The election of Donald Trump (along with the Republican Congressional majority) may be the good news that science-based energy advocates (e.g. wind warriors) have been waiting for — for years now. For example, there is now a good chance that the wind energy PTC will be terminated!
This is like turning a super-tanker: it will take awhile for things to pan out. And make no mistake about it, the forces of entitlement will not go down without major fights. FYI, I’ve put together a few observationspertaining to the election (ranging from Science to computer models), and its consequences .
The latest Energy and Environmental Newsletter, is now available online.
Some of the more interesting energy articles in this issue are:
PS: As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and on your social media sites. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you’d like to be taken off the list, simply send me an email saying that.
PPS: I am not an attorney, so no material appearing in any of the Newsletters (or our WiseEnergy.org website) should be construed as giving legal advice. My recommendation has always been: consult a competent attorney when you are involved with legal issues.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/awed-environmental-news.jpg348640John Droz, Jr.http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJohn Droz, Jr.2016-11-14 07:14:232017-03-17 10:43:59Trump election good news for science-based energy advocates
With a few words to a reporter, President Barack Obama just took the rule of law, crumpled it up, and tossed along a riverbank in North Dakota.
Here’s what he told NowThis about the recent actions by his administration and the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline:
I think, right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. So we are going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved.
This was “resolved” months ago, after state and federal agencies signed off on the project.
The point of the rule of law is to protect rights by having a known, understandable, and certain process.
The pipeline’s builders, Energy Transfer Partners, did what they were supposed to do: They worked with state and federal regulators, applied for the appropriate permits, held local hearings with people concerned about the project—including Native American tribes—and spent years making adjustments to the pipeline’s route after hearing concerns—140 times in North Dakota alone(!) to preserve cultural sites and minimize environmental harm.
After following the rules, all state and federal permits were acquired (including from the Army Corps of Engineers). Energy Transfer Partners was awaiting a final easement from the Army Corp to go under the Missouri River, so building started.
Only then did anti-energy extremists rile up people to protest the pipeline by setting up camp near its construction, chaining themselves to equipment, and regularly confronting law enforcement, security guards, and construction workers.
We’re more than three-quarters through the game and President Obama thinks it’s okay to pull a Lucy and yank the football away from billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs by changing the rules of the game. We’re long past the point of no return for a project that went by the book.
For reaction to the president’s comments, here’s Rob Port, a North Dakota blogger who has been covering the story for months:
It’s worth keeping in mind that almost the entirety of this pipeline traverses private land. “In fact, DAPL needs almost no federal permitting of any kind because 99% of its route traverses private land,” Obama-appointed federal judge James Boasberg wrote in his September opinion rejecting arguments against the pipeline from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
It’s actually more than 99 percent. It’s like 99.8 percent. Just 0.2 percent of this pipeline is on federal land.
But Obama, apparently, thinks that 0.2 percent gives the federal government the authority to re-route the 99.8 percent of the pipeline on private property.
Pipeline supporters also weighed in.
“While a reroute sounds simple enough, it is in fact incredibly difficult, time intensive, costly and may actually be impossible,” said Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now. “It would require new easements, new environmental and cultural studies, and hundreds of millions in additional costs.”
Stevens added, it also puts future energy infrastructure projects as risk: “It would send the signal to other companies seeking to invest in the U.S. infrastructure that the country is closed for business. Because no company would invest the billions of dollars necessary to complete the already time-consuming and onerous regulatory process only to be subject to a re-review in the latter stages of construction and shut down.”
This is an important point. Over the next few years we’ll need all types of energy infrastructure. Renewable energy supporters should be worried at Obama’s words and actions. It’s not just about oil and natural gas infrastructure. Long-haul electrical transmission lines require similar permitting and public comment periods as pipelines. Often, they run into local objections.
When federal agencies upend the results of a fair regulatory process, everyone suffers.
Under this Obama administration precedent, a transmission line supplying customers with electricity from solar or wind that made it through the permitting process could be “rerouted” by presidential decree.
Don’t expect reliable energy supplies in that kind of environment. It doesn’t matter how much energy abundance you have, if you can’t get it to where consumers can use it—which is exactly the point of the extremist protesters. “There’s no reroute that doesn’t involve the same risks to water and climate,” Sara Shor, 350.org’s Keep It in the Ground campaign manager is quoted by The Hill.
Back to the rule of law. A letter from 22 pro-energy groups last month to the administration, including the Institute for 21st Century Energy, cited John Adams who wrote the United States is a “government of laws, not of men.” The letter continues:
This North Dakota project has complied with the procedures laid out in law, engaged in more than two years of federal review and has received the necessary federal approvals.
The previous decisions now being “reconsidered” were properly considered and made through a fair and thorough process on which the company and others are entitled to rely. In our “nation of laws,” when an established legal process is complete, it is just that—complete.
When your agencies upend or modify the results of a full and fair regulatory process for an infrastructure project, these actions do not merely impact a single company. The industries that manufacture and develop the infrastructure, the labor that builds it, and the American consumers that depend on it all suffer.
We believe that community involvement in decisions about constructing and locating pipelines is important and necessary, particularly in sensitive situations like those involving places of significance to Native Americans. However, once these processes have been completed, it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.
Along with damaging the rule of the law, with his words, the president has emboldened extremists like Bill McKibben who reject all fossil fuels use and pour fire on an already volatile situation.
This is chaos, and it could continue for “several more weeks.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been unnecessarily politiziced. Unfortunately, the president’s words and actions have only made things worse.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/nowthis_obama_interview_11022016_900px-e1478778154766.jpg427640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2016-11-10 06:45:052016-11-10 06:45:33President Obama Just Made the Dakota Access Pipeline Situation Worse
They are armed, hostile, and engaged in training exercises which can only be intended to promote violence, whether on Corps property or elsewhere. These rioters have left Corps and Standing Rock property on multiple occasions and travel several miles to enter private property to assault employees, private security personnel, and damage property that will take millions of dollars to repair. A number of these individuals have been observed brandishing weapons.
One anti-pipeline protester went on a local North Dakota radio show to talk about “lawlessness” he saw taking place inside the camps.
A union leader in North Dakota spoke to local North Dakota radio about the hostile environment created by pipeline opponents for those working on the pipeline:
Pam Link of the Local 563 chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America was on air with my colleague Jay Thomas on 970 AM WDAY. She spoke with Jay about the issues the pipeliners are going through with the #NoDAPL protests.
She painted an ugly picture, describing one incident where a worker filling up his truck at an area gas station was “beaten” by masked protesters.
“I wish people could imagine the situation our union workers have been put in,” she said, adding that hundreds of the workers are from right here in North Dakota.
“No one should have to be going to work threatened and put in an unsafe position,” she added.
Link said workers routinely show up at their work sites along the pipeline routine to find equipment damaged. Not that they get much of a chance to address the damage. She also said workers are routinely run off by protesters just a couple of hours after starting their work days.
