Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Germany's gas crisis generates nuclear dilemma for ruling Greens

German conservative politicians have revived debate on extending the life of the country's three remaining nuclear power plants, and polls show a rise in public support for the energy source in the face of a possible cut-off of Russian gas.

But an extension is highly sensitive for Germany's ruling Greens party, which grew out of the 1970s anti-nuclear movement.

Germany's three remaining nuclear power plants are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year after former chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to halt the use of nuclear electricity after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.

The plants accounted for 6% of Germany's electricity production in the first quarter of 2022.

Debate over keeping the plants running began after Russia's invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24 and prompted Germany to decide to end its heavy reliance on Russian fossil fuel.

Experts from Germany's environment and economy ministries said in March they did not recommend extending the plants' lifetime, citing legal, licensing and insurance challenges, the need for extensive and possibly costly safety checks and a lack of fuel rods to keep the plants running.

An extension would not help the country's electricity output in the coming winter, they found, and the necessary investment and effort would only be justified if the plants' operations were extended for at least five more years until 2028.

But falling Russian gas supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which prompted the government to reconnect on-reserve coal power plants to the grid, and the possibility of an extended outage of the pipeline following routine maintenance that is meant to be completed by July 21 have emboldened pro-nuclear voices in Germany and Europe.

The European Union will next week publish recommendations on how countries can cut gas demand to prepare for winter.

A draft of the recommendations, seen by Reuters, said one option would be to postpone the shutdown of nuclear power plants or switch from gas generation to nuclear where possible.

Last month, a poll by RTL/ntv broadcasters showed some 68% of Germans were in favour of reconsidering the country's nuclear exit. Before the start of the war in Ukraine, a ZDF poll had found only 40% of Germans supported extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants.

But Germany's environment and economy ministries, both run by the Greens, this week said their assessment from March was still valid and that they had not reconsidered their position in light of concerns over gas supply security.

Politicians of the conservative CDU/CSU opposition blame the Greens for the government's resistance to changing its position on the issue, saying it was purely ideological, citing the Greens' roots in the 1970s anti-nuclear movement.

"The Greens prefer to rely on climate-damaging coal-fired power plants ... Inside, they are an anti-nuclear-power party," CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja said.

Czaja said the government could obtain fuel rods from Australia and Canada to keep the plants running, adding he expected Economy Minister Robert Habeck to "move away from ideology".

Responding to the government's nuclear safety concerns, TUEV, a major provider of industrial testing and certification, said it was possible to continue operating the three remaining nuclear power plants from a safety point of view.

"The plants are in a technically excellent condition," Joachim Buehler, managing director at TUEV, told Reuters, adding that an extensive check, which is usually done every 10 years, was necessary but could be done within a few months.


Ignore the greenies: Offshore drilling produces not just oil but fish — and lots of them

“President Biden continues to limit American energy production” while “begging foreign countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia to produce oil for us,” fumes House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. He’s right: More than 70% of oil production on federally governed sites comes from offshore sources, yet 94% of offshore acreage remains off limits to development, the American Petroleum Institute notes.

Environmental superstitions are behind most of this exploration ban. Yet far from an environmental disaster, offshore drilling is an environmental bonanza, as study after study has shown. The science, you might say, is settled.

According to the Energy Information Administration, offshore production in the federally governed portions of the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 17% of US crude oil production. Louisiana alone has more than 3,000 of the 4,000-plus oil-production platforms in the Gulf off its coast, yet it nonetheless is able to supply almost a third of North America’s fisheries.

Surprisingly, Hollywood once hailed the environmental benefits of offshore drilling. The first platforms went up in 1947. By 1953 Hollywood was hailing the pioneering wildcatters who moved mountains to tap this region. In the 1953 movie “Thunder Bay,” Jimmy Stewart plays Steve Martin, the hard-bitten ex-Navy oil engineer who built the first platform off Louisiana. “The brawling, mauling story of the biggest bonanza of them all!” says the Universal ad for the studio’s first widescreen movie.

Stewart’s project at first seemed to clash with the local Cajuns who fished and shrimped in the area. Their livelihood, it seemed obvious at the time, would soon vanish amid irreversible pollution. Yet the flick ends on a happy note, as the fishermen reap a bonanza: The oil structures had served as artificial reefs and led to a bigger haul than ever.

