Thursday, February 27, 2020

German teenage climate change skeptic, 19, known as the 'anti-Greta' will speak at Republican CPAC convention this week to promote 'climate realism'

A teenager who has been dubbed the 'anti-Greta' is to speak at a Republican convention is Washington D.C. later this week.

German citizen and climate change skeptic, Naomi Seibt, 19, will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference known as CPAC in the biggest annual Republican convention of its type running from Wednesday until Saturday of this week.

The event will feature Republican lawmakers, officials from the White House and Trump's re-election campaign, members of the conservative media and even a speech from the President himself. 

Seibt has been dubbed as the 'anti-Greta' because of her views on climate change are the polar opposite to those of Swedish environmental campaigner 17-year-old Greta Thunberg.

Seibt's influence is likely to be significantly smaller given that she only has 5,000 Twitter followers compared to Thunberg's 4 million, however being given the seal of approval by CPAC will surely help to bolster her prospects.

A YouTube video created by the Heartland Institute, a think tank which firmly rejects climate change, pitches Seibt against Thunberg.

'I have good news for you. The world is not ending because of climate change,' Seibt says in the video for the lobbying group.

'People are being force-fed a very dystopian agenda of climate alarmism that tells us that we as humans are destroying the planet and that we, the young people especially, have no future.'

In another video entitled 'Naomi Seibt vs. Greta Thunberg: whom should we trust?', footage is seen of both teens as they make their opposing cases.

Greta was named Time magazine's 'Person of the Year' in 2019 after making a speech at the United Nations where she demanded action be taken against climate change by the gathered world's leaders.

'Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!,' Thunberg bellowed.

Seibt called Thunberg's a proponent of 'climate alarmism.

'I used to be a climate change alarmist myself because, obviously, as a young girl I grew up around the climate change hysteria in the media, in my school books.

'I was an innocent young girl and I thought by hugging the trees I could save the planet, which quite frankly turned out not to be true,' she says in one YouTube video.

Seibt says the current thinking on climate change is an 'insult to science, and the complexity of nature, and freedom of speech' adding 'it is important we keep questioning the narrative that is out there.'

'Climate change alarmism at its very core is a despicably anti-human ideology. We are told to look down on our achievements with guilt, shame, disgust and not even to take into account the many major benefits we have from using fossil fuels as our main energy source.

'Look around. We are living in such an amazing era of fast progress and innovation. We are not allowed to be proud of that at all? Instead debates are being shut down and real scientists lose their jobs.'

Seibt doesn't totally rule out mankind's influence in the planet's climate but believes that it has been overstated.  'Are man-made CO2 emissions having that much impact on the climate? I think that's ridiculous to believe,' she said in the Washington Post.

The Heartland Institute said that Seibt was a 'fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism.'

'It is important that we keep questioning the narrative that's out there instead of promoting it,' Seibt said. 'These days, climate change science really isn't a science at all.'


USDA announcement on 30 percent biofuel mandate will make U.S. fuel consumption less efficient

Big corn has the ear of a lot of Republicans

Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal to raise the national biofuel mandate to 30 percent:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that they are setting a bio-fuels goal of 30 percent of U.S. transportation fuels demonstrates an almost pathological commitment to expanding the least efficient fuel into our nation’s vehicles.

“Increasing ethanol in our fuel will lower vehicle mileage as it burns much less efficiently than non-corn infused gasoline.  What’s more, ethanol is destructive to vehicle engines creating other consumer vehicle costs.  Yet, someone in President Trump’s USDA thinks that creating a threshold that not even the Obama administration was willing to set is a great idea.

“America is awash in oil and natural gas, but the insidious power of major corn producers to influence policy in Congress as well as at the USDA is truly impressive.  If only they would use their power for good.”


Natural Gas Is Crushing Wind and Solar Power

The U.S. Energy Information Administration just announced some spectacular news that should be banner headlines across the country: The price of natural gas has fallen to its lowest February level in 20 years.

The data shows that natural gas prices fell to $1.77 per million British thermal units. In inflation-adjusted terms, the price of gas has plunged by some 80% since its high of $13.60 12 years ago. The price is down 90% since 2005, when prices hit nearly $20. (Quick: Can you think of anything else that now costs one-tenth of what it did 15 years ago?)

The Energy Information Administration also reports that U.S. natural gas production has hit an all-time high this year.

