Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Environmental Enemies of Energy


By Alan Caruba

While Americans grapple with the Obamacare debacle and 90 million are officially unemployed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is another threat to our future as environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth continue their assault on the provision of electrical energy, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy and our ability to function at home and on the job.

Recently, Sierra Club members were told that they, “supporters, partners, and allies have worked tirelessly to retire 150 coal-fired power plants since January 2010—a significant number in the campaign to move the country beyond dirty and outdated fossil fuels.”  

Coal, oil and natural gas are labeled “dirty” for propaganda purposes, but what the Sierra Club and others do not tell you and will never tell you is that they account for most of the electricity generated in America, along with nuclear and hydropower. Wind and solar power provide approximately 3% of the electricity and require government subsidies and mandates to exist. Their required use drives up the cost of electricity to consumers.

Among the many ongoing lawsuits that the Sierra Club is pursuing is one against Navajo coal mining, the Keystone XL pipeline, one seeking penalties for “ongoing violations” at Montana’s Colstrip power plant. They filed a suit against the power rate increase for Mississippi’s Kemper County coal plant.

In early October, The Wall Street Journal published an article, “Mississippi Plant Shows the Cost of ‘Clean Coal’.” It is testimony to the nonsense about “clean coal.” The plant, the reporters note, was meant to demonstrate that Mississippi Power Company’s Kemper County plant was “meant to showcase technology for generating clean energy from low-quality coal” but it “ranks as one of the most expensive U.S. fossil fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising.”

“Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest region of the country, are reeling from double-digit rate increases,” adding that “the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers…”

Seven power plants in Pennsylvania are under attack by the Sierra Club and EarthJustice which have filed a federal lawsuit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has exposed this common practice by environmental groups to “sue and settle.”

“It works like this. Environmental and consumer advocacy groups file a lawsuit claiming that the federal government has failed to meet a deadline or has not satisfied some regulatory requirement. The agency can then either choose to defend itself against the lawsuit or settle it. Often times, it settles by putting in place a ‘court-ordered’ regulation desired by the advocacy group, thus circumventing the proper rulemaking channels and basic transparency and accountability standards.”

High on the list of government agencies that engage in this is the Environmental Protection Agency, but others include Transportation, Agriculture, and Defense, along with the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. One recent victory touted by Friends of the Earth is an EPA air pollution regulation is one that affects ships navigating along the coasts of the United States and Canada, out to 200 nautical miles, to “significantly reduce their emissions.”

Like the touted benefits of wind and solar power, “clean coal” is another environmental myth that is costing billions. Recently, the Global Warming Foundation reported that “The world invested almost a billion dollars a day in limiting global warming last year, but the total figure--$359 billion—was slightly down on last year, and barely half the $700 billion per year that the World Economic Forum has said is needed to tackle climate change.” The report cited was generated by the Climate Policy Initiative.

The problem with this is that there is NO global warming. The Earth is in a perfectly natural cooling cycle and has been for 15 to 16 years at this point. The notion of spending any money on “climate change” is insanity. The climate is largely determined by the Sun and other natural factors over which mankind has no control. The claim that carbon dioxide is a contributing factor to climate has been decisively debunked despite the years of lies emanating from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Indeed, during the current cooling cycle, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen!

For all their caterwauling about fossil fuels, environmental groups have resisted the expansion of the use of nuclear power that emits no so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions. The Friends of the Earth recently declared that “The quickest way to end our costly fossil fuel dependency is through energy efficiency and renewable power, not new (nuclear) reactors that will suck up precious investment and take years to complete.”

The Obama administration’s record of bad loans to companies providing renewable power—wind and solar—is testimony to the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars. In September, the Department of Energy made $66 million in green-energy subsidies to 33 companies, half of it to companies by a single venture capital firm with close ties to the White House.

The continued loss of coal-fired plants has reduced their provision of electricity from over 50% to around 47%. The resistance to the construction of nuclear facilities slows the replacement of their loss, but plants utilizing natural gas have benefitted greatly from the discovery of billions of cubic feet through the use of hydraulic fracking technology holds the promise of maintaining the nation’s needs. Need it be said that “fracking” has become a target of environmental organizations?

