Sunday, February 19, 2023

Dem lawmakers push ban on gas-powered lawn mowers, chainsaws to curb ‘climate pollution’

I hope they succeed with this. Not because of the climate but because of the noise. These small motor devices create an infernal racket when used and stopping the noise is very difficult. Silent electrical versions would greatly increase the amenity of life in most suburbs

Two Minnesota Democratic lawmakers are proposing a pair of bills that would significantly impact the state’s backyards and neighborhood ice rinks in an effort to combat climate change.

State Reps. Jerry Newton and Heather Edelson, members of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, introduced legislation on Monday that would block the sale of common landscaping appliances like lawnmowers and chainsaws as well ice-resurfacing machines such as Zambonis, requiring that only electric battery versions be sold in the state starting Jan. 1, 2025.

The ban on lawn and garden equipment would include any machine that uses “a spark ignition engine rated at or below 19 kilowatts or 25 gross horsepower.” Commonly used landscaping tools like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, hedge clippers, chainsaws, lawn edgers, string trimmers and brush cutters would all be prohibited by that definition.

The measure follows a Democrat-backed clean energy bill signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz that requires electricity production be 80% carbon-free by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Republicans labeled it the “blackout bill.”

“DFLers are committed to taking action on climate – unchecked climate pollution threatens Minnesota’s future,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said after lawmakers passed the bill, according to Alpha News. “Now is the time to take bold action and ensure Minnesotans have the healthy climate and clean energy future they deserve.”

Some Democratic-run cities, like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and others, are also pushing for bans on fuel-burning appliances, such as gas stoves, over concerns that they pose a health risk and affect the climate. While 56% of Democrat voters would support the ban, according to a Morning Consult poll, 56% of Republicans oppose it, 39% of independents would favor it, and others slightly lean toward yes or don’t know.

In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a ban on selling gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers, starting in 2024. The California Air Resources Board also decided that all new vehicles in the state will run on electric batteries by 2035.


Democrats Coming for Your Car -- and much else

Traditional trappings of the middle-class American dream — a car, or several of them, in every garage, the freedom that comes with inexpensive air travel, modern, efficient appliances in every kitchen, a hamburger on every backyard grill and grills that become bigger and better — are under assault from liberal Democrats and their allies who argue that a world threatened by climate change cannot afford such luxuries anymore.

Absent legislation forcing people to abandon such niceties — legislation that has so far largely eluded the activists — Democrats are calling more and more for regulatory efforts. New regulations are directly or indirectly driving up the prices of such luxuries to the point that consumers are forced, even though such luxuries might still be legal, to abandon them in the name of frugality. It’s another sneaky strategy by the Biden Democrats.

Take that shiny new car in every garage. This week, the Kelly Blue Book is reporting that the average monthly payment for a new car has reached $777, double what it was in 2019 and more than 15 percent of the median take-home pay for American households. Used cars, if one can find them, are at an incredible average of $544 a month — not much cheaper than new cars.

Much of those price increases can be attributed to semiconductor shortages from the pandemic and higher interest rates, but there are few signs that prices are going back down anytime soon even as demand tapers off. The Biden administration’s relentless push to get Americans to adopt electric vehicles, which are 25 percent more expensive than gas-powered jitneys on average, is not going to make things any better.

While Mr. Biden’s climate alarmists insist they aren’t coming for anyone’s gas appliances, the reality is that they are relying on local jurisdictions to do it for them. Encouraged by federal regulators, hundreds of cities across the country have been passing new regulations that outlaw the installation of gas-powered appliances such as cooktops, water heaters, and clothes dryers in new homes.

Natural gas appliances are almost always cheaper to operate than electric ones, by as much as 30 percent in many cases. Yet the antipathy of the greenies extends even to the food cooked on backyard grills — gas or otherwise — by many hungry Americans. Recent years have seen a concerted push to wean Americans from meat and steer them toward plant-based options, also in the name of combating climate change.

Factory farms that produce meat and the economic activity associated with them, we are constantly reminded, produce far more greenhouse gasses than farms producing plant crops. Meantime air travel is shaping up to be another front in the climate-motivated war on American freedoms. With air travel only now recovering from the Covid stoppages, more and more people are hoping to get out into the wider world once again.

