Monday, December 27, 2021

'Green' Industries The Biggest Corporate Welfare Recipients Ever

How much do solar, wind and electric vehicle companies get in federal handouts and tax loopholes in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill? Well over $100 billion in taxpayer largesse. If all the tax credits are included, that number could reach half a trillion dollars. No other industry in American history has ever received this lucrative a paycheck.

The folks at the Institute for Energy Research calculated that this is on top of the more than $150 billion in subsidies these industries received from Uncle Sam in the last 30 years.

The umbilical cord to taxpayer wallets never gets cut. Yet, laughably, the left says all these subsidies to “green energy” are necessary for an “infant industry.” Really? Does Big Wind or Big Solar ever grow up?

Incidentally, our ancestors were using windmills and solar panels during the Middle Ages.

So why do these renewable energies get so much money from Congress, and why do Democrats want to give them the biggest payday in the history of

the Washington favor factory? Not because renewable has great promise. Thirty years after the handouts started, wind and solar accounted for less than 8% of our total energy production. It’s inconsequential.

If we taxpayers are “investors” in green energy, we’d be wondering where our return is at this point. Wind and solar costs are going down, but not nearly as fast as the cost reductions in natural gas, thanks to the shale revolution.

But now the left is trying to save its latest round of gargantuan welfare checks by arguing that the higher costs of oil and gas at the pump show that these energy sources prove that we can’t rely on fossil fuels.

It is reminiscent of the story of the boy who kills his parents and throws himself at the mercy of the court for being an orphan. Oil and gas prices are rising because Biden and the left have declared war on American fossil fuels. They aren’t allowing drilling. They instead are passing new “methane” taxes and not building pipelines.

Now liberals shake their fingers at the producers and accuse them of gouging consumers as they assault the added American oil and gas supply that would lower the prices to fill up your tank and heat your home. They are now starting a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in Washington, paid for by taxpayers, telling us that the high gas prices the Biden administration wants mean we have to stop using gas.

The irony of all of this is that the reliance on green energy subsidies is one good reason for so little technological progress in renewable energy. We’d perhaps see more innovation if the industry had to fight on a level playing field.

Democrats in Congress keep doling out the dollars because the green energy industry gives 90% of its contributions to Democrats. It is nothing more than a pay-to-play gambit.

If wind and solar are the low-cost energy sources of the future, why do they need so much government aid? Will they ever take the training wheels off?

After three decades, maybe it is time to admit the obvious: Wind and solar are niche energy sources that will not anytime soon, and probably never, provide anywhere near the energy we need for our $22 trillion industrial economy.


EPA Focused on Gender, Ethnic Diversity to Fill ‘Purged’ Advisory Posts

After the Environmental Protection Agency dumped advisers from regulated industries, the federal agency appears to have prioritized gender and ethnic diversity to replace them, EPA documents show.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments Wednesday in the case of Young vs. EPA. The lead plaintiff in the case, Stanley Young, was ousted in March from the EPA’s Science Advisory Board weeks after President Joe Biden took office.

Young’s lawsuit identifies the EPA panels in question as the Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.

Lawyers argued Wednesday before District Judge Timothy Kelly.

According to an EPA memo from June that emerged through the discovery process in the lawsuit, the clean air committee was to be made up of “three minorities, four non-minorities, five women and four men.”

The EPA memo goes on to say that two of the women “would bring gender diversity” and two would “bring gender and ethnic diversity as well as fresh perspectives.”

After the Biden administration “purged” members from EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, the complaint says, it moved to replace them with members who represent entities that get EPA grants.

The plaintiffs say the action violates the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires that each board or committee must be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the advisory committee.”

Moreover, the Biden administration reversed the Trump administration’s conflict-of-interest ban on employees of grant recipients serving on advisory boards.

Gender and racial composition of advisory panels was not part of the law, noted Steve Milloy, senior policy fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and author of the book “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA.”

“Gender and race wasn’t part of the complaint originally, but the information became clear during discovery that the EPA was less concerned with diversity of opinion than with diversity [of race and gender],” Milloy told The Daily Signal.

More importantly, Milloy said, advisory committees for federal agencies are not supposed to be made up only of like-minded individuals—particularly those receiving grants from the agency they advise.

“When Congress mandated the EPA take independent advice, they didn’t anticipate the EPA stacking the membership with one point of view,” Milloy said after watching the court hearing. “The depths of the stacking are incredible. So many are grantees.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan ousted Young and other members of the advisory committees in March.

Young previously worked for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co., consumer health care company GlaxoSmithKline, and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences.

Regan also booted Tony Cox, who had been chairman of the clean air committee. Cox joined Young as a plaintiff in the suit in late October.

A June memo from Thomas Brennan, director of the Science Advisory Board’s staff office, said: “As part of Administrator Regan’s reset of CASAC [Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee] membership, all seven CASAC members were dismissed on March 31, 2021. A public solicitation of nominations and public comments on prospective candidates have been completed.”

