Thursday, March 30, 2023

Deadbeat Spain breaking Greenie contracts

Renewable energy investors who lost subsidies promised by Spain are heading to a London court to try to claw back $125 million from the government — a decadelong dispute with ramifications for clean energy financing across the European Union.

The outcome will be closely watched by investors after the U.S. passed a new law offering incentives for homegrown green technology. Experts say the Inflation Reduction Act is already drawing clean energy investment away from EU countries like Spain, leaving the 27-nation bloc much less competitive globally.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has proposed its own rules on allowing state aid and incentives for green investment. But those changes would not affect court cases already underway.

The lawsuit in London’s Commercial Court this week involves investors from the Netherlands and Luxembourg who poured millions into a solar plant in southern Spain in 2011. The Spanish government offered subsidies to encourage growth in renewable energy production, then controversially slashed the payments without notice as it cut costs after the 2008 financial crisis.

Spain has been sued internationally more than 50 times over the retroactive changes. It has not paid out despite losing more than 20 cases so far, according to U.N. data on international investment disputes. The EU backs Spain's position.

“Those renewable investors — multibillion-dollar companies — are very concerned about the attitude of Spain and Europe looking forward,” said Nick Cherryman, one of the lawyers leading the case against Spain. “Why should they take risks investing in Europe given the track record?”

Spain now ranks alongside Venezuela and Russia as countries with the most unpaid debts over commercial treaty violations, according to a recent ranking compiled by Nikos Lavranos, a Netherlands-based expert in investment arbitration and EU law.

Most of the cases allege that Spain broke agreements it agreed to honor under the international Energy Charter Treaty, a legally binding agreement between 50 countries to protect companies from unfair government interference in the energy sector.

Environmental campaigners have criticised the treaty for protecting fossil fuel investment because financiers can also sue over policy changes aimed at scaling back polluting projects. However, for Spain, almost all cases relate to renewable energy.

“If you take the bigger picture, the EU is shooting itself in the foot by supporting Spain in this,” Lavranos said. “You cannot trust that they can follow through with their agreements, so I think you do shake investors’ confidence."

He also questioned how leaving investors in the lurch over initiatives to ramp up renewable energy production aligned with recent EU initiatives like the Green New Deal, a goal for carbon neutrality by 2050 and relaxation of subsidy rules.

“It’s very contradictory,” Lavranos said.

In 2013, the investors in Spain brought a case before the World Bank-backed International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arbitration body between governments and investors.

Spain in 2018 was ordered to compensate investors over its subsidy changes. Despite being told to pay out more than $1 billion by the international body, Spain has refused, citing EU rules.

Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry said the payments “may be contrary to EU law and constitute illegal state aid.” When the government is told to make a payout, it says it notifies Brussels but that “Spain cannot pay before the commission’s decision, so it is faithfully complying with its legal obligations.”

The European Commission said the Energy Charter Treaty does not apply in disputes between member states like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain, arguing EU law takes precedence. The commission says the decision to compensate investors over lost Spanish subsidies is still being studied and “the preliminary view is that the arbitration award would constitute state aid.”

Cherryman, the investors' lawyer, said the EU thinks it "should be superior to international treaty law." After waiting for payment for a decade and given the EU position, his team is trying to seize part of a $1 billion settlement awarded to Spain over a 2002 oil spill.

Starting Wednesday, the London court will hear Spain’s arguments that the investors should not be allowed to seize those assets in lieu of compensation they have yet to be paid.

José Ángel Rueda, a Spanish international arbitration lawyer who has represented several renewable energy investors against Spain, said the country's reputation is at stake. Other EU members like Germany and Hungary have paid out after international disputes, opting to maintain a positive image, he said.

“Spain is not like Russia or Venezuela. It was expected to be a serious country. But the awards remain unpaid,” Rueda said. “Investors can see that Spain might not be a reliable state in terms of the rule of law.”

Following years of legal wrangling, the EU is now considering a coordinated withdrawal from the energy treaty, though that would not affect pending disputes.

“It is not possible to modernize the treaty to make it compatible with the objectives of the Paris agreement and the European Green Deal,” Spain's Ecological Transition Ministry said.

The European Commission agreed, saying a withdrawal was “the most pragmatic way forward.”

That might simply nudge investors to look across the Atlantic, Cherryman said.

“America has been nimble, and it introduced very favorable legislation to encourage renewable investment,” he said. “They will respect my investment. Or I can take risk and go into Europe, go into Spain.”

The risk was the loss of more money for renewables, which are “a win for everybody,” Cherryman said. “We all want to see renewables being invested in and we all want a greener environment that is a safer future for our children."


Irish government not very green

In its second report on the issue, the environment watchdog found green criteria is missing from 76 per cent of Government contracts worth over €25,000.

And that just 10 per cent of government spending included GPP criterion in 2021.

Read more: Government 'failing miserably' to hit deep retrofit targets, opposition claims

Ireland’s EPA was given the responsibility of measuring and reporting on GPP in the 2019 Climate Action Plan.

The aim was to encourage public authorities to source goods, services or works that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.

But the 2021 report suggests that rather than improving, the government has gone backwards as 26 per cent of 2020 contracts reportedly incorporated GPP.

EPA director general, Laura Burke, said: "It is disappointing there has been a low level of implementation of Green Public Procurement in Government Departments in 2021, even lower than that reported in 2020.

"This is a missed opportunity for Government Departments to purchase more resource efficient and less polluting goods, services and works. "The public sector must play a leadership role.

"Green Public Procurement sends a powerful signal to the marketplace that Ireland’s Government sector is committed to reducing emissions and protecting our environment while saving money over the full lifecycle of goods and services."

According to figures provided by the state’s 18 departments, GPP was in just 8 per cent of the 100 contracts handed out by the Department for Agriculture, 2 per cent for foreign affairs and 4 per cent for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Green Party-led departments performed markedly better, with 79 per cent of Environment, Climate and Communications deals including GPP and 1,005 for Transport.

The Department for Rural & Community Development also performed well (97 per cent) under Fine Gael Minister Heather Humphreys.

The EPA also found there was no GPP implementation in the priority sectors of food/catering, heating equipment, textile products/ services and lighting.


Berliners vote down referendum on tighter climate goals

Berlin. The referendum for more ambitious climate goals in Berlin has failed. The state election authority announced on Sunday evening that the required minimum number of yes votes had not been reached.

An alliance "Klimaneustart" wanted to achieve a change in the state energy transition law with this referendum. Specifically, Berlin should commit itself to becoming climate neutral by 2030 and not by 2045 as planned.

After counting the votes, the supporters were slightly ahead of the opponents of such a change in the law. However, this was only one requirement for a successful referendum. The second requirement, an approval rate (quorum) of at least 25 percent of all eligible voters, was not met.

According to the preliminary final result, 442,210 yes votes faced 423,418 no votes. The turnout was 35.8 percent. 50.9 percent of voters voted yes, 48.7 percent no. The quorum for a successful referendum was around 608,000 yes votes.


EU's energy summit ends in division over Net Zero

The EU may aspire to become a geopolitical superpower, but arguments over energy at a leaders’ summit this weekend suggested it has enough difficulties keeping its internal affairs in order.

The summit was overshadowed by a dispute over the EU’s law to ban sales of new CO2-emitting cars by 2035. The bloc agreed its combustion engine ban last year as the flagship policy of its Green Deal for cutting carbon emissions. Now, countries with significant car manufacturing industries seem to have woken up to the fact that, in the context of such a huge industrial realignment, 12 years isn’t a very long time.

Germany led the dissent, insisting that combustion engine vehicles should still be allowed if they run on synthetic e-fuels, which are deemed to be carbon-neutral because they are made using captured CO2. After weeks of heated debate, Berlin won out, with EU officials promising on Saturday to adjust the combustion engine ban to exempt cars running on e-fuels.

Critics call the debate irrelevant, saying there is no chance of production capacity for e-fuels coming anywhere near making them a viable alternative for the automotive sector. Similar arguments could be made about electric cars, too —

Manufacturers admit that the technology and infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles as cost-effective, reliable and versatile as traditional cars are still lacking, and that they are often only attractive for customers if supported by subsidies and tax breaks.

Such problems might be overcome with sufficient investment. But the dispute over the combustion engine ban has highlighted friction between national economic interests and international moral pressure over climate change.

Another major issue hanging over the EU summit was a new “Net-Zero Industry Act” proposed by the European Commission, which does not include nuclear energy as a “strategic” technology worthy of investment and incentivisation. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted that “nuclear can play a role in our decarbonization effort,” but said “only the Net Zero technologies we deem strategic for the future – like solar panels, batteries and electrolysers – will have access to the full advantages and benefits.”

