Consumers Will Pay Big for Obama’s Alternative Energy Push

By Dr. Larry Bell, University of Houston

President Obama’s war on coal brings new meaning to his lead from behind strategy. It involves replacing reliable fossil energy sources with pixie dust-powered alternatives.

Only one day following the Supreme Court’s ruling to block EPA’s planned power plant mercury emission regulations, he committed the U.S. to a goal of generating 20 percent of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

That means at least three times more subsidies than we currently blow on windmills and burn with sunbeams . . . and that’s a lot.

Wind and solar each already receive more than 50 times more subsidy support per megawatt hour than conventional coal, and more than 20 times more in terms of average electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures, annual “Federal interventions and subsidies” for wind (4.4 percent of American electricity) costs for taxpayers ranged from $5.5 billion and $5.9 billion between 2010 and 2013, and from $1.1 billion rocketing up to $4.5 billion for solar (0.4 percent of our electricity) during that period. For comparison, those allocated to fossil fuels (about 60 percent of total electricity) dropped from $4 billion to $3.4 billion.

Although lemming powers of observation aren’t highly regarded, wouldn’t you think witnessing fellow critters plunge en masse over cliff edges would offer cause for some among them to reconsider the perilous path ahead?

Painful EU experiences offer teachable lessons. Consider Denmark for example. On Earth Day, 2010, President Obama praised the country as a great green power model. And yes, while the country theoretically produces about 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar, CEPOS, a Danish think tank reported that this only supplied between 5 percent and 9.7 percent of average annual demand over the previous 5-year period.

Danish consumers pay the highest electricity rates in Europe, more than three times more than we do.

Existing German energy policies, where 7.8 percent of electricity comes from wind and 4.5 percent derives from solar, force households to fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe — often as much as 30 percent above the levels seen in other European countries.

Such circumstances are only likely to worsen with Angela Merkel’s plans to wean the country off fossil fuels and nuclear power. Subsidies for wind power which deliver only about one-fifth of the theoretical installed capacity are three times higher than those paid for conventional electricity.

President Obama also lauded Spain as a fine example of renewable energy progress. Yet a study released by researchers at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos a few months later presented a far less enviable picture.

Over the previous eight years the Spanish government had spent $791,597 in subsidies to create each green energy job, and exceeded $1.38 million per wind energy job.

Each of those green jobs cost 2.2 jobs in lost opportunities elsewhere in the workforce, and each MW of installed wind energy capacity destroyed 4.27 other jobs.

Italy’s wind and solar experience record is even worse. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Bruno Leoni Institute, the amount of capital required to generate one job in the renewable sector would create between 4.8 and 6.9 in the industrial sector or elsewhere just based upon subsidies alone.

Of the 50,000 to 120, 000 renewable jobs they propose to create by 2020, 60 percent will be temporary.

Experiences in the United Kingdom are reportedly similar to those in other EU countries. A study by Verso Economics determined that each renewable job “created” by subsidies displaced 3.7 others in their general economy. “Renewable Obligations” which increase market prices for electricity from renewable sources cost U.K. consumers an additional $1.75 billion during 2009/2010.

In 2011 British wind turbines produced a meager 21 percent of installed capacity (not demand capacity) during good conditions.

As in Germany this has necessitated importation of nuclear power from France. Also similar to Germany, the government is closing some of its older coal-fired plants — any one of which can produce nearly twice the electricity of Britain’s 3,000 wind turbines combined.

Yeah, and then there’s our own uber-green California, which mandates that renewables provide 33 percent of the state’s electricity by 2020 and proposes to increase to 50 percent by 2030.

Over just the past three years their electricity rates have already risen by 2.18 cents per kilowatt hour — about four times the national rate — as more and more wind and solar came on line.

Meanwhile, so long as natural gas drilling is restricted, climate crisis hoax-premised EPA regulations strangle fossil power generation, and nuclear energy expansion is delayed, we are racing hell-bent along the same road to perdition. Let’s consider the peril before joining the EU and California lemming pack in a final, fatal jump.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Despite the ‘urgency’ of Paris climate talks, a U.N. sponsored global poll rates climate change dead last

By Anthony Watts

From the United Nations “MY World” initiative, which has recorded the opinions for All Countries & Country Groups with votes of 7,679,273 at the time of this writing. They describe it as:

MY World is a United Nations global survey for citizens. Working with partners, we aim to capture people’s voices, priorities and views, so world leaders can be informed as they begin the process of defining the next set of global goals to end poverty.

The data collected so far is telling, at least about opinions surrounding global warming aka climate change. It is dead last in the list of concerns queried:


UN-poll-AGW-dead-lastThis next graph is even more interesting:


It too shows “action taken on climate change” as dead last among all age groups, gender, and education, but there are three curious columns on the right where it doesn’t come in last, but comes in low. These are the countries where people live that have medium to very high “HDI” which stands for Human Development Index.


