UPDATE: I lashed out. I wish I had not posted a personal attack. If what he presents is true. it sounds great. Color me skeptical of his claims, and all too prepared for a Gazillion dollar subsidy required to launch his plan. Most worrisome is the closing line "We Can. We Must. We Will." I'd like to ask something about "should."
I now know what the eight years of the Barack Hussein Obama presidency will be remembered for, and our lefty friends aren't going to like it. Not because I'm about to bash Obama again - in fact, I will praise him (faintly.) Obama's legacy will not be national health care, wage equality, Mideast peace or even "stopping the rise of the oceans" although he will actually "do" this. (More later.) Instead, it will be the start of a new era of peace and prosperity across the globe.
The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe.
"We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the [sic] Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market."
Mr. Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest.
"We?" Yes, President Obama's energy secretary is attaching his boss to this effort. The faint praise I promised lies in the fact that he allowed the LNG export terminal permits to be issued. He is "responsible" for the coming 'copious carbon energy for a pittance' revolution to the extent that he didn't try to stand in its way. (Although it likely would have flattened him the way his EPA is attempting to flatten the coal industry.)
America's parallel drive for shale oil is equally breath-taking. Scott Sheffield, head of Pioneer Natural Resources, said his company has discovered huge reserves in the vast Permian Basin of West Texas.
"We think the Permian could produce 5-6m barrels a day (b/d) in the long-term," he said. It is a staggering claim. This would be more than Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar field, the biggest in the world.
Ryan Lance, head of ConocoPhillips, said North American oil output could reach 15m b/d by 2020 and 25m b/d over the next quarter century, three times Saudi Arabia's current exports.
A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.
So this revival, this oil and gas "renaissance" started "seven years ago." Circa June 4, 2008, i.e. "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." And as soon as the Global Warming Policy Center's "Blue Ribbon Panel" determines that global warming is a mirage of misguided scientific error corrections, President Obama can take credit for that too. But the accomplishment that will be remembered - the real change that makes real changes in the lives of real people - is cheap and abundant energy worldwide. And like the birth of liberty and prosperity that came in the 20th century, this one will also be a uniquely American creation.
Fracking is still an almost exclusive preserve of North America, and is likely to remain so into the early 2020s. China has large ambitions but the volumes are still tiny, and there is a shortage of water in key areas. Fracking remains mere talk in most other regions of the world.
Lukoil analysts say Russian extraction costs for shale are four times higher that those of US wildcat drillers. Sanctions currently prevent the Russians importing the know-how and technology to tap its vast Bazhenov basin at a viable cost.
John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. "We haven't seen those stars align yet," he said.
Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.
This is as unlikely a legacy as anyone could have imagined for a president who, as candidate, bragged that electricity costs would "necessarily skyrocket" as a result of his policy goals designed to promote alternatives to oil and gas. But given the bareness of the cupboard in his presidential library storeroom, I suspect he will gladly take it - deserved or not.
News this week that the town of Erie, Colorado has embarked on a growth program in an effort to attract commercial activity and its concomitant tax revenue to fund city services.
[Erie Mayor Tina] Harris said that the commitments to so much water infrastructure and residential construction were made in order to attract the kind of commercial tax revenue for which the town is still starved.
"We wanted to be able to have commercial development in town, like King Soopers, like a Super Target in the future, hopefully -- just the amenities that our citizens would want to have in town," she said. "We had to have enough rooftops to get those amenities even interested in Erie, so previous boards made decisions to build so much residential to try to prove to the commercial industry that Erie had enough residents that would be their customers."
Well I have one suggestion: Stop trying to ban oil and gas development, and its concomitant tax revenue! Perhaps instead you might try negotiating a deal where they are given streamlined permitting in preferred areas in return for a municipal surtax. Wouldn't that prove something to commercial industry about Erie's priorities? Or does that make too much sense for you to consider, Ms. Mayor?
It is common knowledge that hybrid and EV cars are better for the earth than gas guzzling SUVs. Which of course means it is not true.
While conventional lead acid batteries used for starting internal combustion engines (ICE) are readily recyclable, state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries are not.
Given the extremely high metal value of used cobalt-based lithium batteries it seems strange that only one company in the world, Unicore of Belgium, has bothered to develop a recycling process. When you take the time to read and digest Umicore's process description, however, the reason becomes obvious. Recycling lithium-ion batteries is an incredibly complex and expensive undertaking that includes:
Collection and reception of batteries;
Burning of flammable electrolytes;
Neutralization of hazardous internal chemistry;
Smelting of metallic components;
Refining & purification of recovered high value metals; and
Disposal of non-recoverable waste metals like lithium and aluminum.
The process is economic when a ton of batteries contains up to 600 pounds of recoverable cobalt that's worth $40 a pound. The instant you take the cobalt out of the equation, the process becomes hopelessly uneconomic. Products that cannot be economically recycled can only end up in one place, your friendly neighborhood landfill.
Disposable diapers are less a scourge upon the earth.
The United States Postal Service is buying 180,000 new vehicles. Our government plans to spend $6 billion dollars on new trucks to deliver neighborhood mail, and they only make this big of a fleet purchase about every 25 years! In a moment when more and more companies and individuals are turning to sustainable energy, it is time our USPS does the same. President Obama recently announced the federal government will cut carbon emissions by 40% over the next 10 years. What better place to start than with the new fleet of postal vehicles?
Harvard Prof: My Former Student, President Obama, is "Misguided" on Climate Regulation
Mr. Tribe dismissed the criticism and said that his brief and comments reflect his views as a constitutional scholar, not as a paid advocate for the coal company. "I'm not for sale," he said. "I'll say what I believe."
Nevertheless, the highly respected left-leaning Harvard Law Professor Lawrence H. Tribe, has made himself a pariah. Or, looking at it from a different perspective, he's decided to stop being a rube.
"I feel very comfortable with my relationship with Peabody," he added. "Somebody wanted my help and it happened to coincide with what I believe."
But a number of legal scholars and current and former members of the Obama administration say that Mr. Tribe has eroded his credibility by using his platform as a scholar to promote a corporate agenda -- specifically, the mining and burning of coal.
So one must choose - he can be a scholar or he can defend commerce qua commerce - but not both.
Next week Mr. Tribe is to deliver oral arguments for Peabody in the first federal court case about Mr. Obama's climate change rules. Mr. Tribe argues in a brief for the case that in requiring states to cut carbon emissions, thus to change their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, the E.P.A. is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority under the Clean Air Act. At a House hearing last month, Mr. Tribe likened the climate change policies of Mr. Obama to "burning the Constitution."
Clearly this is stinging the Rube Movement, and more than just a little.
"Whether he intended it or not, Tribe has been weaponized by the Republican Party in an orchestrated takedown of the president's climate plan," said one former administration official.
Weaponized? If so, it is indisputably as a countermeasure to the president's climate plan for mass economic destruction.
It is widely expected that the fight over the E.P.A. regulations will eventually go before the Supreme Court. If it does, Mr. Tribe said that he expects he "may well" play a role in that case -- which would be argued before two other former students, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Elena Kagan.
Is it possible then that Tribe was retained by Peabody in a strategy to intimidate the high court in favor of "a corporate agenda -- specifically, the mining and burning of coal?" Sure, that's possible. And it's also possible that one branch of government strangling an entire economic sector against the will and without the complicity of other branches really is like "burning the Constitution."
UPDATE: Furthermore, strangling an entire economic sector, or a specific corporation, or even an individual, is the very thing that a "Republican form of government" guaranteed by the Constitution [Article IV, Section 4] was intended to prevent - by a single branch or even, indeed, by all three in concert! It was to be, a minimal state.
The minimal state treats us as inviolate individuals, who may not be used in certain ways by others as means or tools or instruments or resources; it treats us as persons having individual rights with the dignity this constitutes. Treating us with respect by respecting our rights, it allows us, individually or with whom we choose, to choose our life and to realize our ends and our conception of ourselves, insofar as we can, aided by the voluntary cooperation of other individuals possessing the same dignity. How dare any state or group of individuals do more. Or less.
While my blog brother takes to ThreeSources to point out the dangerous racism of Tesla motor vehicles, Holman Jenkins lays down some obvious on the WSJ Ed Page. Tesla's whole business plan is to get bought out by an automaker to balance its efficiency portfolio for Federal regulation. Until then, it can limp along (at a high market cap, all admit) by treading water on the flood of subsidies and mandates.
And all the while, Libertarians will cheer Elon Musk. But this is not a rant. Put the caps lock key away, son... Besides, Jenkins takes some whacks on my behest:
In what way, then, is Tesla disruptive, the fanboy description of companies that come along and render obsolete what went before?
Good question. When a user leaves his driveway in a Tesla, he still wastes time staring out a windshield and gripping a wheel. He still sits in traffic. As with any other car, Tesla's electronics are long out of date before the car's useful life has expired. As with any other car, a Tesla owner ties up thousands of dollars in a piece of equipment that sits idle 95% of the time. Uber is disruptive. Tesla isn't. Tesla is disruptive mostly of a driver's confidence that he's going to reach his destination without needing a tow.
Tesla solves no problem of the automobile. It only creates a new problem.
In the fine tradition of this blog's 2009 gem "Oil Math" I'd like to paint a comparative portrait of two types of automobile: The gasoline fueled internal combustion engine and the battery fueled electric vehicle, or EV.
Oil Math shows us that a gallon of gasoline contains 131,760,000 Joules of energy, or 132 Megajoules for short. JB Straubel, the CTO of Tesla Motors in 2008 told us that the firm's Roadster battery has a capacity of 55kW-hours, and since 1 Watt equals 1 Joule per second, can be converted to Joules by multiplying kWh times 60 seconds per minute and times 60 minutes per hour.
55,000 * 60 * 60 = 198,000,000 Joules
Which seems like a lot until you divide by the number of Joules in a gallon of gas and find that a fully fueled Tesla Roadster has as much energy on board as
198 mJ / 132 mJ = 1.5 gallons of gasoline
That's about 1/10th the fuel capacity of an average internal combustion auto, and now you know why, a) EVs have such a short range between charges, and b) that range fluctuates wildly depending on such things as:
ē Single driver ~180lbs
ē Soft top or Hard top on vehicle (with windows up)
ē No air conditioning usage
ē No heat usage
ē No headlights or cabin air blower (large 12V loads)
ē Tires inflated to recommended efficiency setting 30/40 front/rear psi
At your next few fill ups, stop the pump at 1.5 gallons and see how much your range varies with the myriad changes in driving conditions.
So let's recap: An EV has, a 1.5 gallon fuel tank that weighs 900 pounds and takes 2-12 hours to refuel. That fuel tank also has, according to Jerry's posting on the Tesla Motors forum, a predicted useful lifetime of 10 years and costs $30,000 to replace. (Or the bargain price of $12,000 if you buy your first replacement battery up-front, at the time of purchasing the Roadster.) And all this on a $90,000 car?
The next time you get to speak to a Tesla owner, ask him, "How do you justify the horrible economy of your motor vehicle?" Sure fill-ups are free, if you can find a Tesla charging station on your Google Map, but how many gallons of gas could you buy for $30,000 over ten years? Keeping it simple, at $3 per gallon, 1000 gallons per year, or 20,000 plus miles of driving. That would require 67 full charges in your Tesla, if you never drive faster than 30 mph. But if you choose to drive the speed limit like everyone else does, double that. And if you use the heater, A/C and headlights too, triple it. 200 charges per year, or once every day or two. And remember it takes 2-12 hours depending on the charger.
Maybe he's not like regular folks though, but instead is more like "Roblab" from the forum:
I don't know about the rest of you, but long distance driving is a pain in the ... for any car. Who does roadtrips anymore? All you need to know is whether your car will make it to the airport.
UPDATE: Looking at the EV from the other direction, to carry as much energy as a typical auto with a 15 gallon fuel tank would require a battery ten times as big - 550 kW-h. Such a battery, if you could afford it, would weigh 9,000 pounds. Something tells me the efficiency metric just ticked down.
She said the Bureau of Land Management study, known as the NTT Report, is "based on the best available science," while the Fish and Wildlife Service Conservation Objectives Team Final Report "would mean restrictions for the oil and gas industry in sage-grouse habitat."
"Any time there are any restrictions, whether it's for wildlife or health or safety, you hear the oil and gas industry complain," Ms. Spivak said.
The coalition's data challenges focus on three "highly influential" scientific reports, prepared by the BLM, FWS and U.S. Geological Survey, that rely on data from "an insular group of "scientist-advocates" who skew their research to advance "policies they personally support," according to the executive summary.
"The Reports were developed with unsound research methods resulting in a partial and biased presentation of information, and peer reviewers have found them to be inaccurate, unreliable, and biased," the summary says. "They contain substantial technical errors, including misleading use of authority and failure to address studies that do not support a federal, one-size-fits-all narrative."
For example, the coalition says the reports are quick to blame human activity for the bird's decline but fail to give proper weight to the impact of predators such as ravens, even though their population has increased by 300 percent and local raven-management efforts in states like Nevada have shown success in boosting grouse habitat.
The three reports "all fail to recognize predation as the single most important factor affecting the abundanceĒ of the Greater sage grouse," according to one of the coalition challenges.
"Restrictions" on industry based on the "best available science." Not irrefutable science, or even accurate science. Merely, "the best we have at the moment."
What would we do without scientist-advocates? Live long and prosper, that's what.
Nice graphix can't help KOS-niacs understand economics of Nuke & Coal
An interesting series titled GETTING TO ZERO (CO2 emissions, that is), from which the nicely-done graphic comes.
(UPDATED... it worked!)
Higher graph = better. Good article and explanation of the buffered bit as well:
n this study, "unbuffered" is the raw generation without storage, while "buffered" includes the cost of pumped hydro storage where it is needed to buffer the difference in peaks between production and consumption
Now that I've read the comments: I see that even a well-written article which was not blasted in the Comments section, nevertheless did not make much headway (I only spend few min. in the comments section). Best summary: OK Nukes might help, but I've got problems with waste...
One even cited her HS Chemistry teacher (still having her brain in a jar I suppose).
Others pattered about not being able to get CSP on their rooftops (DOPES: this is about massive amounts of energy...like quads and stuff).
I think we can safely say that Colorado's 51st State, secessionist movement has fizzled. A better metaphor is drowned -- 100 year floods both captured the media's attention and forced moderates to cling to existing security institutions.
Well, it was a good time and it highlighted the urban-rural divide in State politics. I had warm thoughts as I read a WSJ editorial reporting that 15 New York towns want to trade the Empire State for neighboring, fracking-friendly Pennsylvania.
That part of Pennsylvania is booming. Upstate New York, as anyone who drives through it can attest, is an economic bummer.
James Finch, town supervisor in Conklin, New York, described to a local TV station the difference in life on either side of the state line. "Everybody over the border has new cars, new four-wheelers, new snowmobiles," he said. "They have new roofs, new siding." Life in New York's Southern Tier towns is "desolate."
Governor Cuomo has created an American version of the Cold War's East Berlin--with economic life booming on one side of the divide, while an anti-economic ideology stifles it on the other.
Not blessed with that Yankee Ingenuity like The Green Mountain State, the UK is struggling to heat homes with windmills.
UK demand hit 52.54 gigawatts (GW) between 5pm and 5.30pm on Monday, according to official data from the National Grid. But wind contributed just 0.573GW during the same time, just over 1pc of the total.
In stark contrast, gas accounted for 42pc, coal for 29pc, nuclear for 16pc, pumped storage and hydro for 5pc, and interconnector imports for 5pc (the total doesnít quite add up because of rounding).
It adds up plenty good for me -- commercial wind power is a complete waste, providing 1% of the energy needs at substantive cost.
Show me someone who doesn't want more of something, be it cars, houses, clothing, food, peace, admiration, love or war. The fact that people want more is responsible for most of the good things that get done.
You'll see Texas cattle ranchers this winter making the personal sacrifice of going out in blizzards to care for their herds. As a result of their sacrifice, New Yorkers will have beef on their grocery shelves.
Which do you think best explains cattlemen's behavior, concern about New Yorkers or their wanting more for themselves?
They may have had numbers, but the withering rationality of Brother JG held the day!
Two weeks after the Erie Board of Trustees narrowly voted to delay its consideration of a one-year fracking moratorium, the town's elected leaders struck down the measure along the same 4-3 line Tuesday night.
Enough Boulderites have polluted the freedom-loving polity of Weld County, that my home town of Erie is voting on a fracking ban. There was a hearing last week which I could not attend. Brother jg emails that it is continued or brought to a vote tonight. I will see whether I can attend.
Thank you for your time. I write to urge a no vote on any bans or moratoria on fracking or energy development in Erie.
Weld County has practiced safe energy development for a long time. My wife and I moved into the county in 2008 and we love it here. I own no mineral rights nor directly profit in any way from energy production. All the same, I am a strong proponent of property rights and it is unfair of me to determine the disposition of others' property.
I do benefit indirectly from the economic activity, lower energy costs, and tax revenue from energy production.
I have no doubt that those who seek to restrict it have good intentions. But they are wrong on property rights, wrong on the externalities of energy production and wrong to oppose an important economic source of wealth for Weld County and the State of Colorado.
Two weeks after the Erie Board of Trustees narrowly voted to delay its consideration of a one-year fracking moratorium, the town's elected leaders struck down the measure along the same 4-3 line Tuesday night.
Click through for details, and for a picture of blog friend Brad Beck giving testimony.
Zen Koan of the day: "If a fracking well required the destruction of 500 acres of farmland in Minnesota, would Yoko Ono make a sound?"
The clever boys and girls and those who choose not to identify with a defined gender who sit up front have likely guessed that this is not about a fracking well at all.
Five hundred acres of farmland will be plowed under to make room for 200,000 to 275,000 photovoltaic panels that will generate 62 megawatts of solar powered electricity, Nextera Energy Resources revealed.
Man, that is going to be picturesque, ain't it? 500 acres of ugly black squares of toxic poison on the prairie! Where's Norman Freakin' Rockwell when you need him?
I'd love to discuss aesthetics with you Mister Muller, but the law is the law. And knowing Minnesotans -- you probably voted for it.
