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Obama Seeks To Harm America, Again

History proves that President Obama’s plan to slap a ten-dollar tax on every barrel of oil imported into America or developed here to use the money for transformation is both is both fool-hearty and wasteful.  Once again, one of the big chiefs of overbearing nanny goat government is threatening to use unconstitutional bullying to dictate the activities of “We the People.”  This time seeking to increase the tax burden upon business activity and consumption.  The president stated, “I will take advantage of low gas prices to accelerate a transition to a clean energy economy.”  “We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil imported, exported, so that some of the revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future.”

Oil industry officials, who are always accused by progressive government types like Obama and their cohorts in the dragon media of being greedy, stated that Obama’s proposed $10.00 per barrel tax on crude oil would harm consumers.  “The Obama administration believes that we the American people are not paying enough for gasoline.”  That is why he wants to dictate a higher price for us to pay more for gasoline.  The proposed tax could increase the cost of gasoline by at least 25 cents per gallon.  That development could harm consumers who have ale=ready been hurt by the president’s efforts to “fundamentally change America.”

In addition, more American jobs could be wiped out.  Also our republic’s emergence as a global energy leader could be brought to a halt, according to the American Petroleum Institute.  Actually, that is a goal of the Alinsky inspired Obama administration.

Now that I think about it, no one is more to blame than the bloated federal government for any problems our republic is facing in regards to energy production or transportation.  If you research the mid nineteenth until the early twentieth century, the private sector was providing a vastly superior system of transportation over what has emerged as government transit systems throughout America.  For example, Both Cleveland and Detroit had rail transportation throughout both cities and surrounding areas.

All major thoroughfares and many minor streets had streetcar or rail transport that ran often and almost always on time, baring any natural disaster.  The service was provided by mostly private companies who competed for customers.  The various transportation systems did not overlap and even the quality and cleanliness of the streetcars, or trolleys were well maintained.

In Detroit, among the private companies providing transportation service were the Fort Street and Elmwood Avenue Railway Company, Detroit Railway Company and several others.  Streetcar or rail service for public transport began during the 1860s in both Cleveland and Detroit as horse drawn trolleys.  By 1895 all were converted to electric power.

The nature of government is to progressively either take over or dismantle and then dominate private entities.  That was the case in both Cleveland and Detroit.  In Detroit, during the early 20th century, the transit companies raised their adult ridership price by one nickel to a “whopping” ten cents.  Soon after, the populist city government bullies who desired to take over the transit business publically railed against the nickel increase and duped Detroit voters into approving the city government takeover of transportation services.  City misleaders had convinced city dwellers that they could provide better transportation services at a lower price by using tax dollars to subsidize the trolley services.  That false scenario was played out in other cities as well including New York City.

In fact, the original private based companies that oversaw the building of the earlier subway tunnels in the Big Apple constructed them at a much quicker pace than the tax payer funded union trolls who built subway tunnels in the following decades.

What does the story about past government takeovers of private transportation services have to do with Obama’s call for increasing crude oil taxes today?  It is simple, if government had not gotten involved and taken over viable private run transportation companies, I believe that cities like Detroit would have maintained great transportation systems it their customers desired to continue utilizing transportation systems.

The problem is big government getting involved, thus killing innovation and in most cases quality of service.  How much further ahead regarding energy independence would America be, if only the United States had not been prevented from increasing oil and gas exploration and production by the Obama administration?  Before the curse and onslaught of the Obamacare being thrust upon our republic “We the People” were blessed with the best medical care on earth, but now it is in steady decline.

If Obama wants improved transportation options for America, the government tax regulations and tax burdens must be lessened and certain taxes such as on production should be eliminated as soon as possible, which should be now.  As a result there would come about increased economic activity would fuel incentives for needed changes that the American people desire, not wasteful unwanted government mandates that only bring about destructive and unnecessary declines in the quality of life and related hardships.

RELATED ARTICLE: Supreme Court Halts Obama’s Aggressive Climate Agenda

President Obama Wants You to Pay More for Oil

Apparently oil prices are too low, so President Barack Obama thinks it’s a good idea to slap on a $10 per barrel oil tax. Politico reports:

Obama aides told POLITICO that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

Based on current prices, this would be a roughly 30% tax on a barrel of oil.

It’s disturbing that the president’s reaction to an industry slashing jobs and cutting investments in a tough business environment is to place a massive tax on the product they produce.

It’s also troubling to see that President Obama thinks of the tax as a quid pro quo for ending the oil export ban. (Something he opposed.)

“You’re allowed to export, but we’re also saying is that we’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil,”President Obama said at a press conference.

Thankfully this tax is already “dead on arrival” in Congress, said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

President Obama knows this, but doesn’t care. As Politico notes, “It’s mostly an effort to jump-start a conversation.” And it falls squarely with his mission to end fossil fuel use in the United States.

“It’s really about taxing the energy they don’t like to make President Obama’s favored energy sources,” said Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle.

The president acknowledged this. When questioned by reporters, President Obama said if imposed, the tax “will have further weaned our economy off dirty fuels.”

But his sweeping plan runs straight up against reality. Americans will be using oil and other fossil fuels for decades to come. Until economically viable alternatives are developed that offer the same benefits (convenience, reliability, energy density), fossil fuels will be needed to keep America’s economy moving.

There’s no question we need more revenue to fix America’s broken roads and bridges, but the oil tax covers over the real intention behind the proposal: The radical transformation of America’s energy economy.

MORE ARTICLES ON: ENERGY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of President Obama is by photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

Is Cheap Gas a Bad Thing? by Randal O’Toole

Remember peak oil? Remember when oil prices were $140 a barrel and Goldman Sachs predicted they would soon reach $200? Now, the latest news is that oil prices have gone up all the way to $34 a barrel. Last fall, Goldman Sachs predicted prices would fall to $20 a barrel, which other analysts argued was “no better than its prior predictions,” but in fact they came a lot closer to that than to $200.

