Schumer’s Green Energy Subsidies Cost Much More Than Trump’s Wall

The government is shut down over border wall funding, but only a month ago Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked President Donald Trump to support billions in green energy subsidies.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, in early December asked Trump to support “permanent tax incentives for domestic production of clean electricity and storage, energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, electric vehicles, and modernizing the electric grid.”

“If left unchecked, the damage caused by climate change will cause untold human suffering and significant damage to the U.S. economy,” Schumer wrote to Trump on Dec. 6.

Extending tax subsidy provisions primarily benefiting wind and solar power would cost nearly $32 billion over the next four years, according to Joint Committee on Taxation estimates. Permanently extending these tax subsidies could add billions more to the tab. The committee estimates solar and wind tax subsidies will cost more than $7 billion in 2019.

Based on committee estimates, continuing solar and wind tax subsidies is nearly six times the $5.7 billion Trump is asking from Congress for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The total cost of a wall to cover the nearly 2,000-mile southern border could be as high as $25 billion, according to the White House, though other estimates have put the cost of a border wall as high as $60 billion based on the projected per-mile cost.

The battle over border wall funding forced Congress to sideline its year-end debate over “tax extenders,” which includes 11 green energy-related tax benefits that would cost roughly $53 billion over 10 years if they were made permanent, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Extending these tax credits just one year is estimated to cost roughly $5 billion.

These energy tax subsidies expired at the end of 2017, the costliest of which are tax incentives for biodiesel, alternative fuels, and residential energy efficiency. If made permanent, those programs would cost more than nine times what Trump asked from Congress in border wall funding.

The two costliest green subsidies, the production tax credit and investment tax credit, primarily benefit wind turbines and solar panels, respectively. Many Republicans and conservative groups have called for eliminating green tax subsidies.

Both the production tax credit and investment tax credit are set to expire at the end of 2021. However, given the White House’s opposition to some green energy tax subsidies, some conservatives suggest ending those and put the funds toward a border wall.

“This only makes sense, and with the additional funds we could paint it green,” Dan Kish, a senior distinguished fellow at the free-market Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s a win-win.”

But could a deal like this ever be cut? Dan Whitten, vice president of public affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, doesn’t think so.

“Given its strong bipartisan support, this seems like a nonstarter,” Whitten told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“As for the notion of terminating the existing ITC (investment tax credit), that is something we would strenuously oppose,” Whitten said. “It is one of the most successful energy incentives to date, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in economic activity.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association has not asked Congress to extend the investment tax credit, which is set to sunset at the end of 2021. However, there is a permanent 10 percent investment tax credit for solar and geothermal installations.

The American Wind Energy Association did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Sixteen days after Schumer sent his letter, Trump refused to sign legislation to keep the federal government open without $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Congressional Democrats refused and the government shutdown began.

The ongoing shutdown tied with the 1995-1996 shutdown during the Clinton administration, which lasted for 21 days. On Saturday, the current shutdown will become the longest in U.S. history if no deal to reopen the government is made.

Schumer’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Michael Bastasch is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MikeBastasch.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column by The Daily Signal with images is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. The featured photo is by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash.

The Two Energy Futures Facing America

Energy improvement does not depend on geography or race but on the right institutions. Sustainable energy—available, affordable, and reliable—requires private property rights, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law.

here are two energy futures for America. One is freedom and prosperity. The other is politics, conflict, and waste. As with other goods and services, energy’s availability and affordability will depend on whether natural incentives and economic law are respected or hampered by government policy.

The future of free-market energy is bright and open-ended. “It’s reasonable to expect the supply of energy to continue becoming more available and less scarce, forever,” Julian Simon wrote in his magnum opus, The Ultimate Resource II. “Discoveries, like resources, may well be infinite: the more we discover, the more we are able to discover.” 

Resourceship, entrepreneurship applied to minerals, explains the seeming paradox of expanding depletable resources. Statistics confirmed Simon’s view, yet Malthusian critics belittled him as a naïve romantic. To which Simon responded: “I am not an optimist, I am a realist.”

Julian Simon had once feared overpopulation and resource depletion. The contradictory data, as he explained in his autobiography A Life Against the Grain, reversed his thinking. More people, greater wealth, more resources, healthier environment was the new finding that Simon turned into articles, books, and lectures in the last decades of his life.

Energy coordination and improvement do not depend on geography or race but on the right institutions. Sustainable energy—available, affordable, and reliable—requires private property rights, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law. Cultural and legal freedom unleash human ingenuity and problem-solving entrepreneurship, what Simon called the ultimate resource.

Philosopher Alex Epstein has reframed the energy-environmental debate in terms of human flourishing. Under this standard, consumer-chosen, taxpayer-neutral, dense, storable mineral energies are essential and moral.

Free-market energy is a process of improvement, not a state of perfection. There is always room for betterment as the good is no longer the best and as problems and setbacks occur. Profit/loss and legal consequences propel correction in a way that government intervention does not.

Problems spur improvement in ways that otherwise might not occur. “Material insufficiency and environmental problems have their benefits,” noted Julian Simon. “They focus the attention of individuals and communities, and constitute a set of challenges which can bring out the best in people.”

Government interventionism has plagued domestic energy markets in pronounced and subtle ways. Price and allocation controls during wartime and in the 1970s caused shortages of gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas, and other essential products. More subtly, tariffs, quotas, entry restrictions, efficiency edicts, punitive taxes, tax subsidies, forced access, profit guarantees, and other government intervention distort energy markets away from consumer demand.

Socialism has reversed resource abundance in nations around the world. Venezuela is today’s example and is not unlike Mexico’s plunge into nationalism a century ago. International statism is responsible for much of the price volatility experienced in global oil markets.

American citizens must be educated on the perils of politicized energy and corporate cronyism at all levels of government. Capitalist institutions need to be introduced in state-dominated oil regions. Subsoil mineral rights and infrastructure privatization are golden opportunities for wealth creation and wealth democratization around the world.

“The world’s problem is not too many people,” Julian Simon concluded, “but a lack of political and economic freedom.” He explained:

The extent to which the political-social-economic system provides personal freedom from government coercion is a crucial element in the economics of resources and population…. The key elements of such a framework are economic liberty, respect for property, and fair and sensible rules of the market that are enforced equally for all.

This message for 2019 will be the same a century hence. It is optimistic and realistic. And it points toward a continuing open-ended role for natural gas, coal, and oil as the master resource.