The EU’s refusal to come to terms with nuclear power is a continued source of frustration for nuclear-dependent France and other countries betting on new developments, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Germany, together with Austria, is again at the centre of this bizarre policymaking, due to long-standing and virulent opposition to nuclear power. This opposition previously contributed to the EU becoming hooked on Russian gas; now, it threatens to scupper development of the most viable clean energy source available.

Such a lack of pragmatism may lead to more unintended consequences. The EU’s Commissioner for the Internal Market claims the energy transformation will make the bloc “an industrial leader that exports its products and technologies – not its jobs”. But ballooning imports from China and an unprecedented trade deficit are ominous signs for the EU’s continued industrial competitiveness.

Growing trepidation among car-manufacturing countries about the ban on combustion engines is just one example of concerns about the future viability of European industry. While the EU paints an idealistic picture of a future in which new high-tech industries export from Europe to the world, a lack of pragmatism in its energy transformation could lead to a much harsher reality.




Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Honey, Joe Biden Just Shrunk Our Pension

President Biden recently issued his first veto since taking office on January 20, 2021.

Mr. Biden rejected a bipartisan bill that would have required investment fund managers to take politics out of their investment decisions and to stay focused on providing the best return to their clients as much as possible.

Why should you care? Because Mr. Biden was, in effect, saying it was permissible for fund managers, who have control of trillions of dollars in pension accounts, to take into consideration a company’s ESG score (related to how it stands on racial justice, climate change and LGBT issues) when they decide where to invest the money.

Workers and retirees are angry about this decision — as they should be. ESG is effectively a tax on your retirement funds, and it means you will have a smaller nest egg when you retire than if the money managers simply bought the top-performing stocks. Workers don’t want politics diluting the returns on their 401(k) plans and other pension accounts.

Let’s step back a minute. Social investment funds have been around for decades. I’m fine with it. As a matter of conscience, if people want to avoid investing in pro- or anti-abortion causes, divest from products made with child labor or avoid owning any fossil fuel companies, gun manufacturers, plastic companies or firms that don’t have enough transgender bathrooms — it’s a free country. These funds normally underperform the market, but that’s a decision of personal conscience.

I try to be a socially conscientious investor myself. I don’t like the politics of Ben and Jerry’s, for example, so I try not to buy their ice cream. But to be honest, I love their ice cream, so sometimes I give in to temptation. The Left tried to stage boycotts against Chick-fil-A because of some of the owner’s social policy views, but the chicken sandwiches are so popular that the crusade failed miserably.

This new fad of ESG investing is entirely different and more nefarious. ESG stands for environmental and social justice governance. The idea is to promote racial equality, save the planet from climate change, and advance gay rights and a whole host of other related trendy and mostly left-wing causes.

ESG investing is perfectly appropriate when the investors are making their own decisions with their own money on where and what to invest in. But the scandal arises when fund managers that make investment decisions with other people’s savings, or pension plans start injecting their own political biases into the investment portfolios and choose company stocks they should or shouldn’t buy.

Fund managers, such as Fidelity and Blackrock, that pool their clients’ investment dollars and pick (hopefully) high-performing stocks have what is called a fiduciary duty. They are legally required to get the best return they can. Their duty is not to save the planet.

Biden said in his veto message that ESG is good for investors and offers high returns to workers and pensioners. Wrong.

A recent analysis by Bloomberg found that last year, ESG funds severely underperformed the market — in some cases by well more than 10 percent. Many ESG funds were divested from oil and gas companies, even though Exxon, Conoco Phillips and others were among the highest-return stocks.

In other words, if you bought the stocks that ESG funds sold, and sold the stocks that ESG funds bought, you’d have made a lot of money in recent years. And by the way, given that more than 70 percent of our energy now comes from fossil fuels, how does it advance our well-being as a nation by closing these energy sources down?

Another study by Boston College professors in retirement policy examined the performance of ESG funds and found “the average annualized return for those with a state ESG mandate would be 20 basis points lower than for those without a mandate.”

My estimate is that ESG has cost the public billions of dollars of reduced returns on their retirement nest eggs. This comes atop the $30,000 or so that people have lost on average in their 401(k) plans after Biden came into office, and the combination of high inflation and lousy stock market returns overall.

The good news is that more than a dozen Republican governors are fighting back to protect pensions from “political influences.” They are telling fund managers in their states that ESG is a violation of their duty to workers whose money has been placed in their trust. ESG should only be allowed with the explicit approval of the investor.

In other words, politicians and community activists aren’t very good stock pickers. So keep your grubby hands off our pensions.


John Kerry's Defense of Climate Change Activists' Private Jet Use Is Beyond Comical

John Kerry is mailing it in right now. This green warrior envoy gig is the last post he’ll hold in public life, and it shows. The man is saying the quiet part out loud about new environmental policies and an absolute lack of caring regarding perception when he drops remarks that make these folks like total hypocrites. They don’t care because they’re the political class—wealthy, entitled, and damn near untouchable. It’s been a years-long swipe at this activist class who whine, moan, and scream about carbon emissions but then utilize a fleet of private jets for traveling to elite gatherings, like Davos, to ironically discuss the end of the world via global warming.

When asked about this, Kerry took a zero-care approach, saying these folks’ private jet use “offsets” because they’re on the right side of the issue and doing good work or something. In other words, we can take private jets because we’re not in the oil and gas industry and believe in green energy. It’s a laughable pivot that again exposes this administration's lack of serious people.

‘We can do it, but you can’t’ is a grade school talking point. Never mind how the Democrats’ environmental agenda is tantamount to regional genocide, where numerous coal-mining communities have been irreparably crippled under the Obama administration. Gas stoves are next to be outlawed, and that is a policy initiative that will come in waves at the state and local levels. Democrats know they don’t have the votes for a federal ban, so the orders were given to like-minded governors, city councils, and state legislatures to carry out Order 66.

And please, stop talking about job retraining. A working man in his 50s or 60s cannot learn a new task that coastal elitists think is easily transferable; these people cannot become code writers or aces in tech. Even the late Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO knew this was a Trojan Horse position, seeing it was a miserable failure when NAFTA was being debated.

Of course, liberal America has a graduated scale on what is permissible regarding shamelessness and hypocrisy based on the issue and whether they’re on the right side. The more left-wing you are, the more you can be an insufferable sanctimonious clown. Ketchup man is just a byproduct of his politics and his party. It’s not a shocking revelation, but this defense of private jets is as weak as his 2004 presidential run. It’s almost as bad as the ‘they’re not supposed to do that’ when pressed about Iran using funds that were once frozen to subsidize their terrorist operations post-Iran nuclear deal.


Italy looks to slow green transition drive to shield local firms

In power for just five months, Italy's right-wing government is pushing back on an array of initiatives aimed at greening the economy, arguing that local business can ill-afford previously agreed transition goals.

Since the start of the year, Italy has demanded that the European Union water down a directive aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings, re-write plans to phase out combustion engine cars and questioned a drive to slash industrial emissions.

Last week it unexpectedly reneged on a 2021 pledge to stop financing international fossil fuel projects, arguing that the energy crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant the government had to be more cautious with its objectives.

"The problem is that we cannot help the environment by destroying our industries," Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told reporters on Friday at the end of an European Union summit in Brussels.

"The road to a green economy must be socially and economically sustainable," she said.

Climate activists have denounced the erosion of green ambitions and warned that the backtracking in Italy could persuade other nations to follow suit.

"It is shocking," said Simone Ogno, a campaigner with the Italian environmental group ReCommon. "The government is using the recent energy crisis to justify everything, but we are talking here about the future of the planet."

Italy's reticence to sign up to green directives has also annoyed the European Commission, which has warned that Italian industry will end up losing out if it does not lead the drive in developing new, climate-friendly technologies.

"The transition is (aleady) here. You have to work on how to make it feasible and gain leadership in this process," said Paolo Gentiloni, the European Economic Commissioner and a former centre-left Italian prime minister.

"You don't have to be the last wagon in the train trying to hold the others back," he told an audience in Milan last week.

While Italy is still in discussion with the European Union about the fate of a number of green directives, it unilaterally walked away from a pledge made at the 2021 Cop26 summit in Glasgow to turn off the funding taps for foreign fossil fuel projects by the end of last year.

The country's export credit agency SACE said in a statement that it would continue to support oil distribution projects until January 2028, and oil storage and refining programmes until January 2024.

It declined to set any timetable to withhold funding for gas projects in these three areas.

"The Italian Climate Policy takes into account both climate objectives ... as well as the current energy crisis," SACE said, adding that further investments maybe needed "to diversify sources of supply, in particular in relation to gas".

