Archive for April, 2011

What’s Wind Got to Do With It?

April 13, 2011

By Paul Chesser on 4.13.11 in American Spectator

Last week our organization, American Tradition Institute, sued the State of Colorado in federal court because we assert that its Renewable Energy Standard law violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The mandate requires that major utilities in the state (mainly Xcel Energy, which favors the law) to obtain 30 percent of their power generation from “renewable” sources, such as wind or solar, by the year 2020. It shouldn’t be difficult for anyone who is slightly familiar with the Commerce Clause to understand why a state law that restricts the sale of a product (electricity), which is delivered on a grid that crosses state lines, would violate that clause. We seek 12 claims for relief under the Commerce Clause, which you can read in our complaint. Many of them have to do with forcing Xcel to purchase power from “renewable” sources — with favoritism for those in state — which discriminates against electricity generators from out of state. This impermissibly burdens interstate commerce.

What has confused some people, including myself a little bit, is our Law Center director David Schnare’s explanation that we are “putting wind energy on trial.” What does that have to do with the Commerce Clause?

Well, there’s a history. A 1970 Supreme Court decision in Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc. established a “balancing test,” which said if the effects on interstate commerce are only “incidental” compared to the local benefits a statute establishes, then it will be upheld. But if the burden on interstate commerce “is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits,” then it is unconstitutional.

Hence the problem for Colorado: Wind energy, which the American Wind Energy Association says now provides 5.8 percent of the state’s electricity (and 72 percent of all Colorado’s renewable energy), offers no local benefit compared to other generation sources. In fact, because wind energy produces dirtier, less dependable and more expensive electricity than the alternatives, it is a detriment.

Most people use electricity without regard for how their utility generates it. They just want it on. But for manufacturers and businesses that depend on timely production and delivery schedules, the losses due to even the slightest interruptions in power supply are in the millions of dollars.

Because the expectation is for electricity to be uninterrupted, the only other aspect where its “quality” can be graded is in its generation. For a long time environmentalists have told us that “renewable” sources like wind and solar deliver superior power because it is cleaner in its generation. That has not proven true.

Studies of Colorado and Texas by BENTEK Energy, LLC, in addition to a study of the Netherlands, found the coercion of utilities to accept wind power means they must suddenly turn on coal and natural gas generators when wind stops blowing — and then off when it does — and then on again, etc. These fossil fuel combustion generators create more pollutants (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and those dreaded greenhouse gases) when they are operated in this fashion than they would if they ran continually. Also, wind’s intermittency puts the electrical grid at greater risk of blackouts and brownouts.

As Kent Hawkins of MasterResource.com noted, “There are not only more emissions with [Renewable Energy Standards] than without them, but also there is duplicate capacity installed (wind) at significantly higher costs, which adds notably to the costs of electricity.”

So you see that under the Pike balancing test, no “local benefit” can be cited in order to overturn a determination that Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause.

And that is what putting wind on trial has to do with it.

67-MPG Ford Focus ECOnetic Debuts

April 13, 2011

Just the Facts:

The 67-mpg Ford Focus ECOnetic debuted on Wednesday, with a European introduction date set for early 2012, but the Dearborn automaker told Inside Line there are no plans to sell this fuel-squeezing diesel version of the Focus here.

The ECOnetic gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter Ford Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel engine that delivers 103 horsepower.

An aerodynamic package includes an Active Grille Shutter, ultra-low-rolling-resistance tires and a revised final drive ratio.

BRENTWOOD, England — The 67-mpg Ford Focus ECOnetic debuted here on Wednesday, with a European introduction date set for early 2012, but the Dearborn automaker told Inside Line there are no plans to sell this fuel-squeezing diesel version of the Focus here.

“No, it isn’t coming,” wrote Said Deep, a Ford spokesman, in response to a e-mailed query from Inside Line.

The European Focus ECOnetic was introduced on a day when the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. hit $3.70. Gas prices have already topped $4 a gallon in California, Alaska and Hawaii, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. With the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and the increased demand for fuel due to the economic recovery, many analysts are predicting that gas prices will hit a national average of $4 per gallon in short order.

