One of the important economic truths we who pay attention to markets have learned is the government should never be involved in picking economic winners and losers. It’s doomed to failure and it is even more doomed when driven by politics – which usually ignores reality for utopian visions they try to pay for with your money.
The recent utopian dream shared by the left and our leftists in government has been “clean energy”. Like wind turbines and solar. Why? Well it would help create a much more clean and healthy environment where the birds and bees and flowers and trees would all be much happier. And, after all, it is our responsibility to take the necessary steps to protect our wildlife.
According to a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, every year 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) and 888,000 bats are killed by wind turbines — 30 percent higher than the federal government estimated in 2009, due mainly to increasing wind power capacity across the nation.[i] This is likely an underestimate because these estimates were based on 51,630 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the United States in 2012 and wind capacity has grown since then to 65,879 megawatts. And, at one solar power plant in California, an estimated 3,500 birds died in just the plant’s first year of operation.[ii]
Oh wait, that’s not supposed to happen! And when it does, don’t the leftist environmental groups go batsh*t crazy (no pun intended).
I mean look how they were when oil was the culprit killing birds:
Over the past five years, about 2.9 million birds were killed by wind turbines. That compares to about 800,000 birds that a Mother Jones Blog estimated to have been killed by the BP oil spill that occurred in April 2010[iii]—5 years ago–despite not all of them showing visible signs of oil. Nevertheless, BP was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds due to that oil spill. In comparison, the nation’s wind turbines killed more than 3 times the number of birds than did the BP oil spill over the past 5 years. And, wind turbines routinely kill federally protected birds and eagles.
Why I’m sure there have been protests and all by environmentalists haven’t there? And media coverage! I mean I remember watching hours of oil soaked bird footage on CNN and the other networks. Where’s the outrage? And where is the fines for this gross violation of all the leftist environmentalists hold sacred? Why isn’t the federal government stepping in and doing something?
Oh, they did? Boy, did they:
The Obama Administration on December 9, 2013, finalized a regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government. The American Bird Conservancy filed suit in federal court against the Department of the Interior, charging it with multiple violations of federal law. [viii] Nonetheless, the Shiloh IV Wind Project in California, for example, received a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing it to kill eagles, hawks, peregrine falcons, owls and songs birds while not being subjected to the normal prohibitions afforded under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Treaty Act.[ix]
Now that, my friends, is truly outrageous. Different standards for different industries – one fined at the first ruffled feather because it is the unfavored industry, and the other given a license to slaughter what we all believed to be “protected species”.
Your government at work, picking winners and losers and excusing the winners from adhering to the law. Special treatment. Is that equal treatment under the law?
Well of course not … but it is how banana republics do things.
Indeed, not only can you not get any staples at grocery stores in the socialist paradise of Venezuela, now there’s an energy shortage.
Solution!? Take Friday off for a couple of months (because no one uses electricity at home)!
President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuelans will have “long weekends” in an appearance on state television on Wednesday night, announcing the measure as part of a 60-day plan to fight a power crunch.
“This plan for 60 days, for two months, will allow the country to get through the most difficult period with the most risk. I call on families, on the youth, to join this plan with discipline, with conscience and extreme collaboration to confront this extreme situation,” Maduro said.
Yes, discipline, conscience and extreme collaboration because your government has so screwed the pooch that the poor thing is dying. And it is your responsibility, dear Venezuelans, to do with out to fix their mess.
You see, they’ve flat run out of yours and other people’s money and they’re now calling on you to sacrifice even more!
And even with Venezuela and Cuba as prime examples of what Senator Sanders is pushing, there is a significant portion of the voting public that is trying to “feel the Bern”.
All the Venezuelans want is to “feel” a little electricity, oh, and milk and toilet paper, and diapers, and vegetables and meat, meat would be nice, and …
Actually, we have a few QOTD and most come from Dr. John Cristy who recently gave testimony in a Congressional hearing to detail why satellite-derived temperatures are much more reliable indicators of warming than surface thermometers. You can read his full testimony here.
