Sunday, June 02, 2019

Extinction Rebellion threatens 10-day Heathrow protest if government doesn't drop airport expansion plans

Extinction Rebellion is planning a 10-day summer holiday protest at Heathrow if the Government does not cancel all expansion plans for the airport.

In a statement on its website the group, which caused major disruption in London earlier this year during a series of protests, said: "Extinction Rebellion demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a Climate and Environment Emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion.

"On June 18, we plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow Authorities close the airport for the day, to create a "pause" in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the natural world.

"If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, Extinction Rebellion will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1."

The group said it is "in the consultancy stage with its members on the proposed action". It added: "This is not about targeting the public, but holding the Government to their duty to take leadership on the climate and ecological emergency.

"The addition of the planned third runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness.

"We understand the action will cause disruption to a great number of holiday makers, however we believe that it is necessary given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse, if we don't act now. Holidaymakers are being given advance notice to change travel plans."

Drones could be used by Extinction Rebellion to halt flights at Heathrow Airport, a spokesman for the group has confirmed.

The plan was revealed in a leaked consultation document shared between group members.


Elizabeth Warren: U.S. Chamber Should ‘Change Its Name to Chamber of Carbon’

Why not?  Carbon is no problem.  We are all made of it

On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for failing to support her environmental agenda.

Warren, a presidential hopeful, took to Twitter to accuse the organizations of trying to prevent Congress from “saving our planet”:

“What do the @USChamber and @ShopFloorNAM have in common? They’re 2 of corporate America’s top lobbying groups. And they’re both leading the charge to stop Congress from combatting the climate crisis and saving our planet.

She also accused the Chamber of Commerce of funding a “misleading” study that President Trump used as justification for withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 - and suggested it change its name to the “Chamber of Carbon”:

“The @USChamber has supported Trump Admin efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan and funded a misleading study that @realDonaldTrump used to justify withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It might as well change its name to the #ChamberOfCarbon.”

She charged the National Association of Manufacturers with “fighting the transition to a clean energy economy”:

“@ShopFloorNAM has repeatedly opposed federal action on the climate crisis – and worked to protect Big Oil by supporting Arctic and offshore oil drilling and fighting the transition to a clean energy economy. #ManufacturedFacts.”

Warren's next two tweets implicated the companies that do businesses with the two organizations, and urged them to “put people over profits” by cutting ties with groups like "the #ChamberOfCarbon":

“This is bigger than 2 anti-climate lobbying groups – it’s also about the companies (many of which have made public commitments to fight climate change) that support them. They're putting their reputations – and our communities – at risk.”

“If the companies that belong to the @USChamber and @ShopFloorNAM really support efforts to #ActOnClimate, they should put people over profits and stop funneling money to the #ChamberOfCarbon and other anti-climate lobbying groups.”


US Should Shield Itself Against Geopolitical Energy Shocks, Open Drilling Near ANWR

Despite America breaking records in oil production, consumers paid more for gasoline this spring, serving as a reminder that supply isn’t the only factor affecting oil prices. Oil production by OPEC members recently fell to a four-year low. At nearly the same time, oil sanctions were imposed against Venezuela and sanctions against Iranian oil exports were tightened, sending shockwaves rippling through the world market.

The lesson for policymakers to take from recent gas pump price shocks is that, unless the nation is fully able to draw upon all of its energy resources when needed, American consumers will remain at the mercy of geopolitical currents. That means that we must begin the initial stages of exploring untapped areas right now. Energy development is not as simple as flipping a switch. It’s a long process that involves many steps such as seismological surveys, obtaining mineral rights and securing permits before the drilling phase can even begin.

One of the more geologically promising prospects is known as the “1002 Area,” a small plot of land only about the size of a large city airport located on a coastal plain between the Arctic Ocean and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Concentrated beneath this modest patch of ground lies an astounding 10.4 billion barrels of oil, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey.  At peak production, the 1002 Area would be capable of producing 1.45 million barrels a day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration calculates. To put that figure in perspective, the United States imported an average of 869,000 barrels per day of crude from Saudi Arabia in 2018.