The U-turn was announced just two days after the United Nations urged wealthy nations to slash emissions sooner than planned after a new assessment from scientists said there was no time to lose in tackling climate change.

Prior to the 2022 war in Ukraine, Italy imported 40% of its gas from Russia. Over the past year it has sourced alternative supplies from other nations, including Algeria, and is looking to become a major energy hub in its own right, carrying gas from North Africa and Mediterranean to the rest of Europe.

Critics say this will take a massive investment in new infrastructure and warn that by the time the pipelines are operational, the gas would no longer be wanted because of European caps on fossil fuels.

The European Union has among the most ambitious climate change policies of major emitters, having committed to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels, and eliminate them altogether by 2050.

Luca Bergamaschi, co-founder and executive director of the Italian climate change thinktank ECCO, said the risk was that Rome would invest heavily in old technologies and fail to build the sort of industrial network needed to take advantage of the ecological transition in areas such as batteries.

"The government is trying to protect things for a short while, but this is ultimately destructive because it is not creating anything new," he said.


Wind farms can simply ignore agreed contracts and cash in big time, FOI reveals

Net Zero Watch has accused the wind industry and the government of colluding to mislead the public about the true cost of wind energy.

The Government has repeatedly assured us that energy bills would soon fall as a result of much lower prices for offshore wind power, set at recent Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions.

However, a new Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (now Department for Energy Security and Net Zero) and the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) has revealed that offshore wind farms and other generators are under no obligation whatsoever to take up their CfD options.

What is more, the Government has no power to either enforce them or impose penalties on those who don’t.

It is therefore almost certain that wind farm operators will simply not trigger their contracts. Instead, they are sell electricity on the open market at much higher prices, as two offshore wind farms are already doing. They are selling electricity at prices nearly double than they agreed in their contracts.

A series of research papers published by Net Zero Watch and others has shown that the true costs of offshore wind power are much higher than claimed, and that the low prices contracted at recent CfD auctions are simply nonviable.

Net Zero Watch is calling on the Government to impose a 100% windfall tax on all generators who refuse to honour their contracts.

Climate and energy analyst, Paul Homewood, said: "The Contracts for Difference scheme has been badly designed since the outset, and has already cost energy users £5.7 billion. For offshore wind farms, it is Heads I win, Tails you lose."




Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Famine Risk as Supplies of Vital Fertilizer Dwindle, Scientists Warn

This is sad old rubbish. There are phosphate mines worldwide including huge deposits in North Africa and China. And even Saudi Arabia is sitting on 1.4 billion MT of it. It is not going to run out

Scientists are warning that we’re running out of phosphate, a key fertilizer for the crops that feed earth’s eight billion people. This raises the danger of famine unless agriculture innovates new ways of prompting exhausted soil to bring forth its bounty.

“We have reached a critical turning point,” a professor of Soil and Water Science at the U.K.’s Lancaster University, Philip Haygarth, tells the Guardian. “We might be able to turn back but we have really got to pull ourselves together and be an awful lot smarter in the way we use phosphorus.”

Fail, Mr. Haygarth warns, and “we face a calamity that we have termed ‘phosphogeddon.’” The warning echoes those of the visionary writer, Isaac Asimov. “Life can multiply until all the phosphorus is gone,” he said, “and then there is an inexorable halt which nothing can prevent.”

“No farmers, no food,” reads a popular bumper sticker in America’s breadbasket, pushing back against the perception that produce and meat spring by spontaneous generation on supermarket shelves. Lost in the messaging is the role of phosphorus, sometimes called “the oil of our time.”

“In a few years,” a senior research scientist at Rothamsted Research, Dr. Martin Blackwell, said back in 2019, “it could be a political issue with some countries effectively controlling the production of food by having control of rock phosphate supplies.”

Low prices have led to using it as if there’s no end in sight, causing problems such as runoff leading to algae blooms and poisoning reservoirs, a subject at the UN’s first water conference in 42 years held last week.

Hennig Brand is credited with identifying phosphorus in 1669, and humanity has spent the ensuing centuries studying how to harness its many properties, with 13 scientists earning Nobel Prizes for their work in the field.

Industrial mining of phosphorus-rich guano, or bird excrement, began in the mid-1800s, and the resource became so precious that in his 1850 State of the Union message, President Fillmore pledged “Nothing will be omitted on my part” to secure America’s supply.

“Peruvian guano has become so desirable an article to the agricultural interest of the United States,” Fillmore said, “that it is the duty of the government to employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price.”

Today, America “mines and consumes about 23 million tons of phosphate rock per year,” according to the EPA, whittling known domestic reserves down by 99 percent. “At current rates of use,” Dr. Blackwell said, “a lot of countries are set to run out of their domestic supply in the next generation.”

Those countries at risk include America, Communist China, and India. Together, Morocco, Communist China, Algeria, and Syria, sit on over 80 percent of rock phosphate. The national security threat of this may not be as obvious as others, but it’s just as real.

In his new book, “The Devil’s Element: Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Daniel Egan, “explores the alarming reality that diminishing access to phosphorus poses a threat to the food system worldwide — which risks rising conflict and even war.”

Two centuries ago, the Guano Wars raged in South America. Spain and Peru fought over deposits in 1864, while Bolivia, Chile, and Peru spilled blood over bird droppings in 1879. So insatiable is humanity’s appetite that even the taboo of grave robbing proved no obstacle.

The director of the Center for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, Tony Pollard, cites reports of bones from the Battle of Waterloo being ground into fertilizer.

“The benefits of implementing measures to improve phosphorus sustainability will be observed mostly at local to national scales,” says a report by the Our Phosphorus Future project. Citing input by over 100 scientists, they warn “any delay will only accrue further impacts and societal costs.”

America may soon face a day when an updated agriculture slogan emerges, one reading, “No phosphate, no farmers, no food,” but with dead soil and Dust Bowl-style famine facing millions, we won’t need a bumper sticker to tell us that phosphogeddon has arrived.


Electric Vehicles Are Scrapped Over Only Minor Damage

Insurers are being forced to write off many electric vehicles with only minor damage to battery packs, sending the batteries to scrap yards and hindering the climate benefits of going electric, Reuters reported.

Battery packs typically represent roughly half the cost of an electric vehicle, sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars, often making it more economical for insurers to consider a car as totaled than replace a battery pack, according to Reuters. While many carmakers, including Ford and GM, told Reuters that their battery packs were repairable, many are unwilling to share key data with third-party insurers to help assess damage.

“The number of cases is going to increase, so the handling of batteries is a crucial point,” Christoph Lauterwasser, managing director of the research institute Allianz Center for Technology, told Reuters. “If you throw away the vehicle at an early stage, you’ve lost pretty much all advantage in terms of [carbon dioxide] emissions.”

Allianz, an insurance firm and parent company of Allianz Center for Technology, has seen cases where battery packs were scratched, and likely had undamaged internals, but a lack of access to diagnostic data forced the company to write off the vehicles, Reuters reported. Producing electric vehicle batteries emits much more in terms of carbon dioxide emissions than producing a gas-powered car, in some cases requiring an electric car to rack up more than 10,000 miles before it makes up for the additional emissions in production, according to a Reuters estimate.

It cost roughly $206 per month on average to insure an electric vehicle in 2023, 27% more than gas-powered cars, Reuters reported, citing online brokerage Policygenius. Without access to diagnostic data, it is likely that insurance costs will climb as more electric vehicles are sold and low-mileage cars are scrapped.

Electric vehicle and battery production are both expected to climb dramatically by 2026, off the back of more than $120 billion in investments, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Annual production of electric vehicles is projected to climb from roughly 1 million per year in 2023 to 4.3 million in 2026, while annual battery production is expected to climb from 2.4 million per year in 2023 to 11.5 million per year in 2026.

President Joe Biden has made electric vehicle tax credits, from his signature Inflation Reduction Act, a cornerstone of his domestic policy. While Biden’s plan was initially forecast to cost roughly $30 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years, the surge of domestic investments has caused private analysts to reevaluate the cost of the tax breaks to more than $136 billion.


Biden’s Latest Fuel Proposal Promises To Drive Gasoline Prices Higher

Instead of encouraging more supply, the administration keeps poisoning the atmosphere for investment in traditional fuels.

The SEC’s and the EPA’s moves will depress investment, continuing a pattern of lowering America’s refining capacity.

The path forward is clear: The EPA should scrap this eRIN proposal for the good of America’s producers and consumers, as well as our national security.

Gasoline prices remain stubbornly high—above $3.35 a gallon nationwide on average—and will likely go higher when the summer driving season arrives. Yet rather than take steps to help, the Biden administration has blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the oil companies, badgering them to produce more.