Let freely functioning supply meet demand, and let market demand meet supply. Banish alarmism, pessimism, and coercion—the very things that incite and define government intervention and socialism where markets can and should prevail.

COLUMN BY

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research.

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

Find Out The Cost Of Electricity In Your State. . .

Choose Energy has produced information on the cost of residential electricity by state. The data is most reveling.

According to Choose Energy :

Where you live affects your electricity rate

October 2018 data, the latest available, show that the average U.S. price – 12.87 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) – rose 0.5% compared with a year ago. If you live in Louisiana, you paid the lowest average residential electricity rates of any state in the country – 9.11 cents per kWh. The next lowest rate is in Arkansas, where residents pay an average of 9.34 cents per kWh.

Below are the cheapest 10 states to live in based on residential electricity rates:

RankStateOctober 2018 Electric Rate
1Louisiana9.11
2Arkansas9.34
3Washington9.68
4Utah10.32
5Idaho10.33
6Tennessee10.70
7Missouri10.71
8Kentucky10.77
9North Dakota10.83
10Georgia10.96

Below are the 10 most expensive states to live in based on residential electricity rates.

RankStateOctober 2018 Electric Rate
1Hawaii32.46
2Alaska22.51
3Connecticut21.87
4Rhode Island21.46
5Massachusetts21.30
6New Hampshire20.23
7New York19.29
8Vermont18.42
9Maine16.47
10California15.73

Residential Electricity Rates by State

(cents per kWh for latest month available)

StateAverage Electric Rate:October 2018Average Electric Rate:October 2017% up/downChoose Energy Price Index(see below)Index rank
Alabama12.4212.661.9130.348
Alaska22.5121.783.4114.841
Arizona13.2612.783.8118.044
Arkansas9.3410.178.287.412
California15.7315.700.274.44
Colorado21.8721.292.773.63
Connecticut22.0521.263.7134.449
DC13.6013.441.294.5
Delaware13.8914.202.7113.739
Florida11.6711.851.5113.337
Georgia10.9611.524.9107.834
Hawaii32.4629.3010.8141.750
Idaho10.3310.260.785.110
Illinois13.2313.120.883.89
Indiana12.3912.752.8104.430
Iowa12.8211.778.995.719
Kansas13.3213.380.4103.527
Kentucky10.7711.173.6104.329
Louisiana9.119.938.397.623
Maine16.4716.052.677.75
Maryland14.1914.371.3122.046
Massachusetts21.3020.454.2110.336
Michigan15.4215.122.089.015
Minnesota13.7213.362.790.617
Mississippi11.2211.101.1116.743
Missouri10.7111.153.996.421
Montana11.4811.232.280.77
Nebraska11.2310.893.194.418
Nevada12.1612.794.997.222
New Hampshire20.2319.871.8105.632
New Jersey14.9614.662.089.316
New Mexico12.9712.960.170.72
New York19.2918.742.999.225
North Carolina11.9411.454.3113.638
North Dakota10.8310.941.097.924
Ohio12.4812.812.696.120
Oklahoma11.0011.171.5103.928
Oregon11.2410.893.288.513
Pennsylvania14.1014.603.4102.526
Rhode Island21.4619.559.8108.735
South Carolina12.4313.014.5124.147
South Dakota12.3512.481.0104.731
Tennessee10.7010.610.8114.540
Texas11.6911.095.4116.844
Utah10.3210.511.866.91
Vermont18.4217.972.587.411
Virginia11.9011.790.9115.242
Washington9.689.760.879.96
West Virginia11.2711.975.8107.333
Wisconsin14.9414.711.688.214
Wyoming11.0811.564.281.48

EDITORS NOTE: This column by Choose Energy is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash.

The Green New Deal Is a Trojan Horse for Socialism

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is ready to tax the rich to make her Green New Deal a reality.

“People are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes,” the recently elected New York Democrat told TV show “60 Minutes” in an interview set to air Sunday.

Speaking of prior decades’ taxation rates in the country, Ocasio-Cortez added, “Once you get to the tippy tops, on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the avowed “democratic socialist” went with the predictable “tax the rich” formula in order to pay for a massive government program to combat climate change.

But it would hardly be good news for most Americans if Ocasio-Cortez got her way.

In fact, such a scheme would mean that her constituents in New York City would pay a max income tax rate of 82.6 percent, as Americans for Tax Reform was quick to point out. Perhaps New Yorkers deserve what they voted for, but does the country?

Interest in the Green New Deal

While Democratic House leadership has so far balked at the Green New Deal, it enjoys strong support from over 40 members of Congress, per The Daily Caller.

poll released in December also shows Americans might be more inclined than you’d think to support the plan. The poll, from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, showed that 8 out of 10 Americans hadn’t heard about it.

But when asked if they would support it—albeit with a very favorable description of the deal that didn’t discuss higher taxes, for instance—81 percent of registered voters said they would back it.

However, polls tend to change quickly when people learn about how much policies cost them, and the details of the Green New Deal demonstrate that it’s about more than just a higher tax on a tiny number of rich people.

A Radical Agenda

In fact, the tax hikes on the rich would be one of the least radical parts of the agenda.

It’s no exaggeration to say that if implemented, the Green New Deal would upend our way of life and destroy the liberty and prosperity that Americans, of all backgrounds, currently enjoy.

Among its goals are meeting “100 percent of national power” demand through renewable sources, retrofitting “every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort, and safety,” and eliminating “greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, agricultural, and other industries.

Those changes are going to come with real costs. According to an editorial for Investor’s Business Daily, moving the economy away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy will come “at a cost of about $5.2 trillion over 20 years.”

So much for America’s newfound energy renaissance that has in large part come through innovative new oil drilling techniques.

Energy Status Quo Couldn’t Change This Fast

Even if we’re willing to shoulder the costs, it’s, well, impossible to achieve.

“Producing 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources is a practical impossibility in the near future,” stated a report issued by the Senate Republican Policy Committee in December. The report, which looked at the Green New Deal, continued:

Scientists doubt it would be achievable by 2050, let alone 2029, the deadline Democrats would set. Such a massive overhaul in power generation would require the closure and replacement of about 83 percent of U.S. electricity generation, including all coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants.  … Today, renewable electricity—mainly wind, solar, and hydroelectric—provides only 17 percent of American electricity.

Make no mistake: While progressives have long been focused on green extremist policies, the Green New Deal proposals are significantly more radical than other environmentalist ideas like carbon taxes and subsidies for green industries. Foregoing the sticks-and-carrots approach to addressing climate change, this deal would instead rely on the ruthless bludgeoning of private industry and citizens through the levers of the state.