Note that in these countries (medium to dark blue), people already have the things in place that come in lower than the climate change, so they tend to take them for granted. Countries that have a high HDI have reliable energy, Internet access, political freedoms, and social programs, so it is no wonder these sorts of things come in as lower concerns in medium to high HDI countries. These countries also tend to have a population that has people economically free enough to worry about things like climate change, whereas in some countries, you can’t get electricity or get on the Internet to read the latest doom and gloom being spewed by MSM outlets like the Guardian.

Natural geothermal heat under Antarctic ice: ‘Surprisingly HIGH’

So it IS global warming melting it – just not the way they mean

Lewis Page, the Register

Geothermal heating from within the Earth’s core – as opposed to the possibly warming air or sea – has been measured beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet for the first time ever.

And, we are told, it is “surprisingly high.”

The West Antarctic sheet is the part of the Antarctic ice cap thought to be easiest to melt. Worries over global warming and sea-level rise lead to it being investigated much more than other parts of the frozen austral continent. Some parts of it, for instance the Pine Island Glacier, have appeared at times to be melting faster and faster, though it is not clear that this is due to global warming.

At other times, ice loss to the sea has appeared to slow right down.

Meanwhile all around the rest of Antarctica, the extent of sea ice has been growing not shrinking, such that there is nowadays much more Antarctic sea ice than there used to be – a circumstance which climate scientists admit has them stumped.

It’s all a very confusing picture, then, and to make it worse nobody until now has had any idea how much heat might be reaching the possibly-troubled West Antarctic sheet not from the somewhat warmer seas and atmosphere, but from the rock beneath it.

That uncertainty has now been lessened somewhat, with instrumental readings from below the ice obtained and published at last in the journal Science Advances.

“It is important that we get this number right if we are going to make accurate predictions of how the West Antarctic ice sheet will behave in the future, how much it is melting, how quickly ice streams flow, and what the impact might be on sea level rise,” says Professor Slawek Tulaczyk. “I waited for many years to see a directly measured value of geothermal flux from beneath this ice sheet.”

Exactly what the new geothermal heating figures mean for the forecasts remains to be seen, but it is clear that the amount of geothermal heating is a good bit more than scientists had thought. Some of them are still hoping that it’s a fluke result.

“We don’t know how localized these warm geothermal conditions might be. This is a region where there is volcanic activity, so this measurement may be due to a local heat source in the crust,” says Professor Andrew Fisher.

If it’s not a fluke, however, it seems pretty plain that Fisher and his colleagues will have to revise their ideas as to how much of the West Antarctic melting is due to global warming and how much of it would be happening anyway due to warmth from the Earth’s crust. ®

The “surprisingly high” quote is from the press release accompanying the new research, issued by Fisher and Tulaczyk’s university, here.

There is much dispute over rates of melting in the Western Antarctic, with one recent study showing that today’s rates are far from exceptional against the context of the last 2,000 years. Another showed similar results for the Peninsula sub-region, where melt worries are even more common than for West Antarctica in general.

Meanwhile the area of sea ice around Antarctica has reached record levels in recent times.


There are other areas of Antarctica which have big geothermal heat sources, in some cases – as Prof Fisher notes – local volcanic ones, others seemingly more widespread.

Follow the Water–Arctic Ocean Flywheels

very insigthful and detailed analysis of a complex issue too simplified by authors and the media

Science Matters

The motto of oceanography should be: “It’s not that simple.”

Dallas Murphy wrote that in a book containing his reflections from numerous voyages with ocean scientists, entitled Follow the Water: Exploring the Sea to Discover Climate. The author goes on to say:

“One reason why the ocean has been left out of the climate-change discussion is that its internal mechanisms and its interactions with the atmosphere are stunningly complex. That the ocean has been left out has helped pitch the discussion toward unproductive, distracting extremes–either global warming is bunk or sea levels are about to rise twenty feet–and to frame the issue as a matter of opinion, like the place of prayer in public schools.”

He also quotes respected Oceanographer Carl Wunsch: “One of the reasons oceanography has a flavor all it’s own lies in the brute difficulty of observing the Ocean.”

A previous post on the Climate Water…

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Take a bow for the new revolution

Americans are less inclined to be fooled again, or to “smile and grin at the change all around”

Paul Driessen

From the outset, President Obama directed his powerful government agencies and congressional allies to help him “fundamentally transform” the United States. Too many of them were eager to nationalize the nation’s healthcare system, ignore or rewrite inconvenient laws, control the internet and political speech, implement new regulations that imposed enormous costs for few or illusory benefits, and shut down oil, gas and coal in favor of expensive, unreliable, heavily subsidized wind, solar and biofuel energy.