As any Econ 101 student knows, gas prices are determined by supply and demand. Instead of encouraging more supply, though, the administration keeps poisoning the atmosphere for investment in traditional fuels.

In the latest example, the Environmental Protection Agency has just proposed a change to the Renewable Fuel Standard that will once again push supplies of fuel lower and make it more expensive. The EPA is creating a new way to comply with RFS by allowing auto companies to generate “eRINs” they will sell to oil refiners. This should be raising alarm bells in every agricultural and oil-producing state and at every gas pump in the country.

Right now, oil refiners have to obtain and submit renewable identification numbers, or RINs, at the end of every year to prove that they’ve blended sufficient biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel into petroleum fuels. The birth of the modern RFS in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 used this tool to diversify America’s fuel—blending American-produced ethanol from American-grown corn.

The EPA’s proposal, however, opens the door for the RFS to be dominated by EVs—taking money from gasoline and diesel customers and sending it to auto companies that make EVs. Such a transformation will further hamstring producers of our transportation fuels (farmers, blenders and refiners), hit consumers with higher costs, and endanger our national security by making us more dependent on China, which dominates the EV supply chain.

One can immediately see the problem. Farmers and biofuel makers have invested billions of dollars to build plants, terminals and trucks to blend ethanol, biodiesel and renewable diesel. These U.S.-produced fuels will be drastically reduced—if not altogether eliminated—in an all-electric future.

A study by the Agricultural Retailers of America showed EVs could cost farmers $27 billion in income in just 2050 alone and reduce biofuels by 60% (biodiesel) to 90% (ethanol). In the interim, investments will flow from traditional fuels and biofuels to EVs. That would be fine if it were driven by consumer demand. But this is happening only because of government policy.

Refiners, too, are facing higher costs and lower demand thanks to eRINs. EV mandates of 50% to 100% electric cars and enormous subsidies like those in the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act cast a huge shadow on the investment climate for refining. Those effects are exacerbated by a new climate disclosure rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the progressive push for environmental, social and governance considerations.

President Biden scolded refining companies to “work with my administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions that address the crisis.” He’s essentially looking for companies to row upstream against a current he’s accelerating. The SEC’s and the EPA’s moves will depress investment, continuing a pattern of lowering America’s refining capacity, which has lost about a million barrels a day in the last two years after having risen nearly every year since 1994. Less refining capacity means lower supply, which means higher prices.

That leads to the second major group that will suffer because of eRINs: consumers. Undoubtedly, consumers will pay more for gasoline as the newly limited supply struggles to keep up with demand. They’ll also pay more to help cover the refiners’ eRIN costs. Worse, customers will be paying more for their gas-powered cars in addition to their fuel.

Automakers have to cross-subsidize EVs by charging more for traditional cars to cover the cost of EVs. This and previous administrations have acknowledged that aggressive fuel economy standards and zero-emission-vehicle mandate cost consumers thousands at the showroom. eRIN revenue could help automakers a little, but it’s not nearly enough to close the gap, which some companies have said approaches $14,000 per vehicle. Unfortunately, the ultimate beneficiary of the forced switch to EVs is going to be China, which dominates the EV supply chain.

That brings up the third harm from this eRIN proposal: Instead of increasing American energy security—the stated purpose of the RFS—this proposal encourages automakers to make cars with Chinese batteries (about 75% of worldwide battery production) or with Chinese-mined or Chinese-processed minerals (more than half the world’s processing of lithium, cobalt and graphite). It is unclear whether the United States can open mining and processing inside its borders: Right now, there is only one lithium mine in the United States, and it accounts for less than 2% of the global supply.

At a time when the United States has become a major exporter of liquid fuels—an unthinkable dream for every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama — we are about to throw it all away and put all our transportation eggs in a basket made in China.

The path forward is clear: The EPA should scrap this eRIN proposal for the good of America’s producers and consumers, as well as our national security. If the agency doesn’t, Congress must stop it.


Big Australian coal-fired generator saved from closure

There's a lot of persiflage below but there is a committment not to close Eraring until replacement generation is available. That may never happen. The idea that batteries could help is a laugh. A battery will only last hours and then be useless

The soon-to-be owner of Origin Energy will hold talks with incoming NSW premier Chris Minns on the future of Australia’s biggest coal plant, Eraring, as pressure grows to keep the station running longer than 2025 amid fears of blackouts.

“What’s most important to us is that it is closed down as soon as it possibly can be. So within that context we’re obviously happy to have a conversation with the government and hear what they have to say,” Brookfield Australian boss Stewart Upson said.

“But it will be important to us that whatever happens the result of our investment here is that Eraring can be closed down as soon as it can be done so in a responsible manner.”

The takeover deal includes a plan for Brookfield to invest an extra $20bn in Origin through to 2030 to build up to 14 gigawatts of new renewable generation and storage facilities in Australia.

Before the Brookfield approach Origin had given notice that it intended to close the 2880-megawatt Eraring power plant in the Hunter Valley in August 2025.

Mr Minns has said his view is to seek talks to keep the nation’s biggest coal-fired generator open past the scheduled closure date.

Mr Upson told The Australian the August 2025 date “is not a required closure date”. Any closure would also ensure there is alternative supply in place, he added.

“It’s not a commitment by Origin to close on that date, it’s the earliest possible date, it can close.

“Both Origin (now) and under our new ownership – are focused on closing Eraring as soon as we possibly can, only if we can only in a way that’s responsible and doesn’t have an impact on consumers or supply in the market.”

“That’s about ensuring that we have the replacement capacity in place before we close it down, which is something Origin has already been working on with its battery project and something we will be working on as fast as we can,” Mr Upson said.

He said he welcomes talks with the incoming NSW Premier.

“They are a very important stakeholder and I think it’s going to be important that we work closely together to ensure that the transition happens in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on consumers, business or the economy in general,” he said.

The comments by Mr Upson shows the infrastructure giant is prepared to play the long game on politics as it prepares to take control of one Australia’s most important power generators.

Mr Upson still has some way to go to win Origin, but he has got past the biggest hurdle – securing binding scheme agreement on the $18.7bn mega power deal.

The proposal still needs to get approvals from competition and foreign investment regulators and Orgin’s shareholders are yet to vote on the deal, although it has been endorsed by the board.




Monday, March 27, 2023

AGAIN! At least once a year we get a claim that global warming is endangering coffee production. Same old, same old. And it never happens. Coffee beans are very widely grown throughout the world so a crop failure in one place is only one part of the world's productive output. Prices rise and fall but that is it

Roast Magazine’s Daily Coffee News rans a story claiming climate change was causing “ongoing systemic shocks,” harming coffee production by creating more simultaneous extreme weather events across different growing regions. This is false. Data refutes claims that extreme weather events are increasing in number, intensity, or frequency. Also, coffee production is increasing amid modest warming.

According to the Roast Magazine story, titled “Study: Climate Change Increasing ‘Systemic Shocks’ to Coffee Production:”

The global coffee industry can expect increasing and “ongoing systemic shocks” to coffee production due to climate change, according to new research published this month in the journal PLOS Climate.

The research, which was funded by the Australia’s national Climate Service agency, says that there has been a been a notable increase in “synchronous climate hazards” among the world’s 12 largest coffee-growing countries over the 40 years ending in 2020. In other words, more coffee-producing areas are being negatively affected by climate change at the same time.

The study takes particular note of the El Niño, the La Niña and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) climate phenomena effecting global tropical regions throughout the coffee-growing world.

There are so many false or mistaken claims packed into these three introductory paragraphs its hard to know where to begin to refute them. Starting with the last paragraph first. El Niño, the La Niña and the Madden–Julian oscillation are large scale natural oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns and they do effect climate on regional and trans- and multicontinental scales. However, contrary to the implication of the paragraph and evidently the study it references, those patterns drive weather events. Climate models are unable to account for the impacts of these patterns on climate change.

Data neither show, nor does the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, any significant changes in these large-scale natural circulation patterns that can be linked to climate change. There is no evidence whatsoever that climate change is altering these natural patterns; either making their impacts more severe or the circulation patterns themselves more persistent or erratic. Whatever effect El Niño, the La Niña and the Madden–Julian oscillation, or other large scale short- and long-term natural oceanic and atmospheric patterns, might be having on coffee production, they have always had such effects—there is no evidence this has changed.

Just as there has been no detectable change in various periodic oceanic and atmospheric patterns that are drivers of weather, there has also been no increase in the number or severity of various extreme weather events which effect coffee growing regions, as well as the rest of the world. As discussed at Climate at a Glance, data does not show droughts, floods, hurricanes, or other classifications of extreme weather events that might negatively effect coffee production are increasing in number or severity globally. And higher carbon dioxide concentrations and the decline in unseasonable cold spells have benefited coffee production, as they have almost every other crop.

