Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Schumer Announces Plan To Nix Virtually Every Gas Powered Vehicle In The Country

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is preparing to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on a plan that would fast-track the elimination of nearly every gas-powered vehicle in the country.

The Senate’s top Democrat wants to spend a massive amount of money enticing Americans to exchange their gas-guzzling vehicles for an electric car. Schumer’s proposal, which he announced in a New York Times editorial Thursday, shows Democrats are lurching leftward on the issue.

“That’s why I am announcing a new proposal designed to rapidly phase out gas-powered vehicles and replace them with zero-emission, or ‘clean,’ vehicles like electric cars,” Schumer wrote after suggesting scientists agree that climate change represents an imminent threat to the U.S.

He added: “The goal of the plan, which also aims to spur a transformation in American manufacturing, is that by 2040 all vehicles on the road should be clean.” The plan would remove more than 63 million gas-powered cars from the road by 2030, Schumer estimates.

Schumer’s office expects the proposal to cost roughly $392 billion over a decade. The Washington Post referred to the idea on Friday as “essentially ‘Cash for Clunkers’ on steroids,” referring to a policy from the Obama-era encouraging Americans to trade their old vehicles for fuel-efficient cars.

Cash for Clunkers was the mechanism allowing the federal government to offer incentives of between $2,500 and $4,500 to citizens who traded in their older vehicles for newer ones. The policy received a lot of media play, but critics called the idea a failure even if it was designed with the best of intentions.

Under Schumer’s plan, car owners will get a rebate starting at $3,000 if they trade in their car for an electric vehicle, with the amount of rebate going up the longer the vehicle goes without recharging. The rebate could dramatically exceed the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles.

Citizens are not the only ones who’d get a windfall. States and cities would also receive $45 billion in funding to install charging stations. The plan, which does not have legislative text, would also provide $17 billion to grant programs to build new factories for electric vehicles.

The senator’s idea comes as Democrats continue shifting leftward on environmental issues.

House Democrats introduced a Green New Deal in February calling for a “10-year national mobilization” toward a series of goals aimed at fighting global warming. The deal’s proponents called for the eradication of fossil fuels before lawmakers stripped the idea out of the final product.

Conservative analysts are already criticizing Schumer’s plan.

“The money would be wasted. Even if Americans stopped driving entirely today and forever, there would be no discernible impact on, much less improvement of the weather or climate,” Steve Milloy, a lobbyist on behalf of the energy industry, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.


Russia Rejects Climate Change Plan After Business Uproar

The Russian government has drastically watered-down its new package of climate change legislation after push-back from the country’s leading businesses, the Kommersant business daily reported.

Plans for quotas on carbon emissions at Russia’s largest companies, a new national carbon trading system and penalties for the biggest polluters have now been scrapped.

Instead, Russia will only go ahead with proposals to measure and collect data on emissions as part of a five-year green audit.

The campaign against a stricter package of measures was led by the influential Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) — one of the main lobbying groups for Russia’s largest businesses.

The new laws were set to be introduced as part of Russia’s ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Originally, the Russian government proposed introducing new climate legislation in two phases. The first would be a five-year stock-taking exercise to measure company-level emissions and set appropriate quotas for reducing emissions.

After that, Russia would then introduce a carbon cap on the country’s biggest polluters and penalties for those that exceed their quotas. Earlier plans also envisaged the creation of a national fund to support emissions reduction and a system of nationwide carbon trading.

However, the RSPP has successfully killed-off the entire second phase, including plans to set individual company quotas or targets, arguing that the government should await the results of the climate audit before introducing new laws and regulations to hold firms accountable for their emissions.

“The idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide in Russia has fallen victim to the industrial lobby,” analysts at VTB Capital said in a research note today.

This is despite the fact that “the Paris Climate Agreement envisages a greenhouse gas emission target which is higher than Russia’s current emissions. So introducing the quota system is unlikely to be punitive for businesses.”