The quote I’m referring too, however, goes to the heart of this matter like no other. It gets to the reason so many who are skeptical continue to doubt the validity of the alarmist’s theory.
“It is a bold strategy in my view to actively promote the output of theoretical climate models while attacking the multiple lines of evidence from observations,” Christy wrote. “Note that none of the observational datasets are perfect and continued scrutiny is healthy, but when multiple, independent groups generate the datasets and then when the results for two completely independent systems (balloons and satellites) agree closely with each other and disagree with the model output, one is left scratching one’s head at the decision to launch an offensive against the data.”
Even more to the point was this:
“Following the scientific method of testing claims against data, we would conclude that the models do not accurately represent at least some of the important processes that impact the climate because they were unable to “predict” what has already occurred. In other words, these models failed at the simple test of telling us “what” has already happened, and thus would not be in a position to give us a confident answer to “what” may happen in the future and “why.” As such, they would be of highly questionable value in determining policy that should depend on a very confident understanding of how the climate system works.”
“Highly questionable value” is an understatement.
The predictions, as they’ve proven themselves, are useless for determining policy. They. Are. Wrong! Christy has a number of other charts available at the “full testimony” link, which point out how wildly wrong the climate models are. They’re not even close. Meanwhile, the scientists who have based their science in data vs. obviously incorrect models are the one’s that are the one’s under fire, with alarmists going so far as to call for their jailing for disagreeing with them.
Bottom line, it all comes down to the Richard P. Feynman quote that’s been flying around the net lately – “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” And, as we’ve pointed out, the observable data simply doesn’t support the theory.
Not that it will stop particular ideologically driven politicians from doing what they want to do in this regard:
A few weeks ago, a group of 13 prominent environmental law professors and attorneys released a 91-page report outlining this new approach, which would allow EPA to use existing laws to quickly and efficiently regulate all pollution sources, in all states — not just power plants and cars. The experts concluded, “It could provide one of the most effective and efficient means to address climate change pollution in the United States.”
Or, put another way, one of the largest power grabs in US history and certainly nothing beyond the man in the White House.
But, you know, damn the facts, full ideological speed ahead for him. It’s never been about science with him, it’s always been about ideology and power.
Bjorn Lomborg thinks it is. In today’s Wall Street Journal, he takes exception with the UN’s continued pushing for a “solution” for “climate change”, formerly known as “global warming”. Lomborg thinks that it ignores the real problems out there and this focus on global warming takes money away from them for what is, at best, a marginal problem.
In a world in which malnourishment continues to claim at least 1.4 million children’s lives each year, 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, and 2.6 billion lack clean drinking water and sanitation, this growing emphasis on climate aid is immoral.
For instance, says Lomborg, according to a recent study, if the UN spent .57% ($570 million) of the $100 billion climate-finance goal on mosquito nets to help control malaria, it could reduce malaria deaths by 50% by 2025 and save approximately 300,000 lives.
Instead, the UN is more interested in the world’s largest wealth redistribution scheme. Somehow the scam has rich nations happy to pledge their citizen’s money and poor nations lining up to receive it. How much will actually go toward addressing the real problems Lomborg highlights is anyone’s guess, but if history is to be a guide, not much. There’s a reason the poorer countries are poor and that has much to do with who is in charge.
Anyway, Lomborg points to the obvious, or at least what should be obvious, in terms of this rush to be “green” and what the world (and the UN) could be doing instead:
Providing the world’s most deprived countries with solar panels instead of better health care or education is inexcusable self-indulgence. Green energy sources may be good to keep on a single light or to charge a cellphone. But they are largely useless for tackling the main power challenges for the world’s poor.
According to the World Health Organization, three billion people suffer from the effects of indoor air pollution because they burn wood, coal or dung to cook. These people need access to affordable, reliable electricity today. Yet too often clean alternatives, because they aren’t considered “renewable,” aren’t receiving the funding they deserve.
A 2014 study by the Center for Global Development found that “more than 60 million additional people in poor nations could gain access to electricity if the Overseas Private Investment Corporation”—the U.S. government’s development finance institution—“were allowed to invest in natural gas projects, not just renewables.”