Which leads us to the most important claim made in the paper. Because oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns aren’t changing, and weather isn’t becoming more extreme in any way that has been measured, is it impossible for these factors to be causing a decline in coffee production. Indeed, data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that it is not.

“The occurrence of these spatially compounding events has become particularly acute over the past decade, with five of the six most hazardous years occurring since 2010,” say the authors of the study cited as evidence of a pending coffee apocalypse in Roast Magazine. Such struggles are not evident in the production data recorded by the FAO.

FAO data show that coffee yields set new production records seven times since 2010, most recently in 2020. And at no time after 2010 did coffee yields fall below yields recorded before 2010. Indeed, from 1990 to 2021, the last year for which data is currently available, during the recent period of climate change, coffee yields increased by nearly 56 percent.

What’s true of coffee yields is also true of coffee production. Even as a growing number of coffee producers have begun growing boutique coffee varieties using only organic methods, which have reduced yields on those plantations, coffee production overall has grown substantially. Once again, the data show that rather than the period since 2010 being one of hard times for coffee producers, production has set records regularly. Between 2010 and 2021, coffee set records for production five times, and coffee production has grown by nearly 17 percent during that period. Over the term which climate change is measured, 30 years, coffee production has increased approximately 64 percent.

To sum up: Roast Magazine claimed climate change was altering large scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns, which was causing an increase in the number and severity of simultaneous extreme weather events, allegedly threatening coffee production worldwide. Each of these claims is refuted by hard evidence. Perhaps going forward, rather than uncritically parroting the alarming findings from the most recent, but untested, study asserting climate change threatens a serious coffee decline, the reporters at Roast Magazine will look into the data and ask some hard questions to determine whether setting off the climate alarm is justified. If they do so, they will likely find they can sit back, relax, and enjoy their next cup of Joe, unburdened by fears that this enjoyable daily ritual will soon pass.


Greta Thunberg Sees a Great Capitalist Conspiracy Against the Climate

She and her supportres have always said that capitalism is their real enemy. They understand nothing. All they have is hatreds and self-righteousness. Self-confident ignorance is a very dangerous thing

Greta Thunberg became famous for calling on us to “panic” in the face of climate change. Unfortunately, she did not offer much specific advice on how to solve the problem.

According to Thunberg, the underlying problems are industrialization and capitalism. "The Industrial Revolution, fueled by slavery and colonization, brought unimaginable wealth to the Global North, and in particular to a small group of people there," she writes in "The Climate Book."

"That extreme injustice is the foundation our modern societies are built on," she adds.

But the number of people has increased eightfold from one to eight billion since the beginning of industrialization. Without industrialization, billions of people would have had no chance of survival. It is also not true that capitalism only improved life for a small minority. In 1820, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty around the world was 90 percent; today it is 9 percent.

The book is laced with harsh criticism of capitalism. Running to almost 500 pages, there are only two sentences in which Thunberg admits that other systems also destroy the environment: “Leaving capitalist consumerism and market economics as the dominant stewards of the only known civilization in the universe will most likely seem, in retrospect, to have been a terrible idea. But let us keep in mind that when it comes to sustainability, all previous systems have failed too. Just like all current political ideologies – socialism, liberalism, communism, conservatism, centrism, you name it. They have all failed. But, in fairness, some have certainly failed more than others.”

She does not reveal which systems have failed more than others – she limits her denunciations to capitalism. And yet, environmental destruction in socialist countries was incomparably worse than in capitalist countries.

Thunberg sees a great capitalist conspiracy against the climate. She blames policymakers who are “still in thrall to Big Oil and Big Finance.” The media have failed, even though she admits that “journalism is starting to take its first baby steps towards covering this crisis.” She would only be satisfied if the media were full of nothing but stories about climate change: “This should of course be dominating every hour of our everyday newsfeed, every political discussion, every business meeting and every inch of our daily lives. But that is not what is happening.”

Wearily, she notes that many journalists unfortunately did not go into journalism to “uproot a system they believe in.” The fact that the population of a country is constantly bombarded with certain news is something more frequently associated with totalitarian states.

Thunberg regrets that there are “no laws or restrictions in place that will force anyone to take the necessary steps towards safeguarding our future living conditions on planet Earth.” The world, she writes, is run by “white, privileged, middle-aged, straight cis-men,” and these are “terribly ill suited” for dealing with the crisis. Instead, co-author Sonja Guajajara suggests, we need “indigenous women at the heart of the struggle to guarantee a future for humankind. For in many original communities, it falls to us, indigenous women, to manage and preserve our ecosystems and to preserve our knowledge through memory and custom.”

Thunberg devotes a quarter of a single page to nuclear power – summarily rejecting it as a solution. Technologies to extract CO2 from the air are dismissed as “a joke,” while solar geoengineering is dismissed because it meets with “fierce resistance from indigenous peoples.” Electric vehicles, the book states, are not a viable solution because they “may well be an option only for the powerful and wealthy.”

The state, according to Kevin Andersen, should determine for everyone “the size (and number) of our houses; how often we fly and in which class; how big and how many cars we have and how far we drive them. Even at work, how large is our offices, how many foreign meetings and international conferences do we attend and how frequent are our field trips.”

Thunberg herself complains that there are “still no laws to keep the oil in the ground.” Kate Raworth thinks the state should phase out “private jets, mega-yachts, fossil-fueled cars, short flights and frequent flyer rewards.” Seth Klein calls for “a new generation of public corporations” to produce the right things at the requisite scale. Moreover, he laments, “Where is the government advertising to boost the level of public ‘climate literacy’?” The Canadian anti-capitalist Naomi Klein wants to increase taxes on the rich and reduce spending on policing and prisons in order to fund the fight against climate change. The French critic of capitalism Thomas Piketty calls for the introduction of “individual carbon rights.” For the sake of social justice, he argues, it should be considered to set “equal individual carbon quotas” by the authorities.

Ultimately, it all boils down to abolishing capitalism and replacing it with an eco-planned economy.


Challenging the NSTA’s Position Statement on Climate Change

The CO2 Coalition has reviewed the National Science Teaching Association’s Position Statement on Climate Change and has found that it has serious problems, which we address in this assessment. Our detailed rebuttal, Challenging the NSTA’s Position Statement on Climate Change, was published March 23, 2023.

Our objections to this document are many but can be separated into two major categories:

* Reliance on “consensus” science and a rejection of critical thinking skills and the scientific method.

* NSTA’s embrace of the hypothesis of “harmful man-made warming” despite its basis in flawed science and government opinions and its rejection of all contradictory science.

A primary role for the NSTA should be to develop critical thinking skills for students and to instill in them knowledge and use of the scientific method. Students should be encouraged to review all facts on a subject (in this case climate change) and make up their own minds rather than be indoctrinated into an established political agenda.

Unfortunately, the NSTA has taken a strong position that is antithetical to the scientific method, critical thinking and open scientific debate. Its position is one of censorship of any scientist or science that does not support the NSTA-approved “science.” The NSTA Position Statement on Climate Change fails to delineate between real science and political science.


In early 2021, a group of CO2 Coalition members decided to act on their concerns about the state of science education in America. They recognized that the teaching of science had strayed from the 400-plus-year-old scientific method and was less inclined to encourage inquisitiveness in students and more prone to require conformity to the opinions of teachers. At present, much of the instruction on climate
change resembles an indoctrination into a political agenda rather than the provision of necessary tools for critical thinking.

It is our knowledge of science and commitment to the scientific method – not political narratives – that make the CO2 Coalition uniquely qualified to lead in the development of a fact-based program of climate-science education.


Energy prices have continued to rise under President Joe Biden’s radical energy and climate agenda

In 2021, household electricity prices rose 8 percent. Electricity price increases accelerated even more in 2022, and have now risen 17 percent since December 2020, the last month before Biden took office. Even with substantial 2021 price increases for all major energy sources, the price for each major energy source ended 2022 even higher than its 2021 closing price.

During the past two years, overall electricity prices rose 17 percent, industrial energy prices increased by 34 percent, home heating oil prices rose an incredible 88 percent,3 conventional oil prices rose by 61 percent, natural gas prices for residential consumers increased by 51 percent, and gasoline prices had risen $1.15 per gallon by the end of 2022.6

Average Household Paid $2,300 More in Additional Direct Energy Costs After two years of Biden’s energy policies, the average U.S. driver spent at least an extra $650 per year in higher gasoline costs, and $231 in higher electricity costs over the past two years.