There are a “handful of workers who have left the job,” Link said, though added that most of the workers are sticking and want to get the project completed.
This hostile environment has expanded and is affecting farmers and ranchers far from the pipeline’s route. Doug Goehring, North Dakota’s Commissioner of Agriculture, told North Dakota blogger Rob Port, the protests are anything but peaceful:
He said farmers and ranchers in areas even as far away [sic] as 20 or 30 miles from the protests are feeling “frustration, fear, anxiety, and tension.”
“It’s just like living down in an area that seems like a battle zone,” he said.
“These are innocent people who are caught in harm’s way,” he added.
He said he’s spoken to farmers and ranchers from the area who have sent their children to live in the Bismarck/Mandan area during the protests because they don’t feel safe. He said ag producers are having troubles harvesting their crops or tending to their cattle because of the protest activities and the law enforcement response they provoke.
In one instance he said he spoke to a farmer who lives 20 miles away from the main protest area who had a protester chain himself to a light pole in his farm yard.
“This is terrible,” he told me.
It should be noted that one of the protesters’ key talking points–that the pipeline will destroy cultural artifacts–has been upended. North Dakota State Historical Society’s archaeologists have found no evidence of cultural items on the pipeline’s route.
Both the energy industry and labor unions turned up the volume on the administration’s delay of Dakota Access Pipeline.
The presidents of the International Union of Operating Engineers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers’ International Union of North America, United Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that he “stand up for American workers” and allow construction to continue, NBC News reports:
The unions, which collectively represent 3.5 million workers, said the weeks-long halt in construction of the pipeline at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, had caused “hardships for thousands of families.” The unions said 8,000 of their members are currently working on the $3.7 billion project.
“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to indefinitely halt a project that is more than halfway constructed and has received state and federal approval raises serious concerns about the future of infrastructure development in America, and the livelihoods of our members,” the group wrote in a one-page letter.
The energy industry reinforced labor’s points. On a press call, the American Petroleum Institute’s Robin Rorick warned that Obama administration actions threatened the rule of law saying it set “a dangerous precedent for other non-oil and gas projects like roads, bridges, tunnels and electricity transmission lines.”
Last month, Matt Koch at the Institute for 21st Century Energy also noted it is “also unfair to the communities along the pipeline route that support the project, and all Americans who stand to benefit from increased energy and economic security once the project is completed.”
Both industry and labor reminds us that the pipeline went through years of reviews at the state and federal level that included many opportunities for the public and interested groups to offer input. Permits were lawfully approved under that thorough process.
When asked to issue an order blocking pipeline construction, federal Judge James Boasberg looked at the facts and concluded the Army Corps of Engineers followed proper procedures and bent over backwards to gather input from the public, including Native American tribes who could be affected. He denied issuing an injunction, yet an hour later, the Obama administration chose to halt construction near the protest area, putting us in the situation we’re in.
The United States is a nation of laws. This administration should stand up for the rule of law, law-abiding construction workers, and local communities and not extreme anti-energy groups.It should stop impeding this necessary energy infrastructure project.
I was asked to speak as a NY town board meeting this week. They were quite interested in how to best protect their community from the threat of a proposed wind project. This is a condensed version of what I said…
Since an industrial wind project is something you may have to live with for 20± years, it seems wise to carefully, objectively, and thoroughly investigate this matter, ahead of time…
After working with 100± communities throughout the US, my conclusion is that your absolute best and first line of defense, is a well-written, protective set of wind energy regulations.
The focus of these regulations should be to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.
These regulations can be in a stand-alone law, or part of a more comprehensive zoning document. (Where they appear is significantly less important than their content.)
Note that writing these regulations is not about excluding wind energy development — but rather it’s about protecting the citizens, small businesses, the economy, the military, and the ecosystems of your community.
So, how do you go about creating proper wind energy regulations? Well, you have two very different choices…
1 – Option One is to figure out what needs to be done, on your own.
Since this is an extremely complex technical matter (with wide-spread ramifications), you’ll need to find the following local people: physicist, electrical engineer, civil engineer, acoustical engineer, physician, financial PhD, hydro-geologist, ecologist, bat expert, ornithologist, EMF expert, real estate appraiser, and last but not least, a technically competent lawyer. That would be your team.
In addition, each of those local people need:
a) to have an interest in this matter,
b) to be supportive of citizen rights, and
c) to have the time available to assist the community.
After you’ve collected these experts (that meet those three qualifications), make sure to also allow for at least a year to do research, to have multiple meetings, etc., etc.
The fundamental question is: do you have all those resources in your community, and the time?
If you are missing any of those experts (or don’t have the time), the wind regulations that result will likely leave you not properly protected, and very vulnerable to a wind project getting built…
2 – Option Twois to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you.
Many are not be aware of it, but some 250 communities in the US have had to deal with industrial wind energy. Every case is different, but a few were fortunate enough to have the necessary cross-section of experts living nearby. Some were proactive, so they had the luxury and time to do more research. Etc.
In any case, in every one of the 250± other communities, there are lessons to be learned — both what to do, and what not to do. One of my beliefs is that it rarely makes sense to reinvent the wheel — and particularly not in a complex technical matter like industrial wind energy.
That’s the point of my free citizen advocacy service, and my website (WiseEnergy.org), and my monthly Newsletter (which now has some 10,000 readers). All of these are intended to sort out, and then pass on to you, the best ideas out there.
As we announced several months ago, to help those who want to go the Option Two route, we are advocating a model local wind law. (The explanation and supporting data behind it is found on the Key Documents page of our website.)
When all is said and done, it’s your community — so it’s your call how to deal with any proposed wind project.
We’ve simply tried to make it easier to be successful in dealing with this extraordinary challenge — by giving you the Science perspective, and by sharing with you some of the wind energy experiences of numerous other communities.
Let me know any questions you have, or suggestions to improve our services by leaving a comment below.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/wind-turbine-burning-e1475183184144.jpg382640John Droz, Jr.http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJohn Droz, Jr.2016-09-29 17:06:362016-09-29 17:31:35How To Succeed In The Wind Energy Fight
The involvement of a man who has written, “We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground,” shows us what this protest is really about.
It isn’t about water or cultural concerns. It’s about making it so hard to get energy from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed that production stops. “Block the infrastructure, block the development,” Rob Port wrote last month.
McKibben, Kleeb, and their friends don’t like the shale boom at all and want to take us to a fantasy world where fossil fuels aren’t used. But that’s ignores history. These energy sources have lifted billions of people out of poverty, fueled our economic prosperity, and allowed so many of us to live healthy lives. Abandoning politically incorrect energy will leave many of us living shorter, harsher, more-miserable lives.