Facing a new state mandate to generate 1.5 percent of its power from solar energy, Xcel Energy picked Nextera from other competitive bids. Because of the size of the project, county and township officials have no local control over the approval process.
Super-insulated clothing could eliminate need for indoor heating
Phys.org -- By wearing clothes that have been dip-coated in a silver nanowire (AgNW) solution that is highly radiation-insulating, a person may stay so warm in the winter that they (sic) can greatly reduce or even eliminate their need for heating their (sic) home. Considering that 47% of global energy is spent on indoor heating, and 42% of that specifically for residential heating, such highly insulating clothing could potentially have huge cost savings.
I enjoy and recommend the PhysOrg Facebook Page. It is very interesting. But be warned they are 97% -- at the very least -- invested in catastrophic climate change.
Two editorials in the WSJ page beg for treatment in the Internet Segue Machine™.
Tim Phillips of Americans For Prosperity ("Koch, cough, cough...") is not too keen on extending subsidies for wind power:
Thirty years and billions of dollars later, the wind industry is still saying it needs taxpayer support. Congress is currently hearing this argument as it debates whether to extend the 22-year-old "production tax credit" in the lame-duck session. The PTC, which gives wind producers a 2.3-cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced over 10 years, expired at the end of 2013. Now wind-industry lobbyists are roaming the halls of Congress, asking legislators to renew it as part of a tax-extenders package before adjourning on Dec. 15.
Over the past seven years, the PTC has cost taxpayers $7.3 billion, and it is expected to pay out $2.4 billion more in 2015. Combined with other subsidies and programs, wind generators received $56.29 in government subsidies per megawatt-hour in 2010, according to a 2012 report from the Institute for Energy Research. That's compared with 64 cents in subsidies for natural gas and $3.14 for nuclear power.
On the other hand, it kills birds.
Right there, on the same page, in juxtaposy-fervor, Dan Yergin (Kudlow's go-to expert on Oil prices) says it's supply that is driving oil process down.
Since 2008--when fear of "peak oil," after which global output would supposedly decline, was the dominant motif--U.S. oil production has risen 80%, to nine million barrels daily. The U.S. increase alone is greater than the output of every OPEC country except Saudi Arabia.
The world has experienced sudden supply gushers before. In the early 1930s, a flood of oil from East Texas drove prices down to 10 cents a barrel--and desperate gas station owners offered chickens as premiums to bring in customers. In the late 1950s, the rapidly swelling flow of Mideast oil led to price cuts that triggered the formation of OPEC.
And in the first half of the 1980s, a surge in oil from the North Sea, Alaska's North Slope and Mexico caused prices to plunge to $10 a barrel. That posed a much greater crisis for OPEC than today: Over those same years, global demand fell by more than two million barrels a day owing to a deep recession, greater conservation and the switch to coal from oil for electricity generation. This time world oil demand is still growing, but weakly.
For the past three years, oil prices hovered around $100 a barrel as disruptions in Libya, South Sudan and elsewhere, and sanctions on Iranian exports, eerily balanced out the production increases from the U.S. and Canada. But the slower global economic growth that became apparent a few months ago was accompanied by weaker demand for oil, just when Libya suddenly quadrupled output to almost a million barrels a day. The result: Prices weakened in September and then tumbled.
Yergin calculates the effect on oil producing states and concludes that those with capital reserves like Russia and Saudi Arabia will get through it okay, but marginal states like Venezuela, and new production scheduled for Africa will be in danger. The Keystone pipeline, specifically endangers Venezuela's workers' paradise as the heavier oil would replace theirs in the gulf refineries.
I read of a real, world market producing real energy at lower and lower process, and a graft machine propped up by subsidies.
Don't believe everything you hear on live at the coffeehouse dot com. This story in the New York Times suggests that -- thanks to generous subsidies -- it can be quite easy Bein' Green.
"I have never seen anything that I have had to do in my 20 years in the power industry that involved less risk than these projects," [NRG's chief executive, David W. Crane] said in a recent interview. "It is just filling the desert with panels."
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that even some ThreeSourcers will be surprised by the cravenness.
The government support -- which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates -- largely eliminated the risk to the private investors and almost guaranteed them large profits for years to come. The beneficiaries include financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, conglomerates like General Electric, utilities like Exelon and NRG -- even Google.
A great deal of attention has been focused on Solyndra, a start-up that received $528 million in federal loans to develop cutting-edge solar technology before it went bankrupt, but nearly 90 percent of the $16 billion in clean-energy loans guaranteed by the federal government since 2009 went to subsidize these lower-risk power plants, which in many cases were backed by big companies with vast resources.
The NY Times includes this charming bit of understatement:
The windfall for the industry over the last three years raises questions of whether the Obama administration and state governments went too far in their support of solar and wind power projects, some of which would have been built anyway, according to the companies involved.
Ya Think? Just maybe? A hair too far?
Even if you are not surprised at the depths of cronyist depravity, I think you might want to bookmark this as an enumeration that you can share with friends. Considering the source, it is stunning.
Health concerns about oil field fracking have been focused on the mixed brew of chemicals injected into wells. But it is another innocuous-sounding substance -- sand -- that poses a more serious danger to workers.
Government overseers of workplace safety first highlighted the problem three years ago and issued a hazard alert a year later warning that high levels of fine quartz sand around fracking operations could lead to silicosis and other lung illnesses.
The U.S. and Canada are in the midst of an historic boom of energy discovery and production. Mexico is on the cusp of exploiting its own vast energy resources. Unless the laws of economics have been repealed, the benefits of deepening the integration of these three neighboring economies in new jobs and per-capita wealth would be enormous. What's missing is the political leadership necessary to start assembling one of the world's most powerful economic regions.
That's not entirely fair. There is indeed active political leadership--in Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided he can't wait for an American President who is still giving speeches about building his new economy around solar panels and windmill farms. -- Holman Jenkins
Germany's, top down, dirigiste, energy policies actually hurt the environment. I know! I was surprised as well!
Berlin's "energy revolution" is going great--if you own a coal mine. The German shift to renewable power sources that started in 2000 has brought the green share of German electricity up to around 25%. But the rest of the energy mix has become more heavily concentrated on coal, which now accounts for some 45% of power generation and growing. Embarrassingly for such an eco-conscious country, Germany is on track to miss its carbon emissions reduction goal by 2020.
Greens profess horror at this result, but no one who knows anything about economics will be surprised. It's the result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Energiewende, or energy revolution, a drive to thwart market forces and especially price signals, that might otherwise allocate energy resources. Now the market is striking back.
On the other hand, it did drive up energy costs, so it is not a total failure.
Ordinary Germans foot the bill for these market distortions, having ponied up an estimated €100 billion ($129 billion) extra on their electricity bills since 2000 to fund the renewable drive. The government estimates this revolution could cost a total of €1 trillion by 2040.
Berlin is scaling back some taxpayer subsidies for green power. But Germans still also pay for the energy revolution when job-creating investment goes to countries with lower power costs, as happened earlier this year when chemical company BASF said it would cut its investments in Germany to one-quarter of its global total from one-third, and when bad incentives skew generation toward dirtier coal instead of cleaner natural gas.
No fracking, decommissioning nukes... I feel much better about being American today -- ausgetzeichnet!
I read a few good articles on Obama's backdoor, sidestep, pen-and-a-phone treaty to fight global warming. Last time advise and consent was sought, the Senate voted 95-0.
Yet without switching 62 of those nays and driving the other five in for a vote, how will we join the enlightened Europeans?
Consumers are only now noticing Regulation 666/2013, adopted by the European Commission last year and taking effect next month, which bans the manufacture or importing of vacuum motors whose power output exceeds 1,600 watts, with the limit dropping to 900 watts after Sept. 1, 2017. Thank the climate-change lobby for your dirty floor: The measure is intended to help the EU meet its energy savings target for 2020. Consumers are snapping up more powerful vacuums while they still can.
The regulation is classic Brussels. The 11-page, jargon-ridden text of the directive contains barely any cost-benefit analysis and fails to consider that consumers will simply use weaker vacuums for longer to achieve the same cleaning result.
Meanwhile, as consumer groups complain about less choice for no discernible benefit, the European Commission has persuaded itself that its regulation will be good for European vacuum manufacturers. "EU industry adapts quickly to higher requirements, which is often less the case of companies outside the EU," a spokeswoman wrote on an EU website recently.
Those plucky ee-you-vians! Bless their grit, spunk, and perseverance!
IVANPAH DRY LAKE, Calif. (AP) -- Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays -- "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.
Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one "streamer" every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version.
I put on my engineer's hat and have come up with some improvements. (Granted, it is a software guy's hat, so I'll ask my hardware brothers to chime in.)
Solar plants torch birds and wind plants julienne them. Wouldn't it be better to cut out the middleman and just build large incinerators which burn birds for fuel? You could put bird seed and carrion around the edge, then have a fan that sucks them in: finches, hawks, eagles, condors, herons -- a clean and renewable fuel source.
I didn't get a lot of love for my support of algae (to recap, I want to breed organisms that eat dog poop and excrete diesel. I don't think it that far fetched and my Condo/subdivision stands at the ready to supply our country's energy needs). Look forward to a Review Corner of Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray. But I am ready to move on to my next transformative idea.
A Facebook link suggests Toyota is going to release fuel-cell cars in hopes it can build on its hybrid share. As long as I am not subsidizing it with taxes, I think it's a marvelous idea.
Where's the Hydrogen coming from? That's where I'm stepping in. And I'll even spend government money. How about a $10 Million X-Prize-ish award to develop a container-sized device to separate H2 and O2 from Fracking fluid or waste water using power from waste gas flares?
I'm not a knee-jerk environmentalist but I am a very frugal person. Perhaps canine feces is waste-able and lacks the KCals/Kg to be worthwhile. But how many wells and cracking towers are burning tons of waste gas, thus contributing CO2 without any net gain? Capturing something from that has attracted me for years but I suspect some sharp minds with good budgets have looked at it more deeply.
But a simple turbine could generate mounds of electricity. The Hydrogen would be a good storage mechanism, and the general infrastructure around wells and refinery would seem to facilitate storage and distribution.
They do love to push mass transit. Get rid of that unplanned, individualistic automobile driving and we'll both save the planet and inure the citizenry to further control. But, the plebes complain -- even in Canada! Canadians don't complain about anything!
A geyser of unrest from streetcar riders erupted Tuesday after the National Post published a columnist's account of his "horror show" streetcar commute. Readers from all over Ontario sent more than 50 emails and posted 500 comments online; our hashtag #streetcarnage trended Tuesday on Twitter. Travellers detailed their own streetcar nightmares and offered suggestions for improvement.
"I used to be a big supporter of the streetcar until I started riding it every day," said Steve Tartaglia, who regularly rides the streetcar from Liberty Village to King and Adelaide.
He called his commute an "absolute circus."
During one notable trip, the streetcar he was riding hit a garbage truck. During another, a man smoked in the back of the car, arguing he was allowed to because he held his cigarette out the window. The worst trip ended in injury when the driver of an over-capacity car slammed on the brakes, leaving our reader arriving at work with scratches on his face, and a woman screaming after a man dumped hot coffee on her.
#streetcarnage -- gotta love that! Hat-tip: Insty.
Dr. Gabriele Pfister of the NCAR said pollution can affect more than the air.
"It also can damage plants (and) it can damage crop yields," Pfister said.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Garry Kaufman said the project will also track pollution from wildfires.
"We see emissions from across the ocean coming to impact Colorado's air," Kaufman said.
Experts say this is just the beginning, results will be useful for decades to come.
Your intrepid blogger, however, first read the scientific description of the study, complete with a cool graphic, on a NASA webpage.
Two NASA aircraft are participating in field campaigns beginning this month in Colorado that will probe the factors leading to unhealthy air quality conditions and improve the ability to diagnose air quality conditions from space.
The NASA aircraft will be joined by a research aircraft from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for flights July 16 to Aug. 16 from the Research Aviation Facility maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.
The main study area extends along the Northern Front Range from the Denver metropolitan area in the south to Fort Collins in the north extending eastward from the mountains as far as Greeley. This area contains a diverse mixture of air pollution sources that include transportation, power generation, oil and gas extraction, agriculture, natural vegetation and episodic wildfires.
The region being studied often experiences ozone levels in summer that exceed national health standards. Ground-level ozone is chemically produced from the combination of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions in sunlight.
A true revolution would be a new breed of climate activist who admitted what they didn't know and toned down their absurd pretense that they're going to ban or seriously curb fossil fuel by fiat. If they were smart, they would put all their effort into winning government funding for battery research. But there are reasons, quite apart from lack of imagination, which is the nicest explanation of Mr. Steyer's shrill imposture, that this doesn't happen.
Our political system is adept at making use of people like Mr. Steyer. Democrats will gladly spend his $100 million, then go back to their real environmental business, which is green cronyism. Happily Mr. Steyer's fate won't be that of the Hemingway character [in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"] --who finally got to prove his merit while accidentally being shot in the head by his wife. But like Al Gore before him, Mr. Steyer will be able to say of his impact on the climate debate: I softened up the public to be milked for green handouts that did nothing for climate change. -- Homan Jenkins
But first. And then after. And then another time. Watch from 20:49 - 22:49. Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen and Jon Caldara destroy rich-kid Rep. Jared Polis ($$$ - CO) who wants to run the state because he has dough.
Just when you thought you'd never again see a good-old light bulb because that mean nasty government made them illegal, geniuses at GE and Philips have found a way to make them all over again. [Thomas Edison - call your office.] They're called "eco-incandescent."
This is news, because they just hit the market, but it isn't a surprise as I explained it in a January 2011 blog post comment after carefully reading the 2007 federal law that "banned the light bulb." Bulbs could only be sold if they were more efficient than standard bulbs by, if I remember correctly, at least 20 percent. The new eco-incandescents are (magically) 28% more efficient.
They are also (less magically) several hundred percent more expensive. Thanks mean, nasty government!
Back in 2011 I accused lamp makers of manipulating the market via regulation, so that "Competitors can no longer undercut each other's cheapest products and saturate the market with them." But Hank Rearden, or is it the Chinese, is not deterred. "Eco-Smart" brand bulbs undercut more expensive models by GE and Philips. Depending on wattage, they are one to two bucks each.
"We will address our energy needs and any externalities with science and innovation; they will use politics."
Maybe it is too late, or the media narrative too established, but I think Republicans could expose the lefties' anti-science predilection and possibly turn the tables.
I know Solyndra was about 11 scandals ago. But the Democrats (read The Mark Udall for Senate Campaign) have designs on playing up "denialism." How can you consider voting for a troglodyte, flat-earther who doesn't even believe in Climate Change?
To combat this, I offer, free of charge (excepting my normal Koch Brothers stipend), a GOP Energy and Climate Plan for 2014 & 2016:
Addressing Energy Needs and Climate Concerns with Science
Offer a series of sizable "prizes" for substantive progress in raw R&D. Forgive me libertarians and strict Constitutionalists, but compared to the alternative, $10 Million for each of these is a bargain (and a prize is far less distortionary than subsidies or mandates):
CO2 Sequestration/Recovery for coal combustion
Direct algae production of usable fuel
Some wind metric...
The non-distortionary nature of a prize makes it harmless. The cost for any of these producing significant advancements would be good value. And you're supporting research institutions and American can-do-ism.
2. Defined metrics for regulation.
Why do we have Ethanol mandates, and Solyndra, and not the Keystone XL Pipleline? Some very large campaign contributors have more than a bit to do with it. EPA regs, LNG Exports, Pipelines, Hydraulic Fracturing, and the Designated Hitter will be evaluated -- in a ThreeSources' Administration -- on actual impact and cost/benefit projections: not campaign contributions.
3. Funding for Climate Science
Again, I apologize to Mister Madison, but continued grants to study not only "Global Warming" but ocean acidification, possible mitigation strategies, &c. are small compared to the current, devastating regulations.
We're not denying anything -- except that our opponents schemes have been more about science than rewarding political constituencies.
The proposed EPA rules would cost approximately $51 billion a year and destroy 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The poor and people on fixed incomes will be hurt the most. And all this pain will be for absolutely no gain: It will have no impact at all on the global climate, according to reports published by the libertarian Heartland Institute--based on peer-reviewed climate science.
Having recently escaped Colorado's Second Congressional District, I consider myself well-informed about Rep. Jared Polis (Libertarian? - CO).
He is currently the darling of the big-L Libertarians who are certain to have discovered the elusive "Libertarian Democrat:" cryptozoology's greatest prize! Rep. Polis is a regular on "The Independents" on FOX Business Channel. He received positive coverage in Reason:
A conventional Democrat in some respects, he also supports many causes that matter to libertarians: legalizing marijuana and hemp, restraining NSA surveillance, reforming copyright and patent laws, and making space for the virtual currency Bitcoin.
"A conventional Democrat in some respects." Yes, the obligatory disclaimer for interviewer Scott Shackford. Let me help you, Scott. He is a conventional Democrat EVERY FREAKIN' PLACE AND EVERY GORRAM TIME THAT IT COUNTS. Minority Leader Pelosi does not have to worry about his vote (including yea on ObamaCare on March 21, 2010).
When he's on his own, he pens a Libertarian Editorial in the WSJ. And he accepts campaign contributions in Bitcoin! He's like Mises reincarnate!
If they looked a little deeper, they'd see not only "A conventional Democrat in some respects," but a wellspring of dirigisme. The Blueprint [Review Corner] chronicles Polis as one of four überfunders of statehouse races providing the Democratic legislative majorities in Colorado which brought us draconian gun laws and insane regulations on energy -- especially to rural Coloradans. Thanks, Jared! Or shall I call you Murray Rothbard?
DENVER -- Democratic Rep. Jared Polis reminded Coloradans Monday why it's tough to tangle with a rich guy, outraising his pro-business foes in the latest campaign-finance reporting period on his proposed statewide anti-fracking initiatives.
One Polis group, Coloradans for Local Control, donated $1.45 million to another Polis group, Coloradans for Clean and Safe Energy, which is running the campaign to place a slew of anti-fracking measures on the Nov. 4 ballot.