The shale oil and gas revolution keeps rolling on -- but no one is talking about it. This boom in production has affected the economy of every state, from Ohio and Pennsylvania to Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and the Dakotas. By the way, oil prices have also fallen considerably, bringing gas prices at the pump to nearly $2 a gallon in some states. Prices are so low now that the drillers aren't making any money and are starting to shut down wells. They are victims of their own success.

Today's bargain-basement prices are partly due to moderate temperatures on the East Coast this winter, but this has been a long-term trend of cheaper and cheaper energy. America is now the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, and we are exporting more throughout the world than at any previous time in our history. It's hard to believe that a decade ago, we were importing natural gas. Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling technologies that keep getting more and more efficient, we now have hundreds of years of supply of this fuel.

This spectacular tumble in natural gas prices has been a multibillion-dollar godsend to consumers, homeowners, manufacturers and other businesses. Just last week, a major Texas utility announced it would be sending homeowners cash-back checks because electricity and home heating costs are falling so rapidly. Expect more to do the same in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to reduce its carbon emissions into the atmosphere at a faster pace than virtually any other country in the world. This is because natural gas is not just cheap. It is one of the cleanest ways to produce scalable and dependable electric power for a nation of 329 million people. We don't need brownouts in America as we saw in California, and natural gas is an excellent way to make sure the lights don't go out.

It would be hard to find anything NOT to like about this great American success story. We've achieved energy independence; reliable and inexhaustible supply; low prices; reduced power of the Middle East, Russia and other OPEC nations; and cleaner air than at any other time in at least a century.

Yet liberal environmentalists are grousing about this good news. A recent Bloomberg news story exclaims in its headline: "Cheap Gas Imperils Climate Fight by Undercutting Wind and Solar."

"Gas is such a bargain that it's being viewed less as a bridge fossil fuel, driving the world away from dirtier coal toward a clean-energy future," the story tells us, "and more as a hurdle that could slow the trip down.

Some forecasters are predicting prices will stay low for years, making it tough for states, cities and utilities to achieve their goals of being zero-carbon in power production by 2050 or earlier." Ravina Advani, head of renewable energy at BNP Paribas, complained: "The fact that there's an abundance of it makes the move to complete decarbonization much harder ... (Gas is) reliable, and it's cheap."

And that is bad news, why, exactly? It's like saying a cure for the coronavirus is bad for hospitals and doctors.

Maybe it is high time we admit we have found, for now, the great energy source of the next few decades and celebrate that America is endowed with a vital resource that is abundant and affordable -- just like our best-in-the-world farmland. The left talks about eradicating "poverty," but "energy poverty" is a primary source of deprivation around the world. Now, there is an obvious solution: Natural gas could easily be the primary source of power production for the world as a whole, slashing costs for the poor everywhere on the planet, from sub-Saharan Africa to Bangladesh.

Instead, politicians and government bureaucrats around the world are trying to force-feed the world expensive, unreliable and unscalable wind and solar power. The African Development Bank, for example, is only financing "green energy" projects, not coal or natural gas. It is substituting a cheap form of clean energy for a costly "green" alternative. Why?

In the U.S., this foolishness is happening every day as the federal government, in addition to state governments, is massively subsidizing wind and solar power -- even though they are, in most places, only niche sources of fuel. With more than $100 billion spent already, less than 10% of our energy comes from the wind and the sun, with most of the other 90% coming from good old-fashioned fossil fuels.

For all the talk about the falling costs of solar and wind power -- and yes, they are falling -- without billions of dollars of cash subsidies and tax breaks for the "renewable" energy sector, along with mandates requiring utilities to buy the power at any cost, wind and solar energy would be hopelessly expensive in most areas of the country. As a result, they would quickly surrender market share to natural gas and clean coal. (Don't look now, but coal prices are falling, too.)

It's time to get smart about energy and climate change and throw asunder taxpayer subsidies doled out to all forms of energy production. Let the market, not politicians and environmental groups, choose the safest, cheapest and most reliable energy source. Everyone is making a big bet on battery-operated cars and trucks. But who's to say that trucks and buses fueled by natural gas won't be the wave of the future? No one knows what makes the most sense or where the future will lead us. Nuclear power has great promise. But for now, the markets are shouting out for natural gas on a grander scale.

Fifteen years ago, no one would have thought we would have a superabundance of this wonder-fuel today. But we do. No one is more surprised than politicians. Why do we let them keep betting the farm on the wrong horse?


