Friday, September 29, 2023

The Problems With Net Zero

Net zero is in trouble. In utterly predictable trouble, in the king's-wearing-no-clothes trouble.

The signs are all around. Governments from coastal America to Communist China and businesses from automakers to toymakers have promised that they will produce no net carbon emissions by some date conveniently far in the future. But as years have gone on, those dates have come to seem inconveniently near. Something has to give.

Political scientist Francis Fukuyama has described the process of improving societies -- making them more politically democratic, economically advanced and culturally tolerant -- as "getting to Denmark." And in fact, Denmark, though far from perfect, has done a better job of getting there than just about any other country.

Which makes it interesting that Denmark's most widely known business, Lego, has thrown in the figurative towel in its effort to manufacture net-zero bricks. It turns out, as the Wall Street Journal's Dominic Chopping reports, bricks made of corn were "too soft," bricks made of wheat "didn't look right" and bricks made of other materials "proved too hard to pull apart or lost their grip."

Plus, sad to say, bricks made of recycled bottles would emit more carbon than its current processes. Lacking the power of a government to require consumers, at least outside tiny Denmark, to buy a palpably inferior product, Lego will go on emitting just as much carbon per brick as before.

Like the Danish King Canute who brushed aside his English courtiers' urgings that he stop the incoming tide, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delayed from 2030 to 2035 the ban on the sale of gasoline-powered automobiles and also postponed a ban on gas-fired furnaces and water heaters.

Sunak's Conservative party seems unlikely to win the general election, which must be held by January 2025, but he evidently calculated that its chances would be reduced if voters thought his party would within a five-year term force them to buy expensive electric cars that could run out of charge on cold days or expensive heat pumps that produce little heat.

Similarly, Germany's socialist-Green coalition government limited its ban on gas heaters, Poland is suing the European Union over its 2035 gas car ban, and Dutch voters gave first place to a new political party protesting limits on the nation's highly efficient farmers' nitrogen emissions.

Of course, imposing such privations on ordinary citizens is just the point for climate activists who combine a penchant for aristocratic private jet travel with a loathing for the plebeian tastes of low- and middle-income consumers. As the Wall Street Journal's Gerard Baker points out, a British ban on carbon emissions and return to subsistence agriculture "wouldn't make the slightest difference to the climate."

There's similar resistance in the United States, and not just on the Right. Matt Huber, leftist author of "Climate Change as Class War," decries net-zero "climate-minded policymakers" who have moved from "policy tools" to discourage driving and meat-eating to "outright coercion: banning fossil-fuel boilers, gas stoves, internal combustion engines ..."

Speaking of which, one reason the United Auto Workers is on strike against the Big Three -- General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (Chrysler) -- is to bolster its current members against the job losses inevitable if the Biden administration's net zero-inspired electric vehicle policies go into effect. EVs require only 70% as much labor as -- and maybe less than -- gasoline-powered vehicles.

Administration policy aims at a 67% sales share for electric vehicles in the 2030s, astronomically higher than the 7% this year.

Ford announced this week it was "pausing" construction of a battery plant with Chinese technology in Marshall, Michigan, and nonunionized Tesla and foreign-based EV and battery manufacturing is scheduled for nonunionized Sun Belt plants.

President Joe Biden may have marched briefly on the UAW picket line in Michigan, but, writes Michigan-based auto journalist Dale Buss, he is "no ally" of the strike. The UAW has conspicuously not endorsed Biden for reelection.

Net-zero policies get good marks from affluent voters in polls, but, as American Enterprise Institute's Ruy Teixeira writes, "The working class did not really sign up for the rapid green transition envisioned by Biden and most Democrats" -- what Rep. Nancy Pelosi referred to in 2019 as "the Green Dream or whatever they call it."

New York Democrats seeking to phase out gas stoves, California Democrats seeking to ban nonelectric trucks, national Democrats forcing production of electric cars without provision for needed electricity production, transmission lines and charging stations -- these are reasons that, to the puzzlement of liberal pundits, more voters see Biden-era Democrats than Trump-era Republicans as "extreme."

Net zero helps to explain why noncollege whites are less supportive of liberal economic policies than white college graduates. Working-class voters see Democrats not offering them free stuff, but instead piling on costs and preventing them from buying things they want. Net zero indeed.


President Biden’s Offshore Wind Policies Make National Lobster Day a Day to Mourn

National Lobster Day was established by Congress to celebrate the tasty crustacean’s place in American history, culture, and commerce.

Sadly, due to President Biden’s offshore wind policies, and his agencies’ blame shifting, it may soon become a day to memorialize the passing of a great industry, tradition, and a tasty meal.

On December 1, President Joe Biden hosted a state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, at which more than 200 Maine lobsters were served.

The dinner was rife with hypocrisy since earlier in his administration, Biden’s National Marine Fisheries Service, an office in the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), issued new restrictions on Maine’s lobster fishers to protect North American right whales from entanglement with lobster fishing gear.

Mind you, the Biden administration enacted these rules despite limited or no evidence that lobster traps were harming the whales.

Maine’s lobster fishing industry filed a lawsuit to block the rules. The plaintiffs’ claim the rules will force the majority of lobstermen, who are family-owned, single-boat operators, out of business, leaving only a few large-scale operators, who have permits to operate in federal as well as state waters, catching lobster in Maine’s waters.

Although entanglement in fishing gear was implicated in nine NARW deaths since 2017 and 19 serious injuries, none of these deaths was caused by entanglement with lobster fishing gear. NOAA’s own data covering all whale species show discarded fishing nets, long-line fishing gear, monofilament, and nets—all tied to large-scale commercial fishing operations—are responsible for the vast majority of whale entanglement injuries. This abandoned fishing gear is the same material which makes up a large percentage of the plastic waste floating in the world’s oceans and almost all of it comes from overseas commercial fishing operations.

From 2020 through 2022, NOAA determined that no right whales were injured from entanglement in Maine lobster fishing gear. Indeed, there has never been a documented whale death or serious injury linked to the Maine lobster fishery.

If America’s lobster fishers aren’t responsible for the rise in very visible whale deaths over the past few years, then what is.

Collisions with ships are the single biggest human-caused reason for whale deaths in U. S. waters. Despite this, the Biden administration has initiated efforts to build 45,000 megawatts of offshore wind facilities in federal waters by 2035. All of this development and the shipping it requires is right smack dab in the middle of critical whale habitat and migration routes.

Since the COVID pandemic, ports and shipping lanes on the U.S. east coast have surpassed those on the west coast as America’s busiest. Part of the increased ship traffic is due to the rapid deployment of hundreds of ships involved with mapping federal waters to site industrial offshore wind developments.

Aside from the ships themselves, the high-decibel sonar emitted by wind industry vessels to map the ocean floor for offshore wind siting poses a huge threat to whales. Who says so? NOAA’s own Chief of the Protected Species department, Sean Hayes. In a letter to the Interior Department objecting to the reckless expansion of offshore wind, wrote:

“Additional noise, vessel traffic and habitat modifications due to offshore wind development will likely cause added stress that could result in additional population consequences to a species that is already experiencing rapid decline. Wind turbines may disrupt the dense concentration of zooplankton that the whales depend on for sustenance, potentially forcing them to spend more energy and take more risks searching elsewhere for food.”

Hayes’ concerns have since been borne out by an increase dead whales washing up on eastern U.S. shores, 60 recorded whale deaths of all species on the East Coast since December 1, 2022, and more than 200 since the offshore wind industry first started ramping up operations of the U.S. east coast in 2016. Hayes’ concerns have also been confirmed by a new documentary by noted environmental author, Michael Shellenberger.

In a New York Post article, Shellenberger explains how offshore wind development is contributing to whale deaths, writing, “There appear to be at least two distinct mechanisms by which wind industry activities are killing whales.”

The first is through boat traffic in areas where there hasn’t historically been traffic,” says Shellenberger. “The second is through high-decibel sonar mapping that can disorient whales, separate mothers from their calves, and send them into harm’s way, either into boat traffic or poorer feeding grounds.”

In the end, the North Atlantic right whale and other whale species faces many threats. But lobster fishing is not significant among them. Yet the lobster industry may suffer for the sins of the offshore wind energy industry and its promoters in the Biden administration.

So as we celebrate the lobster on National Lobster day (while we still can), some of us with bibs and garlic butter sauce, let’s place the blame for the increasing number of whale deaths were it belongs, on Biden’s rapid, little studied push to expand offshore wind. For whales, most especially the North Atlantic Right Whale, the expedited development incentivized by the Biden administration could well qualify as an extinction-level event.


British PM hails the approval of a major oil and gas project as he says the invasion of Ukraine proves the UK has to drill

Rishi Sunak hailed the approval of a major oil and gas drilling project yesterday as he stepped up his opposition to counter-productive green pledges.

The Prime Minister said the decision was the best way to ensure Britain's energy security after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent prices soaring.

Mr Sunak has already moved to delay or dilute costly green pledges such as banning new petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers.

His support for the scheme will draw a clear battle line with Labour, which has said it opposes new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

Mr Sunak tweeted: 'As we make the transition to renewables, we will still need oil and gas – it makes sense to use our own supplies such as Rosebank. This is the right long-term decision for the UK's energy security.'

Announcing the move yesterday, Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho said that even by 2050, fossil fuels will still be producing a quarter of Britain's power and accused critics of 'relying on foreign regimes'.

Regulators approved the Rosebank development off the northern coast of Scotland despite condemnation from Labour, the SNP and campaigners. Ministers hailed the move as a step towards energy independence.

A BBC emergency

A BBC presenter was not following corporation guidelines in referring to climate change as 'the climate emergency' yesterday.

Martha Kearney used the phrase as she discussed the Rosebank decision with Ithaca Energy boss Gilad Myerson on Radio 4.

It sparked speculation the BBC may have changed its house style to use the term but sources said this was not the case. It is understood there are no strict rules on the phrase.