That one donation--the only contribution so far to the Polis-sponsored issue committee--exceeded the combined $900,000 raised by two energy-backed coalitions during the two-week reporting period ending May 14, although their overall fundraising tops the Polis campaign's at $3.77 million.
Those damned oil companies and the nefarious Koch Brothers outspent in one day! By a statist who is feted as a "Libertarian."
If that's what they're like, I definitely want out! Libertario Delenda Est!
Talmey-Drake Research and Strategy Inc. said in a written report to the county [Boulder, CO] that focus groups have shown that "support for alternative transportation efforts is driven not by what would get a person out of their own car, but by the hope those programs get others out of their cars so the roads are less congested for them as they continue to drive."
Wow, who saw that coming? Certainly not the people who wrote this:
By investing in such programs as those that support cycling, walking, car pooling and public transportation, "Boulder County strives to make it easier for people to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, while conserving natural resources and living an active, healthy lifestyle," the county said in a report detailing its sustainability programs.
But what if people don't want those things?
Here's my prediction: Boulder County residents will get the least popular "alternative-transportation program:" Making personal transportation advisers available to advise residents and businesses on how to shorten commutes and reduce car use. That'll get their heads right.
Hey there, who's for some progress? Maybe an 11-fold increase in average incomes, doubling global life expectancy, stuff like that? This IBD Editorial explains how Progressives ignore the real benefits when calculating government required cost-benefit analyses.
Hydrocarbons provide 81% of world energy. Most important, the positive relationship between fossil fuel, economic growth and CO2 emissions is strong ó supporting $70 trillion per year in gross domestic product.
Under accepted benefit-cost analyses, proposed regulations would pass muster if the rules' benefits exceed their cost by a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. But employing the government's own carbon "cost" figures demonstrates that the ratios are dramatically reversed.
The benefits of using carbon-based fuel outweigh hypothesized "social carbon costs" by orders of magnitude: from 50-to-1 (using the inflated 2013 costs of carbon of $36/ton of CO2) to 500-to-1 (using the arbitrary 2010 $22/ton estimate). Any cost estimate is lost in the "statistical noise" of carbon and CO2 benefits.
If the world is serious about economic growth, living standards and affordable energy, fossil fuel is essential. Restrictions on hydrocarbon energy and faulty carbon cost analyses will only undermine progress in these areas.
"This issue is one of common sense and fairness - if a community decides to ignore all the science and all the facts and ban responsible energy development, those communities shouldnít be able to line up at the trough and benefit from responsible oil and gas development occurring in other parts of the State. It is the height of hypocrisy for the Boulders and Ft. Collins of the world to benefit from oil and gas taxes so long as they have an oil and gas ban in place." [the Peak emphasis]
"You look at the kind of Democrats who have been elected in the last few election cycles, and they are to the left, way to the left of center in Colorado, and they'll support this fracking ban," said Wadhams.
The Democratic Party's ability to keep its far left in line and avoid fractious battles on issues has helped it win the support of the business community, which values political stability. That could change if business leaders suspect Democrats are aligned with the anti-fracking forces.
"So you're watching the fracturing of the base, but also as important, theyíre going to alienate the business community and [even] the progressive business community," said Ciruli. "I don't think those people won't give to Hickenlooper, but they might not give to these Democratic Senate campaigns."
So Hick might still get donations but his base will not be behind him.
Don't tell blog friend JC, but SUVs for paramecia are on their way
Boffins demo FIVE MICRON internal combustion engine
Getting an engine that small isn't easy. As the researchers, led by the Netherlands' University of Twente's Vitaly Svetovoy, explain in their Nature paper, even the mechanism by which they've managed to get combustion happening is debatable.
"It is not obvious that the reaction in nanobubbles and performance of the microscopic actuator are related. Nevertheless, we speculate that the gas combustion in the chamber happens via combustion in transitional nanobubbles," they write.
The search for a Liliputian V8 might sound silly, but the researchers say "a fast and strong actuator ... can be applied in microfluidics, micro/nano positioning, or in compact sound/ultrasound emitters".
Still, the more gas is available worldwide, the less leverage Putin will have in bullying neighbors and in talks with European powers such as Germany, which also depends on Russian gas.
That's the Denver Post Editorial Board speaking. And if that doesn't sound enough like the words of Republicans Cory Gardner and Rand Paul [starting at 5:00], among many others, the Post continues:
Not everyone agrees, of course. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., was among 20 House Democrats last fall who wrote to the energy secretary expressing concern LNG exports "would lead to greater hydraulic fracturing activity," which is probably true. But we would hope most members of Congress appreciate that fracking can be done safely, and that America's new energy bounty offers a huge opportunity to assist pro-Western governments abroad.
Read more: Liquefied natural gas as a geopolitical tool - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_25314888/liquefied-natural-gas-geopolitical-tool
Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook
Much has been made of the Russian naval base in the Crimea region of Ukraine, which Russia has a long-term lease upon. Why send troops to protect other troops? So the cover story is "to protect ethnic Russians" an excuse at least as old as the start of World War II. Sudetenland, anyone?
But what hasn't been reported, until this morning, is the vast network of natural gas pipelines in Ukraine, where about 80% of her neighbors get their natural gas, sourced from Russia. But the stakes are even higher for Ukraine herself, as she gets 65% of her own natural gas from Russia, who has not been shy in reminding them who's boss. Consequently, Ukraine has been working toward construction of compressed natural gas (CNG) terminals in Odessa, Ukraine, for the purpose of free trade consumption on world markets. Perhaps this taste of freedom is something Putin can not stomach.
Commander Victor Vescovo, USN retired, writes in Real Clear Defense:
The key to Ukraineís energy independence from Russia and, therefore, its ability to determine its own political future lies in Odessa -- the city, its port area and energy infrastructure, and the access to Black Sea it provides. Crimea is likely lost. But if Ukraine is to survive, all of its current focus should be on Odessa and preventing any Russian movements against this vital region from Crimea, Transnistria, or Russian territory.
Cdr. Vescovo outlines a fairly simple strategy to protect Odessa but also explains, with the help of a map, that Odessa, like Crimea and eastern Ukraine, is majority native Russian speaking.
1. Start fracking in Europe
2. Expand fracking in the US
3. Promote LNG exports
4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports
5. OK Keystone XL
6. Expand, not contract, nuclear power in Ukraine
7. Unify Cypress and build a new pipeline
"Finally, smart energy policies also would undermine other energy autocrats around the world, including Venezuela." And Iran.
A hybrid aircraft, this goofy looking vehicle is capable of heavy lifting and long flight times thanks to the buoyancy of helium gas. The UK Telegraph article that describes it touts its "low carbon" and "green" attributes. I call it a possibly cost-effective vehicle for heavy transport and other specialized uses - provided it is economical in its use of the non-renewable commodity, helium gas.
Government CEO: "What's in it [Keystone XL] for us?"
That's my new favorite term for 'politician' - Government CEO - because each and every decision seems to be based on how much the government, and consequently he, can profit by it. Take FL9 Representative Alan Grayson who wrote,
Well, the Chinese have figured it out. They're going to get their energy from Canada, a stable country, and pass it through the United States, another stable country. They will pay the Canadians the world price for oil. They will pay us nothing, or next to nothing. So Uncle Sam is Uncle Sucker.
And there at last is the real issue. Since the oil originates outside the country, state and federal governments can't charge confiscatory excise taxes. And whatever is sold outside the country escapes any consumer fuel taxes. Grayson offers a possible solution, however:
All of the oil that passes through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has to be sold in the United States. Why not the same rule for the Keystone XL Pipeline? But instead, we allow a tax-free zone, to facilitate Chinese energy independence at the expense of our own. Why does Uncle Sam have to be Uncle Sucker?
Because increasing supply will drive down costs, Uncle Douchebag. No, you won't get any revenue to buy votes with but American consumers, whose transportation costs represent 17% of the average household budget, will get some pocketbook relief. Then again, you wouldn't want any of your constituents thinking they could be happy and prosperous without your beneficience, would you?
Domestic energy prices have likewise increased dramatically. Over the past 10 years, energy prices have more than doubled as government energy policy has become increasingly ideological and counterintuitive. Increasing energy costs adversely affect the middle class disproportionately.
And this informative chart from the "17 percent" link above.
Look, Obama administration, if you don't want to build the Keystone Pipeline, just come out and say so. Take the political lumps and get it over with. Enough of this perpetual "well, we just need to review it a few more months" limbo. To put the length of time of this review in perspective, when they first sought approval to build the pipeline, the fossils that make up the fossil fuel of the oil were still walking around. -- Jim Geraghty
(Pointing out even my-former-Senator-your-former-SecInterior Ken Salazar is for it.)
California's project is one of several lingering on drawing boards since being promoted by President Obama's first-term stimulus bacchanal. To call these projects "high-speed rail" is to stretch a concept. They involve dollops of federal money dangled in return for states agreeing to talk about high-speed rail, draw up plans for high-speed rail, conduct studies of high-speed rail, pour concrete and move earth around in ways vaguely suggestive of high-speed rail at some point in the future. -- Holman Jenkins, Jr.
It depends on the particular type of panel of course, and efficiencies may have improved but still, I wonder how many solar PV evangelists know that the energy produced in the first 2-10 years of their system's operation all goes to pay back the energy consumed to create the things in the first place? "Woo hoo, halfway through my solar PV warranty period I'm finally net energy positive! Feel the clean power baby!"
I heard this topic discussed on a local liberty-oriented radio show last night, where the claim was that the energy of manufacture exceeds the energy produced over a lifetime. While that may be true at extreme latitudes it's a credibility-destroying exaggeration.
Like some others on this blog, I am torn. The Tesla is a cool car and an engineering marvel. But this freedom lover is pretty tired of seeing it hailed as a "success story" of government involvement. If they sold a couple hundred to some rich Hollywood guys and had hopes of expansion I'd be a big booster. But the company exists only because of subsidies, and I have seen many a weasely exec or supporter dance around any such question.
Ergo, I have to withdraw support -- and giggle uncontrollably at the difficulties facing folks whose six-digit playthings do not have sufficient range in cold weather.
For now, drivers are looking for creative ways to cope with less heat, especially on long trips. On the Tesla forum, one Model S owner recommends buying heated jackets and gloves designed for wearing on motorcycles. Dahn says the solution is "snowmobile suits."
Hat-tip: Insty, who also has a link about global cooling. Better get a Thinsulate™ Snowmobile suit, Teslans! The link contains this embed; Weld County is Home Sweet Home to a few ThreeSourcers.
Blog Brother jg is on a campaign to protect our majestic national bird. He may have an ally in the do-nothing 113th Congress, if they can only dig deep and live up to the sobriquet:
The media are saying that the 113th Congress is on track to be "the least productive" on record--as if that's bad for the country. Let's hope gridlock lasts long enough to kill the crony capitalist special known as the wind production tax credit.
This subsidy that was supposed to be temporary is now 20 years old, providing a taxpayer gift to wind companies of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. The handout would cost $18 billion over the next five years. The good news is that it is due to expire on December 31 unless Congress acts to extend it, so House Republicans can accomplish something for taxpayers by doing nothing.
The subsidy covers much of the cost of production, allowing the bird murderers to pay utilities to put their blood-soaked product on the grid. It's time we spoke up and did nothing!
Electric company establishes surcharge to customers to subsidize boutique power.
Initial kickback set at about 50 percent of installation cost.
Chinese "predatory pricing" and old fashioned competition drive costs down.
Electric company reduces surcharge.
Non-competitive boutique power installers whine that they "can't afford to pay employees."
Rilly? You were able to pay them when you paid half the cost to start with. What gives?
Oh, it's harder to sell your product to customers. I see.
Every morning you greet me.
I hate to take my eye off the unfolding ObamaCare® debacle (really, I do, it is too much fun!) But we must wonder sometimes what magic might happen in areas where government left a modicum of opportunity for freedom and innovation.
Three stores in the Internet Segue Machine:
1. Energy fact of the day: Within months, the US will have three oil fields producing more than 1 million barrels per day
Recent U.S. production growth has centered largely in a few key regions and has been driven by advances in the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies. Given the importance of drilling productivity trends as a driver for future domestic production, EIA has been developing new approaches to assess the productivity of drilling operations.
2, Natural Decarbonation U.S. carbon emissions fell in 2012, thanks to the oil and gas industry.
The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported last week, to too little media fanfare, that U.S. energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions declined 3.8% in 2012, bringing C02 emissions to their lowest level since 1994. The only year since 1990 with a steeper decline was 2009 amid an economic recession. The 2012 decline occurred even as the economy grew 2.8%
3. -- let me know if you'd like a copy mailed over the paywall -- The Coming Carbon Asset Bubble Fossil-fuel investments are destined to lose their economic value. Investors need to adjust now by Al Gore and David Blood
But when investors mislabel risk as uncertainty, they become vulnerable to the assumption that since it cannot be measured, they might as well ignore it.
That is exactly what is happening with the subprime carbon asset bubble: It is still growing because most market participants are mistakenly treating carbon risk as an uncertainty, and are thus failing to incorporate it in investment analyses. By overlooking a known material-risk factor, investors are exposing their portfolios to an externality that should be integrated into the capital allocation process.
Don't everybody get on E-Trade at once to dump their XOM! It's not ObamaCare, it was not designed to handle this kind of volume!
The WSJ Ed Page brings word of an disturbing escalation.
In its zeal to impose the ethanol boondoggle, Congress has mandated it, subsidized it, and protected it from competitors. Now some Senators are siccing prosecutors on those who still won't get on their ethanol cornwagon.
That's the gist of a recent letter from Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, demanding the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission investigate the oil industry for "anticompetitive practices aimed at blocking market access for renewable fuels." That's Senatorial Cornspeak for saying oil companies should have to put their gas stations in the service of Big Ethanol.
It seems a Phillips 66 service station in Kansas (you think you can make this stuff up) converted pumps to sell E85 and E15. Then The Man intervened:
According to the Renewable Fuels Association, Phillips 66 insisted that the franchisee use at least one of its tanks to sell Phillips' premium gasoline. Phillips 66 refused to comment on a private customer arrangement, though it "strenuously" denies it is trying to frustrate ethanol use.
They will not quit. "Access to Ethanol!" is the newest human right.
So that's how the Obama campaign raised so much cash "on the internet"
This could be an "Otequay of the Ayday" post:
ďWeíre all familiar with the J-curve in private equity,Ē said Joseph Dear chief investment officer at the California Public Employee Retirement System in March. ďWell, for CalPERS, clean-tech investing has got an L-curve for Ďlose.íĒ
ďOur experience is this has been a noble way to lose money,Ē Dear added.
From an article at thefederalist.com -- The Venture Corporatists - "Saving the planet" has made lot of investors richer. Taxpayers? Not so much, which concludes:
As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected ďsocial entrepreneursĒ reap a windfall.
Last evening I asked the President that my name be withdrawn from further consideration as his nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It appears that my nomination will not be reported favorably by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I am withdrawing so that the President can move forward with another nominee, allowing the FERC to continue its important work with a full complement of commissioners.
I cannot remember the last time it felt this good to be wrong! Hallelujah!
Energiewende means "energy revolution or transformation."
According to IBD, Energiewende has transformed electricity from a commodity to a "Third World Luxury."
Talk about turning back the clock.
Der Spiegel reports that German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier is asking his countrymen to live as if they are trapped in a backward Third World economy that can't keep the lights on. He has put together a list of energy-saving tips that surely makes the average German think he's living in Uganda rather than Europe.
Sounding a lot like Jimmy Carter, Altmaier suggests consumers avoid preheating ovens, fuzz their television pictures (because poor picture quality requires less energy), cook with lids on the pots and live with refrigerators that don't keep perishable items quite so cool. Sounds like East Germany all over again.
But this is what the Germans wanted -- in fact, it's what they almost rioted for.
"Motorists took notice when gas prices crept past $3 per gallon," continued Darbelnet. "Spending more on gas concerns consumers because it reduces savings and spending for everything else we need. Our leaders can help alleviate this economic burden by encouraging a national policy that stimulates production, limits price volatility, ensures greater efficiency and promotes alternative energy."
I have argued that Stealthflation contributes to higher fuel costs, but regulation is probably the larger culprit. Mandates and limitations on production, refining, blending and distributing all make fuel more expensive and less plentiful. The author previously concluded "the reality is that expensive gas is here to stay, which is tough on millions of people who need a car to live their lives" but if "our leaders" were to alleviate this economic burden, as he later suggested, then the 62% of people who believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.50 per gallon wouldn't have to "stop their whining." After all, the average household pays only about 4 percent of pre-tax income on gasoline. That's less than the portion it spends on food prepared at home.
Given the unambiguous atmospheric benefits of fracking -- it produces far fewer greenhouse gases than coal or traditional petroleum products -- and the big savings it's producing across the economy, expect the attacks on it to become more heated and vitriolic. Because the only thing many environmentalists hate more than a cheaper, cleaner potential energy source is an actualized one.
So says Nick Gillespie on a study of the positive effects of hydraulic fracturing. It adds $1200 to the average household. So: more protests!
Following Nissan's lead, manufacturers of electric or hybrid electric vehicles are slashing prices by the thousands as they all chase a wafer-thin 0.5% share of the new car and truck market. And one of them, Honda, has added a new sweetener - unlimited mileage leases! Which sounds good until you think about how far an EV can go on a charge, and how many hours it takes to recharge, and how many hours there are in a day.
Get ready for Ron Binz, America. His efficacy in raising our utility rates and regulating beyond the bounds of law has been recognized in high places and he is in line for a big promotion. The WSJ Ed Page does not seem to be a fan:
Yet that will seem minor if the next FERC chairman is Ron Binz--the most important and radical Obama nominee you've never heard of. An electric regulator in Colorado from 2007 to 2011, Mr. Binz is the latest Presidential nominee who doesn't understand the difference between making laws and enforcing them.