Blocking energy infrastructure like the Dakota Access Pipeline holds America back at a time when we’re enjoying an energy renaissance, as Matt Koch of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy explains:
Yet we run the risk of losing the advantages due to the politicization by environmentalists of the pipeline and transmission line projects needed to move energy to where it is needed. Many areas in the U.S. are already missing out on the full benefits of our energy revolution because it has been difficult to move our energy from where it is produced to where it is needed.
Things continued to be ugly over the Labor Day weekend, NPR reports:
In a statement, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said protesters marched from their encampment onto private lands, where the pipeline is being constructed.
“Once protestors arrived at the construction area, they broke down a wire fence by stepping and jumping on it,” the sheriff’s office said. “According to numerous witnesses within five minutes the crowd of protestors, estimated to be a few hundred people became violent. They stampeded into the construction area with horses, dogs and vehicles.”
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said it “was more like a riot than a protest.”
Tensions are so high that the National Guard will provide backup for law enforcement as we wait for a federal judge to rule on injunctions that may or may not delay construction or protests.
UPDATE: A federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for a temporary injunction to stop work on the pipeline.
In the meantime, the protest has turned into a cause celebre. Movie stars make a blurry video supporting the pipeline protesters. Protesters are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars indonations to support a long-term protest: propane; water; food; and blankets.
It’s also not about threats to tribal lands. We know this because after going through public records from the Army Corps of Engineers, SayAnythingBlob.com’s Rob Port reports the Dakota Access Pipeline route nearly matches that of gas pipeline already in the ground:
Before reading this report I had no idea there was another pipeline already running through this area, but there is. It’s called the Northern Border Pipeline. It’s a natural gas line built all the way back in 1982, and the Dakota Access Pipeline follows it often, including through the areas currently being disputed by protesters.
This is no mere coincidence. I spoke with Justin Kringstad at the ND Pipeline Authority who told me that the Dakota Access line “generally follows the same corridor” as the Northern Border line, and that this sort of thing is “not uncommon.” It can be easier to get easements and regulatory approval for a pipeline built where another pipeline has already gone through.
Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak also told me that the Dakota Access line “tried to follow wherever possible the Northern Border pipeline.”
The two routes aren’t exact, but through the area where pipeline construction has sparked violent protests the two lines run side by side according to Energy Transfer Partners.
“We parallel this pipeline for about the last 40 miles” leading up to the Missouri River/Lake Oahe crossing spokeswoman Vickin Anderson Granado told me.
So 30 years ago, did protestors knock down fences and damage equipment when that pipeline was being constructed? Were movie stars joining in solidarity with protestors?
Northern Border and Natural [pipeline builders] contacted Native American tribes to elicit any interests or concerns regarding construction of the proposed project, especially as it affects any sites of historic, cultural, or religious significance. Northern Border received responses from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the Peoria Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma. The Three Affiliated Tribes expressed concern about the possible existence of archeological sites at Compressor Stations 5 and 7. No other responses expressed any concerns about the project. Natural has received no response from Native American groups.
As for the Dakota Access Pipeline, it has undergone a thorough, public review process that engaged thousands of people in the region.
Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petroleum Council put it well:
[T]he future of this project is jeopardized by national environmental groups that have latched onto a Native American protest as a last-ditch effort to stop a project that they could not prevent through a regular, orderly review process. These actions attempt to disrupt the very rule of law that was established by these state regulatory organizations.
Energy opponents didn’t like the end result of a public process and so are using uncivil ways to try to stop it.
Their real intentions need to be called out and their uncivil disobedience rejected.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/morton_county_dakota_pipeline_protest_pinned-e1473451147937.jpg392640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2016-09-09 16:00:212016-09-09 16:01:31‘Uncivil’ Disobedience is Name of the Game for Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters
As you consider your vote remember this is a Constitutional Amendment, and once passed the chances of changing it are slim and none. Before we change the Constitution, shouldn’t the Amendment be clearly beneficial to most Floridians? Unfortunately, the vast majority of Floridians will be hurt if Amendment 4 is passed. The Amendment will raise electric rates and ad valorem taxes. Vote NO on this Amendment.
Summary: This Amendment will exempt solar devices installed on homes or businesses from ad valorem taxes, until 12-31-2037.
First of all, homeowners who install Solar-Electric systems already get a 30% federal tax break!
This financial assistance from the federal government, has been around for years. Secondly, Florida state government has helped by exempting “solar energy systems or any component thereof” from sales tax. And now we have this amendment, a third gilded gift to prop-up the failing solar industry.
Nonetheless, let’s see how many people this Amendment will help. A review of the US Census Fact Finder data on the table below, shows that 30% (2,166,215) of all Floridians live in “Rental Occupied” units, and therefore, no-one in that group would invest in solar-electric systems. As shown in the “Owner-occupied” category, that leaves 4,986,629 potential customers.
In addition, even if you own a house you may not be able to afford to invest in a solar-electric system. People who own lower valued housing units valued at $50,000-$150,000, are not likely to invest $30,000 (cost estimate to buy, install, and connect a solar-electric system to the electric grid) for solar system. So of the 4,986,629 total housing units, we can subtract 1,593,957 for the lower valued houses. That gives 3,392,697 as the remaining moderate to higher priced housing units that would be the target market for solar-electric systems.
However, there are about 1,000,000 condominiums in Florida, whose owners would also be prevented/impeded from modifying or otherwise changing their common roofs, so the total possible number of housing units for solar falls to 2,392,697, or ~34% of all housing units.
With only ~34% of housing units available for solar-electric systems, how can this Amendment be considered fair? Worse yet, many snow-birds and residents have mobile homes that are included the housing units, but there is no itemized number for them. So the 34%, would be even lower if mobile home units were subtracted from the total number of units.
In 2015, the Nevada PUC changed the rules for “net metering,” which allows homeowners to sell their excess solar generated electricity to their utility at retail rather than wholesale rates. But because that arrangement was too costly, the PUC changed the rule.
The Nevada scenario seems like a no brainer, but apparently there was enough grant money to make up for the losses, until one day when the math didn’t work, and the people in Nevada realized that the more electric generated by solar, the less profits the utilities collect. The utilities need profit to pay staff to restore power after storms, sustain street lighting, and maintain the electric grid, etc. In addition, utilities work on economies of scale, and their efficiency is reduced when customers convert to solar, because it costs more to generate a KW of electricity.
This Amendment is an obvious attempt by state bureaucrats to boost the heavily subsidized, yet nearly bankrupt solar industry. It’s not fair or prudent, to let the state pick winners and losers in a free market economy, and we should not let this cronyism go unnoticed.
Vote NO on Amendment 4.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/VoteNoOn4.jpg360640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2016-08-27 05:11:002016-08-27 05:13:43A review of Florida Constitutional Amendment 4 -- Solar Devices by James Lampe
August temperatures aren’t the only things flaring up in the Great Plains as anti-energy protesters try to stop construction of an oil pipeline.