Households that use natural gas spent an extra $780 over the past two years, on average, and those using home heating oil paid a whopping $1,725 extra. Since Biden entered the Oval Office, the average American household has suffered under the burden of approximately $2,300 in higher direct energy costs.

Additionally, these higher energy prices have been baked into the costs for all goods and services, especially food prices, and substantially contributes to inflation. With those costs in mind, it’s clear the Biden administration’s energy and climate policies have cost the average U.S. household—directly or indirectly—much more than $2,300.

Rapidly rising energy prices are no accident. They are the predictable result of Joe Biden’s war on affordable and reliable energy. The Biden administration has implemented dozens of policies since he took office that have increased energy costs. In 2022 alone, Biden pushed the following policies:

Slow walking oil and gas leasing plans, missing legal deadlines by months Threatening new windfall taxes on oil companies Issuing the lowest number of energy production leases since the 1940s Repeatedly canceling legally required oil and gas lease sales Passing the first direct federal tax on methane emissions Doubling rental fees on onshore leases Increasing and introducing new fees associated with leasing Increasing onshore royalty rates by about 36 percent Reinstating the Hazardous Substance Superfund Financing Rate on crude oil and imported petroleum

The onslaught of policies that undermine U.S. energy independence shows no sign of abating anytime soon. For example, in March 2023, President Biden banned oil and gas production on millions of acres of federal land and on the U.S. outer-continental shelf.




Sunday, March 26, 2023

Climate Homicide: Prosecuting Big Oil For Climate Deaths
Harvard Environmental Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2024

This could be brilliant. A complete defence would be to show there is NO dangerous climate change. And a court of law would have to consider the evidence on that. And the evidence tracing deaths to climate change is non-existent. It's all just theory. So a ruling on this could put the whole climate change myth to bed. Bring it on!


Prosecutors regularly bring homicide charges against individuals and corporations whose reckless or negligent acts or omissions cause unintentional deaths, as well as those whose misdemeanors or felonies cause unintentional deaths. Fossil fuel companies learned decades ago that what they produced, marketed, and sold would generate “globally catastrophic” climate change. Rather than alert the public and curtail their operations, they worked to deceive the public about these harms and to prevent regulation of their lethal conduct. They funded efforts to call sound science into doubt and to confuse their shareholders, consumers, and regulators. And they poured money into political campaigns to elect or install judges, legislators, and executive officials hostile to any litigation, regulation, or competition that might limit their profits.

Today, the climate change that they forecast has already killed thousands of people in the United States, and it is expected to become increasingly lethal for the foreseeable future. Given the extreme lethality of the conduct and the awareness of the catastrophic risk on the part of fossil fuel companies, should they be charged with homicide? Could they be convicted? In answering these questions, this Article makes several contributions to our understanding of criminal law and the role it could play in combating crimes committed at a massive scale. It describes the doctrinal and social predicates of homicide prosecutions where corporate conduct endangers much or all of the public. It also identifies important advantages of homicide prosecutions relative to civil and regulatory remedies, and it details how and why prosecution for homicide may be the most effective legal remedy available in cases like this. Finally, it argues that, if our criminal legal system cannot focus more intently on climate crimes—and soon—we may leave future generations with significantly less for the law to protect.


‘Climate Change’ Now Top Priority for US Navy

With both China and Russia restive, this is a huge failure. Both Russia and China have substantial navies and they now seem to be in alliance

In a stunning, but not altogether surprising statement, America’s top Navy official declared that “fighting climate change” is a “top priority” for the U.S. Navy. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced this last week not at the Pentagon or the U.S. Naval Academy, but at a conference in the Bahamas.

It is likely that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meeting this week in Moscow to discuss closer military cooperation, shared a high five on hearing the Navy Secretary’s declaration.

Del Toro’s admission that strengthening America’s dwindling fleet of naval ships is no higher a priority than is “embracing climate-focused technologies” was not totally unexpected.

Since taking office two years ago, President Biden repeatedly has stated that “fighting climate change” is and will remain his top national security priority. This was made crystal clear in an October 2021 presidential “Fact Sheet” directed to our nation’s military, foreign policy, and national intelligence leaders.

Rather than resist such a priority directive, the Navy Secretary joined other top Defense officials and saluted their Commander-in-Chief’s warped policy decision; one that will further weaken our country’s defenses. Making matters worse, Biden’s latest defense budget submission to the Congress proposes a 40 percent increase in “climate spending” and a net decrease in the number of operational ships in our Navy’s fleet, continuing a troubling trend highlighted in the Administration’s FY 2023 budget proposal.

Such cuts reflect what one military expert refers to as “seablindness” — a short-sighted policy accounting for America’s shrinking dominance of the world’s oceans, a strength on which we and the entire Free World have relied since World War II.

In an insightful analysis just published in The Atlantic (“The Age of American Naval Dominance Is Over”), former Navy officer Jerry Hendrix chronicles the many shortcomings in our country’s civilian and naval shipbuilding capabilities, even as Russia and China aggressively continue to expand theirs.

In one striking example, Hendrix notes that Russia maintains a robust fleet of Arctic ships and has been moving in the direction of unilaterally declaring parts of the Arctic Ocean within its territorial waters, while the U.S. “has not built an Arctic-rated surface warship since the 1950s.”

Also questionable is our capability to quickly or timely build needed ships, considering the small number of U.S. shipyards capable of constructing such massive and complex vessels (as Hendrix notes, there remain only one dozen such “graving docks” certified to build or work on Navy ships).

Elsewhere, China has embarked on a massive, multi-year expansion of its Navy and is asserting claims to large swaths of the East and South China Seas.

Currently, neither of our two adversaries’ navies come near to matching our overall naval capabilities, especially when it comes to our premier warship the aircraft carrier. But our failure to expand, much less retain, a commitment to domestic maritime and naval shipbuilding, has created a long-term weakness in being able to protect oceanic trade routes on which we and almost all other nations increasingly rely.

Budget cuts by the current and prior administrations of both political parties, especially the Clinton administration, purposefully reduced the number of defense contractors able to build modern naval vessels, and policies have favored development and modernization of air power over naval power. The resulting slippage in the number of operational naval vessels in our fleet, now down to 293, imperils our ability to project power in the decades ahead and also to maintain the freedom of the oceans for commercial purposes.

One facet of naval power in which the United States maintains a clear advantage over every other maritime power is in the number of foreign bases and port facilities available to our ships; but even here, China is moving to close that gap. While China has a long way to go in this regard, it is aggressively expanding its reach on the west coast of Africa, and continues to use its “civilian” shipping company, Cosco, to build and operate container port facilities in areas long allied with the United States, including Israel, western Europe, and South and Central America.

If the United States continues the folly of focusing on “climate change” rather than taking concrete short and long-term steps to counter Chinese and Russian moves to assert sea power interests adverse to ours, we and the entire Free World will pay a heavy price in the decades ahead.


The Dutch attacks on nitrogen emissions

Visitors to dairy farms are always well advised to watch their step. Those inspecting the three dozen milking cows kept by Minke van Wingerden and her team have more to fear than landing in manure: the entire farm is set up on a floating platform, docked a 20­minute cycle ride away from Rotterdam’s central railway station. One wrong step and you will wind up spluttering in the Nieuwe Maas river—as a couple of the cows have discovered (firemen fished them out of the harbour). Forget vistas of the placid Frisian countryside: these animals spend their days overlooking tankers and trucks unloading wares at Europe’s biggest port. Throughout the day schijt­scooping robots scour the milking area, keeping it clean. On two lower floors of the barge, the cows’ output is variously turned either into cheese or fertiliser.

Ms Van Wingerden’s Floating Farm is the apotheosis of centuries of Dutch thinking about how to grow lots of food in a crowded corner of northern Europe. Since the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, land has been reclaimed from the sea and windmills erected to drain the plains. Town­size greenhouses are built to grow tulips or vegetables. A food shortage during the second world war convinced the Dutch they needed to grow as much as their fields could manage. Calvinist industriousness turned the Netherlands into an unlikely agrarian powerhouse: with more than €100bn ($108bn) of annual farming sales overseas, it is the world’s biggest exporter of agricultural products after America, a country more than 250 times its size. Some of that is re­exported imported food.

But the Dutch make twice as much cheese per head as France.

Two questions have long dogged Dutch farming. The first is whether quantity made up for quality: having tasted the tomatoes, cucumbers and chilies grown in its hyper­efficient greenhouses, one may be forgiven for not being able to tell them apart. The second is whether its approach made any sense. The Netherlands is the most densely inhabited country in the EU bar tiny Malta; officials joke it is a city­state in the making. Efficient as its farmers may be, the sector is a footnote to the modern Dutch economy, employing just 2.5% of workers. Countries usually pick between having lots of farms or lots of people. The Dutch approach was to have their Gouda and eat it. That has landed both farmers and politicians in a heap of natural fertiliser.