Low oil prices generate huge economic benefits. Low prices mean increased mobility, which means increased economic productivity. The end result, says Bank of America analyst Francisco Blanch, is “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history” as $3 trillion remain in consumers’ pockets rather than going to the oil companies. I wouldn’t call this a “wealth transfer” so much as a reduction in income inequality, but either way, it is a good thing.

Naturally, some people hate the idea of increased mobility from lower fuel prices. “Cheap gas raises fears of urban sprawl,” warns NPR. Since “urban sprawl” is a made-up problem, I’d have to rewrite this as, “Cheap gas raises hopes of urban sprawl.” The only real “fear” is on the part of city officials who want everyone to pay taxes to them so they can build stadiums, light-rail lines, and other useless urban monuments.

A more cogent argument is made by UC Berkeley sustainability professor Maximilian Auffhammer, who argues that “gas is too cheap” because current prices fail to cover all of the external costs of driving. He cites what he calls a “classic paper” that calculates the external costs of driving to be $2.28 per gallon. If that were true, then one approach would be to tax gasoline $2.28 a gallon and use the revenues to pay those external costs.

The only problem is that most of the so-called external costs aren’t external at all but are paid by highway users. The largest share of calculated costs, estimated at $1.05 a gallon, is the cost of congestion. This is really a cost of bad planning, not gasoline. Either way, the cost is almost entirely paid by people in traffic consuming that gasoline.

The next largest cost, at 63 cents a gallon, is the cost of accidents. Again, this is partly a cost of bad planning: remember how fatality rates dropped nearly 20 percent between 2007 and 2009, largely due to the reduction in congestion caused by the recession? This decline could have taken place years before if cities had been serious about relieving congestion rather than ignoring it. In any case, most of the cost of accidents, like the other costs of congestion, are largely internalized by the auto drivers through insurance.

The next-largest cost, pegged at 42 cents per gallon, is “local pollution.” While that is truly an external cost, it is also rapidly declining as shown in figure 1 of the paper. According to EPA data, total vehicle emissions of most pollutants have declined by more than 50 percent since the numbers used in this 2006 report. Thus, the 42 cents per gallon is more like 20 cents per gallon and falling fast. [Ed. note: And pollution is also mostly due to congestion.]

At 12 cents a gallon, the next-largest cost is “oil dependency,” which the paper defines as exposing “the economy to energy price volatility and price manipulation” that “may compromise national security and foreign policy interests.” That problem, which was questionable in the first place, seems to have gone away thanks to the resurgence of oil production within the United States, which has made other oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, more dependent on us than we are on them.

Finally, at a mere 6 cents per gallon, is the cost of greenhouse gas emissions. If you believe this is a cost, it will decline when measured as a cost per mile as cars get more fuel efficient under the current CAFE standards. But it should remain fixed as a cost per gallon as burning a gallon of gasoline will always produce a fixed amount of greenhouse gases.

In short, rather than $2.38 per gallon, the external cost of driving is closer to around 26 cents per gallon. Twenty cents of this cost is steadily declining as cars get cleaner and all of it is declining when measured per mile as cars get more fuel-efficient.

It’s worth noting that, though we are seeing an increase in driving due to low fuel prices, the amount of driving we do isn’t all that sensitive to fuel prices. Real gasoline prices doubled between 2000 and 2009, yet per capita driving continued to grow until the recession began. Prices have fallen by 50 percent in the last six months or so, yet the 3 or 4 percent increase in driving may be as much due to increased employment as to more affordable fuel.

This means that, though there may be some externalities from driving, raising gas taxes and creating government slush funds with the revenues is not the best way of dealing with those externalities. I’d feel differently if I felt any assurance that government would use those revenues to actually fix the externalities, but that seems unlikely. I actually like the idea of tradeable permits best, but short of that the current system of ever-tightening pollution controls seems to be working well at little cost to consumers and without threatening the economic benefits of increased mobility.

This post first appeared at Cato.org.

Randal O’TooleRandal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.

How We Can Get the Candidates Talking About America’s Energy Opportunity

America has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to combine American innovation, American resources, and American freedom to create American energy abundance and become the world’s energy superpower, overtaking Russia and the Middle East.

In 20 seconds, you can tell our politicians, including the candidates that are completely ignoring this issue in the debates–this time to discuss Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly–that you will only vote for candidates who will seize America’s Energy Opportunity.

Please do so at AmericasEnergyOpportunity.com.

For Energy Industry Employees

America’s Energy Opportunity affects all of us, but you most directly, along with the millions of people who work directly and indirectly with your industry.

Therefore, please tell your colleagues about this campaign. Here is a letter you can send.

Dear ______,

I would like to ask you to take three minutes to stand up for this industry in the upcoming elections.

As you know, last year was a difficult year for our industry, with many bankruptcies and massive job losses.

Unfortunately, Washington is considering many proposals to make it even harder for our industry to produce, move, and sell our product–proposals to tax hydrocarbons, stop hydraulic fracturing projects, and limit exports to our customers. That will mean more job losses, bankruptcies, and damage to our economy. And so far our industry has had no voice in the 2016 debates.

But a movement called America’s Energy Opportunity is fighting back.

At AmericasEnergyOpportunity.com there is a petition to our politicians to leave our industry free to create amazing prosperity for this country. If millions of people sign this petition we will prove to the candidates that we cannot be ignored this election.

Please take 3 minutes to read the petition and sign it–for the sake of your jobs, your families, and this country’s future.

Sincerely,

________

8 Speeches in 2 Days

Last week, I gave 10 speeches–including 8 speeches in 2 days. The 8 were all at one company. Those of you who signed up for this list, welcome.

