Friday, April 29, 2022

Biden Going Green by Killing Jobs, Strangling Growth with Red Tape

Despite the application of dubious new environmental standards that will cut across numerous executive agencies, the Bidens are with a straight face arguing that this will actually reduce regulations.

There they go again.

The “they” is Team Biden and the “again” is another round of massive regulatory increases that will cost millions of blue-collar jobs and prevent any new energy pipelines and probably new utilities from being built, and virtually stop the construction of new or extended bridges, highways, and tunnels.

The move will significantly raise environmental reviews of all these infrastructure-type projects, completely reversing one of President Trump’s best policies, which streamlined National Environmental Policy Act permits and timetables.

This issue is dear to my heart because Mr. Trump’s infrastructure reforms were developed in the national economic council, where I worked closely with Andrew Olmem and Francis Brooke.

It used to take seven, 10, or even 15 years to get a new building permit through the executive branch. Mr. Trump brought that down to one to two years and took out the excessive, unscientific, radical enviro approval layers.

One of the wonderful things about this new Biden review is that despite the application of dubious new environmental standards that will cut across numerous executive agencies, and therefore cause a huge stall in project decisions, the Bidens are with a straight face arguing that this will actually reduce regulations.

“Restoring these basic community safeguards will provide regulatory certainty, reduce conflict, and help ensure projects get built right the first time,” according to the White House council on environmental quality chairwoman, Brenda Mallory.

Notice, she didn’t say projects would get built on time: She said projects would get built right the first time—which could mean taking forever, or maybe even never happening.

By the way, this executive order makes a mockery of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed with Republican votes last fall. Only about 10 percent of the $1.2 trillion would've gone to bridges, roads, and tunnels anyway, but the Biden executive overreach could shrink those projects to nothing.

Here are a few of the add-ons that are supposed to result in less red tape. First of all, their new enviro impact statement will include a so-called cumulative impact on existing or new projects. Cumulative: That could go back a century or even forward a century. And there's no way to measure it.

This is the reappearance of the radical-left climate activist idea of the social cost of carbon: back a century, forward a century, upstream producers and/or downstream users.

You think anybody could figure that out? They’re just ginning up a high social carbon cost that will lead them to reject any new infrastructure projects. Incidentally, beside the word cumulative, these new regs that are supposed to cut red tape—more regs = less red tape, got it?—will also cover direct and indirect impacts on the environment. These new enviro reviews include the endangered species act, the clean water act, and the clean air act, along with the enviro impact.

This makes a mockery of the infrastructure legislation that came up with the “one federal decision” policy, because all these impacts from carbon, birds—remember the lesser male prairie chicken endangered species flap that endangered the entire Permian Basin oil and gas reservoir?—you add all this up (and for heaven’s sakes we mustn’t forget the EPA, which is chock full of Biden radicals) and you’ll need sign-offs for water and air. The federal highway administration inside the transportation department, which is supposed to make these decisions, will never be able to make them because all these project reviews cover so many agencies that it will take forever.

Let us add, however, that the new rules specify that any new projects—and that includes, let’s say, a widening of a clogged highway somewhere in a high-growth red state, or any construction expansion that was so-called unplanned, whatever that means—will be put at the bottom of the administrators’ pile.

I’m not making this up: It is specified in the fine print.

This being the Bidens, there also will be special attention to so-called disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups. Their new rule supposedly reconnects these communities and groups, but if you can’t build a new highway or bridge or road, or a utility for that matter, how can you connect them? Especially with any new construction being put at the bottom of the pile in the administrator’s inbox.

Going to the top of the pile of this infamous inbox are projects that would help electric vehicles, charging stations, and renewable energy generation. Someone has to help me here, because my free-speech hero, Elon Musk, and his new electric vehicles would presumably ride on new highways.

Yet the federal highway administration won’t build a new highway because it would be new and would have too many environmental problems, cumulatively.

At some point, somebody’s going to take this new Biden executive order to the federal courts and quite possibly the Supremes, because the new rules are a rewrite of the infrastructure law just passed in Congress—and that’s not the role of regulators.

Finally, because all the Biden lefty greenies are once again driving policy, it makes a mockery not only of the just-passed infrastructure bill—that wasn’t very good anyway—and it tells you that the Biden war against fossil fuels is alive and well.

Pipelines will not pass the new review process. Infrastructure for drilling or mining projects—to, let’s say, extract minerals like nickel, copper, and lithium to go into batteries—will be stopped.

The net-net of all this is that millions of hard-hat, blue-collar and related service jobs will be lost. The middle class and those right below it will suffer enormously as a result of the radical enviros in the Biden administration.

Trust me: When it comes to a new project, more review areas covering more federal agencies will not reduce regulation, but will increase it enormously. Mr. Biden’s falsehoods can’t change that. Here’s the good news: The cavalry is coming.