Fast forward half a century and a study by Louisiana’s sea-grant college showed that 70 percent of Louisiana’s offshore fishing trips target these structures.

“Oil platforms as artificial reefs support fish densities 10 to 1,000 times that of adjacent sand and mud bottom, and almost always exceed fish densities found at both adjacent artificial reefs of other types and natural hard bottom,” a University of South Alabama study showed. “Massive areas of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico were essentially empty of red snapper stocks for the first hundred years of the fishery. Subsequently, areas in the western Gulf have become the major source of red snapper, concurrent with the appearance of thousands of petroleum platforms.”

Fact is, “villainous” Big Oil produces more fish than Mother Nature. “The fish biomass around an offshore oil platform is 10 times greater per unit area than for natural coral reefs,” says LSU’s Charles Wilson. Between 10,000 and 30,000 fish live around an oil platform in an area “half the size of a football field.”

“Oh, sure!” comes the Greenie-Weenie retort. “But you’re very conveniently forgetting the infamous BP oil spill!”

Not really: The FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Seafood Inspection Laboratory and numerous other agencies have repeatedly tested Gulf seafood for cancer-causing “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”

“Not a single sample has come anywhere close to levels of concern,” reported Olivia Watkins, executive media advisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

That this proliferation of seafood in the Gulf came because — rather than in spite — of the oil production rattled environmental cages and provoked scoffers, including some Travel Channel producers who’d read these claims in my book “The Helldiver’s Rodeo.” The book describes an undersea panorama that, if true, could make an interesting show, the producers concluded. Yet they scoffed as we dined on raw oysters, grilled redfish and seafood gumbo that night.

Ha! After exploring the waters, they went ahead and produced a program that showcased a panorama, putting the lie to the environmental superstitions. They saw school after school of fish — from 6-inch blennies to 12-foot sharks. Fish by the thousands. Fish by the ton.

The cameramen couldn’t decide what to focus on first: The shoals of barracuda? That cloud of jacks? The immense schools of snapper? We had close-ups, too, of coral and sponges, the very things disappearing off Florida’s pampered reefs, even though it bans offshore drilling.

So it’s not just badly needed oil these rigs produce. Turns out they’re great for the food supply and great for the environment as well. The naysayers are out of excuses.


Pennsylvania’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Relies on Faulty Data – Why RGGI is a “solution in search of a problem”

The Governor and other officials have relied heavily on the state’s Climate Action Plans and specifically on the 2018 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan3 in order to support their claims of current and future devastating impacts of continued CO2-driven warming. Assertions in the Climate Action Plan are refuted by the analysis of Gregory Wrightstone, Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition and an expert reviewer for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report (IPCC – AR6).

Because of DEP’s flawed climatic analysis, the agency’s predictions of drought, flooding and other extreme weather events have no scientific basis.


DEP’s projection of increased flooding is contradicted by data from the Ohio, Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers that show a decline in the size of flood crests in the last 100 years even though the average precipitation has increased by three inches. Although Governor Wolf makes much of Susquehanna River flooding in 2018, that event ranks 31st in the list of greatest floods at Harrisburg and only slightly more than half of the magnitude of the 1972 flood from Tropical Storm Agnes. The IPCC says it “can discern no connection between a modest increase in temperature and any change in flooding worldwide.”

Heat Waves

A DEP projection of more heat waves is contrary to data showing a peak in the country’s hot weather occurring in the 1920s and 1930s before CO2 levels began increasing following World War II.

Health Risks from Pollution

DEP’s projection of health risks from air and water pollution are inconsistent with data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing double-digit percentage decreases in pollution. Air and water today are cleaner than in more than 100 years and getting cleaner every year. According to the EPA, nationally, concentrations of air pollutants have dropped significantly since 1990.

Flooding in Southeastern Pennsylvania from Rising Sea Level

According to DEP’s Climate Assessment, Delaware River Basin communities (including Philadelphia) can expect more frequent flooding and associated disruptions due to sea-level rise that presumably is caused by anthropogenic warming. Fortunately, historical data suggest that is unlikely.

Global sea levels have been rising for over 200 years, long before humans began adding prodigious amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere in the mid-20th century, and oceans are likely to continue to rise whether RGGI is adopted or rejected. Having successfully already adapted to possibly as much as two feet of sea-level rise over the last two centuries, Philadelphia — with modern technology and capabilities — can expect to easily adapt to the projected six to eight inches of rise between now and 2100.