Lately in my speeches I have been emphasizing, even more than I used to, that clear thinking and communication about energy issues requires the right starting framework. If in our thinking and communication we start with a framework based on human well-being and big-picture thinking, we come to the right conclusions and can explain them convincingly. If we don’t, our thinking is a mess and/or our communication is a mess.

For more on framing conversations the right way, see How to Talk to Anyone About Energy.

Thanks to everyone who came to my presentations last week, and the organizations in Mississippi who sponsored them. I met a lot of bright, motivated people whom I expect to become great energy champions.

New Blog Post by David Biederman: Fossil Fuels Make the Planet More Productive

From the latest blog entry:

“The fact is that when it comes to satisfying humanity’s basic needs, almost nothing is given, as almost everything must be created and produced. The arrangements of elements that make up the planet are not organized by natural processes to optimally support human life. Instead, work is required to transform the planet from an environment of scarcity to one rich with food, clothing, and shelter. The ability to do this work is made possible primarily by the fossil fuel industries?coal, oil and natural gas.”

Keep reading.

This Week’s Power Hour: Amanda Maxham on the Virtues of GMOs

On this week’s episode of Power Hour I talk with Dr. Amanda Maxham, Research Associate at the Ayn Rand Institute, about the incredible advances in genetic modification–and why our society is responding to them with fear and coercion rather than enthusiasm and freedom.

Listen to this episode.

Power Hour: Michael Lynch on Recent Oil Prices

On this episode of Power Hour, I talk to Mike Lynch, President of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, about the recent decline in oil prices.

Tune in.

As always, if you’d like to suggest a new guest for Power Hour, or have me appear on your show, you can send me an email at support@industrialprogress.net, or just reply to this one.

What Trump and Sanders Said about Oil Prices 4 Years Ago by Daniel Bier

Remember when complaining about the price of gas was all the rage? The public discourse was awash in pseudo-psychology, hand-wringing about “peak oil,” and an array of conspiracy theories to explain why oil cost so much.

There was much ado about corporate “greed” (the cause of all life’s problems), hissing about “speculators,” nationalist chest-thumping about OPEC, self-proclaimed experts warning that Earth was out of oil, and many inarticulate suspicions about George Bush and Barack Obama.

Economists were pretty sure that the price of oil was related to supply and demand, but what did they know? One cantankerous socialist knew the truth:

Pump prices spiked 5% in the past month… Crude oil prices stood at $108 on Friday, up from only double digits at the beginning of the month. …

What’s the cause? Forget what you may have read about the laws of supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have almost nothing to do with economic fundamentals.

Fortunately, when he wrote that in 2012, Sen. Bernie Sanders was ahead of the game, having never read anything about supply and demand at all. Unencumbered by basic economics, he was able to see that Big Oil “gouging” and Wall Street “speculators” were to blame.

Remarkably, right around the time of the fracking revolution, the price of oil and gas started tumbling. I guess Wall Street’s heart grew three sizes that day.

But Sanders didn’t have the only theory. One super smart billionaire figured out that Saudi Arabia was the real problem:

Look at what’s going on with your gasoline prices. They’re going to go to $5, $6, $7 and we don’t have anybody in Washington that calls OPEC and says, “Fellas, it’s time. It’s over. You’re not going to do it anymore.”

When Donald Trump diagnosed this problem in 2011, his solution wasn’t just to “call Saudi Arabia” and tell them “you’re not going to raise that f***ing price!” No, he had a practical measure: seize Iraq’s oil fields. “To the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it.”

It’s worth remembering this mass hysteria, although the situation today is somewhat different. The price of oil is below $30 a barrel. The International Energy Agency has warned that the world is now “drowning” in oil.

This week, the price for a particularly low-quality type of oil briefly dipped to negative fifty cents a barrel. That is, producers actually had to pay the refinery to take their oil. Has greed been abolished from the land? Maybe. But there’s also a sensible explanation: the high-sulfur oil is expensive to transport and refine, but the producers still had to get rid of it somehow.

But just a few years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable for refineries to actively discourage oil production. At $140 a barrel, almost any kind of oil is worth refining. And here’s the upshot: it was precisely those high prices that prompted the massive investment in production, exploration, and innovation that led to fracking, the shale revolution, and today’s tumbling prices. It was greedy, profit-seeking oil companies who drove the price of oil down over 80% from its peak in 2008.

It’s important to grasp these lessons now, because at some point, the price of oil — or some other commodity — will rise again, and we will be greeted by the same parade of doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, and would-be regulators that we endured for the last decade.

They’re not gone, they’re not even hiding — they’re leading the race for president.

Bonus economics of gas story: On Monday, local news in Michigan reported that a bidding war between a couple of gas stations briefly resulted in prices below 50 cents a gallon. To understand just how weird this is, the wholesale price of gasoline is about $1.

Is this another sign of irrational generosity sweeping the petroleum industry? No. Gasoline is retailed at razor thin margins; gas is typically about 70% of a station’s revenue, but only 30% of its profit. Gas stations actually make most of their money selling food, cigarettes, and bottled water inside.

Occasionally, gasoline is used as a loss leader: stations will sell gas for cheap (even at a loss) to bring people to the pump, where they can then make more money selling high-margin items like bottled drinks and tobacco.

Daniel BierDaniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

Islamic State Cuts Terrorist Salaries by Half by Daniel Bier

Documents leaked to CNN from inside the Islamic State show that the terrorist insurgency/quasi-state is undergoing massive budget cuts, cutting salaries for its fighters and staff by 50 percent across the board.

ISIS soldiers earn between $400 and $1,200 a month, plus a $50 stipend for their wives and $25 for each child, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But running a state at war is expensive. And recent victories for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS mean that the Islamic State can’t afford to pay its soldiers quite as much as it used to.

“On account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing, it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half, and it is not allowed for anyone to be exempted from this decision, whatever his position,” the ISIS’ government wrote in a memorandum.