Ms Coutinho said: 'The choice we face is this: Do we shut down our own oil and gas leaving us reliant on foreign regimes? Do we lose 200,000 jobs across the UK? Do we import fuel with much higher carbon footprints instead? And lose billions in tax revenue?

'Keir Starmer's approach will lead to higher emissions and fewer British jobs. Labour would leave us worse off and threaten our ability to keep the lights on.'

The site – 80 miles west of Shetland – contains more than 300million barrels of oil – twice the size of the controversial Cambo oil field.

The North Sea Transition Authority announced it had given its consent for the largest untapped oil reserve in UK waters to be developed.

Approval was given to owners Equinor and Ithaca Energy, following reassurances over environmental concerns, and production is expected to start in late 2026.

The site could produce 69,000 barrels of oil a day at its peak – about 8 per cent of the United Kingdom's daily output – and about 44million cubic feet of gas per day in its first ten years.

Supporters say it will reduce reliance on imports and provide jobs in the UK. Gilad Myerson, executive chairman of Ithaca Energy, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it will create more than 1,600 jobs and provide 'a significant amount of tax revenues for the Treasury'. The Government said in July that it would issue hundreds of new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

Labour has said that, while it opposed the Rosebank development, it would not revoke the licence if it won the next general election. The party has pledged to end new North Sea oil and gas exploration. Labour's business and trade spokesman Jonathan Reynolds told Sky News the priority should be on transitioning away from fossil fuels.

He added: 'Real energy security will only come from moving to nuclear, to renewables, to technologies that will insulate us from those pressures.'

'But we have said we understand this is a difficult position for investors. We will not revoke any licences but we don't think this is good value for money.'

The project also faces criticism due to its impact on climate change and Britain meeting its net zero commitments. Last month 50 MPs and peers from all major parties raised concerns Rosebank could produce 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

They wrote to then energy secretary Grant Shapps urging him to block the oil field.

Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf said developing Rosebank was 'the wrong decision'.

Last night Conservative former environment minister Lord Goldsmith told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: 'It just trashes the UK's reputation as a reliable, grown-up member of the global community; it's done us immeasurable harm.

'If this is the direction that the party is determined to take, there's no way I can vote for a party that positions itself where the Conservative Party is currently positioning itself on climate and nature.'

Lord Goldsmith resigned as a minister after accusing Mr Sunak of being 'uninterested' in the environment.


Seismic blasting in the hunt for a new Australian gas field said to threaten whales

Activists in Australia are trying to stop oil and gas company Woodside Energy from conducting seismic blasting off the country’s western coast, which they say could deafen and ultimately kill endangered migratory whales.

The court challenge is part of a long-running campaign by Indigenous and environmental activists to frustrate Woodside’s plans for “Scarborough,” a massive fossil fuel project set to pump out carbon emissions for decades even as Australia attempts to meet tougher climate targets.

Earlier this month, Marthudunera woman Raelene Cooper sought an injunction to delay the blasting, but that order is due to expire on Thursday, allowing Woodside to resume work it says is required to indicate the location of large gas reserves.

On Tuesday, Cooper argued her case in the Federal Court, saying she was not properly consulted by Woodside Energy before it announced the blasting, a precursor to exploratory drilling.

During the process, airguns fire compressed air toward the ocean floor and the soundwaves penetrate the seabed before bouncing back to receivers towed by a boat. The pattern of the soundwaves gives geologists an indication of oil and gas reserves trapped under the ocean bedrock.

According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the noise can reach 250 decibels, around a million times “more intense” than the loudest whale sounds.

“Now, that’s really problematic if you’re a whale because whales depend on their hearing for everything – to navigate, to find their mates and their food,” said Richard George, Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner.

“So, a deaf whale is a dead whale.”

Woodside Energy plans to extract millions of tons of gas from the Scarborough field, about 375 kilometers (233 miles) off the coast of Western Australia, mostly for export to Asia.

The project was signed off by the previous Australian government led by Scott Morrison, however it retains the support of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s administration, despite its pledge of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Gas is generally less carbon-intensive than coal, but it’s still a planet-warming fossil fuel, and there is a growing understanding that its infrastructure leaks huge amounts of methane – a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the shorter term.

Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA, approved the blasting in July, despite acknowledging that Woodside may not have identified all Indigenous people in need of consultation on the seismic blasting plans, or given them adequate time to be consulted.

In a statement to CNN, Woodside said it had “consulted extensively on our environment plans, dedicating time and effort so our approach to environmental management and [Environmental Plan] consultation meets our current understanding of regulatory requirements and standards.”

Woodside Energy provided CNN with its marine environmental plan for Scarborough dated June 2023.

The document lists dozens of threatened and migratory species of sharks, mammals, reptiles and birds that can be found in the vicinity of the blast zone, including loggerhead and leatherback turtles, great white sharks and pygmy blue whales.

Greenpeace said Woodside’s plans “skirt close” to a major migration route for pygmy blue whales, a smaller subspecies of blue whale that travels north each year from the Antarctic into waters off Australia’s northwest.

The population size of pygmy blue whales is unclear, but the Australian government considers the mammal to be endangered.

The government’s species profile warns about the dangers of “man-made noise” to the whales, saying it can “potentially result in injury or death, masking of vocalisations, displacement from essential resources (e.g. prey, breeding habitat), and behavioural responses.”

“Potential sources of man-made underwater noise interference in Australian waters include seismic surveys for oil, gas and geophysical exploration,” the profile adds.

However in its environmental report, Woodside said any impact on whales would be short term.

“There will be no lasting effect on whales, however there could be short term hearing impacts,” Woodside wrote in its report.

The company also said it “will have dedicated marine fauna observers and systems which can listen for whale song on some vessels” and that the “presence of whales can postpone activities.”




Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Terrifying moment firefighters rescue a claustrophobic man after he gets TRAPPED inside his electric Corvette when the power doors stop working

I am glad that electricity goes nowhere near the door handles in my car

A TikTok video showed the scary moment firefighters had to rescue a man who was trapped inside his Corvette when the vehicle's electric doors stopped working.

The video, posted by user 'BigBroQuan95,' shows the claustrophobic man sweating in the Florida heat on a summer day as first responders surround the car.

The man, who says in the video that he is having 'an anxiety attack,' begs the firefighters to break the window, saying he doesn't care about the cost.

'Break the window. Y'all sitting here trying to Goddamn jump it, get me out of this motherf**ker,' the man says as he laughs nervously while sweat drips down his face.

In 2015, a man and his dog died in Texas after his electric-powered Corvette stopped working and they became trapped inside. His family later filed a lawsuit against GM.

The terrifying video begins with the man - who was sitting at a gas station when his car 'went dead' showing off the vehicle and the firefighters outside.

Quan - wearing a shirt embossed with the words 'determination over negativity' - says the firefighters have been working to jump the car as the temperatures soared.

'I'm sweating,' he says. 'It's hot, like 100 degrees outside. I can't get out.'

He continues, stating that he even was in fear that he was 'about to die' before the firefighters arrived to assist in his rescue.

Throughout the 90-second video, the man repeats that he is not worried about the cost of the repairs on the expensive, luxury vehicle. 'Break the window,' he screams at the first responder as they check out the car to look for alternative ways to save him. 'I'll pay for the Goddamn damage,' Quan shouts before giving one firefighter the thumbs up to shatter the glass.

A firefighter eventually comes to the passenger-side window and smashes it with a long and heavy item, immediately shattering the glass.

The first responder then has to pry the glass off car window as tiny slivers of the window fall onto the seat next to the driver.

'Get me out of this motherf**ker,' he says while laughing after the glass shattered.

The one and a half minute video eventually ends with Quan showing off his sweaty forehead and face and laughing off the stress.

In a follow-up TikTok, the Corvette owner explained that the car's door handles are electrical and require power to be able to exit the vehicle.

He told his 17,000 followers that despite 'freaking the f**k out' and 'hyperventilating' he had to calm himself down and call the police.

Quan also said he was banging on the windows trying to get people at the gas station around him to help as he was struggling inside the vehicle.

In total, Quan's original video has been liked more than 500,000 times and has surpassed more than five million views as of Monday afternoon.

Additionally, nearly 12,000 comments have been left on the clip with the general consensus being that the experience would have scared anyone.

'The way my claustrophobia is set up I woulda been kicking that window like I was in a self defense class!'

'The way my claustrophobia is set up I woulda been kicking that window like I was in a self defense class!'

'I keep a window breaking device in any car I drive because I have a fear of being trapped in a car under water. Everyone should have one.'


Even Bill Gates is backtracking — the air’s gone out of the climate-crisis balloon

By Glenn H. Reynolds

Has the air gone out of the “climate crisis” balloon? It’s starting to look like it. Some other causes du jour are looking limp lately, too.

Oh, hysteria is still out there. In Boston this month, I passed a church whose door bore a lurid poster reading “DUE TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS, WORSHIP IN SANCTUARY 9-17-23 CANCELED.”

If it were really a global crisis, wouldn’t you want to be praying?

I first thought it was referring to Hurricane Lee, which had been predicted to bring apocalyptic storm conditions to Beantown. Lee, though, veered out to sea, and that Sunday was sunny, warm and delightful.

(While the soldiers of God had fled the scene in advance, the armies of Mammon were out in force on the Boston Common, in the form of a massive cannabis fair. Say what you will about the stoners, they’re not prone to panic or overthinking.)

But this seems actually a case of closing church so parishioners could go to New York to “Join us in the March to End Fossil Fuels,” which is even more amusing, since traveling uses a lot more fossil fuels than staying in Boston and praying for an end to fossil fuels, which would be at least as effective.

Bill Gates, however, is pumping the brakes on climate panic.

Speaking at a New York Times event, he observed heavy-handed policies won’t work: “If you try to do climate brute force, you will get people who say, ‘I like climate but I don’t want to bear that cost and reduce my standard of living.’”

As Gates noted, many of these people are in middle-income countries, like China and India, that are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions today and whose emissions (unlike those of the United States) have been growing.

