Thursday, February 23, 2023

SEC Hell-Bent On Regulating ‘Climate Change’—Except It Can’t

When Congress chooses not to pursue a certain policy or delegate a new authority, it isn’t inviting administrative agencies to step in and fill the empty space

But federal agencies are increasingly attempting to impose major climate regulations with no mandate from Congress.

In its June 2022 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court made clear that federal agencies may not assert “highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted.”

The EPA couldn’t find a provision in the Clean Air Act in which Congress gave the agency sweeping authority to restructure the country’s mix of electricity generation with its Clean Power Plan.

Under the so-called major-questions doctrine, an agency action of political and economic significance—such as regulating carbon emissions—requires clear congressional authorization.

The EPA didn’t have it, so the Clean Power Plan had to go.
With its recently proposed climate change policies, the Securities and Exchange Commission is similarly trying to exercise authority it doesn’t have.

In an April 2022 rulemaking, the SEC proposed a set of expansive and costly regulations that would require public companies registered with the SEC to publish information about “climate-related risks” in annual reports and audited financial statements if those risks are “reasonably likely to have a material impact” on a company’s “business, results of operations, or financial condition.”

The SEC also proposed requiring disclosure of registrants’ direct ‘greenhouse-gas’ emissions as well as those from its purchases of electricity and its supply-chain partners.

This isn’t mere “disclosure.”It’s a heavy regulatory burden designed to serve climate policy goals, and it goes beyond the SEC’s statutory authority.

‘Climate change’ involves some of the biggest and most complicated policy debates of our day. A financial regulator empowered by Congress only to police fraud and protect investors isn’t equipped to engage with the policy questions surrounding ‘climate change’.

That’s a mousehole of authority. There’s no room in it for a climate elephant to hide.

West Virginia v. EPA clearly poses a problem for the SEC’s climate proposal—and the commission knows it.

Chairman Gary Gensler acknowledged that the case is “significant and meaningful,” and former Commissioner Joseph Grundfest noted that the SEC “was thrown for a loop” by the high court’s ruling.

Nevertheless, the commission seems determined to dictate broad-reaching climate rules. In January, the SEC asserted that its climate disclosure requirements will be promulgated as a final rule in April 2023.

West Virginia v. EPA should serve as a clear warning to the SEC and other federal agencies—including NASA, the Defense Department, and the General Services Administration—not to act outside their purviews.

If Congress had wanted them to have such broad power, it would have given it to them.


You cannot run businesses, hospitals, and the military on occasional electricity!

Regardless of the intermittency of the weather, the electrical grid is expected to deliver continuous and uninterrupted electricity no matter what the weather.

Power grid blackouts are driven by the rapid retirement of small acreage coal and natural gas power plants.

Wind and solar electricity generation requires vast amounts of pristine acreage, but due to the intermittency and variability of breezes and sunshine being a significant deficiency, wind turbines and solar panels do not work most of the time.

This is illustrative of why a myopic focus on renewables for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions through a deepening dependence on the intermittency of wind and solar electricity must ultimately come to terms with the laws of physics and the high financial and environmental cost of achieving a reliable electrical grid with these technologies.

Future carbon dioxide concentrations in the global atmosphere will be largely determined by developing nations who are digging themselves out of abject poverty through the development of coal and natural gas energy resources.

Politicians have backed utility engineers into a corner as politicians now designing the power grid to their liking. However, politicians are not cognizant enough to know that renewables only generate electricity, and thus have no plans for the replacement of what is now manufactured from fossil fuels, which are supporting the 8 billion on this planet!

Over the last 200 years when the world populated from 1 to 8 billion, we learned that crude oil is virtually useless, unless it’s manufactured (refineries) into oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products in our daily lives that did not exist before the 1900’s, and the fuels to move the heavy-weight and long-range needs of more than 50,000 jets moving people and products, and more than 50,000 merchant ships for global trade flows, and the military and space program.

Chemical products, such as plastics, solvents, and fertilizers, are essential for supporting modern lifestyles.

While we use thousands of chemicals in our lives, most of them are derived from eight primary chemicals, namely ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, and mixed xylenes, all of which are manufactured from crude oil.

Ammonia is the base chemical for all nitrogen fertilizers, which are critical for improving agricultural yields in food production.

Methanol—the simplest alcohol—is a chemical building block for adhesives, paints, and construction materials. Approximately 60 percent of methanol is used as precursor chemicals in production, such as acetic acid (or vinegar) and formaldehyde, used in the production of particle boards and coatings.

Ethylene, propylene, and butadiene (the most important olefins) are used as raw materials in the production of chemical and polymer products such as plastics, detergents, adhesives, and rubber.