In fact, the plan outright dismisses attempts to “incentivize the private sector” toward greener policies as “simply inadequate to transition to a fully greenhouse gas-neutral economy as quickly as needed.”

Instead, the plan calls for direct government intervention to be its “prime driver.” (And in a mere 10 years, no less!)

A Trojan Horse of Liberal Goodies

But that’s not all. There’s more.

The Green New Deal doesn’t just include environmentalist proposals: It also includes a grab bag of other left-wing goodies to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional, and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth (including, without limitation, ensuring that federal and other investment will be equitably distributed to historically impoverished, low-income, deindustrialized, or other marginalized communities in such a way that builds wealth and ownership at the community level.)”

Among the liberal wish list items included, the Green New Deal contains a proposal for universal health care and a basic minimum income program to make up for all the jobs lost in the process of transitioning to a fully green economy.

Of course, this will all come with an immense cost.

Citing an analysis by the Mercatus Center, Bob Moffit, a health care expert at The Heritage Foundation, wrote that the “Medicare for All” legislation proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years. A universal minimum income or basic income plan would also likely cost trillions of dollarsa year.

The entire federal budget in 2018 was $4 trillion. The Green New Deal would require the U.S. to massively expand this already-bloated budget that is burying us in debt.

How do Green New Deal proponents propose to pay for this extreme growth in government?

“[I]n the same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars,” the plan says. “The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments, new public banks can be created (as in WWII) to extend credit and a combination of various taxation tools (including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes) can be employed.”

In other words, by massively hiking taxes, and then borrowing and ultimately printing money. Then it would use public banks run by unaccountable bureaucrats to carry the whole thing out.

That’s not very democratic, but it is socialistic—an American version of a Soviet-style five-year plan focused on command-and-control economic solutions that have proven to fail the world over.

As Justin Haskins, executive editor at the Heartland Institute, wrote for the Washington Examiner: “Make no mistake about it: This is one of the most dangerous and extreme proposals offered in modern U.S. history. It’s the sort of thing you’d see in the Soviet Union, not the United States.”

The Stakes Just Got Higher

If there is one positive thing the Green New Deal does, it’s that it brings to light the fact that much of the environmentalist agenda is just a thinly veiled vehicle for implementing far-left socialism.

Given the fact that nearly half of millennials say they’d rather live under socialism or communism than capitalism, according to a 2017 poll conducted by the Victims of Communism, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that these ideas didn’t die at the end of the Cold War.

They’ve been repackaged by young, hip millennials, like Ocasio-Cortez, who can deceive a generation, mostly detached from history, into believing that the failed flim-flam sauce of socialism can somehow work this time around.

Despite overwhelming evidence of failure and suffering, the American left is now more openly embracing socialism—a worrying and disturbing trend that needs to be countered.

It’s no longer just Sanders waging this crusade in Congress. It is a growing cohort of younger, even more extreme members who are attempting to revive ideas that should have been left in the ash heap of history. As Sanders himself recently noted in a CNN interview, his 2016 campaign helped make certain positions “mainstream” that were previously “considered extreme and fringe.”

Whatever one thinks about Ocasio-Cortez, it’s undeniable that she connects with a large and growing subset of voters. Her everywoman persona and ability to seem truly genuine is making her a potent voice on the left.

The Instagram cooking advice and dance routines may be charming and relatable—especially to millennials—but attention to these trivial matters masks the radicalism and bankruptcy of her views.

Socialism is not the cure for what ails America, and it hardly takes a history lesson to figure this out.

The agony of a collapsing Venezuela, praised as an economic model for the future just a decade ago, is a stark example of how badly this can end for people of all income groups.

The Venezuelan regime started out as “democratic” socialism, too. It’s ending in failure, tyranny, and collapse.

Let’s not let dancing videos and Twitter hot takes distract us from that fact.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast.Send an email to Jarrett.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sorry, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but Conservatives Don’t Care About Your Dance Moves

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. Photo: SteveSands /NewYorkNewswire/MEGA/Newscom.

VIDEO: How to be a climate thinker – Alex Epstein at Turning Point USA

Alex Epstein discusses how to be a climate thinker at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit on December 21st, 2018. Alex is author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

Student reactions to Alex Epstein’s speech at Turning Point USA SAS 2018

The Human Flourishing Project: New Year’s resolutions for 2019

On the latest episode of The Human Flourishing Project I discuss my resolutions for 2019, how I decided on them, and how I am going to ensure that I keep them.

You might also want to check out my earlier course, “Resolution Revolution,” which I mention in the podcast.

Visit our Facebook page and join in the discussion. And for the latest news visit humanflourishingproject.com where you can sign up to receive email updates.

More “bite-sized” video clips for you to share

One of the easiest and most effective way you can increase your energy influence is by sharing persuasive resources. That’s why I started releasing “bite-sized” clips featuring a few minutes of the best portions of my speeches and interviews.

Here are a few recent ones you might have missed:

Be sure to share these videos with anyone you think would be interested. And if you do share them, let me know how it goes.

You can find more videos on my Facebook page and on our YouTube channel.

Follow Alex at @AlexEpstein, sign up for his newsletter at http://industrialprogress.com.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with videos is republished with permission. The edited featured photo is by Alto Crew on Unsplash.

2018 Saw A Global Revolt Against Climate Change Policies

  • 2018 saw a global revolt against policies aimed at fighting global warming
  • Australia, Canada, France and the U.S. have all seen push back against global warming policies
  • That included weeks of riots in France against planned carbon tax increases

Despite increasingly apocalyptic warnings from U.N. officials, 2018 has seen a number of high-profile defeats for policies aimed at fighting global warming. Politicians and voters pushed back at attempts to raise energy prices as part of the climate crusade.

It started in June with election of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Ontario residents overwhelmingly voted Ford’s conservative coalition into power on a platform that included axing the Canadian province’s cap-and-trade program.

Ford said his first priority upon taking office would be to “cancel the Liberal cap-and-trade carbon tax.” Ford then joined a legal challenge led by Saskatchewan against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy of a central government-imposed carbon tax on provinces that don’t have their own.

Carbon tax opponents called Trudeau’s plan an attempt to “use the new tax to further redistribute income, which will increase the costs of this tax to the economy.”