No, that's unfair. Mr. Binz doesn't care about the difference. In a recent interview with the Association for the Demand Response and Smart Grid trade group, reflecting on the lessons of his Colorado job, he nodded at the "judicial role" of regulators. But then he mused about their "legislative role" too: "I saw the commission not simply as an umpire calling balls and strikes, but also as a leader on policy implementation."
Oh boy. Binz will now be bringing those umpiring skills to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which used to be a quiet overseer of electric transmission and interstate pipelines
FERC was a sleepy regulator until the Obama Presidency, but it has statutory powers that could be turned into anticarbon weapons, such as the authority to impose fines of up $1 million per day for what it claims are violations. They also include the power to block energy mergers and the construction of terminals, pipelines and transmission.
You can bet that Mr. Binz will be creative and political, and don't be so sure his only target is coal. At an Edison Foundation panel this March, he called natural gas a "dead end" technology because "on the carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so." He added that "We have to do better on carbon than even natural gas will allow us to do." This is unusual in that the greens usually pretend to support gas to make outlawing coal seem more reasonable. Mr. Binz let the mask slip.
Mr. Binz is part of the White House's damn-the-voters strategy of imposing through regulation what Congress won't pass, and now he wants to glide into FERC without protest. But the Senate's advice-and-consent role is especially important because a FERC chairman has broad powers, much like a CEO's, even if other commissioners dissent--and the chairman is not supposed to carry Mr. Obama's banner. Mr. Binz's record and methods deserve far more scrutiny than they have received.
Odds of Binz's not being confirmed? Zero? One in 100? Over-and-under anybody? Of course he we will be confirmed and the War on Coal will be escalated to Natural Gas.
"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."
The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.
If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.
Ayn Rand said,
"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational manís life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive workópride is the result."
Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?
Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.
Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.
The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.
For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."
I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.
Railways suffer spills 2.7 times more often than pipelines. The State Department said trains spill 33 times more oil than pipelines. "The evidence is so overwhelming that railroads are far less safe than pipelines," says Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution's energy security initiative.
I have been a big Willie Nelson fan for a long time. I have recently upgraded him from "great songwriter and troubadour" to "guitar hero." Do yourself a favor and buy his most recent "Let's Face the Music and Dance." He does the great American songbook -- which is awesome -- but most notably, he seems to say "I'm Willie Nelson -- and I'm doing a guitar album."
Buy the album, get a T-Shirt, celebrate a great American legend by all means. But DO NOT buy his economics. Here he is on Facebook:
We like to root for safe technology and the little guys. Tesla Motors has a mission to use technology in electric cars that will make them affordable and help lesson global dependence on petroleum-based transportation. State legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Sign this petition to help Tesla Motors defend their right to sell directly to consumers:
I went around this topic with my pal JC, and I agree that the dealers are rent-seeking. I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep on either side of this issue. But my new favorite guitarist -- like my most honest progressive buddy -- sees Tesla as this great victim. I see them as a great leech. They would not sell 11 of their $100000 'lectric cars with no accompanying government bribes.
Willie likes to "root for the little guys." Please, we are shoveling money at Tesla and its customers as fast as we can so they can provide $100000 sports cars to the 1%.
Note that this is not the first time Nelsonomics has been discussed. Bob McTeer had some suggestions:
Economics majors understand the nonintuitive reality that real progress comes from job destruction. It once took 90 percent of our population to grow our food. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Pardon me, Willie, but are we worse off because of the job losses in agriculture? The would-have-been farmers are now college professors and computer gurus or singing the country blues on Sixth Street.
For alls of y'alls that missed it at Liberty on the Rocks -- looks like there's another chance. Stealing this from LOTR-F doyenne, Allison:
Have you heard conflicting stories about fracking? Have you heard rumors about how devastating it can be and are worried about the impact it will have on the earth? It can be super confusing, and knowing even the most basic facts can seem cumbersome. It can't just be me that feels this way.
Will you come with me to a free event tomorrow night at 6:30pm, at the Boulder Marriott (2660 Canyon Blvd, Boulder)? The creator of "Fracknation" will be screening his 1 hour documentary and answering questions about fracking. Did I mention it's free?
As the Colorado legislature considers SB 252, a Progressive's wet-dream of wind and solar energy company subsidies and payola - a bill that even the windmill lovin', Pigouvian tax endorsin', make people buy things they don't want advocatin' Denver Post says is "unnecessary and very likely unwise" - I've been over at the Keep Electricity Affordable FB page, picking fights.
I had plenty to say on plenty of threads but I just couldn't resist sharing this little gem here. A joke, that I made up all by myself.
Q: What did the windmill and the solar panel say to the hydroelectric dam?
A: Nothing. It was a calm night.
Thank you, Gov. John Hickenlooper, for standing up to the bullies who aim to control oil and gas deposits they do not own. By standing his ground, and defending private property rights, the governor protects the interests of a majority from a small community of extreme activists who use the environment as their cause.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The scene: a Manhattan art-house theater. The cause: a campaign against the gas drilling process known as fracking that's being led by more than 100 celebrities, including Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo and Mario Batali.
You guys can keep at it, but if Yoko is going to sing, I'm ready to quit fracking. And heat. And electricity.
"Renewable" Electricity - Even More Expensive than we Thought
Being more expensive sources for electrical generation than just about every alternative, wind and solar generated electricity never became a sizable player in the electrical market until goverment made it illegal to not use them. Now that government's "Renewable Energy Mandates" have nearly achieved their goal of 33% of all domestic generation the irregularity of their supply (at night or on calm days) has become the gorilla in the room. IBD Editorial:
One is that people pay for power on the assumption that it's there when they need it, not when the weather pleases. Another is that unreliable sources have to be backed up by reliable ones.
And here's the most expensive truth: The more you spend to subsidize unreliable renewables, the more you need to spend on backup power as well.
Either that, or you learn to live with routine brownouts.
Given the premise that Americans will not settle for the same availability of electric power seen in postwar Iraq, this means that the "replaced" natural gas generating plants will have to be maintained, in service and on-line, as backup to the fickle and failure prone generators preferred by the Church of Human Sacrifice. But since those plants aren't selling power on a daily basis, their existence must be ... class, class, anyone, Buehler? Subsidized.
So one big subsidy ó for renewable energy ó may end up begetting another ó for backup energy made necessary by the over-reliance on renewables.
And both will come out of consumers' pockets, through either higher power bills, higher taxes or higher prices for goods and services charged by businesses saddled with higher rates and taxes of their own.
Detractors like to say "Clean Coal doesn't exist" but Dr. Liang-Shih Fan is one of many scientists laboring, and succeeding, in accomplishing it.
Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and director of the Clean Coal Lab, has just completed a 203 hour test of a radical new way of obtaining energy from coal. Typical coal-fired power plants burn coal to boil water, and run the resultant steam through turbines to produce electricity. Fan's process, a new technology called "coal-direct chemical looping," does not burn the coal. Instead, it chemically converts coal to heat in a sealed reactor chamber. Tiny iron oxide beads help to deliver oxygen to the coal particles, which are then cycled through an airflow chamber for re-oxygenation, then run back through the reaction chamber. This is the "looping" in the technology's name. The process gives off no air pollution, and the captured carbon dioxide is ninety-nine percent pure, enough to make it a valuable commodity.
The test, which was run on a lab-sized reactor, produced a continuous twenty-five kilowatts of power.
25 KW! That could power a house! Or a car! Oh wait - carbon dioxide? Hasn't the EPA decided that carbon dioxide, necessary for plant growth, is a pollutant? Never mind. Back to windmills and bicycles.
Vaclav Smil in the American wonders "Is it too much to hope that even some catastrophists and peak-oil cultists will find it impossible to ignore the latest numbers?"
Yes. But the numbers do look good:
The reversal has been impressive: from 2008 to 2011, extraction rose by nearly 50 Mt to just over 352 Mt, a level last seen in the year 2000; the increase over those three years was more than the total 2011 output of such oil powers as Indonesia or Azerbaijan. North Dakota (Bakken shale) has been the principal locus of this production renaissance. At the beginning of the year 2000 there were fewer than 200 oil wells producing from the Bakken deposits, averaging about 10 barrels a day per well; by October 2012, there were nearly 4,800 wells with average daily flow of about 140 barrels of oil per well. North Dakota's oil output was 37 percent ahead of Alaskaís North Slope extraction and behind only Texas and the offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico.
A forecast by the U.S. Department of Energy sees a possible production increase of as much as 140 Mt/year by 2025, and the most recent review by the International Energy Agency (IEA) even sees the United States as the world's largest crude oil producer as early as 2017. That may be too much to expect but, in any case, U.S. oil output disproves any preordained and immutable validity of Hubbert's curves (which attempt to infallibly predict U.S. and world oil output for decades to come! No wonder that Leonardo Maugeri, the former senior executive vice president of strategies and development for Italy's largest oil and gas company, ENI, speaks about a genuine oil revolution).
So that's why gas is so cheap!
Kudlow and his panel have the answer. A million bbls. of refined capacity has been taken off the market over the last year.
Thirty years since we built a refinery, but we shut them down regularly (~2:00). What are the odds of building one -- can you imagine that's happening?
Except six years later, little has changed. The cellulosic ethanol industry produced zero gallons in 2011 and zero in 2012. But the EPA still required oil companies and refiners to buy 6.6 million gallons in 2011 and 8.7 million in 2012--and then to purchase millions of dollars of "waiver credits" for failing to comply with a mandate to buy a product that did not exist. This is the sort of thing that led to the Protestant Reformation. -- WSJ Ed Board
Weld County MILF (umm, that's Mothers In Love with Fracking) Amy Oliver talks to Jon Caldera. I embed because I have referenced this clip a couple times. The whole thing is worth a watch, but be sure to see how the sweet peaceful hippies of Boulder behave (7:00 - 10:00) when encountering a discussion of science.
A pessimistic assessment by Vaclav Smil in the American is full of schadenfruedeny-goodness. But I was struck by the news that Toyota has elected not to dive into the briny deep:
Perhaps most tellingly, in September, just a few days before Toyota's mini-electric eQ city car was to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show, the company announced that it was cancelling its plans to mass produce the vehicle. According to Takeshi Uchiyamada, the company's vice-chairman, "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge." If a company that has been in the forefront of innovative design, high-quality production, and consumer satisfaction and that in 2012 reclaimed its title as the world's largest carmaker (lost in the wake of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake) comes to such a conclusion, I do not see how other major competitors can succeed where Toyota refuses to even tread.
If I read this right, did the world's "proven oil reserves" just double?
Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be "equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves."
Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.
It's not like I didn't warn them. Germany's misguided effort to replace all nuclear power plants with "green" energy sources is already leading to higher costs, more taxes and frequent blackouts. Predictibly, the poor are the first to suffer as an estimated 200,000 households on government assistance had their power shut off due to unpaid bills.
Far from a well-conceived plan, and how could it be when reliable power sources are eschewed for wishful ones, the effort has led to chaos.
Meanwhile, Germany's 16 federal states are developing their own concepts, some of which are at odds with each other. Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer says that his state plans to develop a self-sufficient energy supply. But David McAllister, the governor of the northern state of Lower Saxony, has a plan based on supplying Bavaria with large amounts of electricity from wind farms off the North Sea coast.
What some grid operators, power plant owners and scientists are doing today is nothing short of flabbergasting. There are power plants that are not connected to the grid, power masts without lines, and power lines leading to nowhere.
"There is still quite a lot to do here," Rösler said when he emerged from the boiler room in Hönow. Petra Röfke, the owner, nodded. Rösler added that he couldn't have imagined so much waste. "It's crazy, isn't it?"
Crazy indeed. The last of the 3-part series German Energy Revolution, of which the linked article is part 1, ends thus:
Despite all the criticism, the experts still believe that the energy turnaround is the right thing to do. It just has to be done correctly, says Löschel.
When Environment Minister Altmaier was traveling this summer, he was often asked about the nuclear phase-out. In these conversations, his English-speaking counterparts matter-of-factly used Energiewende, the German word for the energy turnaround. The term has apparently become established worldwide.
Altmaier was pleased. But it remains to be seen whether talk of Germany's Energiewende will be taken as a compliment in the future, just as kindergarten and autobahn have entered the English language as largely positive terms, or whether Energiewende will become more of a derisive term, like "German angst."
How many times have we heard the left make baseless claims that Big Oil uses its money and influence to stamp out competition wherever it can, and thereby maximize their own profits? Investors Business Daily printed an editorial yesterday that now, finally, substantiates that claim. But it's not what you might think. In this case "Big Oil" equals Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia's state-owned oil monopolies.
Venezuela's state Foundation National Cinematheque has been financially linked to "Gasland," a 2011 anti-fracking documentary whose aim was to paint fracking in the U.S. as dangerous.
This week, the Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markey found that United Arab Emirates-owned "Image Media Abu Dhabi" financed "Promised Land," a Matt Damon film that shows U.S. oil and gas companies as greedy behemoths out to poison America's small towns.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been accused of financing radical environmentalist groups through foundations to undercut oil sands production in Canada, which is America's top supplier.
If you have to ask why they oppose American energy production, here is the answer:
All this signals something big is at stake in global power politics: fracking, which threatens petrotyrants as no nuclear weapon ever has. The Gulf states, Venezuela and Russia derive their power solely from their dominance in energy production, not by their economies.
If fracking and the combination of investment, high tech, expertise and geography enable the U.S. to produce natural gas at $3 a unit, while Russia can only do it at $10, the threat is obvious.
I know that someone is thinking that gas prices are going up, and when they do, electric cars will prove to be a smart thing. I'm not so sure. The CBO provided a breakeven on this line of thinking. If gas prices go north of $6, electric starts to make sense. When gas goes to $10, all of the vehicles break even to conventional autos. The problem I have with this line of reasoning is that if gas were to go to $8, the US economy (and the rest of the world) would come to an economic halt. In that environment a fellow would be grinning if he had an electric car, but he would probably be out of work, and most of the stores he would want to drive to would be closed. What good does the electric car create for him if things go very bad? Not much. -- Bruce Krasting Business Insider
I enjoyed this article, but I was disappointed because I knew I was not enjoying it as much as Johngalt would. I could be wrong, but there's a taste:
When it comes to energy, most discussions focus on narrow specifics: Should we use less oil? Should we use less coal? More nuclear? Wind power? Solar power? Should we use less power altogether? All of these questions are important, of course, but they are too often discussed in the complete absence of context. The bigger picture is that biology and anthropology tell us something very interesting about human beings: We are not simply beings that use energy, we are beings that exist only because we harnessed energy, and our use of energy has shaped our bodies and culture for millions of years.
Kenneth P. Green asks "Homo Sapiens or Homo Igniferens?" He answers that our use of energy drove our evolution, instead of some lucky break when these hairless large animals with the small teeth discovered fire.
It is easy for an engineer or economist to wax about our relationship with energy -- the biology and anthropology is interesting as well.
"The reason the economics fail in the US is not a failure of Wind, its a failure of greedy corporations to allocate costs in a manner that is for the common good. Energy is like air - it comes from God and should not be for-profit. COOPs are the most cost efficient way to deliver electricity. Remove the corporate overhead with multi-million dollar salaries for CEO's and the economics of wind are obvious."
Posted 3 hours ago as a comment on a blog post at one of my engineering trade magazines. The post itself is noteworthy, for it represents the first I can remember where the realities of alternative energy sources are given as much weight as the pollyanna political correctness.
And then there is the cost of wind per MW hr with the subsidy included. Without the subsidy - fuggedaboutit. And it looks like the forgetting will be happening soon. The tax credits for "alternative" (read unreliable) energy have not been renewed. What was that again? Renewables have not been renewed? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? There is a simple explanation.
Wind power does not succeed by capturing wind. It succeeds by capturing government.
Smith Dairy paid for the facility and trucks from its own corporate funds, executives said.
I don't normally open a post with an excerpt, but Dammit Jim, I'm a pundit, not a grammarian!
The quote is pulled from a story on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a motor fuel. Smith Dairy uses this in its [What has a horn and gives milk?"] delivery vehicles. They opened a station to both service their trucks and sell the fuel to the public.
The station currently sells CNG at the equivalent gasoline price of $1.95 per gallon. The station is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and takes credit cards. The natural gas comes in via a normal gas pipeline buried under the street and is compressed on site using two made-in-Ohio Ariel Corp. gas compressors.
I hear every day that we need government to provide the infrastructure for a conversion (T. Boone Pickens and blog brother Silence Dogood) or that it must mandate fuel types to automakers (Bob Zubrin) to provide demand.
But here's a dairy company (ice cream cones at the grand opening) fueling its vehicles and others with $2 gas. It is clear from the article that it is done purely to save the planet. But I wonder if somebody might be able to somehow make a buck at that.
Capitalism is not, Monbiot is forced to admit, a fragile system that will easily be replaced. Bolstered by huge supplies of oil, it is here to stay. Industrial civilization is, as far as he can now see, unstoppable. Gaia, that treacherous slut, has made so much oil and gas that her faithful acolytes today cannot protect her from the consequences of her own folly. -- Walter Russell Mead
Why oh why do leftists want to conscript poor children to poverty?
LORDI, India -- Sohan Singh's shoeless children have spent most of their lives hungry, dirty and hot. A farmer in a desert land, Mr. Singh could not afford anything better than a mud hut and a barely adequate diet for his family.
But it just so happens that when the hard little bean that Mr. Singh grows is ground up, it becomes an essential ingredient for mining oil and natural gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing.
The increase in guar prices is helping to transform this part of the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India, one of the world's poorest places. Tractor sales are soaring, land prices are increasing and weddings have grown even more colorful.
Not a phrase one expects to encounter. But that good fracking sand has to come from somewhere, don't it? Why not "America's Sandbox?" Prof. Mark J,. Perry:
I spent the weekend along the Mississippi River in Buffalo City, Wisconsin, about 120 miles south of Minneapolis-St. Paul (across the river from Winona, Minnesota), where there is a growing controversy in sand-rich southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin ("America's Sandbox") about mining for frac sand (the silica sand used for hydraulic fracturing). While starting my drive this morning to the Minneapolis airport, I took pictures of the two signs above that help tell the story of the controversy
Free markets make millionaires out of sand farmers.
