Wednesday, February 05, 2020

How the Trump administration's policies have unleashed American energy production

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised energy independence to Americans as a measure of national security. Promises and pledges have come and gone from the White House since the 1970s — but now, the United States of America is an exporter of crude oil as well as natural gas and, yes, Americans can be declared energy independent.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (USEIA), “In November 2019, the United States became a net exporter of all oil products, including both refined petroleum products and crude oil.”

For the very reasons eight presidents prior to Donald Trump promised this energy autonomy, it’s now evidenced with the stability of oil prices that no longer wildly fluctuate with every world event.

Middle East policy has become more shaped by those drilling in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Texas. Yet leftists still declare, “We just can’t drill our way out of the problem.” Well, that’s exactly what happened.

Despite, not because of, the policies of the Obama administration, exploration, drilling, and fracking for natural gas and oil expanded with no appearance of turning back as the Trump administration approved last week the Keystone Pipeline right of way for a crucial 46-mile stretch controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Keystone was first proposed in 2008, but faced repeated rejections during the Obama years. This approval permits the $8 billion construction project expected to move up to 35 million gallons of crude oil every day from western Canada to terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

What does this mean to average Americans?

According to economist Stephen Moore, “At least $1 trillion of U.S. economic output is related to the shale revolution,” with more than 1.5 million Americans working in the industry. A separate study by the American Petroleum Institute cites at least four million jobs connected to the shale oil and gas energy transformation that include work in construction, engineering, pipe fitting, steel production, trucking, and sales jobs.

Specifically, Michigan and Ohio together have more than 400,000 workers tied to the shale industry, with Pennsylvania home to an additional 320,000 alone. Colorado and Florida each have more than 200,000 oil and gas workers. It’s obvious that these states hold not only precious natural resources but critical voters that serve as the fuel for the engine of 2020 politics.

While these states are the heart of the shale industry, Texas has more than two million employees of gas and oil companies. Add to that the coal workers who showed up in 2016 from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio supporting Trump. He embraces an all-of-the-above approach to energy that includes fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, and renewables, but without the subsidies propping up the green industry.

It’s obvious that fossil fuels and nuclear energy are not welcomed in the Democrat Party, as evidenced by the lineup of presidential candidates whose policies would stall the American economic engine, killing millions of jobs while massively increasing prices.

As Salena Zito and Brad Todd wrote in their book, The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, those who are red-blooded and blue-collared are now the GOP — yes, it’s a Growing Opportunity Party. As the elections inch closer, expect effective reminders that Democrats view those who cling to their God and guns as “deplorable,” as well as disdain all who see the value in America being first in energy exploration and production. That might be called #Winning for conservatives.


Faulty Assumptions Lead to Fake News About Climate Change

Climate change soon will constitute “a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters,” one government study predicted.

By 2020, according to a report on the study in The Guardian, “abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.”

That was 16 years ago. Now that the year 2020 is upon us, are any of these “doom and gloom” scenarios actually occurring? Far from it.

Indeed, the planet has experienced a bit of lukewarming. However, claims of increases in extreme weather are vastly overstated.

If anything, societies have been able to grow wealthier over time, and, as a result, have been more capable of weathering the extreme events that have come their way.

In fact, here at home, the economy is thriving. Unemployment remains at historical lows. And by achieving energy independence, we have transformed the global energy landscape.

So where did all this alarmist rhetoric come from? Well, faulty computer modeling is a big part of the explanation. Computer models are sometimes based on assumptions that have been beefed up to satisfy a particular regulatory agenda.

This is part of a new study I published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Economics and Policy Studies with Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, Ontario, and Pat Michaels of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank.

The study examined some of the assumptions made in one model used to estimate the economic effects of climate change. Called the FUND model, it is used to estimate a construct known as the social cost of carbon, which refers to the economic damages associated with carbon dioxide emissions over a particular time horizon. 

Unlike other models the government has used before, however, the FUND model actually incorporates benefits of carbon dioxide emissions into its modeling.

All of these computer models are based on assumptions. In this study, we focused on assumptions regarding climate sensitivity as well as agricultural benefits. 

Although it long has been understood that carbon dioxide emissions affect temperatures, the question is to what degree (pun intended). We found that updating these assumptions in line with more recent research can have a significant effect on the social cost of carbon. 

In fact, under some realistic scenarios of moderate warming, we found that the social cost of carbon is essentially zero and might even be negative. That’s right: The benefits associated with a moderate amount of warming may outweigh the costs. Typically, such benefits result from longer growing seasons and increased agricultural output. 

Bottom line: The FUND model, under very reasonable assumptions, indicates that a moderate amount of warming has practically no negative impact and might even be a good thing.