Much of the financial pressure on ISIS may come from US and Russian airstrikes targeting cash stockpiles, oil resources, and other assets. ISIS also has to pay for a semi-functioning state, maintaining infrastructure, running schools, subsidizing bread, fighting a war, and, of course, murdering vast numbers of people for imaginary crimes.

But the Islamic State might have a revenue problem as much as a spending problem. ISIS gets most of its money by taxing people in conquered territory, but, as Dan Mitchell has pointed out, the terrorists have recently been discovering the Laffer Curve.

Quoting Adam Chodorow at Slate,

ISIS’s taxes are now so onerous that large numbers of people, who were apparently willing to tolerate ISIS’s religious authoritarianism, are fleeing Syria and Iraq to escape them. …

ISIS is … constrained by a lack of administrative resources and the simple reality once sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin by the economist Arthur Laffer: that tax rates can only get so high before they actually drive down government revenues.

Given current conditions, ISIS may be near or at the limits of its ability to tax, even if it can recruit jihadi tax accountants to its cause. Thus … it’s not clear how much room the group has to grow internal revenues. More important, its efforts to do so may do more to damage its prospects than outside forces can accomplish.

No matter how much violence they use, there is no escaping the basic economic reality of incentives: In addition to creating refugees of war and violence, ISIS is now also creating tax exiles.

As people flee Syria and Iraq, businesses close, and the economy dies — and ISIS’s ability to tax and sustain its war effort is slowly being bled out. This is probably one reason that the Islamic State views refugees as traitors, as they have not only abandoned the one true caliphate, but they’ve taken their incomes with them.

Even if they really believe in the cause, if ISIS fighters are at all motivated by money, cutting their pay in half will have a huge impact on recruitment and desertion. Incentives matter, even in a theocracy.

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

‘Could this be the year Europe dies’ as economic conditions drive a billion Africans North?

Klaus Schwab the founder of the World Economic Forum convening in Davos, Switzerland this week has a very scary prediction for the future of Europe.

Learn more here at American Resistance 2016!

See our complete ‘Invasion of Europe’ archive by clicking here.

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Wisconsin: It is not just meatpackers having problems with Muslim refugee employees

See American Resistance 2016! for a couple of stories that might interest RRW readers

So-called ‘Unaccompanied alien children’ numbers are on target to surpass Invasion 2014

Marco Rubio’s Recent Climate Change of Heart ‘Disingenuous’

ken fieldsNEW YORK, NY /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In response to Marco Rubio’s recent campaign event in New Hampshire where the candidate appears to have made a climate change of heart and has called for America to be “number one in wind, and number one in solar, and number one in biofuels, and number one in renewables, number one in energy efficiency. Let’s lead in all of these things,” independent presidential candidate Ken Fields (pictured right) responded by saying:

“For someone who has so vehemently opposed any acknowledgement of the scientific consensus backing the evidence of human-caused climate change due to our planet’s reliance on fossil fuels, Rubio’s change of heart seems disingenuous at best. He has voted against energy efficiency and clean energy tax incentives. It’s hard to believe him.”

When pressed for further comment, Fields stated, “The recent and continued volatility in global oil markets should be evidence enough that energy security is not simply a matter of having and exploiting our own fossil fuel resources, but rather being completely independent of fossil fuels altogether.”

Fields officially launched his campaign last week on January 8th, 2016. His platform revolves around his slogan, “Greatness Must Be Earned” and to do great things, he has advocated the transition to 100% renewable energy for the country over the next 20 years. His policy plan includes, but is not limited to, creating the public and private mechanisms to encourage and nurture the financial markets to participate, a tax holiday for repatriated corporate capital that is invested in renewables and a carbon tax and dividend plan.

For further information on his policies and positions feel free to visit www.kenfields.net.

When Will the Presidential Candidates Debate America’s Energy Opportunity?

Presidential debates are supposed to cover the issues that will most affect voters.

In this respect, every Presidential debate so far has failed, because none have discussed America’s single greatest opportunity, an opportunity that can help solve 8 of our toughest challenges and “make America great again.” This is America’s energy opportunity.

America has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to combine American innovation, American resources, and American freedom to create American energy abundance and become the world’s energy superpower, overtaking Russia and the Middle East.

The question is: Will we seize this opportunity or will we squander it?

You’ve heard the expression “there’s no silver bullet” for our problems but America’s energy opportunity is a silver bullet.

Energy is a uniquely consequential issue because the energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. By creating American energy abundance and becoming the world’s energy superpower we can tackle eight key challenges at once.

  1. Jump-start the American economy

    Our challenge: We have been mired in recession or near-recession for a decade—and without the energy industry it would be much, much worse.

    Our opportunity: The same industry that has kept us out of desperate trouble can bring us to new heights, by producing and selling energy around the world.

  2. Create millions of well-paying job opportunities

    Our challenge: It is difficult for many Americans to find jobs, in large part thanks to onerous restrictions on industry that have shut down many companies.

    Our opportunity: A ramp-up in the US energy industry would create millions of productive, well-paying jobs.

  3. Lower your cost of living

    Our challenge: The US cost of living has been going up for decades, and when the prices of energy goes up, transportation, heating, and electric bills place a large burden on American business.

    Our opportunity: Energy affordability can lower the cost of our direct energy bills, saving thousands of dollars a year—and, because energy is part of every industry, it can lower the cost of everything we buy and do.

  4. Increase our industrial competitiveness

    Our challenge: Due largely to onerous government policies, American manufacturing has declined for decades, leaving far worse employment opportunities for those trained for industrial jobs.

    Our opportunity: Energy affordability dramatically lowers one of the largest manufacturing costs, and combined with liberating industry from irrational costs, it can make America a manufacturing hub.

