Wind Farm Revolts Spread Across Britain

Local revolts by British residents against wind farms are to blame for the number of planning approvals hitting record lows, an industry report has warned.

More than 230 campaign groups across the country are putting plans to generate more than a quarter of Britain’s electricity in jeopardy, it was claimed.

New figures show one in three wind farm applications were approved by councils amid heightened opposition from angry residents.

Approvals in England has fallen by 50 per cent half over the past year while the number of new wind farms coming “on-stream”, or becoming active, has dropped by almost a third.

The report, from RenewableUK, which represents the wind farm industry, blamed a groundswell of opposition in areas including Kent, Yorkshire and Cornwall and Scotland.

The report, to be published next week, casts doubt on the government’s ability to meet its ambition of generating a fifth of Britain’s energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade.

“The industry has significant concerns for both the rate and consistency of local decision-making on projects yet to come forward for determination,” the report concluded.

According to the report, seen by The Independent, it can take seven years to build an offshore wind farm and more than two years to obtain planning permission.

But changes to planning laws, due to be announced later this year, are expected to make it harder for wind farm to be built as local councils are given more power over decision making.

“The court of public opinion plays a big role here,” said Maurice Cann, head of planning at Hambleton District Council.

“I can see the situation getting worse. Some of these structures are 125m high and have a huge visual impact.

“It does not surprise me at all that so many applications are getting rejected.”

Michael Hird, from the Campaign against Wind farms, said his group’s campaign was working while environmentalists called for a compromise.

The Daily Telegraph, 28 October 2010

UK Carbon Tax May Force High Tech Companies Abroad
SourceWire, 26 October 2010

It is less public facing than the hospital and public sectors, and uses less energy than the exempt transport sector – at 6,000MWh/yr — but when it comes to business and carbon emissions, the data centre industry has received little mention, despite being one of the most affected by recent changes to the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The announcement by the UK government last week that rebates would be turned into a fee could put the UK data centre industry at risk, according to some data centre specialists who spoke with our DatacenterDynamics London conference organisers.

The industry has since warned rising energy prices without incentives could send data centre business offshore, where nuclear and renewable power is readily available, and change the face of the industry as we know it.

The UK Government said it was scrapping plans to offer rebates to companies found to hit the top of a league list created under its original plans to highlight businesses that had made large moves towards efficiency.

Instead, the government said it will hold on to the £1bn worth of funds expected to be raised in 2014 and 2015 as part of what is now being called a ‘stealth tax’ by the industry.

Data centre operators will now face a direct tax on energy consumption at £10 to £15 per tonne of CO2 allowances and 1 tonne of CO2 equating to roughly 500kWh of grid electricity (which will raise the price of energy by about 10%), according to reports.

Britain’s data centres produce 2% of the total amount of greenhouse gas emitted in the UK each year – the UK Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme affects those industries which make up 10% of overall emissions.

UK-based Romonet, which researches energy and cost points within the data centre, told DatacenterDynamics London, which will soon host its annual conference, that the changes could have wide implications for the data centre industry.

Romonet CTO Liam Newcombe said the large collocation and hosting data centre operators would be most affected, having to find a possible additional £500,000 in OPEX costs.“The change in the recycling payments will clearly have a substantial impact on the UK data centre sector,” Newcombe said.

“No longer is CRC simply a complex regulatory burden that will cost a lot of money in compliance and reporting. It is now and expensive tax as well. A medium-sized collocation data centre can expect to add £500,000 to its annual OPEX for the purchase of allowances in addition to the compliance costs.”

For some operators, this could be enough to halt new projects in the UK, and for some businesses, it could lead to a drop off in business, as clients investigate offshore options offering lower energy costs.

“This change to CRC will, in combination with the already high cost of electricity in the UK, cause some operators to build new facilities in other countries instead. This is likely to be particularly true for outsourcers and cloud (computing) providers who are able to deliver services from remote data centres with little overhead,” Newcombe said.

“Instead of leading the development and delivery of new technologies and services that generate service and IP exports, this displacement drives the UK towards being a consumer and importer of such new developments.”

Data centre development company Lockerbie Data Centres is currently working on a 272,000 sq m data centre north of Lockerbie, Scotland, which it says will follow world-class sustainable practices which will incorporate energy-efficient technologies.

Lockerbie Data Centre’s project director David King said he expects the data centre environment will be unsettled for some time following the UK Government’s announcement, but the changes to the CRC could actually be positive for collocation providers.

“It could take a year or more before the data centre industry really knows what it is dealing with in regards to the CRC. One thing we do know is that end users will not be investing in great numbers at this time. The CRC is a cost at the end of the day,” King said.

Further, King notes “I think that UK businesses may be driven now to outsource from the enterprise data centre into a collocation operation or into the wholesale market as they will be forced to go with larger data centres that can be twice as efficient due to scale. Some people, however, will be put off investing in the UK until they fully assess what the financial picture is.”

The UK is not immune to criticism regarding energy policy and provision. Last year, representatives from Digital Britain told DatacenterDynamics that data centres in the country already struggled when it came to acquiring physical connections and installing cables, switches and transformers to the regional grid. A Digital Britain report also showed that data centres had issues accessing distribution and generation capacity across the grid. The report said that the South East of England and London – the UK’s financial hub which houses data centre reliant on low-latency connections for financial trading – pose particular challenges that jeopardize the UK’s standing against the world’s more accessible data centre markets.

According to Thomson Reuters Global Head of Energy & Sustainable Technology, Content, Technology & Operations Harkeeret Singh, who will be speaking at DatacenterDynamic’s London On November 9th, the uncertainty surrounding last week’s announcement could be enough to cause a blow for the industry.

“The initial cost and the uncertainty are not a good mix for those considering placing data centres in the UK, especially if another country is a bit more stable in its energy and tax options,” Singh said.

Full story

Thousands Of Green Jobs Go Up In Smoke
Financial Times, 27 October 2010

Clare MacCarthy

Vestas, the world’s largest wind power company, is to cut up to 3,000 jobs – some 14 per cent of its global workforce – because of excess capacity and a cut in order expectations in Europe.

The closures of four production facilities in Denmark and one in Sweden were announced on Tuesday with the Denmark-based group’s third-quarter results. Net profits fell to €126m ($176m) from €165m a year earlier and sales declined 5.1 per cent to €1.72bn.

Shares in Vestas tumbled more than 8 per cent to DKr183.30 in afternoon trading in Copenhagen.

The closures in Denmark – representing about a third of its current domestic workforce – will come as a severe disappointment in its native country. As a pioneer in the industry worldwide, Vestas is cherished as a national champion though many industry watchers harbour deep concerns about its fluctuating fortunes. Support functions at locations worldwide will also be affected.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive, said Vestas was increasing its global market share because of orders booked during 2010.

“Based on the expectations we have for 2011 in Europe, however, we must now recognise that a higher European level of activity will not be realistic – at least not in the short term,” he said.

Mr Engel, who joined Vestas as chief executive in 2005, has presided over several deep redundancy rounds but has managed to internationalise the company out of its Danish homeland by opening production plants in the US, China and Spain.

“The distribution between the regions of Europe, North America and Asia is today out of balance, and the situation in Europe is very clear when you look at the number of orders in relation to how many employees we have. To ensure the competitiveness of Vestas, we therefore have to act in a very offensive and very drastic way today,” he said.

Mr Engel said it was cheaper for Vestas to produce a wind turbine in Spain and ship it to Sweden than to send it out of Denmark. A turbine manufactured in China and shipped to Denmark cost about the same as making it at home.

Full story

Scottish Wind Turbine Firm Goes Bust
Argyllshire Standard, 26 October 2010

A WIND turbine manufacturer which received around £15m of support from the Scottish government to set up and expand a manufacturing site at Machrihanish has gone bust.

Danish company Skykon was hailed as an economic saviour for the Kintyre area after it took over the former Vestas factory in the spring of last year. The firm announced on Tuesday that it had filed for a suspension of payments to creditors.

Skycon was awarded a grant of £9.2m through Scottish Development International, along with a £500,000 training grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). At the beginning of this year, it was reported that the company had been awarded a further £5m by HIE towards an extension to the Machrihanish plant, with company sources saying that it hoped to create 300 jobs by 2012.

Around 120 people were employed at the site until this week, and it is understood that staff were told on Tuesday morning that they had been laid off.

In a statement, Skykon said: “The wind turbine industry is project-based and very cyclical, and it is currently being affected by a number of negative factors in the wake of the financial crisis. These effects have also impacted Skykon to the effect that we are in a very cash-strapped situation.”

H/T CCNet

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GHG Hysteria Hurts Nation’s Defense

Power America

Executive Order 13514, October 8, 2009, issued by the president, orders the Defense Department (DOD) and other agencies to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This order is damaging America’s national defense.

In August of this year, DOD issued a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) to comply with Executive Order 13514.

It is terrifying reading, and demonstrates how a preoccupation with global warming and GHG is damaging this country.

DOD has to spend money on cutting GHG rather than on equipment, or on bettering the conditions of our fighting men and women.

For example, the missile system to replace the Patriot Missile may be cancelled due to a lack of funds: Funds that are being used to cut GHG.

Hysteria over GHG is threatening to eliminate critical materials required for the defense of our country.

For example, this is an excerpt from the SSPP: “Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is critical as a dielectric material in Airborne Warning and Control System radar systems, but it is also the strongest GHG known, remaining in the atmosphere for 3,200 years and having 23,000 times the warming potential over a 100-year period as carbon dioxide. It is anticipated that SF6 will be regulated in the future, which could threaten its availability.”

Regulating this substance can hurt America’s ability to defend itself.

Some of the wording in the SSPP is taken directly from environmental extremist literature.

For example, the SSPP says: [and] the possibility of more intense hurricanes. The resulting impacts can include coastal erosion, inundation damaged or destroyed infrastructure … A number of scientific research studies published since that time indicate that sea level would likely rise by more than the 2007 IPCC estimates, since the latter did not include contributions from melting in the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.”

This preoccupation with GHG is requiring military commanders and their staffs to spend valuable time worrying about GHG trivia rather than focusing on the nation’s defense.

SSPP says: “Each DOD Component’s Sustainability Official will provide semi-annual progress reporting through the Senior Sustainability Council to the Department SSO.”

Specifically, “To develop the target, the Department convened a GHG Accounting Group with representation from the Military Departments and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). As a starting point, the group used the modeling tool specifically developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).” [Emphasis added.]

In January, DOD set a target to reduce GHG 34 percent from FY 2008 to FY 2020.

The next article on this subject will highlight specific examples of how the military’s focus on GHG is harming its ability to defend our country.

The SSPP is 99 pages long and can be obtained here.

The executive order can be downloaded here.

For sake of jobs, delay A.B. 32

San Bernadino County Sun Editorial

If the polls are right, California voters are having trouble deciding how to vote on Proposition 23.

We believe it, because this measure divided our editorial board more evenly than any other in the Nov. 2 election. Our board’s own close balloting resulted in our decision to support Proposition 23.

This measure’s appeal is that it could save a million jobs, according to proponents, and they probably are right. It also would save millions of dollars in energy costs, with little environmental harm and with almost no effect on global warming.

Proposition 23 would block Assembly Bill 32, which is California’s global-warming law, until unemployment falls to 5.5 percent for a full year. (Since unemployment has been that low for that long only three times in the last 40 years, the suspension of A.B. 32 could last a long time.)

California already has a reputation as the worst state in the Union for business friendliness, and A.B. 32 will make it worse because it will drive up costs. Most members of our editorial board think there’s no way our state’s unemployment rate will get close to 5.5percent again until state government greatly reduces the regulations – environmental and otherwise – it places on businesses. Only then will businesses open or relocate here in substantial numbers.

On balance, the green jobs that A.B. 32 would encourage won’t make up for the traditional jobs lost if it goes into effect, our board decided.

That’s why, according to recent polls, more than 40 percent of voters say they will vote yes on Proposition 23.

Roughly the same percentage are opposed to 23, which leaves at least 15 percent undecided. It’s hard to say what the undecided will think when they finally get around to reading the ballot arguments.

It’s not surprising that out-of-state oil companies are among the biggest contributors to the campaign for Proposition 23. The state intends to finance emissions cutbacks with fees on fossil fuels, which of course will get passed along to consumers.

That doesn’t make the measure more appealing to voters. Neither does the idea of encouraging more greenhouse gases, even if California’s emissions are a small part of the worldwide issue. Some of us feel that apart from the issue of global warming, it will be healthier and eventually more efficient to get our energy from the sun, the winds or the tides.

How tough is this issue? Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, says she’ll vote against Proposition 23, but if elected she will suspend the costly provisions of A.B. 32 until the economy improves.

Californians should vote yes on Proposition 23 on the Nov. 2 ballot.

What Will the Climb-Down Look Like?

By Harold Ambler

Here’s something that you can bring to the bank: With regard to global warming, the major purveyors of news in the industrialized world will be climbing down from their various versions of frenzied alarmism. Here’s something else that you can bring to your banker: the climb-down will be sneaky. On the other hand, when the series of editorial re-positionings is visible to casual members of the public at all, it will be beyond awkward.

How do I know? Because the process has already begun.

When in 2009 Arianna Huffington approved my piece about the merits of skeptical climate science, the HuffPo was attempting to get a start on its own climb-down. As I had written to Huffington, more than once, and heard back from her personally, more than once, I knew that she had considered my argument that it was not a question of whether the big news dogs would have to eat a little humble pie on climate but rather when. Huffington’s response was to publish “Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted.” It is safe to say that she badly underestimated two things: (1) the amount of traffic that the article would receive and (2) the amount of pressure that would be applied to her for the heretical decision to publish it. As for the former, the piece remains the third-most e-mailed blogger piece in HuffPo history. This, despite the fact that “Apology Accepted” was removed from the front end of the site. (Google searching the story still calls it up.) Within hours of being put up on HuffPo, the article had gone viral (to the extent that a climate piece can). Eventually, the piece wound up being translated into dozens of languages, getting cited by television pundits, and being published in part in The Wall Street Journal and The National Review Online, among many other places.

You could argue that the tempest in a teakettle was representative of the surprise – and in some cases horror – that a solidly left-leaning American media outlet like the HuffPo had betrayed its own principles. You can also see, especially in retrospect, how the global warming alarm industry was rightly perceived as vulnerable, standing, as it were, on quivering legs above the precipice of truth. This was the news in the brief, but red-hot, global response to a lone blog article: maybe the climb-down would happen faster than even the most hopeful skeptics could have imagined.

That’s when the second thing that Huffington underestimated – the storm of protest from her own camp – came into play. Whatever was said to her publicly, and privately, was enough to induce her to disavow knowing anything about me, or having read my piece at all. Again, however, she had already corresponded with me by e-mail more than once by this time. My final e-mail to her, prior to publication, was this:

Hi Arianna. Happy New Year! I have written a 2,000-word piece on why Al Gore is wrong about climate. May it increase your enjoyment of the New Year so much that you feel compelled to publish it!

All the best,

Harold Ambler

Arianna’s response:

Many thanks, Harold. I’m CCing our blog editor, David Weiner to coordinate. All the best, Arianna.

Three days later, however, Huffington had a sudden change of heart, issuing a statement that included the following:

When Ambler sent his post, I forwarded it to one of our associate blog editors to evaluate, not having read it. I get literally hundreds of posts a week submitted like this and obviously can’t read them all — which is why we have an editorial process in place. The associate blog editor published the post. It was an error in judgment. I would not have posted it. Although HuffPost welcomes a vigorous debate on many subjects, I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue, and that on some issues the jury is no longer out. The climate crisis is one of these issues.

The key word in understanding Huffington’s original acceptance and later misstatements is “coordinate.” If you’re going to take her word for not having read the piece you have to argue that “coordinate” means read and evaluate. This would mean that a busy editor is delegating authority, rather than exercising it, and runs counter to any reasonable reading of Huffington’s message. If she were to delegate authority to an underling for deciding whether to publish what was a potentially scandalous piece, she would not do so in view of the writer. What “coordinate” clearly means, in the context of the warm phrase “many thanks,” is “I have green-lighted this, and the editor I’m cc’ing is going to do be the one to get your piece up and on the site.”

What could get a high-powered editor to move from friendly acceptance to public disavowal in three days’ time? My own theory is that it was the threatened withdrawal of her blog’s funding. (Huffington declined to respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.)

It is highly unlikely that any media outlet will be able to compete with The Huffington Post for awkward climb-downs on climate, after this particular debacle. But, strange as it may seem today, even Huffington’s website will have to honor its master’s flickering epiphany of early 2009, and step away from the global warming cant prevalent during the past two decades. Having been first to the skeptic party among liberal media players, The Huffington Post will now, after its hasty departure, likely be the last to return. So, which publication will be next, and what kind of rhetorical outfit will it put on?

Climate skeptic bloggers like to suggest, in an effort at comedy, that media outlets warning of a global meltdown will casually ease themselves back into the journalistic garb of “a manmade ice age is nigh.” The idea here is that, whenever possible, writers and editors will prefer to skip the skeptics’ ball altogether. If the prognostications of Russian solar physicist Habibullo Abdussamatov and others like him, predicting a solar-driven descent into cooler temperatures during the next few decades, prove to be correct, this seems likely. Pointing to the shift in direction of the global mean temperature and asserting that “it’s mankind’s fault, we were right all along, only it’s going to be dangerously cold,” is likely to be the dress worn by The New York Times, for one. For the Times has been shifting out of warming and cooling scare story gowns for more than a hundred years. Whoever else in the media world has been especially wrong about global warming is likely to put on this same dress, too. A brief list of outlets that have made a name for themselves in global warming alarmism: The Weather Channel, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, NPR, PBS, the BBC, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time, and, last but not least, my former employer: The New Yorker. This last takes great pride in getting the facts right, and yet has gotten the central fact about Earth’s climate, that it is cyclical and has been cooling since several thousand years ago, wrong.

When The New York Times Magazine published a long about Freeman Dyson last year, it was arguably the start of a down-climb on the part of the newspaper as a whole. Howls of scorn were heard throughout the media world over the piece. It turns out, when it comes to climate, that such agonized sounds are the tell-tale signs that the journalists have gotten something right. Since the piece about Dyson, of course, the Times, led by Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Andy Revkin, has returned to the position that if it’s weather and it’s bad, then it was caused by global warming.

If past experience is any guide, when the Times’ climb-down eventually begins in earnest, most people will barely notice. But you will! See post here. H/T Marc Morano, Climate Depot

Observe Others’ Past Energy Experiences

By Dr. Charles Battig

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “all-of-the-above strategy” on energy has an open-minded appeal. However, this is no reason to ignore the energy production experience of others.

Spain was President Obama’s model for a green-energy jobs market. The financial meltdown in Europe revealed the unsustainable levels of Spanish tax subsidies propping up solar and wind-power industries. More jobs were destroyed than created at a reported ratio of nine lost to four created.

Danish consumers pay one of the highest electric rates in spite of their embrace of onand offshore wind turbines. Denmark deals with the erratic nature of wind power by dumping excess wind power energy into Sweden’s hydroelectric dams and into the German energy market at a subsidized cost to the Danish consumer. The recent Bentek wind power analysis indicates that wind turbine power in Texas and Utah is overall more polluting because of the on-off, inefficient operation of the gas-turbine backup power plants. U.S. wind and solar tax subsidies average 20 times those for nuclear and oil (U.S. Energy Information Agency).

The report of algae (or switchgrass) used to produce fuel is not new. The question is why bother. Coal, oil, and natural gas are the original biofuels and are in abundance. The cost of natural gas has collapsed, putting T. Boone Pickens’ Texas wind-farm project on hold. Federal policy and environmentalists are the impediments to our energy self-sufficiency.

Doug Domenech wants to encourage cost-effective energy alternatives. Cost-effective for whom? The energy producers or Virginia taxpayers? Page 6-2 of the “2010 Virginia Energy Plan” (Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy) lists many incentives for renewable energy, including a standard calling for 15 percent production from renewables with an enhanced rate-of-return to the utilities, grants, incentive funds, and tax credits. All of these are Virginia taxpayer costs, not entrepreneurs risking their own money.

Charles Battig. President, Piedmont Chapter, Virginia Scientists and Engineers For Energy and Environment. Charlottesville.

Volt Fraud At Government Motors

Investor’s Business Daily

Standing behind the first lithium-ion battery off the Brownstown, Mich., assembly line of the Chevrolet Volt in January

Green Technology: Government Motors’ all-electric car isn’t all-electric and doesn’t get near the touted hundreds of miles per gallon. Like “shovel-ready” jobs, maybe there’s no such thing as “plug-ready” cars either.

The Chevy Volt, hailed by the Obama administration as the electric savior of the auto industry and the planet, makes its debut in showrooms next month, but it’s already being rolled out for test drives by journalists. It appears we’re all being taken for a ride.

When President Obama visited a GM plant in Hamtramck near Detroit a few months ago to drive a Chevy Volt 10 feet off an assembly line, we called the car an “electric Edsel.” Now that it’s about to hit the road, nothing revealed has changed our mind.

Advertised as an all-electric car that could drive 50 miles on its lithium battery, GM addressed concerns about where you plug the thing in en route to grandma’s house by adding a small gasoline engine to help maintain the charge on the battery as it starts to run down. It was still an electric car, we were told, and not a hybrid on steroids.

That’s not quite true. The gasoline engine has been found to be more than a range-extender for the battery. Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph, the Volt’s gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors. That’s not charging the battery — that’s driving the car.

So it’s not an all-electric car, but rather a pricey $41,000 hybrid that requires a taxpayer-funded $7,500 subsidy to get car shoppers to look at it. But gee, even despite the false advertising about the powertrain, isn’t a car that gets 230 miles per gallon of gas worth it?

We heard GM’s then-CEO Fritz Henderson claim the Volt would get 230 miles per gallon in city conditions. Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 mpg in city driving, and Motor Trend reports: “Without any plugging in, (a weeklong trip to Grandma’s house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s.”

Car and Driver reported that “getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic — basically the worst-case scenario — yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s.”

This is what happens when government picks winners and losers in the marketplace and tries to run a business. We are not told that we will be dependent on foreign sources like Bolivia for the lithium to be used in these batteries. Nor are we told about the possible dangers to rescuers and occupants in an accident scenario.

There’s the issue of asking grandma to use her electricity for the three or four hours necessary to recharge your car so you can get home to charge it again. Where’s the electricity going to come from considering that solar and wind don’t work when the sun don’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? We aren’t building any nukes.

And since electricity rates are necessarily going to skyrocket as a result of this administration’s energy policies and fondness for cap-and-trade, what’s the true cost of operating a not-so-all-electric car like the Volt?

In 2008, candidate Obama pledged to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015. Not likely. It was a tough sell when we thought it was all-electric and could get 230 mpg. It will be a tougher sell now that we find it’s a glorified Prius with the price tag of a BMW that seats only four because of a battery that runs down the center of the car.

President Obama likes to talk about not giving the GOP back the keys to the car. It’s his industrial policy and central planning that have driven us into the ditch.

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” Albert Einstein

Spending Review: Honesty is the best policy before the bigger fuel bills start to bite

By Charles Moore

The Beinn An Tuirc wind farm on the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland

As we gloomily contemplate our present discontents, we should be pleased to learn that, to the outside world, the Comprehensive Spending Review looks good.

In the past few days, I have spoken to several people from America and Australia who are studying it with forensic interest. In France, where the modest suggestion that people should retire at 62 rather than 60 seems to have caused national paralysis, those who worry about deficits look enviously at our apparent readiness to take our medicine.

What these observers admire is not so much the precise policy as the honesty. In their own countries, they feel starved of leaders who will truthfully set out the problem. In the United States, much of the inchoate rage in the mid-term elections is to do with the sense that neither political party will confront the dire state of the national finances.

To reach this condition of truth-telling, the Conservatives have had to move fast. Only a little more than two years ago, they were endorsing Gordon Brown’s figures and speaking of “sharing the proceeds of growth”. But “the truth”, as we are taught, “shall set you free”. By eventually accepting it, the Tories had the strength to convert their Liberal Democrat partners. This is another thing that impresses the outside world: two out of the three parties in the state are making the cuts. It would not make a great political slogan to say, “Almost two thirds of us are in this together”, but, in peacetime politics, that is about as good as it gets.

I should like to suggest that there is another, ahem, “inconvenient truth” which the Government must confront. Again, because of its earlier political positioning and the Coalition demands, it will not want to do so, but it will do well when it does.

In the carnage of the cuts, the Department of Energy and Climate Change does not feature prominently. True, the Severn barrage plan, a massive potential environmental disaster, was stopped. True, too – see the reduction of future payment levels to renewable energy in households through the Feed-In Tariff – that green largesse will not be quite what it was. But essentially, like a wind turbine on a still day, the Government’s energy policy is lying idle. Soon will come the storm.

It will come because of cost. Thanks to Gordon Brown’s profligacy, the public is about to have to pay more tax for fewer services. But the cost of green policies does not feature much in the latest debates, because most of it comes not through taxes, but through electricity bills. It is programmed to rise. This year, the total levy adds £6 billion to our household and business bills. In 2015, it will be £10 billion; in 2020, £16 billion (which equals 4 pence on the basic rate of income tax today).

For the Government, and the generators, this is a beautiful way of doing things, because they get their money effortlessly. So it is ugly for you and me. We pay for the renewable obligation subsidies, we fund the Feed-in Tariff. We pay more and more for sources of energy which will not reward us with cost reductions for at least a generation. For years, governments have gone on about the wickedness of “fuel poverty”. Today, 4.6 million households are officially defined as living in it. The prevailing policies make it inevitable that fuel poverty will rise for as far as the eye can see. By 2020, our energy prices will be between 30 and 40 per cent higher than they would have been without them.

At least two things result. One is that prosperity is impaired. Cheap energy is the prerequisite of industrial success. The figures for carbon production in the West are now mildly declining, but that is not true of our carbon consumption. All that is happening is that we are, in effect, exporting the production to China, proving, by doing so, that being green and clean does not pay. Global carbon production grows. The only important country where both the production and consumption of carbon slumped was Russia. That was because, in the 1990s, it suffered economic collapse. Economic collapse is, indeed, the answer to too much carbon, but in the same way that bubonic plague is the answer to the common cold.

The other result is that people get angry. They have been conscripted by their governments into an unwinnable war without end. The bills will rise, but the emissions will not fall. The country will not get cleaner, but its people will get poorer. There will come a point – provoked by power cuts, or by the bill for a cold winter – when we will be utterly sick of being ordered to save the planet, and we shall mutiny.

Politicians who want to stay in office should realise this, and take evasive action. Hard times provide the moment. In Spain the other day, the government realised that it was spending so much on price guarantees to solar power “entrepreneurs” that it decided to cut back. The same will have to happen with wind power here. It would be so much better, and cheaper, if it came before turbines have stalked their way across every lonely and lovely place in these islands.

The obvious objection to what I am saying is that we must save the planet. Of course we must, if it needs saving. But the great rows about the emails at the Climatic Research Unit, the evidence used by the working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and so on, have forced a retreat from the favourite claim that “the science is settled”. The Royal Society has long been alarmist about climate change, but its latest publication, Climate Change: A Summary of the Science, produced because of criticism about bias, is careful. It sets out areas where there is “wide agreement”, areas of “continuing debate and discussion” and “aspects that are not understood very well”. Although the authors clearly believe that climate change is real and risky, and is aggravated by human activity, they also emphasise uncertainties – about cause, effect, timing, modelling and the accuracy of data. In my admittedly untutored reading, it looks as if, by the Society’s own account, only about a third of the science is settled.

It seems a small proportion on which to erect the next half-century of policy, nearly £1 trillion of costs and the claim that the end of the world is nigh. In this country and the whole of the West, a strange thing has happened. A fascinating scientific theory about a controversial subject has been falsely magicked by its supporters into a hard fact. I know this Government dislikes spending money on logos, but the next time “The Department of Energy and Climate Change” orders new stationery, it should delete those last three contentious words which Gordon Brown added to the masthead.

Read more here.

Free Market Coalition Urges Congress to Let Ethanol Tax Breaks and Trade Protection Expire

by Marlo LewisOctober 21, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

Yesterday on this site I explained why a “Do Nothing Congress on Ethanol Would Do a Lot of Good.” I also mentioned that today, a coalition of free market groups would be publishing an open letter advising Congress to let the clock run out on tax favoritism and trade protection for corn ethanol.

The groups issuing the joint letter are the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Freedom Action, the American Conservative Union, Freedom Works, National Center for Public Policy Research, and National Taxpayers Union.

CEI’s press release appears below. It includes commentary by yours truly on Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of new biofuel initiatives at a press conference this morning, a link to the coalition letter, and a link to video excerpts of a speech in 2006 by then Gov. Tom Vilsack. The video illustrates the famous French adage, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (loosely translated, ”The more things change, the more special-interest politics stays the same”).

CEI’s press release follows:

Contact:
Nicole Ciandella, 202.331.2773

Tax-Subsidized Ethanol Boondoggle Set to Expire
Coalition Urges Congress to End Tax Breaks Tariff Protection for Ethanol

Special tax credits and tariff protection for ethanol are set to expire at the year’s end. To counter the corn ethanol lobby, which urges Congress to reauthorize these special-interest giveaways plus enact new mandates and subsidies, a coalition of free-market groups advises Congress to “do nothing” and let the clock run out on the tax credit and tariff.

The domestic ethanol industry currently enjoys a 45¢ per gallon “Volumetric Ethanol Tax Credit” (VEETC), which costs taxpayers $5-6 billion annually, and a 54¢ per gallon protective tariff, which prevents lower-cost Brazilian ethanol from competing in U.S. markets.

“Congress has a rare opportunity to avoid $25-30 billion in new deficit spending, ease consumers’ pain at the pump, and scale back political manipulation of energy markets by literally doing nothing,” the coalition told Congress in a letter today.

The coalition released its letter today because Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press conference this morning announcing new Obama Administration biofuel initiatives.

Vilsack said the VEETC should be extended on a “short-term, fiscally responsible” basis, but would not define what that means. Similarly, he said the tariff should “eventually” expire, but would not propose a timetable for phasing it out.

“In 2006, when Secy. Vilsack was Governor of Iowa, he said the exact same things – that the tariff and tax credit eventually had to end,” said Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Gov. Vilsack didn’t say then when the phase out should start – and Secy. Vilsack is still not saying.” A video excerpt of Gov. Vilsack’s 2006 remarks on ethanol is available on Youtube.

“For fiscal, humanitarian, and environmental reasons, the ethanol tariff and tax credit must go,” said Lewis.

Read the full coalition letter here.

Wind power mirages

Would generating more electricity from wind really help poor families or the environment?

Pastor Jay Dennis

We are often told we must end our “addiction” to oil and coal, because they harm the environment and Earth’s climate. “Ecologically friendly” wind energy, some say, will generate 20% of America’s energy in another decade, greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions and land use impacts from mining and drilling.

These claims are a driving force behind the cap-tax-and-trade and renewable energy bills that Congress may try to ram through during a “lame duck” session – as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s economy-threatening regulations under its ruling that carbon dioxide “endangers human health and welfare.”

It is true that we are commanded to be good stewards of the Earth and resources God gave us. We should conserve energy, use it wisely, and minimize harmful impacts on lands and wildlife. But we also need to safeguard our health and that of our neighbors, preserve jobs, and help poor families build wealth and improve their standard of living. I want all children, not just mine, to have a better future.

Heaven knows I’m not an engineer. But Robert Bryce’s readable book, “Power Hungry,” has opened my eyes and helped me appreciate what it really means to be good stewards – and why we depend on hydrocarbons for 85% of the energy that keeps our homes, businesses and communities running smoothly.

Bryce points out that we are no more “addicted” to fossil fuels than we are to food, housing and clothing. It’s simply that fossil fuels give us more abundant, reliable and affordable energy, from less land, than any alternatives we have today. They enable us to have jobs, hospitals, cars, schools, factories, offices, stores – and living standards better than royalty enjoyed a mere century ago. As fossil fuel consumption increases, so does agriculture, commerce, mobility, comfort, convenience, health and prosperity.

Oil, natural gas, coal and gasoline also give us huge amounts of energy from small tracts of land. One oil well producing just ten barrels a day provides the energy equivalent of electricity from wind turbines on half of Delaware, according to Bryce.

Wind-based electricity is unreliable. It’s available only when the wind is blowing enough but not too hard. It can add to our electrical grid, but can’t be depended on to power a business or operating room. And no factory or city can get by just on wind power – not in my lifetime, anyway. Wind as a primary or dominant energy source is simply a mirage.

Wind turbines actually generate electricity only seven hours a day on average – and 2 hours a day on sweltering Texas summer days and frigid Minnesota winter nights. That means every watt of wind power must be backed up by gas-fired generators that kick in every time the turbine blades stop turning.

And that’s just the beginning.

Wind turbine farms need ten times more steel and concrete than a nuclear, coal or gas power plant for the same amount of electricity. You also need thousands of tons of raw materials for the backup generators and the thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get the electricity to cities hundreds of miles from the wind farms. All these materials have to be dug out of the ground someplace.

All that mining and manufacturing is powered by fossil fuels, which requires more mining and drilling. The backup power plants have to be running constantly – and then roar to full strength every time the wind dies down. That’s like having to stop your car repeatedly for red lights along miles of highway: idling and then gunning it to 55 mph over and over. That uses huge amounts of fuel and emits enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and pollutants. In the end, we barely reduce America’s CO2 emissions – and may actually increase them.

Finally, even with billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, wind-based electricity is far more expensive than power generated by coal, natural gas or nuclear plants. That hurts families, sends business costs skyrocketing, and means people lose their jobs.

I’m not opposed to wind or solar or biofuels. I just don’t like it when our politicians, news media, environmental groups and government officials aren’t honest with us about these tradeoffs. Companies get fined for deceptive advertising. Politicians, journalists, eco-activists and bureaucrats should be held to the same standards.

Telling the truth is a basic moral principle. So is being a good steward of the Earth and its resources, by considering all the facts, the environmental impacts, and the harm to jobs and families from needlessly unreliable and expensive energy.

America can’t afford to shut down the fossil fuels that make our jobs and living standards possible – or slap huge new climate change taxes on them – before we have a real alternative to replace them, not just mirages.

Jay Dennis is senior pastor of the 10,000-member Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., and a senior advisor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

US judge orders Obama administration to clarify polar bears’ Bush-era ‘endangered’ status

By Matthew Daly (CP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.

Sullivan’s request, made at a hearing Wednesday in federal court, keeps in place the 2008 declaration by the Bush administration.

Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in May 2008 that the bears were on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice upon which they depend. But he stopped short of declaring them endangered, which had it been declared would have increased protections for the bear and make oil and gas exploration more difficult.

Scientists predict sea ice will continue to melt because of global warming.

Along with the listing, Kempthorne created a “special rule” stating that the Endangered Species Act would not be used to set climate policy or limit greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming and melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The Obama administration upheld the Bush-era policy, declaring that the endangered species law cannot be used to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by sources outside of the polar bears’ habitat. If the bears are found to be endangered, however, that could open the door to using the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

Sullivan said he would issue a written order shortly, but said Wednesday that the government is likely to have about 30 days to explain how it arrived at its decision.

A lawyer for an environmental group called Sullivan’s action “good news for the bear,” adding that the popular animal’s fate was now in the hands of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“The court is not accepting the Fish and Wildlife Service argument that extinction must be imminent before the bear is listed as endangered,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based group that challenged the polar bear listing.

Reed Hopper, an attorney for the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation, which opposes protections for the bears, called the ruling disappointing.

“We would have liked to have the case decided earlier,” Hopper said, noting that legal challenges have lingered in the courts for two years and probably will be delayed at least several more months. Hopper’s group has filed a separate challenge to the polar bear listing, calling the bear a “thriving species” that now numbers about 25,000 from Alaska to Greenland, the highest total in history.

The bear’s threatened status is due mainly to projections about declining Arctic sea ice, rather than a current decline in bear populations, Hopper said.

A spokeswoman for Salazar would not comment Wednesday. A Fish and Wildlife Service official referred calls to the Justice Department, which also refused to comment.

Read more here.

Dr. Mitch Taylor, the world’s leading polar bear expert has testified the bear populations have risen to record high levels. Another application of the precautionary principle that makes no sense as it is both not necessary and would have significant negative economic impact.