suggests “to minimise the issue” by arguing that raising the ambition “is not what matters most. What is key is to persuade other major economies to catch up with the EU’s ambition,” the memo argues.

BusinessEurope also recommends “to challenge the process” by asking for more cost-benefit studies and requiring “more transparency on the calculations”.


UK Energy Regulator Caught Covering Up Green Scandals

Ofgem — the UK government regulator responsible for energy — has been caught covering up two major scandals in the ‘low carbon’ energy industry.

The cost of these scandals — involving smart meters and the renewable heat incentive (RHI) — may run into the tens of billions of pounds.

But rather than protect the consumer, which is supposedly its job, Ofgem has taken the side of the vested interests profiting from these industries. It has done this by using draconian gagging orders to silence two whistleblowers who had wanted to expose the scandals.

Ironically, the story was broken in The Guardian — a newspaper which has long been committed to supporting the corruption- and incompetence-riddled green industry that the whistleblowers were hoping to expose.

One of the whistleblowers told the Guardian he was “continually threatened … for trying to tell the truth. For doing my job and uncovering an issue, Ofgem made my life hell.”

He said the regulator had attempted to “scare me witless with threats of imprisonment” and he felt “utterly ashamed” of Ofgem’s behaviour.

Ofgem said it encouraged staff to report suspected wrongdoing and took their concerns seriously.

Both men worked for Ofgem in entirely different areas of the business and were regarded as qualified experts in their respected fields.

One was Greg Pytel, an economist with oversight of the rollout of the £10.9bn smart meter programme, which is due to be completed in 2020.

Smart meters are electronic devices for homes and businesses that measure the use of electricity and gas. They are designed to make billing easier and to help energy companies manage the supply of electricity more efficiently.

The second whistleblower, who has asked to remain anonymous, worked on the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which offers financial rewards to promote the use of new technologies such as green boilers.

The scheme, which started in 2011, has been controversial – and could eventually cost taxpayers £23bn. Both projects are key to the government’s stated aim of making the UK a low-carbon economy.

So that’s industries worth a total in excess of £30 billion, neither of which would exist were it not for government regulation.

There is no demand whatsoever for smart meters — the public is rightly suspicious of them and the take-up, despite copious government propaganda hailing their merits, has been risibly small.

As for the renewable heat incentive — this was a madcap scheme, introduced by David Cameron’s feeble coalition government, where businesses were paid large sums of money to heat their boilers with wood instead of coal or gas.

This money-for-old-rope scheme was widely abused, especially in Northern Ireland where it effectively bankrupted the government.

As The Times reported at the time:

Flaws in the scheme were exposed by a whistleblower who said businesses were buying biomass boilers solely to collect the subsidy. The whistleblower alleged that one farmer expected to make £1 million over 20 years for using a biomass boiler to heat an empty shed, while heating a number of empty factories would net their owner £1.5 million.

Northern Ireland’s auditor-general, Kieran Donnelly, says the RHI had “serious systemic weaknesses from the start” because it did not have the built-in spending controls imposed on a similar scheme in Great Britain. He added that the scheme was vulnerable to abuse and possible fraud.

Perhaps the even bigger scandal here, though, is the behavior of Ofgem (which stands for Office of Gas and Electricity Markets). It’s a non-ministerial government department.

Here is its remit:

Its primary duty is to protect the interests of consumers, where possible by promoting competition. The Authority‘s main objective is to protect existing and future consumers’ interests in relation to gas conveyed through pipes and electricity conveyed by distribution or transmission systems.

So what, exactly, is it doing acting so flagrantly against the interests of consumers by helping to cover up incompetence and corruption which will undoubtedly cost them millions if not billions of pounds?

Simple. Ofgem’s higher loyalties are to the government and to its determination to force through its renewable energy agenda at whatever cost.

As I’ve argued before, green energy is a charter for crooks and liars. Corruption and mismanagement and extravagant waste are not bugs of the renewable energy industry but features.

But the environmentalist zealots who infest Ofgem and similar government departments do not wish us to know this, therefore they lie and distort and cover-up. It really is that simple. And that depressing.


Pro-coal Coalition MPs schedule private dinner to discuss 'Australia's energy future'

We know that there is no consistency on the Left but this is a lulu. A policy from the conservative side of politics that they failed to suport when conservative PM Turnbull proposed it -- the "NEG" -- is now set to be Leftist policy.  It's far from an ideal policy but at least it should keep the lights on.  It shows that Turnbull was a better policy-maker than many give him credit for. He was only slightly right of centre but getting things done while leading a very precarious government required something like that

The pro-coal Monash Forum is attempting to convene a private dinner when federal parliament resumes in mid-October with Trevor St Baker, part-owner of the Vales Point coal generator and founder of the business electricity retailer ERM Power.

With the energy minister, Angus Taylor, working up options for cabinet to lower power prices and boost generation capacity by expanding existing plants, upgrading ageing legacy generators and pursuing new investments, the Coalition’s pro-coal ginger group has scheduled dinner with St Baker in Parliament House on 16 October.

According to an invitation circulated among members of the Monash Forum, seen by Guardian Australia, Coalition MPs will meet for dinner and discussion on “Australia’s energy future”.
Coalition won't replace renewables target after it winds down in 2020

St Baker has previously signalled interest in pursuing a replacement for the Hazelwood power station if the federal government settles on a favourable energy policy, and members of the Monash Forum want the businessman to update them about his investment plans.

Planning for the soiree comes as industry associations and energy associations met in Canberra on Thursday with the shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, and the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, and urged them to persist with the national energy guarantee.

Malcolm Turnbull, as one of his last acts in the top job, dumped the policy after an internal, conservative-led insurgency. The new prime minister, Scott Morrison, and his cabinet have now taken a formal decision to dump the emissions reduction component of the Neg.

Before the policy was junked, the Turnbull government and the then energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, spent months lining up stakeholders to support the policy, which was designed by the Energy Security Board.

Business groups and energy associations are dismayed by the abandonment of the policy because they fear there is now no clear investment signal to guide investment in generation assets with 30 and 40-year operating lives. The groups sent a clear message to Labor that the current mess needed to be resolved.

Shorten and Butler – who are yet to make a final decision on whether to keep or junk the Neg – convened a meeting in parliament on Thursday with AiGroup, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Energy Users Association of Australia, the Australian Energy Council, the Clean Energy Council and the Smart Energy Council.

According to people present at the meeting, the groups made the case that Labor should persist with the Neg rather than junking it and pursuing a brand new policy for the electricity sector.

In his opening remarks to the meeting, Butler said Labor had heeded the message from industry players that reaching a bipartisan consensus was important, so Labor had attempted to be constructive when the Turnbull government brought forward various policy options, culminating in the Neg.
Steep emissions reductions targets won't drive up power bills, modelling shows

Butler said there was always going to be a difference between Labor and the Coalition on the level of ambition of emissions reduction but he said “getting the rules agreed upon would have been a monumental step forward in resolving the energy crisis and set us up for the investment and jobs that we need over coming years that will start to clean up our energy sector and bring power prices down”.

He told the groups Labor understood there was strong buy-in from stakeholders for the Neg, and Labor wanted “to make sure that good thinking is not entirely lost”.

“We want to make sure the energy policy we put forward at the next election is the most compelling policy that we can possibly come up with from business and household points of view, and we need your help with that,” Butler said.

While Labor is yet to make a final decision, Shorten gave a strong hint at the start of the week that the opposition would keep the Neg as part of a suite of climate policies for the next election. “We are prepared to use that as part of our framework going forward,” he said on Sunday.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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