The watered-down legislation would “essentially put any actively managed efforts by the government to reduce emissions on ice,” they added.


U.S. Smashes Another Oil Export Record

Growing U.S. crude oil production and exports have resulted in America selling oil to more destinations around the world than the number of countries from which it imports crude oil, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.

A decade ago, the United States was importing crude oil from as many as 37 foreign sources per month, and its exports were restricted almost exclusively to Canada. After the lifting of those restrictions at the end of 2015, U.S. crude oil exports have been on the rise and reaching more destinations.

Between January and July 2019, the largest number of sources of America’s oil imports fell to 27 in any of those months, the EIA has estimated.

On the other hand, the number of destinations for U.S. crude oil exports rose, with exports to as many as 31 destinations per month in the first seven months this year.

Thanks to its growing domestic production—which increased by 2.6 million bpd between January 2016 and July 2019—the U.S. has been importing crude from fewer sources. The domestic production increase has been mostly light sweet crude, which U.S. refiners have accommodated by displacing imports of light and medium crude from countries other than Canada and by raising refinery utilization rates, EIA says.
Related: Is Eating Meat Worse Than Burning Oil?

On the other hand, expanding export terminals in the U.S. and global demand for light sweet crude have allowed the U.S. to export oil to more destinations. 

U.S. crude oil exports jumped by nearly 1 million bpd in the first half of 2019 from the same period in 2018 to average 2.9 million bpd between January and June this year, the EIA said earlier this month.

Average U.S. exports of crude oil rose by 966,000 bpd in the first half of 2019, compared to the first half of 2018. In June this year, the U.S. set a monthly average record of 3.2 million bpd of crude oil exports, EIA data showed.


Alaska’s Tongass National Forest may be exempted from Clinton-era roadless rule

Responding to a 2018 petition submitted by the State of Alaska, the Trump administration is proposing to exempt Alaska’s giant Tongass National Forest from the Clinton-era Roadless Rule, a nationwide policy, which has been in effect since 2001.

The Roadless Rule banned all logging, commercial development, and road construction in Tongass, the largest national forest in the United States. Tongass, with its 16.9 million acres, is located in the Alaska Panhandle in the southeastern part of the state.

Under the proposal, the U.S. Forest Service would “remove all 9.2 million acres of inventoried roadless acres and convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 20,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.”

But allowing logging in designated areas of the temperate rainforest, and opening up other economic opportunities to local residents, evoked howls of protest from environmentalists and their political allies in Washington.

“Once you have clear cut, the remaining trees or the edge of the forest becomes (sic) much more susceptible to what we think of as windthrow, or wind disturbance,” Northern Arizona ecologist Michelle Mack told Wired (Oct. 17).

Rep. Raul Grijalva, (D-Arizona), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was also aghast.

“Weakening protections for one of the most important ecosystems our planet has left is a colossal mistake, and this Committee has questions about how this decision was made that this administration should prepare to answer,” he said.

For nearly two decades, however, serious questions have been raised about the last-minute inclusion of Tongass in the Roadless Rule. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 and the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990 collectively set aside 5.6 million acres in Tongass as wilderness. Eight days before President Bill Clinton left office in January 2001, his administration’s Roadless Rule designated another 9.4 million acres as roadless areas in Tongass.

“In combination, these laws and regulation have resulted in the loss of 4,200 jobs in the timber industry and substantial interference in mining and renewable energy development,” former Alaska Senator and Governor Frank Murkowski pointed out in the Anchorage Daily News (Oct. 21).

Alaska lost no time in challenging the Roadless Rule. In 2001, the state sued the Forest Service, arguing that including Tongass in the rule violated the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Following a June 2003 settlement with the Justice Department, Tongass received a temporary exemption from the Roadless Rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the Forest Service. The Secretary of Agriculture pointed out that the “socioeconomic costs to local communities of applying the roadless rule’s prohibitions to the Tongass, all warrant treating the Tongass differently from other national forests outside of Alaska.”