Roughly ten thousand miles away in Australia another revolt was brewing. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saw his power base crumble within days of failing to pass a bill aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the press following the First Ministers' Meeting in Montreal
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the press following the First Ministers’ Meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi.

Turnbull’s so-called National Energy Guarantee to reduce energy sector emissions was opposed by a group of conservative members of Parliament led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Turnbull tried to delay the vote on his climate bill in response to the opposition but was too late. Turnbull stepped down in late August and has since been replaced by Scott Morrison.

Back in the U.S., $45 million was being pumped into the battle over a Washington state carbon tax ballot measure. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has 2020 presidential ambitions, supported the measure though refiners, but other opponents outspent carbon tax supporters.

The Inslee-backed measure called for taxing carbon dioxide emissions at $15 a ton in 2020, which would increase at $2 a year above the rate of inflation until the state meets its emissions goals. 

However, Washington voters rejected the carbon tax measure in the November election despite Inslee’s support. It was the second time in two years that Washington voters rejected a carbon tax ballot initiative.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks during a rally at the beginning of the March For Science in Seattle, Washington

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks during a rally at the beginning of the March For Science in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder.

The November elections also saw the defeat of a group of Republican lawmakers in the House Climate Solutions Caucus. Among those defeated was caucus co-chair Florida GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who introduced carbon tax legislation in July.

Curbelo’s legislation called for a $23 per ton carbon tax that would primarily fund the Highway Trust Fund. Despite this, environmentalists funneled money to his Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Shortly after the U.S. elections, it became clear trouble was brewing across the Atlantic in France. French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms, which included planned fuel tax increases, were not winning over much of the population.

Macron spent years styling himself as a staunch supporter of efforts to tackle global warming, including the Paris agreement. Indeed, raising taxes on diesel and gasoline was part of Macron’s plan to meet France’s Paris accord pledge.

It backfired. Angered over the new carbon taxes on fuel, tens of thousands of protesters, called “yellow vests” for the vests drivers are required to have in their cars, took to the streets calling for an end to the taxes and for Macron to resign.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore at the Elysee Palace in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool.

Macron initially resisted, arguing France needed to do more to address global warming, but the French government capitulated in December and scrapped the planned tax increases. Macron also said he’d increase the minimum wage and begged companies to raise salaries, if possible.

Macron’s backpedaling on climate policy couldn’t have come at a worse time for the climate-conscious president. The U.N. annual climate summit was being held in Poland as Macron conceded to the “yellow vests.”

France’s carbon tax revolts sent a clear message to Democratic lawmakers across the Atlantic Ocean. Democrats will take control of the House in 2019 and want to make global warming a central part of their agenda.

Democrats and even environmentalists distanced themselves from carbon taxes in the wake of French riots. However, far-left Democrats are pushing “Green New Deal” legislation, which could become the largest expansion of government in decades.

Follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” Represents the True Wishes of Democrats and Globalists

2018’s Biggest Loser Was the Liberal International Order

Greenpeace’s Iconic ‘Rainbow Warrior’ Ship Chopped Up On A Third-World Beach, Sold For Scrap

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Caller is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A New Study Could Spell Trouble For The Future Of Wind Energy

Wind energy resources have been in sharp decline in regions all across the world, according to a study conducted by Chinese researchers.

After analyzing data from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world, a team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that 67 percent had witnessed an extensive decrease in wind power potential over the course of nearly 40 years. The team — which also induced a researcher from Purdue University — reached their findings after examining the changes of wind surface speeds from 1979 to 2016.

“The results show that surface wind speeds were decreasing in the past four decades over most regions in the Northern Hemisphere,” the study’s authors wrote, according to a Greentech Media report on Wednesday.

Around 30 percent of locations in North America have witnessed a 30 percent drop or more in available hub-height wind power. Sites in Europe were worse, where about 40 percent experienced a similar decline. However, the effect was the most significant in Asia, where around 80 percent of sites on the continent saw a 30 percent drop in wind.

It’s not immediately clear what is behind the decline of wind across the Northern Hemisphere. Dr. Gang Huang, a corresponding author of the research, revealed to Greentech Media that they are currently performing a follow-up study to help determine possible causes.

Huang surmised that surface cover changes — such as the fast expansion of cities in developing countries — could possibly be affecting wind speeds, but maintained that it’s just an assumption. Increases in carbon dioxide emissions have also been predicted to decrease wind power.

Another cause could be the expansion of wind energy technology itself. A study published in November found that wind farms upwind from other turbines reduced their electricity generation. This “wake effect,” the study found, reduces wind speed and affects turbines downwind from their direction. The research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences did find that the most dramatic decreases in wind power in China tended to occur “where a number of gigantic commercial wind farms were built.”

However, other experts warn to use caution before reaching conclusions.

“We need to take these kinds of studies with a pinch of salt, with all due respect to them. Maybe it’s true, but would it have an impact on the industry? I don’t know,” said Shashi Barla, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. Barla added that a drop in wind power could be offset with advancement in wind turbine technology.

No matter what changes with wind power in the United States, wind energy is expected to make up an increasing part of the country’s generation industry. State governments across the country continue to increase their renewable energy mandates, with wind generation already a major presence in Midwestern states.

The Trump administration has been a major backer of wind energy development. The Interior Department announced a $405 million offshore wind auction that shattered all previous records.

COLUMN BY:

Jason Hopkins

Energy Investigator. Follow Jason on Twitter.

RELATED ARTICLE: Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Vote To Modernize US Nuclear Fleet

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Caller is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

House Democrats Are Lining Up Behind What Could Be The Largest Expansion Of Government In Decades

  • Democrats are lining up to support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.”
  • The proposal could be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society or New Deal.
  • Ocasio-Cortez’s plan could cost tens of trillions of dollars.

Democrats are increasingly lining up to support a “Green New Deal,” which, while vague on details, could end up being the largest expansion of government in decades.

As it stands, the “Green New Deal” is more aspirational than actual policy. Indeed, it takes its name from the New Deal of the 1930s, and its main backer, incoming Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, compared it to the Great Society of the 1960s.

More than 40 Democratic lawmakers support the “Green New Deal” as part of a broad plan to fight global warming and bring about what they see as “economic, social and racial justice.” A poll found most Americans supported the deal, but knew little about it.

But the big question is when Americans find out what’s in the “Green New Deal,” will they be willing to pay for it?

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” calls for creating a House committee to draft legislation to fight global warming and turn the U.S. economy into something akin to what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders envisions. Indeed, the “Green New Deal” could be a preview of what policies the Democratic Party will back in the 2020 elections.