Agricultural Damage

DEP predicts damage to Pennsylvania agriculture, but actual data shows improvements in farm production. Pennsylvania is no different than most of the rest of the globe, which is benefiting from a moderate rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and natural warming. Over the last 50 years there have been increases in the length of growing seasons and crop production and an overall greening of Earth.

RGGI’s Flawed Use of Climate and CO2-Emission Models

Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, Senior Fellow for the CO2 Coalition and Competitive Enterprise Institute and Past President of the American Association of State Climatologists, found that all but one of 102 computer models used in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) Climate Action Plan “failed dramatically” in representing how the climate behaved in the past. He suggested that it would have been preferable for the state to have used the one model that more accurately reflected past climatic conditions than to have averaged the results of all 102 irrespective of their accuracy.

In addition, the Pennsylvania analysis uses a CO2-emission model that assumes an unrealistic increase in the use of coal that exceeds some estimates of the quantity of recoverable coal reserves. Correcting for the state’s reliance on flawed analyses reduces the predicted warming by 2050 to less than two degrees Fahrenheit from the state’s projection of 5.4 degrees.

Even if Pennsylvania were to reduce its emissions from electricity to zero, Dr. Michaels says any reduction in temperature or in sea-level rise would be too small to measure.

The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan report, which serves as the basis for Governor Wolf’s RGGI proposal, needs to be dramatically revised, and should no longer be used as the basis for any policy proposals in its present form, concludes Dr. Michaels.

RGGI’s Flawed Economics

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to enter RGGI will be economically damaging and provide no environmental benefits, according to a June 2021 analysis by David T. Stevenson, Director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the Delaware-based Caesar Rodney Institute. The findings are consistent with what Mr. Stevenson found in a 2018 peer-reviewed report published by the Cato Institute.

Mr. Stevenson’s recent analysis says the Wolf administration’s 2020 “Pennsylvania RGGI Modeling Report” predicts economic and environmental benefits on the basis of flawed assumptions. For example, emission reductions are likely overstated in the modeling report because Pennsylvania reductions in fossil fuel use will most likely be replaced by fossil fuel power plants in other states as electric generation and demand from energy-intensive manufacturing shift away from Pennsylvania.

“The assumptions used in the report are flawed as are the forecasted outcomes,” said Mr. Stevenson, author of more than 100 analytic reports. “Using information learned from the decade-old RGGI program it is clear emissions will not be reduced globally, electric rates will rise, and there will be billions of dollars of economic damage if Pennsylvania joins RGGI.”

Mr. Stevenson projects tax losses of $282 million from the economic damage to exceed the $261 million in estimated receipts from the sale of emission allowances. The losses break down as follows: $92 million in corporate income taxes, $102 million in personal income taxes and $88 million in utility gross receipts taxes.

According to the 2018 Stevenson report, RGGI had no effect on carbon dioxide reductions — nor any supposed health benefits when other factors are considered: the effects of regulatory and market forces and the quantity of emissions exported to other states by the importation of power into RGGI states.

The conclusions of the Stevenson report include the following:

RGGI does not lower global emissions. Any cuts in Pennsylvania will likely show up in other nearby states as electric demand is expected to remain constant across the region.

Pennsylvania — now a large exporter of electricity — could lose as much as $2 billion a year in electricity sales to other states at a cost of 1,400 jobs in electric generation.
Lost coal and natural gas production could total $1.1 billion a year at a cost of 3,500 jobs a year.

Based on the experience of RGGI states, higher electricity prices from Gov. Wolf’s carbon tax could result in a loss of approximately 17,000 jobs in the energy intensive manufacturing sector.

Total loss to the Pennsylvania economy from the state’s participation in RGGI could be as high as $7.7 billion a year and more than 22,000 jobs, with the economic loss between 2022 and 2030 over $50 billion.

There would be a net loss in tax revenue as the estimated $261 million generated by the sale of RGGI emission allowances would be more than offset by $282 million lost in lower collections of the corporate income tax, personal income tax and utility gross receipts tax.