Environmental groups want to make it harder. In January, the Sierra Club and other groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency, seeking a crack down on airplane emissions. The Sierra Club has other options in mind when it comes to air travel. Fly less, it tells people, and take vacations closer to home. Airlines should remove first- and business-class seating on planes. Raise taxes on airline tickets and fuel. Stop building new airports.

“Flying will have to get more expensive, so as to reflect its environmental costs,” the Sierra Club promises. We’ll see how that sells on the hustings. For few of the luxuries and comforts to which Americans — and growing middle classes around the globe — have become accustomed in recent decades are safe from the climate lobby. Unless lawmakers begin to rein in the excesses of this cult, the march of progress is likely to stall.

What gets us is not only the policies the Democrats are pursuing. It’s the strategy of seeking such policies in the face of the failure of Congress to enact them democratically. It’s a moment to remember a principle of constitutional law, which goes something like: The failure of Congress to prohibit something doesn’t mean Congress approves. Democrats regulating outcomes Congress won’t enact is outrageous. What is Congress anyhow, chopped liver?


Solar farms and the trouble with net zero

Say it quietly, especially when there’s a Green listening: but there’s one certainty about Net Zero 2050. It won’t happen. As any honest MP will admit in private, it is stymied not only by the need to keep the lights on following the Ukraine energy shortage, but also for another reason: because no democratic majority will tolerate the cutbacks in their quality of life necessary to maintain the headlong dash to carbon neutrality in 27 years’ time.

Unfortunately there is also another certainty about Net Zero. While it remains official policy, however quixotic, corporate capital is being handed a heaven-sent opportunity at the expense of you, me and the country we live in. If you don’t believe this, ask anyone who lives in rural East Anglia, between Newmarket and Soham.

The worries of residents, who don’t fancy living in an energy factory, count for little

Three years ago, a company called Sunnica proposed taking some 2,500 acres – four square miles – of good agricultural land in the area out of production and submerging much of it in photovoltaic plastic. Few people liked the plan. Several farmers refused to participate. And the three local authorities concerned with planning and the environment in the area, West Suffolk, East Cambridgeshire and Suffolk County, were viscerally opposed.

So was that the end of the scheme? Certainly not. In this era of Net Zero, any solar scheme over 50 MW counts as a National Significant Infrastructure Project, or NSIP. This means the final decision is made, not by local people, but those in Whitehall. The worries of residents, who don’t fancy living in an energy factory, count for little. The same goes for farmers who prefer the idea of potatoes under their land to solar panels above it.

In Newmarket, the local Tory MP, Lucy Frazer, is understandably up in arms. Rishi Sunak himself has said that on his watch ‘we will not lose swathes of our best farmland to solar farms.’ We will see.

Such cases matter, since they are not isolated events. Sunnica is by no means the only organisation seeking to get the green light for plonking its profitable panels on to farm land. There is a similar scheme at Longfield near Chelmsford, in Essex, and yet another at Mallard Pass near Stamford in Lincolnshire. Both schemes are opposed by locals. So why the push to put panels on farm land? To the argument that brownfield sites would work just as well, the response put forward is usually the same: that land is too dear, and the scheme might struggle to break even unless developers are empowered forcibly to buy up virgin fields at agricultural prices.

All this should worry anyone, wherever they live. For one thing, food security is a problem in an overcrowded country, as is the lack of open non-industrial space: sacrificing both these things for the sake of ticking a box on some official green audit is first-rate folly.

For another, all this looks like a misuse of the NSIP regime. Fast-track central planning is all very well for government-initiated projects such as major roads or railways, or large single installations concerned with things like water or energy. It is far more questionable to use it when private companies are seeking to implement widespread land-use change over large areas of countryside which they happen to fancy.

Indeed, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the companies involved. Sunnica, the organisation trying to muscle in on rural Suffolk, is a British company, but its structure is rather complex. It is actually a joint venture involving two established solar developers, Tribus Energy and PS Renewables. The latter of these is, according to the firm itself, the ‘customer facing name for Padero Solaer’ – a joint venture between a Spanish and British company. Solaer, the Spanish part of this enterprise, is a sub-subsidiary of Swedish investment vehicle EQT AB.

