Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Germany To Reconnect First Coal Power Plant To Energy Grid

Germany drank the green Kool-Aid as they shut down traditional sources of energy, while fantasizing that windmills and solar panels could sustain their society. Now faced with massive energy shortages and the prospects of a very cold winter coming up, they are reconnecting a coal-fired power plant to the energy grid. The ‘greens’ are up in arms and would apparently rather freeze to death.

While the economic powerhouse of Europe — so called — scrambles to secure energy sources before the winter months, the previously shuttered Mehrum coal power plant in Lower Saxony will become the first to once again be connected to Germany’s grid.

On Monday, the manager of the Czech-owned EGH operating company, Kathrin Voelkner said: “We have declared the return to the electricity market. We assume that we will return to the grid in the short term,” according to the Frankfurter Neue Presse newspaper.

The move was preceded by the federal government implementing an emergency ordinance to allow mothballed oil and coal-powered plants to open back up until April of next year, as the country faces a shortfall in its energy amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a leading member of the German Greens, has described the decision to turn back on coal plants as “bitter” but a necessary evil.

While the government has allowed for the return to coal power, the socialist SPD-led traffic light coalition government has so far refused to abandon its decision to shut its remaining nuclear power plants by the end of the year, a move that followed years of anti-nuclear policies from former Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Fukushima meltdown in Japan.

The co-leader of The Greens, Ricarda Lang has said that a return to nuclear power “will not happen, on our watch at least.”

Lang said that there was a “lack of seriousness” in the debate surrounding nuclear, which she described as a “highly risky technology,” despite nuclear power being one of the safest major energy sources in the world.

“But we need answers that actually suit the problem,” the Green politician continued. “We have a warmth problem, not an electricity problem,” she claimed, despite gas still being used for energy production.

Others have disagreed with the anti-nuclear stance of the government, including Saxony Prime Minister Michael Kretschmerhas, who declared last week that the green agenda has failed.

“The energy transition with gas as the base load has failed,” he said while calling for the remaining nuclear power stations to remain open during the crisis.

Despite longstanding warnings from figures such as former President Donald Trump, the country has remained heavily reliant on Russia for gas. While Russia has claimed that the current shortfalls in gas shipments have come as a result of technical issues with the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, others have suggested that it is a retaliatory strike in response to sanctions levied against Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Presently, the biggest concern facing Germany is potential blackouts during the winter, which could lead to dangerous situations, particularly for elderly people, something the so-called ‘greens’ seem unconcerned about.

However, some cities have already begun putting rationing measures in place, including Hanover, which became the first major European city this week to place limits on hot water use in public buildings.


Va. Ratepayers to Front Costs for $9.8B Offshore Wind Farm

The State Corporation Commission (SCC), which regulates public utilities, recently approved a new Dominion Energy-backed $9.8 billion offshore wind farm, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project (CVOW), 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Unsurprisingly, Virginia ratepayers will pay more to “transition” away from fossil fuels as stipulated by the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act—Virginia’s “Green New Deal” signed into law by former Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA). Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has pledged to repeal the VCEA but can’t unless Republicans retake the State Senate next year.

The project’s supporters claim the 176 planned wind turbines will each produce “14.7 megawatts” to power upwards of 660,000 homes.

But there are major problems befalling the project.

Most notably, the CVOW contains a “revenue requirement of $78.702 million for the rate year of September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023, to be recovered through a new rate adjustment clause (Rider OSW).” The Rider OSW, the SCC noted, will have a base monthly bill increase of $4.72 but a peak monthly bill increase of $14.22.

Isn’t clean energy like wind supposed to help lower costs? It doesn’t here. Talk about unreliability.

This year alone, many Virginians will pay a solar tariff amounting to $20 in additional electricity costs. This is compounded by Dominion Energy’s request to charge its five million Virginia customers seven percent more across three years to reportedly combat inflation. Another estimate, however, points to the electric utility potentially raising fees by 12 to 20%.

