Monday, December 06, 2021

Back to firewood

As Greenie attacks make our energy supply less reliable, some people are returning to the 19th century

Americans are feeling the burn of home-heating costs like never before this holiday season.

But rather than watch their dollars go up in smoke paying for oil or propane, many are stocking up on firewood to stay warm during the winter months.

At AZ Wood Farmer in Apache Junction, Arizona, owner Doug Trapp said there’s definitely been a steady rise in demand for firewood this year, as more people choose to stay at home.

“People are cooking at home. People are staying home more, because the cost of food has gone through the roof,” Trapp said. “Everybody is worried. Everybody is concerned.”

And with the increased demand for firewood comes higher prices. A 4-by-16-foot bundle of season mixed local firewood currently sells for $490 at AZ Wood Farmer—$575 for shaggy juniper, and $775 for pecan.

At Firewood by Jerry in New River, Arizona, a full cord of seasoned firewood now goes for $300—up $45 from last year. Each cord contains 112 cubic feet of firewood, 650 to 725 pieces, said owner Jerome Gosiak.

“The more people stay at home, the more they are burning the stuff,” Gosiak told The Epoch Times.

“There’s no question there’s been a boom,” said Kelly Olsen, spokesman for the National Firewood Association in Minnesota. “The industry has been very busy.”

Olsen said that COVID-19 created further demand for firewood this year as many people looked to heat their homes for less during lockdown.

The rising cost of labor and firewood production equipment, combined with higher transportation costs, have also driven up wood prices.

The Texas power outage in early 2021 served as a wake-up call for many Americans, who don’t want to be caught off guard this winter. This, in turn, has helped spur the demand for firewood, Olsen said.

“It’s the whole self-sufficiency aspect of it,” Olsen told The Epoch Times.

Olsen said the demand for “bundled” firewood at retail stores is also seeing a sharp rise for meeting short-term heating needs. “I see the industry ramping up,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, the nonprofit Professional Forestry Industry Association (ProFIA) is helping several families heat their homes with firewood this season.

“A lot more people are looking to burn wood” since it costs less than oil or propane, said ProFIA president Matt Carney.

This season, the organization plans to donate cords of firewood to at least five or six homes, although the demand “ebbs and flows.”

Ohio based “My Free Firewood,” on the other hand, is a collaboration between Keep It Green Tree Service and the JRG Agency.

“We saw the confluence between homeowners needing an inexpensive year-round supply of firewood and the excess wood many tree services and landscape companies have. So, we launched My Free Firewood in 2018 with the intent to solve both of these problems by providing a service that facilitates connecting firewood customers to wood providers,” according to the organization’s website.

The National Park Service provides firewood for personal use, both on a free-use permit and a paid-permit basis.

“The cost of a permit varies according to the type of wood to be harvested, and the definition of a ‘cord’ of wood is a well-stacked pile 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high,” according to the NPS.

A maximum of five cords per household per year is allowed under free use and a maximum of 12 cords per household per year is allowed under paid permits.


Biden, not “Big Oil”, is to Blame for Energy Price Spikes

“President Calls for Inquiry into the Price of Gas” reads a frontpage headline in November 18’s Wall Street Journal. President Biden apparently wants Americans to believe that the major producers and distributors of fossil fuel energy (“Big Oil”) are responsible for recent price increases at the pump and looming sticker shock on home heating bills.

As President Reagan might have said, “there he goes again”. Seeking to duck responsibility for his own policy actions, Biden has asked Federal Trade Commission chairperson Lina Kahn, appointed for her relentless hostility to Big Tech, to launch an investigation into whether U.S. energy companies have conspired or engaged in other unlawful behavior to profit at the expense of consumers of gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil.

We’ve seen the same headlines before. Every time energy prices rise sharply—during OPEC’s oil embargoes of the 1970s, wars in the Middle East, and hurricanes on the Gulf or East Coasts that disrupt the industry’s drilling, refining, or distribution operations—the White House or Congress predictably reacts by pointing fingers at Big Oil, asking for reasons other than the normal workings of global energy markets. Over time, the FTC has subpoenaed and amassed hundreds of thousands of documents from the major oil-and-gas companies, by no means cheaply either for taxpayers or the companies themselves. Those investigations never have produced evidence of anticompetitive behavior justifying further legal action.

This time around, the Biden administration thinks that something nefarious must be going on because of an “unexplained gap” between the price of “unfinished gasoline” (before blending with ethanol and other additives) and prices at the pump, which have risen by three percent in one month. But, as every consumer knows, all prices have been rising recently (at more than a six percent annual clip) as the economy struggles to absorb significant expansions of the money supply, profligate federal spending, and cope with the supply-side bottlenecks caused by lockdowns and other counterproductive Sars-Cov-2 pandemic policies. Energy is the most volatile component of consumer price indexes.