Media are terrorizing public over climate fears

The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) monthly “Healthy Minds” poll recently found that a large percentage of Americans believe their physical and mental health are being negatively impacted by climate change. APA President Vivian Pender, M.D., believes this is a real impact of climate change itself on the population. In reality, what the poll is measuring is the psychological damage generated by the mainstream media’s nearly continuous stream of false, alarming claims that the world faces an “existential” climate crisis.

According to the poll, “58% of adults believe climate change is already impacting the health of Americans and nearly half (48%) agree that it's impacting the mental health of Americans.”

In 2019, a group of more than 170 news organizations and journalists, led by the Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, and The Guardian, teamed up to push “a week’s worth of climate coverage in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23.” Kip Hansen did a nice analysis of the coordinated propaganda event at WattsUpWithThat.

Everyone paying attention knew we were in for much more than just a week’s worth of propaganda. Most likely, we were getting a glimpse behind the curtain.

Climate alarmism has been rampant for decades. However, with the lightning-fast reach of social media and coordinated efforts from businesses eager to get in on the “green gimmies” from government, it has only become worse. When was the last time you heard about a weather event that was not tied to climate change?

Even more worrisome, the poll shows that today’s youth are especially frightened.

Per the APA poll, “Young people were more anxious about climate change. Of those aged 18-34, 66% were anxious about its effect on the planet, 51% were worried about its impact on their mental health, and 59% worried about its impact on future generations. They were also more likely to believe it was already having an effect on the health (64%) and mental health (57%) of Americans.”

I know the power that the education system holds over a young mind. From my earliest encounters with the sciences in school, the idea that we humans were destroying the planet in one way or another was ubiquitous. In middle school, it was very common in science class to calculate your home’s “carbon footprint” for homework assignments. I also had a teacher who berated students for using too much water at home.

To impressionable kids, this is a horribly heavy burden to carry.

Starting in elementary school and going all the way through high school, the lessons are repetitive in a way that makes them feel almost liturgical. In many high school curriculums, including AP (Advanced Placement) sciences, the theory that carbon dioxide is the control knob for Earth’s temperature is not questioned or challenged. A student who does so is in for an uphill battle unless he or she has a very open-minded teacher.

Unfortunately, most kids don’t really question what they’re being taught, to look skeptically at things and wonder if it’s true. It is not that they’re dumb or careless, but they do, by and large, believe that their teachers are trustworthy, that at least what they are being taught is not false.

Nor do I blame most teachers. The textbooks and the curricula include these lessons, why dig too deep? There are, of course, fanatics and radicals among teachers (more and more, it seems). But, who or what created them?

Answer: The media, which greatly amplifies alarmism. If it weren’t for the fevered pitch of anxiety and dire warning laced into every media report of every weather event; every time it is hot (or cold), dry (or wet), climate change would be a scientific area of interest like any other, and countless attribution scientists would be out of work.

The scientific journals play to the media; they boast more and more extreme headline-grabbing studies, and soon enough you get decades of “last chances” to save the planet. Social media has a role in all of this too, almost anyone who defies the climate alarm narrative is censored.

Fortunately the fears of those polled are unwarranted: data show that not only are climate-related deaths way down, most severe weather events are trending downwards too.

Of course, there is always the chance that these poll numbers are total garbage anyway, achieved with leading questions and selection bias. In that case, numbers like these are meant to make those not in these groups feel like they are “outside” the norm, elevating their concerns.

Don’t let the alarmists fool you or your kids. Engage in critical thinking, question the status quo, and always dig into the data.

And for sanity’s sake – turn off the Weather Channel!


"The Conversation" Misleads on Coral Reefs and Solutions to Climate Change

A Google News search for the term “Climate Change” brings up an article by The Conversation, in which two authors associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report make a series of claims, including that climate change is decimating coral reefs, and that renewable energy sources are cheaper than traditional energy. These claims are false.

Most egregiously, the authors make the unsubstantiated claim that half of the world’s coral reefs are dead.

In the article, “Climate change will transform how we live, but these tech and policy experts see reason for optimism,” the authors wrote that, “[A]bout half the world’s coral reef ecosystems have died because of increasing heat and acidity in the oceans.” This is not only false, but also a misleading framing.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and there is simply no evidence that half of the world’s corals are dead. It is possible that half of the world’s corals have experienced some degree of bleaching over the past few decades, but bleaching is not the same as death and most bleached corals have recovered, with coral on the whole expanding their range. The authors provide no verifiable data or specific studies to back up their assertions. The studies that do exist refute them.

Corals are hardy and resilient, having first evolved more than 500 million years ago when the Earth’s temperature was much higher than today. They have survived and expanded through periods of higher and lower temperatures than at present. As discussed at Climate Realism, here, here, and here for example, coral have expanded their range recently and new coral reefs are discovered all the time.