Environmental organizations are the enemies of energy in America and worldwide. Without its provision third world nations cannot develop and the ability to provide the energy America needs is put in jeopardy.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Great American Wind Power Fraud


By Alan Caruba

In July the Fairhaven, Massachusetts Board of Health voted to shut down the town’s two wind turbines at night between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. after dozens of residents had filed more than 400 complaints. Testing had demonstrated that the turbines exceeded state noise regulations and those specified in their operating permits.

In July the Heartland Institute’s Environmental & Climate News reported on the announcement by Nordex USA, a manufacturer of wind turbines that had accepted millions of dollars in subsidies while promising to create 750 jobs that it had shut down its Jonesboro facility. In 2008, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) had given Nordex $8 million from the Governor’s Quick-Action Closing Fund and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority had given Nordex another $11 million. The decision, said the company, was its uncertainty about receiving federal subsidies. At the time, only fifty people were employed there.

In early October, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Healthcare, and Entitlements held a hearing on the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC). The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) was there to argue for an extension of the subsidy. According to lobbying disclosures, in 2012 the AWEA had spent more than $2.4 million to protect the subsidy which was set to expire, but which received a one-year extension as part of the deal struck to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

Arguing that wind energy is an important element of the mix of energy provided by coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities, the facts are that in 2012 coal accounted for 37 percent of total generation, natural gas represented 30 percent, and nuclear contributed 19 percent. Wind power accounted for just 1.4 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2012 and only 3.5 percent of the nation’s electricity generation.

Since the PTC was first enacted two decades ago, it has cost taxpayers $20 billion dollars.

One of the primary arguments for wind energy is that it is “renewable” and does not contribute to the so-called "greenhouse gas emissions" that are the cause of a “global warming.” However, the latest warming cycle ended some fifteen years ago. Not one student in our nation’s schools has ever experienced “global warming.”

Wind energy is “green” say its supporters, but it is hardly “green” to kill an estimated 573,000 birds every year, including 83,000 birds of prey according to a study published in the March edition of the Wildlife Society Bulletin. It also kills countless bats, a species that reduces the vast number of insect pests that prey on crops and transmit diseases.

A permit is being sought by the Shiloh IV Wind Project in Solano County, California, that would grant it the right to kill up to five golden eagles over a five-year period despite their protected status under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

So wind energy is justified as reducing greenhouse gases that are not causing global warming which does not exist, is receiving millions in subsidies, and wants to kill protected species, an environmental objective. This is hypocrisy on a galactic scale.

Testifying before the congressional committee, Dr. Robert Michaels, a senior fellow of the Institute for Energy Research, noted that the subsidy which was supposed to end by now has been renewed five times. The wind industry is essentially non-competitive when it comes to energy generation from traditional sources and has also been around long enough to amply demonstrate that. In a market economy, such industries are allowed to fail.

The wind industry, however, doesn’t even need to be competitive because utilities in some thirty states are required by law to include it in their “renewable portfolio standards” that set quotes for its use. This mandate is expected to see the installation of more than 100,000 renewable megawatts over the next twenty years and wind, said Dr. Michaels, and “seems certain to get the lion’s share.”

Adding to the idiocy of wind energy is the need for such production facilities to have a back-up from traditional coal, natural gas, and nuclear facilities because wind is not available with any predictability. The consumer not only pays for the electricity these facilities provide to ensure that they will always have electricity, but pays in the form of the subsidies the wind industry continues to receive.

There is no need for renewable energy mandates. Both wind and solar are unreliable sources of energy and produce so little as to lack any justification for their existence.

The wind industry exists because it spends millions annually to convince legislators that it should not only be subsidized and because many states require its use. Take away the interference of government entities and the industry would have no real basis to exist. It is a fraud.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Predicting America's Future


 By Alan Caruba

One of the great parlor games of pundits, politicians, journalists, and just about everyone else is predicting the future.