We voters and citizens were supposed to “tip our hats to the new Constitution” and “take a bow for the new revolution,” as The Who put it in their classic song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

But now people seem less inclined to “smile and grin at the change all around.” They increasingly grasp the enormous costs of this ruling class totalitarian anarchy, refuse to get fooled again, and are telling Mr. Obama, “Your states and your citizens are beyond your command,” as Bob Dylan might say. Perhaps “the times are a-changing” once again, and “the losers now will be later to win” – in 2016 and beyond.

Pervasive signs certainly portend a newer revolution. Indeed, the reactions of some previous cheerleaders respond to the disdain the president often seems to show for their jobs and well-being. The energy and environment arena is only part of the total picture, but it’s a vitally important one.

Ozone. EPA is determined to implement stringent new ozone regulations – even though US ozone levels and overall air quality have improved steadily for decades, and the already tough 2008 ozone standards have not yet been fully implemented. This action would turn hundreds of cities and counties into nonattainment areas, impair manufacturing and transportation, cost up to $140 billion per year, and increase unemployment – for health benefits that are inflated or even fabricated.

A Small Business Entrepreneurship Council study found that EPA’s proposed rules would put numerous jobs at risk in a six-county Chicago area that is home to 65% of Illinois’ population, over 60% of its Latinos and 80% of its blacks, 73% of its GDP and 70% of its employment. With the unemployment rate already at 12% for Latinos and 25% for blacks, elected officials and business owners are alarmed.

The US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Association of Regional Councils – Democrats and Republicans representing 19,000 cities, 3,000 counties and 500 councils – have all expressed deep concern and asked EPA to retain the 2008 ozone standards. So have the National and Illinois Black Chambers of Commerce, US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.

They worry that the new rules would stifle economic growth and investment, and cause major job losses across the country. The rules set ozone standards lower than naturally occurring in many national parks. Thus far, EPA is ignoring the pleas, though Inside EPA says the agency may grant a one-year extension for some areas to comply with the 2008 standards, before slapping them with the newer diktats.

Coal-fueled electricity generation. The Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will force still more coal mines and power plants to close, imposing higher electricity costs on businesses and families, and causing lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare. It will hit blacks and Hispanics especially hard and require families to pay $1,225 more per year for electricity, heating and air conditioning in 2030 than in 2012.

A dozen states have already sued EPA to prevent it from implementing the plan. They and other experts note that the CPP will bring no climate benefits, even if carbon dioxide actually is a major factor in global warming. In fact, even EPA admits it would prevent merely 0.03 degrees F of warming – because China, India, Germany and other countries are planning or building nearly 2,200 coal-fired power plants. That and increasing natural gas and gasoline use worldwide will raise atmospheric CO2 levels still higher.

Impacts on people. EPA’s rules are devastating coal-reliant communities. By 2020, they will cost 75,000 direct jobs in coal mines, power plants and railroads, a union study estimates; by 2035, job losses will reach 152,000. When secondary employment is included, the total impact will be some 485,000 lost jobs. This will also affect state tax revenues and funding for company pensions and retirement health care benefits, putting hundreds of thousands of current and future retirees in harm’s way.

EPA ignores the huge toll that job losses have on people’s health and welfare. Unemployed families find it harder to buy food, pay for doctor visits and medicine, give to churches and charities, save for college and retirement, and make mortgage, rent and car payments. They face less sleep, worse nutrition and more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, strokes and heart attacks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says “a lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die,” because of the CPP. Liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe (who once hired Barack Obama as a legal research assistant) says the EPA plan is unconstitutional. National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford calls it “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”

Trade unions. Once strong supporters of President Obama, the United Mine Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions have come out in strong opposition to the Administration’s job-killing actions on the Keystone XL Pipeline and other initiatives.

Wind power. States are reducing or terminating Renewable Portfolio Standards and programs. Kansas, West Virginia and Indiana repealed their mandate, Ohio froze its standard at 2.5% renewable electricity, and North Carolina may freeze its RPS. Wildlife groups are finally recognizing and objecting to the serious habitat destruction and bird and bat slaughter that is a hallmark of wind and solar facilities.

Collusion. There is growing concern about the cozy ties and private meetings between EPA officials and eco-activists, their sue-and-settle deals, and EPA payments to advisory committees and environmental pressure groups that propagandize for agency actions. Far too many regulations have their origins in collusion, collaboration, and secretive input and “reports” from radical anti-hydrocarbon groups.

The Secret Science Reform Act would compel EPA to develop regulations and scientific studies in the open, and allow truly independent experts to examine and challenge data, evidence and studies that supposedly support EPA dictates that could cost billions of dollars and millions of jobs. It is long overdue.