The capability of untapped resources such as the 1002 Area to help replace oil imported from the world’s more politically volatile areas would convey substantial benefits. The nation would strengthen its national security as well as its energy security while gaining a hedge against oil price spikes that are so often a by-product of turmoil in regional flashpoints. Additional oil sources also mean that American petroleum product exports can continue to bring economic vitality to our economy.

The experience of oil production at nearby Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope suggests that natural resources would be developed safely without harm to the environment. Prior to production, which began there in 1977 when construction of the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline was completed, activists claimed that oil production would wreak environmental havoc. They argued that oil development would decimate the Porcupine caribou herd living within the habitat. But that’s not what happened.

More than 40 years and 12.6 billion barrels of oil later, the Prudhoe Bay oil fields remain the largest in North America and currently boast more than 800 actively producing oil wells. And yet by 2017, the Porcupine caribou herd had grown to record high numbers – roughly twice the size of what they had been in 2001 – prompting a regional biologist to remark, “We might have just recorded the largest number for this herd since modern scientific monitoring started in the 1970s.” The good stewardship and continuous advances applied to safety technology and practices in Prudhoe Bay and the North Slope can be extended to the 1002 Area together with new learnings.

Congress passed a law with bipartisan support in 2017 ending a drilling moratorium and directing the Department of the Interior to establish a program for the leasing, development, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas along the coastal plain of the ANWR where the 1002 Area is located.

Meanwhile, in a “greener than thou” competition among presidential candidates, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in introducing legislation that would block all drilling near ANWR. The bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to bar the Department of the Interior from issuing oil and gas leases in the area. This is the same position advocated by the left fringe “Keep It In the Ground” movement, whose adherents not only campaign against the extraction of any fossil fuel but actively oppose any fossil fuel-related project, including pipelines, rail transportation, refineries, energy exploration and so on. Adopting “Keep It In the Ground” policies would cause U.S household energy expenditures to jump by $4,550 on average by 2040, according to a 2017 OnLocation study.

The nation needs more, not fewer, sources of energy to protect the economy and its citizens. Now is not the time for posturing to curry political favor among moneyed environmental donors. To the extent that America can tap its energy resources when geopolitical events present challenges, we can remain virtually impervious to them. Going forward with developing Alaska’s 1002 Area is a prudent first step.


Court Tosses 2015 WOTUS Rule

In redefining "waters of the United States," the Obama Administration failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act.

Last night, in Texas v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a federal district court in Texas held that the Obama Administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it adopted a revised definition of "waters of the United States" in 2015, and remanded the so-called WOTUS rule back to the federal agencies from whence it came.

The definition of "waters of the United States" is of particular importance because it defines the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In short, the CWA prohibits the discharge of materials into "navigable waters" without a federal permit, and the Act defines "navigable waters" as "waters of the United States." A broader definition means that more activities that take place on or near such "waters" are subject to federal regulation.

The precise scope of CWA jurisdiction has been the subject of litigation and legal wrangling for decades. In 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency sought to bring greater certainty to CWA regulation with a new, fairly broad definition of "waters of the United States"—the so-called WOTUS rule. Yet because this rule adopted an expansive interpretation of "waters of the United States," numerous states, industry organizations, and property rights groups sued.

Much of the debate over the 2015 WOTUS rule focuses on whether the Obama Administration asserted federal regulatory jurisdiction beyond the scope of what the CWA authorizes or the Constitution permits. Yet Judge Hanks did not need to reach such questions to throw out the rule.

In promulgating the 2015 rule, the Army Corps and EPA failed to comply with the basic requirements of notice-and-comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Specifically, Judge Hanks noted, key aspects of the final rule were not a "logical outgrowth" of the initial regulatory proposal published in the Federal Register and the public was never given the opportunity to comment on a key study that was "instrumental" in the final regulation adopted by the EPA and Army Corps.

According to Judge Hanks:

the Final Rule violated the APA's notice-and-comment requirements by deviating from the Proposed Rule in a way that interested parties could not have reasonably anticipated. Instead of continuing to use ecologic and hydrologic criteria to define "adjacent waters" as originally proposed, the summary judgment evidence reflects that the Final Rule abandoned this approach and switched to the use of distance-based criteria. . . . This shift in terminology and approach led to the promulgation of a Final Rule that was different in kind and degree from the concept announced in the Proposed Rule.