Benzene, toluene, and xylene (known as aromatics) are key building block chemicals for consumer products like aspirin, refrigerants, and textiles. About 45 percent of benzene is used in the production of polystyrene plastics, used in foam insulations and single-use cups, while 82 percent of xylenes are used to produce polyethene terephthalate plastics, used in plastic bottles.

Today, the world’s 8 billion are dependent on the products manufactured from oil. Changing that dependency on oil for all the products and fuels manufactured from oil will inflict product shortages throughout the worldwide economy.

An educational video for politicians is the 1-minute YouTube clip about the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about: Renewables only generate electricity, but manufacture nothing for society. The 1-minute video is short, educational, and entertaining to politician. The video has already been viewed by more than 800,000 on social media!

The challenge for the renewable electricity movement is that refineries only exist economically to manufacture gasoline and diesel fuels for the global fleet of road vehicles in 2022 that numbered about 1.446 billion, that’s with a “B”.

Of this huge global fleet, only 12 million were electric vehicles (EV) in 2021. Thus, less than one percent of the worldwide road vehicle fleet were EVs, and more than 99-percent of the global fleet was “yet to be replaced”.

Refineries are not economically viable JUST to manufacture lower grade bunker fuels for ships, aviation fuels for planes, and the by-products of oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products that are now demanded by societies and economies.

Without a planned replacement for oil, product shortages are imminent to support the 8 billion that’s projected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050.

We continue to argue for a more balanced approach where perhaps the most environmentally responsible thing we can do is generate the most electricity possible, on the smallest piece of land possible, and as close to where the electricity will be consumed as possible.

If carbon dioxide emission reductions are your goal or mandate for electricity generation, then natural gas and nuclear power are the rational near and long-term answers.

The Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR’s) are the same technology that’s safely powering 160 ships and submarines all around the world right now, and has been for decades; the USS Nautilus set sail and submerged in 1955, forever changing the model for naval propulsion.

Altogether, there are 30 countries where you’ll find nearly 450 nuclear reactors currently operating – as well as the Germans and French – Americans, Canadians, Japanese and Chinese are well aware of the benefits of nuclear power. Another 15 countries are currently building 60 reactors among them.

The Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ new green energy and healthcare spending law, offers a mix of tax incentives to nuclear power generators and funding to produce the uranium necessary to fuel advanced reactors.

Today’s life without fossil fuels is symptomatic of the lack of energy literacy among world leaders who haven’t the faintest idea about what makes their safe and utterly privileged lives possible.

Renewable energy in only occasional electricity from breezes and sunshine.

Wind turbines and solar panels CANNOT manufacture anything for society: NO products and NO fuels.

Subsidies for EV’s, wind, and solar, are financial incentives to continue the exploitations of folks with yellow, brown, and back skin in the developing countries that are mining for the exotic minerals and metals to go green.

World leaders are NOT cognizant that the world has a “products” shortage, not an electricity shortage, but continue their relentless push for renewables that only generate electricity. World leaders have no plans for the replacement of what is now manufactured from fossil fuels, which are supporting the 8 billion on this planet!


Admission from Canada: Electric Vehicles Do Struggle During Winter

A recent post by Canada’s The Globe and Mail discusses the difficulties electric vehicle (EVs) drivers have experienced in extremely cold weather. The Globe and Mail’s story is a cautionary tale for people who live in some of the northmost regions of the world, who regularly experience extreme cold. EVs, because of their reliance on batteries, struggle in the cold, with large declines in range and towing capabilities, which are often needed in the northern expanses.

In the article, “In northern Norway’s bitter cold, the durability of electric vehicles is put to the test,” Norwegian journalist Nathan Vanderklippe reports on recent cold-weather tests of EVs in the Lapland Proving Ground. After a night of -40°C, three of five cars wouldn’t start.

While not exactly an anti-EV article, it does describe some of the dangers people in the far north face with vehicles that are less reliable in the cold. Vanderklippe interviewed an ambulance driver from Hesseng, whose “coverage area extends to Bugøynes, a drive of nearly 100 kilometres.” The ambulance driver reports that he does not trust current EVs to get the job done.

A taxi driver reports leaving his one fleet EV in storage over the coldest parts of the winter, and a hunter scoffs at the “stupidity” of mandating the end of combustion engines.

Vanderklippe writes that many people in northern Norway, especially those who live in remote homesteads, tow snowmobiles with them in case they are needed, “and towing can cut an electric vehicle’s range in half, especially in a region where distances are immense.”

Some EV models are reportedly better in the cold than others, but all suffer from decreased range and longer charging times.