Limits to the Dutch model of turbo­farming have been suspected for decades. Already in the 1980s, authorities realised that importing lots more animal feed would result in lots more animal excrement. Yet the limits of the land kept being tested: each acre of Dutch farm supports four times as many animals, by weight, as others in Europe. The result of all those digestive tracts has been a surfeit of excreted nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants but one that in excessive quantities can destabilise ecosystems. Cars and industry emit nitrogen compounds too. All this has contributed to damaging the soil and polluting waterways. Flora that thrive on excess nitrogen have been killing off plants that would otherwise manage to compete for resources. That in turn has knock­on effects, not all of which scientists understand.

Ernst van den Ende of Wageningen University, a food­research hub, says there is not much wrong with individual Dutch farms, which are often models of sustainability. The problem is that there are too many of them, pumping out too much nitrogen. For more than a decade there have been efforts (mostly ineffectual) to cut back such emissions to meet EU rules that protect nature reserves. But in 2019 things came to a head. A decree from the highest Dutch court gave wishy­washy laws unexpected bite. Every activity that led to nitrogen being produced—including the construction of buildings, roads and other infrastructure—would henceforth require cuts in nitrogen elsewhere. The country has a housing shortage, but new building has been throttled by the rule. Daytime speed limits on motorways were cut from 130kph to 100kph in the hope that lower emissions might let other bits of the economy keep going. Schiphol airport, one of the world’s busiest, resorted to buying farms to shut them down so planes could take off.

The crisis has been all­encompassing. A bastion of free­market liberalism in Europe has morphed into something akin to a planned economy, with a “Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy” as lead commissar. In the end, it became clear a piecemeal approach would not cut it. Last year a sweeping plan to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 was unveiled. The government said it would pay €24bn to buy out as many as 3,000 big emitters, meaning mostly farms. Livestock numbers would be cut by nearly a third. The era of ever­increasing agricultural exports was over.

Strangely, even in a country bursting at the seams, picking people over cows turns out to be politically fraught. The prospect of buyouts or expropriations fuelled farmer protests across the country. (Think burning hay­bales and nitrogen­rich animal matter dumped on motorways.) Last week the revolt hit the ballot box. A newish party representing farmers triumphed in local elections on March 15th, topping the polls that elect the nationwide senate as well as regional governments. The farmers’ party got 1.5m votes, 19% of the total, in a country that employs just 244,000 people in agriculture. City­dwellers backed it out of a nostalgic attachment to farmers and resentment against nagging authorities. Whether the government can force through its nitrogen cuts is up in the air.

Other countries are heading for nitrogen crises too; neighbouring Belgium, also pretty crowded, already has one. But the wider parallel is with carbon emissions, which Europe plans to cut to “net zero” by 2050. That will demand adaptations well beyond what the Dutch have experienced with nitrogen. The Netherlands, a generally well­run place, has made a hash of adapting its economy to ecological constraints it knew about for decades. That does not bode well for everyone else.


Woke Dem-Led Colorado City Bans New Gas Stations to Fight 'Climate Change'

A Democrat-run city in Colorado is taking it into its own hands to try and fight so-called "climate change" by banning all new gas stations in the area.

City councilors in Louisville passed an ordinance limiting the number of gas stations allowed to operate within the city to just six.

Legislators claimed they felt the decision was necessary to combat "global warming."

"We have an obligation to take every step possible to address the changes to our climate that are ravaging our planet and directly impacting the health, well-being, and livelihoods of the constituents we represent in Louisville,' council member Maxine Most told Fox News.

In the unanimous vote, the ordinance also mandates gas stations to be at least 1,000 feet apart from one another while requiring each one to install "electric vehicle (EV) fast charging stations for any expanded, modified or new gasoline or automobile service station equaling 20% of the number of gasoline pumps at the stations, with no fewer than two such charging stations."

Although Most admitted the proposal wouldn't end "climate change," she still advocates for the small town to continue with the plan anyways, saying she does not want to create additional fossil fuel infrastructure.

According to the ordinance, "gasoline station bans may also be seen as promoting the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), thus, reducing vehicle emissions and encouraging low-carbon and cleaner energy options for transportation."

The town, which has about 20,000 residents, laid out goals such as meeting the city's municipal electricity needs with carbon-free sources, generating 75 percent of the town's residential, commercial, and industrial electric needs with carbon-free sources by 2030, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, the Louisville Sustainability Advisory Board recommended the city limit the number of gas stations to five, pushing people to switch from fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles.

Colorado is not the only blue state to push such measures. California Democrats banned the sale of new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035 also to get people to hop on the electric vehicle train.




Friday, March 24, 2023

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports reveals Great Barrier Reef could be destroyed

This is a thoroughly dishonest piece of reporting. It takes scenarios that the IPCC deems highly unlikely (3C+ warming) and treats it as if it were probable. It's just blatant propaganda from a fanatic below

The Great Barrier Reef could be destroyed and Queensland could endure extreme weather conditions if the planet warms more than 3C, a new report has revealed.

A United Nations report by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change warned that time may be running out for the world to only warm by 1.5C, saying it was already at 1.1C.

The report details what changes a rising temperatures would bring to Australia.

If they increaee by 4C globally, Australi’s temperaturs could possibly surge by 6C, meaning the potential for 50C days.

Director of Griffith University Climate Action Beacon Professor Brendan Mackey said to make sure the dire effects of global warming won’t happen we need to transition away from fossil fuels and accelerate to clean energy.

“Each government has made a pledge of policies and programs to achieve mitigation which is what the current government propose,” Prof Mackey said.

“If you add all the commitments it would limit global warming.

“A global warming of three would mean the end of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it,” he said.

“Every increment of warming, that makes it hard for everyone. For Queensland it would mean much heavier impacts for agriculture, huge impacts for Great Barrier Reef.

“If you have a temperature of 40C, it’s life threatening and the doctor would send you to hospital, when we talk about levels of warming a healthy temperature would be 0 above pre-industrial levels.”

Prof Mackey said the Reef couldn’t handle the amount of choral bleaching that would occur.

Prof Mackey said things were heating up fast. “That means we are going to see a big increase in climate impact, an increase of severity of extreme weather events,” he said.

“For Queensland this is interesting, as it is highly exposed to extreme weather events.”

“It would mean more heavy flooding, we will have more of everything that’s bad when it comes to weather.

“Every increment of warming, that makes it hard for everyone.”

But Prof Mackey said the report also revealed there was still opportunity to cap the amount of climate change and limit it at 1.5C.

“It’s really Queensland’s interest to prevent further climate change, while Queensland has a lot of fossil fuels, it also has the minerals that it needed for clean energy, there’s a huge opportunity to become a clean energy powerhouse,” he said.

“What the report is saying for Queensland is that climate change is going to get worse than its better. That’s going to be more climate risk for Queensland.”


Biden's EPA Is Lowering the 'Environmental Justice' Boom on Louisiana's Disputed 'Cancer Alley'

LAPLACE, La.―Along Interstate 10 where the Mississippi River threads from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, ever-expanding petrochemical and other industrial projects have long been fought by environmental activists, who have saddled the stretch with the disputed moniker “Cancer Alley.”   

Now the Biden administration is opening a new front in the war -- against a proposed expansion of the sector in St. John the Baptist and St. James parishes known to Louisianians as the River Parishes. Under its stated aims of “equity” and “environmental justice,” the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to block state-issued permits for two new complexes – while renewing objections to an existing plant – all on grounds of a negative “disparate impact” on minority populations in the area.

In a novel application of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which allows the federal government to defund entities found to discriminate based on race, creed or national origin – the EPA is threatening to withhold millions of dollars in general federal grants to Louisiana unless it enters into an “informal resolution agreement.” This would give federal regulators wide latitude to control a process currently run by Louisiana agencies.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry calls the move a breathtaking regulatory overreach, noting that the state has complied with existing environmental regulations.

But the EPA has notified Louisiana that it has subjected the state’s permitting process to a “civil rights analytical framework.” Just what that framework is, who wrote it and when are unclear, according to Landry’s office, and the EPA declined to discuss the matter or answer questions, citing the pending agreement and legal challenges.

Some light emerged last December, however. In a phone call between Landry’s office and EPA officials, Mary O’Lone, an agency attorney, said the problem in Louisiana isn’t any traditional environmental hazard. In state documents reviewed by RealClearInvestigations, she said “compliance with environmental law does not guarantee compliance with Title VI.” The EPA team conducting the civil rights analysis said there was “no specific action at issue” but rather “the cumulative impact from [the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s] overall action.”