He also rained on the greens’ apocalyptic parade, saying “no temperate country is going to become uninhabitable.”

And he cautioned against untested approaches like massive tree planting: “Are we the science people or are we the idiots? Which one do we want to be?”

Well, the climate policies the political system supports are mostly the ones likely to yield the most graft, and those the corporate world supports are mostly the ones involving massive government subsidies.

But it’s interesting to see Gates softening his tone; it feels as if climate outrage has passed its sell-by date.

Oh, sure, there are still kooks in Europe gluing themselves to roadways and the occasional nut throwing oil on famous works of art, but it’s all started to seem rather forced.

When you see a shift in a social trend like this, it’s almost always happening for the same reason: The people behind it have figured out it’s doing the left more harm than good.

It’s of a piece with the sudden de-emphasis of ESG (environmental, social, governance) as a tool of corporate management.

In both cases, the detached, well-off white people who mostly run the left dreamed up causes and slogans, which their follow-the-herd peers uncritically adopted until they ran into reality and the rest of the world noticed.

The reality, as Gates is reminding us, is there’s not actually a climate “crisis” calling for drastic action tomorrow, and running businesses and institutions as if there is one is counterproductive and even outright destructive.

Another reality is the great mass of people around the globe knows this and has lost patience with it.

Likewise, investors have figured out ESG is just a way for managers to substitute fuzzy, hard-to-assess performance metrics — basically a “net wokeness” calculus — for clear and well-defined metrics like, you know, how much profit managers produce for shareholders.

It’s not really surprising that, on reflection, shareholders would rather have profit than trendy causes, and voters would rather have jobs and functioning societies than nonstop apocalyptic rhetoric.

Even Ibram X. Kendi’s antiracism center is falling apart, having produced nothing of substance.

I hope this trend continues. It would be nice to see the New York City government emphasize crime control, subway maintenance and pothole-fixing instead of trendy (and grift-filled) social-justice projects.

It would be nice to see the Department of Defense — which hasn’t won a war since Desert Storm more than 30 years ago — emphasize defeating our country’s enemies over training commanders to avoid “whiteness” and get their soldiers’ pronouns right.

Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings” are always waiting for civilizations that lose sight of fundamentals in favor of glittering fictions.

Let’s pray ours is returning to good sense before it’s too late.


Biden State Dept. Launches New Attack on Fossil Fuels

The Biden State Department announced the release of a new guidebook for the U.S. and other countries on Tuesday and — rather than being focused on diplomatic efforts to allow human flourishing or defeating terrorists and those who give them safe harbor — it's all about cutting greenhouse gases, specifically methane, within the oil and gas industry.

Titled "Methane Abatement for Oil and Gas – Handbook for Policymakers," the new result of taxpayer funded work at the Departments of State and Commerce to advance the "Global Methane Pledge and Clean EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy)" is little more than the Biden administration's latest attempt to go after oil and gas companies who've already been dealt a series of blows courtesy of the president's crusade to "end" fossil fuels.

A letter from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in the guidebook repeats the same blather that's become customary for the Biden administration. "Methane emissions are a major contributor to climate change," her letter states. "Abating methane emissions are also a unique opportunity. For that reason, in 2021, the United States and its international partners established the Global Methane Pledge," another worldwide climate-related pact that includes goals and policies not assented to by Congress.

"Under the Pledge, countries commit to collectively reduce methane by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels," Raimondo explains. "The U.S. and its partners are working now to help countries adopt methane abatement policies, mobilize methane financing, deploy abatement technologies and practices, and reform laws and regulations."

That is, the Biden administration is working to make both the U.S. and other countries around the world as strict and inhospitable to the fossil fuel industry as possible.

Within the more than 200-page "handbook," the Biden administration's guide proposes strict standards for developing countries — standards that require significantly more capital to construct and bring online, making them unreasonable for emerging markets. It also advocates for countries of the world to enact regulatory regimes across the board for existing and mid-level producers.

These regulations, according to the guide, include "prescriptive measures" to "directly require entities to undertake or not undertake specific actions or procedures" including requirements, equipment standards, and bans or moratoriums" along with "performance" requirements to "establish a mandatory performance standard for regulated entities" and economic penalties to "induce action by applying fees or introducing financial incentives for certain behaviors." In addition, the guidebook suggests information requirements under which "regulated entities estimate, measure, and report their emissions to public bodies."

Not only is the Biden administration's latest (yet rather quietly announced) attack on the fossil fuel industry at home and abroad another prescription for suffocating regulations aimed at the ultimate goal of ending oil and gas production, it's also entirely hypocritical.

Despite the handbook being produced, in part, by State Department bureaucrats, the agency isn't living up to existing climate-related pledges, let alone the regulations and requirements being prescribed for the oil and gas industry.

As Townhall noted in previous coverage of the Biden administration's climate hypocrisy, the State Department is supposed to — per a 2021 executive order signed by President Biden — report annually all greenhouse gas emissions from sources owned or controlled by a federal agency such as government vehicles and aircraft, sources that generate electricity used to keep the lights on at federal buildings, and sources not owned by but related to an agency's activities such as business travel.

Despite this requirement for the State Department, an attempt by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to find reported emissions data from the State Department — as they're required to do — turned up nothing. According to the Government Accountability Office, the State Department still does "not have a systematic way to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from," among other means, "U.S. delegation travel."

It's another case of "do as I say, not as I do" from the climate wokescolds within the Biden administration — all for the greater goal of forcing the "green" energy transition that's anything but and ending the use of fossil fuels in the process.


Australia's Green shoe brigade: Red carpet for renewable koala killers

Mount Morgan, less than 40 kilometres from Rockhampton, was once the largest gold mine in the world. It closed in 1990 but there’s still gold in them thar hills. These days however it comes from Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs, pronounced wrecks, which is what renewable projects are doing to grid security and the environment.

The RECs have been so lucrative that companies from all over the world have poured into Queensland lured not just by the generous REC subsidies but by a lax regulatory environment in which ministers have the discretion to override, for ‘relevant infrastructure activities’, environmental regulations regarding tree clearing, ground cover, and the amount of run-off allowed to flow into the Great Barrier Reef.

When Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was premier in the 1980s, deals were done for the ‘white shoe brigade’ that ignored regulations and delivered rapid rezoning, government loans, and subsidies for controversial developments on the basis of a nod and a wink and sometimes a rumoured brown paper bag of cash.

Under Premier Palaszczuk, Queensland is rolling out the red carpet for the Green Shoe Brigade, not so much carpetbaggers as sun and windbaggers. There’s no need for a brown paper bag. The ‘climate crisis’ justifies the immediate rezoning of pastoral and forested land to allow for industrial-scale renewable utilities.

There is an ‘anything goes’ atmosphere of the Wild West or the Wild North making Queensland’s Renewable Energy Rush every bit as feverish as the gold rush that preceded it.

The scale of what Palaszczuk is planning is Bowen-esque. The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan launched this month has set a 50-per-cent Renewable Energy Target by 2030 and a 2032 target of up to 2,000 turbines generating 8GW of electricity, 14 million solar panels generating 4GW of electricity, and 5GW of pumped hydro and battery storage.

Yet of 54 wind plants listed, only five are operational, four are under construction, and 42 proposed. Of 129 solar plants, 40 are operational, three are under construction, and eight proposed. And of four pumped hydro storage plants, one is operational, one is committed, and two proposed.

What makes any of this credible is the speed with which projects have gone ahead in the last year and the ruthless indifference to bulldozing the last remnants of old-growth forests. Too rugged for agriculture or mining, these are the last refuges for dozens of Queensland’s most rare and threatened creatures including koalas and greater gliders.

Conservationist Steven Nowakowski calculates that 14,100 hectares of remnant forest will be cleared for 17 renewable projects in North Queensland, and 4,625 kilometres of new haulage roads will have to be bulldozed through forests to service 88 renewable energy projects in the pipeline throughout Queensland.

If a mining or oil and gas company was committing environmental destruction on this scale and it was being rubber-stamped by a Coalition government every green group and parliamentarian in the country would be up in arms. But state-funded conservation groups have said off the record that they don’t dare criticise the state government for fear of losing their funding.

Almost every renewable energy project in Queensland has triggered the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act passed by the federal government in 1999 to protect our unique plants, animals, habitats, and places.

To date, Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek has not covered herself in glory. Her Liberal predecessor Sussan Ley put a stop to a project at Lotus Creek to build 81 wind turbines 230 metres high spread over 48,000 hectares including 632 hectares of koala habitat and 340 hectares of greater glider habitat because it posed a ‘clearly unacceptable’ threat to koalas. The Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed the decision saying, ‘renewable energy projects should not leave biodiversity and threatened species worse off’, but said nothing when Plibersek reinstated the project with increased power generation.

Lotus Creek has a thriving koala community including females with young on their backs in pristine old-growth forests with nesting hollows supporting a flourishing ecosystem of wildlife.

A former Greens candidate, Nowakowski is a voice in the wilderness calling for the state government to turn the area into a national koala park. Horrified by the destruction wreaked by renewable energy’s massive footprint he now supports the Liberals’ nuclear energy policy and the Nationals call for a moratorium on renewables.

‘No one wants to imagine an Australia without the koalas,’ said Plibersek last month, but when it comes to a choice between protecting endangered koalas in native forests and building a wind farm, she opted for the latter.

Bulldozers will arrive any day now at Lotus Creek and if a koala is injured it must, by law, be clubbed to death. Yet unlike Ley, Plibersek hasn’t had to face accusations of being a koala killer.

Glen and Nikki Kelly are the sixth generation to run the family farm near Rockhampton – the essence of sustainable land management. They are horrified that their flourishing property will be ringed with 120 wind turbines 275 metre high which will destroy the habitat of rare and threatened species, create landslides feeding into the Great Barrier Reef, and in summer, firefighters will no longer be assisted by aircraft because the smoke-obscured turbines will make it too dangerous.

