Thursday, October 21, 2021

Recent NIMBY Move Could Leave California in the Dark

“Excuse me,” says your landscaper. “The mower’s out of juice. Mind if I plug in?” You look from the immobile machine to your half-cut lawn. “Outlet’s over there,” you tell him. “But let’s knock $20 off your fee? What are we up to now, 25 cents a kilowatt-hour?”

Welcome to the future. Welcome to California.

The state, committed to net-zero emissions by 2045, is moving to ban sales of gas-powered landscaping equipment as early as 2024. This is not the first attempt. Politicians tried and failed to do the same in 2003. Since then, though, more than half of homeowners in the state have swapped out their consumer-grade equipment for “zero emission equipment” (ZEE), meaning, battery-powered weed whackers, leaf blowers, hedge clippers, chainsaws, and even lawn mowers.

Electric, Because It’s . . . Quiet?

Many make the switch because, although lower-powered and less reliable (do batteries ever die at the right time?), battery-powered equipment is less noisy. That’s what prompted Mayor Stewart Welch of Mountain Brook, Alabama to begin switching his town’s tools over to electric. The bellow of leaf blowers disturbed his tennis game with a friend who, as chance would have it, had previously complained about the town’s noisy equipment. The city has spent $18,000 over the last year outfitting its public works crew with electric trimmers, blowers, and more.

According to Stanley Black & Decker, sales of the company’s electric yard equipment jumped 75 percent between 2015 and 2020. But, although lots of people are making the switch of their own accord, they’re not doing it fast enough, according to California’s legislative assembly.

Stop and Recharge

The biggest holdouts are those who do landscaping for a living, and for good reason. I searched Husqavarna’s site high and low for battery run time info for its 550iBTX, which one landscaper reviewed as “The best electric blower on the market.” For $469? Not bad, I thought. After lots of web searching about the battery, I gave up and contacted support. Turns out, it does not come with one. The lowest-priced option will cost landscapers an extra $300 and lasts between thirty and sixty minutes. The one the associate recommended, though, costs $969 (yes, more than double the cost of the blower) and “lasts up to 3.5 hours,” he told me. That’s if you run it in “normal” mode, which is half the power of Husqavarna’s $459 gas blower; boost mode saps the power faster and is about 33 percent less powerful than the gas blower.

Some landscapers make electric work, and not just those whose equipment is paid for by taxpayers, as in Mountain Brook. Chris Regis, owner of Florida-based lawn care company Suntek, is able to charge customers between 10 and 20 percent more for all-electric lawn care. He says, “There are people who don’t care and say, ‘I just don’t want the noise.’” All power to them. That’s exactly how free markets work.

Given the numbers above, though, it would take a lot of lawns to make up one’s initial investment with only a 10 or 20 percent upcharge. But Regis’s investment is far greater. He has outfitted the company’s vans with solar panels for recharging batteries on the go—each van costing about $100,000. Reflecting on how much longer the same work now takes him, Jimi Layne of Mountain Brook’s crew asked, “Are we looking at dollars and cents?”

‘Expensive and Unreliable, Please’

That’s an even more pertinent question in California, where energy prices are the highest in the continental US. (23.11 cents per kilowatt-hour, as of June 2021). Gas is more expensive there, too, in large part because of penalizing policies, but researchers predict electricity prices can only rise in the golden state, thanks to a host of factors. Prices are high, in part, because the size of the state increases transmission costs, as do wildfires on mismanaged public lands that have knocked out critical infrastructure, requiring replacement.

But the biggest contributor to high prices is the state’s push to adopt wind and solar, which require big upfront investments but nonetheless necessitate a reliable backup for when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing.

This problem came to the fore in 2020 when, for two days, California’s three big energy companies instituted rolling blackouts across the state because the grid could not meet demand. It was a self-inflicted wound. Given the state’s environmental restrictions, many coal-fired power plants are being decommissioned, and thanks to irrational fears, they’re not being replaced with clean, reliable nuclear energy, either.

Instead, taxpayers are being forced to subsidize massive investments in “renewables,” and power companies make up much of the state’s inevitable shortfalls by buying energy from more reliable, fossil-fuel plants in neighboring states. Unfortunately for Californians, on August 14, 2020, when the sun set and solar farms went offline, these companies realized they had miscalculated how big that shortfall would be. Western states were in the grip of a heat wave, and as Californians reached for the AC dials, they lost power altogether.

A Deadly Mistake

Losing power is no minor inconvenience, particularly when you live in what is naturally a desert, and especially when it’s more than 100 degrees outside. It’s not just that people can’t charge their Teslas or their ZEE mowers. One 2020 study concluded that more than 5,500 Americans lose their lives due to extreme heat annually. Climate-related deaths are a key indicator of low climate resilience, the ability of a locale to deal with extreme temperatures and weather. And, of course, climate resilience is directly dependent on plentiful, affordable, reliable energy.

But, increasingly, that is what California is doing away with in favor of expensive, unreliable energy. Unsurprisingly, the poor suffer the most. Research done in 2020 shows that many in Los Angeles can’t afford air conditioners, and many who have them can’t afford to run them because electricity prices are so high. In fact, accounting for cost of living, California has the highest poverty rate in the country, in large part because energy prices are so high. This, not in spite of the state’s adoption of “cheap” and “reliable” renewables, but because of it—because solar and wind are not cheap nor reliable and require a backup that is.

Cutting the Lifeline

Yet, with startling shortsightedness, the state assembly has sent Governor Gavin Newsom a bill that will effectively eliminate a go-to backup: gas-powered generators. The bill (AB-1346) lumps gas-powered generators in with the offending landscaping equipment and all other “small off-road engines,” referring to them as SOREs. It “encourages” the California Air Resources Board (the state’s own sort of EPA) to “adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines” and to consider “expected availability of zero-emission generators.”

Such generators do exist, but they are far more expensive, generate far less power, and most need to be recharged after just a few hours. Consider the GOAL ZERO YETI 3000X. It costs $3,400, and an additional $250 kit enables you to use it as a battery backup for your home. After all that, you can power a single refrigerator for less than 2.5 days, and that of course drops if you want to power, say, a few lightbulbs. By contrast, a Duromax XP10000HX can power your whole home—lights, appliances, and A/C system—continuously, running on either gasoline or propane, and it costs $1,400.

When the power went out last August, says Collin Blackwell of Eldorado Hills, California, “We went out and bought an $800 generator, so that way we could have the fridge powered up in the garage at least and be able to have food and everything in the house.” Mark Galloway of Cameron Park said he lives in a mountain community where losing power is fairly common. “You should have something, so having the backup generator and things like that—I think it’s on you to really take care of that,” he said. “It’s not like it’s something that you can’t plan for.”

But, if AB-1346 is signed into law, going out and buying an $800 generator will no longer be an option.

California legislators have not only cut ties with reality—failing to see that they’re heading for ever more blackouts—they also want to cut their citizens’ last lifeline to reliable power when these blackouts inevitably occur. California is committing energy suicide, and given that people rely on energy for just about everything, we shouldn’t be surprised by the toll this will take on human life.


Biden on Energy Crisis: Begging Others to Save Him From Himself

President Joe Biden is drowning in a sea of crises of his own creation, and Americans are the ones who are paying the price.

There’s an ongoing humanitarian and national security calamity at the southern border.

Thirteen U.S. service members are dead, and an unknown number of our citizens remain stranded in Afghanistan following Biden’s disastrous withdrawal.

COVID-19 is still rampant, despite Biden’s promises that he would defeat the virus, while his vaccine mandate has divided the country.

Americans are not taking the millions of jobs available and the economy is stalled, as many have chosen the option of being paid by the government to stay home instead of working.

Biden’s administration failed to identify the growing supply chain disruption, which did not occur overnight and threatens to further strangle the economy. Labor shortages are a contributing factor, including a lack of truck drivers to help unload ships and transport goods (see the above point about workers not accepting available jobs).

And energy prices continue to rise, helping to drive mounting inflation and hurting Americans—especially those with moderate or low incomes—at a time when the economy should be hitting its stride coming out of the pandemic lockdowns.

It is on the costs of energy where Biden’s failures are most starkly visible.

On his very first day in office, Biden scrapped the Keystone XL pipeline, killing 11,000 jobs in the process and making good on his campaign promise to be hostile to the fossil fuel industry.

Continuing his assault on natural resource development, Biden suspended oil and natural gas leases in Alaska.

Former President Donald Trump had propelled America to energy independence, but Biden has purposely squandered it. His policies are designed to reduce domestic production of petroleum, meaning we have become necessarily more reliant on foreign sources.

Biden’s approach has been an economic disaster.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the price of crude oil has jumped by 64% to a seven-year high. The cost of natural gas has doubled in just six months. Heating oil is more expensive by 68%, just in time for winter. And gasoline is over $3 per gallon on the national average, up by almost a dollar over the past year.

Energy costs are one driver of inflation, which is already a concern and could get worse.

The situation he created has led Biden into embarrassing situations where he has been forced to plead for rescue.

Over the summer, his administration begged OPEC to increase oil production to combat rising gasoline prices. It refused.

This month, Reuters reported that the Biden White House has approached domestic oil and gas producers, asking for help. These are the very companies that Biden has been demonizing and now he wants them to save him from himself.

Anne Bradbury, the chief executive officer of the American Exploration and Production Council, explained who the culprit is.

“By pursuing policies that restrict supply and make it harder to produce oil and natural gas here in America, Americans will have to pay more for their energy,” she said.

But never fear, White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the higher prices just mean that Biden’s policies are going according to plan.

“Certainly, we all want to keep gasoline prices low, but the threat of the crisis—the climate crisis—certainly can’t wait any longer,” she said on Oct. 6.

One week later, Psaki appeared to soften the message somewhat, in recognition of how higher energy bills affect people, but attempted to mislead about the scope of the problem.

“[T]he American people are, of course, impacted by rising prices of gas in some parts of the country—not all,” she said.

This, of course, is not true. Gas prices are higher in all 50 states.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain then underscored the indifference of the Biden administration to the concerns of regular Americans by approving of a tweet from Harvard economist Jason Furman, who labeled “economic problems we’re facing,” such as “inflation, supply chains, etc.,” as merely “high-class problems.”

Klain quote-tweeted Furman and enthusiastically agreed, posting “This,” with two hand emojis pointing to Furman’s original post.

For Americans still struggling, it must be jarring that the White House chief of staff thinks rising grocery bills—driven by fuel prices and inflation—are “high-class problems.”

Such a callous dismissal of real-world issues, the endorsement of an Ivy League elitist view that working people are just imagining things, simply feeds the prevailing belief that Biden simply is bad at his job.

But rather than face reporters or describe to Americans what he’s doing to combat these severe economic problems—and all of the other crises he’s inflicted on the country—Biden has almost entirely avoided taking questions.

On the rare occasions that he comes to the cameras to deliver remarks, most often he finishes speaking, turns around abruptly, and returns to the recesses of the White House.

It’s an apt image presented by an administration that is usually very concerned about visuals and symbolism.

Biden is leaving the lasting impression that, as he does to members of the press, he is simply turning his back on the American people.


UK: Green banks: They may claim to grow savings with a clear conscience - but is it just posturing?

The idea of making money while also saving the planet is appealing to many savers. So it’s no surprise the Duke and Duchess of Sussex leapt at the opportunity last week to plunge their fortunes into the sustainable investment firm Ethic. ‘When we invest in each other we change the world,’ the couple said in a typically verbose statement.

Harry and Meghan are the latest in a long line of celebrities, politicians and businesses to talk about ‘ESG’ — which stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’.

And the trend is filtering down to the High Street banks. The amount of money spent on ‘ethical banking’ more than doubled to £196.65 million between 2010 and 2019, according to research and campaign organisation Ethical Consumer.

From launching recycled debit cards to boosting women onto their boards, firms are eager to show customers they are the most socially responsible place to look after your money.

But can banking ever be ethical and lucrative? You don’t have to delve deep into the murky world of ESG for the threads of these claims to unravel.

Traditionally, these types of accounts meant banks would not invest your money in the likes of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, fossil fuels or fur.

However, firms are increasingly coming under fire over ‘greenwashing’ — the practice of overstating how sustainable a product really is.

There is no better evidence of this than Ethic — which the Daily Mail revealed at the weekend had invested millions of dollars in a wide range of unethical practices, such as fracking.

This trend is not exclusive to wealthy investment funds, however — it trickles right down to ethical accounts being offered by High Street banks.

‘Often we see banks just rebrand accounts overnight with the term “ESG”,’ says Gareth Griffiths, head of retail banking at green firm Triodos. ‘There is minimal accountability.’