Tesla, marketed as a cold-weather friendly model in South Korea, was recently fined by the government for exaggerating the wintertime range of their cars, when testing and experience showed the vehicles’ range dropped far faster and steeper than what Tesla claimed in its advertisements.

In Juneau, Alaska, the city’s first electric public bus could not hold a battery charge long enough to finish its route on the cold days, and requires a heated garage.

Winter is tough on any battery, and increased demand for home-heating also puts strain on the electric grid. This is true in the summer as well, as Californians found out from a Flex notification from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) last summer, covered by Climate Realism, here. Californians were informed that they should not charge their EVs during heat waves, because it will overload the grid as expected air conditioning use rises.

CAISO told utility customers:

“…grid operators again ask the public to conserve electricity to help balance supply and demand on the grid and avoid service disruptions due to extreme heat across much of the Southwest.”

“Pre-charge electronic devices · Close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool · Pre-charge electric vehicles”

While some EVs do fine when a home has the ability to place the car in a heated garage, or a more expensive model EV with battery-heating technology is used, this won’t work for everyone in places where even gasoline cars can struggle. Both extreme cold and extreme heat can drain batteries quickly, making locations with extended periods of very cold or hot temperatures less than ideal for EV use. Long distances between population centers, harsh subzero temperatures, and suboptimal road conditions all make EVs less appealing.

Political mandates that stop the sale of combustion engine vehicles in these parts of the world before EV technologies have improved may not just be inconvenient or expensive, but may actually be deadly. The Globe and Mail is right to point out these weaknesses in EVs, instead of merely flattering EV manufacturers and virtue signaling for climate alarmists.


Australian Government plans to protect marine area the size of Germany around Macquarie Island

This is pretty reasonable as environmental lockouts go. The island is close to the Antarctic so the only habitation on the island is a government research station -- so people in general will not be affected. And allowing use of the existing fish resource is unusually realistic too. Allowing some possibilty of expanding fishing would however have been desirable

image from

The federal government has confirmed its commitment to tackling Australia's extinction crisis by announcing a plan to strengthen protections of globally important waters off the south-east coast.

An area roughly the size of Germany is set to be added to Australia's protected marine zones, safeguarding the future of millions of penguins, seals and sea birds on Macquarie Island.

The remote and rugged island, halfway between the main island of Tasmania and Antarctica, hosts up to 100,000 seals and 4 million penguins, including the royal penguin, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Its shores are the breeding ground for several species of albatross, including the endangered Grey-headed Albatross, and an abundance of sea life that visit its waters, including whales.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced the plan to triple the size of the marine park, most of which will have high-level protections and total fishing bans.

The plan aligns with the government's pledge to protect 30 per cent of Australia's land and 30 per cent of Australia's oceans by 2030.

"Our proposal is that the waters around Macquarie Island — the whole exclusive economic zone — will become marine park," Ms Plibersek told the ABC.

The proposal, which will open for public consultation in March, has been celebrated by conservationists. "Minister Plibersek said last year that the Albanese government wants to re-establish Australia as a global leader in ocean conservation," Richard Leck from WWF Australia said. "This is the type of proposal that will help re-establish our leadership."

Fiona Maxwell from Pew Charitable Trusts said the proposal "opens the door to a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase protection for one of the most unique environments on the planet".

Seafood industry unhappy with proposal

The waters are also home to a fishery which is operated by two companies that catch the expensive and boutique Patagonian toothfish and which the minister says is "operating at world's best practice on reducing bycatch".

"It shows that a sustainable fishery is compatible with conservation."

The government's proposal allows fishing to continue in areas the companies currently operate in, and also allows room for the industry to move or expand in the future.

But the surrounding waters would be off-limits to all fishing.

Veronica Papacosta, chief executive of Seafood Industry Australia, said the proposal sidelined the fishing industry, and the government had been "hijacked" by an environmental group.

Ms Papacosta did not raise any problems about the proposal itself, but said she was angered by "the process" which "sidelined" the industry's views in favour of environmental organisations.

"It puts chills down our spine to think that this is how we're going to move forward with the Albanese government," Ms Papacosta said.

She said the fishing operations in the area were best practice, and should have been rewarded for that.

"What else is on their agenda? What else is it that we're going to have to be OK with and we're going to have to accept as a decision?"

Asked about the industry's response, Ms Plibersek said: "They'll have an opportunity to make any comments they would like to, just as other members of the public will have an opportunity to make any comments during this consultation period in March."

Marine park 'a good start'

Ian Cresswell was a co-chief author of the recent State of the Environment report and led the oceans flagship at the CSIRO as well as sustainable fisheries assessments for the Commonwealth government.

He said the design of the park was well justified by science and it struck the right balance by allowing the existing fishing to continue.




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