Nearby, Cedric and Therese Creed are battling a 36km2 solar plant, bigger than Norfolk Island, to be built on prime agricultural land on the Don river. In extreme weather, toxic leakage from damaged panels and batteries will poison the land and the reef. In a bushfire firefighters can’t even approach it because of toxic fumes and the risk of explosions.

What might save regions from reckless renewable development is the massive uptake of rooftop solar. Queensland’s grid is approaching what energy economist Stephen Wilson calls ‘peak renewables’. When the operator can’t buy any more renewable electricity, companies can’t earn RECs and profits are curtailed. Investment in renewable generation is at its lowest level in five years because of diminishing returns, yet electricity bills are soaring because of renewable subsidies, capital costs and weather-driven shortages.

It was National Threatened Species Day on 7 September but the threat that most concerns Plibersek and Prime Minister Albanese is the vote for the Greens in their adjacent inner-city electorates. So far, it seems their voters care more about closing down coal-fired power plants than whether Big Wind is killing koalas.




Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Giant utility rejects net zero power, big fight follows

Dominion Energy, Virginia’s big electric utility, is telling the State it does not foresee complying with the 2045 net zero power target in the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The preferred option in Dominion’s latest Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) retires no fossil-fueled power generators, other than the few old ones that are already in the process of retirement. In fact, it adds a lot more fossil juice.

Up front in the IRP, Dominion puts it this way: “Due to an increasing load forecast, and the need for dispatchable generation, the Alternative Plans show additional natural gas-fired resources and preserve existing carbon-emitting units beyond statutory retirement deadlines established in the VCEA. The law explicitly authorizes the Company to petition the SCC for relief from these requirements on the basis that the unit retirements would threaten the reliability or security of electric service to customers.”

So, in effect, this is a notice to Virginia’s utility regulator, the State Corporation Commission (SCC), that Dominion is prepared to petition for permission to not comply with the net zero power generation mandate in the VCEA.

In fact, this IRP may constitute such a petition. The anti-fossil forces apparently think so because they have petitioned the SCC to reject the IRP because it includes more gas-fired generation. In response, the SCC has initiated a formal legal proceeding to consider this request. A number of green groups have joined the proceeding; there has been a hearing, public comments have been taken, etc. The whole rulemaking deal.

The impetus for this unexpected bout of rationality from Dominion is, as the quote says, an increased load forecast. Specifically, the SCC requires Dominion to use the load forecast from the regional grid operator, which is PJM. They issued a whopping new forecast that is roughly double their earlier ones going back years.

So Dominion is saying they don’t think we can service this enormous new load and comply with the VCEA net zero mandate. They specifically propose not to retire most of their fossil fleet, plus adding almost 3,000 MW of gas-fired generation over the next 15 years. No wonder the anti-fossils are apoplectic.

Unfortunately, they also add a ridiculous amount of renewables. This is about 11,000 Megawatts (MW) of solar and 3,000 MW of mostly offshore wind, on top of the 2,600 MW of offshore already in process. With their usual smoke and mirrors, there is virtually no storage to make this intermittent junk reliable despite costing tens of billions of dollars. If the gas-fired power does that, why not just use it instead of the renewables? Plus, offshore wind is hell on whales. But I digress.

Dominion has 7 million customers in 16 States, so its Virginia no net zero action has much wider implications. Beyond that, it could be a national precedent, so other utilities, States, and interest groups should be watching closely.

What the SCC decides could be very important. Ironically, in a ridiculous sense, the SCC does not exist at this time. Due to a political stalemate, there is only one Commissioner, out of the called-for three, and it takes a quorum of two to issue a formal order. It looks like the most that can happen is that an administrative law judge can render an opinion on the anti-fossil petition.

The SCC legal mess is beyond my knowledge or understanding. Rejecting an IRP seems odd to begin with. Then, too, the VCEA seems to allow what Dominion is describing specifically. Nor is it at all clear that an IRP is a petition when the matter is just presented as an option. Perhaps it is a petition to be allowed to suggest it. The whole fight strikes me as an absurd confusion, but alarmism is like that. Maybe that is the message. Anti-fossil alarmism is an absurd confusion.


FERC approves gas projects despite calls for fossil fuel phaseout

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to approve the expansion of two liquefied natural gas projects on the Gulf Coast, potentially locking in planet-warming emissions for decades to come.

During its monthly meeting Thursday, FERC granted certificates for the expansion of Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur Phase II project in Jefferson County, Tex., and Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass project in Cameron Parish, La.

The first certificate will allow Sempra to increase a terminal’s capacity to liquefy natural gas for export from 13.46 million tons per year to 26.92 million tons annually. The terminal could be in operation for nearly 30 years.
The second will enable Venture Global to boost the peak capacity of a facility that has allegedly violated its air permits on more than 100 occasions.

“In the middle of this climate emergency, the Biden administration is lighting the fuse to massive carbon bombs,” Jamie Henn, founder and director of Fossil Free Media, told The Climate 202 of the certificates.

To be clear, FERC is an independent agency that does not directly answer to President Biden. Although its five commissioners are nominated by the president, no more than three may be of the same political party, and it is currently split 2-2 between each party.

Still, Henn argued the commission’s decisions undermined the climate record of Biden, who skipped the summit in New York on Wednesday, instead sending climate envoy John F. Kerry.

‘Enough is enough’
Environmental justice activists said the first project in particular could increase not only planet-warming emissions — but also health-harming air pollution — in overburdened communities of color.

At a rally outside FERC’s headquarters before the meeting, activists emphasized that the mostly Black and Latino residents of Port Arthur, Tex., already live near three oil refineries, two liquefied natural gas terminals and at least 40 other facilities that release toxins into the air.

“We don’t want to see any of these projects approved. Enough is enough,” John Beard, founder and executive director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network, told The Climate 202 before the rally. “We refuse to be sacrificed anymore.”

Activists also alleged the second facility has violated its air permits more than 138 times, citing reporting by New Orleans Public Radio. Some unauthorized emissions lasted more than a week, according to a compliance order issued in June by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which could impose hefty fines.

Spokespeople for Sempra did not respond to a request for comment. But Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for Venture Global, disputed activists’ assertions about the permit violations.

“Environmental compliance and safety is Venture Global’s highest priority and our team is committed to meeting all state and federal regulatory requirements,” Hynes said in an email. “We have complied with all annual emissions limits under our air permits and do not agree with the claim that we have violated our air permits more than 138 times.”

Internal divisions

Yesterday’s meeting came as FERC struggles to decide whether — and how — to weigh greenhouse gas emissions caused by pipelines and other gas projects.

In February 2022, the commission voted to approve landmark rules that would require consideration of new gas projects’ effects on climate change and environmental justice.
But a month later, FERC backtracked in the face of pushback from Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), voting to recategorize the policies as mere drafts.

Then in January, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued interim guidance that strongly encouraged all agencies — including FERC — to consider all projects’ emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

FERC Chairman Willie Phillips, a Democrat, still hasn’t said how the commission will interpret this guidance. But at its July meeting, the commission abruptly struck six gas projects from its agenda, a move that seemingly stemmed from internal divisions over the matter.

Commissioner James Danly, a Republican, has argued that FERC “has no means to determine the significance” of greenhouse gas emissions. But Commissioner Allison Clements, a Democrat, has strongly rejected that notion, and she dissented in part from yesterday’s orders approving the gas certificates.

“I continue to disagree with my colleagues’ view that it is impossible to determine the significance of greenhouse gas emissions,” Clements said yesterday.

For his part, Phillips told reporters after the meeting that the commission would “continue to review” the guidance, although he declined to share specific next steps.


European emission laws to be weakened after car-makers push back – report

The European Union’s proposed ‘Euro 7’ emissions laws are reportedly expected to be weakened, as car-makers believe the tight environmental restrictions will result in a delay to their electric-car plans.

News agency Reuters reports a proposal by Spain has led to the Euro 7 emissions standards – due to be introduced for passenger vehicles from 2025 – being watered down, with EU countries largely agreeing on the compromised laws.

The Euro 7 regulations aim to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and tailpipe particulate emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles by 35 per cent and 13 per cent compared to current levels, respectively – as well as limit the amount of particulate matter caused by tyres and brakes.

The original proposal called for a 25 per cent reduction in NOx from diesel cars, bringing them into line with their petrol counterparts.

Car-makers have previously complained the costs of adhering to Euro 7 would impact their investments towards the development of electric cars.

In April 2023, Volkswagen called for the regulations to be pushed back to the northern hemisphere autumn (September to November) in 2026 at the earliest.

As previously reported, the European Union will effectively ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, as its regulations will require a 100 per cent reduction in tailpipe emissions – effectively leaving electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles as the only alternatives.

German car-maker BMW has also criticised the proposed Euro 7 regulations for making an insignificant difference to emissions.

“Euro 6 and in particular Euro 6d are effective and already cover 95 per cent of all statistically relevant driving situations," a spokesperson for BMW told German publication Automobilwoche earlier this year.

"However, the (European Union's) draft focuses precisely on such special cases – instead of reducing the limits for everyday traffic more strongly, as proposed by the (European Automobile Manufacturers Association)."

The Euro 7 regulations are yet to be formally signed off and enforced, though it is likely the approved version of the proposal will affect cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles (utes, vans) sold in Europe from mid-2025.


Over 300 Threatened Eagles Killed or Injured by Wind Turbines in Tasmania: Study

Over the past decade, wind turbines and transmission lines have led to the deaths or injuries of 321 threatened eagles in Tasmania, according to a study.

More cases are believed to be unreported due to a lack of systemic research on wind farms and public information.

It found that from 2010-2022, wind farms caused the deaths of 268 eagles and injured 53, with state-owned power company TasNetworks reporting 139 deaths, and eagle rescuers witnessing 91 deaths and 50 injuries.

Study author Gregory Pullen said the number of eagle deaths was a “stark reminder” that an urgent solution was needed to mitigate further harm to the vulnerable species.

“The real number can only be higher since surveying at wind farms is incomplete,” Mr. Pullen noted in the study.