W. R. Mead on the Energy Revolution (Part I, the Losers)
We all seem to be WRM admirers here, more or less, so it was probably only a matter of time before one of the blog brothers posted this but...is it wrong of me to be so happy about these losers?:
If the US, Canada and Israel are the likeliest big winners, the biggest losers in the coming shift will be the Gulf petro-states and Russia. Their Gulf losses arenít going to be economic; the Gulf will still have the worldís cheapest oil to produce and so its oilfields will be the most profitable at any given price point.
Russia, on the other hand, is going to have a harder time. Its oil and gas are more expensive to produce and so Russiaís profit margins are likely to fall.
But regardless of the simple economic impact, in different ways and different degrees the Gulf countries and Russia are going to lose a lot of the political advantages that their energy wealth now gives them. They will have less ability to restrict supply and to manipulate prices than they have had in the past. Oil and gas are going to be less special when supplies are more abundant and more broadly distributed.
Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong. In 1975 MK Hubbert, a geoscientist working for Shell who had correctly predicted the decline in US oil production, suggested that global supplies could peak in 1995. In 1997 the petroleum geologist Colin Campbell estimated that it would happen before 2010. In 2003 the geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes said he was "99% confident" that peak oil would occur in 2004. In 2004, the Texas tycoon T Boone Pickens predicted that "never again will we pump more than 82m barrels" per day of liquid fuels. (Average daily supply in May 2012 was 91m.) In 2005 the investment banker Matthew Simmons maintained that "Saudi Arabia Ö cannot materially grow its oil production". (Since then its output has risen from 9m barrels a day to 10m, and it has another 1.5m in spare capacity.)
Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time.
The horror. The horror.
(Note, I am about to head out to the wilds for 24 hours or so, sorry but next 5 Best Song not quite ready...)
It's not every day you hear a cabinet member praising authoritarians abroad. Then again, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unleashes so many preposterous statements he makes Joe Biden look like a high priest of Vulcan.
Mister Limbaugh that is -- not the Canadian, Objectivist Rockers. These are the end times. But when the man is right...
If youre in the DC area, are you happy you don't have an electric car? Yeah, with the power outages, are you happy you don't have an electric car? Because two million, five million, three schmillion, whatever. Aren't you glad you don't have an electric car? By the way, how are those windmills working out for you? How are the windmills and solar panels working out? Are they running your air-conditioning for you? As you sit there and sweat away, how are things doing in the nation's capital? All those windmills are really working out, huh? Solar panels, yeah, man, that's the future. There you are, sitting there, sweating, stinking like a stuck pig for three days, and it's gonna be this way for another week..."
"Ellis Wyatt" is the nom-de-blog of a man who has spent the last 14 years in politics and government. A great admirer of the works of Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein, his approach to life is perhaps best represented by the Neo-Victorian phyle in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.
He believes that his country, the United States of America, has been weakend spiritually, philosophically and educationally by Marxism and its branches: feminism, postmodernism and the quest for radical equality of outcome.
He has the desire and the Will to take action to return the culture to its former, higher level. However, he does not advocate government power as the means to this end. Instead, he advocates that leaders, and all citizens, speak and write and create art to convince individuals to perform the actions that lead to the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
He believes people should work for a living, take care with their appearance and possesions and contribute to their community through charity, volunteer work and mentoring, but knows damned well that the government can never force individuals to do these things. Neither can government save the irrational and the foolish from the consequences of their actions. Government is a powerful and dangerous tool, as the Founders of the United States well understood. It is suitable for a few big things: military defense of the nation, relations with other nations, protection of individual rights and the prevention and punishment of force and fraud.
Ellis is not nearly as much of an ultra-uptight, upright a****** as you might expect from the above blah-blah, and his activities and pursuits include firearms and hunting, archery, chess, history and biography, and the moderate but hearty consumption of martinis, good scotch and Sam Admas lager. He has a liberal arts degree from a modest but high-quality university, and truly loves producing oil and gas but believes that if things don't change, at some time in the futre he may set his wells on fire and move to Colorado.
Tempted to start a Facebook fight with this. It's been a while, and this speaks well to my point. Yet this is our third day of triple digit heat, I fear there are two new fires (le Condo d'Amour is covered in dense smoke), and it is unlikely that anybody is in the mood. Of course, that has not slowed down my reason-deficient interlocutors.
But Walter Russell Meade points out -- and Insty links -- that free market innovation is doing more for the environment than (don't laugh) the UN and top-down controls:
As activists in Rio and around the world mourned the failure of yet another useless summit to do anything about climate change, good news on the CO2 front was coming from the country greens love to hate: the US.
While Europe has adopted a plethora of expensive laws without any significant effect on CO2 emissions, the US is substantially reducing its emissions even as air pollution levels drop. As a CNN report puts it:
[SPOILER ALERT!] IT'S FRACKING!
Right now, fracking is doing more to control carbon emissions than all the efforts of all the greens in the world. And by promoting American (and Chinese!) domestic energy production, it is doing more to lay the foundations of world peace than all the peace activists and disarmament campaigners in the world. And by creating more well paid blue collar jobs both in gas and oil extraction and in the manufacturing industries that will grow to exploit the new cheap energy sources, fracking strengthens the American economy and the tax base, providing revenues for both federal and state governments.
UPDATE: Well, I did put it on Facebook. Hang on...
Last week I noted that Sierra Club is preparing a "Beyond Natural Gas" advocacy effort as part of its "none of the above" energy strategy. Today the reactionary big-oil shills at the Denver Post editorial board joined my disapprobation.
The executive director of the influential environmental group recently wrote: "It's time to stop thinking of natural gas as a 'kinder, gentler' energy source."
To be blunt, no, it is not time.
We are dismayed that this group is repositioning itself as an anti-gas group, going as far as to proclaim that it will lobby to stop all new gas-fueled power plants.
It seems to us that as market conditions and technological advances have led to a boom in availibility of cheap natural gas, the backtracking is born of fear ó fear that this nation will come to rely on this "transitional fuel" as a long-term solution.
Disapprobation of environmental extremism deserves approbation. I don't say this every day but ... bravo, Denver Post, bravo.
That is where the American environmental extremist group Sierra Club must intend to take American energy consumers.
On Monday I wrote about the use of natural gas as a political alternative to more prevalent and less costly coal as a source of electric power. That effort is supported by Sierra Club in their "Beyond Coal" campaign. But they aren't waiting for Phase I of Operation Nineteenth Century to be completed before launching Phase II: "Beyond Natural Gas." (Not "natural" enough?) Sierra's strategic coordination leaves much room for improvement.
Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. "Fracking," a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers canít extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas. [Emphasis mine.]
After the requisite "what do you mean 'we' Kemosabe" the next thing I notice is how this message is designed to appeal to the feeler-perceiver contingent of the public but offers no evidence for the thinker-judgers among us. Fear, uncertainty and doubt anyone? Showing a glass of drinking water doctored with contaminants so expertly as to make Don Draper proud, the campaign against the hydraulic fracturing process seems to revolve mostly around the shorthand name for the method containing letters "F" and "K".
Blogger Jay F. Marks explains that Sierra Club took millions in donations from natural gas corporations for the purpose of bashing coal, but new Sierra Club director Michael Brune opened a new chapter in the war on reliable and affordable energy.
The Sierra Club once had a cozy relationship with the natural gas industry, taking more than $25 million in contributions from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its subsidiaries to fund the fight against coal.
Brune ended that relationship when he took over as the environmental groupís director in March 2010. He said the club originally worked with Chesapeake because staff and volunteers concluded natural gas might be a viable alternative to coal in electricity generation, but some local chapters developed increasing concerns about gas production.
Let's fast forward, shall we?
Incoming Sierra Club executive director Barnaby Owleton said today that building and maintaining thousands of acres of monstrously large industrial machines to convert wind to electricity is a thorougly discredited process and a clear danger to migratory birds across the nation. "Extinction of multiple species is not just a possibility, but a certainty, if we don't act immediately to move Beyond Wind."
One or two election cycles later...
Woody Weederstein, in his first official statement as new Sierra Club director, slammed the solar electric energy industry for the consequences imposed upon the areas of our planet that are permanently and unavoidably shaded by solar power conversion panels. "In the name of all that is green" he said, "we as Americans have no moral choice but to move Beyond Solar."
And after they succeed in eliminating energy produced by magical unicorn farts the only remaining strategy to "save the planet" will be energy efficiency, which is just another name for rationing. I have a better idea: Hey Sierra Club - Frack off.
Last week I wrote about the Denver Post's utter bewilderment that presidential candidate Mitt Romney would give a stump speech in rural Craig, Colorado (after all, there haven't been any layoffs there ... yet) and countered with the news coverage of the event by Routt County's Steamboat Today.
Today that much more objective publication runs an editorial by Rob Douglas that delves deeper into the contrast that Governor Romney is offering.
Agree or disagree with Obamaís goal, one fact is undeniable. When Obamaís intent became public, every man and woman working in coal-related jobs realized that Obama had placed a bulls-eye on their livelihood. Many of those men and women call the Yampa Valley home.
So when Romney sought the perfect venue to confront Obamaís claim of an ďall-of-the-aboveĒ energy policy, Northwest Colorado was a natural choice. Romney is calculating that he can increase his odds in November by siding with folks employed in fossil fuel industries in states like Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania ó all battleground states this year.
After all, Romney has a point when he argues that Obama has continued his war against coal.
This spring, having watched his cap-and-trade legislation die in the U.S. Senate when Democrats abandoned the bill in 2010, Obama bypassed Congress and used the Environmental Protection Agency to start implementing mercury emission, cross-state pollution and greenhouse gas regulations that will kill the coal industry.
But Douglas articulates a much more important message - one I have recognized but as yet not really written about: Coal is not the target. Pragmatic politicians cannot merely "sacrifice" the coal industry conifident in the fact that lost jobs will be replaced by growth in the natural gas industry. If coal is ever defeated the next environmental villain will be natural gas.
Coincidentally, on the same day Romney was speaking to the crowd gathered at Alice Pleasant Park in Craig, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to the International Energy Agency, ďglobal exploitation of shale gas reserves could transform the worldís energy supply by lowering prices, improving security and curbing carbon dioxide emissions, but the industry might be stopped in its tracks if it doesnít work harder to resolve environmental concerns.Ē
Of course, everything after the ďbutĒ in that last sentence is where the battle lies. Because as can be witnessed even here in the Yampa Valley, there are some who will never accept fossil fuels as part of Americaís energy policy. And just as coal is under attack, these individuals and organizations are mounting battles to prohibit the use of fracking to extract oil and gas ó the same oil and gas that Americans have been led to believe could replace coal as an energy source.
And hydraulic fracturing is only the first battlefront in the coming War on Natural Gas. That little "feature" of natural gas called "curbing carbon dioxide emissions" will be its undoing for natural gas is not without CO2 emissions, and once its use has been predicated on reducing that "pollutant" it can hardly remain a viable energy source since it can also be shown to be a "dirty" fuel.
"First they came for the coal, and I said nothing."
In January, the Spanish government ended absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable-energy industry, and the renewable-energy industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable-energy industry at all. It was a government-subsidy industry where in exchange for creating conscience-soothing but otherwise inefficient windmills and solar panels, the government gave the makers piles of cash consumers never would have. -- Jonah Goldberg
Bloody spaniards! I'm glad we are so much more sophisticated over here.
Mitt Romney made a whistlestop visit to Craig, Colorado on Tuesday after seeing this video, which was sent to him by Frank and Kerrie Moe, the hotel-owning couple who star in it. The event was covered by the Denver Post and Steamboat Today, and one is left wondering if the Post's Sara Burnett was at the same rally as was Steamboat Today's Scott Franz.
Unemployment in Moffat County was about 8.3 percent in April ó higher than the state average, which increased slightly to 7.8 percent last month. But local miners and the mayor of Craig said the local coal industry has been stable, with no layoffs or reduced hours at the local mines or the power plant.
According to Franz, however, local resident Buchner sees life differently in the remote coal-mining and power generating town:
"We really believe Romney has the tools and the knowledge to get the economy going," Buchner said, adding that she only recently became politically active because of the economy. "When I talked to different people (at the rally), they were worried about money. People cannot get jobs. This is not an election to sit out." She said she doesnít think President Barack Obama can turn the economy around.
Not to worry though, Burnett says:
The Obama campaign counters that the president's "all of the above" energy approach includes clean coal, as well as wind, solar, natural gas and other sources renewable energy sources. They also note the president made one of the most significant investments in development of clean coal technologies with $3.4 billion in stimulus funding.
Now, one has to wonder if Burnett and "the Obama campaign" agree with Al Gore who says "clean" coal "doesn't exist." Clearly this administration will spend billions of taxpayer dollars on something while at the very same time regulating it out of legal existence.
Sort of. Yesterday afternoon my dad emailed that "Mitt is speaking in Ft. Lupton tomorrow." I pressed him for more and he sent me a Denver Post press mention that sent me into search mode for an invitation. Having just exchanged emails with Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call the day before, I decided I'd try to ask him for an entree. Waiting nervously for his reply I also called my county commissioner with the same request. Both of them came through and before I knew it I was on the list. "We would love it if you could attend. Thanks for your support!" Turns out, it was set to happen in an oil field just a few miles away.
The setting was idyllic, considering it was one of those "environment destroying, wildlife maiming" oil wells. Governor Romney used the occasion to criticize President Obama's "all of the above" energy policy. "I've been trying to figure out what he means by that," Mitt said. "I've concluded that he supports any form of energy that is above the ground. He doesn't like those that happen to be under ground."
He also cited the President's statistic that America has just 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. "But this is old thinking" Romney said. "Recent discoveries and new technologies like horizontal drilling and fracking have created a new reality where the United States could become the world's leading producer of oil based energy." He extended this future vision to "an explosion in American industry and manufacturing, leading to greater prosperity for everyone." Of course, "Energy isn't the only factor in this equation, but it is a big factor."
Belated apologies to any local blog brothers who missed out on the opportunity. I would have posted the news and offered to share the RSVP info but had two other appointments that kept me busy.
I also captured the entire speech on video and might post some excerpts down the road.
A favorite TV show growing up was Lee Majors starring as the "Six-Million Dollar Man." After crashing the test flight of an experimental aircraft, Steve Austin was fitted with "bionics" that made him "better, stronger, faster." President Obama has been trying the same thing in America's energy market, with less success. Investors Ed Page says Obama Fought Oil and Lost; Now it's Back to Reality.
In other words, even a fast-forward to 23 years from now doesn't reveal an energy economy substantially different from today's. Obama has run up quite a price tag trying to deny this reality.
By one recent estimate from analysts sympathetic to the green-economy agenda, the government spent $110.3 billion in tax credits, loans and grants to promote the green economy from 2009 to 2011.
The Obama administration also has leaned against oil and toward the environmental lobby whenever the two were in conflict -- most notably in his decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline. What do we have as a result? High gasoline prices, a bigger federal deficit and not-ready-for-prime-time electric cars.
Energy is bound to be one of the key issues in this year's presidential election, and for once the question won't be about managing scarcity. It will be about how to take advantage of the abundant resources under our feet. Barack Obama fought oil and lost, and the next president can learn from his mistake.
Come on. Sure, gas prices are high in Greece, but that's a country with enormous public debt, slow economic growth, excessive bureaucracy, no fiscal discipline in its lawmakers, an electorate of spoiled and entitled citizens who expect generous social-welfare programs and other people to pay for them, increasing economic activity on the black market, a ludicrously complicated tax code . . . they're nothing like us! -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
Here I have a modest suggestion. If Representative [Joseph P. II] Kennedy knows a way to go out and produce another barrel of oil somewhere in the world for $11 a barrel, he would do a world of good if he would actually go out and do it himself, as opposed to simply asserting confidently in the pages of the New York Times that it can be done. People with far more modest fortunes than Kennedy inherited are out there using their resources to try to bring more of the physical product out of the ground.
And many, many more would be attempting the feat if it were remotely possible to produce a new barrel of oil for anywhere close to $11.
If you want to prove me wrong, Mr. Kennedy, then don't talk about how easy it is to produce more oil -- just go do it.
The whole piece is great. He asks the Kudlow question, viz., Whyizzit that speculation drives crude prices up but natgas prices down? Only one side is evil?
Some sense and clarity for your Monday -- Hat-tip: Mankiw.
But the good Senator (Pork -- AK) makes an excellent point in a guest editorial today. It is now ten years after we were told it would take ten years to get product from ANWR:
But the most blatant excuse is one that officially expires this week. Because oil might take up to 10 years to reach market, we were told that the nonwilderness portion of ANWR could not be part of the solution to our energy challenges. Nearly every senator who spoke against the amendment in 2002 listed this as a factor in his or her decision.
Now, 10 years later, it is plain to see that the argument was not just wrong, but backward. Instead of being a reason to oppose development in ANWR, the time it takes to develop the resource should be treated as a reason to approve it as quickly as possible.
Consider what would be different today had the Senate agreed to open those 2,000 acres a decade ago. If production were coming online right now as expected, it would be providing our nation with a number of much-needed benefits--including a lot more oil.
I'm wondering about sending that mortgage payment in this month. Man, it'll be 15 years before it is paid off...
Government General Motors researches new battery technology at its Alternative Energy Center in Warren, Michigan. They had a bit of an accident there last Wednesday.
Warren Mayor James Fouts described the injury to the hospitalized worker as being serious. Fouts was in his office when he received a call about the explosion.
"I just want to say how very fortunate we are that only one person was seriously injured," said Fouts, who toured the site after the fire was extinguished. "There were 80 people in that building, but only one person received a possible concussion and some chemical burns, from what I've been told."
According to Fouts, the building housing the research lab received considerable damage.
"It was significant structural damage. Three very large windows were blown out and thick, fortified doors were forced open by the blast," Fouts said. "Our fire commissioner said the blast went straight up in the area where they test lithium batteries. The building was stuffed with personnel and equipment, but it was designed very well."
Fouts said he noticed a chemical taste in his mouth when he was at the blast site.