Emboldened by President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015, anti-energy protesters have set their sights on stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline.
A valuable addition to U.S. energy infrastructure, the pipeline will cross four states connecting the oil-rich Bakken region in North Dakota with other pipelines in Illinois, allowing oil to reach refineries and making America less dependent on foreign imports.
Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Source: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
Approval of the pipeline’s construction went through the standard process of public hearings and comment periods with four states and the federal government. But the public permitting process hasn’t stopped protesters.
In North Dakota, hundreds of protestors—many not from the area–have built a camp near a construction site where the pipeline will travel under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline’s water crossing there in July.
The protests have turned ugly. Local public radio reports that construction has been halted because law enforcement worried that some protesters had pipe bombs and guns. Dozens have been arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct. The FBI is investigating an incident where someone pointed a laser pointer on a North Dakota state government plane that was watching the protesters.
The protests got so bad that on Friday North Dakota’s Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) issued an emergency declaration in the construction area to make “available other state resources for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and well-being of the general public and those involved in the protest.”
On Tuesday, LIUNA, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Teamsters, and United Association sent a letter to Gov. Dalrymple urging him to allow construction to restart:
We strongly encourage you to utilize the power of your office to keep our workers safe and to ensure protestors are following the letter of the law of North Dakota. While they may have a right to protest, we also have a right to do our jobs in a safe environment. Protestors who did not avail themselves of nearly two years of public discourse of the project should not be allowed to continue endangering themselves, construction workers, or law enforcement while trespassing on land legally leased to this project.”
North Dakota hasn’t been the only place where violence has broken out. Earlier this month, along the pipeline’s path in Iowa, three arsons were committed, damaging $1 million in heavy construction equipment.
Pipelines are Safe
Protesters argue that the pipeline will threaten local water supplies, but the fact is pipelines safely move oil all the time. A report from the American Petroleum Institute and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines finds that 99.999% of crude oil and petroleum products are safely delivered. In 2014, 9.3 billion barrels of crude oil were delivered—a 31% increase since 2010.
While more oil has been transported, there have been fewer spills. “The number of pipeline incidents per year in public spaces (i.e. outside of operator facilities) have declined by more than half since 1999,” the report notes.
What’s more, pipelines aren’t a new thing. Hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines every day safely move energy to households and businesses that need it. For instance, the amount of crude oil pipelines has increased by 29% to 72,400 miles in the last five years.
Map of U.S. pipeline transportation system. Source: U.S. Department of Transportation.
Part of “Keep It In the Ground” Movement
Given that pipelines have been around for decades, have a strong safety record, and the Dakota Access Pipeline was closely studied before receiving its permits, we should wonder what the protests are really about.
It’s not fears about water pollution. As North Dakota resident Rob Port at SayAnythingBlog.com, who has been all over this story explains, it’s about stopping oil development period:
The protesters say the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River at its confluence with the Cannon Ball river near the reservation, puts clean water at risk. That’s certainly an important issue for the reservation, which draws its drinking water from the river near the pipeline crossing, but it’s worth remembering that the American landscape is dotted with pipelines crossing rivers. There are thousands upon thousands of pipelines in America, and building them would have been impossible if we didn’t know how to get them across rivers.
Which makes the claims of the protesters about the Dakota Access project curious. This project is nothing new. It’s an important bit of infrastructure for America’s renewed energy industry. It’s of particular importance to North Dakota’s oil industry in that it will ease oil transport headaches and make development in this state more resilient to low prices.
As new infrastructure, it’s a game changer. But in terms of its actual construction? This isn’t groundbreaking stuff.
But then, these protests aren’t really about the pipeline. They’re about obstructing infrastructure which would support the on-going development of oil resources
The activists air-dropping into North Dakota from all over the country, and even the world, are not anti-pipeline so much as they’re anti-oil. That’s an important distinction. While it may be within the realm of the reasonable to protest a specific infrastructure project, I think most Americans would consider trying to choke the domestic oil industry to death by blocking infrastructure to be an extreme goal.
Don’t believe me? Consider the website for EarthJustice, an activist group which has filed a lawsuit against the pipeline on behalf of the Standing Rock tribe and is currently seeking an injunction to block legally the on-going construction protesters like Woodley are trying to block physically.
The group describes themselves as “opposing infrastructure development that could lock us into decades of dirty fuels.”
“We are working with affected communities to fight pipelines, export terminals and other major infrastructure projects that will spur more gas drilling and burning for decades to come,” the group says in the portion of their website dedicated to describing their work.
Block the infrastructure, block the development.
The “Keep it in the ground” movement rears its head, not that they’re their hiding that fact. Bold Alliance founder Jane Kleeb, one of the ringleaders in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, told Politico, “What should have happened after Keystone got rejected was a huge influx of resources to local and state groups fighting pipelines.”
Stopping the Dakota Access Pipelines and making it more difficult to get oil out of the Bakken—no matter the cost to jobs and energy security—is a means to their radical end of eliminating energy use in the U.S.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/Dakota-Access-Pipeline-protestor-e1472158455901.jpg372640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2016-08-25 16:54:242016-08-25 16:55:04Arrests, Arson, Anger: Why anti-energy protesters are making it ugly in North Dakota
A couple months ago I spoke to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and met a very bright industry member, Ethan Atwood, who told me how he and his company had become incredibly effective advocates by using the moral case for fossil fuels. He recently shared his story on my podcast, Power Hour. Here’s an edited excerpt:
I was offered a job in the oil and gas sector to come up and work in Canada for a company that does oil and gas service. I wasn’t really excited about the idea of it.
When I decided that it was probably OK to do, it was with some reservations, basically thinking to myself “well it is not that bad and we’re just a service company,” and then I got up and started working and I found out wow, we are actually doing… we are actually part of fracking and fracking is bad. Fracking is a bad word and is a bad thing and, you know, I had a little bit of a dilemma there as well.
After a couple of years of working in the industry one of the vice presidents at our company found your book and started to talk about the moral case for fossil fuel and started shaping really the narrative of our company and even the community. So we started talking about it in groups and inside the company that maybe the oil and gas industry is actually a good thing and we are actually contributing to the health and well-being of others.
And we’ve gone from feeling apologetic when people say “Hey, what do you do?” Instead, we say “Yeah, I’m really proud about it and all the stuff you hear about it, I’d like to talk to you about it a little bit more.” And every time we start that people say “Oh, I never really thought about it that way.” And the vast majority of people I speak with, I would say nearing 100%, with just 5 minutes of discussion are willing to concede that it actually is a good thing.
In the interview, Atwood shares his advice for companies on how to replicate his success. Above all he recommended starting employees with this interview/debate, so employees can see how the moral case framework challenges the traditional framework, and then following it with The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. (You can also start with our new free, two-page preview.)