“Specifically, it is only close to turbines, is periodic, and does not involve all turbines or all habitat around each turbine, scrub often being excluded.”

Of great concern is that 272 deaths involved the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, and 49 of the vulnerable white-bellied sea eagles.

Both species could face further risk as the expansion of wind turbine construction continues amid the federal government’s net-zero push.

“Accelerated deaths of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and white-bellied sea-eagle are a grim reality if thousands of new wind turbines and hundreds of kilometres of transmission lines are erected across Tasmania to meet a legislated doubling of renewable energy production by 2040,” Mr. Pullen said.

The study estimated that less than 1,000 Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles remain and emphasised ongoing monitoring to ensure the species does not become extinct.

It includes observing the number of eagles, stability of breeding pairs, nesting success and surviving chicks, presence of juvenile birds, and whether disruption to the natural habitat causes dislocation.

While the Tasmanian government has guidelines in place to protect threatened eagles, Mr. Pullen found that these have not contributed to real-life decisions regarding wind farm placement.

For instance, despite great differences in eagle densities across Tasmania, there are currently no designated "no turbine zones."

Some researchers have suggested Tasmanian eagles be fitted with GPS trackers, but the concept has been slow to establish and has yet to be used in wind farm planning.

The study comes as Tasmanian authorities continue their push towards net zero, recently inking a deal with the German city Bremen.

State Energy Minister Guy Barnett said the collaboration was evidence of the state's plan to become a leader in large-scale green hydrogen production by 2030 to meet both domestic and international demand.

“This joint declaration demonstrates the opportunity the rest of the world sees in Tasmania and confidence in the government’s renewable energy agenda,” Mr. Barnett said in a statement on Sept. 17.

“Tasmania is well placed, with our 100 percent renewable electricity, abundant water supplies, and excellent port infrastructure to seize these important opportunities with international partners.”

Scientist Questions Wind Power Reliability

There are concerns, however, over the viability of large-scale renewable energy generation. One Oxford University mathematician and physicist has criticised wind power saying it is historically and scientifically unreliable, noting that governments are prioritising "windfarm politics" over numerical evidence.

Professor Emeritus Wade Allison made the assertion in response to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the “instinctive reaction” around the world was to embrace renewables.

“Today, modern technology is deployed to harvest these weak sources of energy. Vast ‘farms’ that monopolise the natural environment are built, to the detriment of other creatures,” Mr. Allison said in the report, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

“Developments are made regardless of the damage wrought. Hydro-electric schemes, enormous turbines, and square miles of solar panels are constructed, despite being unreliable and ineffective.”




Monday, September 25, 2023

EVs and the American Autoworker

For decades, Democrats and autoworkers were joined at the hip. Which makes sense because Democrats and Big Labor were joined at the hip. But not anymore. Indeed, many of those rank-and-file workers are now at odds with the same party they’ve traditionally supported.

Why, it’s almost as if the Democrats are no longer the party of blue-collar America.

The effort by Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Gavin Newsom to ram unwanted electric vehicles down our throats threatens to end the cozy relationship between the politicians pushing EVs and the union workers tasked with building them.

The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act provided “unprecedented levels of support for EVs, including at least $83 billion of loans, grants, and tax credits that could support the production of low or zero-emission vehicles, batteries, or chargers,” reports EV Hub. And just this month, Biden’s Department of Energy announced that it’s doling out another $15 billion in grants and loans.

With all that taxpayer money floating around, it’s no wonder that big automakers are tripping over themselves to lead the way with EVs. Unfortunately, they’re also abandoning the very men and women who’ve built those companies.

“The UAW strike entered its seventh day on Thursday,” reports Fox Business, “in what is the union’s first strike simultaneously targeting each of Detroit’s Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. About 12,700 workers at a trio of facilities operated by the Big Three went on strike last Friday in the initial wave of walkouts.”

The UAW is asking for a 46% pay raise over four years, a 32-hour work week while getting paid for 40, and the unionization of workers who build electric vehicles. But the biggest sticking point is that tens of billions of dollars being poured into EV infrastructure will take jobs away from autoworkers up and down the line.

As Business Insider reports: “Workers who assemble gasoline engines, transmissions, exhaust systems, and the myriad of other parts not needed in electric vehicles will likely bear the brunt of the transition. Moreover, electric motors and batteries are much simpler than traditional powertrains, allowing carmakers to maintain the same production output with fewer workers.”

The Big Three themselves are facing competition from Tesla, which is turning a profit on its EVs. On the other hand, Ford and other companies continue to lose billions on their EV production.

Ford last $3 billion last year on EVs and may lose another $4.5 billion this year. Yet according to to The New York Times, “If the union got all the increases in pay, pensions and other benefits it is seeking, the company said, its workers’ total compensation would be twice as much as Tesla’s employees.”

But it’s not all about short-term pay and benefits. Some union workers see a broader strategy to phase out gas-powered vehicles.

“In both public and private, union officials have made clear their belief that the auto industry is using the technological transition to mask a second, economic, transition,” reports The Atlantic. “They worry that the companies are using the shift from internal-combustion engines to carbon-free electric vehicles to simultaneously shift more of their operations from high-paying union jobs mostly in northern states to lower-paying, nonunion jobs mostly in southern states.”

And it turns out their fears are well-founded. Thanks to fewer regulations, lower electricity costs, and right-to-work laws, red states are benefitting from the EV transition. Hyundai, for example, plans to open a $4.6 billion EV factory in Georgia. And Ford is building a $5.6 billion battery and vehicle manufacturing campus in Tennessee called BlueOval City.

On the other hand, the transition from combustible engines to EVs is not only affecting future jobs in the auto industry; it also threatens to leave the U.S. even more dependent on China, which is the world’s leading producer of key elements needed in the production of EV battery cells. A future in which the majority of Americans own EVs is a future that China would be happy to supply.

It looks like the EV revolution is coming, but it won’t come without risks.

Democrats could lose support from the UAW and leave the U.S. even more energy dependent. And the precious environment that leftists claim to care about takes a big hit when renewable resources are mined. In the end, most Americans don’t want an EV and even fewer can afford one.

Biden and the Democrats won’t listen to the people, but a UAW strike may be just what’s needed to wake them up to the folly of electric vehicles.


Berkey Water Filter Maker Sues EPA Over Claims That Its Products Are 'Pesticides'

The maker of Berkey water filters, New Millennium Concepts, is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over what it says are false claims by the federal agency that its products are “pesticides.”

Using COVID-19-era regulatory powers, the EPA issued a stop-sales order to several Berkey vendors and distributors in May, resulting in mounting financial losses for the Texas-based company, which was founded in 1998.

On Aug. 3, New Millennium Concepts filed a lawsuit in a Fort Worth federal court that challenges the EPA's stop-sales order as “unjustified persecution.”

In 2022, the agency demanded the company register its mechanical filter as a “pesticide device,” and then recently as a “pesticide,” without compliance with Administrative Procedures Act (APA) guidelines, the lawsuit argues.

'EPA Fail'

“The EPA’s failure to operate using plain language and follow APA guidelines has caused plaintiffs devastating damage,” the suit claims.

“What the EPA is doing is attacking the vendors to Berkey products,” Mr. Norred said. “They’re interfering in the supply chain.”

The EPA has been regulating pesticides since 1947 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). However, the lawsuit argues that Berkey filters don't use chemical pesticides to treat water—its purification process is entirely mechanical.

“FIFRA is exactly what it looks like—a law that seeks to regulate chemical pesticides,” according to the Norred Law website. “But the law distinguishes between actual pesticides, ‘substances or mixtures of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest,’ and ‘treated devices,' which use registered pesticides in their construction, e.g. seeds that are sold after being treated with a registered pesticide.”

In February, the EPA issued a compliance advisory announcing changes in regulations governing the production, distribution, and sale of “pesticide devices.”

“There has been a significant increase in the number of devices being distributed or sold in the United States,” the advisory stated.

“EPA has found substantial non-compliance with FIFRA in the device and pesticide marketplace. Examples of non-compliance include unregistered pesticides claiming to be devices, devices bearing false and misleading statements, and devices being sold and distributed that were not produced in an EPA registered establishment.”

The EPA said examples of pesticide devices include water or air filters, ultraviolet light systems, ozone generators, and sound generators.

“If a device incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to perform its intended pesticidal purpose, then it is considered a pesticide, not a device, and would require registration under FIFRA Section 3.”

Silver-Protected Filters

New Millennium Concepts agreed to an EPA condition designating Berkey water filters as treated devices, because they use silver to protect the filters that remove pathogens by means of a “tortuous maze of micropores.”

The use of the antiviral silver in Berkey filters has been found to trap more than 99 percent of COVID-19 strains, Mr. Norred said.

“Silver is often used in pesticides for pesticidal purposes. The EPA has latched on to the use of silver to protect the filter, and said you’re using silver and you are making pesticidal claims—poof, you’re a pesticide.”

“We do use a registered pesticide that has silver in it. So the filters are technically a treated article because there is a pesticide Berkey uses to protect its filters. But that pesticide does not have any pesticidal purpose for the water. It just protects and lengthens the lifetime of the filter,” Mr. Norred added.

Not Enough

But the company agreeing to brand its Berkey water filters as treated devices "wasn’t enough,” the legal website added.

‘The EPA recently decided that the filters are actual pesticides, again without notice or warning, issued orders preventing Berkey filters from sale in some parts of the country, and preventing their export.”

“If the EPA wants to regulate gravity-fed mechanical water filters, it has a process to follow, at the very least. Berkey’s water filters have never caused any harm to anyone, and the removal of Berkey filters from the market inexorably means that the demand will be met with untested knockoff and counterfeit filters.”


UK: Running out of power: Value of used electric cars drops by a fifth, plummeting in price by a quarter in a year

Prices of second-hand electric cars have plummeted by almost a quarter in a year, figures show, amid a drop in consumer confidence.