While the United Mine Workers of America likely wonít actively oppose President Obamaís reelection bid, Roberts said the new EPA regulation could prevent the union from endorsing the president.
ďThatís something that we have not done yet and may not do because of this very reason. Our peopleís jobs are on the line,Ē Roberts said, adding that Obama has ďdone a lot of great things for the country.Ē
Roberts's [sic] comments underscore the vehement opposition to the new EPA regulations in coal states whose economies rely heavily on the fossil fuel.
I also really enjoyed this quote:
Roberts, in Tuesdayís interview with host Hoppy Kercheval, took aim at the Sierra Club, arguing the environmental groupís campaign to shut down coal plants is killing jobs.
ďThis is a broader problem for me than it is for the Sierra Club or the EPA,Ē Roberts said. ďAnd Iím convinced, Hoppy, that if you give the Sierra Club enough money, they could shut your job down. I donít know how theyíd do it, but theyíd figure out a way.Ē
Thanks to record sales, GM may cancel the extra week's hiatus they added to "control inventory."
Spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said GM may cancel the additional summer shutdown week at the factory if sales continue to be strong as expected. "We're going to see what market demands are between now and then," she said today.
They shut down production for lack of sales. Then they extended the shutdown a week. Now, they might cancel the extra week's shutdown. I just wish I owned GM stock. Oh, wait a minute...
Obamaís "green" preferences have already done GM immense damage by politicizing the Volt--a genuine engineering achievement that was supposed to cast a "halo" over Chevrolet's entire car line, but whose failure to achieve sales goals has instead become a widely publicized embarrassment. It's now a reverse-halo car. ... If the President really wanted to boost GM sales to the sort of red-blooded Heartland types who still buy American carsĖpeople who are probably not O.F.A. members--he should have said he plans to drive a Camry when he leaves office. -- Mickey Kaus
My least favorite act of lefty nonsense passed with little fanfare this year.
In fact, the only reason I know that the "North Korea Hour of No Power" happened at all was that I saw several posts in opposition. Not even one of my beloved moonbat Facebook friends was talking it up this year.
On March 31, some people will be sitting in the dark to express their "vote" for action on global climate change. Instead, you can join CEI and the thousands of people around the world who will be celebrating Human Achievement Hour (HAH). Leave your lights on to express your appreciation for the inventions and innovations that make today the best time to be alive and the recognition that future solutions require individual freedom not government coercion.
Of course, there was one FB post about "not buying gas on April 15 this year." XOM trembles...
Showing his keen grasp of free market forces, Obama has ordered Justice officials to investigate oil speculation. Of course, there's oil speculation. It's called the futures market. And watching Obama's policies instead of his words, those experts see higher prices coming ahead, as do most Americans in the poll.
When taking office, Energy Secy. Stephen Chu expressed a desire to drive U.S. gas prices to the European levels of $8-$9 a gallon, much like taxation on cigarettes to discourage their use. This administration has achieved more than half that European goal already.
And voters are taking note:
A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll this week finds about two-out-of-three Americans now disapprove of the Chicago Democrat's job on gas prices, whatever that's been.
Maybe if he started reminding them he "killed bin Laden..."
James Taranto has forcefully and eloquently taken on the ridiculous "fact checker" sections of media. All any of them are is an extra opportunity to add bias. Piling on is probably not worth the ones and zeros, but...I am almost in tears over today's WaPo "Fact Check."
It's a misstatement, so it gets the lightest sentence of "One Pinocchio." Fair enough, we all make mistakes. Asserting, in front of a cheering crowd, that the 20-26 year savings "over the life of the car" is annual savings seems like a large one, but I am all smiles and compassion today. The crowd was assured that there would be no math, but $8000 a year is $21.92 a day. What will you buy with your savings? If you bought five big SUVs, you could save $100 every day!
Okay, so I am more smiles than compassion. But assuming that is still a mono-pinocchial offense, the fact check goes on to show additional perfidy.
When Obama does say this talking point correctly, note the careful wording -- "$8,000 at the pump over time." He's talking about the savings on gasoline, the happy part of the story. But he has left out part of the total picture -- the costs of compliance with the new rules.
The standards are coming in two phases. The first, which affects cars in model years 2012-2016, will increase the average cost of model 2016 car about $950, while saving $4,000 in fuel, according to government estimates. So the net savings is about $3,000. The second set of standards, which affects cars in model years 2017-2025, will add $2,200 to the cost of a model 2025 car, while reducing fuel costs by $6,600, for a net lifetime savings of $4,400. (Gasoline is presumed to cost about $3.42 before taxes.)
There's "a complicated method" to get to $8,000 fuel savings:
If you disregard the cost
On a rule that kicks in in five years
That Kessler does not even document
Is anybody else's b******t detector going off? Glenn Kessler -- who does this for a living -- is prepared to forgive every sin except multiplying by 26?
Read the article six times, and you'll encounter no suggestion that the President nor his policies are not saving a gorram dime for nobody. You choose to buy the car you buy (unless he gets a second term) and factor in the mileage as part of your decision.
How many will put off buying a new, more efficient vehicle because of the $6600 addition to the sticker price? (Hey, if he can use 2017-2025 figures, so can I!) That's a side of CAFE that gets way too little attention.
MAD Magazine had a "What's wrong with this picture?" spoof where there were obviously many things amiss. The answer was "The headline: This was supposed to be the 'What 1,000 things are wrong with this picture?' picture." In reverse, there are a thousand things wrong with the President's claim to be saving his unquestioning minions eight grand a year. Kessler finds one.
The renewed focus on bird kills is coming at a bad time for the wind industry, which is being hammered by low natural-gas prices and a Congress unwilling to extend the 2.2 cents per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit that has fueled the industry's growth in recent years.
Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks--as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act--are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.
A pernicious double standard is at work here. And it riles Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who wrote the petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He told me, "It's absolutely clear that there's been a mandate from the top" echelons of the federal government not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws.
I enjoy tormenting my Facebook friends with this. Their response? "More birds are killed by cats." I guess that is the new standard -- if your technology kills fewer wild animals than natural predators do, everything is copacetic.
Hope Brother nb is on the road this week, as we've been harshing on the mellow of wind power.
But the WSJ Ed Page reports that a 20 year old subsidy, designed to give the nascent industry some funding so that it could compete in the free market is up for renewal (I mean, really, what can you accomplish with technology in a mere twenty years?)
The most dishonest claim is that wind and solar deserve to be wards of the state because the oil and gas industry has also received federal support. That's the $4 billion a year in tax breaks for oil and gas (which all manufacturers receive), but the oil and gas industry still pays tens of billions in federal taxes every year.
Wind and solar companies are net tax beneficiaries. Taxpayers would save billions of dollars if wind and solar produced no energy at all. A July 2011 Energy Department study found that oil, natural gas and coal received an average of 64 cents of subsidy per megawatt hour in 2010. Wind power received nearly 100 times more, or $56.29 per megawatt hour.
Pigs at the government trough. Glad none of my brave Republicans are particip -- umm, wait a second.
Most Congressional Democrats will back anything with the green label. But Republican support for big wind is a pure corporate welfare play that violates free-market principles. Last week six Republican Senators--John Boozman of Arkansas, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Charles Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas and John Thune of South Dakota--signed a letter urging their colleagues to extend the production tax credit.
"It is clear that the wind industry currently requires tax incentives" and that continuing that federal aid can help the industry "move towards a market-based system," said the letter. What's the "market-based" timetable--100 years? In the House 18 Republicans have joined the 70-Member wind pork caucus. Someone should remind them that in 2008 and 2010 the wind lobby gave 71% of its PAC money to Democrats.
Senator Chuck Grassley for an energy boondoggle? Mai Non! I refuse to believe it!
To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine -- despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide. -- Matt Ridley, via Kenneth P Green.
Why, it's the Chevy Volt of course! It's won several prestigious awards. It's just that nobody wants to buy it... Joann Muller at Forbes, delivers the bad news. But she is painfully even-handed in her appraisal.
Critics quickly jumped on that news as evidence that the Volt is a wasteful folly and the federal government shouldn't be meddling in the auto industry. Never mind that the Volt was conceived long before GM's 2009 taxpayer-financed bankruptcy. As investors with a 32% stake in the world's largest carmaker, taxpayers ought to be pleased by GM's uncharacteristic discipline in matching its vehicle production to real demand. Instead of overproducing Volts, and then heavily discounting them to get people to buy, GM is protecting its investment.
Bursting with pride, Joann, I'm bursting with pride! But...
The Volt's hefty pricetag, $41,000, no doubt scared away some buyers. Even with a $7,500 federal tax credit, it's a lot to pay for a four-seat Chevrolet. The lease price isn't bad at all -- $350 a month, with $2,500 down -- but consumers have somehow missed that marketing pitch, and that's GM's fault. There have been other issues, too: a government investigation into post-crash test fires (much ado about nothing) and the challenge of making people understand the Volt's unique gas-and-electric technology.
You see, ThreeSourcers, you don't have to pony up 40K and wait for your tax refund -- you can lease a volt for $350 a month with $2500 down!
The late great Andrew Breitbart would not mince words and I will try my hand at courage: I hate that damn car! It is the symbol of crony capitalism and disrespect for property rights, the fifth amendment, and the capacity of capital markets to drive innovation. The President and captive cronies at GE cannot make up for the markets' disinterest. Good Good Good!
I'm on record as being extremely interested in fuel from algae. You needn't bother searching for approbative remarks. But I differ with the President in thinking that it will be part of our fuel mix in the near future or that its promise justifies impeding petroleum production.
When will those cars you run appear?
The process still ain't too clear
To Obama we give thanks
As we're fillin' up our tanks
You can say he patronized
His excuses: agonized
You're plentiful, yeah
But your worth is undefined
I slipped on ya
On that boulder at low tide
People think youre kinda gross
As you squish between their toes
Scrub you off, you reappear
With our drains you interfere
Oh, algae, how you creep
In the shallows and the deeps
Can we use ya when we drive?
Barry's hopes will you revive?
To Obama we give thanks
As we're fillin' up our tanks
You can say he patronized
But algae, we still love ya, baby
Some use for you we will devise
There ain't a fuel source that comes close to you
At least that's what we theorize
But algae, algae
You're called nori when you're dried
Hey, at least Obama tried
[Soylendra] plans on paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up its own property in Fremont, Calif., but a separate leased property in nearby Milpitas sits vacant with barrels of unknown chemicals and lead-contaminated equipment, attorneys for the landlord, iStarCTL I L.P., said in recent bankruptcy court filings.
Okay, maybe barrels of goo with a picture of the Vice President on each...that would be better.
Heritage highlights a Rasmussen Poll. It seems Americans are not completely keen on paying ten grand for some rich ass****'s 'lectricar (and I'd love to see the results if they used my wording):
Just 29% of Likely U.S. Voters favor $10,000 government subsidies to encourage the purchase of electric cars, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-eight percent (58%) are opposed to such subsidies. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.
I'm pretty reluctant to argue with Richard Epstein. I might challenge Jeremy Lin to a game of one-on-one first. But, with all due respect, Professor Epstein...
Without question, the problem [high price of oil] can be traced back to a renegade Iran. For good and sufficient political reasons, the West has come to see that the Iranian nuclear threat is not just bluster. Indeed, it poses far greater risks to world peace and the political order than even a major disruption in oil supplies.
Hence an anxious West has now put into place a reasonably effective concerted effort to cut off Iran from the world's banking system, and to block the use of Iranian oil internationally, which has been made easier by the Saudis' willingness to expand their own shipments into the world markets. Nor have the Iranians sat back idly. They have cut off exports to the United Kingdom and France, a move that is largely symbolic. But the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which about one-third the world's oil supplies travel, is not symbolic. Nor is the movement of the U.S. aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, into the Strait of Hormuz, merely symbolic.
You are dead right that markets should set oil and gas prices. I'll also concur that both parties and most of the presidential candidates are prepared to use the issue stupidly (in Speaker Gingrich's case, profoundly and stupidly) wrong to attract votes.
But I read a great tweet last night. Sorry I have forgotten attribution, but some 140 character genius celebrated the tenth anniversary of the enviros rejecting ANWR drilling because "it would take ten years for any of that oil to come on line." In a just world, this would get a little press.
Oil futures would respond positively to not only the Keystone pipeline but also liberal permitting in the gulf, and a strong defense of fracking in the States which permit it.
UPDATE: Brother Keith's cartoon deserves an embed:
dagny shares a financial "article of the day" via email. "The interesting thing about this is the comments" she writes. "The majority of commenters seem to think that reducing business taxes (i.e. letting business keep the money they made) is a, 'handout,' or, 'corporate welfare.' Betcha they don't think that about refundable tax credits like the EIC."
And why wouldn't commenters such as Chicago's own "gsdfhdgjhfdhjjjjjkgkjgjks" believe that accelerated depreciation and an R&D tax credit are handouts to corporations. President Obama and groups like Clean Energy Works are turning the entire English language upside down:
A memo circulating from Clean Energy Works, an alliance of about 60 groups, outlines a strategy of framing tax benefits the industry receives as corporate welfare. The memo calls the messaging plan a "line of attack" to counteract the description of climate legislation as a national energy tax.
"What they don't want anyone to know is that the American people already have a national energy tax -- The Big Oil Welfare Tax -- in the form of billions of dollars in subsidies to the wildly profitable big oil companies," the memo adds.
So first, "subsidies" to specific corporations equate to a "tax" on individuals. Well, I can see the logic here if the effects of economic growth spurred by a larger (and cheaper) energy supply and continued government spending on unrelated programs are ignored. But this misses the real point that taxing something less than it might be taxed can not in any sense be considered a subsidy. The government is taking wealth from wealth-producing companies. In English this is known as "taxation."
But even if one believes, as I do, that "Big Oil" should be taxed just as much as any other industry it is erroneous to examine a few specific tax categories where rates may differ and proclaim preferential treatment.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the industry's effective federal income tax rate is more than two-thirds higher than the average for all manufacturing industries.
Furthermore, those throwing stones at the oil industry over corporate welfare would do well to first look in the mirror, for the vast majority of them are vocal proponents of so-called "renewable" energy.
Another EIA study shows renewable energy industries enjoy double the incentives of those for oil and natural gas."
But punitive taxation is nothing new in America or anywhere else where wealth is produced and standards of living have been raised. And despite taking one-quarter or more of the freely created wealth of for-profit corporations and individuals, they still manage to keep working and producing and, getting the shaft. Our commenter from Chicago put it succinctly in the comments to the original article. In reply to a previous sarcastic comment which read:
"Nice. kick businesses in the teeth--the ones who hire the most-- and increase gov spending and deficits. Now THAT'S the way to make jobs!"
KNOXVILLE--Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.
Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.
Well, that's in a command-and-control top down economy. Here in the good old USA, surely the market will be able to sort this out. Right?
As luck would have it, President Obama actually saved US and Canadian energy companies billions of wasted dollars by using the power of the regulatory state to stop construction of their "disastrous" tar sands pipeline. How do I know this? Al Gore says so.
"The analysis from the final EIS, noted above, indicates that denying the permit at this time is unlikely to have a substantial impact on U.S. employment, economic activity, trade, energy security, or foreign policy over the longer term." Source: Climate Progress
This is an important win not only for the thousands of activists who risked arrestóand for the hundreds who went to jail--but for all of us who want to try and role [sic] back the effects of the climate crisis, not magnify them.
And who could doubt the objective fiscal evaluations of Climate Progress?
We may support different candidates, but we'll all share revulsion with Cato's Patrick Michaels as he surveys the Gub'mint Motors Chevy Volt.
At the Detroit Auto Show this week, CEO Dan Akerson admitted that General Motors may have to cut back production of the Chevrolet Volt because the 4,600-plus Volts on the market now are about three times the monthly sales. Other figures put the GM hybrid carís inventory at an outrageous 120-plus days.
And, yet I read about their big month last month. It was great! They sold 1529! Man, things are really turning around. And all those naysaying bloggers are going to have to eat their... Umm, what?
More than a third of those were fleet sales to corporations. None of these were the traditional large-fleet purchasers, i.e. Hertz, Avis and the other big rental companies. They were more like Verizon and General Electric -- with GE having committed to buying 12,000 and having already purchased unspecified "hundreds," with continued "daily" deliveries, as The Wall Street Journal reported recently.
Then there are the direct taxpayer buys. Fifty to New York City. The city of Deland, Fla., brags about buying five with an Energy Department grant. The federal General Services Administration has bought 101 so far, but President Obama has ordered it to procure only hybrid or high-mileage vehicles by 2015. (The taxpayers buy about 60,000 cars a year for GSA.)
So, in addition to our taxpayer subsidy of $11,467,500 (no, that's not a lot in government speak -- but it's for fifteen hundred cars) we're buying the damn cars?
CATO suggests "Kill the car now. It's not cost-effective, and it's irritating taxpayers in an election year." But some folks might lose their jobs. And Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry wouldn't like that.
Starting with a more family-friendly -- if less poignant -- version of a favorite jg line, I give you Kenneth P. Green with a a classic of the genre. His short post encapsulates everything that is wrong with renewable fuels mandates. Nope, not gonna excerpt.
IT'S NOT A "RECALL," IT'S A "CALL BACK:" GM to call back 8,000 Chevy Volts."General Motors will strengthen the structure around the batteries in its Volt electric cars to keep them safe during crashes, a person briefed on the matter said Thursday. GM will ask Volt owners to return the cars to dealers for structural modifications, said the person, who did not want to be identified because GM executives plan to announce the repairs later Thursday." -- Instapundit.
Chevy Volt "selling like hotcakes!" sez Democrat, Michigan, Superannuated Congressman.
Romney is the only fellow in the United States who appears to think that the Volt is an idea whose time has not come. Clearly it has not come to him. The Volt is selling like hotcakes. -- John Dingell (D - Dreamland)
Oh man! Or, as they say on ESPN, "C'mon Man!" I'll be the first to concede that the figure of 250,000-in-federal-jack-per-Volt is a salacious, audacious figure. It's a headline grabber, it's link bait. It's a bit high.