The Supremes. Even if it must ignore the clear intent or language of laws like ObamaCare, the US Supreme Court has often been another reliable Obama rubberstamp. Yet it recently ruled in Michigan v. EPA that EPA violated the law by failing to consider monetary costs in deciding to regulate air pollution from power plants. The agency’s refusal to recognize the damage its regulations inflict on human health and welfare is a far more serious offense, and the agency must not be allowed to continue doing that.

Dwindling overseas support. Countries once enamored with “renewable” energy are now reexamining those policies, as they realize wind and solar energy kills four to six jobs for every “green” job created via unsustainable subsidies – and the electricity costs families and businesses up to 36-40 cents per kilowatt-hour (without counting taxpayer subsidies), compared to 8-9 cents per kWh in coal-reliant US states.

The African Development Bank says it will no longer tolerate policies that prevent construction of coal-fired power plants needed to bring electricity to 730 million Africans who do not yet enjoy the countless blessings that this miracle energy brings. About the only reason poor countries support a new climate treaty is that they (or at least their ruling elites) expect to share in the $100 billion per year that they claim developed nations must pay them for supposed global warming “reparation, mitigation and prevention.”

Far too many EPA and other environmental regulations are wrong for workers, families, states and the overall “quality of the human environment.” That’s why “there’s a battle outside raging.” Free, responsible citizens do not want or need to be “fundamentally transformed” by deceit, collusion and decree.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

An Open Letter to Senator Hatch on the PTC

By Lisa Linowes — July 10, 2015

“The PTC offsets the high price of wind energy, giving the false impression that wind is competitive with other resources. But with capacity factors under 30%, project operation costs likely exceed the average wholesale price of energy in most areas of the U.S. Wind only appears to be a ‘cheaper competitor’ because it’s subsidized to a point where economics have no meaning in the wholesale market.”

We learned this week that the Senate Finance Committee plans to mark-up a new tax extender bill. This news comes just seven months after Congress enacted the controversial $42 billion tax credit (HR 5771) giveaway. Apparently, the promise of long-term broad base tax reform has again been pushed aside in favor of short-term relief for select taxpayers.

Over the coming months, a tidal wave of lobbyists will descend on Capitol Hill with countless reasons for why their industry deserves special consideration. The loudest among them will be promoters of wind energy. This open letter to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chair of the Finance Committee, reminds him of another side of big wind that its promoters never mention.

Dear Senator Hatch:

We read Senator Grassley’s July 7 letter to you calling for the reinstatement and extension of the wind production tax credit. He touts the jobs created by the industry and the importance of “long-term predictable tax laws.” We would like to take this opportunity to present another side of the wind PTC, one that shows the high costs and negative impacts of subsidizing an industry for 23 years!

Under HR 5771 passed in December 2014, the wind industry secured a 1-year, $6.4 billion extension of the production tax credit (“PTC”), representing the second-largest payout under the bill. This was preceded by a $12 billion dollar extension passed in January 2013 and nearly $13 billion[1] in direct cash outlays issued under the Section 1603 grant program for wind projects placed in service by the end of 2012.

Contrary to claims about fossil fuel being heavily subsidized for decades, no traditional source of electric generation has ever received an open-ended, unlimited subsidy like the PTC for every kilowatt hour of energy put on the grid.

The PTC offsets the high price of wind energy, giving the false impression that wind is competitive with other resources. But with capacity factors under 30%, project operation, costs likely exceed the average wholesale price of energy in most areas of the U.S. Wind only appears to be a ‘cheaper competitor’ because it’s subsidized to a point where economics have no meaning in the wholesale market.

Substantial non-energy market revenues, including the PTC and renewable energy credits (RECs), keep wind in the black.

Since the PTC pays renewable generators the same price for placing a kilowatt-hour of energy on the grid regardless of time of day or seasonal demand requirements, the subsidy encourages renewable generation to be built in the wrong places and that operates when we need it the least.

Without the PTC, the industry would have to lower its capital costs, improve its efficiencies and narrow the price gap with gas. But as long as it is propped up by our tax dollars, there’s no need.

Warren Buffet recently reminded us that wind investment makes no sense without handouts from taxpayers. Bill Gates went further when he said recently that current renewables like wind are “dead-end technologies” and the cost of using wind and solar to reduce our carbon emissions is “beyond astronomical.”

We agree.

The cost in actual dollars is evident. What is less recognized are the significant and serious environmental and societal costs of building wind turbines.

Today, hundreds of thousands of acres throughout the United States have been transformed into sprawling electric generating facilities strung together with expansive transmission systems. Thousands of 400+ foot tall spinning towers consume our open spaces and threaten people and wildlife in their way.

Before you race to extend the wind PTC, Senator Hatch, we ask that you stop and consider the true impacts of your decision. The wind industry has had 23 years to grow and improve its product. Big wind is now a mainstream energy resource. We are at a point where the industry may be doing more harm to our markets and our communities than good. It is time to say no to the wind PTC once and for all.


[1] As of January, 2015, $23.7 billion in cash grants were distributed. More than half of this grant money went to wind energy projects.


Lisa Linowes, through her scholarly research and advocacy work, is one of the nation’s leading critics of government-enabled industrial wind power.


By Anthony Sadar

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is apparently operating under the control of President Obama’s leftist ideology. There is little doubt about this as the president’s hand-picked Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Gina McCarthy, has basically told professional audiences that she is doing the bidding of her boss. What may surprise folks is that this is not inappropriate with respect to how the EPA was initially established by President Richard Nixon. Relative to the advancement of the country’s economic, environmental and public health, and the well-being of objective scientific practice itself, an ideology-driven EPA is quite inappropriate.

In his new book “Environmentalism Gone Mad: How a Sierra Club Activist and Senior EPA Analyst Discovered a Radical Green Energy Fantasy,” Alan Carlin explains that the EPA “reports directly to the president and thus has no independence from the executive branch like some regulatory agencies. This means that if an administration wants to use its power to determine regulations, it can impose exactly what it wishes to do subject only to the Congressional Review Act and Congress’ powers of appropriations, both of which have proved ineffective so far in preventing Obama from doing what he wants with regard to EPA.”

Mr. Carlin was at the EPA almost from its inception in 1970. He came from research work at the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, Ca., to work with the EPA in Washington, D.C. from 1971 to 2010. In early 2009, after submitting serious negative comments on the EPA’s draft technical support document for the endangerment finding on the adverse effects of increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, Mr. Carlin had been maligned by the EPA powers-that-be for challenging the Obama administration’s poor economics and science represented in these findings. Yet, as an EPA senior analyst with an undergraduate degree in physics from Caltech bolstered by a doctorate in economics from MIT, Mr. Carlin surely knows his stuff.

He asserts that even if EPA’s current effort to control carbon-dioxide emissions are successful, “it will not change the climate or extreme weather in any measurable way even though Obama has proclaimed it will. It will simply increase the rates paid for less reliable energy, with lower-income Americans bearing most of the burden along with the slow recovery of the U.S. economy.”

Throughout his lengthy personal recounting in “Environmentalism Gone Mad” of the rise and fall of EPA adherence to science over politics, Mr. Carlin engages the reader with essential details. These include not only an insider’s perspective on the operation of the EPA but also numerous, specific and sensible short-term and long-term recommendations on how to “get out of this mess” — a mess largely brought about by the current administration’s adherence to radical leftist environmentalism. The need to consider reasonable costs versus benefits in air quality rules, as exemplified in the recent Supreme Court decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, is a move encouraged by Mr. Carlin.

Good economics and science require a broad perspective, yet when politics and financial control dominate the mix of viewpoints, the climate changes, and usually in an ominous way. Mr. Carlin expresses it in one of his long-term reform recommendations to reduce incentives for EPA managers to follow the administration: “Besides the normal bureaucratic controls, the pay of all EPA executives and senior analysts [is] directly determined by Congress and the president. This is unlikely to lead to independent action or thought by these crucial civil service employees. Yet independent analysis is desperately needed if EPA is to reflect good science and economics rather than science determined by their political masters.”

Without a doubt, “Environmentalism Gone Mad” is an important book that provides well-informed personal insight into the convoluted world of calamitous climate science promoted by what Mr. Carlin calls the “climate-industrial complex” or “CIC.” The CIC includes the science elites, mainstream media, environmental groups, leftist politicians and bureaucratic administrators, “green” energy and fuel producers and promoters, PR myth-makers (like those labeling knowledgeable skeptics as “deniers”), and others who profit financially, professionally and personally from foisting a future climate fantasy on a unwary public.

Mr. Carlin observes: “If governments simply stayed out of energy decisions not involving government-owned resources, urgent national security objectives, or actual proven pollution problems and let the markets decide how to meet energy needs, everyone except the CIC would be much better off, including the environment.”

Ratepayers and all taxpayers would do well to educate themselves on the inefficient, sometimes unscrupulous, and perhaps often counterproductive actions of those obstructing the goal of good, clean and affordable domestic energy. “Environmentalism Gone Mad” is a good first step in this essential education.

• Anthony J. Sadar, a certified consulting meteorologist, is the author of “In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Science” (Telescope Books, 2012).

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Paved with good intentions?

Scientific Alliance

Any action, however well-intentioned, can have bad consequences, hence the saying about the road to Hell. A similar way of expressing the same idea is as the Law of Unintended Consequences. No matter how careful we are in planning and no matter how much good we want to achieve, sometimes our actions come back to bite us.