Dealers have warned that Electric Vehicles (EVs) are sitting on forecourts for 'months on end while they haemorrhage value', with some at risk of selling at a loss if the market does not recover.

Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak ditched the 2030 target for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, post- poning it until 2035.

The Prime Minister warned that imposing 'unacceptable costs' on families risked wrecking support for saving the planet.

The move, which brings the UK in line with the European Union, was a victory for the Mail's campaign to rethink the 2030 deadline.

Mid-month figures for September released by AutoTrader – the largest online marketplace for cars – reveal that the average price of a used EV has fallen by 21.4 per cent to £32,463.

Premium sector EVs, including Tesla, BMW, Mini and Mercedes-Benz, were hit hardest – with values falling by up to 24.1 per cent year-on-year.

The data, reported by The Times, showed that prices of second-hand premium sector EVs peaked at £51,704 last August and have since plummeted by more than £10,000 to £39,268.

Marc Palmer, the head of strategy and insights at AutoTrader, said: 'The used market will now be slower to mature. There will be fewer new EVs registered and fewer used cars coming to market.

'There will be sections of the public, especially those who are sceptical, who will want to wait.

'Used cars are the biggest part of the industry, but getting the majority of motorists into second-hand EVs will take longer. A lot of things are up in the air.'

Figures revealed earlier this week also showed that sales of new zero-emission vehicles to private buyers have fallen by more than 11 per cent.

Umesh Samani, chairman of the Independent Motor Dealers Association, which represents more than 1,000 traders, said the delay to the ban on petrol and diesel cars had given 'everyone some breathing space'.

He said: 'It has been so volatile, dealers have been very frightened of getting involved with EVs.

'Many of our members have been stuck with EVs on their forecourts that they cannot shift, even as they are falling by £2,000 to £3,000 a month. That's a phenomenal amount.


Australia: Rooftop solar 'cannibalising' power prices as Australian generators pay to stay online

"Ecological" power generation is basically nuts. It tries to get something stable out of power sources with wildly fluctuating outputs. Basically, everybody loses. For much of the day both the ecological generators AND the conventional generators lose -- as a big daytime electicity suplus plunges power prices so low that ALL generators get nothing or near nothing for their output

Daytime power prices are plunging into negative territory – meaning generators have to pay to produce – as renewable energy increasingly cannibalises the market, according to experts.

As the share of green energy in Australia's biggest electricity system momentarily reached a record high of 70 per cent this week, energy software company Gridcog said "price cannibalisation" was becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.

Wholesale power prices in the national electricity market across the eastern states dropped to as low as -$64 per megawatt hour last Saturday, when soaring output from millions of rooftop solar panels flooded into the system.

The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in mild, sunny conditions and especially on weekends, when solar output is at its highest but demand for electricity is relatively low.

In a post to its social media followers, Gridcog said large-scale solar farms were, perversely, being hit hardest by the trend because rooftop solar was generally beyond the control of the market operator.

It noted utility-scale solar plants were having to pare back generation or switch off entirely during such periods to avoid having to pay to maintain production.

"Price cannibalisation is a major emerging feature of the energy transition," the company wrote on LinkedIn.

"It occurs when increased volumes of renewables with the same generation profile produce at the same time.

"This depresses prices in the market, often to the point that prices turn negative, and it presents a serious challenge for investors, particularly of utility-scale projects."

The firm said the trend was likely to accelerate as ever-more solar was added to household and business rooftops across the country.

More than 3.3 million Australian homes have solar panels – almost one in three – and there are forecasts this will almost double by 2032.

"These systems compete directly with large utility-scale assets connected to the transmission system," Gridcog wrote.

"As an aside, it also demonstrates the dominance that distributed [rooftop] solar has in Australia compared to utility-scale, something we expect to see more of in other markets in coming years."

Dylan McConnell, a senior research associate from the University of New South Wales, said rooftop solar was no longer a marginal player but central to the running of the grid.

He said the technology was reshaping the power system in sometimes unexpected ways. "It's very significant in some jurisdictions," Dr McConnell said. "It varies across the country, but in places like South Australia there are periods where production from rooftop solar actually exceeds the demand of the entire state. "It's huge."

Dr McConnell said SA was an extreme example of a different, though related, phenomenon known as minimum operational demand.

The term referred to the minimum level of demand for power from the grid.

Crucially, it stripped out the demand that customers were meeting themselves through resources that sat behind the meter — principally, rooftop solar.

Dr McConnell said generation from rooftop solar panels was so great at times that it was not only meeting owners' demands, but also those of most other customers as well.

He said this was pushing demand for power from the grid ever lower and squeezing out conventional generators such as coal- and gas-fired plants.

But Dr McConnell said the electricity system was not ready to run without those generators, which were increasingly having to ramp up and down to cope with the intermittency of solar supply.

"The other day in NSW, [coal generation] was just above two gigawatts in the middle of the day, and then that evening it was above 9GW," he said.

"So we had a 7GW ramp in the space of a few hours — they're capable of doing it.

But then, I guess more importantly, is the impact on economic viability." That, says Dr McConnell, represents the challenge.

"When you have low prices in the middle of the day and low volumes, is the increase in prices in the evening and the higher volumes there enough to offset that? The answer to that seems to be no."

Alex Wonhas, a former electricity system planner, noted that record lows for demand for power from the grid were being broken routinely as more and more rooftop solar was added to the system.

"At times when the renewable resources are high they will replace the conventional generators," Dr Wonhas said.

"But then at other times when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining we need either storage or conventional generators to step in.

"So it's a much more dynamic and much orchestrated system that we're facing in the future."

For Dr McConnell, the growth of rooftop solar in Australia would continue to test other generators and the power system more broadly.




Sunday, September 24, 2023

Coming soon to Fox? Tony Abbott, the Australian former PM who said climate crisis was ‘absolute crap’

If there was any doubt as to whether Fox Corporation would follow its controversial rightwing trajectory under the sole leadership of Lachlan Murdoch, after his father’s retirement, it ended with the endorsement of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott to join the Fox board.

Abbott has been a highly controversial figure in Australia for decades, accused of misogyny and climate change scepticism, and once threatening to “shirtfront” Russian president Vladimir Putin.

His nomination, which came a day after Rupert Murdoch announced his retirement, shows Lachlan is “doubling down” on the company’s “right-wing crusading”, critics say.

Abbott served as prime minister for two years from 2013 to 2015, having received a glowing endorsement from Rupert Murdoch on the campaign trail during his successful attempt to oust Kevin Rudd, now Australia’s ambassador to the US. Rudd had previously enjoyed the support of Murdoch’s Australian newspapers.

“Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere. Australia’s Tony Abbott rare exception. Opponent Rudd all over the place, convincing nobody,” Rupert Murdoch tweeted at the time.

His ascension came after a period of brutal efficacy as opposition leader from 2009 to 2013, when he relentlessly attacked Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard.

Gillard’s famous misogyny speech in 2012 – voted by Guardian readers as the most unforgettable moment of Australian television history – was directed at Abbott.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said. “I will not… not now, not ever.”

She then listed examples of what she called his “repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism”, including him standing in front of protest signs referring to Gillard as former Greens leader Bob Brown’s “bitch” and “ditch the witch”.

But it was Abbott’s attitudes to climate change which eventually caused his downfall.

Abbott notoriously once said that the “so-called settled science of climate change” was “absolute crap”. He has also previously said that climate change is “probably doing good”. Under his leadership, Australia’s carbon price was repealed, as bitter climate change wars continued.

He was deposed as prime minister when he lost a leadership spill to rival Malcolm Turnbull, a moderate, in 2015. He then lost his seat of Warringah in the 2019 election to Zali Steggall, one of a raft of independent candidates promising stronger action on climate change, after 25 years in parliament.

Earlier this year Abbott joined the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK thinktank that is critical of climate change science


The empire strikes back

The editor-in-chief of one of the world's leading academic journals has rebuked a scientist who claimed that research about climate change is rejected if it does not 'support certain narratives'.

Dr Magdalena Skipper, the top editor at Nature, accused Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and doctor of earth and climate sciences, of 'poor research practices' that are 'highly irresponsible'.

Brown claimed in an article for The Free Press that editors at Nature and Science - two of the most prestigious scientific journals - select 'climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives' and favor 'distorted' research which hypes up dangers.

He referred to an article he authored which was published in Nature last week and said the study - titled 'Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California' - focused exclusively on climate change and intentionally ignored other key factors. Brown said researchers often 'tailor' their work in such a way to 'support the mainstream narrative'.

In a scathing response, Skipper said: 'The only thing in Patrick Brown's statements about the editorial processes in scholarly journals that we agree on is that science should not work through the efforts by which he published this [study].

'We are now carefully considering the implications of his stated actions; certainly, they reflect poor research practices and are not in line with the standards we set for our journal.'

Skipper said Nature has an 'expectation' that researchers use the most appropriate data, methods and results.

'When researchers do not do so, it goes against the interests of both fellow researchers and the research field as a whole. To deliberately not do so is, at best, highly irresponsible. Researchers have a responsibility for their research which they must take seriously,' she said.

Nature, which is based in London, was founded in 1869 and is one of the world's most cited scientific journals.

'When it comes to science, Nature does not have a preferred narrative,' said Skipper.

The strongly-worded rebuttal came after Brown claimed top scientific journals approach climate change research in the way 'the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause' of wildfires, including the recent devastating fires in Hawaii.

He pointed out research that said 80 percent of wildfires are ignited by humans.

Brown said 'the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.'

He wrote: 'To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change.

'However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.'

Scientists whose careers depend on their work being published in major journals also 'tailor' their work to 'support the mainstream narrative', he said.

'This leads to a second unspoken rule in writing a successful climate paper,' he added. 'The authors should ignore—or at least downplay—practical actions that can counter the impact of climate change.'

Skipper's response also pointed to the peer review process for Brown's paper - which was written along with seven other researchers - which highlighted the 'lack of inclusion of variables other than climate change' and said 'the authors themselves argued against including it'.

