Wednesday, October 03, 2018

EPA Slaps Down Rumors It’s Deleting An Obscure Children’s Health Program

An EPA official is spreading misinformation about why she was put on leave from a small program created in the 1990s to protect children from pollution, an agency official told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday.

Ruth Etzel, the director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection, leaked an email to Buzzfeed on Wednesday suggesting the agency placed her on leave to fast-track plans to eliminate her office.

Her email is mischaracterizing the move, according to EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson.

“Although EPA does not customarily comment on personnel matters, due to circulating misinformation, the Director of EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection was placed on leave to give the Agency the opportunity to review allegations about the Director’s leadership of the office,” Jackson told TheDCNF.

The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that Etzel was removed from her post. She eventually leaked an email to Buzzfeed suggesting the agency was on a mission to delete her program.

She also had her badge taken away, an anonymous source told the NYTimes at the time.

“I appear to be the ‘fall guy’ for their plan to ‘disappear’ the office of children’s health,” Etzel wrote Tuesday in the email. “It had been apparent for about 5 months that the top EPA leaders were conducting ‘guerrilla warfare’ against me as the leader of OCHP, but now it’s clearly official.”

The Office of Children’s Health Protection advises the EPA on the health needs of children, and its findings can sometimes lead to more stringent environmental regulations.

The office Etzel oversees is small, with 15 full-time employees in Washington, D.C. and 10 regional children’s health coordinators.

EPA spokesman John Konkus did not tell The NYTimes why Etzel was placed on administrative leave, though he did say that no such agenda was in play with the reduction in size and leadership of those offices.

“These offices will continue to be a part of headquarters and regional organizations,” he said in a statement. “Children’s health is and has always been a top priority for the Trump Administration and the E.P.A., in particular, is focused on reducing lead exposure in schools.”

Etzel has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment about the nature of the email or the validity of Jackson’s assertion.

Activists and academics made it their mission in 2017 to root out examples where the agency deleted or altered climate change buzzwords from EPA’s website.

The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative characterized in August of that year that the agency’s decision to scrap the term climate “change” from its website as a type of “cleansing.”

The National Institute of Environmental Health Science, for instance, changed a headline on its website at the time from “Climate Change and Human Health,” to “Climate and Human Health,” the group reported.


Less meat, coal key to a cooler planet

Same old, same old.  More prophecy from proven false prophets

An accelerated withdrawal from coal and a change in the global diet away from meat are needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, leaked copies of a major new ­climate report say.

Scientists and diplomats are meeting in South Korea this week to finalise the report that distils the findings of more than 6000 scientific papers.

The 400-page report, scheduled to be released on Sunday, has been described by scientists involved as the most “politically charged” document in the history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The draft talks of “climate mayhem” and “a swift and complete transformation not just of the global economy, but of ­society, too”.

This is despite claims by reviewer Bob Ward from London’s Grantham Institute that scientists had “pulled their punches” to make policy recommendations seem more palatable to countries such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

This week, the political representatives of countries that have signed the Paris Agreement are going through the 22-page draft summary line by line to reach an agreed text for policymakers.

Opening the talks yesterday, IPCC chairman Hoesung Lee said the meeting would “produce a strong, robust and clear summary for policymakers while upholding the scientific integrity of the IPCC”.

Leaked copies of the draft document have opened a window on the negotiations.

The bottom line, according to a report by AFP in Paris, is that at current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, there is “high confidence” the 1.5C threshold will be passed around 2040.

The draft report says carbon dioxide emissions should peak not later than 2020 and the global economy must become “carbon-neutral” by 2050.

To meet the remaining “carbon budget” of 550 billion tonnes set out in the summary, the share of primary energy from renewables would have to jump from a few per cent currently to at least 50 per cent by mid-century.

The share of coal would need to drop from about 28 per cent to between 1 and 7 per cent.

The report does not tell policymakers what to do but suggests four pathways.

One relies heavily on future technologies to radically reduce energy needs while another ­assumes major changes in consumption habits, such as eating less meat and abandoning internal combustion engine cars.

The other measures include sucking massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere through large-scale reforestation, use of biofuels or direct carbon capture.

“Never in the history of the IPCC has there been a report that is so politically charged,” Henri Waisman, one of the report’s 86 authors, told AFP.