Given this, the CVOW isn’t a cost-savings measure.

As electricity prices continue to soar, how would this expensive project be a remedy to include in the Commonwealth’s power grid? It isn’t.

Virginia already has two offshore wind turbines that cost $300 million. Has wind’s inclusion been reflected in the power grid? Has it led to our energy bills decreasing? Hardly.

Per the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Virginia’s was predominantly powered by natural gas (61%) followed by nuclear (29%), biomass (6%) and coal (4%). No mention or listing of solar and wind.

Obviously, natural gas and nuclear are still king in Virginia. Why discourage their use in favor of unreliable solar and wind?

The CVOW’s costs and limited electricity generation aren't the only red flags. The project’s potential negative environmental impact has yet to be seriously discussed and considered.

Here’s an inconvenient truth: offshore wind farms (OWFs) greatly interfere with fish migration patterns.

Oceanography, a magazine of the Oceanography Society, noted OWFs may act as artificial reefs but boast many ecological consequences like turning some OWFs into “no-go areas”— thereby making them “no-take zones.” The magazine also notes there could be adverse effects to “sensory environment related to sound, as well as electromagnetic fields and physical alterations of current and wind wakes, may have as yet unknown impacts on fisheries resources.”

The Energy Department even conceded wind turbines have adverse environmental impacts, writing, “As with all energy supply options, wind energy can have adverse environmental impacts, including the potential to reduce, fragment, or degrade habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Furthermore, spinning turbine blades can pose a threat to flying wildlife like birds and bats.”

Governor Youngkin broadly supports wind energy, but didn’t join an 11-state partnership with the Biden administration aimed at shoring up offshore wind development.

In June, five of Youngkin’s cabinet members wrote a letter to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) warning future leasing areas not “impact or restrict maritime commerce or commercial navigation within the federal channels into the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, The Port of Virginia's facilities, Chesapeake Bay anchorages, the Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes and its port approaches as well as traditional and projected high-density maritime traffic routes.”

Where are the Virginia environmental groups opposing the project on conservation grounds? Sadly, they’re all-in for it.

Lest Virginians forget: The CVOW is owned and operated by Dominion Energy—the same utility company whose CEO pumped money into a shadowy political action committee (PAC) that tried to depress turnout ahead of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election.

Governor Youngkin shouldn’t forget Dominion’s meddling in his race. But since the project is tied to the VCEA, much can’t be done—for now. Unless Virginians start voicing their concerns.

The SCC couldn’t reject the project, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reported, “The commission was constrained by the General Assembly from rejecting the project, which the legislature declared two years ago to be in the public interest. But the constitutionally independent regulatory body ordered Dominion to abide by a performance guarantee to protect consumers from additional costs if the farm of 176 wind turbines doesn’t perform as the company predicts.”

Nevertheless, these consumer protections aren’t enough to assuage concerns.

Virginia shouldn’t gamble on the CVOW, no matter how economically attractive it sounds. Let’s hope the SCC eventually pulls the plug on the project.


The Big Green Lie Almost Everyone Claims to Believe

Almost every member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, pays homage to the Big Green Lie. So do all the past and remaining Conservative candidates vying to be prime minister of the UK and every candidate currently vying for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. So does virtually all of the mainstream press.

The Big Green Lie—that carbon dioxide is a pollutant—is so pervasive that even those considered skeptics—including right-wing NGOs and pundits—generally adhere to the orthodoxy, differing not in their stated belief that CO2 is a pollutant but only in how calamitous a pollutant it is.

Because everyone now participates in the “CO2 emissions are bad” lie, the debate over climate policy hasn’t been over whether a CO2 problem exists but over how urgently CO2 needs to be addressed, and how it should be addressed. Do we have eight years left before Armageddon becomes inevitable or decades? Do we get off fossil fuels by building nuclear plants or wind turbines? Should we change our lifestyles to need less of everything? Or should we mitigate this evil—the view of those deemed climate minimalists—by shielding our continents from a rising of the oceans by enclosing them behind sea walls?