Wow. Electricity. Its been with us for over a century. We all know its benefits. We all know how well its access could help lift those without it out of poverty.
Yet the UN is more interested in chasing the chimera of “global warming” and its unproven science. The reason, of course is power. Money and control equal power. And this scheme with $100 billion changing hands under the auspices of the UN offers undreamed of opportunities for those in the UN to engage in an unprecedented level of graft. There just isn’t the level of opportunity in helping the world’s poor gain electricity.
As you’ve heard many, many times … follow the money.
Solar energy has been touted by those who support its wide use as a completely “clean” way of producing electricity.
But reality gives lie to that claim. Take the Ivanpah plant in the Mojave Desert for example. It sits on 5.6 square miles of mostly undisturbed public land that was home to desert tortoises, a species threatened with extinction, among other wildlife. It fries birds in flight regularly. Environmentalists concerns were ignored.
Why? Because it was an Obama administration priority, whether it is important to anyone else or not.
“With projects like this one, and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy. And we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations.”
Except it not only doesn’t lower our “reliance on … oil”, it is a large user of fossil fuel. Yes, that’s right – it has a huge carbon footprint.
Data from the California Energy Commission show that the plant burned enough natural gas in 2014 – its first year of operation – to emit more than 46,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
That’s nearly twice the pollution threshold for power plants or factories in California to be required to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions.
The plant, the recipient of $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees as well as $600 million in tax credits, uses natural gas to preheat water for steam. It is only after the water is preheated that the solar energy is applied to finally produce the steam to turn the generators. And on cloudy days? Yes, all natural gas and nothing but natural gas.
And the enviros? Well, David Lamfrom, desert project manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, is pretty sure this isn’t what they signed up for. He points out that this isn’t a solar project but instead a hybrid project which uses both solar and fossil fuel to generate electricity.
“It feels like a bait and switch,” Lamfrom said. “This project was held up as a model of innovation. We didn’t sign up for greener energy. We signed up for green energy.”
The Obama administration lied about the project? My goodness – the next thing you’ll tell us is “if we like our health insurance we won’t be able to keep it”.
As one might imagine, her opposition comes as somewhat of a surprise:
Her comments made her the last major Democratic presidential candidate to come out against Keystone, a project that has dragged through more than seven years of wrangling and several environmental reviews that appeared to favor the pipeline — most of them produced by the State Department when Clinton was secretary. Obama remains the project’s biggest wildcard: He hasn’t said whether he will grant or deny a permit for the pipeline, or when he’ll decide, even as Republicans lambaste him for repeatedly postponing the issue.
As secretary, Clinton had galvanized a nationwide activist campaign against Keystone with her off-the-cuff remarks in 2010 that the department was “inclined” to approve the $8 billion-plus project. That was her last substantive public statement on the issue until Tuesday.
But then, when poll numbers are sinking and momentum is waning, what better than to flip-flop (when you favor the candidate, it’s called a “pivot”) and throw a bone to a particular core constituency to shore up that vote? Its a move any political opportunist would surely applaud.
Why the Keystone XL pipeline has remained such a political football remains a mystery. All the past routing problems that first held up the pipeline have been satisfactorily resolved. And, after all, there are 2.3 million miles of existing oil and natural gas pipelines in the US. Why has this one remained in the news?
Simple answer? Politics. It’s about voting constituencies and keeping them happy. It certainly isn’t about what is best for the US.
As The Hill points out, it has now officially taken longer for the federal government to review the Keystone XL pipeline’s permit application than it did to build the entire transcontinental railroad 150 years ago.
Amazing and typical. As for the party that continues to tell us it is for jobs and economic growth, it blatantly turns its back on both with its opposition to the pipeline’s approval:
Consider the economic opportunity this $5.4 billion pipeline presents. The Canadian Economic Research Institute estimates it could add $172 billion in U.S. economic growth over 25 years. Meanwhile, President Obama’s own U.S. State Department estimates construction would support over 42,000 jobs. Nearly 10,000 would be skilled—aka, well-paying—jobs like steel welders, pipefitters, electricians, and heavy equipment operators.