Should such firms be given priority over the views of locals? Clearly not. Yet if the scheme is given the green light, it will show what really matters in this debate: the race to Net Zero.

It is hard not to conclude that there is something wrong with the government’s worthy if foolish policy of carbon neutrality by 2050. At least as regards solar power, it is not working for the benefit of the people who live here – and certainly not for those who look after our land – but instead seems to favour a more international clientele.

What do we need to do? That the whole Net Zero idea needs urgent rethinking – and green activists need facing – is obvious. Meanwhile, however, the government must take steps to limit the use of the NSIP regime to genuinely home-grown projects. Not for the first time, the government seems to have allowed itself to be taken for a ride for fear of upsetting the green lobby. It is high time we stopped this process.


A bleak future for Australia's energy supply

The energy crisis that became real for many Australians in 2022 is at severe risk of becoming the norm.

Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released their latest gas inquiry report which gave a stark warning to Australia’s leaders about the perilous state of the east coast’s energy security.

The report stated that investment in gas production is urgently required to avoid shortages and blackouts along Australia’s east coast:

‘Without additional gas supply, transportation, and storage infrastructure, there remain significant risks to domestic energy security over the medium to longer term. It is important therefore that governments continue to support the efficient, competitive, and timely development of new sources of supply and infrastructure.’

Despite this, the federal government has continued to pursue policies that deter investment in the gas sector, causing higher prices through lower supply.

The Albanese government’s announcement of reforms to the ‘safeguard mechanism’ to, effectively, re-introduce the carbon tax first pursued by the Rudd and Gillard governments, which was subsequently and overwhelmingly rejected by Australians a decade ago, is a prime example.

The reformed ‘safeguard mechanism’ will mandate that certain businesses purchase carbon credits from other businesses that emit below their regulated levels. If they cannot trade, they must pay a levy to the federal government.

Recent analysis by the Institute of Public Affairs has identified that 88 per cent of the facilities that this policy targets are in our critical resources and manufacturing sectors, and over eight in ten facilities are located in regional Australia.

BHP has indicated that Australia’s current and proposed energy policy settings will bring forward, by four years, the closure of its Mt Arthur coal mine in the Hunter Valley, which will only further increase power prices.

The Albanese government has pointed to a 205 million tonne reduction of CO2 emissions by the end of the decade, which will be equivalent to just 0.08 per cent of global carbon emissions in that period. All this economic pain, for little to no environmental gain.

Fortunately for mainstream Australians, the Federal Opposition have come out and publicly opposed this policy, which means the federal government will now have to deal with the Greens and the crossbench.

However, the Greens have publicly and repeatedly stated that their support for the reforms hinges on the federal government banning of all future coal and gas projects in Australia.

IPA research has identified such demands would see the cancellation of 86 coal and gas projects currently in the construction pipeline, 473,000 new jobs located in regional Australia foregone and up to $268.5 billion in direct and indirect economic activity squandered.

This latest energy policy proposal from the federal government follows hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s emergency sitting of parliament to rush through a price cap on the domestic coal and gas supply.

The Prime Minister claimed without these measures, household energy bills would rise $230 per year over and above the already record increases we all face.

Unsurprisingly, the move to cap the price of gas saw a number of energy retailers cease taking on new customers, along with increasing their prices, as they struggled to secure supply from producers.

Of course, this was entirely predictable. When you artificially limit a company’s ability to get a return on investment, through a carbon tax or restricted revenue, it naturally makes them less likely to invest in the production of gas.

The policy settings being pursued by the Albanese government are diametrically opposed to the advice of Australia’s energy market experts and participants. The bottom line is, a further limited gas supply leaves everyday Australians with higher household energy bills.

These policies will also impact Australia’s trade revenue, domestic manufacturing capabilities, domestic energy generation capabilities, employment opportunities, and the development of regional Australia. Again, all for minimal future environmental gain.

Australia’s current energy crisis is entirely of our own making. It has been caused by deliberate policy decisions by our leaders and it is mainstream Australians who are paying the price daily.




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