With almost everyone across the political spectrum publicly agreeing that curbing CO2 is a good thing, the debate has been between those who want to do good quickly by reaching net-zero in 2040 and sticks in the mud who want to slow down the doing of a good thing. With discourse careening down rabbit holes, almost everyone gets lost pursuing solutions to Alice-in-Wonderland delusions—and wasting trillions of dollars in the process.

Until the 2000s, when climate change was still called global warming and the mainstream media still noticed that none of the myriad predictions of a climate catastrophe were being borne out—the polar caps weren’t melting, Manhattan wasn’t about to be submerged, malaria wasn’t infecting the Northern Hemisphere—many exposed man-made climate change as a hoax. The leaked Climategate emails revealed how scientists had conspired to “hide the decline” in temperatures that didn’t conform to their models.

The claim that 97 percent of scientists supported the global warming theory was exposed as a fraud, as was the claim that the 4,000 scientists associated with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) endorsed its report—those 4,000 hadn’t endorsed it, and most hadn’t even read it but had merely reviewed parts of the report and often disagreed with what they read.

The claim that the “science was settled” on climate change never withstood scrutiny. Scientists around the world signed a series of petitions to dispute that claim. The 2008 Oregon Petition, spearheaded by a former president of the National Academy of Science and championed by Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein’s successor at Princeton and one of the world’s most preeminent scientists, was signed by more than 31,000 scientists and experts who agreed that “the proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.… Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

What is settled is the abject failure of the three-decade-long attempt by the bureaucracies of the 195 countries of the IPCC to convince anyone other than themselves, a credulous media, and a relatively few gullible people that climate change represents an existential threat. Poll after poll over the decades shows the public gives climate change short shrift when asked to rank its importance.

A Gallup poll released last week that asked Americans, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” found that climate change didn’t meet its criteria of the many issues worth listing. As Gallup noted: “Many parts of the nation have suffered record heat in recent weeks, and other regions have received record flooding. But a low 3% of Americans mention the weather, the environment or climate change as the nation’s top problem.”

So, too, last month, where “just 1 percent of voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll named climate change as the most important issue facing the country … [and] even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue, that figure was 3 percent.”


19 GOP Attorneys General threaten $10 trillion hedge fund BlackRock with antitrust action over ESG stranglehold on U.S. energy production

By Robert Romano

A group of 19 Republican Attorneys General led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson have threatened the $10 trillion hedge fund BlackRock with antitrust legal action in an Aug. 4 letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink accusing the company of “intentionally restrain[ing] and harm[ing] the competitiveness of the energy markets” with its market dominance of retirement investments.

Brnovich and Peterson added, “coordinated conduct with other financial institutions to impose net-zero [carbon emissions by 2050] … raises antitrust concerns. Group boycotts, restraining trade, or concerted refusals to deal, ‘clearly run afoul of’ Section 1 of the Sherman Act [according to the Supreme Court]. Section 1 prohibits ‘[e]very … combination … , or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce.’ Regarding the definition of a ‘combination,’ the Supreme Court has held that this language prohibits ‘concerted action.’”

Those are fighting words. Here, Brnovich, Peterson and the other GOP Attorneys General lay out a case that BlackRock’s push for net zero carbon emissions, through its coordinated efforts with investment banks via Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) funds to restrict the flow of capital to carbon-based energies like oil and coal, are engaged in a type of anticompetitive collusion prohibited by federal antitrust laws.

ESG investing has increased dramatically in the past two decades via private retirement funds regulated under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) thanks to a regulation by the Obama Labor Department in 2015 allowing ESG investments into tax-exempt retirement savings accounts, and also by individually directed tax-free retirement accounts. A 2020 regulation by the Trump administration to water that down was promptly overturned by the Biden Administration.