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at her midterm election night party in New York City

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at her midterm election night party in New York City, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly.

“This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a panel event in early December alongside Sanders, a likely 2020 presidential contender.

Those goals include moving the U.S. to 100 percent green energy, federal job guarantees for workings forced out of their fossil fuel jobs, guaranteed minimum income and universal health care.

Democrats will take control of the House in 2019 and many want to see global warming become a central part of their agenda. Republicans are unlikely to go along with a green deal in any form, and cracks are even appearing among Democrats on climate policy.

Since the “Green New Deal” lacks specifics, it’s hard to gauge the total cost, but similar climate and welfare policies are estimated to cost trillions of dollars.

For starters, moving the U.S. to a 100-percent renewable electric grid could cost as much as $5.2 trillion over two decades, according to a 2010 study by the conservative Heritage Foundation. That’s about $218 billion to move the grid away from coal and natural gas.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Robert.

On top of that, the non-energy-related portions of the Green New Deal could cost trillions more, including universal health care and guaranteed income.

The libertarian Mercatus Center released a study in July that found Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years. That same month, hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio estimated the cost to taxpayers of a universal basic income policy would top $3.8 trillion a year — and that’s assuming every American citizen got just $12,000 a year.

For comparison, the Great Society policies pursued by the Johnson administration during the 1960s cost $22 trillion, according to estimates from the Heritage Foundation. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930s during the Great Depression cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, The Nation reported in 2008.

Of course, both the New Deal and Great Society have left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for trillions in debt and unfunded liabilities — somewhere between $87 trillion and $222 trillion.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Energy Editor. Follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter

RELATED ARTICLES:

Democrats Are At Each Other’s Throats Over An Issue That Barely Got Mentioned In The 2018 Elections

Democrats’ ‘Green Raw Deal’ Will Deliver Only Socialism And Misery

RELATED VIDEO: Murdering Mother Earth.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Caller is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Texas City Featured in Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Lost Millions in Its Green Energy Gamble

Former Vice President Al Gore hailed the city of Georgetown, Texas, for powering itself with only solar and wind energy, but now the city is losing millions on its green energy gamble.

Georgetown’s bet against fossil fuel prices cost the city-owned utility nearly $7 million this year, and prompted officials to look for a way out of their long-term contracts for solar and wind energy.

“It’s costing them big time,” Bill Peacock, vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “This doesn’t appear to be the first time they’ve lost money, just the first time it was big enough to have to go public with it.”

Georgetown made national news after being featured in Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. The film followed up on Gore’s inaccurate 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I think Georgetown is already a trailblazer,” Gore said during his 2016 visit to learn about Georgetown’s plan to get 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar power.

“And one thing that Georgetown demonstrates to other places that are just beginning to think about it is that the power supply is not only more affordable, the cost is predictable for at least 25 years into the future and really beyond that,” Gore said.

Standing next to Gore when he made those remarks was Mayor Dale Ross, the town’s Republican part-time mayor. Smithsonian Magazine called Ross the “unlikeliest hero of the green revolution.”

“This is a long-term pocketbook issue,” Ross said in August. “It’s a win for economics and a win for the environment.”

Ross said the decision was based on dollars and cents, not environmental concerns, but now the city is trying to renegotiate its long-term green energy contracts.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was scheduled to interview Ross on Saturday. The mayor canceled the phone interview, but did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry about rescheduling.

Since being featured in Gore’s film, other media outlets have asked if Georgetown is the “future” of U.S. cities. However, Peacock said Georgetown is becoming more of a cautionary tale.

“They went all-in on one thing. Anybody looking at this from a financial standpoint could have foreseen these problems,” Peacock said. “This doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is suing Georgetown for the pricing details of its long-term solar contracts. Energy rates are considered trade secrets under Texas law and must be sought with a government records request.

Georgetown began its shift toward 100 percent wind and solar energy several years ago, and the city says it reached that goal in July after the Buckthorn solar plant went online. The city owned utility contracts with Buckthorn and the Spinning Spur 3 wind farm for all its power needs.

Georgetown Utility Systems contracted to buy wind and solar at fixed prices until 2035 and 2043, respectively. Georgetown is obligated to buy about twice as much power as it actually needs from green power plants. The city is the first in Texas and the second-largest in the U.S. to go 100 percent renewable.

The idea was that Georgetown would have enough green power to grow into at fixed prices, avoiding market volatility and what it saw as the rising costs of fossil fuels. In the meantime, Georgetown would sell any excess power back to Texas’ electricity market.

But energy prices plummeted in recent years, particularly natural gas prices, meaning the city lost money selling power back to the market. Georgetown Budget Manager Paul Diaz told city councilors in late November the utility had lost $6.84 million. City officials are looking for ways to make up the shortfall.

“[Georgetown Utility Systems] is in the process of opening negotiations with our current energy suppliers to adjust the terms of our contracts,” City Councilman Steve Fought wrote in an email to constituents.

“Additionally, we are working to change our management strategy for daily energy market operations,” Fought wrote in his Nov. 26 email. “We also need to implement belt tightening measures in the electric department and shift funds to balance the GUS accounts.”

Georgetown Utility Systems’ energy costs were more than $23 million over budget in 2016 and 2017, according to Lisa Linowes, the founder of the anti-wind power group Wind Action.

Fought did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Representatives for Gore also did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Michael Bastasch is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MikeBastasch.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/Sipa USA/Newscom.

Trump Administration scuttles Obama-era WOTUS “Waters of the United States” rule

In a significant victory for farmers, ranchers, and other landowners, the Trump administration December 11 pulled the plug on an Obama-era regulatory scheme that would have subjected millions of acres of private land to federal zoning.

By rolling back Obama’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, the administration has put an end to the biggest power grab in the 48-year history of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Obama-era rule was sold as an effort to “clarify” the federal government’s jurisdiction over bodies of water under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA), which granted EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over “navigable waters of the United States.”

Over the years, questions arose over whether Washington also had jurisdiction over bodies of water, which may not be navigable themselves, but which are adjacent to, or have some connection to, navigable waters. The Supreme Court’s 2006 Rapanos v. United States decision, failed to resolve the issue, with Justice Anthony Kennedy infamously opining that federal jurisdiction extended to such waters provided they had a “significant nexus” to navigable waters.