There are no easy ways to avoid this, but the important thing is to learn from the experience and not make the same mistake twice. Releasing rabbits into the wild in Australia in the late 19th Century was initially done to provide hunting, and no-one at the time would have considered the later dire consequences. In the same country, introduction of the cane toad in the 1930s resulted in a significant impact on native wildlife with little or no control of the insect pests they were intended to predate. In the UK, the early popularisation of Japanese knotweed by Victorian gardeners has led to the current situation where this highly invasive and hardy plant is a major problem in some gardens and even in the wild.

Today, invasive species are rarely the result of such inopportune and ill-considered actions. We are simply too aware of the possible problems. But there remain many other areas of life where good intentions can still lead to unwanted outcomes. In the area of environmental policy, this is partly a result of the adoption of the precautionary principle. Not only does this often preclude a proper assessment of benefits as well as risks of a particular course of action, but not taking an action because of the possible hazards can have as many downsides as taking potentially unnecessary action.

A clear example of a precautionary action taken with the best of intentions is the change of criteria for registration of pesticides, introduced a few years ago in the EU. Until 2011, pesticides had been evaluated on the basis of the risk they presented in use and whether that risk could be properly managed. In simple terms, if exposure of spray operators was limited to less than one-hundredth of the amount shown to have no  harmful effect on rats or mice, then the compound could be considered safe to use.

This of course was also subject to the compound being effective against whatever pest, disease or weed it was deployed. In recent years, the acceptance criterion has been shifted from risk to hazard. It’s no longer a question of whether a pesticide is likely to cause harm in practice without sensible precautions, but whether it is capable of causing harm. Now, an efficacious compound could be rejected because it could cause harm if skin is exposed to it, whereas the previous system would most likely have determined that the risk of skin exposure could be easily managed by wearing appropriate protective clothing.

But, while there would be a hypothetical improvement to safety from this change – the apparent intention of the new Regulation – there are also downsides. An obvious one is a gradual erosion of the number of active ingredients available as the criteria for their approval have changed. Farmers are forced to rely on fewer crop protection chemicals, giving rise to increased risk of resistance developing among targeted pests, diseases and weeds.

The results would include more spraying, greater losses of crops in the field, higher food prices and loss of farmers’ income. More food may be imported. Arguably, people would eat less of some fruits and vegetables. A more insidious risk is of the use of counterfeit products undercutting prices.

On a topic more obvious to consumers, the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on packaged food were introduced with the best of intentions but now result in billions of euros’ worth of perfectly wholesome food being thrown away every year. ‘Use by’ dates for perishable products have a lot of merit, but many ‘best before’ dates are simply guides to the age of a product rather than anything particularly meaningful. For sure, some products will not necessarily taste at their best, but throwing out a packet of sugar or pasta simply because it is past its date makes no sense. And as for ‘sell by’ dates, these are simply an aid to stock rotation for stores.

Some of these mistakes we learn from. We are much more circumspect about the possibility of introducing potentially invasive species into an environment where they have no natural predators. Many people are at least partially rebelling against the tyranny of ‘best before’ dates (although, to be fair, many others continue to dump food purely on the basis of a nominal date rather than the evidence of their own senses).

But safety-consciousness makes it very difficult to make approval regimes less onerous and more rational. We are probably stuck with hazard-based criteria for pesticide approval for the foreseeable future. Similarly, a significant part of the cost of a nuclear power station comes from the multiple safety systems built in, based on the assumption in the early days of the technology that the dose-response curve for radiation was linear and that there was no ‘safe’ dose.

That this is not a valid assumption is widely recognised among scientists, but the howls of protest which would undoubtedly erupt as soon as the possibility of looser safety standards was mooted makes any change to the rules an effective impossibility. This is somewhat ironic, since more realistic safety rules would probably mean that much more of our electricity in Europe (and across the world) would now be generated by nuclear fission, with an associated reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Fewer coal miners would have lost their lives and air pollution would be reduced.

Which brings me to the last example of well-intentioned policies going wrong, namely emissions reduction. Whatever you may think about the need for this, the strategy of cobbling together a raft of detailed policy instruments has caused all sorts of problems. The EU emissions trading scheme has been dogged by problems since it was founded and looks set to do little more than provide a living for middlemen and opportunities for fraud.

The unaccountable insistence on use of renewable energy rather than letting the market decide the most efficient way to reach targets has littered the countryside with unpopular wind and solar ‘farms’ which still need thermal power stations as backup, and Germany’s much-touted energiewende has given the country some of the highest electricity prices in Europe while increasing use of coal rather than gas. When will we ever learn?

Obama and EPA imperil minority welfare

“Clean Power Plan” would bring imaginary benefits – and real health and welfare damage

Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists frequently claim that climate change will disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. In their view, this justifies unprecedented environmental regulations, like EPA’s pending “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas-fueled power plants 30% by 2030.

But what effect will the regulation itself have on poor and minority communities?