The Focus ECOnetic features a turbocharged 1.6-liter Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel engine that delivers 103 horsepower. The engine is linked to a six-speed manual transmission. The 1.6 TDCi is rated on the European driving cycle at the U.S. equivalent of 67 mpg.

An aerodynamic package includes an Active Grille Shutter, ultra-low-rolling-resistance tires and a revised final drive ratio. Ford said in a statement that the Active Grille Shutter is a new system that optimizes aerodynamics by “using vents to control air flow through the grille to the cooling system and engine compartment.” If air is required to cool the engine, the vents are opened; but if no air flow is needed, the vents are shut, reducing aerodynamic drag.

The Focus ECOnetic will be available in five-door and wagon variants.

Inside Line says: With $4-a-gallon gas looming across the country, why wouldn’t this be a good option for U.S. buyers? — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

Editorial: Cap and Evade

April 11, 2011

Wall Street Journal

Why do Americans hate politics? Consider last week’s Senate spectacle on whether to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide. Democrats deliberately turned the votes into a hall of mirrors, with multiple amendments to dodge accountability.

The maneuvering began after Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an amendment that would have barred the EPA from regulating carbon. Congress has never given the EPA that power, and a Democratic Senate expressly rejected cap and tax last year. But Administrator Lisa Jackson’s EPA has claimed that power anyway under the 1970 Clean Air Act and later amendments, even though Michigan Democrat John Dingell says that he and other co-authors never intended to include CO2 as a regulated pollutant.

The McConnell amendment scares the incumbency out of Senate Democrats, especially after what happened in last year’s election to House Democrats who voted for cap-and-tax regulation. Last week the House voted 255-172 for a bill similar to Mr. McConnell’s, and the ayes included 19 Democrats. So what’s a nervous liberal to do?

Jumble the categories to confuse the voters. In classic Senate fashion, this means supporting phony alternatives as political cover, then turning around and voting to kill the McConnell amendment.

Democrats weren’t taking any chances and offered no fewer than three alternatives. West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller got 12 votes for his proposal to delay the EPA’s carbon rule for two years. Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow’s bill to exempt agriculture from the rule received seven votes, and Montana’s Max Baucus got all of seven votes for his bill that would codify the current EPA rule while also exempting agriculture.

Everyone knew all three would fail overwhelmingly because the GOP leadership and most liberal Democrats opposed them. But the amendments served their political purpose in allowing 13 Democrats to vote for one or another. The Senators will now claim that they, too, voted to rein in the EPA, even as they also whisper to the Sierra Club and other green lobbies that they voted to kill Mr. McConnell’s amendment. As Democrats expected, the media ignored all this and merely reported that the effort to limit the EPA had failed. Notice, too, how the green lobbies are keeping quiet lest any crowing embarrass the 13 Democrats.

The McConnell proposal received 50 votes, so it would have reached the 60-vote threshold for passage if those 13 Democrats had voted for it. The nearby table lists the names of those 13 Democrats, along with Maine Republican Susan Collins, who also voted for Mr. Rockefeller’s two-year delay but against her own leader’s more consequential ban.

It’s no coincidence that five of those Democrats are up for re-election in 2012, with Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, Michigan’s Ms. Stabenow and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar running in states that rely heavily on fossil fuels and would be especially hurt by the EPA rule.

All 13 tacitly acknowledged that the EPA rule will do economic damage because they voted to limit its breadth or delay it for two years. But then they helped to kill the one bill that had the most support and would have done the most to prevent that economic damage.

We have far more respect for Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat who is running for re-election in 2012 and voted against all four bills to limit the EPA. Those votes may hurt him next year, but at least he didn’t join the cynics. As for the rest, they are today’s reason to hate politics.

An Oil Market Of Our Very Own

April 11, 2011

IBD Editorial

Energy Policy: Gasoline prices are punitively high, and many blame the administration. But prices could be lower and approval ratings higher if the president got behind an important pipeline project.

The Keystone XL pipeline, proposed six years ago, is a 36-inch feed linking Alberta’s oil sands fields to the refineries of Texas’ Gulf Coast. It would carry not only Canadian crude, also but oil from the energy-rich U.S. states.

If allowed to proceed, it would eventually transport more than a million barrels of crude each day — more, according to Heritage Foundation analyst David Kreutzer, than we now import from either Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, our two largest suppliers after Canada and Mexico.

“Along with the pipeline and petroleum,” says Kreutzer, “would come increased energy security and a boost to the U.S. economy.”

Given the benefits, who could oppose such a project? Washington Democrats. They reflexively oppose any proposal that increases energy availability. The green energy solutions they promote aren’t designed to expand energy; they are meant to restrain capitalism.

So when a Democrat — in this case, the Democrat in chief — indicates that maybe some reasonable thinking is outweighing nonsensical green ideology, there’s reason for tempered optimism.

We don’t want to overstate the possibility. But when President Obama pointed out last week that Canada, unlike more volatile suppliers, is a “steady and stable and reliable” source of crude, it suggested he could be more open to the pipeline than those who have accused him of delaying the project think. His support is key; the trans-border pipeline needs State Department approval.

Environmentalists, of course, oppose the project. They imagine spills because they believe the pipe’s steel won’t be strong enough to hold the load. They are not moved by fact it will be made of advanced materials and transport the crude at low pressure.

The environmental lobby will cite, as well, the higher level of emissions associated with oil sands production. But as we’ve noted many times, there’s nothing to fear about CO2. It is a naturally occurring substance necessary for life. It has a weak greenhouse effect and makes up only a small sliver of our atmosphere.

Expect environmentalists to also argue there’s not enough oil in the ground to justify such a project. They’d be wrong. The Green River formation in the Western U.S. alone might hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

We like to think the Keystone XL Pipeline, part of which is already built, could be the start of a North American oil market that would operate independently of a world market viciously skewed due to governments owning and controlling at least 80% the world’s crude.

Such a market would not be subject to the depredation of OPEC and other states that use oil as a weapon against the U.S. Without their interference, prices would the set by supply and demand — and probably be lower.

Obama should let Keystone be the cornerstone of such a market by ordering his State Department to approve the project. That in itself could have an impact at the pump. The market response to a future with more oil is lower prices. Relief is just an executive decision away.

Dog lovers and baby killers

April 7, 2011

If only the world cared as much about African children and families, as they do about dogs.

By Cyril Boynes, Jr.

A couple months ago, when its dog-sledding business lost customers, a Canadian company had a hundred of its dogs killed. The incident “shocked” and “angered” people. The employee who shot the dogs said he suffered “post traumatic stress” from killing them and wants compensation.

Animal activists used the incident in campaigns against dog sled rides. “I don’t think society is willing to accept that animals should be killed just because they are surplus or don’t suit the purpose they were born for,” said one. “The magnitude of this atrocity is so shocking – our heads are reeling,” another said.

Huskies are beautiful, gentle animals, and I’m really sad that this happened. But the world needs to put this in perspective. Humans eat animals. Our cars kill them along highways. Wind turbines kill eagles and other birds. More important, what about people?

My wife Fiona Kobusingye lost her son, two sisters and four cousins to malaria. Her nephew is permanently brain-damaged because of it. Almost everyone I know has lost at least one child or sibling to this killer disease. Despite millions of bednets, malaria still kills more African children than any other disease.

I cannot help thinking it would really be nice if, just once in awhile, animal lovers, environmentalists, journalists and other people would care half as much about African babies, children and families, as about dogs.

A hundred dogs are killed, and activists and newspapers make it a huge story.

Last year, almost one hundred thousand Ugandan children and adults were killed by malaria. And yet, nobody seemed to care – certainly not enough to write a story about it, or get outraged that callous anti-pesticide activists lie about DDT risks and prevent the use of DDT and other insecticides that could prevent malaria, yellow fever and other diseases that cause so much suffering, poverty and death on our continent.

It’s as if anti-pesticide greens believe we Africans are “surplus” people on an “over-populated” planet and don’t “suit the purposes” they think people should be born for. It’s as if our misery and deaths don’t mean anything. This is the real atrocity, and our African heads are reeling.

Yes, government agencies, private foundations, school children and other kind people from rich, malaria-free countries do send bednets, so at least some babies and pregnant women can sleep under one. But nets get torn, people don’t always use them or hang them properly, and they only reduce malaria by 20 or 30 percent. That’s why we need additional weapons – like DDT and other insecticides.

DDT keeps most mosquitoes from even going into homes. It irritates any that do come in, so they are less likely to bite. It kills any that land on walls after a blood meal, so they can’t transmit malaria to other victims. DDT is cheap and long lasting: one spray is good for six months or more. No other chemical in existence does all this, at any price.

To break the transmission cycle and stop malaria, we need to reduce mosquito populations, keep them away from people, and treat infected people quickly. Nets are essential. So are better houses and hospitals (with screens on doors and windows), greater efforts to remove mosquito resting areas near homes, and access to the best possible drugs.

But we also need chemicals to kill mosquito larvae, insecticides to kill adults, and DDT as a long-lasting spatial repellant to keep mosquitoes out of our homes. We need every one of these weapons, not just the ones chemical-hating ideologues approve of, or we will forever be burying our children.

We are constantly told the DDT we spray on walls to keep mosquitoes out of our houses, and the insecticides we use to kill these insects, are dangerous, have undesirable side effects and shouldn’t be used. But as Dr. Rutledge Taylor explains in his new film, “3 Billion and Counting,” years of research actually prove that DDT is safe for people and the environment. See http://www.3billionandcounting.com/ and read The Excellent Powder, by Donald Roberts and Richard Tren.)

As Dr. Taylor points out, no one has ever died or been seriously hurt from DDT. Its worst effects are skin rashes and speculative (but unproven) connections to early lactation failure in nursing mothers and various other minor problems. Both Dr. Gordon Edwards and Dr. Taylor have actually eaten large amounts of DDT – and not been harmed.

We all know what malaria does. Besides lactation failure and low birth weights in babies, malaria makes people horribly sick and unable to work, leaves millions permanently brain-damaged, and kills millions more in the most awful, painful ways imaginable. Why anyone – especially Africans – would oppose using weapons that can stop this terrible carnage is impossible to imagine.

But a lot of people listen to the constant lies, told by baby-killing, pesticide-hating activists – and believe them. It’s bad enough that Greenpeace, Environmental Defense, Pesticide Action Network and the Stockholm Convention Secretariat tell these lies and want to ban DDT from malaria programs by 2020. It’s much worse that the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Environment Programme and even some bureaucrats in the World Health Organization support the ban.

But it’s unconscionable that Ugandan companies and politicians are doing it, too.

Organic food companies claim even a trace of DDT on their produce or flowers will keep them out of Europe. That is false. Their crops just cannot have DDT above certain levels – and that will not happen from DDT sprayed on walls. But what’s really absurd is that tobacco companies refuse to allow the barest detectable trace of DDT on cancer-causing tobacco that they are happy to sell to Europeans, and Europeans are happy to smoke.

It’s not just hypocrisy. For these companies, government agencies and activist groups to put their salaries, profits and ideologies ahead of the health and lives of African babies is immoral. It’s manslaughter.

Decisions about using DDT, larvacides and insecticides (along with nets and drugs) need to be made by African health ministers – not by activists, animal lovers, or environmental and agricultural interests. These groups are spending more money trying to get rid of DDT than the world is spending to control and eradicate malaria – when almost three billion people are at risk of getting this disease, and a million die from it, year after year.

We need to use DDT and other insecticides carefully – and we are doing so. However, in the end, if we don’t use them, our wonderful, brilliant, athletic, musical, hard-working children and parents will be struck down, brain-damaged and killed by malaria.

Or more accurately, they will be murdered by self-centered ideologues, businessmen, politicians, and even WHO and other medical doctors who are violating their oath to save lives.

This has to end. We need to get our priorities straight – and understand what the real risks are. We need to pray that this insane opposition to disease-preventing, life-saving chemicals will be replaced soon with a concern for babies and parents that is equal to their concern for sled dogs.

Cyril Boynes, Jr. is co-chair of the Congress of Racial Equality Uganda and a tireless advocate for health and prosperity in Africa and all other developing regions.


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