3 Speeches to Empower Companies
On the topic of employee empowerment, I’ve recently expanded the number of speeches available to companies and trade groups. If one of these might be a good fit for your company, let me know.
Included for every participant is a copy…
New! How to Talk to Anyone About Energy Workshop
A half-day workshop with lots of live practice, demonstrations, and feedback where I teach you how to talk one-on-one to stakeholders, whether attackers, non-supporters, and supporters about your most important energy issues. Included is a copy of our online course How to Talk to Anyone About Energy, but the in-person version is much more customized to your particular issues and your particular team.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
My flagship introductory talk that has inspired tens of thousands of employees to be proud of their work and share that pride with others.
Arguing to 0 vs. Arguing to 100: How to Get Off the Defensive and Take the Moral High Ground
Designed for communications teams and senior executives, this talk explains why companies and trade groups are always on the defensive—and how to reframe the conversation to take the moral high ground and win over stakeholders.
In 2010, Molly Eagen gave herself a challenge: For 100 days the Minneapolis resident would try to live without oil.
Eagen, an architecture student at the time, took the challenge to understand “peak oil,” the flawed idea propagated in the early part of this century that the world would soon run out of oil. (The shale revolution later shot that theory to pieces.) “I knew the issues,” she told Minnesota Monthly. “But it wasn’t real to me.”
Eagen bought and grew locally-grown food, walked or biked everywhere, and limited herself to only the daily amount of water and electricity she could hypothetically collect from the sky (even though oil is rarely used to generate electricity in modern-day America). As part of her research, she expanded on this EIA diagram on U.S. petroleum flow and added where it goes in our daily lives. It detailed how vital petroleum is to productive, comfortable, safe and healthy lifestyles in terms of transportation, food, water, health and energy.
Now, take the idea of oil deprivation and expand it to all fossil fuels: oil plus natural gas and coal.
This far-out notion is going mainstream in the environmental movement. Declaring that we should “keep it in the ground,” activists have gone from opposing oil pipelines like Keystone XL and outlawing fracking to pushing for an end to all fossil fuel use – with little thought about the ramifications.
Imagine living without fossil fuels–waking up in the pre-dawn morning and squinting in the dark as you stumble to the bathroom for something to ease a throbbing headache, only to be disappointed when you open the medicine cabinet.
Little artificial light, no aspirin, and little clean water to wash it down. These are three of the untold comforts of modern life that we would lose if we gave up fossil fuels.
The “keep it in the ground” chorus has been growing.
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and founder of 350.org, is one of the main promoters, declaring, “We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground.” He wrote in The Nation: “Fossil fuels are the problem in global warming—and fossil fuels don’t come in good and bad flavors. Coal and oil and natural gas have to be left in the ground. All of them.”
Throw in the big environmental groups. Greenpeace is calling for a “revolution against fossil fuels,” and the Sierra Club—with its Beyond Oil, Beyond Natural Gas, and Beyond Coal campaigns–has been pushing this far-fetched idea since at least 2014. Maybe they should call their campaigns “Beyond Progress.”
The message has driven followers of these groups to take action. Federal offshore energy lease auctions are usually mundane events, but in March, protestors unsuccessfully tried to shout one down in New Orleans. In 2015, “kayaktivists” took to Puget Sound to protest Arctic Ocean energy development. Ironically without oil, the flotilla of kayaks—made from petrochemicals and transported on the rooftops of gasoline-burning vehicles—wouldn’t have existed.
The cry has hit the universities with coordinated student movements calling for universities to divest their endowments of fossil fuel company stocks.
In Washington, D.C., after years of taking credit for increases in oil and natural gas development, President Barack Obama has embraced the cause and their language. When he vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline he declared, “We’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.”
The president is certainly willing to do his part by having his administration advance all sorts of anti-fossil fuel policies.
What would it mean to “keep it in the ground?” What would life be like if we took McKibben’s declaration seriously and went farther than Molly Eagan’s experiment by giving up oil, natural gas and coal?
There are a few things that would happen. We’d need a lot more candles (made from tallow or animal fat and not petroleum like most are) lying around the house.
According to the Energy Information Administration, coal and natural gas generate two-thirds of our electricity. Renewables—wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric—collectively produce only 13%. Replacing fossil fuel electric generation capacity with renewables would cost $2.5 trillion, according to energy expert Vaclav Smil. But reliability is priceless, so even this does not capture the true cost of such a transition. If solar and wind were forced to fill in the gap, these resources are intermittent and therefore less reliable, so we would have daily power outages when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.
We would be walking or biking a lot, since there would hardly be any gasoline to use, and not enough corn ethanol to make up the difference. Perhaps we would see the return of horse and carriages, but then we’d have a different type of pollution problem.
But what about electric cars? With two-thirds of electricity generation gone, it’d be hard to power those cars, and as you see later on, green technology wouldn’t exist without fossil fuels.
But it’s more than obvious things like electricity and transportation fuels. Fossil fuels are deeply integrated into modern everyday life. “The U.S. and all prosperous countries are utterly dependent on fossil fuels every moment of the day,” Texas Public Policy Institute Senior Fellow Kathleen Hartnett White told me in an e-mail interview. “The food, services, and goods this fossil-fueled energy systems now daily delivers would be unimaginable to our ancestors one hundred years ago.”
Abandoning fossil fuels would be like going into a time machine. Here’s a sketch of how things would be less comfortable and less healthy. Let’s start with a case study across the Atlantic.
Europe as an Energy Disaster Story
In the wake of the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and led to the Fukishima nuclear power plant meltdown, Germany moved to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022. At the same time, it has also pushed for renewable wind and solar to replace coal power—the energiewende.
Energy costs have gone through the roof, making German industry less competitive globally. The German newspaper Handelsblatt didn’t pull any punches in describing the harm done in an article titled “How to Kill an Industry.”
Losers include laid-off workers in these industries, but also millions of ordinary consumers. Their utility bills have skyrocketed, largely driven by subsidies for eco-friendly fuels. As much as the transition creates new jobs building wind turbines, farming biofuels or installing solar panels on rooftops, the changes are cutting a deep swathe through other parts of the economy. Germany’s “green” revolution has a dark shadow.
Thousands of workers have already been let go, disproportionately hitting communities in Germany‘s rust belt that are already struggling with blight. RWE has cut 7,000 jobs since 2011. At E.ON, the work force has shrunk by a third, a loss of over 25,000 jobs.
Manufacturing has been so disrupted that German manufacturer Siemens moved its natural gas turbine business to North Carolina. It is similarly unsurprising that more and more “German” cars are now being built in America.
In both Germany and the U.K., these pains only come from a fractional decrease in fossil fuel use. Imagine the human and economic costs from keeping all fossil fuels in the ground?