The plan will result in higher electricity costs for businesses and families, lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare, our exhaustive recent study found. This damage will be inflicted at the national level and in all 50 states. The CPP will impact all low-income groups, but hit America’s 128 million Blacks and Hispanics especially hard.

The EPA rules will: 1) more than double the cost of natural gas and electricity, adding over $1 trillion to family and business energy bills; 2) require average families to pay $1,225 more in inflation-adjusted dollars for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012; 3) destroy millions of jobs in companies and industries that can no longer compete, here or internationally; and 4) significantly reduce U.S. economic growth every year for the next two decades, causing more than $2.3 trillion in total lost gross domestic product.

Compared to whites, blacks and Hispanics already spend 50% and 10% more of their incomes on utilities, respectively, 20% and 90% more on food, and 10% and 5% more on housing. The EPA regulations will significantly increase the minority family “energy burden” – the percentage of annual household incomes they must pay for residential energy bills – and thus the number of families driven into energy poverty. Inability to pay energy bills is second only to inability to pay rent as the leading cause of homelessness, so increasing numbers of poor and minority families will become homeless.

Black and Hispanic household incomes will decline by increasing amounts every year, while their food and healthcare costs will climb significantly, since those business sectors will also have to pay much more for energy. The poverty rate will increase by more than 23% for blacks and more than 26% for Hispanics.

EPA’s rule will force poor and minority families to choose between buying food, putting gas in the car, going to the doctor, buying medicines, giving to their church, saving for retirement, or making mortgage, rent and car payments. Small businesses will have to find thousands more just to keep the heat, lights and air conditioning on, without laying people off or closing their doors. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more for energy.

By 2035, cumulative job losses resulting from the rule will total 7 million for blacks and 12 million for Hispanics. Most of these losses will occur in localities where blacks and Hispanics are most heavily concentrated. The rule will especially harm residents of seven states with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Entire communities could sink into poverty. Bread winners lucky enough to find work will be forced to take multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and suffer severe sleep deprivation. Families will have to cope with more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) bluntly summed up the effects of EPA’s “clean power” rules. “A lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die,” he said.

Ironically, these are the very people that Obama and EPA claim to care about the most. As African-American author and news analyst Deneen Borelli observes, President Obama “is rewarding his overwhelming support by black voters with an energy policy that will significantly reduce their disposable income.” Indeed, she says, climate change is “the green movement’s new Jim Crow law.”

National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford accurately called EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”

Blacks and Hispanics work hard to provide better futures for their children. The EPA regulations will push the American dream even further out of reach for them. Their incomes will be less, their unemployment rates will increase substantially, and it will take those who are out of work longer to find another job. Blacks and Hispanics are often the “last hired and the first fired.”

These are real impacts. However, EPA refuses to consider them, much less tabulate them and compare them to supposed regulatory benefits. It won’t even acknowledge that the health and climate risks that its costly regulations will allegedly prevent are in fact speculative, exaggerated and even fabricated.

For almost 20 years, average planetary temperatures have barely budged, even as carbon dioxide levels “soared” from 0.03% all the way to 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere. No category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States for a record 9-1/2 years. Tornadoes, floods, droughts, polar bears, polar ice, sea levels and wildfires are all in line with, or better than, historic patterns and trends. Meanwhile, the Sahel is green again, thanks to that extra plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide, without which life on Earth would end.

Moreover, even if CO2 does drive climate change, slashing US greenhouse gas emissions would bring no benefits, since China, India and other developing nations will not be reducing their enormous emissions.

Other EPA rules are equally suspect. Its mercury regs are based on an imaginary group of US women who catch and eat 300 pounds of fish annually – and whose children would supposedly improve their IQs by an un-measurable 0.00209 points if coal-fired power plants are shut down. As to soot, EPA’s illegal experiments on 296 people found that even “dangerous” or “lethal” exposures harmed no one.

Our air is clean. We don’t need these job-killing, health-impairing EPA regulations. But our governing elites will not give up their power or perks – or their propensity for playing with people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and well-being, for virtually no climate stability, air quality or other benefits.

The good news is that all of this is not inevitable. A recent Supreme Court decision held that EPA should have considered these and other enormous costs from its “mercury and air toxics” regulations, before imposing the rules. The decision should give governors and federal and state lawmakers every incentive to resist EPA’s harmful and dictatorial actions, and not wait for the CPP regulation to go into effect.

A dozen states have already sued EPA over its Clean Power Plan, which is opposed by experts on both sides of the aisle – and even noted liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe. Other states should join the suit, demand a full accounting of regulatory costs, and simply refuse to implement the plan.

As currently written, the regulation calls on unelected state environmental agencies to draft their own state plans and submit them directly to EPA for review and approval. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed an executive order blocking her state’s environmental agency from submitting a plan. Other states have introduced legislation to the same effect. More should follow them into battle.