  5. Shrink the deficit

    Our challenge: America has a massive, ever-growing deficit and debt, caused by a combination of reckless spending and a sluggish economy.

    Our opportunity: Doubling American energy production is our easiest path to economic growth and increased tax revenues without tax increases; coupled with a commitment to cutting spending we can finally be on a path to solvency.

  6. Increase national security

    Our challenge: Nations around the world threaten us, and one major difficulty we have in dealing with them is their enormous influence in world energy markets, particularly oil and gas.

    Our opportunity: America’s energy leadership will give America and her allies energy security from Russia and the Middle East, protecting both economic stability and foreign policy leverage.

  7. Fight global poverty

    Our challenge: Much of the world is still massively impoverished.

    Our opportunity: Energy abundance will make it more affordable for countries to industrialize and in particular to alleviate one of the most crucial aspects of poverty: energy poverty.

  8. Improve environmental quality worldwide

    Our challenge: Environmental concerns are always crucial—we want to be as productive as we can be but also have a clean, healthy environment, which many say is impossible with fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro.

    Our opportunity: Contrary to popular belief, the freedom to develop these sources won’t make our environment dirtier and our climate more dangerous, they will make our environment cleaner and our climate safer—because energy abundance dramatically improves environmental quality and climate safety.

Our politicians should be seizing all 8 of these opportunities. Instead, they are squandering them.

We can only create American energy abundance if we are free to choose, produce, transport the most abundant, affordable, reliable forms of energy—including hydrocarbons, nuclear, and hydro power.

Unfortunately, the Washington establishment has attacked every single one of these sources of energy abundance.

Instead of protecting the freedom to choose the best forms of energy, they are anti-choice and pro-subsidy.

Instead of protecting the freedom to produce the best forms of energy, they are anti-drilling and anti-mining.

Instead of protecting the freedom to transport energy where it is needed, they are anti-pipeline and anti-export terminals for coal, oil, and gas.

Instead of protecting the freedom to innovate in energy, they are anti-innovation in the most promising types of energy technologies, such as nuclear and fracking.

Washington could be making us into an energy superpower. Instead it is making us into an energy pawn.

How can we change course? We need to give our politicians an ultimatum: seize America’s energy opportunity—or lose our vote. That’s why I created a simple website, America’s Energy Opportunity, with an ultimatum you can sign and send to your elected officials.

If we do this together—by the hundreds, by the thousands, and ultimately by the millions—then our politicians and candidates will no longer be able to ignore America’s energy opportunity. And they just might seize it. Let’s demand that they do.

Disclosure: America’s Energy Opportunity has no affiliation with or funding from any party, industry, campaign, PAC, or other special interest. Its (very small) budget is entirely financed by my organization, the Center for Industrial Progress.

As always, if you’d like to suggest a new guest for Power Hour, or have me appear on your show, you can send me an email at support@industrialprogress.net, or just reply to this one.

RELATED ARTICLE: “The Economic Effects of Immediately Opening Federal Lands to Oil, Gas, and Coal Leasing,”

King Canute vs. the Climate Planners by Jeffrey A. Tucker

“With a small hammer you can achieve great things.”

Oh really?

This claim comes from French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as he banged his gavel at the close of the Paris climate summit. To the cheers of bureaucrats and cronies the world over, Fabius announced the deal that the press has been crowing about for days, the one in which “humanity” has united to stop increases in global temperature through the transfer of trillions of dollars from the rich to the poor, combined with the eventual (coercive) elimination of fossil fuels.

And thus did he bang his gavel. To his way of thinking, and that of the thousands gathered, that’s all you have to do to control the global climate, cause the world to stop relying on fossil fuels, and dramatically change the structure of all global industry, and do so with absolute conviction that benefits will outweigh the costs.

One bang of a gavel to dismantle industrial civilization by force, replace it with a vague and imagined new way of doing things, and have taxpayers pay for it.

Markets Yawn

Interestingly, the news on the Paris agreement had no notable impact on global markets at all. No prices rose or fell, no stocks soared or collapsed, and no futures responded with confidence that governments would win this one. The climate deal didn’t even make the business pages.

Investors and speculators are perhaps acculturated to ignoring such grand pronouncements. “The Paris climate conference delivered more of the same — lots of promises and lots of issues still left unresolved,” the US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. And maybe that’s the right way to think, given that the world is ever less controlled by pieces of paper issued by government.

Still, breathless journalists wrote about the “historic agreement” and government officials paraded around as planet savers. Meanwhile, the oil price continues to fall even as demand rises, and the Energy Information Administration announced the discovery of more reserves than anyone believed possible. As for alternatives to fossil fuels, they are coming about through private sector innovation, not through government programs, and successful only when adopted voluntarily by consumers.

It’s a heck of a time to announce a new global central plan affecting the way 7 billion people use energy for the next century. Anyone schooled in the liberal tradition, or even slightly familiar with Hayek’s warning against the pretensions of the “scientific” government elites, shakes his or her head in knowing despair.

The entire scene looks like the apotheosis of the planning mentally — complete with five-year plans to monitor how well governments are doing in controlling the climate for the whole world and do so in a way that affects temperature 10-100 years from now.

King Canute?

The scene prompted many commentators to compare these people celebrating in Paris to King Canute, who ruled Denmark, England, and Norway a millennium ago. According to popular legend, as a way of demonstrating his awesome power, he rolled his throne up to the sea and commanded it to stop rising.

It didn’t work. Still, the image appears in many works of art. Even Lego offers a King Canute scene from its historical set.

Historians have challenged the point of the story. The only account with have of this incident, if it occurred at all, is from Henry of Huntingdon. He reports that after the sea rose despite his command, the King declared: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”

He did and said this, say modern experts, to demonstrate to his courtiers and flatterers that he is not as wonderful and powerful as they were proclaiming him to be. Instead of subservience to his own person, he was urging all citizens to save their adoration for God.