She also listed three recent examples of research published in Nature that does not 'follow the purported editorial biases alleged by Brown'.


Biden’s American Climate Cult

With a swipe of his pen, Joe Biden unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) created his so-called “American Climate Corps.”

Touting the Biden administration’s ongoing effort to indoctrinate the country into the climate change dogma, White House policy adviser Ali Azaida contended, “This is important because we’re not only opening up pathways to bold climate action, we’re not just opening up pathways to decarbonization, we’re opening up pathways to good paying careers, lifetimes of being involved in the work of making our communities more sustainable, more fair, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.”

In other words, Biden is acting to create an army of climate cult activists, 20,000 strong. Never mind the fact that, constitutionally speaking, he doesn’t have the authority to do so. That’s because Congress shot down this idea last year.

It harkens back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps, though notably that was established by Congress. Along with other ecofascists, Varshini Prakash, head of the environmental activist group Sunrise Movement, has been calling on Biden to declare climate change a national emergency. Of this move, Prakash gushed, “This climate corps will conserve our land and water, bolster community resilience, advance environmental justice and tackle the climate crisis.”

Except that it will do no such thing.

In truth the corps will exist to enlist a bunch of young leftists to browbeat the public into acquiescing to the radical Left’s anti-fossil fuel agenda. As the White House’s announcement states, the American Climate Corps would “train young people in clean energy, conservation and climate resilience related skills,” and “streamline pathways into civil service.”

Becoming proselytes of Gaia, this army of Greta Thunbergs will call for the public to increasingly sacrifice their living standards in the face of dire warnings of a global warming apocalypse should these instructions fail to be heeded.

Revealing that in truth this organization is ultimately all about empowering more government in order to advance greater wealth redistribution, the program will advance Biden’s “Justice40 Initiative.” That initiative is a plan to allocate 40% of “federal investment” to “disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” In other words, it’s a race-based effort to use the climate change “emergency” as an excuse to implement socialism.

That has always been the goal of the “green” movement. It’s actually red.

At its root, Biden’s American Climate Corps is anti-capitalist, which is why it failed to pass muster with Congress. But never mind that. Biden and the rest of his Democrat colleagues constantly harangue the country over the nonexistent threat that “MAGA Republicans” pose to democracy, though they are more than willing to throw the democratic process aside in order to “save democracy.”

Ignoring the limits the Constitution sets upon the three branches of government in order create a favored program is the mark of a tyrant, not a democratically elected representative of the people whose power is constrained by the rule of law. The more Washington elites like Biden flout the rule of law, the more he encourages the rest of the country to do the same.


Our moral guardians: Climate activists teach children to send cookie malware to skeptical grandparents

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) is asking supporters to send deceptive links out to friends and family that look like a cookie recipe but embed software cookies instead on the victim’s computer. The digital cookie then pushes green climate videos into their feeds, (as if the ABC news wasn’t loaded enough).

Look out for any links to

The AYCC gets about $3m in donations, and even visits schools, teaching children how to cheat and lie to save the planet, or something like that. What are good family relationships built on after all, if not deception? What is science if it is not propaganda?

These are all good questions to raise with the children in your life and the schools in your area. Don’t wait for an email to arrive, thank the AYCC for providing the opportunity to start the conversation now.

If the believers are so caring, ethical and moral why are they teaching children it’s OK to deceive family members? Is this the kind of “fair and just” world we want to live in?

Call up schools and the local P&C and ask if they are aware the AYCC — which runs programs in schools — teaches children to fool parents and grandparents and use malware. Are these the kind of family values that belong in our schools? Will the local school guarantee that they will not allow this group to manipulate children?

The Australian exposed their crooked game this week, and traffic to has fallen to zero. So presumably the link trap will change. (The campaign has been put on hold).




Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Biden Admin Just Declared 'War on Consumers'

In the Biden administration's whole-of-government attempt to force a transition to supposedly "green" and ethical energy that's anything but — just ask the whales off the coast of New England or forced/child laborers in EV battery supply chains in Africa — another department is jumping into the crusade.

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released its "Principles for Net-Zero Financing & Investment" to press ahead with "best practices for private sector financial institutions that have made net-zero commitments and promote consistency and credibility in approaches to implementing them."

These principles, the Treasury Department and Secretary Janet Yellen say, are key to "supporting the mobilization of more private sector capital to address the physical and economic impacts of climate change and to seize on the historic economic opportunity presented by the green transition."

To that end, Yellen and her department heralded "a number of announcements from civil society including a $340 million commitment" from the likes of the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Climate Arc, ClimateWorks, Hewlett Foundation, and Sequoia Climate Foundation over the next three years "to support the continued development of research, data availability, and technical resources intended to help financial institutions develop and execute robust, voluntary net-zero commitments" and "facilitate the transition planning efforts of non-financial sectors of the economy."

According to the Treasury Department, the "climate crisis is propelling a massive economic shift and is hitting the most vulnerable countries and communities first and hardest" and there's an "increasing demand for technologies, products, and services that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support a clean energy future, and help adapt to a changing climate across all sectors." Notably, however, that demand is not high enough to see the market move truly voluntarily to meet it. As such, "[i]n the United States, government support is playing a role in accelerating this transition," the Treasury Department admitted as it pushes for more net-zero agreements and investment, as seen in the principles released on Tuesday.

"This announcement from the Department of the Treasury forcing financial institutions to adopt net-zero principles should come as no surprise to American consumers as the Biden Administration openly declares war on consumers," reacted Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers' Research.

"Treasury Secretary Yellen, with her announcement of these new net-zero principals at the Bloom Transition Finance Action Forum, has made it abundantly clear that the Treasury Department is working with and for ESG activists like Michael Bloomberg to make the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) goals for financial institutions into U.S. government policy, leaving consumers with nothing," Hild added. "The Biden Administration is littered with former BlackRock employees such as Brian Deese and Eric Van Nostrand who are pushing these liberal, progressive, net-zero, and ESG policies on Americans, rather than focusing on reducing costs at the grocery store and gas pump and tamping down inflation."

"Make no mistake, the Biden administration is running cover for the financial industry's net zero cartel, protecting megalomaniac CEOs like Larry Fink and leaving consumers with nothing," said Hild.

As summarized by the Treasury Department, the principles established to reinforce the woke, economically damaging priorities of the left are:

PRINCIPLE 1: A financial institution’s net-zero commitment (commitment) is a declaration of intent to work toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Treasury recommends that commitments be in line with limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C. To be credible, this declaration should be accompanied or followed by the development and execution of a net-zero transition plan.

PRINCIPLE 2: Financial institutions should consider transition finance, managed phaseout, and climate solutions practices when deciding how to realize their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 3: Financial institutions should establish credible metrics and targets and endeavor, over time, for all relevant financing, investment, and advisory services to have associated metrics and targets.

PRINCIPLE 4: Financial institutions should assess client and portfolio company alignment to their (i.e., financial institutions’) targets and to limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C.

PRINCIPLE 5: Financial institutions should align engagement practices — with clients, portfolio companies, and other stakeholders — to their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 6: Financial institutions should develop and execute an implementation strategy that integrates the goals of their commitments into relevant aspects of their businesses and operating procedures.

PRINCIPLE 7: Financial institutions should establish robust governance processes to provide oversight of the implementation of their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 8: Financial institutions should, in the context of activities associated with their net-zero transition plans, account for environmental justice and environmental impacts, where applicable.

PRINCIPLE 9: Financial institutions should be transparent about their commitments and progress towards them.

The voluntary net-zero commitments the Biden administration is seeking to foist on the private sector, however, may put companies which join them in legal jeopardy.

As Townhall has reported previously, state attorneys general from across the U.S. have put insurance and financial service companies on notice that their net-zero commitments may constitute a violation of antitrust and consumer protection laws. One recent letter to signatories of a net-zero commitment led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti noted how such net-zero alliances see companies "colluding to limit consumer choices and manipulate market outcomes in support of international climate activists," moves that "could violate [his state's] antitrust and consumer protection laws." As AG Skrmetti rightfully noted, "[d]ecisions about energy policy should be made by our elected representatives, not by transnational corporate alliances."

Already, an earlier warning to insurance signatories to a net-zero pact saw several companies back out of the agreement rather than face additional scrutiny from state attorneys general for their activities that may have constituted antitrust violations.

Despite such warnings about net-zero priorities being potentially in violation of state law, the Biden administration and its climate alarmist allies in the private and nonprofit sector are plunging ahead with more agreements — an unsurprising development from the administration that has not allowed federal law or the U.S. Constitution curb its ambitions, leading to a series of high-profile losses before the Supreme Court for its attempts to force an energy transition.


‘Unacceptable costs’: Britain delays petrol car ban, weakens net-zero targets

Britain will delay its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and relax a transition away from gas and oil heaters in homes amid cost of living fears and a looming electoral wipe-out for the ruling Conservatives next year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a series of U-turns on key targets to tackle climate change on Wednesday, claiming his “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to reaching Britain’s 2050 target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions would protect vulnerable households.

In a press conference at Downing Street he said that the country’s present approach would “impose unacceptable costs” on the poorest families and lead to the collapse of the national consensus on tackling climate change.

Polling from YouGov released after the announcement found 50 per cent of Britons supported the government’s proposal to push back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, 34 per cent opposed, and 16 per cent didn’t know.

About 44 per cent supported delaying or dropping some commitments, while 38 per cent said the government should stick to its plans and its 2050 commitment.

But the move was greeted with anger by a coalition of environmental groups, business lobbyists, trade unions and politicians who say it would damage the UK’s chances of reaching its climate goals.

The announcement also coincided with United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, telling world leaders in New York that they were still “decades behind” in moving away from fossil fuels, launching a scathing critique at the UN’s inaugural climate ambition day.

Sunak, who said governments “of all stripes” had not been “honest with the public” about the costs of net-zero, said a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be delayed from 2030 to 2035, a move strongly opposed by some carmakers.