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Climate Change, the art of sophistry

Sophistry is the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Climate alarmists who know the world is not coming to an imminent end (and that they aren’t going to save the planet from apocalyptic destruction), are creating clever – but false – arguments.

There are plenty of them around in the ranks of the World Economic Forum, United Nations, and the world’s political parties. They are, to their eternal shame, exponents of the subtle art of sophistry.

These people continually end sentences with words like ‘climate action’, ‘tackle Climate Change’, and ‘climate is an existential threat’. This juxtaposition of words should not be used together in any sentence in the English language. They make no sense yet have become modern catchphrases.

The best way to combat the vagueness of climate alarmism is to present facts and specificity. Start with declaring what Climate Change is in clear English. Put simply, it is a change in government energy policy.

What is the estimated cost of changing energy policy from fossil fuel, oil and gas to wind and solar?

In 2018, a Yale University study in America estimated their cost of conversion to a new energy policy would be $4.5 trillion. Therefore, the ridiculous dismissal of cost by the Australian Labor-Green-Teal alliance is questionable.

In the recent Federal election, changing energy policy was taken out of the debate. The then Liberal government committed to the nebulous 2050 emission reduction target and a 35 per cent emission reduction by 2030 thus making changing energy policy a by-partisan approach. The current Labor government and all state governments are committing to even more ambitious changes to energy policies.

The costing of the changing energy policy was not debated because it was not an election issue. Nor was the potential harm to standards of living for almost all Australians.

The Labor government does not wave a magic wand and gift us a different energy infrastructure. There is a costly and onerous transition period that will have significant economic ramifications.

The good news is that there are in place principles of economics. These principles can assist in an educated and advanced society to calculate and plan efficiently such transitions over a period of time. Once we eliminate the alarmist rhetoric, we can establish that time is on our side and one of our greatest allies in changes to the energy policy.

Every major government policy change involves a cost-benefit analysis, yet the detail is lacking in the new Labor government regarding energy policy changes. The Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has a template of the major steps in a cost-benefit analysis which requires you to follow a logical sequence of nine steps. Step 5 of that logical sequence is referred to as ‘Monetise (place dollar values on) impacts’. Step 6 is ‘Discount future costs and benefits to obtain present values’. In other words, how will the cost of the change in energy policy impact on our current interest rates and current inflation?

If such a cost-benefit analysis has been conducted, why is it not made available for debate and scrutiny? If it has not been conducted, then all sides of a responsible Parliament should be demanding such an analysis.

If there is to be a policy shift from fossil fuel, petroleum, and natural gas to wind and solar energy what will be the impact of the products currently made from fossil fuels?

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) at least 144 products used commonly in the community come from fossil fuel. Each of those products produce other products and this multiplier effect penetrates almost every aspect of society until the effect of fossil fuels reaches thousands of products. This list was done in 2013 and has been growing ever since as new inventions are created.

The list contains such items as clothing, motor vehicle bodies, and parts, car tyres (and not just fuel-injected cars but electric motor vehicles as well), parts for white goods, water pipes, cortisone, aspirin, antiseptics (what will happen if there is another Covid breakout), fertilisers, house paint, eyeglasses, artificial limbs, dentures, heart valves, and the list go on and on.

Fossil fuel and petroleum products have a significant impact on our food supplies and every doctor’s surgery, hospital, and operating theatre has equipment that owes its existence to fossil fuels in some way.

Consider for example a factory manufacturing site. Almost every item of machinery owes its existence in some way to fossil fuel. The more the federal Labor government and state governments phase out fossil fuel the scarcer the items of production become. The scarcer, the more expensive and the greater cost of production. The greater the cost of production the greater the end price to the consumer. Multiply this by almost every consumable item in the Australian market and the result is economic disaster.

The Labor government must have a costed plan for this potential outcome. If they have, they should make it public. If they have not, it would be an extraordinary act of irresponsibility.

Governments in Australia seem to have confined principles of economics to the desk drawer never to see the light of day. They are also not interested in science. One of our best scientists, Professor Ian Plimer has written extensively opposing the climate apocalypse theory and in an article in May 2022 he scientifically showed that Australia is already at Net Zero emissions.

Prime Minister Albanese was asked, ‘What do you want your legacy as Prime Minister to be?’

His one-word response was, ‘Climate.’

He may be poor at the art of sophistry, but it is sophistry, nevertheless.




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