The Power Grab

What constituted a “significant nexus” was anyone guess, leaving landowners, municipalities, businesses, and just about everyone else completely in the dark. Eager to take advantage of a murky situation and beef up EPA’s enforcement authority, the Obama administration in 2015 proposed “clarifying” the issue by greatly expanding EPA’s jurisdiction to include ditches, ponds, groundwater, and even “ephemeral” waters (those that form only after rainfall). The rule would have forced farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to obtain permits from EPA if they wanted to make any modifications to their property. A host or organizations sued EPA, and a federal judge ordered a stay on the rule in 24 states.

Having vowed to kill the rule during the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump issued an executive order in February 2017 directing EPA to carry out the “elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.” Trump’s first EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, tried to delay implementation of the Obama WOTUS rule, but a U.S. district court in South Carolina invalidated the delay in August 2018.

Now, the Trump administration has its own plan for untangling the jurisdictional mess that has surrounded the regulation of waterways for decades.

What is and What is not Subject to Federal Regulation

“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a statement. “For the first time, we are defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways.”

Under the Trump proposal, the federal government, for the first time, has divided navigable waters into six categories:

  • traditional navigable waters (rivers, bays, the Great Lakes, etc.);
  • waterways connected to navigable waters, including tributaries;
  • certain navigable ditches used for commercial shipping, such as the Erie Canal;
  • lakes and ponds that contribute to navigable waterways;
  • impoundments of jurisdictional waterways; and
  • wetlands adjacent to navigable waterways through “direct subsurface connection.”

Trump’s WOTUS proposal also clearly states what EPA and the Corps of Engineers will not regulate. These include “features that only include water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; storm water control features; and waste treatment systems.”

Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler, who has been nominated for the top job at the agency by President Trump, points out that most bodies of water not covered under the new proposal are still subject to state protection. “We don’t need to have the dual protection and the dual requirements and permits at both state and federal levels,” he said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show (Washington Times, Dec. 12).

The difference between the Obama and Trump approaches can not be understated. A 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation study, for example, found that 99% of Pennsylvania would be subject to the Obama WOTUS rule.

“This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources, and productively work their land without having to hire and army of lawyers and consultants,” said farm bureau president Zippy Duvall (Washington Times, Dec. 12).

The fight is far from over, with environmental groups expected to bring suit against EPA and the Corps.

There will be a 60-day public comment period that will last until mid-February 2019.

COLUMN BY

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

EDITORS NOTE: This CFACT column with images is republished with permission.

Some Recent Energy & Environmental News

Here is the latest Energy and Environmental Newsletter.

We’ve had an extremely positive response to our proposed international meeting about improving the PR (i.e. communications) of our messages. We are still considering applications to be a participant, but the window will close soon.

One of the most important energy developments in this news-cycle, is the response of French citizens to the oppressive carbon tax. There is a special section of the Newsletter that has several good articles about this situation — like this one.

Some of the more interesting Energy related articles are:

Medical Director Warns of Turbine Health Consequences

Major Good News: Ontario Scraps the Green Energy Act

Wind Projects and Property Rights

But How do Affected Citizens Think about Wind Energy?

NY Town passes ideal wind ordinance

Some of the more informative Global Warming articles are:

Good news about Climate Change

Climate Change: Identifying the Problem

Outstanding video re Climate Change (15:30-28:00)

Former Top US Oceanographer Sentenced for Accepting a Salary from China

We are most appreciative of our network’s support and effort in 2018 — which is one of the reasons good things have been accomplished. We are optimistically looking forward to more of the same in 2019, and wish you are yours a healthy, happy and holy holiday season, and New Year.

Note 1: We recommend reading the Newsletter on your computer, not your phone. Some documents (e.g. PDFs) are easier to read on a computer. We’ve tried to use common fonts, etc. to minimize issues.

Note 2: Our intention is to put some balance into what most people see from the mainstream media about energy and environmental issues… As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and link to this 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 this list, simply send me an email saying that.

Note 3: This Newsletter is intended to supplement the material on our website, WiseEnergy.org. The most important page there is the Winning page.

Note 4: 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 licensed attorney when you are involved with legal issues.

The Future of Energy Sustainability Has Never Looked Brighter… Thanks to Free Markets

The congruence of private gain and social good in energy markets is reason to give thanks this holiday season.


Depletion … pollution … security … climate change. These flashpoints of energy sustainability have been invoked time and again to advocate forced (government) transformation away from fossil fuels. But each complaint has been highly exaggerated for the purpose of demoting the primary role of mineral energies (natural gas, coal, and petroleum) in modern living.

The congruence of private gain and social good in energy markets is a great reason to give thanks this holiday season. Consumers in good conscience can stay warm with natural gas and fuel oil, as well as travel on gasoline and diesel. Electricity, too, can be generated with the cheapest and most versatile carbon-based energy without regret.

Energy sustainability is an offshoot of sustainable development, classically defined in a 1987 report by the World Commission on Environment and Development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The so-called Brundtland Report led to the 1992 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro and Agenda 21, a 350-page action plan by the United Nations for global sustainable development, signed by 178 countries, including the United States. For implementation ideas, the Clinton/Gore Administration created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (1993–99), which defined sustainability as “economic growth that will benefit present and future generations without detrimentally affecting the resources or biological systems of the planet.”

According to the “Vision Statement” of PCSD’s Sustainable America: A New Consensus for Prosperity, Opportunity, and a Healthy Environment for the Future (1996):

Our vision is of a life-sustaining Earth…. A sustainable United States will have a growing economy that provides equitable opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high quality life for current and future generations. Our nation will protect its environment, its natural resource base, and the functions and viability of natural systems on which all life depends (p. iv).

Given this definition, are mineral energies “sustainable”? The answer is a resounding yes under a free-market interpretation of sustainable development:

A sustainable energy market is one in which the quantity, quality, and utility of energy improve over time. Sustainable energy becomes more available, more affordable, more usable and reliable, and cleaner. Energy consumers do not borrow from the future; they subsidize the future by continually improving today’s energy economy, which the future inherits (Bradley, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy, p. 187).

The energy sustainability triad has been depletion, pollution, and climate change. A fourth area, energy security, primarily relating to unstable oil imports from Middle Eastern countries, arose in the 1970s and peaked with the Gulf War in 1990–91.

Depletionism concerns resource exhaustion, better known as Peak Oil (and Peak Natural Gas), where demand outraces supply to result in increasing prices. Pollution has centered around the criteria air pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), lead (Pb), and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Climate change has shifted from brief worry about anthropogenic global cooling to an ongoing concern of anthropogenic global warming.