But now that I have read the defense, it's standing up firmly. Insty links to Sebastian Blanco at AutoBlogGreen. Blanco disputes the $250,000 figure, with a flourish:
Oh, how easy it is to go viral on the Internet. All you have to do is be really, really bad at math. Or have an agenda.
The folks propagating 250K had an agenda. But were they bad at math? They divided subsidies by the current production. Likely that is not fair. Investments -- coerced from the taxpayers or not -- should be amortized over a longer run or perhaps all of production,
Here is the point: Why divide whatever amount -- $1.5 billion or otherwise -- by the number of Chevrolet Volts sold to date? If he had done this study one year from now, when we could be looking at 60,000 Volts made, as GM repeatedly has promised, the headline number would be $25,000 per car -- not $250,000.
Thus, if you divide this $1.5 billion "investment" over 60 million cars over the next 25+ years instead of the 6,000 made over the last year, or the 60,000 to be made next year, the alleged government subsidy comes to $25 per car, or what you will pay for two movie tickets in Manhattan, popcorn excluded. That's very different from the nasty $250,000 per Volt headline floating all over the Internet in the last couple of days.
Less than two Manhattan movie tickets, you cheapskate! When you realize the government is designing the next 60 million cars! That's nuthin'!
I suggest the Street.com's stirring defense actually provides a realistic figure of $25,000 -- which I consider completely and totally insane. Twenty five K of tax money to build a $40,000 car for a buyer who makes (avg) $170,000 per annum. I trust ThreeSourcers would be upset at $25 (enumerated powers, anybody?) but the whole nation should be upset at $25,000.
Of course if you divide by everyone born in the next million years...
The Denver Post gave Greg Wockner of Clean Water Action prime newspaper real estate in Sunday's perspective section. Wockner's guest editorial "Is Colorado Addicted to Oil?" was nothing more than a list of typical anti-fossil fuel questions that he tried to associate to Colorado's and Weld County's economic struggles as a result of the Great Recession.
Oliver's response is the jewel. Are you "addicted" to civilization?
Are we addicted oil? Only if you enjoy and are "addicted" to a modern lifestyle made possible by the discovery of fossil fuels. I'll revisit this question at the end of this series of blog posts.
Amy Oliver pens an interesting column on "A Stupid Energy Policy." I hope my Facebook friends don't see it, it uses logic, reason, physics, and economics.
Narrowly Avoiding a Colorado 'Solyndra'
In early 2009, then newly appointed U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) touted the prospects of Ascent Solar, a Colorado solar panel manufacturer, and the plans for a new facility to add as many as 200 new jobs for the state's "New Energy Economy." Then-Governor Bill Ritter and U.S. Senator Mark Udall, joined their fellow Democrat in offering pleasant platitudes about the "green energy" panacea.
Ritter was effusive with his praise and optimistic about Ascent's future. "The New Energy Economy is leading Colorado forward and will be one of the keys to bringing us out of this recession. Colorado and Ascent Solar's success are a model for how America can and must re-tool our entire economy," declared Ritter. Even the local media couldn't help but promote such rosy projections.
Fast-forward less than two years. Ascent, perhaps recognizing the fragility of the market, or at the very least, an unprofitable business model, conducted a "market pivot" and a change in business strategy. That switch meant cutting staff--instead of growth of nearly 200 jobs Ascent pared its staff back by half, mostly in production.
Actually, the Soylendra investment makes a lot of sense, when compared to the Fisker Karma. Obligatory picture of really cool car here:
Warren Meyer at Forbes points out that under Clinton-era EPA comparisons for electric vehicles, this "electric car for the 1%" gets worse mileage than an average SUV -- either in electric or gas mode. And, had I not already conferred QOTD:
Given the marketing pitch here that relies on the unseen vs. the seen, maybe we should rename it the Fisker Bastiat.
But, like I said, hook this baby up to your Soylendra panels and it is all go all of the time!
That's not my headline. It was written by solar industry CEO Ray Burgess.
If you listen to the mostly-Chinese manufacturers, solar panels work great. They can be expected to degrade about 0.5% a year. So that is how we build the economic models to finance, insure and subsidize the larger solar systems.
In the real world, we are just starting to find out how bogus many of those predictions are. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that panels can degrade as much as 4.5% a year. Or more. Put that in your pro forma and see what your banker and insurance agent -- or Congressman -- say about that.
Somehow, inexplicably, nobody has called to ask that their connection to coal fired power plants NOT be restored.
DENVER -- The October snowstorm is being blamed for numerous power outages.
More than 40,000 people from Fort Collins to Littleton were without power as of 5:30 a.m. By 9 a.m. that number had increased to more than 90,000 without power, according to Xcel's website.
Power outages forced the closure of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and the Boulder County Criminal Justice Center in Boulder.
In the Boulder area, Xcel is handling 157 outages affecting more than 13,000 people.
Boulder officials are treating the fast moving storm as a civil preparedness exercise, in the event that the Utility Municipalization ballot measure passes and city council takes over management of the power company. "The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine," said Boulder's Mayor.*
In other words, this is just like Obamanomics in general. It provides a short-term gimmicky gain at incredible expense that is designed to do nothing except give politicians a headline and a photo op. It would be cheaper in the long run to buy politicians a camera and get them a blog. -- Ed Morrissey, Obama's green-jobs training program a flop
As major Solyndra investor and Barack Obama donor George Kaiser told a crowd of his fellow Oklahomans not long after Obama's stimulus was announced in 2009, "There's never been more money shoved out of the government's door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish, parochial goal is to get as much of it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can." -- Matt Welch (a Reason guy, writing for CNN, is the space-time continuum safe?)
The linked article is "Why the $16 muffin matters." I must disagree a bit with my big-L Libertarian friend. Every word he says is true, but it propagates the lie that we can have all the government we want if we just elect candidate x who will clean things up. No need to stop developing programs for the poor and new middle class entitlements, we'll take it all out of pastry savings.
Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, having looted all the private wealth in his country, moves to protect his wealth.
ExxonMobilís shareholders can join Chryslerís bondholders on Obamaís enemies list. If that seems a tad harsh, consider this: When made to choose between millions of American shareholders and one South American dictator, the Obama Administration chose Chavez.
Why is the Obama Administration sitting in paralyzed silence while Chavez removes himself from international accountability? Is it perceived ideological comradeship, a loathing of investors, simple dereliction of duty or some other reason? Now that is a mystery.
Here I thought Insty's link would talk about California. Nope, it's James Delingpole at the Telegraph. Replete with Unicorn pictures, the article mentions green boondoggles in the UK and that "Obama's America" is just as bad.
There is one thing we share with the motherland:
Yep, it seems like thereís one rule for the political class and its cronies -- and another one for the rest of us. If, say, you're Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt the father-in-law of the British prime minister you can make getting on for a £1000 a week from the wind farms on your estates; if youíre the wife of the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg you can make hundreds of thousands of pounds as a legal adviser to the Spanish wind farm company whose unsightly bat-chomping eco-crucifixes are going to be wrecking the British countryside.
If on the other, hand you're an ordinary punter, youíre expected to sit there and take it as the cost of your energy is doubled, your standard of living lowered, the countryside you love is ruined, and the destruction of your ailing economy is accelerated by the policies of a Government which no longer gives a damn what you think about anything.
"unsightly bat-chomping eco-crucifixes" I may have been born in the wrong country...
The showcase firm is now filing for Chapter 11 in an embarrassing blow to the premises of Obamanomics. At least the Obama administration can't be accused of practicing industrial policy the old-fashioned way and picking winners. It is evidently quite ready to pick losers, too. -- Rich Lowry
It is almost enough to make a person disbelieve in government's paying people to make things that nobody wants to buy. Almost. WaPo:
A company that served as a showcase for the Obama administration's effort to create jobs in clean technology shut down Wednesday, leaving 1,100 people out of work and taxpayers obligated for $535 million in federal loans.
Solyndra, a California solar panel maker, had long been an administration favorite. Over the past two years, President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu each had made congratulatory visits to the company's Silicon Valley headquarters.
Although Wednesday's announcement came as a surprise, House Republicans and government auditors had questioned the wisdom of the administration's loan guarantees to the company, backed by capital from billionaire Democratic fundraiser George Kaiser. In July, a House subcommittee subpoenaed White House documents related to the guarantee, and after Wednesday's developments, Republican lawmakers vowed to continue investigating.
Lots more at Instapundit. Even the WaPo and NBC can't spin this as anything but an Administration failure. Can't wait for the "jobs speech."
Bill Gates Jr. on Home Solar PV: "cool" and "cute"
It struck me as possible choir-preaching but since even my darling dagny, who's lived with my rantings for nearly a decade now, still needed to ask, "Do we want to put solar panels on our new house?"
To be fair her goal is self-sufficiency and not being "with it" or reducing the euphemistic "carbon footprint." That same morning (yesterday) the talk-radio segue machine came to my rescue with Mike Rosen reading from this interview with Bill Gates Jr.
Anderson: When you look at the big picture, where should we be focusing besides nuclear? On massive solar plants in the desert? On middle-size stuff for office roofs? Or is there a reinvention that could be done right in the home?
Gates: If youíre going for cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. Itís really kind of cool to have solar panels on your roof. But if youíre really interested in the energy problem, itís those big things in the desert.
Anderson: Imagine a world where we have made a transition to electric cars, and we have a smart grid, and storage is distributed on some level. Can you imagine that microgeneration would make more sense in a world where we have the ability to use, say, electric car batteries as local storage and have a microgrid model?
Gates: No. We should all grow our own food and do our own waste processing, we really should. But scale has some significant advantages in terms of reliability, and electricity is something you want to be reliable. Also, this is dangerous stuff: For solar to work well, you have to generate very high temperatures. Do we want everybody to have that on their roof? No. Itís just not going to happen.
Anderson: So suffice to say we will find no solar cells on the roof of the Gates residence?
Gates: Oh, we like to be cute like everyone. For rich people, this is OK. Rich people can do whatever they want.
We're not rich. We're going to stick with a diesel generator.
Click continue reading to see what he has to say about batteries and subsidies. I don't always agree with this rich tech genius but in this case, he's right.
You have to think of two types of batteries. One is a battery for a car, and it has to be light and crash-proof, but the total amount of energy it has to store is not all that large. Now, that doesnít give you an environmental benefit unless your grid has somehow changed. But at least it gives you a security benefit, because youíre sourcing your coal for your grid locally. The harder battery problem is the second typeóthe grid battery. If youíre getting, say, 50 percent of your energy from solar, and the sun only shines during the day, then you have to be storing enough energy for the night. And that is a mind-blowing problem. I mean, thatís more demanding by a factor of a hundred than any other battery challenge we have today.
I think people deeply underestimate what a huge problem this day-night issue is if youíre trying to design an energy system involving solar technology thatís more than just a hobby. You know, the sun shines during the day, and people turn their air conditioners on during the day, so you can catch some of that peaking load, particularly if you get enough subsidies. Itís cute, you know, itís nice. But the economics are so, so far from making sense. And yet thatís where subsidies are going now. Weíre putting 90 percent of the subsidies in deploymentóthis is true in Europe and the United Statesónot in R&D. And so unfortunately you get technologies that, no matter how much of them you buy, thereís no path to being economical. You need fundamental breakthroughs, which come more out of basic research.
Make no mistake, many states are well positioned to realize the same energy production benefits as North Dakota and Texas. These include, at a minimum, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming -- each of which has ready access to abundant resources of the same shale oil and shale gas that is fueling economic growth in North Dakota and Texas. Energy production and economic strength in North Dakota and Texas are the results of wise and courageous policy decisions designed to encourage rather than stifle energy production (something that fellow Forbes columnist Joel Kotkin pointed out in his recent piece on Texas). Going forward, the question is which leaders in which states have the political courage to stand up to environmental activist groups and their media allies who routinely vilify energy production? -- James Taylor
Ken Salazar's Interior Department moves to prevent Exxon from developing a billion-barrel oil field it discovered in deep water Gulf of Mexico in 2007. Because of feared oil spills? No. Because it might impair the mating habits of the Gorite-dwelling shoestring eel? No.
Employing an extreme technicality, these regulators claimed that Exxon's request in 2008 for a short suspension of activity to upgrade and make safer its drilling operation amounted to an abandonment of three of its five permits, simply because Exxon hadn't signed a contract with another partner, Chevron, by the time the suspension was completed.
In the past, such glitches were no problem ó after all, it's obvious Exxon, which spent $300 million on exploratory wells, hasn't abandoned the operation.
But in the Obama era, which demonizes oil production in American waters by American companies, the bureaucrats came up with this permit technicality to effectively expropriate the entire operation.
Write down the date. Cache the page. I may never admit it. But the gentle lady from California is right about "Green Jobs:"
"Of course, we want to be a part of the new innovation and the green jobs," Rep. Maxine Waters said on MSNBC Thursday. "But you know, the green jobs have been about a lot of talk and not a lot has been happening on that." A few hours later, also on MSNBC, Waters said flatly: "All of this talk about the green jobs never materialized."
Waters is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Last month, the chairman of that group, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, told the Huffington Post that green jobs had little meaning for his constituents. "African-Americans out there were saying, 'What do we have in common with this new, green technology?'" Cleaver told the website.
Earlier this week neophite presidential candidate Rick Perry garnered lots of pub by calling another round of quantitative easing by Ben Bernanke "almost treasonous." Today Michelle Bachmann rolled out her own red meat issue by promising,
"Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again," Bachmann told a crowd Tuesday in South Carolina. "That will happen."
Naturally the press thinks it's impossible, ably demonstrated by Charles Riley who penned the CNN Money article linked above. I searched other reports looking for any that weren't dismissive but struck out. Apparently nobody within reach of a keyboard knows how easy it would be. "I will then, said the little red hen." From the Three Sources Oil and Energy archives:
Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost U.S. production 20 percent to 40 percent.
The take away from this should be that adding as little as 1.9 million barrels per day (2.3%) to the world oil market at any time in the last 2.5 years would have put the market in surplus at the time. Remember that the next time someone says, "The small amount of oil we could produce domestically would not lower prices for 10 to 15 years."
Every few months some Democrat decides that oil companies are to blame for high prices.
Except they're not. It's Democrats who are at fault.
And I'm not even including the price hiking effect of regional fuel blends mandated by government, although I'm sure we have a piece on that somewhere.
So bringing prices way, way down is a relatively straightforward goal. But how far down they can go is affected more by the value of the dollar than by the supply/demand balance for oil and refined gasoline. We've been debating whether or not we're actually in an inflationary period but according to the divergence of the two lines here (computed from "CPI-All Urban Consumers for all items less energy") inflation has been gangbusters since about 2004. But with this huge caveat, what should be the market price for a gallon of gasoline without government "help?" About 60 cents.
You see, they claim that the reason the Volt isn't selling is that they can't keep enough cars on the lot. A GM spokeswoman recently claimed that they are "virtually sold out." Which is virtually true. Mark Modica called around his local Chevy dealers and found plenty of Volts waiting for an environmentally conscious driver to bring them home. -- Jonathan V. Last
Jon Entine at The American, gives props to the NYTimes ombudsman:
The New York Times' public editor, Arthur Brisbane, weighed in on the much-criticized reporting on natural gas by Ian Urbina, issuing a sharp rebuke of the staff's reporting and editing.
I agree that "Thankfully it has the integrity to wash its dirty laundry in public." But I fear that the retraction will not create the buzz that the original piece did. Entine describes:
The Urbina "the sky-is-falling" express went off the rails completely on June 25 and 26 with two front-page stories asserting that shale gas reserves are being hyped by the natural gas industry. Urbina and the sources he quoted suggested parallels to Ponzi schemes, Enron, and the housing bubble.
Scientists at MIT and elsewhere, who have confirmed massive shale gas reserves but whose research was not referenced in the piece, immediately issued sharp rebukes of the Urbina narrative. As I noted in a critique for RealClearPolitics, the Times' article left out key editorial framing details, such as the dubious credibility of the only two identified sources. And as Michael Levi of the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out in his blog, this latest critique of shale gas consisted almost entirely of cherry-picked comments from anonymous sources.
I was pretty surprised by the original piece. Yes, it was the Times, but this was a serious anti-fracking hit piece on the News pages -- maybe I was in the tank for Big Gas after all. It successfully instilled doubt.
That's what I get for believing the New York Times.
The 2007 energy bill vastly increased the volume of corn ethanol that must be blended into gasoline, though it also included mandates for cellulosic ethanol. These are the second-generation fuels made from stocks like switchgrass or the wood chips that George W. Bush invoked in his 2006 State of the Union. At the time, no such fuels were being produced on a commercial scale, but cellulosic producers and the green lobby assured Congress they were just about to turn the corner, and both the Bush and Obama Administration furnished handsome subsidies.
The EPA set the 2011 standard at six million gallons. Reality hasn't cooperated. Zero gallons have been produced in the last six months and the corner isn't visible over the next six months either. The EPA has only approved a single plant to sell the stuff, operated by Range Fuels near Soperton, Georgia. The company used to be a press corps favorite and has been lauded by the last two Presidents, but it shut down its cellulosic operations earlier this year to work through technical snafus.
The arrogance of our King Canutes in Congress mandating things they do not understand is high on the list of depressing affronts to liberty and dynamism. It is one thing to make the Soviet Five-year plan assertions that President Obama loves "242,000 vehicles with 16.5 inch tires by October 19th!" But it is worse to actually enact them legislatively.
Bonus Unicorn reference at the link (sans flatulence, sorry...)
Stephen Hayward's Energy Fact of the Week (and you though ThreeSources was bad...):
The motion graphic below demonstrates the relationship between rising energy use and falling poverty from 1981 through 2009. The vertical axis represents the number of people living on less than $1 a day in China, while the horizontal axis plots China's total energy use.
Chinaís total energy consumption during this period increased 406 percent. In concrete terms, it means that for every increase of 1 quadrillion BTUs, 8.2 million people were lifted out of poverty. Everyone likes to wring their hands over Chinaís coal use, but these figures work out as follows: for every additional 4.5 million tons of coal used in China, or for every additional 450,000 barrels of oil consumed, 1 million people were lifted out of poverty.