There’s also the potential for gas prices to go even lower than they are today. According to a February 2015 report from IHS, a leading energy research firm, the “vast majority” of Keystone XL’s refined oil will stay right here in the U.S. In other words, it could further add to America’s surging oil supply that has sent gas prices plummeting over the past year.
And yes, as mentioned, that’s the US State Department estimate made while Hillary Clinton was SecState.
Environmentalists live with the fantasy that if the Keystone pipeline is blocked, the oil to be found in the oil sands of Canada and in North Dakota will simply have to be left in the ground. Of course, that’s nonsense. Instead is it is shipped by rail, a much less safe and less efficient means of transportation (but one that does amply reward a Democratic donor) than a state of the art pipeline :
This is especially so when you consider pipelines—particularly new, state-of-the-art ones like Keystone XL—are the safest mode of transportation. Ensuring we’re using the safest and most efficient methods possible only makes sense.
Indeed. So, why is Hillary Clinton opposed to safe transportation of oil and gas, the jobs and income that would come from the construction of the pipeline and economic boost it would give our economy?
Perhaps someone will ask her that at the first Democratic debate.
Yeah, I know, I’m laughing too.
As you’ll see it’s as unachievable and utopian as all the other “clean energy” plans we’ve heard. In fact, IBD calls it a “farce”. And rightfully so.
Why? Well here are the basics:
Clinton says she has two big goals that she’ll start working on “day one” to combat climate change. First is to expand solar energy supplies by 700% by installing half a billion solar panels by 2020. Second is to power “every home in America” with renewable energy by 2027.
She describes these as “bold national goals.” The more appropriate label is “expensive pipe dream.”
Again, the latter description is more apt. Consider the goal of half a billion solar panels by 2020. That’s 5 years from now, folks. We all know that solar panels are a) expensive and b) don’t live up to their billing as to making us energy independent (well unless we are willing to carpet every sun touched surface on our house and property with them). So how will she accomplish this goal? Well, with your tax dollars (or borrowing) of course. Subsides, tax credits, outright grants, subsides to solar panel manufacturing and big government projects that install millions of panels in desert areas (Environmental impact? Only pipelines have that.).
My goodness, haven’t we done this before? And what’s that popular definition of “insanity”?
Also consider that perhaps the cleanest renewable energy, one that has contributed most to the use of renewable energy, is hydroelectric energy (46%). That source has been in decline due to pressure from environmental groups. We have less hydroelectric power now than we did in 2000. And that trend is likely to continue.
Biomass comes in second (9%) and is also in disfavor with environmental groups (greenhouse gasses).
That leaves three “renewable” sources – geothermal, solar and wind. Between the three, they currently contribute just “6.7% of the nation’s electricity capacity, according to the Energy Department.” In total, we have about 15% of our energy from all renewable sources. So you get an idea of how small the contribution of these three really are.
While Clinton didn’t say much about the other two, wind is a favorite of the renewable energy crowd. The problem with both wind and solar is the usual – powerful environmental groups oppose both. Especially groups concerned with the negative impact on wildlife they’ve demonstrated. It is no secret that both wind installations and large solar instillations are abattoirs for wildlife, especially birds.
So how likely is a President Clinton to see this bit of campaign positioning come to fruition? Well thankfully not very. It’s a slapdash bit of campaign nonsense. It is pure pandering with no hope of realization. It is the usual political campaign “policy” making that is all talk with no walk. It has no possibility of being realized and is just thrown out there to feed the base and keep them happy. It is the underpants gnomes in action.
It doesn’t even stand up to casual scrutiny. But don’t worry, her base has no reason for even casual scrutiny. If she said it, they believe it and that ends it.
Meanwhile, upon finishing her delivery of this devilish clever energy plan, she boarded her private jet and smoked off to her next destination.
We were told that while oil prices were high, shale oil could be produced at enough of a profit to drill, but to expensive to continue if the prices dropped.