Taxpayers beware: Republicans have their own green dreams

In an era of trillion-dollar deficits and onerous federal mandates, no political party has a monopoly on bad ideas. For example, we all know about the Democrats’ love for funneling taxpayer dollars into wind and solar energy boondoggles.

Republicans are now responding in kind with handouts to their own preferred “clean” projects. On Feb. 12, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, announced Republican bills that would launch a “trillion trees” gimmick and expand payouts to the already bloated carbon capture and sequestration industry. Leaders from both parties must take a stand against this endless corporate welfare and let taxpayers off the hook from costly “green” energy endeavors.

At the very least, most lawmakers on the right side of the aisle seem to recognize the many follies of subsidizing solar and wind technologies. Most “green” projects on the market rely on the hazardous extraction of rare earth minerals from developing nations, create power-intermittency issues, and are all but impossible to recycle.

But some of the alternatives proposed by the GOP are little more than science fiction. Carbon capture and sequestration technology is frequently touted by members of both parties as a “solution” to (already declining) carbon emissions, despite the findings of a 2019 study published in Energy and Environmental Science that say “it reduces only a small fraction of carbon emissions, and it usually increases air pollution.”

A gas-fired power station has to burn 16% more gas than it otherwise would to capture its own carbon. This is hardly a model of energy efficiency, but the technology’s supporters won’t let evidence or common sense thwart recently introduced legislation that would make permanent the tax credit for capture and sequestration projects and increase payouts by 25%. Even if this wacky technology could somehow save the planet (spoiler alert: it won’t), backers such as Republican Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio can’t seem to explain why the beefed-up tax credit will make the approach viable after more than $1 billion in direct government financing from the Department of Energy failed to do so.

Other members of Congress pine for a prettier approach to combat climate change, proposing the planting of a trillion trees. Introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman, an Arkansas Republican, the “Trillion Trees Act” would condition foreign aid on reforestation and create a National Reforestation Task Force that would create decadal planting targets.

This policy is irresponsible enough applied just to the United States, where an overconcentration of trees has led to devastating wildfires. In recent years, the government has made it far too difficult for harvesters to get anywhere near forests, leading to lax lumber liquidation in America’s lush forests. The results, according to Texas Public Policy Foundation Vice President Chuck DeVore, are predictable: “As timber harvesting permit fees went up and environmental challenges multiplied, the people who earned a living felling and planting trees looked for other lines of work. The combustible fuel load in the forest predictably soared.”

But at least the U.S. doesn’t need to make life-altering trade-offs between preserving forests and feeding its citizenry. Because farmers in less-developed countries such as Mozambique must clear some of the country’s vast forests to grow crops and feed their families, foreign aid policies to incentivize reforestation could lead to tough choices and devastating consequences. Africa is a graveyard of failed, idealistic foreign aid programs, yet policymakers seemingly never learn their lesson in trying to “heal the planet.” Lawmakers must decide if they want a photo-op next to a handful of replanted trees or genuine solutions that prioritize both economy and ecology.

Market-friendly policies and strong property rights protections safeguard the planet, leading to historic prosperity and, yes, carbon emission reductions. Taxpayers need sensible, free market policies, not crony handouts and “woke” posturing by both parties.


Exploration under the gas pump in Victoria, Australia

Green/Left ban on gas exploration is costing Victorians

As gas emerges as the politically palatable alternative to coal, pressure is building from within the Andrews government to end the five-year moratorium on onshore conventional gas exploration in Victoria. The shift by Labor figures follows mounting pressure from unions, industry and consumers.

It comes after Scott Morrison issued a passionate plea for gas supplies in NSW and Victoria to be unlocked, declaring there is “no credible energy transition plan for an economy like Australia which does not involve greater use of gas as an important transition fuel”.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims has repeatedly called on NSW and Victoria to lift their bans, declaring in August: “If we really want permanently lower prices in the south we need more gas in the south.” Santos’s Narrabri project, with potential to fill half of NSW’s domestic supply, has been a particular bone of contention, with approvals continually delayed by the state.

The federal government is pushing for a national gas reservation policy to improve supplies for manufacturers and heavy industry, along with a price measure to the gas export trigger to ensure the national market is operating efficiently. The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that offshore gas supplies in Bass Strait are unlikely to meet Victoria’s needs ­beyond the next five years. AEMO estimated late last year that coal would contribute less than a third of power supply in the grid by 2040 as demand for gas and other ­renewables surges.