This study is just one of many in a stream of research on the social cost of carbon published by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. My prior research with colleagues demonstrated that the computer models used to estimate the economic impact of climate change are extremely sensitive to reasonable changes in other assumptions as well.

These assumptions include foolish attempts to make projections 300 years into the future and ignorance of recommendations by the Office of Management and Budget regarding cost-benefit analysis.

In our research, we varied these assumptions by altering the model’s projections in a more reasonable manner, incorporating the OMB’s recommendations for this type of analysis and updating assumptions regarding climate sensitivity.  We found that tweaking these assumptions can reduce the social cost of carbon by as much as 80% or more compared to estimates made by the Obama administration. 

Our conclusion: The Obama administration deliberately beefed up estimates of the social cost of carbon to justify its policy agenda. Ever since, Heritage has advocated that these computer models are so prone to user manipulation that it is not only naïve but dangerous to put them in the hands of lawmakers, regulators, and bureaucrats:

—Heritage’s analysis of the DICE model, also used to estimate the social cost of carbon.

—Heritage’s analysis of the FUND model.

—Heritage’s other peer-reviewed analysis of these computer models.

This work has been recognized by Congress as well as both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Yes, statistical models can be useful for understanding real-world phenomena.

Any model, however, is only as a good as the assumptions from which it is composed. Improperly specified models can deceive the public, misguide policymakers, and result in big costs for ordinary Americans.


Mad as the sea and wind: Wind power in France: a lie and a swindle?

Bernard Durand

The public’s disenchantment with wind power is growing rapidly: its supporters have become a minority. More and more French people are concerned about the environmental and health damage and the blots on their country’s famous landscapes as a result of its massive development. They are also exasperated by the cavalier methods used to impose it, and the corruption of elected officials that too often accompanies it.

But the French still do not realize, due to the intense campaigns of disinformation on these subjects, how much wind generated electricity will actually cost them, without contributing to combating global warming, or doing away with nuclear reactors. It will destroy more jobs than it creates. This work explains why. It also dismantles the structures of lies and financial scams that allow wind energy promoters to make money from it without worrying about its real efficiency or the human and environmental damage, just for their own financial or electoral benefit.

Wind power spoils the countryside and coastlines, impoverishes the French people, and is of no use to them. It is a weapon of mass destruction on their environment and economy. It compromises their energy security. It must be stopped as a matter of urgency and the money wasted on it must be used to reduce CO2 emissions from housing and transport, which emit considerably more CO2 and are therefore more harmful to the climate than our electricity.


* Bernard Durand, how can you be both a co-founder of an environmental association and write a book entitled “Un vent de folie: L’éolien en France : mensonge et arnaque?” [ Mad as the sea and wind: Wind power in France: a lie and a swindle?]

It is perfectly compatible, and this book demonstrates the fact: wind power in France is in fact a weapon of massive environmental destruction for rural areas. It will soon be equally the case for the marine environment, if offshore wind power is installed in force as our government wants it to be. What would be incompatible for an ecologist, and therefore profoundly hypocritical, would be to promote wind power on the grounds of a defence of the environment and the climate, as do the well-established NGOs that claim to be “environmental”, such as Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and France Nature Environnement (FNE), among others.

* You claim that disenchantment with wind power is growing amongst public opinion and that its supporters have become a minority. No doubt this is due to the numerous critical works published in recent years. However, your book sets out an original critique, that is still unknown to the general public.

The works you are talking about are in fact mainly concerned with denouncing the effects of wind turbines on the environment and human health, the corruption of elected officials that is far too often part of the process of taking the industry forward, and the absurdity of this development from an economic point of view. They have indeed contributed to a growing public disenchantment, springing from the increased perception by local residents – of whom there are more and more – of the harmful effects of wind power on their immediate environment and their health.

This is currently the only work intended for the general public which demonstrates, with the help of basic physics, that wind power cannot in any way achieve the aims used to justify promoting it.  In particular, it can only increase the price of electricity, and now of fuel, for French households, and as a result increase the energy insecurity of low income households, while it can do nothing to reduce our CO2 emissions and combat climate change. It will do nothing towards the closure of our nuclear reactors. Is it sensible to wreck our environment for something that costs a lot of money and is useless?

Public opinion has not in fact genuinely grasped this, because disinformation on these subjects by the media, under pressure from a large part of the political and financial world but also unfortunately from so-called “environmental” NGOs such as those mentioned above, has provided intense blanket coverage for quite some time.  Fortunately this is changing now.  Hopefully not too late!

* You talk a great deal about the German example, about non-dispatchable electricity provision, about CO2 production remaining high, and about the dramatic rise in electricity prices. What lessons can we learn from this?