There’s a wonderful book, “The Experts Speak”, that is filled, page after page, with predictions and pronouncements by people of presumed wisdom and knowledge, all of which turned out to be often hilariously wrong. In 1913, regarding Einstein’s theory of relativity, Ernst Mach, a professor of physics at the University of Vienna, said, “I can accept the theory of relativity as little as I can accept the existence of atoms and other such dogmas.”

I prefer optimists to pessimists and the co-authors of “America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century—why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come”, James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus, are optimists.
In his foreword to the book, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, better known as the “Instapundit”, cites the late economist, Herbert Stein, who said “Something that can’t go on forever, won’t”, noting that “The American 2.0 approach, which delivered stability and prosperity to many for decades, is now more problem than solution, as banks fail, bureaucrats flounder, and the economy fails to deliver the jobs—or the tax revenues—need to keep the whole enterprise going.” Reynolds, however, agrees that “The Jeffersonian individualism that was embodied in in America 1.0 never really went away.” And that’s the good news.

Bennett and Lotus begin by saying, “We are optimistic about the long-term prospects for American freedom and prosperity. You should be, too.” They do not believe the nation is “on an inevitable road to tyranny and poverty. Predictions of the end of America are deeply mistaken,” but they do say that “The current politico-economic regime is falling apart.”

I think most people will agree with that as a deeply divided America struggles to deal with slow economic growth, a Marxist President, and the final gasp of a government that has expanded to a point of demonstrating the wisdom of the Constitution’s limits on its size and role. The Tea Party movement and the founding principles of the Republican Party are all about those limitations.

As Obamacare fails dramatically, Americans across the political spectrum will want to return to a more manageable, less intrusive government. They did that when they elected Ronald Reagan.  America needs a leader to emerge who will bring the two factions together and, if history is a guide, they will find one. It will not be easy because two generations have passed through the liberal indoctrination of its schools and because the nation’s media, composed of those graduates, is dominated by liberals.

Another factor is demography, the study of populations. Americans are living longer and the effects of that are undermining the future of progressive programs such as Social Security and Medicare. At some point they will have to be reformed, along with the rising costs of medical care.

Americans, since the early years of the last century have gone back and forth between progressive programs and a yearning for less control from centralized government. The income tax, the government’s “safety net” introduced following the Great Depression, the growth and decline of unions, and even Prohibition demonstrate this ambivalence. Obamacare is likely to be repealed just as Prohibition was.

America 1.0 stretched from the century the preceded the Revolution and extended to the Civil War. It was a largely agrarian society of farmers with the emphasis on individual responsibility. It was, as well, a society based on the nuclear family, a structure that remains today, though is under attack by liberals. America 2.0 saw the rise of industrialization and, following World War Two, the nation as a superpower in the world.

America 2.0 is crumbling, say the authors, and that “we are in the midst of slow but wrenching transition to an emerging America 3.0.” It will be “an even bigger transition, from industrial to an individualized-and-networked economy that we are undergoing now.”

One of the elements of the transition that the authors recommend is the abolishment of the federal income tax and replacing it with a national consumption tax, saying that “The required disclosure of personal economic information required in filing tax forms constitutes perhaps the largest single invasion of civil liberties in America, violating the spirit of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against search and seizure of personal information without a judicial warrant.”

Here again, putting the Internal Revenue in change of enforcing Obamacare will likely trigger a backlash against it, the income tax system, and generate a return to the individual rights enumerated in the Constitution.

Then, too, the world is also changing as Islamism seeks to drag its population back to a dark age of feudalism and slavery. The wave of terrorism is generating a backlash, even in nations where Islam is the dominant faith. America, in the process, has learned it cannot export its unique democratic system and engage in “nation building.” The original faith in the United Nations to deter wars has faded and the growth of various regional organizations will likely replace it.

The co-authors of “America 3.0” say “We can sketch only the bare outlines of what an America 3.0 defense and foreign policy might be like in reality. But those policies must be consistent with what can actually be achieved by American power, with a renewed focus on securing the global commons for trade, maintaining our alliances, and defending the American free and prosperous way of life.”