The Secretary added:

“Because most Southeast Alaska communities are nearly surrounded on land by inventoried areas of the Tongass, the roadless rule significantly limits the ability of communities to develop road and utility connections that almost all other communities in the United States take for granted.”

But in 2009, environmental groups challenged the process by which USDA had temporarily exempted Tongass from the Roadless Rule. The Obama administration did nothing to provide 21st century infrastructure to the 32 communities surrounded by Tongass. All told, six Alaska governors and the state’s entire congressional delegation have, over the years, sought relief for the people living in the area.

In proposing to scrap the roadless designation for Tongass, the Trump administration has determined that the plight of local residents cannot be allowed to continue.


Conservative alliance targets climate army

The new voice of Australia’s conservative movement has vowed to go after radical left-wing groups in a national campaign against “clim­ate alarmists”, after accusing members of activist group Extinction Rebel­lion of being criminals who pose a menace to society.

Liz Storer, a 36-year-old former Liberal councillor and ministerial adviser, will be announced on Wednesday as the new national director of ­centre-right campaign machine Advance Australia, which has positione­d itself as the political counter to GetUp.

Her appointment comes as GetUp’s national director, Paul Oosting, fronts the National Press Club on Wednesday amid internal inquiries into its failed campaign to unseat a list of targeted conservative MPs at the May election.

But Ms Storer said while GetUp was on her radar, her first campaign­ would be aimed at Extinctio­n Rebellion, which has risen from obscurity to promin­ence in the past week by closing down traffic in the CBDs of Brisbane and Melbourne.

“These people are seriously unhinged­,” Ms Storer said. “They are going to be one of our first campaigns­ … These guys are very strategic but the truth is they are not a climate change action group.

“They may market themselves that way. They are hell bent on deconstructing society as we know it … they operate on a manifesto of delusions based on a rejection of European colonisation and trad­itional values that most mainstream Australians hold dear.

“They are a menace to society … We saw last week the Victorian police saying they had to stop ­normal policing to deal with them. ER are proving to be the real crim­inals …. Gluing themselves to streets (and) hanging from ­bridges.”

Ms Storer, who has a masters degree in human rights and was elected to the suburban Perth council of Gosnells before becoming an adviser to conservative federal Coalition senator and assist­ant minister Zed Seselja, said the militant advance of climate activism had not been effectively ­challenged and that Advance Australia’s mission was to be the voice of “mainstream Australia”.

It would also run counter campaigns against MPs with “radical agendas” and run lobbying and public campaigns against state governments over activism in the education system.

“A mate of mine called me this morning to tell me his daughter had texted him from school to tell him that her teacher said a third of their class would be dead by 2050 because of climate change,” Ms Storer said. “Climate anxiety is becoming­ a real thing.”

While Advance Australia is heavily outgunned by established groups such as GetUp, it quickly raised $2.5m in donations with a 45,000-strong supporter base in its first 12 months of operation since being formed in November last year with the backing of prominent businessmen including Maurice Newman and James Power of the Queensland brewing dynasty.

“GetUp are a well-oiled mach­ine and we are in our infancy,” Ms Storer said. “But we intend to even the score. There is clout in the silent­ majority … we saw that at the May election.”

GetUp’s Mr Oosting, who ran the left-wing group’s failed election campaign strategy to unseat a rump of conservative MPs, will deliver a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday titled Politics Belongs to Everyone.

GetUp, which launched internal and external reviews after the May 18 election, has been targeted by Scott Morrison and Coalition frontbenchers, who have accused the political activist group of being a front for Labor and the Greens.

A prominent Liberal Party ­figure said the group had struggled to gain traction but claimed the appointmen­t of Ms Storer signalled a significant gear shift in the conservative­ movement’s battle against the left-wing lobby. “I do love kicking doors,” Ms Storer said.



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