The most important lesson to be learned is that we should not follow the example of Germany, which has, impulsively and thoughtlessly, run headlong into an ecological and economic dead end and a lasting dependence on fossil fuels by wanting to develop wind and solar photovoltaics at all costs; apparently quite literally, because the expenditure on this programme is already running into hundreds of billions of euros, for a very poor result.  Due to the intermittency, i.e. the uncontrollable (non-dispatchable) variability of the electrical power generated by their wind power, Germany was forced to retain all its energy from coal-fired dispatchable plants. It had to replace the nuclear reactors it had shut down with gas-fired power plants. It now imports large quantities of coal from the United States, and will soon be importing large quantities of Russian gas to supply its gas-fired power plants via the Northstream 1 and 2 gas pipelines that have just been installed in the Baltic Sea to supply these plants.  As a result Germany is, and will be for a very long time, the main polluter of the European atmosphere, with the climate-lethal CO2 emitted by its power stations, but also with the fumes from these power stations which are harmful to health. The planned replacement of its coal-fired power plants with gas-fired power plants by 2038 will come too late, and while it will reduce its CO2 emissions it will also increase its emissions of methane (CH4), the main component of natural gas, which is much more harmful to the climate than CO2.

* The current government seems to want to put an end to nuclear power generation, as with the Fessenheim power station, and replace it with wind power. Is this desirable for the consumer? Or the climate?

The example of Germany shows just what will happen if we close down our nuclear power plants. Like Germany we would be obliged to replace our lost power with equivalent power from coal and/or gas-fired power stations and, again like Germany, to have considerable CO2  emissions from our electricity production. This would mean reneging to a huge extent on the commitments we made at COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The closure of Fessenheim, which emits practically no CO2, is already an extraordinary aberration!

Of course, we may imagine that one day it will be possible to replace coal and gas-fired power stations with massive wind and solar power storage. But at this point engineers do not even know what this kind of storage would constitute, and so actually building it, if that is ever even possible, will not be happening any time soon.  But the climate will not wait. In addition, their cost is likely to be higher than the plants they would replace. In any case, Germany is obviously not counting on this, since it will be supplying its future gas-fired power stations with Russian gas.

Now if it did one day become possible, our country would be covered with giant wind turbines. And, of course, we would also have to accept a very sharp increase in the price of electricity and fuel for households.

* You talk about a disinformation mechanism and use some very strong expressions such as “lies” and “financial swindles”. How has it come to this?

Yes, I’ve used strong words. Because the disinformation on these subjects is quite extraordinary and must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.  This is due to a convergence of powerful political and financial interests that use modern advertising and marketing techniques to shape public opinion, and most of the media goes along with it.

So, it has become virtually impossible to debate these issues calmly on a scientific basis, and this represents a great danger to our democracy.

I hope that my book will stimulate this kind of debate amongst the public.


Top Solar Executives Plead Guilty to Participating in a Billion Dollar Ponzi Scheme—the Biggest Criminal Fraud Scheme in the History of the Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The owners of DC Solar, a Benicia-based company, pleaded guilty today to charges related to a billion dollar Ponzi scheme— the biggest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the Eastern District of California. The government’s investigation has resulted in the largest criminal forfeiture in the history of the District with over $120 million in assets forfeited that will go to victims, and has returned $500 million to the United States Treasury, with more to come, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

Jeff Carpoff, 49, of Martinez, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. His wife, Paulette Carpoff, 46, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and money laundering. According to court documents, between 2011 and 2018, DC Solar manufactured mobile solar generator units (MSG), solar generators that were mounted on trailers that were promoted as able to provide emergency power to cellphone towers and lighting at sporting events. A significant incentive for investors were generous federal tax credits due to the solar nature of the MSGs.

The conspirators pulled off their scheme by selling solar generators that did not exist to investors, making it appear that solar generators existed in locations that they did not, creating false financial statements, and obtaining false lease contracts, among other efforts to conceal the fraud. In reality, at least half of the approximately 17,000 solar generators claimed to have been manufactured by DC Solar did not exist.

U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “This billion dollar Ponzi scheme hurt investors and took money from the United States Treasury. This case represents not only the largest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the District, it also represents the largest criminal forfeiture in the history of the District with over $120 million in assets forfeited. All of this money will be returned to the victims. This scheme also targeted the United States Treasury, and we have returned $500 million to the Treasury to date. Agents, investigators and attorneys from various federal agencies are still working to continue to return money to victims and the United States Treasury. Today’s guilty pleas sends a strong message that fraudsters will get caught and will pay for their crimes. You can run, but you cannot hide.”

The forfeiture included seizing and auctioning 148 of the Carpoffs’ luxury and collector vehicles, including the 1978 Firebird previously owned by actor Burt Reynolds. This historical auction resulted in recouping approximately $8.233 million for victims. In addition to their collection of luxury and collector vehicles, Jeff and Paulette Carpoff used money from the scheme to pay for a minor-league professional baseball team and a NASCAR racecar sponsorship; to purchase luxury real estate in California, Nevada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and elsewhere; a subscription private jet service; a suite at a professional football stadium; and jewelry.