In addition, the $762 billion federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal employee retirees began investing in ESG funds in 2022, following state government employee retirement funds in California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland and Oregon.

As a result, ESG is said to be worth $41 trillion this year globally, and $50 trillion by 2025, about one-third of all assets under management, according to Bloomberg.

U.S. corporations appear to be all in on BlackRock’s investing scam, with a recent KPMG survey finding 82 percent of U.S. corporations are touting ESG sustainability goals in their corporate filings. I’d add, even though doing so by no means guarantees inclusion in hedge funds’ ESG funds like BlackRock, Vanguard, etc.

In other words, ESG investing is so successful in shifting companies to the stakeholder capitalism model that companies are adopting ESG goals of their own accord — in mere hopes of getting some that investment money by virtue signaling — without necessarily even boosting their companies’ capitalization. It’s like trying to boost your odds of winning the lottery by promoting the lottery. It doesn’t quite work that way.

In the meantime, Brnovich and Peterson are absolutely correct that BlackRock’s ESG-driven focus on net zero carbon is absolutely strangling U.S. energy production through pressure on corporate firms.

According to EIA, U.S. oil production will reach 12 million barrels per day in 2022 and 12.6 million barrels per day in 2023, not quite a return to pre-Covid production levels that peaked at 12.9 million barrels per day in Nov. 2019. Why? Because America’s largest energy companies appear to be purposely unprepared to expand production even in the middle of a global energy shortage. The proper investments were never made.

ExxonMobil, the largest producer in the U.S., announced that it would produce about 3.7 million barrels of oil a day — about 18 percent of all U.S. consumption — from its facilities throughout the world, a level which would remain relatively unchanged through 2025. This year, the estimate for 2022 was up slightly to 3.8 million barrels a day, only expected to rise to 4.2 million barrels a day by 2027.

Chevron, the second largest U.S.-based producer, it currently produces about 3 million barrels a day, expected to rise by just 500,000 barrels per day by 2025 to 3.5 million barrels per day.

In the meantime, carbon-based energy companies will pretend to feud with green companies or the Biden administration about “greenwashing” in these companies’ investment brochures, all the while helping BlackRock to achieve its utopian, net zero carbon goals — simply by slowing down production.

BlackRock has placed green activists onto the board of Exxon to make it a “not-oil” company, thanks to ESG. Other hedge funds like Vanguard also make significant ESG investments.

But it has led to catastrophe. Besides making Europe and the West increasingly dependent on energy from adversaries like Russia, inflation is on fire. Thanks to the energy crisis, even major ESG beneficiaries like Tesla CEO Elon Musk are calling for an increase in oil and gas production in a bid to offset Russia, writing on Twitter on March 8: “Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.” And yet, we’re not increasing production by all that much.

In his annual shareholder letter to investors BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said the war in Ukraine, the supply crisis and the inflation would all lead to even more green energy in the future: “Longer-term, I believe that recent events will actually accelerate the shift toward greener sources of energy in many parts of the world.” Particularly, the inflation of carbon-based energy would make green energy more price competitive: “Higher energy prices will also meaningfully reduce the green premium for clean technologies and enable renewables, EVs and other clean technologies to be much more competitive economically,” Fink said.

In other words, the inflation we’re all experiencing right now is the point.

Indeed, extraordinary times do call for extraordinary measures, as Elon Musk has suggested — and thank goodness Attorneys General Brnovich and Peterson are taking the lead for red states via antitrust action. Ultimately, it is Congress with its power to regulate interstate commerce and the power of the purse to state which types of investments are eligible for tax-free status that could bring ESG and other economically targeted investments to their knees.

The goal for Republicans, whether in the states or in Congress, has to be to boost energy production here and to free our capital system from the grips of those who would use it to weaken America’s position in the world. Whatever it takes, there is too much at stake.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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