According to EPA’s website, the clean air committee is managed by the Science Advisory Board’s staff.

Brennan’s memo goes on to say: “In this membership package, CASAC has three minorities, four non-minorities, five women and four men. CASAC also has members from six of the agency’s 10 regions.”

Brennan then writes that appointing Elizabeth A. Sheppard, as chair of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee would “bring gender diversity.”

Sheppard is a professor in two departments–environmental and occupational health sciences and biostatistics–at the University of Washington. Brennan also notes her “significant experience” chairing such panels before.

In a declaration to the court, Sheppard wrote: “I do not currently have any grant funding from the EPA,” but added that “EPA grants have paid a portion of my salary through awards made to the University of Washington.”

The EPA panel chair adds: “I cannot imagine any circumstance where receipt of a grant would influence or has influenced in any way my activities on CASAC or any other EPA panels.”

The memo said that Michelle Bell, a professor of environmental health at the Yale University School of the Environment, “Would bring gender diversity.” It also said she has expertise in biostatistics and environmental engineering.

Brennan’s memo also says Judith Chow, a research professor at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, has expertise in air quality, is a former committee member, and would “bring gender and ethnic diversity.”

Christine H. Fuller, an associate professor of environmental health at Georgia State University, has expertise in epidemiology and the health effects of air pollution, according to the memo.

Brennan says that Fuller would “bring gender and ethnic diversity as well as fresh perspectives,” because she hasn’t served on the clean air panel before.

The EPA staff director’s memo says that Alexandra Ponette-Gonz├ílez, an associate professor of geography and the environment at the University of North Texas, has expertise in ecology. She would “bring gender and ethnic diversity as well as fresh perspectives,” he says.

The clean air committee has only seven members and cannot possibly include a representative for every stakeholder that would be affected by any potential regulation, argued John Robinson, a Justice Department trial attorney representing the EPA in court.

“The plaintiffs have not shown the agency abused its discretion to select the committee,” Robinson said, adding: “The plaintiffs would have the court rewrite the statute for a requirement that there be an industry representative when Congress specifically declined to do so. … The plaintiff emphasized a race and sex discrimination claim here. There is no basis in the administrative record for such a claim.”

Biden issued an executive order directing the EPA to take immediate action to address climate change, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Brett Shumate, said in his opening argument Wednesday.

“Rather than follow the science, the EPA purged any dissenting industry voices from an important advisory committee on air pollution,” Shumate said, adding:

What’s worse is that in reconstituting the committee, EPA engaged in discrimination on the basis of race and sex. … The EPA purged from the committee any industry representatives and packed the committee with professors who receive millions of dollars in EPA grants and share EPA’s predetermined goal of strengthening air quality standards.

The plaintiffs asked the judge for a preliminary injunction to stop the clean air committee from moving forward. Shumate stressed that balanced opinions was the only factor EPA was required to consider in appointing members to the advisory committee.

“The EPA ignored this factor and instead reconstituted the committee on the basis of irrelevant and improper fact—the race and sex of the nominee,” he said.


Tory MPs urge Boris Johnson to rethink green taxes after poll blow

TORY MPs are urging Boris Johnson to rethink green taxes after a poll showed three out of five people don't want to pay higher fuel bills to hit the Government's carbon-cutting targets.

Fifty-eight per cent of voters did not want increased levies on their fuel bills to support the push for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Nearly half (49 per cent) of Labour and Green Party voters were among those opposed to the tax rise.

And 65 per cent of respondents to the ComRes survey felt they had not been given an adequate say.

Senior backbencher Craig Mackinlay, chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tory MPs, said: "As I've been saying for some time, I didn't become a Conservative to make my constituents colder and poorer.

"It's clear, looking at these figures, that the British public are not signed up to the Government's plans.

"The majority don't feel that grants for air pumps or electric cars are either relevant to them, or more fundamentally needed to nudge them towards unreliable technologies they don't want, and there is real worry about the ever-increasing costs of energy bills.

"We need to be very careful about just whose shoulders are going to be carrying the very considerable costs of Net Zero."

Tory MP Steve Baker, who heads the steering committee of the scrutiny group, said: "I've warned that the cost of Net Zero could deliver a political crisis greater than the Poll Tax, and these figures show that the Government is heading straight for such an eventuality.

"Grants for air pumps and electric cars are all very well, but how many people can actually afford to pay all the additional costs?"

The poll was commissioned by Net Zero Watch, a pressure group that scrutinises carboncutting policies. It claimed yesterday that the response showed green levies were threatening to become the most unpopular form of taxation since the Poll Tax under Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s.

Board members of the group include the formerTory chancellor Lord Lawson, who has been sceptical about many climate change claims.

Benny Peiser, director of Net Zero Watch, said:

"Whilst these are not shocking figures to us, they should ring alarm bells in Number 10. Millions of families will be struggling to keep their homes warm and their cars running this winter.

"Fuel prices continue to soar and the burden of these energy costs will fall on the elderly and the low paid."