The “unexplained gap”, which varies along with the supplies of and demands for gasoline and ethanol, is not a mystery. Washington’s ethanol mandate or renewable fuel standard (intended to buy votes from Corn Belt states) itself largely is responsible for it.

If he wants to explain why energy prices have been snowballing, President Biden should look in the mirror. Since taking office, he has cancelled the XL pipeline, which would have lowered the cost of moving crude extracted from shale oil deposits in Canada and the Dakotas to Gulf Coast refineries, banned further exploration and drilling on federal lands, and cancelled offshore oil leases. The president’s failed attempt to lessen the pain of his green energy policies by encouraging OPEC to expand production is laughable.

So, too, is his announcement a few days later (joined by other western leaders) that crude oil will be released from national stockpiles of so-called strategic petroleum reserves. If that action is taken, the effects on fuel price will be only transient.

It is expedient to shift blame to “monopoly” or “market power” for economic effects that damage politicians’ reelection hopes. After all, “big is bad”, isn’t it? However, the first place to look for culprits to explain price increases for energy or any other good or service should be government.

As Edmund Burke once wrote, “The thing itself is the abuse!”


Rising energy bills in UK: Cruel to the poor

image from

When she goes in to check on him at night, Sandy Birtles says she can hardly see her teenage son for all the layers on his bed.

The single mother of two says that the family do all they can to keep warm as the bills continue to rise.

"I do not have the heating on when the kids are at school," she said.

"If I'm not running around and clearing up, then I'm wrapping up in a coat."

She said that financial pressures mean she had been "penny-pinching all the time", but she said rising energy bills have added to the strain.

They have to be careful not to use too much hot water, she said, and when her 15-year-old son wanted to add to his bedding she got him a double duvet.

She is worried that these bills will continue to rise, and a charity has predicted that she - and millions of others - will face a particularly difficult bill shock early next year.

National Energy Action has predicted that when domestic energy prices rise in April, it will mean that the typical domestic gas bill will have doubled in 18 months.

The charity, which campaigns for warm, dry homes, used industry data and forecasts to predict that the typical gas bill, for those on standard tariffs, is likely to have gone up from £466 a year in October 2020, to £944 in April 2022.

"The cost of living in the UK is at its highest level in a decade with household energy bills the biggest driver. When the costs of essential services go up, those on lowest incomes get hit hardest," said Adam Scorer, the charity's chief executive.

"For people already on a budgetary knife-edge, the cost of keeping a family warm has exploded while budgets have collapsed. No amount of useful tips or savvy shopping can cope with that."


Australia: NSW government overturns decision to block coal mine expansion

The New South Wales government has been accused of being “captured” by the coal industry after it overturned a planning commission decision to block a mine expansion that it found could cause irreversible damage to drinking water and release significant heat-trapping gas.

The deputy premier, Paul Toole, and planning minister, Rob Stokes, declared on Saturday the Dendrobium mine expansion near Wollongong – proposed by BHP spin-off South32 – was “state significant infrastructure” due to its role providing coal for the Port Kembla steelworks.

It reversed a planning commission decision in February to reject the proposal, which would have allowed the company to extract an extra 78m tonnes of coal from two areas near the Avon and Cordeaux dams. The dams supply water to metropolitan Sydney and the Macarthur, Illawarra and Wollondilly regions.

The state government did not mention the water supply or emissions in its statement about the mine expansion. Toole said Dendrobium was a critical source of coking coal for the Port Kembla steelworks and declaring it significant infrastructure would “provide thousands of workers with greater certainty on the future of their jobs”. He said the mine contributed $1.9bn to the state’s economy each year.

The NSW government also confirmed it had ruled out future coal exploration in the Hawkins and Rumker areas in the state’s central west, a step flagged by Guardian Australia last month.

South32 said it welcomed the government’s decision. A company spokesperson said it “marks an important step” and would allow a submission for an alternate mine plan to that rejected by the planning commission.

“We continue to consider our options to determine the best path forward for Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, to continue to supply metallurgical coal for local steel production and support local jobs and investment,” it said.

The Dendrobium declaration means South32 can submit an environmental impact statement for community feedback and assessment by the planning department. The department previously recommended the independent planning commission approve the project as its benefits would “significantly outweigh its residual costs, and that it is in the public interest”.

It has been supported by Bluescope Steel, which claimed “green steel” – made using hydrogen and renewable energy – was decades away and it wanted to use an existing blend of coking coal until 2048.

Dan Gocher, director of climate and environment at shareholder activist organisation the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said the Dendrobium decision “reeks of state capture”




No comments: