Solar power propaganda vs. the real world

March 14, 2015

By Marita Noon

When a former “senior communications official at the White House” writes a blog post for U.S. News and World Report, you should be able to trust it. But when the author states that the Keystone pipeline (should it be approved) would create only 19 weeks of temporary jobs, everything else he says must be suspect—including the claim that our “energy infrastructure will be 100% solar by 2030.”

I contacted both a union representative and one from TransCanada—the company behind the Keystone pipeline. Each affirmed that the 19-week timeframe was total fantasy. The portion of the Keystone pipeline that remains to be built is 1,179 miles long—the vast majority of that within the U.S.—with construction expected to take 2 years.

TransCanada’s spokesperson Mark Cooper responded to my query: “While some people belittle these jobs as temporary, we know that without temporary construction jobs—and the hard work of the men and women who do them—we wouldn’t have roads, highways, schools, or hospitals. We wouldn’t have the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Hoover Dam. So, I would say to these detractors: ‘It is OK if you don’t like or support Keystone XL. But let’s stop putting down the very people who have helped build America.’”

The premise of the On the Edge blog post is that we shouldn’t look at Keystone as a jobs creator. Instead, the author claims, the jobs are in “solar energy disruption.” He is frustrated that “GOP leaders almost universally ignore or disdain this emerging energy economy.”

He states: “A third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar. A new solar installation or project now occurs somewhere in the U.S.—built by a team of American workers employed in the fastest growing energy sector in the world—every 3 minutes.”

This may be true but, as you’ll see, it belies several important details. Plenty of cause exists for Republican lawmakers to “disdain” the growth in renewable energy.

If “a third of all new electric generation in 2014 came from solar,” there is reason for it—and it does not include sound economics.

First, efficient and effective base-load, coal-fueled electricity that has provided the bulk of America’s power is being prematurely shut down by regulations prompted by salemharbor2environmental lobbyists and promulgated by the Obama Administration. It is virtually impossible to get a new coal-fueled power plant permitted in the U.S. Even natural gas-powered plants, such as the one planned to replace the Salem Harbor coal-fueled plant, meet with resistance from groups such as Grassroots Against Another Salem Plant, which “has pledged to use peaceful civil disobedience to block construction of the gas plant.” And, of course, just try to build a nuclear power plant and all the fear-mongers come out.

What’s left? Renewables, such as wind and solar, receive favorable treatment through a combination of mandates and subsidies. Even industrial wind and solar have their own opposition within the environmental lobby groups because they chop up and fry birds and bats— including protected bald and golden eagles.

The brand new report, Solar Power in the U.S.(SPUS), presents a comprehensive look at the impacts of solar power on the nation’s consumers.

Clearly, without the mandates and subsidies, this “solar energy disruption” would go dark.

abengoa2We’ve seen companies, such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, and Evergreen Solar, go bankrupt even with millions of dollars in state and federal (taxpayer) assistance. I’ve written extensively on these stories and that of Abengoa—which received the largest federal loan guarantee ($2.8 billion) and has resorted to questionable business practices to keep the doors open (Abengoa is currently under investigation from several federal agencies).

SPUS shows that without the subsidies and mandates these renewable projects can’t survive. For example, in Australia, sales of solar systems “fell as soon as the incentives were cut back.” Since the Australian government announced that it was reconsidering its Renewable Energy Targets, “investments have started to dry up.”

Knowing the importance of the “incentives,” the solar industry has now become a major campaign donor, providing political pressure and money to candidates, who will bring on more mandates, subsidies, and tax credits. Those candidates are generally Democrats, as one of the key differences between the two parties is that Democrats tend to support government involvement.

By contrast, Republicans lean toward limited government and the free market. The GOP doesn’t “disdain” solar, but they know it only survives because of government mandates that require a certain percentage of renewables, and specifically solar, in the energy mix, plus the subsidies and tax credits that make it attractive. Therefore, they can’t get excited about the jobs being created as a result of taxpayers’ involuntary investment, nor higher energy costs. There is a big difference between disdaining solar power and disdaining the government involvement that gives it an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

The blog post compares the “solar energy disruption” to what “occurred when direcTV and Dish started to compete with cable television. More choices emerged and a whole lot of new jobs were created.” However, those jobs were created through private investment and the free market—a fact that, along with solar’s dependence on incentives, he never mentions. Likewise, the jobs supported by building the Keystone pipeline would be through private funding.

The blog’s author touts this claim, from the book Clean Disruption: “Should solar continue on its exponential trajectory, the energy infrastructure will be 100% solar by 2030”—15 years from now. Even if state and federal governments were to continue to pour money into solar energy—which, as is pointed out in SPUS, subsidies are already being dialed back on a variety of fronts, there is no currently available solution to solar’s intermittency.

SPUS draws upon the example of Germany, which has led the way globally in solar and other renGermanycoalewables. Over time the high renewable penetration has contributed to residential electricity prices more than doubling. Renewables received favored status, called “priority dispatch,” which means that, when renewable electricity becomes available, the utilities must dispatch it first, thereby changing the merit order for thermal plants. Now many modern natural gas-fueled plants, as well as coal, couldn’t operate profitably. As a result, many were shut down, while several plants were provided “capacity payments” by the government (a double subsidy) in order to stay online as back-up—which maintains system stability. In Germany’s push for 80% renewable energy by 2050, it has found that despite the high penetration of renewables, given their inherent intermittency, a large amount of redundancy of coal- and natural-gas-fueled electricity (nuclear being decommissioned) is necessary to maintain the reliability of the grid.

As the German experience makes clear, without a major technological breakthrough to store electricity generated through solar systems, “100% solar by 2030” is just one more fantasy.

The blog post ends with this: “The GOP congressional leadership ignores these new jobs inside an innovative, disruptive energy sector that is about to sweep across the country it leads—in favor of a vanishingly small number of mythical Keystone ‘jobs’ that may never materialize. It makes you wonder. Why?”

The answers can be found in SPUS, which addresses the policy, regulatory, and consumer protection issues that have manifested themselves through the rapid rise of solar power and deals with many more elements than covered here. It concludes: “Solar is an important part of our energy future, but there must be forethought, taking into account future costs, jobs, energy reliability, and the overall energy infrastructure already in place. This technology must come online with the needs of the taxpayer, consumer and ratepayer in mind instead of giving the solar industry priority.”

Nicotine, the Wonder Drug?

February 23, 2015

This notorious stimulant may enhance learning and help treat Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and other neurological diseases.

By Dan Hurley  Discover Wednesday, February 05,

Every drug of addiction must have its day. Morphine remains one of the most potent painkillers ever discovered. Cocaine’s chemical cousin lidocaine is still used by physicians and dentists as an effective local anesthetic. Even demon alcohol, when taken in moderation, cuts the risk of heart attacks, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and a hodgepodge of other ailments.

Now comes nicotine, perhaps the most unlikely wonder drug ever to be reviled.

If dozens of human and animal studies published over the past six years are borne out by large clinical trials, nicotine — freed at last of its noxious host, tobacco, and delivered instead by chewing gum or transdermal patch — may prove to be a weirdly, improbably effective drug for relieving or preventing a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Tourette’s and schizophrenia. It might even improve attention and focus enough to qualify as a cognitive enhancer. And, oh yeah, it’s long been associated with weight loss, with few known safety risks. (Although, in truth, few safety studies of the increasingly popular e-cigarettes have yet been published.)

Nicotine? Yes, nicotine.

In fact, the one purpose for which nicotine has proven futile is the very same one for which it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sold by pharmacies over the counter, bought by consumers and covered by many state Medicaid programs: quitting smoking. In January 2012, a six-year follow-up study of 787 adults who had recently quit smoking found that those who used nicotine replacement therapy in the form of a patch, gum, inhaler or nasal spray had the same long-term relapse rate as those who did not use the products. Heavy smokers who tried to quit without the benefit of counseling were actually twice as likely to relapse if they used a nicotine replacement product.

And therein lies the conundrum that physicians and regulators will have to wrestle with if the promising studies about nicotine’s benefits hold up: how to endorse a drug linked to one of the greatest public health scourges the world has ever known.

“I understand that smoking is bad,” says neuroscientist Maryka Quik, program director of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Program at SRI International, a nonprofit research institute based in California’s Silicon Valley. “My father died of lung cancer. I totally get it.”

Yet over the years, she has published dozens of studies revealing the beneficial actions of nicotine within the mammalian brain. “The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be found in cigarettes,” she says. “People can’t disassociate the two in their minds.”

Tweaking the Brain

The first hint of nicotine’s curious benefits came from a study published in 1966 by Harold Kahn, an epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health. Using health insurance data on 293,658 veterans who had served in the U.S. military between 1917 and 1940, Kahn found the kinds of associations between smoking and mortality that had already become well known. At any given age, cigarette smokers were 11 times as likely to have died of lung cancer as nonsmokers, and 12 times as likely to have died of emphysema. Cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, larynx — on and on. But amid the lineup of usual suspects, one oddball jumped out: Death due to Parkinson’s disease occurred at least three times as often in nonsmokers as in smokers.

dopamine-chart

The neurotransmitter dopamine sends signals related to pleasure, reward and motor function across neurons in the brain. A lack of dopamine has been linked to movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Following up, researchers expected the finding to be just a statistical aberration in Kahn’s data, but instead quickly confirmed it. Grasping at a final possible alternative to the inconvenient notion that smoking could have a healthful benefit, experts theorized that the association was due only to smokers dying young of cancer, heart disease and lung disease before the age when they might otherwise have developed Parkinson’s. (The neurodegenerative disorder affects about 1 percent of people by age 60, rising to about 4 percent by age 80.) But in 1971, epidemiologists Irving Kessler and Earl Diamond of Johns Hopkins University published a study comparing the smoking history of living Baltimore residents recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s with age-matched controls. Sure enough, they found that the Parkinson’s patients were much less likely than other residents to have ever smoked.

So what was it about tobacco that ravaged the heart, lungs, teeth and skin but somehow guarded against a disease of the brain? In 1979, UCLA neurobiologist Marie-Françoise Chesselet showed that nicotine increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for boosting attention, reward-seeking behaviors and risk of addictions, from gambling to drugs. Dopamine also helps control movement. Nicotine receptors in the striatum, the comma-shaped structure near the center of the brain where movements are planned and controlled, are located near the terminals that regulate and emit dopamine. Even a small dose of nicotine, Chesselet found, stimulates the release of dopamine in the striatum, putting the brakes on movement that otherwise would go uncontrolled.

And that effect suggests why nicotine could help treat Parkinson’s disease. Called “the shaking palsy” in an 1817 essay by the English physician James Parkinson (after whom the disease was later renamed), Parkinson’s is marked by shaking and difficulty with walking, coordination and all other movements. Although its ultimate cause remains unexplained, neuroscientists have long known that as symptoms worsen, dopamine-producing neurons in the striatum die out. Since the 1960s, the gold-standard treatment for the disease has been the drug levodopa, also known as L-dopa, a dopamine precursor that can cross the blood-brain barrier. But the drug is not perfect: L-dopa treatment eventually induces dyskinesia — quick, involuntary movements of the hands, and sometimes of the head and trunk.

Putting together the emerging lines of evidence, Quik decided to treat Parkinson’s disease in squirrel monkeys by administering nicotine. In a landmark 2007 paper, she reported that the monkeys had 50 percent fewer tremors and tics, and that nicotine had reduced dyskinesia 35 percent in those already receiving L-dopa. Studies by Quik and others involving rats, mice and nonhuman primates have since found similar effects. In short, by driving dopamine, nicotine appeared to ease the tremors and tics caused by Parkinson’s, and even the movement disorder induced by the major Parkinson’s drug.

Waiting for Human Evidence

Given the findings, one might reasonably ask how many clinical trials of ordinary over-the-counter nicotine patches or gum as either a treatment or preventative for Parkinson’s have been published in the medical literature. “In humans, none,” says neurologist James Boyd of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. That will change soon. Boyd is now running two such studies. The first, begun in 2010, is a small, randomized 12-week trial of whether a nicotine patch can reduce another problem often associated with Parkinson’s: impulsivity.

dyskinesia-chart

A 2007 study suggests that nicotine treatment could help alleviate the dyskinesia often experienced by Parkinson’s patients being treated with L-dopa (left).

Chart: Allison Mackey/Discover after Quick, et al. “Nicotine and Parkinson’s Disease: Implications for Therapy.”

Remember, Parkinson’s involves a loss of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates not only movement but also addictive behaviors. It has long been observed that people who develop Parkinson’s tend to be more low-key and risk-averse than average, as if their innate dopamine levels have always been on the low side. When they take L-dopa, however, some have been known to swing to the other side of the reward-seeking spectrum, developing gambling or sexual addictions. Boyd hopes nicotine might push such patients back to a middle ground.

He is also the principal U.S. investigator for a randomized trial that began late last year in Germany and is now being conducted here to test the value of nicotine as a therapeutic drug. The study seeks to answer whether ordinary over-the-counter nicotine gum or patches can halt the progression of Parkinson’s. To get at the answer, one component the study will look at is whether the chemical can relieve the writhing, twisting movements that eventually beset almost every Parkinson’s patient taking L-dopa.

Beyond Parkinson’s 

While researchers await the results of the Parkinson’s studies, they look beyond to nicotine treatments for other disorders as well.

“Nicotine has separate mechanisms by which it may protect brain cells, aside from its influence on dopamine,” Boyd says. “One of the functions of nicotinic receptors is to moderate the entry of calcium into cells. The presence of nicotine increases the amount of intracellular calcium, which appears to improve cellular survival.”

And nicotine may have an antioxidant effect, serving to mop up the toxic free radicals produced as a byproduct of metabolism, thus protecting the brain. The neuroprotective effects of nicotine were studied in a randomized clinical trial involving 67 subjects in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, where memory was slightly impaired but decision-making and other cognitive abilities remained intact. They received either a 15-milligram nicotine patch or placebo for six months. The results found “significant nicotine-associated improvements in attention, memory and psychomotor speed,” with excellent safety and tolerability.

Other studies suggest that nicotine may be as effective at enhancing attention as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and the wakefulness-promoting drug modafinil (Provigil). In 2008, Paul Newhouse, director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, compared performance on a series of cognitive tasks in 15 nonsmoking ADHD patients while wearing either a 7-mg nicotine patch or a placebo patch. After just 45 minutes with the nicotine patch, the young adults were significantly better at inhibiting an impulse, delaying a reward and remembering an image they had seen.

Even people without any diagnosed disorder might benefit from nicotine. Psychologist Jennifer Rusted of the University of Sussex in Britain calls the drug “the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have.” In addition to improving visual attention and working memory, nicotine has been shown by Rusted to increase prospective memory: the ability to remember and implement a prior intention. (When your mother asks you to pick up a jar of pickles at the grocery store on the way home, she’s saddling you with a prospective memory challenge.)

“It’s a small effect, maybe a 15 percent improvement,” Rusted says. “It’s not something that’s going to have a massive impact in a healthy young individual. But we think it’s doing it by allowing you to redeploy your attention more rapidly.” In short, the drug seems to work by helping users shut out irrelevant stimuli so that important information can come to the fore.

The ability to shut out stimuli could also turn nicotine into a treatment for schizophrenia, where afflicted individuals are overwhelmed by sights, sounds and thoughts that most of us would either ignore or quickly dismiss. Studies in the United States, Canada and Germany have shown that nicotine improves the ability of people with schizophrenia to focus their attention and recall recent events. In addition, the potent antipsychotic haloperidol often causes dyskinesia, which Quik’s 2007 study proved nicotine can relieve.

Not the Great Satan 

Perhaps most surprising is that, in studies by Boyd and others, nicotine has not caused addiction or withdrawal when used to treat disease. These findings fly in the face of nicotine’s reputation as one of the most addictive substances known, but it’s a reputation built on myth. Tobacco may well be as addictive as heroin, as some have claimed. But as scientists know, getting mice or other animals hooked on nicotine alone is dauntingly difficult. As a 2007 paper in the journal Neuropharmacology put it: “Tobacco use has one of the highest rates of addiction of any abused drug.” Paradoxically it’s almost impossible to get laboratory animals hooked on pure nicotine, though it has a mildly pleasant effect.

The same study found that tobacco smoke itself is necessary to amp up nicotine’s addictiveness. In 2005, for instance, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that animals self-administer a combination of nicotine and acetaldehyde, an organic chemical found in tobacco, significantly more often than either chemical alone. In 2009, a French team found that combining nicotine with a cocktail of five other chemicals found in tobacco — anabasine, nornicotine, anatabine, cotinine and myosmine — significantly increased rats’ hyperactivity and self-administration of the mix compared with nicotine alone.

In short, the estimated 45.3 million people, or 19.3 percent of all adults, in the United States who still smoke are not nicotine fiends. They’re nicotine-anabasine-nornicotine-anatabine-cotinine-myosmine-acetaldehyde-and-who-knows-what-else fiends. It is tobacco, with its thousands of chemical constituents, that rightly merits our fear and loathing as the Great Satan of addictiveness. Nicotine, alone: not so much.

Despite the potential benefits and apparent safety, researchers like Boyd want more evidence before they’ll recommend a nicotine patch for anything other than its FDA-approved (but seemingly useless) purpose, smoking cessation. “Nicotine has potential drug interactions. It can interfere with blood pressure medications. To recommend something for which there is no good long-term safety data — it’s just wrong,” Boyd says.

To Quik, the upside is clear. “People have tested all their favorites to help treat Parkinson’s and other neurological disease,” she says. “Now nicotine’s time has come.”

Oil and Gas Regulatory Push Coming from Obama Administration

December 31, 2014

Oil and Gas Regulatory Push Coming from Obama Administration
Methane Emissions, Fracking, Arctic Drilling, Rail Tanker Cars All Would Be Subject to New Rules

Amy Harder, The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 29, 2014 4:54 p.m. ET

The Obama administration is planning to release in the coming months a series of regulations on the oil and natural gas industry, a response to the nation’s energy boom that also is aimed at burnishing President Barack Obama ’s environmental legacy in his final two years.

The coming rules—at least nine in total—would include the first-ever federal standards addressing methane emissions, stricter controls on hydraulic fracturing, drilling requirements in the Arctic, new rules governing oil shipped by trains and tougher standards on offshore drilling technology.

The repercussions for the industry could be higher operating costs and fewer incentives to drill on public lands. Mr. Obama and his environmental backers say new regulations are needed to address the impacts of the surge in oil and gas drilling and production.

“The large number of imminent regulations may be a sign that the White House is greening up its oil-and-gas policy,” said Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners, a nonpartisan energy research firm that tracks federal regulations. “Fracking produced numerous regulatory responses at multiple levels, and a lot of the federal rules have been pending for a long time.”

In its first six years, the administration released very few regulations directly affecting the oil-and-gas industry and instead rolled out several significant rules aimed at cutting air pollution from the coal and electric-utility sectors. Some of the coming rules have been in the works for months or even years, and others are required by current laws or court decisions.

The U.S. is now the world’s largest natural-gas producer and is on track to become the biggest oil producer in 2015. Since 2008, U.S. oil production has surged 74% to 8.8 million barrels a day, while natural-gas production climbed 22% to 2.7 trillion cubic feet in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oil and gas production on public lands has declined 16% and 24%, respectively, over the same period, according to EIA data. Several states have enacted regulations in response to the nation’s increased production, but the federal government hasn’t.

“I think it is fair to say that given the changes in technology and the significant changes that we’ve seen in terms of domestic oil-and-gas production, there is a need to keep that regulatory process up-to-date,” said Heather Zichal, an energy consultant who was a top energy and climate adviser in the White House until October 2013.

The White House and energy companies have clashed over proposed fossil-fuel regulations, particularly a rule proposed last spring by the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at cutting carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants. The coming oil-and-gas regulations are likely to intensify that tension.

White House counselor John Podesta said the administration’s plans are part of a continuing effort to move to cleaner sources of power while creating jobs and preserving energy security. “Across the federal government, we’ve taken steps to develop our oil-and-gas resources safely and responsibly, including by partnering with industry and working with states,” he said via email.

One of the most-watched actions is what the EPA does about methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling operations. The agency is expected to announce in January whether it will expand an existing regulation to further regulate methane indirectly, which is the industry’s preferred option, or begin regulating methane emissions directly, a broader regulatory approach environmental groups are pushing.

Industry executives cite the months long drop in oil prices as an argument against the methane regulations. Greg Guidry, an executive vice president at Shell, said at an event in Washington recently that he doesn’t want EPA to “impose unnecessary costs and burdens on an industry challenged now by a sustained low-price environment.”

The Interior Department, which has jurisdiction over public lands, also is planning to propose a rule in April that would set a standard for how much methane companies can either vent into the atmosphere or flare off when drilling for oil and natural gas, whose main component is methane.

Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for air at EPA, said recently that cutting methane emissions is an important part of the climate agenda Mr. Obama unveiled in June 2013 and that the administration is working to avoid any duplicative regulatory efforts.

“We work closely with our partners at the Interior Department to make sure we’re not walking into situations…where we have inconsistent expectations, duplicative expectations,” said Ms. McCabe, noting that the regulations are being prompted by “an increasing awareness and concern of the role that methane emissions are playing in global climate concerns.”

The Transportation Department is expected to issue a final rule by March requiring tougher standards on oil shipped by rail, including phasing out older railcars within two years.

Thanks to the boom in oil production and lack of pipeline infrastructure, oil shipped by rail has risen from almost nothing in 2005 to more than 400,000 tank cars of crude oil in 2013, according to the Association of American Railroads. Through the first half of this year, shipments rose an additional 11.7%.

The rule, which the department proposed in draft form earlier this year, followed a series of fiery oil-train accidents that began in July 2013 with a derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people. Both the oil and rail industries say they would need more than two years to comply with the rule.

Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, whose organization is among those calling for more time to comply with the pending rail rule, said the upshot of several of these rules is that Mr. Obama is following through on his pledge to act alone without Congress, a move he opposes.

“There’s this attitude that if the people and the democratically elected institutions don’t agree, we’re going to go it alone,” Mr. Gerard said in an interview. “I think that attitude is permeating some of the regulatory bodies.”

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Still more politicized pseudo-science?

December 15, 2014

Remember how radical environmentalists pressured governments to ban DDT and Alar? Now it looks like some European scientists conspired to pave the way for a World Wildlife Fund campaign to ban neonicotinoids. Numerous farmers now rely on these novel pesticides to replace far more toxic crop protection chemicals that they previously used. But a recently leaked memorandum summarizes the scientists’ discussion about coordinating the publication of papers in respected scientific journals, to support their claim that neonics harm honeybees. “If we are successful in getting these two papers published,” the memo states, it will be much harder for politicians to resist calls for a ban.

Extensive studies show that neonics are safe for bees – and other research has identified problems that truly are afflicting these busy pollinators. We need to let real science do its job, and stop trying to short-circuit the process with politicized papers and anti-pesticide campaigns. Otherwise, bee mortality problems are likely to spread.

Thank you for posting my article, quoting from it, and forwarding it to your friends and colleagues.

Best regards,

Paul

Still more politicized pseudo-science?

The neonics and honeybees saga takes interesting, potentially fraudulent turn

Paul Driessen

Widening efforts to blame neonicotinoid pesticides for honeybee “colony collapse disorder” and other “beepocalypse” problems have taken a fascinating turn.

Insisting that scientific evidence shows a clear link between neonics and honeybee population declines, EU anti-insecticide campaigners persuaded the European Union to impose a two-year ban on using the chemicals. Farm organizations and the Union’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Department unsuccessfully opposed the ban, arguing that evidence for a link is not persuasive, and actual field studies in Canada and elsewhere have found little risk to bees from the pesticides.

Then this year’s canola (rapeseed) crop suffered serious losses of 30-50 percent, due to rampaging flea beetles. Over 44,000 acres (18,000 hectares) were declared a total loss. Euro farmers blamed the ban.

Now it appears that the campaign against these newer, safer pesticides – and the scientific papers that supposedly justify the ban – were all part of a rigged, carefully orchestrated environmentalist strategy.

A recently leaked memorandum, dated June 14, 2010, summarizes a discussion earlier that month among four European scientists who wanted to block neonic use. The memo says the four agreed to find prominent authors who could write scientific papers and coordinate their publication in respected journals, so as to “obtain the necessary policy change to have these pesticides banned.”

“If we are successful in getting these two papers published,” the memo continues, “there will be enormous impact, and a campaign led by WWF etc could be launched right away. It will be much harder for politicians to ignore a research paper and a policy forum paper” in a major scientific journal. Initial papers would demonstrate that neonics adversely affect bees, other insects, birds and other species; they would be written by a carefully selected primary author and a team of scientists from around the world. Additional papers would be posted online to support these documents – and a separate paper would simultaneously call for a ban on the sale and use of neonicotinoids.

(The WWF is the activist group World Wildlife Fund or World Wide Fund for Nature.)

One meeting attendee was Piet Wit, chairman of the ecosystems management commission of the environmentalist organization International Union for Conservation of Nature. Another was Maarten Bijleveld van Lexmond, who became chairman of the IUCN’s Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which was inaugurated in March 2011, just after the European Union agreed to finance the Task Force to the tune of €431,337 ($540,000). Vouching for the Task Force as an “independent and unbiased” scientific “advisory” group was the same Dr. Maarten Bijleveld, who is also a founding member of the WWF’s Netherlands branch and an executive officer of the IUCN’s environmental committee.

Further underscoring the “independent” nature of these organizations, the EU awarded the IUCN €24,014,125 ($30,000,000) between 2007 and 2013. Moreover, IUCN task force membership is by invitation only – making it easier to implement the Systemic Pesticides Task Force’s stated purpose: to “bring together the scientific evidence needed to underpin action on neonicotinoid pesticides.”

The entire operation is odorously reminiscent of ClimateGate orchestration of alarmist research and banning of studies questioning “dangerous manmade climate change” assertions, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1972 DDT ban, regarding which then-EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus later admitted that he had not attended a single minute of his own task force’s lengthy hearings or read a single page of its findings, which concluded that the insecticide was not dangerous to humans or most wildlife.

The IUCN/WWF campaign also recalls the equally well coordinated effort by Fenton Communications, CBS “60 Minutes” and the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban Alar (a chemical used to keep apples ripening longer on trees), in a way that would channel millions of dollars to the NRDC. It reminds me of former Environmental Defense Fund senior scientist Charles Wurster’s assertion that, “If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve a level of authority they never had before.”

Never mind that the Alar scam sent many family apple orchards into bankruptcy – or that millions of African and Asian parents and children have died from malaria because radical greens have made DDT largely unavailable even for disease control. For them, humanitarian concerns rarely enter the discussion.

As science writer Hank Campbell observes, all these campaigns reflect proven strategies “to manipulate science to achieve a political goal.” They follow the Saul Alinsky/Big Green script summarized by Madeleine Cosman: Select and vilify a target. Devise a “scientific study” that predicts a public health disaster. Release it to the media, before legitimate scientists can analyze and criticize it. Generate emotional headlines and public reactions. Develop a government “solution,” and intimidate legislatures or government regulators to impose it. Coerce manufacturers to stop making and selling the product.

Environmental pressure groups have repeatedly and successfully employed these steps.

In a recent speech, Harvard School of Public Health Professor Chensheng Lu claimed that his “Harvard Study” clearly demonstrated that neonics “are highly likely to be responsible for triggering Colony Collapse Disorder.” However, pesticide expert and professional pest exterminator Rich Kozlovich says the vast majority of scientists who study bees for a living vigorously disagree. They cite multiple problems, including the fact that small bee populations were fed “astronomical” levels of insecticide-laced corn syrup, and the colonies examined for Lu’s paper did not even exhibit CCD symptoms.

President Obama has nevertheless relied heavily on all this pseudo-science, to support his June 2014 memorandum instructing relevant U.S. agencies “to develop a plan for protecting pollinators such as honey bees …in response to mounting concerns about [their] dwindling populations on American crops.” The “serious” problem, Mr. Obama insists, “requires immediate attention.”

He is playing his role in the Big Green script but, as my previous articles have noted (here, here and here), nothing in honest, actual science supports his call for yet another Executive Branch end-run around the Legislative Branch and a proper vetting of what we do know about neonics and honeybee problems.

Neonics are vital for numerous crops: canola, soybeans, wheat, winter squash, citrus groves and others.

Derived from a synthetic form of nicotine and often applied to seeds, “neonicotinoids” are incorporated into plants to defend them against pests. This allows growers to be much more targeted in killing crop-threatening insects: only those that actually feed on the plants are affected. This approach (or spraying) also means growers can successfully grow crops with far fewer large-scale insecticide applications, and dramatically reduce reliance on more toxic pesticides that do harm wildlife, including bees. Real-world field studies have shown that bees collecting pollen from plants treated with neonics are not harmed.

Other research has identified serious problems that truly are afflicting bees in Canada, the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Varroa mites carry at least 19 bee viruses and diseases – and parasitic phorid flies, Nosema intestinal fungi and the tobacco ringspot virus also cause significant colony losses. Beekeepers have accidentally killed entire hives, while trying to address such problems.

Colony Collapse Disorder has shown up from time to time for centuries. A hundred years ago it was called the “disappearing disease.” It now seems to be ebbing, and bee and beehive numbers are climbing.

We need to let real science do its job, and stop jumping to conclusions or short-circuiting the process with politicized papers, anti-neonic campaigns and presidential memorandums. We need answers, not scapegoats. Otherwise, bee mortality problems are likely to spread, go untreated and get even worse, while neonic bans cause widespread crop failures and huge financial losses for farmers.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: To save the world from the save-the-earth money machine.

Sierra Club Canada Foundation has been sent a Letter from Friends of Science Requesting Retraction of Climate Change Billboard Blog

December 13, 2014

Sierra Club Canada Foundation has been sent a Letter from Friends of Science Requesting Retraction of Climate Change Billboard Blog

In response to the Friends of Science climate change billboard campaign, the Sierra Club Canada Foundation published a blog piece on December 4, 2014 making false claims about the Friends of Science funding and inciting followers to join in an on-line email campaign against the billboard company. Friends of Science says this challenges their Canadian Charter Right of Freedom of Speech and unfairly harasses an innocent business operation, as well as defying the Sierra Club’s own stated mandate.

A satirical commentary about the Sierra Club Canada Foundation’s critique of Friends of Science Society’s climate change billboard that was published in the National Post Dec. 5, 2014, sub-titled “Sierra Club Finds a New Enemy in Global Plot Against Truth” has ignited an on-line firestorm of controversy in Canada over
Freedom of Speech and climate change.

National Post author Kelly McParland points to the contradictory statements of Sierra Club Canada Foundation’s National Program Director, published Dec. 4, 2014 in an online blog:

“Free speech is the right to express a point of view – a right I will rely on, and defend, every day.”

Not, apparently for Friends of Science. Sierra Club Canada Foundation’s National Program Director claims the billboard that states “The Sun is the main driver of climate change. Not You. Not CO2.” is ‘disinformation’ and asks followers to demand they be taken down.

Today, Friends of Science Society have sent a letter to the Sierra Club Canada Foundation demanding a retraction of the blog and an apology.

Friends of Science point out that even the IPCC agrees with them “The Sun powers Earth’s climate.” Friends of Science resident science adviser, Norm Kalmanovitch, P. Geoph, says “We are setting a proper context for Canadians to have a thoughtful and rational discussion about climate change issues and policies. Sierra Club Canada Foundation is trying to prevent that.”

Kalmanovitch points to both the NCDC and HadCRUT4 global temperature datasets used by the IPCC. “There is negative correlation of global temperatures with CO2 which means that since 2002, CO2 definitely does not drive a global temperature increase,” says Kalmanovitch.

Kalmanovitch goes on to say, “When the current global cooling trend began in 2002 it pushed the statistical end of global warming back to between 1997 and 1995, depending on the dataset used. This is why it is a perfectly valid statement to claim (as we do on one billboard) that global warming has stopped naturally for more than 16 years despite a rise in carbon dioxide.”

Kalmanovitch also refers to a graph of solar irradiance from the the World Radiation Center in Davos,
Switzerland.

“There is also a drop of 0.8W/m2 in total solar irradiance between the peak of solar cycle 23 in 2001 and the peak of solar cycle 24 in 2014 which explains the global cooling since 2002,” he says. “This drop cannot be explained by the 9 billion tonne increase in emissions that took place between 2002 and today. Surely this is important information for taxpayers and policy makers.”

Friends of Science object to the email campaign Sierra Club Canada Foundation has initiated against the company that accepted its billboards as nothing more than bullying and intimidation against an innocent third
party, and not in keeping with Canada’s Charter Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression or fair business
practices.

This type of eco-authoritarianism was also the subject of an Oct. 9, 2014 column by Martin W. Lewis, author and senior lecturer at Stanford University, in Geo-currents. Lewis deconstructs the climate catastrophe pronouncements of Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s recent book.

Lewis writes an atypical polemic commentary noting that “.. climate activism seems to be veering in an
unabashedly authoritarian direction. In such a heated atmosphere, even handed positions are at the risk of being flooded out by a rising sea of mutual invective and misinformation.”

“We too are looking for a rational, civil, evidence-based debate on climate change science and policies, “says Kalmanovitch. “Freedom of speech is imperative in a democracy and for scientific inquiry.”

About
Friends of Science have spent a decade reviewing a broad spectrum of literature on climate change and have concluded the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide (CO2). The core group of the Friends of Science is made up of a growing group of earth, atmospheric, astrophysical scientists and engineers who volunteer their time and resources to educate the public.

Friends of Science Society
P.O. Box 23167, Mission P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2S 3B1
Toll-free Telephone: 1-888-789-9597
Web: friendsofscience.org
E-mail: contact(at)friendsofscience(dot)org

More subsidies for big wind

December 12, 2014

By Robert Bryce

If anyone needed proof that subsidy-dependent businesses will always seek more subsidies, look no further than the U.S. wind industry. On Wednesday, the wind sector won a vote in the House on a tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which gives wind companies 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. The companies can collect that subsidy for a decade after they are deemed eligible.

pic_giant_082714_SM-Wind-Power-Plant-DR_0

The extension of the PTC was part of a bill that contained more than 50 tax breaks and subsidies that will cost taxpayers more than $40 billion. The portion attributable to the wind industry: about $6.3 billion. It appears that the Senate will pass the bill and President Obama will sign it into law. Thus the wind industry, which has been getting subsidies (with a few short interruptions) since 1992, will continue feeding at the trough.

If there was any doubt that the wind industry needs subsidies, look at the statement put out on Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association, the sector’s main lobbying group. AWEA said that after the PTC expired in 2013, “new wind installations came to a halt, resulting in a 92 percent drop in new wind projects.”
Of course, rent-seeking entities love to claim that their pet projects deserve subsidies because they will create jobs. Indeed, the phrase “create jobs” appears twice in a one-page letter that was sent to leaders of Congress last month imploring them to extend the PTC. The letter was signed by AWEA and some 450 organizations, including the usual environmental groups — the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Wilderness Society — as well as a host of major corporations. Among them: NextEra Energy, one of the world’s largest wind-energy producers. I wrote about NextEra last year in these pages after the company filed a SLAPP suit in Canada against Ontario anti-wind activist Esther Wrightman. (Here’s a link. Wrightman, by the way, has since moved out of Ontario, and the project she was fighting, NextEra’s Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, has gone forward.) Others that signed the subsidy-seeking letter included Siemens Corporation, E.On, and Nucor Corporation, which is one of America’s biggest steel producers.

AWEA claims that the wind industry supports 73,000 jobs. But how much do those jobs cost taxpayers?

Earlier this year, Susan Combs, the Texas comptroller of public accounts, came up with an estimate. She reported that each wind-related job in the Lone Star State (which has more wind-energy capacity than any other state) costs the state’s taxpayers about $1.7 million.

That’s an increase over what Combs found back in December 2010, when she reported that each wind-related job was costing taxpayers $1.6 million. In an August op-ed published at Economics21, Combs said that “instead of generating jobs and providing a reliable and consistent energy source, wind projects just generate higher costs.”

Perhaps more remarkable than the high cost of wind-energy jobs is the fact that the U.S. is continuing to subsidize wind energy at a time when AWEA itself is claiming major reductions in cost and European countries are slashing those very same subsidies.

In a press release issued last month, the lobby group declared that the cost of wind energy has “dropped by more than half in the last five years.” Furthermore, last month an AWEA spokesperson boasted to the New York Times that some wind projects are “coming in below the cost of even existing generation sources.” That same November 23 story, “Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels,” quoted Jonathan Mir, a managing director at the Wall Street firm Lazard, who said that the price of electricity that wind developers need to make money is now “essentially competitive with what would otherwise be had from newly constructed conventional generation.”

Mir and his colleagues at Lazard estimated that production of wind energy, without subsidies, now costs about 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, less than what they found for the same amount of electricity produced from natural gas (6.1 cents) and coal (6.6 cents). So if Lazard is correct and it’s cheaper to produce electricity from the wind than from other sources, why does the wind industry need subsidies?

That’s a particularly relevant question given that European countries are slashing subsidies for renewables. In July, Germany reduced subsidies for wind and solar by about 25 percent. On December 2, the Financial Times reported that an offshore wind farm planned for Northern Ireland has been “scrapped” owing to reductions in the subsidies paid for such projects.

To be sure, the ongoing battles over wind projects go far beyond the issue of subsidies. Citizens and environmental groups (commendably among them is the American Bird Conservancy) in the U.S. and Canada and across Europe are fighting wind-energy sprawl based on a variety of concerns, including destruction of scenic landscapes, the turbines’ deadly effect on bats and birds, and the irritating noise they produce.

But it’s the ongoing subsidies that really annoy Lisa Linowes, one of America’s most prominent critics of the wind industry. Linowes, who lives in Lyman, N.H., is the executive director of The WindAction Group as well as the publisher of the website windaction.org. Asked on Thursday about the vote to extend the PTC, she replied, “We thought the Republicans would have the stomach to stop this.”

— Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong, was published in May by PublicAffairs.

Professor Tribe Takes Obama to School

December 7, 2014

The liberal lion blasts the EPA’s climate rule as an illegal power grab.

WSJ Dec. 5, 2014 7:01 p.m. ET

In his Harvard days, Barack Obama studied under law professor Laurence Tribe. Perhaps the future President spent too much time at the law review and missed the part about limited powers. We say that because Professor Tribe delivered a constitutional rebuke this week to the Obama Administration that is remarkable coming from a titan of the liberal professoriate.

Mr. Tribe joined with the world’s largest private coal company, Peabody Energy , to criticize the “executive overreach” of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. In joint comments filed with the EPA, the professor accuses the agency of abusing statutory law, violating the Constitution’s Article I, Article II, the separation of powers, the Tenth and Fifth Amendments, and in general displaying contempt for the law.

The Clean Air Act doesn’t give the Administration the authority the EPA claims to impose its climate crackdown on existing power plants by effectively eradicating coal power. The EPA instead uses—in Mr. Tribe’s words—“a hitherto obscure provision” of the Clean Air Act, known as Section 111, to justify its actions. Such legal scavenging is a characteristic of this Administration, and rarely has it been so thoroughly dismantled.

“The Proposed rule rests on a fatally flawed interpretation of Section 111. According to EPA . . . Congress effectively created two different versions of Section 111, and the agency should be allowed to pick and choose which version it wishes to enforce,” writes Mr. Tribe. “According to EPA, since 1990 the U.S. Code has reflected the wrong version of Section 111, and EPA has discovered a mistake [made by Congress]. According to EPA, both the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court have previously misinterpreted Section 111. According to EPA, the two different versions of Section 111 have created ‘ambiguity’ triggering deference to the agency’s [interpretation]. Every part of this narrative is flawed.”

We quote Mr. Tribe at length because the Administration likes to dismiss concerns about its extralegal exertions as partisan or political. But Mr. Tribe shows that there are genuine issues about the law and democratic process at stake.

He writes that even if EPA’s theory of two versions of Section 111 were correct, the agency’s “claim that it is entitled to pick and choose which version it prefers represents an attempt to seize lawmaking power that belongs to Congress. Under Article I, Article II, and the separation of powers, EPA lacks the ability to make law.” Mr. Tribe adds, icily, that a “presidential speech” is insufficient to claim such authority.

The liberal icon also explains how the EPA rule likely violates the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause with its “palpable unfairness of imposing all the costs on a small subset of entities [coal] within the agency’s cross-hairs. The Proposed Rule represents a radical shift in federal policy that upsets settled, investment-backed expectations, with no attempt by EPA to quantify the climate or environmental benefits from the Proposed Rule.” Mr. Tribe urges Democrats and Republicans to resist the rule and “stand in strong support of the rule of law.”

None of this is likely to deter the EPA, which is determined to impose its climate agenda without having passed a single new act of Congress. But once the agency issues its final rule, the courts will get their say—and they may pay more attention to Professor Tribe than to his wayward student.

Partisan Politics Blocks Keystone Pipeline

November 29, 2014

By Michael Reagan

Talk about being in the middle of Middle America.

A week ago I was in bitterly cold Nebraska — Omaha, to be exact — visiting with my wife Colleen’s family.

On Tuesday night of that week I watched the diehard Democrats in the Senate stop a bill to force approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry oil from Canada and Montana and North Dakota to the refineries of New Orleans.

The proposed $8 billion shortcut across Nebraska and other Red States is a big deal.

It makes economic and environmental sense for their citizens and for all Americans. But of course that hasn’t stopped the pipeline from becoming a political cause célèbre for liberal Democrats and their narrow interest groups.

President Obama, Senator Reid, and their wacko pals in the environmental lobby have managed to delay the Keystone XL’s approval for six years.

But they’d better celebrate that night’s buzzer beater while they can. Their one-vote “victory” in the Senate is the last time they’ll be able to get away with their “we know better than you” attitude toward voters.

The Keystone XL will get the green light as soon as the Republicans who were elected in the midterm elections start running things in Congress next year.

Watching the diehard Democrats in the Senate vote against the pipeline was creepy. It reminded me of the spiteful thing President Carter did in 1980 when he was blown out of office by my father.

As the 1980 election returns were coming in from back east, my father was taking a shower and getting ready to go to dinner in L.A.

Polls were still open in the rest of the country, but Jimmy Carter already could see the landslide coming. At 6:01 Pacific time he called my father to concede.

Giving up so soon — and thereby discouraging many Democrat voters in the western time zones from going to the polls — made the Reagan avalanche even worse.

Republicans took control of the Senate, 53-46, picking up 12 seats.

Carter knew what he was doing. He was an outsider who never worked well with his party’s Washington insiders.

Insisting on conceding so early, despite advice from his advisers and the pleas of party leaders like Tip O’Neill, was Carter’s way of punishing the Democrats who ran Washington.

I think Senate Democrats were acting like Jimmy Carter on that Tuesday when they defeated the pipeline vote.

It’s inevitable that the Keystone XL pipeline will be built. Harry Reid and his gang of obstructionists know that.

But they voted against the pipeline anyway, even ignoring the small chance that a pro-Keystone vote might have saved Mary Landrieu’s Senate seat in Louisiana.

Democrats flat didn’t care. The pipeline vote was their final act of spite. It was a last-minute kick in the teeth of Red State voters for electing so many Republicans to Congress in the midterms.

I believe it was President Obama who famously said to Eric Cantor after re-winning the White House in 2012 that “elections have consequences.”

Obviously, you were right, Mr. President.

But seeing Democrat senators stick it to the American electorate on the pipeline, and watching you desecrate the Constitution to push your immigration agenda, has made me realize something.

When you and the Democrats win an election, America suffers. And when you guys don’t win an election, America suffers just as much.

For the last six years, voters have been playing in a lose-lose game. But for the next two years things will be different. Because, thank God, elections do matter.

Michael Reagan is the son of former President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the League of American Voters. His blog appears on reaganreports.com

TAXPAYER ALERT: Big Wind is pressing Congress for yet another bailout

November 28, 2014

Mary Kay Barton

Taxpayers beware! While you were sleeping, enjoying your family and eating turkey, Congress has been busy.

Congressional Republicans are negotiating with Senate Democrats to extend the infamous wind energy Production Tax Credit through to 2017, after which it will supposedly be phased out, just as was supposed to happen in the past. This sneaky, dark-of-night “lame duck” session tactic should be flatly rejected.

While you’ve been busy just trying to make ends meet, wondering why the cost of everything is going up, and agonizing over how your children and grandchildren will ever pay the mounting $18 TRILLION dollar national debt – the wind industry lobbyists’ group, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), just sent Congress a letter seeking to extend the federal, taxpayer-funded wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).

The list of signers to AWEA’s letter include rent-seeking industries and “green” groups who’ve all benefitted by tapping into taxpayers’ wallets via the Big Wind PTC (aka: Pork-To-Cronies). It certainly isn’t hard to figure out why these corporations pay many millions of dollars to hire lobbyists and run national TV advertising campaigns geared at convincing crony-politicians to vote to continue these TAXES and higher energy prices on American citizens.

AWEA’a letter is typical of wind industry propaganda. It makes specious claims about creating jobs and reducing pollution, without providing a shred of evidence to PROVE any of their claims. AWEA apparently hopes Congressional officials are “too stupid” to understand what energy-literate citizens nationwide know: Industrial wind can NEVER provide reliable power. It raises electricity costs, even after subsidies are factored in. It kills more jobs than it creates. It defiles wildlife habitats and kills eagles, hawks, other birds and bats – with no penalties to Big Wind operators.

Here’s the reality: After 22+ years of picking U.S. taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ pockets, industrial wind has NOT significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It has not replaced any conventional power plants, anywhere. However, the $Trillions spent on these “green” boondoggles to date have significantly added to the $18+ TRILLION dollar debt that our children and grandchildren will have to bear.

AWEA’s own statements from years and decades past can be used against them. To cite just one example, 31 years ago, a study coauthored by the AWEA stated:

The private sector can be expected to develop improved solar and wind technologies which will begin to become competitive and self-supporting on a national level by the end of the decade if assisted by tax credits and augmented by federally sponsored R&D.

[American Wind Energy Association, et al. Quoted in Renewable Energy Industry, Joint Hearing before the Subcommittees of the Committee on Energy and Commerce et al., House of Representatives, 98th Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1983, p. 52.]

In other words, the PTC should have ended 20 years ago, because wind energy would be self-sustaining by then. It wasn’t. It still isn’t. It never will be. We need to pull the PTC plug now!

Here are some details about the bill that is currently being negotiated during the lame duck session –before the newly elected, Republican majority Senate takes office and can do much about it.

In 2016, wind developers would be eligible for 80% percent of the PTC’s value. They could also claim 60% of its value through the first nine months of 2017, after which it would supposedly expire.

The proposed congressional deal also seems to continue basing PTC eligibility on when project construction project begins. That opens huge doors for abuse.

The last time Congress extended the PTC, as part of its “fiscal cliff” deal in 2013, it said “eligibility” for taxpayer largesse covered projects “under construction,” rather than requiring that they be “placed in service” by a certain date. In practice, this means just a shovelful of dirt has to be moved by that date.

Remember too that the Production Tax Credit supposedly expired last year. But this clever language has allowed construction and expansion in the meantime. Meanwhile, Lois Lerner’s Internal Revenue Service has helpfully said projects that were started or “safe-harbored” prior to the PTC’s most recent pseudo-expiration can claim tax credits if they are in service by 2015. And then they can claim the $23-per-MWh credit for ten more years!

What a wonderful holiday gift for Big Wind and its political sponsors – at your expense.

Our government should NOT be in the business of picking and choosing the winners and losers in the energy marketplace – while assaulting and harming the very citizens they are forcing to pay for this “green” energy scam. It’s time for government to get out of the way and let the markets work!

The best solutions will rise to the top of their own accord because they will provide modern power at the best prices – thereby maintaining the reliable, affordable power that has made America great.

Citizens nation-wide have awakened to this massive “green” energy scam. Many have sent letters to Congress like the one below. You can join the fight by contacting your representatives and urging them to do the right thing: Protect American consumers, taxpayers and ratepayers. END Wind Welfare (#EndWindWelfare)!

Here’s a sample letter that you can use or modify:

Citizens’ Plea – DO NOT RESUSCITATE
the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit

Dear Senator or Congressman:

We, the undersigned, join millions of U.S. taxpayers & ratepayers nationwide in urging you and your colleagues to eliminate the 22-year old wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).

You should know by now that wind energy is a net technical, economic and environmental loser. Why would we want to waste more $Billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned money on a net loser?

The addition of industrial wind in the United States has not reduced our need to maintain and build reliable generation, nor does it add materially to our job force. Because wind energy is so diffuse, unreliable and volatile, it can never supply the reliable, affordable electric generating capacity that our modern society demands. Instead, it creates unprecedented industrial sprawl that is responsible for massive habitat fragmentation, species decline, and the wonton slaughter of countless birds and bats.

By forcing gigantic wind turbines on entire communities where only a few benefit, it has devastated civility in targeted townships, and destroyed rural heritage as landscapes are forever changed.

Renewable energy tax policy has also fostered a generation of developers bent on sticking turbines on every free acre that has transmission access, no matter who is in the way. It is simply unconscionable that, to date, no U.S. elected official has called for appropriate health studies to protect the health, safety and welfare of U.S. citizens who are suffering as a result of living within the sprawling footprints of industrial wind factories. As a result, it’s no surprise that more than twelve active lawsuits are pending against wind projects in as many states, with many more sure to follow.

The issues surrounding wind power expansion also impact energy prices and disrupt otherwise functional markets. The PTC provides project owners with a significant out-of-market revenue source, which invokes predatory pricing practices that unfairly harm the economics of reliable generators. In fact, at 2.3¢/kWh, the subsidy’s pre-tax value (3.5¢/kWh) equals, or exceeds the wholesale price of power in much of the country.

There is no justification for a government program that manipulates and harms otherwise healthy, competitive businesses for the benefit of a few.

After 22-years of tax credits, the business of Big Wind is not about energy production. It is about tax avoidance and tax subsidies. Warren Buffet recently reminded us that wind investment makes no sense without the handouts from taxpayers. Wind energy will never be competitive with the price of the fuel it saves, and would not exist but for the PTC.

After more than two decades, the wind industry is well situated to stand on its own without the PTC. It is unreasonable to continue to force taxpayers to support it. Your constituents know it, and you should, too.

This is why we respectfully request that Congress resist any temptation to reinstate the expired PTC or associated investment tax credit (ITC).

Respectfully submitted,

[signed]

EPA’s Tighter Ozone Standards Seen as Job-Killer

November 26, 2014

Newsmax

The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed stricter curbs on ground-level ozone, a pollutant linked to several serious health conditions, in a move industry groups said would place a heavy burden on the U.S. economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it would set National Ambient Air Quality Standard between 65 and 70 parts per billion concentration of ozone and consider public comments on standards within a 60 to 75 ppb range.

The EPA must finalize the rule by October. It will replace the current standard of 75 ppb set in 2008.

The lower limit would mean less smoke from power plants and car exhaust pipes, leading to slightly cleaner air and reduced smog.

“Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It empowers the American people with updated air quality information to protect our loved ones.”

The proposal will apply cars and power plants as well as oil and gas facilities. Health advocates and environmentalists hailed the plan as a way to cut down on asthma, heart disease and other respiratory illnesses.

House Speaker John Boehner quickly ripped the “massive new regulation” as a job killer and the “most expensive rule ever proposed by the EPA.”

“If implemented, it would also undercut our ability to use America’s energy boom to reset our country’s economic foundation, revitalize manufacturing, and put more Americans back to work,” he said.

“Americans have made clear to the president that his priorities are not theirs, and this is precisely the kind of misguided policy they rejected earlier this month,” Boehner added in a statement. “The new American Congress will continue listening to the American people, and take action to protect middle-class families, and our economy, from the Obama administration’s regulatory onslaught.”

Speaking on Newsmax TV’s “America’s Forum” former Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Walker said the Obama administration’s stricter ozone regulations is further proof that the White House is more concerned with expanding government and power than they are with creating jobs.

“The fact is these regulations will choke off a large portion of our economy,” Walker said. “They will, at the very least, create huge expenses of business to invest in meeting the terms of the regulations and those costs will be at the expense of American jobs.”

The tougher standards would be closer to a proposal drafted in 2011 but unexpectedly withdrawn by President Barack Obama before its release because of cost concerns while the nation was recovering from a recession.

Obama then directed the EPA to craft a new proposal. When it failed to act, groups including the American Lung Association, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund sued for a court-ordered deadline.

“EPA’s proposal to strengthen the standard is a vital step forward in the fight to protect all Americans from the dangers of breathing ozone pollution,” said American Lung Association President Harold Wimmer.

Industry groups had braced for a standard as low as 60 ppb and estimated a price tag of $270 billion a year at that level, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

“This new standard comes at the same time dozens of other new EPA regulations are being imposed that collectively place increased costs, burdens and delays on manufacturers, threaten our international competitiveness and make it nearly impossible to grow jobs,” said the association’s president, Jay Timmons.

Howard Feldman, regulatory affairs director at the American Petroleum Institute, said U.S. air quality was improving without regulatory change and that meeting the new standards would be extremely difficult.

But McCarthy said the economic cost of inaction was great because of health problems that cause people to miss work or school.

“If the standards are finalized, every dollar we invest to meet them will return up to three dollars in health benefits,” McCarthy said. That could add up to $38 billion to the U.S. economy by 2025 if the emissions rate is set at 65 ppb, while compliance costs would be $15 billion, she added.

“Healthy communities attract new businesses, new investment, and new jobs,” McCarthy wrote in an editorial published on CNN’s website.

In making the rule, EPA scientists reviewed more than 1,000 studies published since the last standards were set.

Terry McGuire, the Sierra Club’s Washington representative on smog pollution, said Obama, who is not up for re-election, was now freer to act aggressively and should push the limit down as far as 60 ppb.

“This should be a centerpiece of his environmental legacy,” McGuire said.

Under the proposal, U.S. states would have from 2020 to 2037 to implement the new standards, based on their current pollution levels. The EPA also cited flexibility to allow for “unique” situations, such as in California, a massive state with a varied environment.


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