His point was that power — even the absolute power of kings — has limits. During his rule, King Canute was enormously popular and evidently benefitted from the common tendency of people to credit authority for the achievements of the spontaneous evolution of the social order itself. His sea trick, if it happened at all, was designed to show people that he is not the man they thought he was.

The Pretensions of the Planners

Lacking a Canute to give us a wake-up call, we might revisit the extraordinary speech F.A. Hayek gave when he received his Nobel Prize. He was speaking before scientists of the world, having been awarded one of the most prestigious awards on the planet.

Rather than flattering the scientific establishment, particularly as it existed in economics, he went to the heart of what he considered the greatest intellectual danger that was arising at the time. He blew apart the planning mindset, the presumption that humankind can do anything if only the right people are given enough power and resources.

If the planning elite possessed omniscience of all facts, flawless understanding of cause and effect, perfect foresight to know all relevant changes that could affect the future, and the ability to control all variables, perhaps their pretensions would be justified.

But this is not the case. Hayek called the assumption the harshest possible word: “charlatanism.”

In the climate case, consider that we can’t know with certainty whether, to what extent, and how climate change (especially not 50-100 years from now) will affect life on earth. We don’t know the precise causal factors and their weight relative to the noise in our models, much less the kinds of coercive solutions to apply and whether they have been applied correctly and with what outcomes, much less the costs and benefits of attempting such a far-flung policy.

We can’t know any of that before or after such possible solutions have been applied. Science requires a process and unrelenting trial and error, learning and experimentation, the humility to admit error and the driving passion to discover truth.

In other words, science requires freedom, not central planning. The idea that any panel of global experts, working with appointed diplomats and bureaucrats, can have the requisite knowledge to make such grand and final decisions for the globe is outlandish and contrary to pretty much everything we know.

Throw the reality of politics into the mix and matters get worse. Fear over climate change (the ultimate market failure “problem”) is the last best hope for those who long to control the world by force. The entire nightmare scenario of rising tides and flooded cities — one that posits that our high standard of living is causing the world to heat up and burn — is just the latest excuse. That fact remains whether or not everything they claim is all true or all nonsense.

Pretensions Everywhere

Hayek explains further: “To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”

Why? Because planning overrides the spontaneous discovery process that is an inherent part of the market structures.

We are only beginning to understand on how subtle a communication system the functioning of an advanced industrial society is based — a communications system which we call the market and which turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed information than any that man has deliberately designed.

He went further. The planning fallacy doesn’t just affect economics. It is a tendency we see in all intellectual realms, including climatology and its use by governments to justify the desire to manage the world from on high.

Hayek’s conclusion is so epic that it deserves to be quoted in full.

If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible.

He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants.

There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, “dizzy with success”, to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will.

The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society — a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.

Or we could just quote King Canute after the tides failed to respect his edict: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name.”

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

How to Win Hearts and Minds: From Energy Supporter to Energy Advocate

In the 2016 election I want to make energy abundance a winning issue—which means that more candidates run on and win on a platform of energy abundance, in contrast to the energy poverty policies many of today’s candidates advocate.

Chances are that if you are on this list, you do, too. But what can you do?

In the next several months out I’ll be rolling out a national energy campaign to impact the 2016 election. But in the meantime, and to prepare for that, there’s a lot you can do to make yourself, your loved ones, or your company incredibly effective at winning hearts and minds on energy.

To understand how, it’s important to understand the 3 key transformations that energy influencers can go through:

  1. From supporter to advocate
  2. From advocate to champion
  3. From champion to thought-leader

Today I’ll discuss the transformation from supporter to advocate.

From Supporter to Advocate

Energy Supporter: An individual who is generally in favor of the most important sources of energy abundance, including fossil fuels, but lacks the motivation and/or capability to persuade others in favor of energy abundance.

Energy Advocate: An individual with the clarity, confidence, and motivation to persuade others in favor of energy abundance.

To become an advocate, an energy supporter requires a) dramatically increased clarity and b) effective tactics to communicate with different audiences.

Clarity is the most important. If you are clear enough about a moral issue you will inevitably become an advocate if not a champion.

Thus, our number one recommendation is to read and/or assign The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, which clearly and systematically lays out the moral case for energy abundance in general and fossil fuel energy in particular. In addition, we produce a large amount of online content delivered via social media, email, and websites to enhance clarity on the most current controversies. (See our Facebook, Twitter, and website.)

As a supporter pursues dramatically enhanced clarity, it is important that they simultaneously learn the art of communication—particularly one-on-one communication.

For various reasons there are very, very few individuals who are effective at changing people’s minds on energy one-on-one, so I am currently developing a course called “How to talk to anyone about energy,” available in the next month. If that interests you, let me know, and I’ll prioritize it even more.

In the meantime, we have several online lectures and papers about how to reframe the debate, including “The Key to Winning Hearts and Minds” and “Arguing to 0 vs. Arguing to 100.”

For examples of what’s possible, see the Hearts and Minds section of this newsletter.

If you are a company trying to turn supporters into advocates, and I believe every company should, it is important to motivate employees to learn about the case for their industry—and how to make it. One way to do this is to hold a speech in front of a large group of employees, ideally broadcast to the entire company. Depending on what makes sense for a company, we offer several free video speeches to show, remote speeches and Q&A, or in-person speeches. This gets everyone motivated and gives a common frame of reference. Combined with employee copies of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels which, in bulk, can include a custom page with a message from your company, you are certain to empower a large percentage of your employees to go from supporters to advocates. If you haven’t read it, make sure to check out the story of how Pioneer Resources did just this.

In our next newsletter, I’ll discuss the transformation from energy advocate to energy champion—an individual with a high level of clarity, confidence, and motivation who reaches dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of others.