The Poor Will Bear the Brunt
Abandoning fossil fuels disproportionately hurts the poor. According to an American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity analysis of federal data, households in the U.S. making less than $30,000 annually spend 23% of their after-tax income on energy. Households making more than $50,000 annually spend only 9% of their after-tax income on energy–primarily electricity and gasoline.
Eliminating fossil fuels amounts to a massive regressive tax, as reduced electricity and gasoline supply results in price spikes that hurt the poor the most.
From 2005 to 2015, Spain “more than doubled its production of electricity from wind” and increased solar production from 5.3 gigawatts to 13.7 terawatts (a 5000% increase!). Meanwhile, Spain’s residential electricity prices rose by 111% from 2005 to “more than twice the average residential price in the United States.” Industrial rates rose 84%.
While renewable generation skyrocketed, abandoning cheap and plentiful fossil fuels meant higher energy costs for Europeans.
Spain’s residential electricity prices rose by 111% from 2005 to 2014, France’s rose 42%, Germany’s rose 78%, and the U.K.’s rose 133%. Overall, the EU’s rose by 63%.
Germany’s aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty pricetag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor.
“Perhaps one million homes in Germany now can no longer afford electric service at rates that are two-three times higher than average U.S. electric rates. Similar impacts occur in England where the incidence of ‘winter deaths’ has significantly risen,” explained Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
States like New York, California and Oregon think the EU’s energy policies are great. But the Manhattan Institute’s Bryce told The Daily Caller, “If they are concerned about poor and low-income constituents, they should be rethinking those mandates.”
The Material Basis for Our Society
“This is the Petrochemical Age,” Michael Wilson, Chief Scientist of the California Department of Industrial Relations, told The Associated Press in 2010. “It’s the material basis of our society essentially.”
Not only do fossil fuels offer us energy, countless products would not exist without oil and natural gas being converted into other chemical compounds. Here are a few examples.
Fossil Fuels and Farming
Beyond the agricultural use of fossil fuels to power tractors and farm machinery, natural gas is an important feedstock for fertilizer.
Plants love nitrogen. Using the Haber-Bosch process, hydrogen from natural gas is combined with nitrogen to produce ammonia that’s a key component of fertilizers. Slate’s Jonathan Mingle writes that a National Geoscience paper concluded that without ammonia-based fertilizers, the world “could sustain only 3.5 billion people.” Fossil fuels keep us from starving.
One Word: Plastics
Mr. McGuire in The Graduate was right: “There’s a great future in plastics.” Plastics are part of daily life. They’re in your kitchen cabinet, your garage, on your office desk. If you have a credit card or carry a mobile phone, plastics are with you constantly.
Without fossil fuels—specifically natural gas—you wouldn’t have plastics.
Ethane is separated from natural gas liquids and converted into ethylene at a “cracker.” This ethylene then becomes polyethylene resin which is used for everything from chairs to computer keyboards to smart phones to plastic wrap.
What makes plastics useful is they are light and strong, and with innovation we’ve seen impressive improvements. Take carbon fiber. It makes cars, planes, prosthetics, and other products lighter and stronger. But carbon fiber comes from plastic. Giving up fossil fuels breaks this innovation chain: No natural gas; no plastic; no carbon fiber; no improved products.
Because oil and natural gas are made of an assortment of organic materials, they can be converted into feedstock chemicals that are the basis for an assortment of drugs and health care products:
Hard to ‘Go Green’ Without Fossil Fuels
The loss of products derived from fossil fuels really becomes apparent with “green” products.
Carbon fiber is five-times stronger than steel but half its weight, as well as flexible and strong. Carbon fiber along with plastics go into constructing wind turbines and solar panels.
Then there are electric cars like the ones made by Tesla. Plastic and carbon fiber parts go into each car—from the dashboard to the electric battery. And let’s not get into the need for fossil fuels to generate the electricity to power the car.
Where to Stop?
“From what energy source could we make steel, aluminum and other basic metals?” asked Hartnett White, the former chairman and commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “From what energy source could we produce the feedstocks and products for synthetic material for which hydrocarbons are the raw material?”
Asphalt, synthetic rubber for tires, soap, dyes, nylon, artificial joints, and insulation in your home’s walls – the list of products derived from fossil fuels goes on and on.
Back to Molly Eagen and her oil fast. At a TEDx talk, she described her daily pattern from her “self-inflicted experiment”:
I just finished up an eight-mile bicycle commute after having a typical breakfast of oatmeal and maple sugar and taking a chilly one-gallon bucket shower.
Along with spending “countless hours in the kitchen cooking foods from scratch, local ingredients that I could find in bulk,” Eagen noted that she closely monitored her water use, because in the developed world fossil fuels are used to cheaply transport and clean water. It’s a reminder that not that long ago, dirty water transported deadly diseases. According to Wired, “Cholera outbreaks in London and Newcastle in 1853 killed more than 10,000 people.”
Here’s where we encounter some irony. Although scarce, fossil fuels have given us abundance never before seen by humanity. Dense with energy, fossil fuels keep us warm, keep us fed, make us healthier, and keep us entertained.
Water treatment plants packed with pipes, water filters, and chemicals from fossil fuels make waterborne diseases nearly unknown.
The debate about energy shouldn’t be about where it comes from. That puts the focus wrongly on inanimate piles of stuff. The debate must be on how energy can be safely provided so that every man, woman, and child can live vibrant, fruitful, and meaningful lives.
“Keep it in the ground” wouldn’t be some green, pollution-free utopia. Instead, it would mean billions of people trapped in the cold, malnourished, sick, and living shorter, more-miserable lives.
Who wants to turn back the clock? I wouldn’t, and I doubt fossil fuel opponents would either when you really ask them.
Whether people realize it or not, this unworkable and harmful dogma would turn back the clock, force humanity to regress, and take it down an unlit path.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/keep-it-in-the-ground-logo-e1464262678685.jpg335640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2016-05-26 07:38:302016-05-26 07:38:30What Does ‘Keep It in the Ground’ Really Mean?
This post was written for SafeWise by Bryn Huntpalmer from Modernize.com.
The idea of networking dozens of appliances in the home to serve our needs feels like a revolution in convenience. Often, when we think of home automation, we imagine setting the mood for a movie night with the swipe of a screen or waking up to ambient music on surround sound speakers. But as energy efficiency has become more of a priority to homeowners, the more practical side of home automation has emerged. Now you can program your energy-consuming devices to reduce the load on your utility bills, while reducing your home’s negative environmental impact.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling accounts for about 48 percent of total energy use in the average U.S home. Without a way to program your thermostat before you leave or control it while you’re gone, your HVAC system is working overtime to make an empty home comfortable and costing you more money. In fact, if you set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees throughout a full working day in the winter, you can save 5 to 15 percent of yearly energy costs. You can also save in summer by setting the thermostat at a higher temperature. If you have a manual thermostat, this means coming home to a stuffy or ice-cold house after a long day at work. A programmable thermostat follows a certain schedule, but may not meet your demands on an unpredictable day.