“The Carpoffs and their co-conspirators wove a web of lies and deceit in a massive fraud scheme. Meticulous review and analysis of millions of documents revealed the operation and true intention of the scheme,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan. “The FBI is committed to our partnerships with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Marshals Service. Together, we seek to uncover fraud that exploits investors and taxpayers, ensuring criminals face justice.”

“By all outer appearances this was a legitimate and successful company,” said Kareem Carter, Special Agent in Charge IRS Criminal Investigation. “But in reality it was all just smoke and mirrors — a Ponzi scheme touting tax benefits to the tune of over $900 million. IRS CI is committed to investigating those who take advantage and impact the financial well-being of others for their own personal gain.”

 “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) is pleased to join our law enforcement colleagues in announcing these guilty pleas,” stated Special Agent in Charge Wade Walters for the FDIC OIG San Francisco Regional Office. “The defendants conspired with others to create a fraudulent business venture that duped unsuspecting entities, including banks, to invest approximately $1 billion, which the two later used to support a lavish lifestyle. They also knowingly engaged in a money laundering transaction involving criminally derived property. The FDIC-OIG is committed to ensuring that those who use our Nation’s banks to undermine the integrity of the financial system will be held accountable.”

Four defendants have previously pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to the fraud scheme since October. Joseph W. Bayliss, 44, of Martinez, and Ronald J. Roach, of Walnut Creek, each pleaded guilty to related charges on Oct. 22, 2019. Robert A. Karmann, 53, of Clayton, pleaded guilty to related charges on Dec. 17, 2019. Ryan Guidry, 53, of Pleasant Hill, pleaded guilty to related charges on Jan. 14, 2020. A seventh co-conspirator is scheduled to plead guilty on Feb. 11. The investigation into the fraud remains ongoing.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS‑Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys André M. Espinosa and Kevin C. Khasigian are prosecuting the case.

Jeff and Paulette Carpoff are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on May 19. Jeff Carpoff faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison. Paulette Carpoff faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.


Big business ‘killing people’: New Greens leader Adam Bandt’s slams action on climate change

Bandt is a former Trotskyite. He joined the Greens out of convenience.  Trotskyites think even Communists are too Right-wing.  Note that big business is still his chief bugbear

Hours after being elected unopposed, the new leader of the Australian Greens has accused big business of “killing people and endangering people’s safety” and claimed Scott Morrison’s action on climate change will lead to “three times as many deaths” as the 2019-20 bushfire crisis in which 33 people lost their lives.

Declaring he wanted to “turf this government out”, Adam Bandt said Australia under the Prime Minister’s leadership was on track to warm by three degrees and the biggest barrier to climate action was coal.

“Big business that makes its money by killing people and endangering people’s safety should be worried. Anyone who makes a profit by putting people’s lives at risk should be worried because their days are gone,” Mr Bandt said in his first press conference as leader.

“Our message is also there is a role in a manufacturing renaissance in this country for businesses to sell the rest of the world things that are powered by the sun and the wind.

Business model ‘threatens human life’

“If you’re a coal company or a gas company or an oil company then our message to you is very simple – your business model is unsustainable. Your business model is predicated on threatening human life and they have to go. They have to go in a way that looks after workers and that looks after communities but they have to go.”

Mr Bandt, who said he was not unhappy with the description of himself as a “Greens social democrat”, said the country needed a “carbon price plus” to reduce emissions and tackle global warming.

“Scott Morrison has got us on track for three degrees of global warming and that is a catastrophe and you can’t have it both ways, you can’t say you accept the science of climate change but then refuse to accept what the science is that you need to do,” he said.

“These catastrophic bushfires have happened at one degree, Scott Morrison’s plan is for at least three times as much pain, three times as much suffering and three times as many deaths at least because that is what is in store for us if we keep on going the way the government has us going.

“If the government says ‘oh look, we don’t want a price on carbon but we’re prepared to look at a staged, orderly exit of coal-fired power stations’, then of course we’ll look at that but in fact they’re doing the opposite.

They’re saying how can we use public money to prop up coal-fired power stations? They’re doing a feasibility study about a new coal-fired power station.”

The Greens have a plan to phase out thermal coal exports and domestic use by 2030.

Mr Bandt was elected Greens leader at a partyroom meeting on Tuesday unopposed alongside co-deputy leader and Queensland senator Larissa Waters, who will also be Senate leader.

Mr Bandt will be the first Greens leader in the party’s history not to sit in the upper house. He will succeed retiring Victorian senator Richard Di Natale.


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.  

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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