Power Hour: Steve Hayward on All Things Energy

On the latest episode of Power Hour, “polymath” Steve Hayward and I have a free-flowing discussing of the global energy landscape, from Russian gas to US solar.

Download Episode 118 with Steven Hayward

Subscribe to Power Hour on iTunes

As always, if you’d like to suggest a new guest for Power Hour, or have me appear on your show, you can send me an email at support@industrialprogress.net, or just reply to this one.

Asia Will Build 500 Coal-Fired Power Plants This Year No Matter What the U.S. Does

Two stories about coal use in Asia highlight the futility of EPA’s efforts to reduce global carbon emissions by straightjacketing the U.S. economy with draconian carbon regulations.

First, there’s The New York Times story that China has been using more coal than anyone thought:

China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming.

Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.

The new data, which appeared recently in an energy statistics yearbook published without fanfare by China’s statistical agency, show that coal consumption has been underestimated since 2000, and particularly in recent years. The revisions were based on a census of the economy in 2013 that exposed gaps in data collection, especially from small companies and factories.

Illustrating the scale of the revision, the new figures add about 600 million tons to China’s coal consumption in 2012 — an amount equivalent to more than 70 percent of the total coal used annually by the United States.

To borrow from the management mantra, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

China has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions from a peak level “around” 2030–assuming anyone knows how much is being produced by then.  However, this pledge isn’t anything exceptional. It’s “little more than business as usual,” writes the Institute for 21st Century Energy’s Stephen Eule. “In other words, the Chinese have committed to doing what they are doing already.”

The second story is that Asia’s appetite coal for it isn’t letting up [h/t GWPF]:

While much attention has been given to a potential peak in China’s coal demand and worries about emissions, in Asia alone this year power companies are building more than 500 coal-fired plants, with at least a thousand more on planning boards. Coal is not only cheaper than natural gas, it is often available locally and has no heavy import costs.

“Electricity is increasing its share in total energy consumption and coal is increasing its share in power generation,” said Laszlo Varro, head of the gas, coal and power markets division for the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Some of the biggest growth in coal use is in India, where it meets 45 percent of total energy demand, compared with just over 20 percent each for petroleum products and biomass/waste.

“We’re absolutely sure India’s coal demand will continue to grow,” Varro said.

Coal will continue to be used in developing countries because it’s a cheap source of electricity. To think U.S. negotiators at upcoming climate talks in Paris will be able to convince China and India to abstain from using cheap energy to better the lives of their citizens is living in a fantasy world.

These facts won’t stop the Obama administration from touting EPA’s Clean Power Plan as the United States’ key contribution to the Paris talks. For them it’s full speed ahead to push aside cheap and abundant coal as a source of electricity no matter the costs to our economy.

As Eule writes:

What’s more of a mystery is why the administration is content to throw away the United States’ energy edge in favor of an agreement that will put us at a competitive disadvantage for no discernible environmental impact. In fact, when other nations choose not to impose carbon restrictions as stringent as those in the U.S., we will be likely to see “carbon leakage,” where emissions are not reduced at all, and instead simply moved (along with the jobs that come with them) to our global competitors.

RELATED ARTICLES:

New York Attorney General Tries to Criminalize Scientific Dissent on Climate Change

Spooking Small Businesses: Scary Regulations Lurking in Washington by J.D. HARRISON

The Wide Canyon Between Carbon Regulations and the Real World by  SEAN HACKBARTH

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a coal-fired electric power plan in Datong, China. Photo credit: Stefen Chow/Bloomberg,

Poll: 78% of Colorado voters favor increased U.S. oil and natural gas development

DENVER, Colorado /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For the 2016 election, 68 percent of registered Colorado voters say they are more likely to support a candidate who supports producing more oil and natural gas, according to a new telephone poll conducted for the Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) by Harris Poll among 604 registered Colorado voters.

“This poll shows that energy is a top issue for voters next year because it plays a key role in job creation and economic growth,” said Tracee Bentley, executive director of the CPC. “Colorado voters understand the opportunities that pro-development policies create and the need for an all-of-the-above energy policy that helps produce more domestic energy and lower energy costs for American consumers.”

Seventy-eight percent of registered Colorado voters support increased production of oil and natural gas resources located here in the U.S., and the poll also found that:

  • Majorities of Republicans (95 percent), Independents (84 percent) and Democrats (69 percent) say that producing more oil and natural gas here in the U.S. is important to them.
  • Majorities of registered voters believe increased access could help:
    • create jobs (85 percent),
    • strengthen energy security (83 percent), and
    • lower consumer energy costs (79 percent).

“Candidates in tomorrow’s debate should take this opportunity to discuss the smart energy policies that concern Coloradans, growing our nation’s still shaky economy, creating well-paying jobs and maintaining our nation’s global energy leadership,” said Bentley. “That includes expanding access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, ending the ban on crude oil exports, repealing the RFS, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and reining in duplicative and unnecessary regulations.”

The CPC is a division of API, which represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

Methodology

The study was conducted October 15-18, 2015, by telephone by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute among 604 registered voters in Colorado, with a sampling error of +/- 4 percent. A full methodology is available upon request.

“What America is Thinking on Energy Issues” is a public opinion series provided by API, offering data to inform policy discussions and ensure policymakers and others know Americans’ perspectives on key energy issues.

RELATED ARTICLE: Obama’s carbon reduction plan under attack from 24 states and Republicans

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of a Colorado oil drilling rig is via Facebook.

Four Fallacies that Fracktivists Use to Scare You

To make intelligent decisions about the future of energy, we need to think big-picture—to look carefully at the benefits and costs to human life of every course of action. Unfortunately, in today’s energy debate we are taught, with politically incorrect forms of energy such as fossil fuels, to only look at the negative picture—often highly exaggerated or taken out of context.