Other findings showed 30 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds felt their voices had been heard on the issue of Net Zero while only 10 per cent of over- 45s felt they'd had sufficient input.

More than 60 per cent of voters quizzed did not believe they would benefit from green subsidies, including grants to replace gas boilers or buy electric vehicles.

Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,176 adults on December 11.


British politicians should be ashamed of their opposition to fracking. While gas prices are soaring in Europe, in the US they have barely moved thanks to its shale sector

Factories may have to close. Power may need to be rationed. And we may well have to make painful concessions to the Russian president Vladimir Putin on Ukraine simply to keep the lights on. Meanwhile, industrial conglomerates such as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos, among the biggest manufacturing businesses the UK has left, are facing a huge financial hit. The whole of Europe, and Britain just as much as anywhere, is gripped by a worsening gas crisis with prices soaring by the day.

But hold on. If only there was a plentiful supply of energy close to home, and we didn’t have to rely on a foreign autocrat, or a volatile global market, for supplies. Except, of course, there was. Rewind just a decade and Europe was on the cusp of a fracking boom.

There are vast quantities of shale oil and gas in the North of England, and even more in France and Poland. The trouble is, our political leaders shamefully caved into a handful of environmental extremists, and let it be effectively stopped. We are paying a high price for that now – and the very least we can do is learn the right lessons from that.

It looks set to be a tough winter for the European energy market. In the last week alone, gas prices have jumped by more than 20pc, hitting fresh all-time highs. Power-intensive industries such as chemicals are already feeling the strain. So are domestic consumers, with more suppliers going broke by the week, and with those that remain set to increase prices sharply very soon. We all know the reasons for that.

Supplies of natural gas from Russia have fallen, the market for LNG arriving on tankers from countries such as Qatar has become very tight, and storage facilities have been allowed to run down. The result? A classic bear market squeeze, with prices spiralling. A few hedge funds that called it right will be reporting vast profits very soon. Everyone else will suffer, and there are already calls for yet another expensive government bailout to cover the cost.

Here is something odd, however. While gas prices are soaring in Europe, in the US they have barely moved. Measured by oil barrel equivalent, US gas is at slightly over $70, compared with more than $220 on this side of the Atlantic. The difference? The Americans turn their thermostats down? They put on an extra couple of jumpers? Not exactly. In fact, they use more power than we do. But the US has a huge shale industry, with industrial scale fracking. And we don’t.

That is not because there is any shortage of shale oil and gas. In truth, there is tons of the stuff. The Bowland Shale Reserve that stretches across the North of England is estimated to hold 37 trillion cubic metres of oil and gas. There is plenty more in the Weald Basin in the South, stretching from Tunbridge Wells to Winchester, and even more in Scotland and Northern Ireland. France has vast reserves (an estimated 137 trillion cubic feet) and Poland has even more. In short, there is plenty.

The problem is no one is allowed to extract it. France decided on a total ban in 2017, a decision upheld by President Emmanuel Macron, while in this country it has been put on hold more or less indefinitely, as it has across most of the rest of Europe.

And yet, what was the real harm? The only genuine problem with fracking in the US is that for most of the last few years, prices haven’t been high enough to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, it has been completely successful. The country hasn’t been ravaged by earthquakes, nor has it damaged unborn babies, to take just a couple of the scare stories put out by its opponents. It has been just fine.

In reality, the anti-frackers that dominated the debate make the anti-vaxxers look like pillars of scientific rationality by comparison. They peddled a toxic mixture of alarmism and conspiracy theories that were completely untroubled by evidence or reason. It is even relatively clean.

There is some evidence fracking emits a higher level of methane, which would put it on a par with coal (still mainly used in Germany and Poland) but the mainstream consensus is that it is roughly the same as natural gas. If we had developed it, the only difference would be that it would have created jobs and wealth in this country, instead of Russia, prices would have been stable, and we wouldn’t have to make any concessions to Mr Putin. Would that have been a terrible outcome?

Instead, our political leaders caved in to a handful of extreme environmental activists, dead set against any form of industrial development, and stopped its development right across Europe.

In reality, we have created this whole crisis in a fit of virtue signalling. We need to learn the lessons of what is fast turning into one of the most catastrophic policy mistakes of recent times. Sure, medium-term we want to switch to clean, renewable energy.

Wind and solar power should be providing the bulk of our energy, and the technology is coming on stream to make that both achievable and affordable by the 2030s. And yet, that will take some time. Until then we could have been fracking our way to energy security. The harsh truth is that again and again, a timid policy establishment meekly gives in to extreme views, and sacrifices the medium-term interests of industry and households for a few short-term headlines.

The UK is guilty of that, and so is the whole of Europe. If we do end up sitting in the dark this winter, and the factories do get closed, it will be entirely our own fault.





Tim Gilley said...

Re: Green welfare.

If this madness continues green technology will be mandated by governments not because it's good, but precisely because it sucks.

Tones said...

And are environmentalists sponsored by Putin?