Peak supply fears have been quelled by new generation oil and gas extraction technology that, yet again, has turned high-cost and inaccessible supply into economically mined resources. In response, fossil fuel foes have turned to a keep-it-in-the-ground strategy conceding that many decades, if not centuries, of oil and gas inventory await. And with the US becoming the oil and gas center of the world, earlier concerns over energy security have faded.

Regarding the once vexing problem of urban air pollution, the US Environmental Protection Agency has documented a 73 percent decline in criteria emissions since 1970, with further improvement expected. Technology in light of achievable regulatory rules has made fossil fuels and clean air a success story that industry critics did not think possible early on.

Climate change? This is an issue entirely separate from the above, but the direct benefits of carbon dioxide fertilization and moderate warming have made the debate over costs versus benefits of anthropogenic climate change ambiguous. The public policy takeaway is not to regulate CO2 but to embrace free markets at home and abroad to capitalize on the positives and ameliorate the negatives of weather and climate change, natural or anthropogenic.

The energy sustainability debate relates to the larger intellectual tradition of free market environmentalism. The private property and voluntary exchange model was codified by authors Terry Anderson and Donald Leal as follows:

Free market environmentalism emphasizes the importance of market processes in determining optimal amounts of resource use. Only when rights are well-defined, enforced, and transferable will self-interested individuals confront the trade-offs inherent in a world of scarcity (Free Market Environmentalism, 1991: p. 22).

Private entrepreneurship seeking gains from trade is key to overcoming negative externalities:

As entrepreneurs move to fill profit niches, prices will reflect the values we place on resources and the environment. Mistakes will be made, but in the process a niche will be opened and profit opportunities will attract resources managers with a better idea (ibid., pp. 22–23).

“In cases where definition and enforcement costs are insurmountable, political solutions may be called for,” Anderson and Leal add, warning that “those kinds of solutions often become entrenched and stand in the way of innovative market processes that promote fiscal responsibility, efficient resource use, and individual freedom” (ibid., p. 23).

In a 1993 essay, “Sustainable Development—A Free-Market Perspective,” Fred Smith applied the Anderson/Leal framework as an alternative to sustainable development. Free market environmentalism, Smith states (p. 297), “recognizes that the greatest hope for protecting environmental values lies in the empowerment of individuals to protect those environmental resources that they value (via a creative extension of property rights).” He explains (pp. 298–99):

Sustainable development is not an artifact of the physical world but of human arrangements. Environmental resources will be protected or endangered depending upon the type of institutional framework we create, or allow to evolve, to address these concerns.

After going through examples of self-interested solutions to economic and environmental progress, Smith concludes: “The empirical evidence is clear: resources integrated into a private property system do, in fact, achieve ‘sustainability’” (p. 301).

Smith also insists that “government failure” be assessed alongside alleged market failure, noting how “individuals who make resource-use decisions in a bureaucracy are rarely those who bear the costs or receive the benefits of such decisions” (p. 304). In this regard, he contrasts the politicization of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) with drilling in the Audubon Society’s Rainey wildlife sanctuary in Louisiana (ibid.).

In a 1999 policy analysis for the Cato Institute titled “The Increasing Sustainability of Conventional Energy,” I concluded:

[T]he technology of fossil-fuel extraction, combustion, and consumption continues to rapidly improve. Fossil fuels continue to have a global market share of approximately 85 percent, and all economic and environmental indicators are positive. Numerous technological advances have made coal, natural gas, and petroleum more abundant, more versatile, more reliable, and less polluting than ever before, and the technologies are being transferred from developed to emerging markets. These positive trends can be expected to continue in the 21st century.

Almost twenty years later, production and consumption trends for mineral energies remain robust despite determined, costly government policies to force wind power and solar energy into electrical generation and ethanol into transportation markets. The global market share for fossil fuels remains more than 80 percent, with the most recent year registering growth rates of 3 percent, 1 percent, and 1.6 percent for natural gas, coal, and oil, respectively.

It is not doom-and-gloom in the energy market but quite the opposite. New generations of technology have made our ever-increasing quantities of oil, coal, and natural gas environmental products, not just energy products. The sustainability threat is not free markets but government ownership and direction of resources in the name of energy sustainability. That supreme irony must be the subject for another day.

COLUMN BY

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

The Counterintuitive Truth about Earth’s Resources

Earth was 379.6 percent more plentiful in 2017 than in 1980.


Are we running out of resources? That’s been a hotly debated question since the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb in 1968. The Stanford University biologist warned that population growth would result in the exhaustion of resources and a global catastrophe. According to Ehrlich, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

The University of Maryland economist Julian Simon rejected Ehrlich’s thesis. In his 1981 book The Ultimate Resource, he argued that humans were intelligent beings, capable of innovating their way out of shortages through greater efficiency, increased supply, or development of substitutes. He wrote:

There is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose.

A just-released paper, which I co-authored with Brigham Young University economics professor Gale Pooley, revisits the Ehrlich-Simon debate. In “The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources,” we look at prices of 50 foundational commodities covering energy, food, materials, and metals. Our findings confirm Simon’s thesis. Between 1980 and 2017, the world’s population increased from 4.46 to 7.55 billion or 69 percent. Yet, resources have become substantially more abundant.

To arrive at our conclusion, we introduce four new ways of measuring abundance of resources. Ehrlich and Simon looked at inflation-adjusted prices of commodities. By our count, those fell by 36 percent. Taking that analysis a step further, we have come up with a “time-price” of commodities, which allows us to cost resources in terms of human labor. We find that relative to the average global hourly income, commodity prices fell by 64.7 percent between 1980 and 2017.

Second, the price elasticity of population (PEP) allows us to measure sensitivity of resource availability to population growth. We find that the time-price of commodities declined by 0.934 percent for every 1 percent increase in the world’s population. Put differently, over the last 37 years, every additional human being born on our planet appears to have made resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.

Third, we develop the Simon Abundance Framework, which uses the PEP values to distinguish between different degrees of resource abundance, from decreasing abundance at the one end to super abundance at the other end. Considering that the time-price of commodities decreased at a faster proportional rate than population increased, we find that humanity is experiencing superabundance.

Finally, we create the Simon Abundance Index (SAI), which uses the time-price of commodities and change in global population to estimate overall resource abundance. The SAI represents the ratio of the change in population over the change in the time-price, times 100. It has a base year of 1980 and a base value of 100. Between 1980 and 2017, resource availability increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.32 percent. That means that the Earth was 379.6 percent more plentiful in 2017 than it was in 1980.