Kill, don’t expand, tax subsidies for electric vehicles

'Don't tax struggling families more to fuel the vehicle purchases of well-off households

The federal government can’t help but get wrapped up in the tech sector, placing ludicrously large bets on boondoggles that benefit few at the expense of many.

Take, for example, electric vehicles and their associated tax credits. In 2008, then-President George W. Bush signed into law an up-to $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of the first 250,000 vehicles on the market. As a part of his massive, ill-advised stimulus package, then-President Barack Obama expanded this credit to include the first 200,000 vehicles sold by each manufacturer in the United States.

Now, as major auto brands such as Tesla are breaching that 200,000 milestone, lawmakers are considering extending the credit. Policymakers ought to question the wisdom of such a costly move, a handout to high-income families with little or no environmental benefit.

Unfortunately, members of Congress are having trouble kicking their costly addiction to shiny “green” tech. Over the summer, Tesla passed their 200,000 electric vehicle benchmark, triggering the start of a federal phase-out of tax benefits to vehicles produced by the company. If nothing changes, the EV tax credit will slowly phase out to zero percent of its current value over the next year. General Motors is not far behind, slated to pass the 200,000 mark by the beginning of 2019. But the Electric CARS Act of 2018, ( H.R. 6274), sponsored by 17 House Democrats, would eliminate the current cap altogether, ensuring unlimited subsidization over a ten-year period for producers of “clean tech.”

Co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., hailed the legislation as a way to “make electric vehicles and their charging stations more affordable,” while reducing America’s environmental footprint. But the representative’s waxing begs the question as to who will benefit from the program. According to Dr. Wayne Winegarden of the Pacific Research Institute, the answer is clear: Households with adjusted gross incomes greater than $100,000 used nearly 80 percent of EV tax credits. Further, the tax credit doesn’t apply to used vehicles. But even if it did, owners would be on the line for four-figure battery replacement costs.

Some green proponents concede that EV tax credits widen the wealth gap, but argue instead that the environmental benefits are well worth that cost. While “green” vehicles probably don't reduce carbon emissions (depending on the underlying energy grid they are drawing from), the extraction process required for lithium-and-cobalt car batteries is filthy, exploitative, and breeds instability.

Investigating conditions at Congolese mines, the Washington Post concludes, “mining activity exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects, health officials say.” Sure, these jobs may still be the best option for workers feigning disease and starvation. But the resulting pollution holds back entire communities, including the children being forced to mine. And, due to the political instability gripping Congo, mine disruption can reap havoc on battery prices worldwide.

Rather than gamble America’s energy fortunes on subsidies and dirty, despicable labor practices, policymakers should embrace a diverse portfolio that powers the country at a low cost. This means a vibrant mix of vehicles and electricity sources at every price point, from the working poor to the wealthy.

But don't tax struggling families more to fuel the vehicle purchases of well-off households. It's unfair, and it makes for a less-clean Earth.

Rather than expand out the EV tax credit, lawmakers need to phase it out altogether. Resulting savings can be used for widespread tax relief, instead of targeted giveaways to consumers and manufacturers who don’t need them.


The Incredible Economic Opportunities of Offshore Energy Exploration

Our outer continental shelf is teeming with potential energy reserves. Harnessing them could be a great boost to American prosperity and national security.

American economic prospects appear increasingly bright. Today, the United States leads the world in the production and refinement of natural gas and oil, delivering major economic benefits to consumers and manufacturers. But unwarranted fear and outdated regulations keep 94 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) closed to energy production, limiting our country’s economic potential and the enhanced national security that comes with it. Boosting offshore exploration would provide economic benefits to American coastal states and local economies, and it could lift the U.S. economy as a whole, too.

Based on current government projections, natural gas and oil will meet an estimated 60 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2040, and responsible offshore development represents one of the best untapped opportunities to sustain, supply, and safeguard America’s future energy security. In a good first step, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently announced a proposal to open much more of the OCS to exploration. We should move forward quickly but responsibly to take advantage of the estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in potential offshore reserves. In the coming decades, as the global population continues to grow and countries in the developing world become wealthier, worldwide energy demand is projected to jump almost 30 percent. If the U.S. places itself as a leader in the sector, it could reap the economic gains for decades to come.

According to a study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API), opening the Atlantic OCS alone could generate nearly 265,000 thousand new jobs and $22 billion each year in private investment. Estimates suggest that federal and state governments could generate $6 billion a year in new revenue within 20 years of the initial lease sale. While exact state revenues will depend on revenue sharing agreements, coastal states ranging from Florida to Maine could see substantial economic benefits.