This is where a smart thermostat comes in. Think something like Nest (Amazon), or Lyric (Amazon). With this technology, you can control the heating and cooling actions of your HVAC system remotely. It will also adapt to your habits and show you how efficient your heating and cooling system is.
With home automation, you can also adjust your blinds and shades to either help warm your house with sunlight during the winter months, or block out the light in summer to help your air conditioning efforts go a little further.
You can customize your home automation system to make it as elaborate or as simple as you prefer. But one of the most practical elements of a smart home is lighting control. Integrating lighting into your system will allow you to program your lights according or your schedule and needs as well as adjust them through your app or smartphone. With a product like GE Link (Amazon), instead of leaving lights on all day for a pet or for security reasons, you can arrange for them to turn on just before sunset. For optimum energy savings, useEnergy Star-Certified lighting products, as these meet certain efficiency criteria and will help your home automation system save you money.
A little leak may not sound like a big problem, but it can damage your walls, floors and fixtures, cause mold to grow in your house, and waste your money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10 percent of U.S. homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. By fixing a leak, you can end up saving 10 percent on your water bill. Thankfully, there are home automation devices that monitor your system for leaks and even shut off your water if a potentially destructive leak is detected.
Home Automation Costs
Your IoT (internet of things) could cost a pretty penny, or it can be entirely reasonable, depending on how intricate a network you desire. Thankfully, the products that save energy are some of the most reasonable. You may need to invest a few hundred dollars up front, but your energy savings over the next few years will easily recoup the cost of installing smart home products.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/Smart-Appliances-e1463087083787.jpg320640Modernize.comhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngModernize.com2016-05-12 17:04:532016-05-12 17:04:53Manage Your Energy Costs with Home Automation
Both sides assume a higher number would make the project better for the economy. Both sides have it backwards.
The value of work is easy to grasp at the most domestic level: your own home.
Being a homeowner isn’t easy. Among other things, you always seem to have more chores to do than time to do them. The chores are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are means to an end — in this case, making a home and yard more livable or aesthetically pleasing.
Opting to do a chore yourself — “insourcing” in current parlance — isn’t costless. You lose the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your other labors. For example, you could tackle different chores, spend more time with your family, or work extra hours in the marketplace, increasing your income. Hiring someone else to do the chore — that is, “outsourcing” — isn’t costless, either. It means you can’t buy other things. Costs represent sacrificed alternatives.
The rule when it comes to home ownership isn’t rocket science. Tackle those chores whose ends you value more than their cost. If your water softener breaks, and you value having softened water more than what it would cost either you or the plumber to repair it, then hire the plumber if his cost is less than what it costs you to fix it yourself. (Don’t forget to count the work time you’ll be giving up to act as your own plumber.)
By outsourcing the repair work, you will have “lost a job,” but your standard of living will be higher. By how much? The difference between your cost and the plumber’s cost.
Added household chores — that is, “gaining jobs” — are anything but a blessing. Chores represent hurdles between you and that more livable, aesthetically pleasing home and yard. Each job represents something you’re going to have to give up before your house is the way you want it. “Gaining jobs” to achieve a given objective is synonymous with worsening your situation, not improving it.
The Rule Writ Large — The Case of the Keystone Pipeline
What is rocket science for many is the ability to recognize that the rule for individual households extends to the national household, as we can see in the case of the Keystone Pipeline controversy. The project, which has been a political football for several years, would transfer oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. The project’s desirability is associated with the number of jobs required for the pipeline’s construction and maintenance. The more jobs created, the more desirable the pipeline, it would seem.
All involved in the discussion fail to apply lessons for individual households to the national household. Pipeline jobs are part of the cost of getting oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. They are not part of the benefits. The fewer jobs created, the better. Indeed, in the best of all worlds, there would bezero jobs required to transfer oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. That way, we could get the oil transferred without having to give up anything!
Pipeline proponents who note a large number of required jobs are unwittingly arguing against the project, just as opponents who cite a small number of jobs are unwittingly arguing in its favor.
Beyond the Pipeline
This failure to apply the simple rules for individual households is not restricted to the Keystone Pipeline issue. It pervades economic, business, and political discussions. Government programs come packaged with estimates of the number of new jobs the programs will supposedly create. The more jobs, the merrier. That’s the political refrain. Likewise, state and local economic development bureaucrats tout the number of jobs associated with business relocations or expansions.
One has to wonder whether those who peddle this more-jobs nonsense apply it to their own households. I bet not. Fewer chores, not more, make their homes more enjoyable. National households are no different. Or as Adam Smith put it in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, that which “is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”
T. Norman Van Cott, professor of economics, received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1969. Before joining Ball State in 1977, he taught at University of New Mexico (1968-1972) and West Georgia College (1972-1977). He was the department chairperson from 1985 to 1999. His fields of interest include microeconomic theory, public finance, and international economics. Van Cott’s current research is the economics of constitutions.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/miner-helmet-shovel.jpg330584Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2016-05-07 12:06:182016-05-07 12:07:07"Creating Jobs" Will Hurt the Economy by T. Norman Van Cott
President Obama and Democrats have declared a war against coal. This has led to the U.S. coal energy industry to face regulatory burdens that kill jobs and prosperity. It also leads to higher cost for electricity. The Liberal government of Canada has learned from the American president and has declared its own war against Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG or CH4).
It has the support of local BC mayors, Premier Christy Clark and First Nations. LNG has the potential to pull the entire country out of a recession. So what’s the hold up?The Federal Liberals are the hold up.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/lng-canada.jpg359640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2016-04-22 05:07:562016-04-22 05:07:56Canadian Liberals War against Liquefied Natural Gas is killing jobs and prosperity
I was overwhelmed by the number of positive comments I got from those of you on this list as well as all manner of people on social media: from comedian Larry the Cable Guy, “This is so good and full of common sense truth it needs to be tweeted again.” to Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton, “I just listened to your senate testimony. You rock.” to meteorologist Joe Bastardi, “Every human being on the planet should look at this. Take 5 minutes and spread this to everyone. Nails it, including the moral imperative of the matter.”
I got a lot of questions about how I manage to be calm, passionate, and fast at the same time. The fundamental answer is: I understand how to frame the issues properly—in a pro-human, big picture way. Once I frame the discussion, I am in control of the situation—even when I am in a huge position of disadvantage, such as being the person in the room with the most controversial view and the most hostility and gamesmanship from Senators who have the right to silence me. When I have framed the discussion, there’s no need to worry about rudeness from a Senator Boxer or anyone else; she can say whatever she wants but I know I have put forward a framework that makes sense and she will just come across as ignoring me and ranting.