The Morrison government has struck a $2bn deal with the NSW government to pay for carbon abatement and energy projects in return for increased production of natural gas. It says it will not fund a similar deal with Victoria unless the ban on onshore gas exploration is lifted.

With the results of a geological survey of the state’s onshore ­conventional gas resources expected next month, ahead of the expiration of the moratorium on June 30, energy experts say the Victorian government faces a stark choice: it can either cease being the only state with a ban on conventional gas exploration or import more expensive, less environmentally friendly gas from ­interstate.

Far from banning conventional gas exploration, Queensland allows all forms of unconventional gas exploration, including fracking, and is home to almost 90 per cent of Australia’s 2P (proven and probable) gas reserves, and about 63 per cent of Australia’s 2C (best estimate of contingent) reserves. NSW permits conventional and unconventional exploration but the Berejiklian government frequently declares it has the “toughest” regulations in Australia, particularly in relation to fracking of coal-seam gas.

In 2014, the then O’Farrell government froze new CSG exploration licences and introduced exclusion zones, making residential areas in 152 local government areas of the state, including Sydney, “off limits”. While the freeze has since been lifted, no new licences have been granted.

The West Australian, South Australian and Northern Territory governments have all recently lifted their moratoriums on fracking, except in the southeast of South Australia where it is still prohibited. Tasmania maintains a fracking moratorium but allows conventional and unconventional gas exploration.

While Victorian state Labor MPs remain publicly tight-lipped about which way they are leaning on the conventional gas moratorium, internal sources say there is significant support within the right of the party for its overturning, including from Treasurer Tim Pallas, Resources Minister Jaclyn Symes and key factional powerbroker Adem Somyurek.

Energy and Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio — of the Socialist Left faction — has previously supported the moratorium but declined a request from The Australian to clarify her present position.

One source said they would “bet London to a brick” D’Ambrosio would continue to support the moratorium but others said they believed she could be persuaded to support its overturning should more senior members of her faction, including Premier Daniel Andrews, do so. The decision sits within Symes’s resources portfolio.

Australian Workers Union Victorian secretary Ben Davis is one ALP member who has been publicly critical of the moratorium since its inception, saying it is ­costing jobs. “It sends a terrible ­investment signal to gas companies and manufacturers alike,” Davis says. “I look forward to the review of the moratorium, and we’ll be campaigning and agitating to get it lifted.”

NSW-based federal opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitz­gibbon is another within the Labor camp who does not mince words in calling for the Andrews government to not only lift the moratorium on onshore conventional gas but also overturn its ban on ­unconventional gas exploration. “Every project, whether it involves fracking or not, should stand on its merits,” Fitzgibbon says. “Blanket bans make no sense.”

While all forms of gas mining involve the extraction of methane from kilometres below the earth’s surface, conventional gas extraction involves releasing gas trapped in sandstone, under solid rock, with minimal impact on the surrounding geology.

Unconventional gas is trapped in a coal seam or shale and is more difficult to extract, often but not ­always requiring fracking, or fracture stimulation, which involves pumping fluid down the gas well at high pressure to produce small cracks in the target rock reservoir.

Victoria’s moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration dates back to May 2014, when Napthine government energy minister Russell Northe opted to suspend decisions on all onshore gas exploration in the state until after the November state election, which was won by Labor.

At the time the Coalition feared punishment at the ballot box if it approved a controversial application from Lakes Oil to drill for gas 1500m below Seaspray, in then Nationals leader Peter Ryan’s South Gippsland electorate. Far from lifting the suspension post-election, the new Andrews government maintained it, intro­ducing legislation in 2017 that placed a moratorium on all conventional onshore gas exploration and production until June 30 this year, and permanently banning all unconventional gas mining and exploration, including fracking.

Ahead of the 2018 state election, Andrews went a step further, making a yet-to-be-delivered promise to enshrine a ban on fracking in the state’s constitution. The state Coalition continues to oppose all unconventional gas ­exploration but this week renewed its calls to lift the moratorium on conventional onshore gas.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the “great irony” of Victoria importing ­increasing amounts of gas from Queensland is that 20 per cent to 40 per cent of Queensland gas is from coal seams.

“That’s exactly what they’re objecting to with their ban on unconventional gas — which they’re not even considering lifting — and yet they’re OK with importing coal-seam gas,” Taylor says.