The grim reality is that the EPA wants states to do their dirty work for them.  By submitting a plan, states will become complicit in the agency’s plan to shut down affordable, reliable power generation, destroy jobs and livelihoods, and plunge minority families deeper into poverty, hardship and ill health.

For the sake of their constituents, elected officials in Washington and state capitals have an obligation to fight this federal takeover of state authority. They should act soon. EPA is scheduled to release its final regulation in August, initiating a one-year period before states will be forced to comply.

As this deadline approaches, our elected officials should determine how best to confront – and resist – EPA’s latest power grab. They should remember that the jobs, economic well-being, health and very lives of millions of minority and blue-collar families hang in the balance.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine. Dr. Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc., in Washington, DC

EPA Ruled by Cherry-Picking Junk Science

By Larry Bell

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally blocked one of the Obama EPA’s most ambitious regulatory “Clean Power Plan” initiatives aimed at closing coal-fired power plants.

A 5-4 decision ruled that the agency’s draconian new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) restrictions had failed to take “appropriate and necessary” provisions established by the Clean Air Act into account by not considering punishing economic cost impacts.

So that’s really good news … right? Well, maybe not all that much after all. It certainly won’t change the agency’s radical agenda-driven book-cooking benefit accounting culture.

My good friend Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr believes that although that judicial slap-back on EPA’s rule-making overreach is long overdue, it’s high time for Congress and state governments to exact a more fundamental intervention.

His plan would transfer federal regulatory authority of what has become little more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of special interest groups to an organization of state–accountable agencies.

Doing so won’t be easy. It will require wrestling stranglehold control away from powerful federal status quo stakeholders, including politically influential anti-fossil organizations and rent-seeking wind and solar energy lobbies.

Battle-hardened Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker agrees with an EPA decentralization priority. Speaking at a June 2 campaign event the presumed presidential candidate said that “Every state has the equivalent of the EPA … not that they’re all perfect, but they’re much more effective, much more efficient and certainly more accountable at the state and local level than they are in Washington.”

Realistically, the Supreme Court’s requirement that EPA be held accountable to consider regulatory costs vs. benefits means virtually nothing so long as the agency is allowed to define the accounting terms. Their MATS rule offers a great example of junk science-based analyses gone totally berserk.

The assessment begins with a whopper of an assumption that about 6 percent of all pregnant women in America eat as much as 300 pounds of lake fish annually which passes mercury from power plants to their unborn children. This, they assert, results in lowering their children’s IQs by an average 0.009 points. (Never mind that the average IQ test has a 5 point error margin.)

EPA then goes on to speculate based upon a few cherry-picked Education Department lead-exposure studies that each IQ point lost will reduce each exposed child’s future income potential between $892-$1,958 annually.

Based on EPA’s direct mercury-reduction health estimates of $4 to $6 million annually compared with added $9.6 billion in in industry costs, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the resulting 1,600 to 2,400 costs times single benefit ratio “strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding the cost is not a relevant factor.”

EPA previously attempted to pull another rabbit-out-of-hat magic trick by claiming an additional $33 billion to $90 billion in “co-benefits” of requiring plants to install technology to remove particulate pollutants from the emissions stream.

Yet even EPA has acknowledged that more than 90 percent of those mercury rule co-benefits occur at air-quality levels that are already safe and covered by existing regulations. Incidentally, U.S. mercury emissions had already fallen 58 percent between 1990 and 2005, while levels of fine particulate matter have dropped a third since 2000.

Former senior EPA analyst Alan Carlin describes another favored fuzzy math rule justification tactic termed the “linear no-threshold assumption.” This argument applies a sort of logic that if 100 aspirins constitute a fatal dose, then 1 out of 100 people taking one aspirin will die.

EPA currently gets away with withholding scientific reference sources and methodologies even from Congress. This includes highly exaggerated health benefit claims based upon just a few cherry-picked reports while hundreds of reputable contradictory studies are ignored. Peer reviews are often conducted by EPA employees, authors of the preferred studies, and employees of the same institutions paid by EPA to conduct the research.

A U.S. House-approved “Secret Science Reform Act” introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would attempt to curtail these practices by prohibiting the agency from proposing, finalizing or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or not reproducible. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has sponsored the same bill which a committee has now voted to send to the Senate floor.

Failures of EPA accountability have also prompted the House to pass a “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) bill in 2013. If implemented, the legislation will require full Congressional approval of any Executive Branch regulations costing $100 million or more.

Although these efforts to rein in EPA’s runaway overreach are a good start, they don’t go nearly far enough. The best “appropriate and necessary” intervention will be to disband the federal EPA altogether and let the individual states attend to sensible priorities they care about most and understand best.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012).