He said still expected that by 2030 “the vast majority” of cars will be electric, because of improving technology and the move would bring Britain into line with several European countries.

The government also relaxed the 2035 phaseout target for the installation of new gas boilers by introducing a new exemption for the most hard-pressed households, so they will “never have to switch at all”.

Other retreats Sunak announced included abandoning tougher energy efficiency rules for landlords and delaying a ban on oil boilers off the gas grid, with £7500 grants for boiler upgrades. The government will also “fast track” through the planning system projects to improve connections to the grid.

Sunak was forced to rush forward his speech after his plan to dilute Britain’s green policies was leaked. He said he was aligning himself with ordinary households who want Britain to meet its 2050 net-zero commitments, but on a reasonable timetable.

He said the debate around climate change had been charged with “too much emotion and not enough clarity” and that the approach should shift to “consent, not imposition, honesty not obfuscation, pragmatism not ideology.”

“If we continue down this path, we risk losing the consent of the British people and the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies, but against the wider mission itself,” he said.

Sunak also ruled out several other climate policies - none of which had been promised — such as taxing meat, requiring people to share cars, fly less or use seven bins to aid recycling.

Leading car brands such as Ford, Vauxhall and Volvo have pledged to go fully electric this decade and had made manufacturing decisions with the 2030 ban in mind, with Ford accusing the government of lacking ambition, commitment and consistency to net-zero.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman backed Sunak’s decision, saying the government was “not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people”.


Transmission lines rage in Australia: power struggle and a ‘shocked minister’

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King joined farmers, councils and environmentalists in attacking consultation on the Victorian-NSW Interconnector transmission project, which will plug renewables into the grid and help achieve Labor’s 2030 emissions ­reduction target.

Amid growing concerns in ­regional Australia about transmission line upgrades and offshore wind turbines, Ms King told the Australian Energy Market Operator to “engage thoroughly and honestly with impacted communities … from project conception, to construction and beyond”.

Ms King’s extraordinary intervention heaps pressure on Energy Minister Chris Bowen to urgently address rising community anger over government consultation on renewable projects and massive transmission lines integrating solar and wind farms into the electricity system.

In her submission to AEMO, which is overseeing a project plagued by delays and cost blowouts, Ms King said parts of her electorate would be significantly impacted if a Western Renewables Link transmission station was built by VNI West north of ­Ballarat.

“Throughout this process, I have been shocked and disappointed by the lack of respect that has been shown to local communities and the lack of consideration of their land uses, local government views and landscape,” Ms King, writing in her capacity as Ballarat MP, told AEMO.

“In my view, a significant amount of the anger felt by the community could have been avoided if their views and interests were considered from the very start of the project, rather than four years down the fact.”

AEMO has established TCV, a wholly owned subsidiary, to progress early works on Victoria’s centrepiece $3.3bn electricity transmission project, finalise the route and consult with landholders, community groups and traditional owners. It will not physically construct or own the high-capacity 500Kv double-circuit overhead Victoria-NSW transmission lines.

Mr Bowen, who is working to “improve” renewable energy project engagement with stakeholders, received a hostile reception on Tuesday when he ­arrived at a closed-door meeting in Nelson Bay to discuss the NSW Hunter Offshore Wind Zone with hand-picked community representatives.

Community leaders who ­attended the meeting in Labor MP Meryl Swanson’s battleground seat of Paterson, where the Liberals secured a 4.2 per cent swing at the 2022 federal election, claimed Mr Bowen rejected their request to reopen consultation.

The government’s rapid push to meet its 82 per cent renewables and 43 per cent emissions ­reduction targets by 2030 has sparked anxiety in coastal and regional communities earmarked for transmission line projects and offshore wind zones.

Confirmed and proposed projects in NSW, Victoria and South Australia have united seafood producers, fishermen, boaties, farmers, environmentalists, tourism operators, local governments and community groups who are demanding better consultation and independent analysis.

Major concerns raised by stakeholders about offshore wind turbines and transmission projects include negative impacts on endangered and at-risk wildlife, tourism and whale-watching, the seafood industry, sacred ­traditional Indigenous sites, visual amenity and farmland.

In her submission published by AEMO on May 27, Ms King welcomed an “increased focus … on social license” but warned VNI West proponents to “engage fully with the communities around ­Bulgana who will be impacted by this proposal and to mitigate any negative impacts it may have on their lives or livelihoods”.

“More broadly, I welcome the focus on cultural heritage, land use and the environmental impacts of the proposed route. The region north of Ballarat is not only home to the finest potato-growing country in Australia, but is a region of notable heritage and natural beauty,” she wrote.

“It has always been an inappropriate location for a development of this type as I, and many in the community, have been saying from the start. As Australia continues its transition to net zero, there will be increasing need for new projects just like this one in order to maintain a stable electricity grid.

“In rolling out these projects, it will be important to engage thoroughly and honestly with impacted communities all throughout the process – from project conception, to construction and beyond.”

Ms King’s intervention preceded a review ordered by Mr Bowen in July to “bolster reforms in community engagement around renewable energy infrastructure upgrades and new developments”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Bowen said Ms King “is a strong advocate for the energy transition, and for listening carefully to local communities about its opportunities and impacts – and the minister agrees”.

“Our traditional energy assets are ageing – with over 4GW of dispatchable power leaving the grid over the past decade and only 1GW to replace it because of chaos on climate and energy,” she said.

“Australia has needed much better consultation around energy infrastructure for years – so with the states we are making the overdue changes to electricity rules to ensure proponents of all energy projects must engage properly with communities – and landholders and communities have better guidance about their rights and entitlements.”

Regional Victorian councils, environmental groups and farmers have lodged concerns with AEMO about the route of VNI West’s overhead transmission lines. The project will connect the Western Renewables Link, north of Ballarat, with Project EnergyConnect at Dinawan.

Concerns about the VNI West and Western Renewables Link projects focus on vegetation loss, land clearing, threats to woodland bird species, impacts on cultural sites and economic damage to agricultural production and tourism.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mr Bowen must explain the true cost and impacts of Labor’s renewables plan. “If Chris Bowen pretends that his policy is going to cost less than $1.2 trillion, he needs to provide the detail because the experts … are saying that the Labor plan will cost between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion – and Australians will pay for that through increased electricity bills. People are going to end up with 28,000km of new poles and wires, which is a considerable eyesore through many communities.

“People in metropolitan areas, or outer metropolitan areas like mine in my electorate … don’t want those wind turbines. So why should people in regional areas be forced to take them when they’re not reliable, and you need to firm them up?”

After the Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday confirmed that Australia had entered an El Nino phase, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was taking the long-term climate change threat seriously. “Part of that is a shift in the energy mix to 82 per cent renewables by 2030,” Mr Albanese said. Mr Bowen this week said transmission projects like VNI West and Hume Link were “absolutely essential for the country, for our plans for emissions reduction, but also communities deserve proper engagement”.

Mr Bowen, who released departmental modelling this week claiming the Coalition would need to spend $387bn to replace coal-fired generation with nuclear small modular reactors, on Tuesday said it “never hurts to do a bit of engagement”.

“I understand people’s concerns. But I also understand the jobs that will be created,” he said. “I understand people in the Hunter want to see action on climate change. They want to see local jobs created as well. These are things to be balanced.”


Qld. Deputy Premier slams ‘rich inner-city elites’ for trying to stop flights

He is referring to the Greens -- accurately

Deputy Premier Steven Miles has let fly at “wealthy inner-city elites”, accusing them of trying to clip Brisbane Airport’s wings by restricting flights and driving up airfares.

In an extraordinary attack, Mr Miles said the “elites” don’t want planes flying over their own homes or “working people” to be able to afford to fly.

His comments follow a bid by the Greens to impose a curfew and flight caps at Brisbane Airport “to bring peace and a good night’s sleep to thousands of Brisbane residents impacted by flight noise”.

Brisbane-based Greens federal MPs Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Max Chandler-Mather and Stephen Bates have championed a bill to introduce hourly flight caps and a late night curfew at the airport for non-emergency flights.

Ms Watson-Brown has proposed a radical plan to divert planes to Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport and put passengers on high-speed trains to Brisbane.

The bill – set to be debated in federal parliament next month – has been estimated to come at a cost of $3b a year to the state economy if enacted.

Sharing the stage with Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner at a major aviation industry conference in Brisbane last week, Mr Miles joined forces with his political foe to slam the plan.

“Our airport is just so critical to our region’s economic prosperity, and I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than the Greens political party’s campaign against the airport,” he told a panel discussion at the CAPA (Centre for Aviation) Australia Pacific Aviation Summit.

“The blokes running this campaign are just about the most frequent travellers from Brisbane Airport to their engagements on (ABC show) Q+A and down to Canberra for the parliament.

“I’m an environmentalist, former environment minister and former conservation activist but the Greens are not a party of the environment – they’re a party of wealthy inner-city elites.

“And what they’re saying is that planes shouldn’t fly over the homes of wealthy inner-city elites, they should only fly over the homes of working people.

“And that only wealthy inner-city elites should be able to afford to fly but working people shouldn’t be able to afford to fly.

“That’s despite the fact that it’s those wealthy inner city elites who benefit disproportionately from the economic opportunity and prosperity that the airport delivers.”

Cr Schrinner said the Greens’ proposal was simplistic and would drive up travel costs and concentrate aircraft noise.

He said Brisbane City Council received far more complaints about barking dogs, loud parties and noisy air-conditioners than it did about airport noise.

“Offering simplistic solutions to this is not going to cut it,” he said.

“It’s a reminder that living in a large city is about managing impacts and noise. There are other ways to achieve that other than what’s being proposed.”

Meanwhile, the Senate inquiry into the federal government’s controversial decision to block extra Qatar Airways flights into Australia is due to sit in Brisbane next Tuesday.

The decision has also been blamed for helping keep international airfares sky-high, particularly out of Brisbane.

Brisbane Airport Corporation is understood to have made a submission to the inquiry.