Specifically, the Proposed Rule defined "adjacent waters" based on the presence of a "hydrologic connection" with a Categorically Covered Water or a Categorically Covered Water's "influence [on] the ecological processes and plant and animal community structure" of a potentially covered water. . . . The
summary judgment evidence reflects that commentators to the Proposed Rule spent months evaluating the merits of this definition. However, in contrast, the Final Rule defined "adjacent waters" by proximity to Categorically Covered Waters. . . .

The Final Rule also violated the APA by preventing interested parties from commenting on the studies that served as the technical basis for the rule. As the courts have held, "[a]n agency commits serious procedural error when it fails to reveal portions of the technical basis for a proposed rule in time to allow for meaningful commentary." Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers Ass'n v. Fed. Motor Carrier Safety Admin., 494 F.3d 188, 199 (D.C. Cir. 2007). Indeed, it is a "fairly obvious proposition that studies upon which an agency relies in promulgating a rule must be made available during the rulemaking in order to afford interested persons meaningful notice and an opportunity for comment." Am. Radio Relay League, Inc. v. FCC, 524 F.3d 227, 237 (D.C. Cir. 2008). "The most critical factual material that is used to support the agency's position on review must have been made public in the proceeding and exposed to refutation." Air Transp. Ass'n of Am. v. FAA, 169 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

Here, the Agencies failed to give commentators an opportunity to refute the most critical factual material used to support the Final Rule—the Final Connectivity Report. Indeed, the summary judgment record establishes that the Final Connectivity Report was the technical basis for the Final Rule and was instrumental in determining what changes were to be made to the definition of the phrase WOTUS. . . .

Texas v. U.S. EPA is one of three challenges to the 2015 WOTUS rule pending in federal court. As Greenwire notes, there are other suits pending in federal court in North Dakota and Ohio. In addition, the Trump Administration is at work on its own revised WOTUS definition, which aims to increase regulatory certainty without significantly expanding federal regulatory jurisdiction. No doubt this WOTUS rewrite, when final, will be a target of litigation too. In the meantime, the Obama Administration's WOTUS rule in enjoined in half of the nation, and is now in force in the rest.


Our annual coffee scare

We seem to get these around once a year -- generally followed by a glut.  See here (Scroll down)

Australian coffee-drinkers could soon pay $7 for a flat white because coffee farming has become so unsustainable, one industry expert has claimed.

Mark Dundon, 57, co-owns Seven Seeds cafe in Carlton, an inner-north suburb of Melbourne, and has been a part of the cafe scene for 18 years. He says climate change is making it harder for farmers in South America and South-East Asia to grow coffee and once they sell their product to major companies, the price they receive is often below the production costs. 

He believes the price of coffee could explode because producers are abandoning the industry for better work. 'Coffee is going to become really expensive - maybe $7 a cup. There'll be a shortfall, prices will spike and cafes will go out of business,' Mr Dundon told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Dundon believes people will be forced to change their coffee habits to drinking two cups a week rather than two or three a day. He said the entire coffee-drinking culture is likely to change and cafes will employ less staff to help cut costs.

The cafe boss said climate change is making it extremely difficult for farmers who are turning away from the industry in droves. 'They will look at avocados, bananas, coca, depending on where they are, or they'll just walk off the farm and sell cigarette lighters in Bogotá,' he said.

Most coffee is grown in poor countries with the biggest producers being Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. Out of around 25 million coffee farmers, the vast majority, are small and own only a hectare or two of trees.

The biggest importers of coffee from these countries are the US and Germany, who purchase the product for well under the production cost.

Companies within the US and Germany, such as Nestlé and Starbucks Corporation, dictate the price they will pay for the coffee leaving farmers struggling to survive.

Future coffee traders are looking to lock in low prices for coffee before the small farmers have had a chance to grow it, so they are already far behind before they've started production.

The current system hugely benefits large corporations by maintaining a supply of cheap, mass-market coffee.

Small farmers are finding the coffee industry unsustainable and they don't have the power to set their own prices or access companies who will pay more for better quality coffee.

'The price is the lowest it's ever been. Farmers don't see a future in coffee. If farmers don't get more for their efforts, the industry is at risk,' Mr Dundon said.   



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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