The energy sector itself also has a great record of delivering such economic benefits to those Americans who deserve them the most. On average, the industry employs a higher percentage of veterans than the economy as a whole, with about one in ten of its nearly half a million employees having served our country in uniform. While the overall unemployment rate for veterans tracks closely with the national average, a third of all veterans remain underemployed or at jobs below their skill level, and 20 percent of them make less than $15 an hour. Expanding offshore energy exploration could create more well-paying jobs for those brave men and women who served our nation in uniform.

Indeed, natural gas and oil exploration jobs offer average salaries of $116,000 a year, without necessarily requiring a college degree. The industry offers a wide array of jobs to veterans of all different skill sets and military experiences. An Army mapping technician or geospatial engineer, for example, would be able to utilize those skills working in the energy sector. Given the importance of energy security to geopolitics, and U.S. foreign policy more broadly, energy-sector workers also have the capability to continue supporting U.S. national security.

Expanded offshore energy exploration could also benefit sectors far beyond just the energy industry by putting downward pressure on oil and gas prices. Higher gas prices disproportionately hurt low- and middle-income families, who spend a larger share of their disposable incomes on energy. Lower energy prices give consumers more income to spend on all kinds of other goods and services, helping the economy as a whole. Transportation-related industries such as airlines, the auto sector, and shipping companies benefit as well. Finally, at a fundamental macroeconomic level, lower energy prices help keep inflation low, benefiting Americans on fixed incomes the most.

Offshore energy exploration offers incredible opportunities to build on U.S. economic strength. Removing barriers that unnecessarily constrain exploration will lay the groundwork for an American economy that remains strong decades into the future. But the hard work of harnessing the energy waiting in our waters will be time-consuming, so the exploration and quantification phases should start now.


Australia:  Prominent conservative politician demands withdrawal from Paris Agreement

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has called on Scott Morrison to withdraw Australia from the Paris Agreement on climate change or “please explain” why the government would not pull out.

Conservative Coalition MPs led by Tony Abbott, who signed Australia up to the deal when he was prime minister, and Craig Kelly, chair of the government’s backbench energy committee, have been pushing for an exit from the agreement but the Prime Minister has refused to bow to pressure.

Under the agreement, Australia has pledged to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

“Often people will speak of the voluntary or supposedly non-binding nature of this deal,” Senator Hanson writes in a letter to Mr Morrison.

“Personally, I am not familiar with too many non-binding agreements that come with international debt collectors and a $400 million dollar price tag, a price tag that only looks set to grow. I don’t recall any government telling the Australian people that signing the Paris Climate Agreement would eventually lead to organisations like the Global Climate Fund acting like standover men, knocking at our door, telling us to pay up, or else.”

Senator Hanson was referring to the Green Climate Fund, which was a critical part of the Paris Agreement and received $200m from Australia between 2015 and 2018.

Josh Frydenberg confirmed to The Weekend Australian the government would not increase its commitment to the fund.

Mr Morrison has argued the Paris Agreement will not “change electricity prices one jot” but withdrawing from it could jeopardise key relationships with neighbouring countries in the Pacific and undermine Australia’s national security.

“This is the number one issue of our Pacific neighbours, our strategic partners, our strategic security partners,” he told Sky News last month.

“There are a lot of influences in the southwest Pacific and I’m not going to compromise Australia’s national security by walking away from a commitment that was made a number of years ago to that target. It’s been there for the last four years or three years, just over three years.”

Senator Hanson wrote: “I am writing today to ask you explicitly, please withdraw Australia from the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement. I am also asking you to commit to ending the large contributions of Australian taxpayers’ money to international organisations like Global Climate Fund.

“If you cannot agree to support One Nation in these endeavours then I and many other concerned Australians, would appreciate it if you could please explain why.”

Emissions for the year to March 2018 increased 1.3 per cent, driven largely by LNG production for export, according to the latest national greenhouse gas inventory.

They were 1.9 per cent below emissions in 2000 and 11.2 per cent below emissions in 2005.

Mr Morrison has insisted Australia will reach its target under the Paris Agreement “in a canter”.




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:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

There's an aspect of the Electric Car boondoggle that I don't often see addressed; what to do with dead batteries. The toxicity of the materials used in their creation does no magically vanish once they are dead, and disposal of them would seem to pose an environmental problem of no small proportions.