Based on our analysis of the relationship between resource availability and population growth, we forecast that the time-price of commodities could fall by a further 29 percent over the next 37 years. Of course, much will depend on policies and institutions that nations pursue. For time-price of commodities to decline and resource abundance to increase, it is necessary for market incentives and price mechanisms to endure. For it is when prices of commodities temporarily increase that people have an incentive to use resources more efficiently, increase their supply, and develop cheaper substitutes.

Simon’s revolutionary insights with regard to the mutually beneficial interaction between population growth and availability of natural resources, which our research confirms, may be counterintuitive, but they are real.

The world’s resources are finite in the same way that the number of piano keys is finite. The instrument has only 88 notes, but those can be played in an infinite variety of ways. The same applies to our planet. The Earth’s atoms may be fixed, but the possible combinations of those atoms are infinite. What matters, then, is not the physical limits of our planet, but human freedom to experiment and reimagine the use of resources that we have.

This article was reprinted with permission from CapX.

COLUMN BY

Marian L. Tupy<

Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

How companies should engage on climate

A while back I was speaking to a major pipeline company and was asked how they should engage on the climate issue. Here’s my answer (lightly edited):

Why engage? You’re a company that exists so that people can consume a certain product. When they consume that product, there’s a byproduct of CO2, and people are concerned about the consequences of that byproduct. Many people think it’s an overwhelming priority to minimize it, which means to put you out of business.

You need to take a position, and I think you need to define a position that your company’s management actually believes. If you think about it one way and talk about it another, I think that’s wrong and it will be very awkward.

Then, when you talk about the climate issue, don’t just share your conclusions, but how you think of the issue. I recommend that companies should have as part of their values a commitment to scientific thinking, a concern for environmental quality, a commitment to cost/benefit analysis, and an overall goal of promoting human flourishing. Then, when you talk about climate, you can reference those values to show how you reach your conclusions.

The most important thing is to reframe the discussion in a pro-human way. What fossil fuel opponents want is to turn it into a debate over whether we have an impact on climate. Their framework is that our goal should be to minimize our impact on nature and so the ideal is to have no impact on climate.

If you frame things from a human perspective, then it’s really a debate on what we should do about energy. The impact on climate is part of how we evaluate fossil fuels, which is part of deciding what to do about energy.

If our goal is to maximize human flourishing, then our actual ideal is not no climate impact, but making sure we’re completely protected from climate. That’s what actually matters to human beings.

And the number one thing for climate protection is industrialization–which requires a lot of cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. Let’s say, for instance, there’s someone in India, it’s 120° in the summer, and they just have a little fan. The “green” solution is to de-industrialize the world so that instead of 120°, it’s 119°.

No, the solution is to get them an air conditioner. That’s the first thing. Allow them to achieve industrialization and energy abundance through using fossil fuels. Then we can talk about 120° or 119°.

RELATED ARTICLE: Don’t Believe the Scary Predictions From the National Climate Assessment


The Human Flourishing Project: Seeking stimulation vs. seeking nourishment

On the latest episode of The Human Flourishing Project I discuss a concept I’ve been refining this week as I’ve been sick: the tendency to seek short-term stimulation when we’re uncomfortable—and why we should seek “nourishment” instead.

Visit our Facebook page and join in the discussion. And for the latest news visit humanflourishingproject.com where you can sign up to receive email updates.


EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission. The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

‘Borderline Impossible’: Noted Scientist Tackles Sea Level Rise Alarmism

When it comes to alarming projections of global warming-induced sea level rise, veteran climate scientist Judith Curry says people need to cool it.

“Projections of extreme, alarming impacts are very weakly justified to borderline impossible,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Curry’s latest research, put together for clients of her consulting company near the end of November, looks in detail at projections of sea level rise. Curry’s ultimate conclusion: “Some of the worst-case scenarios strain credulity.”

“With regards to 21st century climate projections, we are dealing with deep uncertainty, and we should not be basing our policies based on the assumption that the climate will actually evolve as per predicted,” Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Climate variability and change is a lot more complex than ‘CO2 as control knob,’” Curry said. “No one wants to hear this, or actually spend time understanding things,” Curry said.

That’s really the opposite message of what we usually hear from prominent scientists in the media. Much of the worry over sea level rise has centered on the western Antarctic ice melt, which studies say has accelerated in recent years.

The global average sea level has risen about 7 inches since 1900. For perspective, sea level rise has averaged about the thickness of two pennies every year.

But if warmer temperatures substantially increase melt from the world’s glaciers and ice sheets, some scientists and activists say sea level rise could be devastating. Warming also increases thermal expansion of the ocean, scientists warn.

Former NASA head climate scientist James Hansen warned in 1988 that New York City’s West Side Highway would be underwater in 20 to 40 years. More recently, Hansen warned “the planet could become practically ungovernable” from sea level rise due to melting ice forcing millions of people to flee coastal cities.

Pacific islands national leaders went before the United Nations in 2015 to warn that unchecked global warming would overwhelm them, forcing thousands to emigrate to the continents—so far, there’s little evidence of island nations being engulfed by the sea.

“Now if you ask us, we have to say maybe closer to 6 to 8 feet,” Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann warned at a debate in June. Curry also participated in the debate in Charleston, West Virginia.

Mann said that was the “best estimate” of sea level rise by the end of the century, which is considerably higher than he said it was just five years earlier.

“We’re talking about literally giving up on our coastal cities of the world and moving inland,” Mann warned in September 2017.

Curry, however, sees estimates of sea level rise above 2 feet by the end of the century as “weakly justified,” even at high levels of warming. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the likely range of sea level rise at 10 to 32 inches.

Alarming sea level rise predictions are based on “a cascade of extremely unlikely-to-impossible events using overly simplistic models of poorly understood processes,” Curry wrote in her report.

Current sea level rise is well within natural variability of the past few thousand years, according to Curry. Curry said coastal communities should base their future flood plans on likely scenarios, such as 1 to 2 feet, rather than high-end scenarios.

“There is not yet any convincing evidence of a human fingerprint on global sea level rise, because of the large changes driven by natural variability,” Curry wrote. “An increase in the rate of global sea level rise since 1995 is being caused by ice loss from Greenland.”

However, the “Greenlandic ice loss was larger during the 1930s, which was also associated with the warm phase of the Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern,” Curry wrote.

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