We are living in times of both rapid and slow change, and America has the mechanism—the Constitution—to make the changes needed to adjust and the strength to protect itself from enemies, domestic and foreign, in a global economy. It won’t be easy and it will not be fast enough for most, but America will remain a dominant agent for change.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Verbatim "Climate" Journalism


By Alan Caruba

On September 27 I was reading my Wall Street Journal as usual when I turned the page to read the following headline: “U.N. Affirms Human Role in Global Warming.” There is no human role in global warming and there is no global warming. The Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the past seventeen years.

The Journal article began “Stockholm—A landmark United Nations report issued Friday reaffirmed the growing belief that human activity is the dominant cause because a rise in global temperatures and reiterated that a long-term planetary warming trend is expended to continue.”

I concluded that the Journal had fallen into the common error of “verbatim reporting”, another way of saying that the two reporters bylined on the article had done nothing more than take the UN news release regarding the “summary report” of this week’s fifth “Assessment Report” (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and then embellished it with a few calls to people identified as experts or spokespersons.

This isn’t journalism. It’s public relations. I know because I practiced both of these magical arts for many years. All governments, all institutions, all organizations, and all enterprises of every description practice public relations. The job of journalists, however, is to lend some balance to the claims or to expose outright lies.          

Much to its credit, a September 30 Journal editorial eviscerates the article, noting that the IPCC’s latest report is a “flimsy intellectual scaffolding…to justify killing the U.S. coal industry and the Keystone XL pipeline, banning natural gas drilling, imposing costly efficiency requirements for automobiles, light bulbs, washing machines, and refrigerators, and using scare resources to subsidize technologies that even after decades can’t compete on their own in the marketplace.”

Every few years, in order to maintain the fiction of global warming, the IPCC has put out a report that it claims represents the combined wisdom of several hundred scientists and others—in this case 800 of them. I suspect that are far smaller group, a cabal, a coterie, and conspiracy of skilled propagandists actually write the IPCC reports.

Most certainly, in 2009 with the online exposure of hundreds of emails between the so-called climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and others here in the U.S., dubbed “climategate”, we learned that they had been deliberately falsifying the outcomes of their computer models and, at the time, were growing increasingly worried over the obvious cooling occurring.

What was striking about the totally uncritical Journal article was that even The New York Times—long an advocate of the global warming hoax—actually took note of the many scientists who have long since repudiated and debunked it. It reported that “The Heartland Institute, a Chicago organization, issued a document last week saying that any additional global warming would likely be limited to a few tenths of a degree and that this ‘would not represent a climate crisis.’”  The Institute has created a website of useful information at www.climatechangereconsidered.com.

As usual, one often has to read a British newspaper such as the Telegraph to get the other side of the story. It, too, took note of the Heartland Institute that, since 2008, has sponsored eight international conferences that brought together leading scientists to rebut the IPCC lies. In addition, it has released “Climate Change Reconsidered II”, a report that disembowels the IPCC’s report. The Telegraph quoted Prof. Bob Carter, a contributor to the Heartland report, who criticized the IPCC for its “profoundly distorted” view of climate science, calling it a “political body” that was “destroying the essence of the scientific method.”

In a commentary posted on the widely-visited website, Watts Up With That, by Anthony Watts, two leading skeptics of global warming, Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger described the IPCC’s AR5 as a “Humpty Dumpty-esque report once claiming to represent the ‘consensus of scientists’ (that) has fallen from its exalted wall and cracked to pieces under the burdensome weight of its own cumbersome and self-serving processes, which is why all the government’s scientists and all the government’s men cannot put the IPCC report together again.”

The IPCC report, said Michaels and Knappenberger, was rendered “not only obsolete on its release, but completely useless as a basis to form opinions (or policy) related to human energy choices and the influence on the climate.” They concluded by recommending that “The IPCC report should be torn up and tossed out, and with it, the entire IPCC process which produced such a misleading (and potentially dangerous) document.”

For the layman who has little or no knowledge of climate science or meteorology, it is sufficient to know that none of the claims put forth about global warming have come true. None of the claims being made again will come true. Indeed, given the cycles of ice ages, the present cooling could turn into a new one.

© Alan Caruba, 2013