The headline from Energy and Environment news, a leading Washington and industry publication, showed me that I accomplished my goal of setting the agenda: “Moral Case for Fossil Fuels’ sparks angry Senate debate.”
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/alex-epstein-senate-hearing-oil-drop.jpg360640Alex Epsteinhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngAlex Epstein2016-04-20 17:40:012016-04-20 17:41:07VIDEO: The Lessons of my Senate Hearing on the 'Moral Case for Fossil Fuels'
The Marcellus Shale, though, underlies densely populated eastern states. It wasn’t long before stories about the pollution of farm fields and contamination of drinking water from fracking chemicals began to make their way into the national media.
The key word is “stories.” Researchers from EPA, Yale, and elsewhere have found that fracking is done safely and doesn’t contaminate water.
But what really scares McKibben is supposed methane leakages. He cites a Harvard study claiming to show that “U.S. methane emissions had spiked 30 percent since 2002.” “We closed coal plants and opened methane leaks, and the result is that things have gotten worse,” he writes.
But like claims of water contamination, facts don’t live up to McKibben’s methane horror.
Methane released from fracked natural gas well completion has fallen since 2005. Source: Energy Tomorrow.
This makes sense since methane is natural gas, and energy companies are in the business of selling that to customers. There is an obvious incentive to minimize leaks and capture as much product to maximize sales.
But if that’s not enough, a top environmental thinker thinks the McKibben is “misleading” the public. Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of The Breakthrough Institute, read the same Harvard study that got McKibben quaking in his hiking boots and came to a very different conclusion:
[Researchers] concluded that while the United States has seen a 20% increase in oil and gas production since 2002, “the spatial pattern of the methane increase… does not clearly point to these sources.”
To use Nordhaus’ words, the scientists that McKibben puts on a pedestal don’t “clearly point to a source of the increase in atmospheric methane concentrations.”
Instead, they have to scare people and mold facts like Play-Dough to push their unrealistic, irrational,“keep it in the ground” fantasies of meeting America’s energy needs without fossil fuels.
The biggest energy challenge is low prices–which is a great boon for consumers. That’s a 180-degree turn from only a decade before. Fracking and the shale boom that resulted from it is an impressive illustration of the power of American enterprise and innovation. Opponents cannot be allowed to undercut that success story by misleading the public.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of 350.org founder, Bill McKibben. Photo credit: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/bloomberg_bill_mckibben_1600px-e1460628372877.jpg374640Sean Hackbarthhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngSean Hackbarth2016-04-14 06:06:422016-04-14 06:09:05Setting Things Straight: Bill McKibben is Very Wrong About Fracking
Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, suggests that Americans should pick a president who favors a carbon tax. But not even Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have proposed a carbon tax as part of their tax plans. All candidates have put forward detailed tax plans, and a carbon tax is not included in any of these plans.
What is a carbon tax? Why do so many academics and columnists love it? And why will Congress be unable to enact such a tax effectively?
No matter that only 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by America, and that by many measures global temperatures have not increased over the past decade. No matter than unless China and India reduce their carbon emissions, U.S. unilateral efforts will have no practical effect on global temperature. China has stated that it will reduce emissions in 2030, but has not made any definite commitment.
The carbon tax is a favorite of many academic economists for restructuring the tax system. Proponents include a bipartisan group of professors such as Tuft University’s Gilbert Metcalf, now Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Energy at the Department of the Treasury; Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein, Edward Glaeser, and Gregory Mankiw; and Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz.
However, as tax practitioners know, a carbon tax is complex to set up. It requires adjustments to make sure that the tax is not unduly regressive and does not encourage consumption of imports relative to domestic production.
But, as we saw from the passage of many tax and budget bills over the years, Congress does not think deeply before it passes major tax bills.
Rather, political expediency always triumphs over academic elegance. Congress is incapable of thoughtful tax solutions, no matter how many are offered by well-intentioned professors. Despite years of notice that the Bush tax rates were due to expire, Congress passed permanent tax laws at the last moment, without reading the bill.
Many academics see a carbon tax as an alternative to an individual income tax, a corporate income tax, or a European-style cap-and-trade system. But a quickly-passed carbon tax in the hands of Congress would be just another add-on levy, with exemptions for friends and punishments for enemies.
A carbon tax raises the price of energy and so discourages consumption without regulation. Carbon tax rates could be calibrated to be revenue neutral or to yield a net rise in federal tax receipts, with the increment possibly dedicated to reducing deficits.
What are the problems with a carbon tax?
Everyone would want to spend the revenue. Some people would want to use it to reduce the deficit. Others would want to use carbon tax revenues to lower other taxes, such as income taxes. And since high income tax rates reduce incentives to work, this could conceivably add to economic efficiency.
Carbon taxes are regressive. Since low-income people use more energy as a percent of their income than high-income people, a switch to a carbon tax would have to be accompanied by transfers to low-income groups.
Some academics suggest that offsets be returned to taxpayers through lower income taxes, perhaps with the proceeds going chiefly to low-income households (individuals and families), which are disproportionately hurt by what is in essence an energy consumption tax.
This could theoretically be done by adjustments to the income tax. However, low-income earners are not required to file returns, and they would have to do so in order to be identified and compensated. That means extra work for them, and for the Internal Revenue Service — which will already be overworked calculating and collecting penalties from Obamacare violators.
Energy-intensive sectors lose under a carbon tax. The prices of energy-intensive goods in America would increase relative to imports from countries without carbon taxes. So Americans will prefer to buy imports, and American firms will lose business. Proponents of the tax suggest putting tariffs on imports in proportion to their carbon content so that American companies will not be at a disadvantage. But the precise quantities are complex to calculate, and tariffs might be illegal under World Trade Organization regulations.
The shale oil and gas that are attracting energy-intensive manufacturing back to America would be taxed, to the detriment of these new industries — and their employees. Some industries, such as coal, would be big losers. Politicians from coal-producing regions are influential in Congress, and they would demand a share of revenues.
So for a carbon tax to make our tax system more efficient, its revenues would have to be used to offset other taxes in the economy. Its negative effects on low-income Americans and on energy-intensive regions would have to be ameliorated. Some border adjustments would have to be made so that domestic goods were not disfavored.
But our disfunctional Congress is incapable of crafting a carbon tax with these attributes. Any tax on carbon would be an additional tax, without the offsets that make it so attractive to university professors. It would hurt the poor and raise domestic prices relative to prices of imports.
None of the front-running presidential candidates have proposed a carbon tax as part of their tax plans, because they know it is unpopular and will not pass Congress. To lower global emissions, the large emitters of carbon such as China and India need to move to nuclear power or natural gas. That would indeed make a difference.
http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/carbon-tax-e1459246132935.jpg406640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2016-03-29 06:09:182016-03-30 15:40:25A 'Carbon Tax' Is a Utopian Fix that Can't Survive Contact with Political Reality by Diana Furchtgott-Roth