But efficiency and technical innovation have overcome that bit of conventional wisdom as Shale Energy Insider reports:
US shale companies have increased the number of rigs in the field for the first time in nearly seven months when oil prices were trading around $70 per barrel, compared to under $60 per barrel in the current market.
The number of rigs rose in almost every main shale basin across the US according to data gathered by Baker Hughes.
Industry experts have suggested that as a result of last year’s price crash, shale exploration firms have cut their break even costs by anything up to $20 per barrel.
“As much as anything else, the rise this week is a testament to break-evens coming down just over the course of this year,” said James Williams, president of energy consultancy WTRG Economics.
“Shale is a lot more resilient than we thought it was, and it means we’re going to be able to keep producing shale oil at a lower cost than we thought we could.”
Adding rigs is the primary way to gauge whether or not it is economically profitable for energy companies to drill for and pump the oil According to one analyst, the companies have been able to streamline their operations to the point their breakeven costs have dropped by about $20 a barrel. That’s huge:
A Bloomberg analyst suggested that the cost of drilling services have fallen between 20% and 50% with break even prices in parts of the Permian and Eagle Ford below $40 per barrel.
And what does it mean overall?
Director of upstream research for Wood Mackenzie, Scott Mitchell forecast that producers could add up to 100 oil rigs by the end of the year.
“Drilling rigs and fracking require a quite specific technical workforce, and there were a lot of layoffs as a result of the drop in activity.
“We may find the supply of people becomes short very quickly if activity ramps up, leading to price increases again,” he predicted.
That’s right … jobs and less expensive gas. Of course, most if not all of the shale oil drilling has taken place on non-federal land, and the market has been able to function without a great deal of governmental interference. It is providing both employment and a very important commodity at less expensive prices. Additionally, as it lowers its breakeven point, it buffers us against volume drops as the price of oil comes lower and other sources stop producing oil. With the lower breakeven point, they’ll continue to pump past the point where they’d have quit previously because doing so is still profitable for them. That helps ensure lower prices at the pump will be more common and more stable.
The market … a wonder we need to allow to work without interference much more often than we do.
And those two words are “Barack Obama”.
I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten real tired of seeing the US play the dope on the world stage these last 6 years. I’ve touched on this before, but it doesn’t get much coverage and is indicative of how much foreign policy damage this administration is doing. I touched on this earlier, but I’m fascinated by how totally tone-deaf and inept this administration appears to be.
The story, as the administration wants it to unfold:
The US government has stepped up pressure on the World Bank not to fund coal-fired power plants in developing countries. In a letter sent to the World Bank United States Executive Director Whitney Debevoise said, “The Obama Administration believes that the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have a potentially critical role to play in the future international framework for climate finance, and, in particular, to assist developing countries in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening their economies’ resilience to climate risks.” Following Debevoise’s controversial guidelines, the axe has already fallen on Pakistan’s Thar Coal and Energy Project on the grounds that “the limited financing available from the Bank should be directed toward investments that address energy supply shortfalls in an environmentally sustainable manner’’.
So there Pakistan? No coal fired plants for you! We have spoken!
Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to unveil a $46 billion infrastructure spending plan in Pakistan that is a centerpiece of Beijing’s ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia and challenge the U.S. as the dominant regional power. The largest part of the project would provide electricity to energy-starved Pakistan, based mostly on building new coal-fired power plants.
It’s just blatant now … total disrespect for the US. Even our ally in the region, Australia, has had enough. Japan is tired of the posturing and pushing of ideology in support of something science doesn’t support much less prove. More importantly, they’re not going to play ball anymore and aren’t making any bones about it.
Who do you suppose Pakistan is looking too for leadership in the energy sector now? Who do you suppose they might see as a champion of their economic growth?
The Geological survey of Pakistan reveals that 175 billion ton of coal is buried under the Thar Desert. These coal reserves alone are equivalent to total combined oil reserves (375 Billion Barrels) of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The coal deposits in Thar can change the fate of the country if utilised in a proper way. The coal reserves at Thar Desert are estimated around 850 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas, and are worth USD 25 trillion. According to experts, if this single resource is used properly, we not only can cater to the electricity requirements of the country for next 300 years but also save almost four billion dollars in staggering oil import bills.