And for customers, it can be almost impossible to work out which firms genuinely do good and which are simply virtue signalling.

In recent years, everything from meat consumption to air travel has come under scrutiny as the UK moves towards net zero.

But according to Make My Money Matter, making your pension green is 21 times more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going vegetarian and switching energy provider combined.

And customers are wising up. Figures from investment data firm Morningstar show around £27 billion was poured into ethical investment funds in the first three months of 2020 alone.

Triodos bank, which often tops ethical banking polls, saw its customer base grow by 10 per cent in the first six months of this year. That follows a 20 per cent growth in 2020.

As interest grows, banks want to cater to new demands. But this can be difficult to balance with their core aim of making money.

And under pressure to be seen as more sustainable, banks are tempted to overstate how green their practices truly are.

For example, Barclays claims to work for the ‘common good’ under a section on its website titled ‘our approach’.

‘It is our fundamental belief that we can and must do business in a way that does good,’ it reads.

Yet one look at Barclays’ Climate Related Financial Disclosures reveals that the bank continues to invest in aviation, coal mining and oil and gas.

Greenwashing has become so widespread that City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sent a letter to chief executives this year warning them that funds proclaiming to be concerned with ESG were not of an acceptable standard.


Why Australia is foolish to embrace net zero emissions

Senator Matt Canavan

Australia is lagging the rest of the world. Just as we are set to sign up to a net zero emissions target, everyone is in a desperate rush to get more coal, oil and gas.

In the UK, they have reopened coal power stations because there has been a wind drought, and Vladimir Putin is not sending them as much gas as he used to.

The US has asked Middle Eastern countries to increase oil production because the woke Wall Street bankers are no longer financing fracking in Texas.

In China, Premier Li said this month that “coal supply is crucial to people’s lives” and that he would review China’s emissions targets in light of their recent energy crisis. He stressed that energy security was China’s priority.

India has demanded that all coal power stations use at least 10 per cent imported coal so they can boost their fuel security.

This is all happening because of Europe’s ill-fated attempt to reach net zero. The failure of Europe to develop their own fossil fuel resources has led to a cascading effect through world energy markets. The price of coal and gas are at record highs, which is good for Australia given we are the world’s largest exporter of both of these things.

But we are set to look this gift horse in the mouth by signing up to a net zero emissions target. A “net” zero emissions target means that any new coal mine or gas field in Australia would need to “net” off its emissions by purchasing carbon credits. These credits cost money and will, in effect, tax the creation of working class Australian jobs.

Over 1 million Australians work in the mining industry alone but these requirements will also impact agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs too. A net zero target will be the first time that an Australian Government has adopted a policy to make us poorer.

How much will these carbon credits cost? UK Government modelling shows that the carbon price will have to be A$295 per tonne to reach net zero. Julia Gillard’s $20 carbon tax increased electricity prices by 10 per cent. Electricity bills are already skyrocketing in the UK under their net zero plans, and they have a lot higher to go.

But there will be some winners. The banks are happy with this outcome because they will trade the carbon credits. Banks are some of the biggest supporters of net zero emissions. My rule of thumb is that if something is good for the banks, it is probably bad for me.

Turning our back on our domestic supplies of coal and gas will also mean that we will become reliant on China for our energy needs, as that is where our wind turbines and solar panels are made. All of this just as we learn that China has invented a hypersonic, nuclear capable missile that can land anywhere on earth and avoid existing missile defence systems.

China now has space nukes but they can’t match us on plans to reach net zero.

At the last election, Scott Morrison rightly warned of the dangers of cutting our emissions by too much. He called Labor’s proposed 45 per cent reduction in emissions a “wrecking ball through the Australian economy.”

The working men and women of Australia agreed, and rewarded the Liberal and National parties with an unexpected victory. If we turn our backs on their jobs, the Quiet Australians will become loud and angry.

These Australians don’t care what world leaders think of them. They just want their government to create jobs, keep living costs down and make Australia stronger.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings, I need to email you direct.
I am in argument with some warmists who are telling me that the 97% of scientists who say Climate change is real is now 99.9% of scientists who say Climate change is real etc.
I went to look for your information about how the 97% came about but it seems to be blocked.
Can you direct me to where I can find the info about the 97% fraud?

Many thanks. D Peters.

I don't have a Google account.