Anti-fossil fuels groups are ramping up their campaigns ahead of the moratorium expiring. Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker says he is “very concerned” about the possibility of the ban being lifted. “The greatest concern is the climate change implications of the methane that comes from fugitive emissions,” he says. “Looking to mainstream science, it’s clear that we need to stop producing new ­reserves of fossil fuels if we want to have the hope of keeping temperature rises under 1.5C globally.”

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood says that unless one takes the Friends of The Earth approach of opposing all fossil fuel extraction, there is “no scientific justification” for banning conventional or even all unconventional gas exploration. He concedes lifting the ban on fracking is “too politically sensitive”.

As the June 30 sunset clause on the moratorium approaches, Victorian Lead Scientist Amanda ­Caples, a stakeholder advisory panel and a team of scientists have been commissioned by the Andrews government to complete a three-year, $40m inquiry into ­onshore conventional gas as part of the Victorian Gas Program.

One of the key questions they are addressing — which gas companies say they would have ­answered at no cost to the taxpayer had the moratorium not been imposed — is how much ­unconventional gas there actually is under Victoria, and therefore what impact it might be able to have in terms of keeping a lid on prices, creating regional jobs and saving manufacturing jobs.

As part of the gas program, scientists from the Victorian Geological Survey are developing comprehensive 3D geological models of the Otway and Gippsland basins, where most of Victoria’s onshore gas is believed to be located. The results of that investigation are expected to be made known next month.

Recent discoveries in the South Australian section of the Otway Basin, near Penola, have encouraged companies with acreages in western Victoria, including Beach Energy, Cooper Energy and Vintage Energy, to hold out hope of finding more gas on the eastern side of the state border.

While the decision on whether to lift the moratorium will be made by the politicians, and not the scientists, The Australian understands the Geological Survey team is working to compile “pre-competitive data” on prospective locations for gas wells.

Should the moratorium be lifted, this would allow the industry some minimal compensation for five years of lost work, in the form of being able to restart ahead of where it was when the moratorium was imposed.

‘Plenty of gas’

The gas program stakeholder advisory panel includes representatives from a wide range of interest groups, including the manufacturing industry, AWU, Victorian Farmers Federation, gas company Beach Energy, the Australian ­Industry Group, the Great South Coast Group (which represents councils in the Otway Basin, some of which have publicly voiced their support for lifting the moratorium), as well as green groups ­including Frack Free Moriac and Environment Victoria.

State Resources Minister Jac­lyn Symes says the gas program work will “inform decisions about potential onshore gas exploration”. Symes maintains that Australia “has plenty of gas”, blaming escalating prices on an ­increase in gas exports over the past five years and calling on the federal government to activate its domestic gas security mech­anism to put Australian consumers first.

But as AEMO forecasts a 34 per cent decrease in Victorian winter gas production by 2023 because of dwindling supplies in Bass Strait, it is clear the Andrews government is under pressure to increase supply, with new offshore exploration and production licences recently approved at state and commonwealth levels.

The state government, which has jurisdiction to three nautical miles (5.56km) from the coast, ­recently gave the go-ahead to two onshore-to-offshore wells being drilled by Beach Energy in the Otway Basin.

The wells are permitted under the moratorium, despite beginning on clifftops before extending 1.5km out to sea, kilometres under the earth’s surface.

While Victoria does import some gas via pipelines that connect it to the rest of the east coast gas market, it is a net exporter, with about two-thirds of the gas processed locally being used in the state, and the rest sent to neighbouring states.

If the state cannot produce enough of its own gas in coming years — or refuses to do so by maintaining the moratorium — it will need to import gas, predominantly via a pipeline from southwest Queensland, which AEMO has found would need to be seriously upgraded to carry larger volumes to Victoria.

As the ACCC has highlighted, Queensland gas already costs $2-$4 a gigajoule more than Victorian gas — or up to 50 per cent more.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Andrew McConville says the industry remains hopeful that the Andrews government will “see sense” and lift the moratorium, given Victoria’s longstanding requirement for more natural gas, with 80 per cent of the state’s homes connected to more than 31,000km of gas mains distribution pipelines.

“The Victorian government’s renewable energy target (of 50 per cent by 2030) will also see the ­demand for natural gas increase,” McConville says.

“Modelling undertaken for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in 2017 assumes that as other sources of baseload power (coal) no longer become viable they are replaced by natural gas generation capacity.

“Under every scenario modelled for the department, natural gas has a bigger role to play in ­delivering energy stability to Victoria out to 2050.

“Unless new gas resources in Victoria are developed, families and businesses in the state will pay more than those in states continuing to develop new supply.”



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