And if Pakistan feels that way, what about India?
India is hoping a new China-backed multilateral lender will fund coal-based energy projects, an official said, putting it in direct conflict with the World Bank, whose chief has maintained that it would stick to its restrictions on such lending. A senior Indian official told Reuters the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), sponsored by China, is expected to allow funding of coal-fired power plants that the World Bank has almost totally blocked. “When you have 1.3 billion people starved of electricity access and the rest of the world has created a carbon space, at this point denying funding is denying access to cheap energy,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
So now “rich America” is trying to force developing countries to forgo cheap energy in the name of … ideology. Hey, wasn’t Obama the guy always apologizing for the way he felt America bullied other countries?
Well, at least he only bullies allies.
There are so many places to point to that illustrate the answer to the question (Libya, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, China, Russia … ad infinitum, ad nauseum), but there’s one that’s been going on sort of behind the scenes that illustrates it perfectly.
As we all know, our President has an ideological agenda item labeled
“global warming” “climate change” that he is hell bent on forcing on not only us, but the world to his agenda.
Here’s the interesting part – much of the world is sympathetic with his agenda. Just look at the UN and those who adhere to the UN line about climate change. A smart guy – at least the guy who supporters claim is always the “smartest guy in the room” – would use that fact to try to fashion some sort of coalition and agreement that would advance his agenda.
Not our prez. He’s an “all-or-nothing” sort of guy when it comes to things like this – science be damned. And he likes to bully and shame people and countries into doing his bidding.
Except that never seems to work. What am I talking about?
The Infrastructure Investment Bank – A China led initiative that not only extends China’s influence but will extend loans to developing countries to help develop their energy infrastructure – to include coal.
Well, Obama’s well known for his war on coal and his inflexibility about including it in future. But if you’re actually trying to be a diplomat – you know, foreign policy – you might end up understanding that you are at the extreme with the “no coal” position and see if you can’t influence the agenda via compromise. Oh, and if you’re against China’s initiative, you gather allies to work against their goal and toward yours. That’s if you have any savvy at all concerning diplomacy and foreign policy.
So, you have to ask, how did this happen?
Australia’s decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank follows a reversal of policy, revealed in The Australian this month, based on strategic arguments about China. The change followed a reassessment within government and intense talks within the G7 group of finance ministers and central bank governors.
Australia had been one of our allies, along with Japan, in resisting this effort by China. What happened?
While Australia, Japan, South Korea and Britain have been cautious and aware of the US criticism, all are moving towards joining. Japanese industrialists keen to sell “ultra-super-critical coal-fired” electricity generators to India for more efficient use of brown coal are pushing for Tokyo to sign up.
Mr Obama’s administration has been tightening international funding for coal-fired generation but the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is likely to be more sympathetic to the pleas of developing nations.
The expansion of coal-fired power generation is a boon to Australia’s coal exporters and represents a boost to the flagging Japanese economy.
So, knowing that, what did the bully-in-chief do? Well, if you know anything about him, you’re unlikely to be surprised. Just think – “ally” and it will come to you:
Australia has joined forces with Japan in international forums to resist the US campaign of limiting lending to developing nations seeking more efficient coal-fired generation. The technology offers the promise of cheaper power. The moves follow Mr Obama’s climate change speech at the G20 summit in Brisbane last November. The US President’s remarks, which embarrassed Mr Abbott and angered his ministers, were seen as an attempt to push the administration’s climate change policies in Mr Obama’s final year in office.
Yup, condescension and embarrassment have a tendency to move things in a direction you don’t want – especially when you do it in the country of your ally.
Result? Another in a long, very long line of foreign policy failures. Australia joins with China in rebuffing Obama’s agenda.
On the whole, I’m quite pleased with that. However, it does indeed demonstrate how badly this circus is being run by the clown-in-chief. I’m sure, even now, that James Taylor is tuning up for a trip down under.