Coral bleaching is a process where corals expel the symbiotic algae that colonize their surface. If another kind of algae does not return, over time the coral might die. Most corals quickly recover. Spectacular cases of corals rebounding occur constantly around the world, such as the case with Coral Castles reef, which was bleached by a 1998 El Niño event. By 2015, much of the reportedly dead coral reef was discovered to be thriving once again. This stunned the experts who devoted their careers to studying it, who at the time predicted the reef would take 100 years to recover. Afterwards the researchers stated in a press release that “Our projections were completely wrong.”

The same has happened to other reefs that suffered during the 1998 El Niño, like a dozen reefs on the Seychelles, which have since mostly recovered.

The Great Barrier reef’s demise has also been greatly exaggerated by alarmists, as shown in these Climate Realism articles here, here, and here.

Nor, as explored in Climate at a Glance: Ocean Acidification, are Earth’s oceans becoming acidic. Since ocean water remains alkaline, corals aren’t being harmed by any change in water chemistry.

The solution to the non-threat to coral reefs and other non-issues, the authors say, is transitioning to “green” energy sources.

“For example, renewable energy is now generally less expensive than fossil fuels, so a shift to clean energy can often save money,” The authors state.

This claim is demonstrably false as well, relying on a poorly organized report on Levelized Costs of Energy (LCOE) produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In the report, the EIA neglects to realistically account for the low-capacity factor, or percentage of the claimed maximum electricity generation, of wind and solar power. The EIA assumes higher efficiency than the real-world data on solar and wind power generation show. Additionally, they do not account for the costs of the backup power supplies needed for when wind and solar don’t work. A thorough analysis of these issues can be found here, written by Willis Eschenbach.

On the real world costs of wind and solar, Eschenbach concludes, “At a bare minimum, it will be the capital cost of the dispatchable backup generator plus some portion of the other fixed, variable, and transmission costs … and that means that because of the costs of the needed backup generators, there is very little chance that solar and wind will ever be competitive with other methods.”

When these factors are added, so-called renewables are far from cheap compared to traditional energy sources. Indeed research consistently shows as states and countries add wind and solar power to their electrical power grid, the costs of electric power rise sharply. Simultaneously, and not coincidentally, the reliability of the power supply declines.

For individuals who make a living studying climate change, the authors of this article in The Conversation apparently know very little about the facts on the ground. They make a multitude of false claims, with those concerning the demise of coral reefs and electricity production being arguably the most egregiously ignorant and misleading. The aim of IPCC researchers should be to accurately inform the public concerning the true state of the climate. For this article, that would require the presentation of more facts and less hyperbolic claims.


Now it's cheeses aandwiches that will kill the planet

In 1979, when the first series of The Food Programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, the show’s presenter asked whether more episodes of it were going to be commissioned. The station’s controller asked in surprise: ‘But won’t you have said everything there is to say about food?’

Apparently not. Today we watch endless TV cookery shows, we fret about food miles, trans fats and calorie counts, and we grow ever fatter, too — 63 per cent of UK adults are now overweight or obese.

For proof of the complexities of the food industry, look no further than 13 Foods That Shape Our World, billed as ‘the first official book’ from The Food Programme, which has now been on air for 43 years. The cover suggests it’s a jolly romp through the history of our most important foods, but it’s actually a long howl of anguish about modern food practices.

Take the sun-kissed Italian tomato: what could be healthier and more cheerful? In fact, many of Italy’s tomatoes are picked by migrants who work in dismal conditions. What’s more, your favourite pasta sauce may not even come from Italy. China is now the world’s major grower and processor of tomatoes and, as long as the paste is repackaged in Italy, it can be labelled as Produce Of Italy. ‘As a tomato lover ... there’s quite a lot to worry about,’ Alex Renton writes mournfully.

Farming cows, sheep and goats for their milk may be ‘as ancient as civilisation’, but Renton tells us disapprovingly that modern dairy farming results in nearly as many ‘climate-damaging emissions’ as global aviation and shipping combined. The ingredients for a cheese sandwich produce more than five times as many harmful emissions as a peanut butter and jam sandwich — but isn’t that stuffed full of sugar?

Renton is rightly scornful of the poor quality of much low-cost massproduced bread, but for anyone planning to bake their own wholemeal additivefree loaf instead, he points out that heating your oven to the right temperature for bread ‘is ten times as costly in terms of emissions of climate - affecting gases as buying one from a shop’.

So what is the eco-conscious foodie to do? The author’s answer to almost all ethical food dilemmas is that we should simply be prepared to pay more for what we consume (and in the case of bread, that means patronising your local artisan bakery).




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