The new approach is being met with skepticism from critical attorneys familiar with environmental laws.

“This is not the way the EPA typically operates, and it looks like they are trying to expand their authority by using their muscle without clear authorization from Congress to infringe on a state permitting agency,” said Jeff Clark, who served in the Trump administration in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and is now with the conservative Center for Renewing America. “There is no authorization to apply cumulative impact analysis to Title VI regulations.”

“I've never seen this," said Steve Milloy, an attorney who has written extensively about what he and others characterize as EPA overreach. "Environmental justice is a hoax and the EPA has no statutory authority to pursue it with permits. The EPA is pushing the envelope here to see what it can get away with. They are trying to strongarm the state.”

At issue is the permitting process covering a cluster of seven existing plants in the River Parishes. The two pending projects would mark a huge expansion. The first is a $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics complex in St. James Parish, the second a $400 million grain terminal in St. John the Baptist Parish. In addition, an existing plant is being targeted by the EPA in its Title VI allegations: the Denka Performance Elastomers factory, which has been in St. John Parish for decades and has been partly owned by a Japanese company since 2015.  

Responding to the agency in January, Louisiana Assistant Attorney General Joseph Scott St. John wrote that “the EPA seems to be using complaints about two specific facilities as a springboard to a larger area.”

Issuance of the Formosa permit is already under legal challenge in Louisiana, where in an unprecedented ruling a district judge tossed it on “environmental racism” grounds last September. That ruling is under appeal.

The Denka plant is the nation’s only domestic producer of neoprene, a synthetic rubber used in surfers’ wetsuits, cell phone cases, and medical and military equipment. And environmentalists and the EPA are zeroing in on a chemical essential to neoprene production: chloroprene, which, they insist, is a dangerous carcinogen.

While studies have shown it can be a carcinogen in animals, scientists only suspect that it is cancerous in humans as well. An agreement reached in 2015 reduced by 85% the amount of chloroprene in the air, which, all sides agree, is released only intermittently. A state permit at the Denka plant that incorporates the regulations is currently pending.

For decades activists have alleged that the petrochemical industry is responsible for cancer in the local population, especially minorities. In 1997, however, the Journal of the Louisiana Medical Society found almost no evidence that the incidence of cancer was higher in the River Parishes than in the rest of the United States.


Canada: scientists discover new method to break down toxic ‘forever chemicals’

Researchers at a Canadian university have made a breakthrough they hope will dramatically shorten the lifespan of the thousands of toxic “forever chemicals” that persist in clothing, household items and the environment.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia announced on Wednesday they had developed a new silica-based material with ability to absorb a wider range of the harmful chemicals, and new tools to break them apart them.

“This is very exciting because we can target these difficult-to-break chemical bonds – and break them for good,” said researcher Madjid Mohseni, who focuses on water quality and water treatment.

The chemicals, also known as PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are used for non-stick or stain-resistant surfaces, including clothing, cookware, stain repellents and firefighting foam. But they are also notoriously difficult to break down naturally, giving them the name “forever chemicals”.

In recent years, scientists have found the chemicals, which were once assumed to be harmless, are also linked to elevated cholesterol, hormonal disruption, infertility, cardiovascular disease and cancers.

“They attach to the proteins in our blood and can accumulate in our bodies, particularly in the liver and the kidneys. And the older you are, the more PFAS you have in your body,” said Amira Aker, a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Laval who was not involved in the UBC research. “And we can also pass the chemicals to a growing fetus, so even newborn babies have PFAS in their bodies from the moment they are born.”

While Canada has joined other nations in banning the manufacture of the chemicals, they are still found in household appliances and cosmetics and when discarded, can leach into the environment.

“We still don’t actually know how long some of these PFAS compounds will take to break down, because they were created back in the 1940s and they still exist within the environment,” said Aker.

Current technologies often use activated carbon to filter out the chemicals, but are largely only able to target what researchers call the “long-chain” versions of PFAS – those with more than six carbon bonds. Following recent bans, however, industry has shifted to creating “short-chain” iterations of the chemical.

“[Those versions] are equally toxic and they stay in the water better. And as a result, current technologies like activated carbon really aren’t as effective,” said Mohseni.

Most household water filters use activated carbon – and as a result, miss a wide range of possibly harmful chemicals.

His team also found that the current filters concentrate the absorbed chemicals, creating a “highly toxic” form of waste that consumers throw into the garbage.

Such filters “are not addressing the problem. We’re just temporarily fixing it and letting those chemicals stay in the environment,” he said.

To combat the deficiencies in combatting PFAS, the team has developed a new silicate absorbing material that captures a far wider range of chemicals. The thin material can also be reused repeatedly.

To destroy the chemicals, Mohseni says researchers use either electrochemical or photochemical processes to break the carbon-fluorine bond. The team first published their findings in the journal Chemosphere.

Mohseni says the technology could be used to combat the chemicals, both in drinking water, as government agencies bring higher standards in, and at industrial sites where high concentrations of the chemicals are released into water supplies.


Why Britain has big plans to join the rush for small modular reactors

Sixty years ago, small nuclear power plants were the next big thing. A United States army promotional film from 1963 features square-jawed scientists and earnest GIs cooing over the ML-1, a reactor that could go anywhere on the back of a truck and provide power without need for resupply. “Epitaph for an unsuccessful operation,” says the narrator, in a Walter Cronkite baritone, “out of gas!”

The army’s portable atomic stations were meant to ensure no operation ever ran out of gas. Unfortunately they did not fulfil their promise, and the programme was shut down in the 1970s. A similar fate befell America’s flirtation with small civilian power plants.

Now small reactors are all the rage again. This time they are being touted as powerful potential weapons in the fight against climate change. Governments around the world are investing billions of pounds to push ahead with new designs; private investors, including Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, are piling into what they believe will be a lucrative market.

Britain is trying to secure its place in the rush. Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, used last week’s budget to announce a competition to select a design for a small modular reactor — an SMR — for use in the UK. The successful applicant or applicants will be chosen by the end of the year and will receive co-funding from the Treasury.

The contest is part of what would be a substantial expansion of the UK’s nuclear fleet. Hunt said he wanted nuclear to provide one quarter of electricity by 2050, up from the 15 per cent provided by the current ageing plants, many of which will be decommissioned in the intervening years.

There is no standard definition of an SMR, but typical designs produce up to 400 megawatts, enough to power 400,000 homes. Traditional large nuclear plants have much higher outputs. The station being built by EDF at Hinkley Point in Somerset, for example, will generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, eight times as much.

More details of the competition are expected at the end of the month, but industry executives expect the government will commit to taking on close to half of the development costs of a prototype. There is also speculation that the government will underwrite construction of the first commercial plants with a contract to buy power at a guaranteed price — or that the funding of a station could be paid for from a levy on consumer bills.

It is thought that about six companies or consortiums will submit bids. The race is likely to pit the domestic champion Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine maker, against European and American contenders.

Regardless of how many companies enter, there is no shortage of interest in the UK among international constructors. “We are very happy with the idea of a competition, and we look forward to seeing what is proposed. We would like, though, to go ahead even without government funding,” said Stefano Buono, chief executive of Newcleo, a start-up in London that will announce plans today to raise €1 billion in equity.

“In general promoters like the UK because there is public support for nuclear power, and support across political parties too,” said Jeff Navin, director of external affairs at TerraPower, which is backed by Bill Gates.

“We look forward to working with the government,” said a spokesman for NuScale, an American company that has a design approved by the US nuclear regulator. Nuscale is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker “SMR”.

Small reactors have floated back to the top of the energy charts on the tide of renewed interest in nuclear power. After the initial enthusiasm of the 1960s and 1970s, governments and utility companies lost interest because of high costs and the risk of serious accidents — a fear stoked by the partial meltdown of a reactor in 1979 at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, and a more serious disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine in 1986.

These worries have been set against the need to tackle climate change. Nuclear power generation does not produce carbon dioxide, and, unlike wind and solar, is not intermittent.

Advocates of SMRs say their smaller size means they can be installed in a greater range of sites, in clusters where more power is needed, and can largely be built on factory production lines, eliminating many of the cost overruns that have dogged the building of large plants. Detractors point to the eventual failures of previous efforts to develop SMRs, and the potential higher cost than rival forms of generation.

Those issues have not deterred a rush of interest in the past five years. It is estimated that about 60 different SMR designs are at various stages around the world, split between established nuclear power companies, governments, universities and start-ups. China and the US both have large government-backed programmes. Britain has put money into the Rolls-Royce effort, and promised a wider programme, but progress has been held up by delays in setting up Great British Nuclear, an agency that will co-ordinate the government’s efforts.