How do we identify and counter this cultural bias against fossil fuels? That’s the topic of my latest Forbes column:

There are at least four common fallacies used to discourage big-picture thinking and breed opposition to fossil fuels. These are things to be on the lookout for when you follow the cultural debate; they are everywhere, and all four are used to attack what might be the most important technology of our generation: shale energy aka “fracking.”

The largest fossil fuel controversy today, besides the broader climate change issue, is fracking—shorthand for hydraulic fracturing—one of several key technologies for getting oil and gas out of dense shale rock, resources that exist in enormous quantities but had previously been inaccessible at low cost.

Fracking has gotten attention, not primarily because of the productivity revolution it has created, but because of concerns about groundwater contamination. The leading source of this view is celebrity filmmaker Josh Fox’s Gasland (so-called) documentaries on HBO. Looking at how these movies have affected public opinion is an instructive exercise.

Florida must become energy independent by 2020

What will promote human life? What will promote human flourishing — realizing the full potential of life? How do we maximize the years in our life and the life in our years? Answer: cheap and reliable power.

Organic Fossil Fuels are the Lifeblood of Civilization!

Florida’s Governor, Congressional delegation and state legislature must make it their number 1 priority to make the Sunshine State Energy Independent by 2020 or sooner!

Florida:

  1. Imports all of its natural gas and 99.9 % of its oil.
  2. Imports all of its refined petroleum based products (e.g. gasoline).
  3. Is the second largest user of natural gas, Texas being the largest.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

  1. Geologists believe there may be large oil and natural gas deposits in the federal Outer Continental Shelf off of Florida’s western coast.
  2. Florida was second only to Texas in 2014 in net electricity generation from natural gas, which accounted for 61% of Florida’s net generation; coal accounted for almost 23%, the state’s nuclear power plants accounted for 12%, and other resources, including renewable energy, supplied the remaining electricity generation.
  3. Renewable energy accounted for 2.3% of Florida’s total net electricity generation in 2014, and the state ranked 10th in the nation in net generation from utility-scale solar energy.
  4. In part because of high air conditioning use during the hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity for home heating during the winter months, Florida’s retail electricity sales to the residential sector were second in the nation after Texas in 2014.
  5. Electricity accounts for 90% of the site energy consumed by Florida households, and the annual electricity expenditures of $1,900 are 40% higher than the U.S. average, according to EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Even as human populations have grown dramatically and increased their use of fossil fuels, the world has become a much better place.

As CO2 emissions have risen so too have the GDP per person, life expectancy and the population.

Florida politicians are addicted to the precautionary principle (“better safe than sorry”). It is a maxim embraced by government planners and regulators in the Sunshine state at every level. They do not even want to determine what organic fossil fuels lay off of Florida’s coastlines. The precautionary principle worked to stop the building of nuclear power plants in the United States after the 3 Mile Island incident. Today the same tactic is being used to stop off shore drilling using the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Off shore drilling naysayers use the example of the Deepwater Horizon spill to strike fear into the hearts of Floridians. But as FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  An example of using the fear factor (precautionary principle) is what happened in Japan following the meltdown of a nuclear power plan in Fukushima. The facts are that no one has died from radiation, nor has cancer increased however, 1,600 did die of stress due to the unnecessary evacuation of people from the area.

Fear kills.

What off shore naysayers, fear mongers, don’t tell you is that mother nature is the greatest polluter in the Gulf of Mexico. According to NOAA over 2,500 barrels of oil naturally seeps daily from fissures in the Gulf. This seeping has been going on for tens of thousands of years, yet the Gulf is doing just fine. Would it not be better to capture this oil, and natural gas, than have it continue to seep into the Gulf?

Some argue that even if natural gas is discovered in Florida’s waters that building an on shore natural gas processing plant is not economically feasible or politically doable. There is an answer to this negative with a positive via new technology. Israel is faced with the same concerns about onshore natural gas processing plants. To solve the problem Nobel Energy and Shell Oil have come up with a solution. Process the natural gas using floating plants. According to Robert Sullivan of the New York Times:

It’s called Prelude, and it’s bigger than big. More than 530 yards long and 80 yards wide, it was constructed with 260,000 metric tons of steel, more than was used in the entire original World Trade Center complex, and it’s expected to displace 600,000 metric tons of water, or as much as six aircraft carriers. Even the paint job is huge: Most big vessels dry-dock every five years for a new coat, but Prelude’s paint is supposed to last 25 years. It will produce more natural gas than Hong Kong needs in a year. And it’s so big that you can’t really photograph it, at least not all at once.

[ … ]

What makes this giant liquefied-natural-gas enterprise feasible, paradoxically enough, is the miniaturization its construction represents. It’s much smaller than landlocked equivalents — imagine shrinking your local refinery until it fits on a barge. Shell Oil, which has the biggest stake in the project, describes Prelude as more environmentally friendly than an onshore site. There are no estuaries under threat, no shorelines to run pipe across and reduced risks to population centers, given the explosiveness of natural gas. And it is designed to ride out extreme weather, thanks to three giant 6,700-horsepower thrusters that can turn it into the wind and waves. “These are the things that the naval architects had to worry through,” says Robert Bea, co-founder of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, at the University of California, Berkeley. “It works like a big-ass weather vane.”

Read more.

Environmentalists use the fear factor when talking about drilling for natural gas and oil off of Florida’s shores. The same is true for some of Florida’s Congressional delegation, such as Rep. Vern Buchanan. Fear is not good public policy.

What is good public policy is insuring that Floridians have access to cheap and reliable power in the foreseeable future. Now it the time to take action. Waiting is not an option.

If Governor Rick Scott and Republicans are committed to creating jobs, then they must diversify the economy by promoting energy independence. Energy independence will lead to reduced costs for electricity, gasoline and diversify the economy. That is good public policy.

RELATED ARTICLE: Miami-Dade County school district accepts BP oil spill settlement, sets maximum tax rate