My enviro friends refuse to accept this correlation when I suggest it. And, I'm certain that when I send this the next time it happens, they'll assert that it could be done with solar or wind or magic beans (jg's friend's "unicorn farts" remains the best shorthand). But it is clear that it is cheap and available (scalable) power which is lifting these people out of poverty.
VP Gore can invest in geothermal for his two mansions, that is not available to help these people move form <$1/day to the middle class,
Boulder is going to start its own environmentally friendly utility:
The prospect of Boulder turning out a major, investor-owned utility and creating a municipal operation is being watched across the country.
"If a large community like Boulder can do it, it sets an example for everyone," said Ursula Schryver, a vice president at the American Public Power Association, which represents the country's 2,000 municipal electric utilities.
The ethanol lobby has filched taxpayers for so long that it's only natural that the Senate's move this week toward rationalizing the industry's subsidies would be described as a "momentous shift away from federal assistance," as the Des Moines Register put it. But please don't believe that the government is about to "drastically cut the financial support" for corn ethanol, as another newspaper reported.
It's delightful that the ethanol lobby has lost for once in Washington. Really it is. But the industry will still enjoy a mandate that consumers buy its product every time they pull up to the pump. The 2007 energy bill requires the sale of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Meanwhile, both the Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Corn Growers Association came out cautiously in favor of the Senate deal. And might there be a reason that Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin are also in favor? Just asking.
I don't think of myself as a connoisseur of pretty much anything. I can, for instance, identify good bread or good gin or sheets with a high thread count, but I can also very easily tolerate the crummy stuff if that's what's available, because it's just me, right? I'm not a princess; I can deal.
Then the CFL bulbs came out, and I discovered that I am the snob to end all snobs . . . when it comes to light. Fluorescent lighting makes me feel like I'm dead, and am just haunting whatever room I happen to be in. It makes me feel like the top of my head has been replaced with something clammy and toxic. It makes me feel like filling up my 15-passenger van with overpriced gas and barreling nonstop to Al Gore's house and smacking his silly, fat face around until he admits that his main goal is and always has been to make each and every day for the entire human race a little less bearable. -- Simcha Fisher
Nanobrewer was celebrating this, but it has seemed too good to be true. Yes, Virginia, they may really cut the ethanol subsidy...
WASHINGTON--Key Senate lawmakers have reached a deal to end two ethanol subsidies by the end of the month, sooner than expected and a sign of how tax policy can change as attention focuses on the deficit.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) said in a statement that she had reached an agreement with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minn.) and John Thune (R, S.D.) under which a 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline would expire on July 31. A 54-cent-a-gallon tax on imported ethanol would also expire at the end of the month.
I think we've just learned how candidate Romney can afford to take a pass on calling for an end to the ethanol subsidy. Because Congress just took a giant step toward ending it before he might ever take office.
Ethanol subsidies have been a sacred cow in American politics since the late 1980s, and their demise came Friday not with a whimper but with a bang. By a vote of 73 to 27, the Senate declared an end to what Republican Senator John McCain called the "corporate welfare" that had gone on for far too long, and that had become enshrined in presidential politics as a ticket of admission to the Iowa caucuses. Now the legislation moves to the House, where deficit-conscious Tea Party conservatives could provide a similar winning margin.
Read the article to see how Sen. Tom Coburn (HOSS-OK) was the key figure in the watershed vote.
Does the NYT care about the carbon footprint of its wonderful pizza-cooking technique?
"Heat the oven and pizza stone at 500 degrees for one hour..."
Oh, hell! Shut up about my light bulbs. Just. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
If you people really believed in global warming in the form that you would like to foist that belief on the common folk, that quoted line above would have sounded to you as something on the moral level of first, torture a small, cute kitten....
I read it to myself, laughed out loud, then read it to the lovely bride. It's pretty good.
EPA: "Employee salary is our highest budget priority"
On his radio show today Mike Rosen read a copy [2:00 to 4:55] of an internal memo from EPA Regional Administrator James Martin to all Region 8 EPA employees. Subject: Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Decisions.
I want to update you on the status of Region eight's budget. The most important thing to tell you is that we continue to protect salary for our on-board EPA employees. It is our highest budget priority and that has not and will not change.
Our OCFO has been able to provide us with some relief for our payroll shortfall. This will allow us to maintain our support services at the current levels as we work to meet our agency's mission. We are continuing to work with headquarters for additional relief. In the meantime, to meet the remaining payroll needs we'll be reducing our programmatic funds by 30 percent, as well as some regional support funds.
A distinct difference, to be sure, from EPA's stated policy on private sector jobs.
It seems the good folks at Exxon have drilled down in 7000 feet of water and found 700 million barrels of wind, solar, and geothermal Oil!
The great energy irony of recent years is that governments have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars at wind, solar, ethanol and other alternative fuels, yet the major breakthroughs have taken place in the traditional oil and natural gas business. Hydraulic fracturing in shale, horizontal drilling and new seismic techniques are only the best known examples.
Private companies must innovate to survive, and they have the profit incentive to do so, while government cash is usually steered to politically favored companies that may or may not know what they're doing. If you live off federal grants, you need to work the corridors of power more than the technology. Federal grants for cellulosic ethanol are rife with political earmarks, for example. This is why these columns have argued that the political fad of alternative energy has misallocated scarce capital when the economy can least afford it.
I was partially remonstrated (ouch! but better than defenestrated) on Facebook by blog brother jg for agreeing with a new energy proponent that I looked forward to oil's being replaced when a superior source was technologically appropriate and economically viable. I stick by the comment; something new will be cool someday. But my brother was right that I should not join the petro-apologia. Cheap, safe, easily transportable power from oil and natural gas is indeed swell.
Perhaps more interesting in the WSJ Editorial was this tasty nugget of anti-regulation:
Far more important for safety is the effort that the oil industry is taking to contain future deepwater spills. ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell and Chevron have led an effort, since joined by other companies, to form the Marine Well Containment Co. to build a spill containment system that will be permanently placed in the Gulf starting next year.
The companies are attempting to apply the lessons from the BP fiasco, and their expectation is that the system would be able to handle a blowout as if it were a contained well at depths of up to 10,000 feet. The companies have committed $1 billion to the project, and we're told the cost could reach $1.5 billion. If you believe Big Oil companies are inherently evil, you'll think this is one more confidence trick. But no rational company or CEO wants to endure the reputational damage that accompanied the BP spill.
Oil and financial services are among the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Yet all that government did not prevent the BP spill or the Panic of Oh-Eight. I suggest that the $1.5Billion consortium will prove a lot more effective.
I will mention this to a lefty friend or two. They put so much faith in regulation, when it is demonstrably insane. You get legislation written by guys who really do not understand the thing they are regulating, shaped by the firms being regulated, then subject to regulatory capture, graft, incompetence or all three. Versus the drillers putting up private capital to truly fix the problem or limit damage/losses.
"If the government goes ahead with what it said it would do, then Germany will be a kind of laboratory for efforts worldwide to end nuclear power in an advanced economy," said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "No other country in the world is taking those steps."
I would call it a laboratory for something else - economic self-destruction.
The powerful Federal Association for German Industry, known as B.D.I., sent a letter on Monday morning to the chancellery, warning her about the consequences for German business.
"How will the international competitiveness of German industry be guaranteed?" Hans-Peter Keitel, B.D.I.ís president, wrote. "Industry last year accounted for two-thirds of Germanyís economic upswing."
What could possibly go wrong?
Hat Tip: Wikipedia's "in the news" section. (I sure didn't read it first in the Times.)
UPDATE: The reader may wonder at my connecting this Times story to coal, since it never mentions that fuel which provides half of Germany's electricity. It was, however, mentioned in a reference cited in the Wiki entry. There's also a picture of the very down-to-earth Environment Minister who dismisses more cautious and practical energy strategies. Minister Tritten:
"Ten years ago people told us that there would never be enough capacity to have a relevant share produced by wind - now the same people tell me we have too much wind, and have to export electricity because we have such a huge share of wind energy," he stated.
"So I can't take these arguments seriously."
He stressed he was "convinced" Germany would reach its target.
And he dismissed Dr Pfaffenberger's concerns about cost out of hand.
"He is wrong - simple," he said.
"To hear such arguments from people who haven't learned anything in the last half century - I am very calm on that."
"I think all our energy subsidies need to be re-looked at today and eliminated," Palin told Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics during a quick stop at a coffee shop. "And we need to make sure that we're investing and allowing our businesses to invest in reliable energy products right now that aren't going to necessitate subsidies because, bottom line, we can't afford it."
If you need to put together an example of smarmy journalism into a time capsule at your Memorial Day shindig this weekend, might I recommend this archetype from Penelope Green.
Last week, for example, in the middle of Lightfair, an annual trade show for the lighting industry, Philips unveiled a winged LED bulb with a promised life span of 25,000 hours and a price tag of $40 to $50. The Associated Press reported its cost as $50, and Fox News ran the story with the headline "As Government Bans Regular Light Bulbs, LED Replacements Will Cost $50 Each." Mr. Beck, Rush Limbaugh and conservative bloggers around the country gleefully pounced on the story, once again urging the stockpiling of light bulbs.
Fifty Dollar Light Bulbs! Can't those wingnuts read? The bulb could cost as little as $40!
Anyhow, the whole thing is a) Not a problem at all! and b) Is Completely George Bush's fault!
The law does not ban the use or manufacture of all incandescent bulbs, nor does it mandate the use of compact fluorescent ones. It simply requires that companies make some of their incandescent bulbs work a bit better, meeting a series of rolling deadlines between 2012 and 2014.
GOT THAT THICKHEADS???? They can still make incandescents, they just have to make them conform to a government design AND STOP SNIGGERING IN THE BACK!!
Hat-tip: Incandescent-Insty, with a link to stock up that profits him directly. Capitalist Pig!
UPDATE: I emailed the Professor asking him how he could seek to profit from light bulb lies and he replied "I'm just a shill for Big Bulb." Heh.
Somebody's got to rip out all of those ineffective, illegal wind turbines they put up.
Now, according to Watts, another miracle may happen: "A judge ordered the removal of 45 wind turbines on the grounds that planning laws were violated. There was no "general municipal plan" establishing a "reserva del suelo"--i.e., the land was not legally declared appropriate for the erection of wind turbines.
Of course, this will also be portrayed as green job creation, as the judge has ordered that the turbines be demolished, and that the vegetation in the area be restored. That'll be fun, since according to one domestic manufacturer, modern wind turbines are about as tall as the Statue of Liberty, and sit on concrete pads that weigh in the vicinity of 327 tons each and use 15 tons of steel reinforcement.
Kenneth Green suggests Don Quixote might need a little help on these...
I try to like the Nissan Leaf®. Sure, I have to subsidize its sale to preening Yuppies who make four times what I do, but -- unlike the garage-torching Volt -- the good folks at Nissan developed it with private capital, wagering their innovation resources against the cruel, Schumpeterian vicissitudes of the market. (Yeah, a market distorted by US subsidies, but...)
The Postrellian in me should applaud, but I cannot. My inner Popperian sees this as a trip back to the caves: providing, of course, the caves are within 40 miles, and the weather is good.
The previous day's usage had left me in a pickle. With the 12 miles left and only nine-and-a-half hours charging time at 120V. Of course if I constantly had to remind myself, if I had a 240V charging station at home this would be a non-issue as the Leaf would have been completely full. However, my situation as it was, the Leaf was perhaps a hair over 40% charged when I left for work with the range indicator displaying 59 miles, hopefully enough for my 57 mile drive.
Since I needed all the juice I could get to make it to Burlingame I decided to forgo the pre-heating and let the Leaf charge to the very last second. Fortunately this morning was a hair warmer than the day previous being a brisk 40 degrees. Unfortunately the temperatures and humidity conspired to fog the windscreen. Without sufficient power to make it to work and use the defogger, I chose to defog the old-fashioned way: windows open.
Maybe someday they'll develop transportation that can be quickly and safely refueled.
Statements made by the wind industry and government agencies commonly assert that wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year, it said.
But the research found wind generation was below 20% of capacity more than half the time and below 10% of capacity over one third of the time.
But industry [damn, it sure feels good to call these environmentalist loons "industry"] spokesmanperson Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, was quick to defend the shortcomings of wind power saying, "No form of electricity worked at 100% capacity, 100% of the time."
"It could be argued the trust is acting irresponsibly given their expertise lies in protecting our wild lands and yet they seem to be going to great lengths to undermine renewable energy which is widely recognised as one of the biggest solutions to tackling climate change - the single biggest threat to our natural heritage.
"We have yet to hear the trust bring forward a viable alternative to lower emissions and meet our growing demand for safe, secure energy."
Has the President been spending his leisure time with Marion Berry?
"President Obama's suggestions that "there's no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away" and that one of the "few things we can do" to ostensibly bring prices down is to "finally end the $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies we give to the oil and gas companies each year" are both ludicrous.
To bring down gas prices right away simply suspend federal regulations dictating specific formulations for specific regions during specific seasons. Reducing the logistical requirement to just "regular, premium and mid-grade" nationwide would allow productivity gains that would flood the market with affordable petrol.
And how exactly is taking money away from oil companies going to bring gas prices down? Not that I oppose eliminating those and all corporate subsidies but please, are we idiots?
But the crown jewel of the President's cheap gasoline plan is "We need to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long term, that's the answer. That's the key to helping families at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."
With as much respect as I can muster for the office of President of the United States, investing in so-called "renewable energy" to help families at the pump is like asking alchemists to replentish the kingdom's treasury after his highness has given all of the realm's treasures to China and Brazil.
So I am not going green with a hybrid/electric. No offense to Prius owners who are doing their part. It is just not for me. I am sticking with a regular gasoline car that gets good mileage but also has good performance. My other car, a 2010 VW GTI is one of those. It is a blast to drive. The 0 to 60 time is sub-6 seconds and it gets 31/32 mpg on the highway. Cost only $25K too. A real winner.
My dear Hawaiian auntie asked, "Does anyone know how much it costs to "fill one of these cars up with electricity"? I've never seen a quote,only how far you can drive & how long it takes to charge them. I realize it depends on how much your electrictricy costs are,but I've never even seen any estimates. Also how many windmills is it going to take to make all this extra electricity. Just wondering."
She's right. The only time the "fill-up" cost is ever talked about they just say "a few dollars." So I did some calculating from data I found at Wikipedia for the Nissan LEAF. [Yes, I know it's a bit long winded but I think you'll enjoy this.]
The Nissan LEAF has a 24 kwh (kilowatt hour) battery. At 10 cents per kwh and assuming perfect conversion of line current to DC and then battery charge the cost to charge the battery from empty would be $2.40.
But it isn't just the cost of the charge that needs to be evaluated. There's also the TIME to recharge.
On 240VAC 30 amp circuit the charge time is 8 hours. On 115VAC 15 amp household outlet the charge time would be about 4 times as long, or 32 hours. They provide this type of charging for "convenience use when making stops or for emergency charging." They tell you to count on about 5 miles of range per HOUR of charge time by this method. Nissan has developed a fast charger that can fully refuel 80% of the 100-mile range of a LEAF in ... 30 minutes. You can buy one for $16,800. (Be careful though, because "Nissan warns that if fast charging is the primary way of recharging, then the normal and gradual battery capacity loss is about 10% more than regular 220-volt charging over a 10-year period.")
IT'S JUST ALL SO COMPLICATED!!!
Enviros and 'Lectric car apologists will try to tell you that all of these limitations are just because the technology is "new" and it will improve rapidly as more people buy the things and by becoming mainstream the car companies will compete with each other and solve all the problems. But electric cars are NOT new. I rode in one in Denver that dad took from the University to Cinderella City to show off to normal people. That was about 40 years ago. FORTY!
Why can gasoline engines get the same range on a couple gallons of gasoline that 'Lectrics get on 32 hours worth of power into the biggest electric heater you can plug into your wall socket? Even though gasoline engines are less than a quarter as efficient as electric motors? Because gasoline has a TREMENDOUS energy content.
"A single gallon of gasoline contains 131.76 megajoules of energy, compared to 2.1 megajoules in a stick of dynamite. 1 gallon of gas therefore equals 63 sticks of dynamite.
An average lightning bolt releases 500 megajoules, or 3.8 gallons of gasoline energy."
Now, going full circle back to the Nissan LEAF ... that 24 kwh battery pack it carries can hold 86 megajoules. That's 0.65 gallons of gasoline. (86 MEGAjoules sounded like a lot for a second there, didn't it!) Cost to fill up: $3.69 per gallon equivalent. Well, at least it's got that in common with gasoline powered cars.
Some may know that Colorado's latest ex-governor has golden-parachuted into academia in Colorado State University's "Center for the New Energy Economy." Today I learned that ex-guv Ritter's salary as the director there is $300,000 per year. (No word on the pension details.) But the news here is not his ridiculous salary. Rather, it is his apparently complete lack of knowledge on the subject of his office. He recently attended an organized debate at NYU where he and a "new energy" partner attempted to persuade some of the 33 percent undecideds in the audience of the premise: "Clean energy can drive America's economic recovery." From Vince Carroll in the Denver Post:
Before the Oxford Union-style debate, 46 percent of the audience registered support for the proposition, 21 percent were opposed and 33 percent were undecided. Afterward, opinion had made a dramatic shift, to 43 percent in favor, 47 percent against and 10 percent undecided.
And no wonder. Ritter and his colleague, Kassia Yanosek of the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, relied upon anecdote, personal experience and hopeful thinking more than hard data ó and seemed frustrated the other side kept rattling off facts.
So Ritter was so "persuasive" that over two-thirds of the undecideds left the debate agreeing with his opponents. He even managed to scare off one in twelve of those who came in already agreeing with him. I think Carroll closed this story best: "The New Energy Economy is a catchy slogan for a political campaign. But it leaves something to be desired as a substitute for substance."
President Obama will soon call for a one-third drop in oil imports. He never seems to tire of these soviet five year plans: "a 47% crunchier frozen pizza crust by 2041!"
On this, he and the WaPo admit that every president has failed:
In 1973, Nixon called for a "Project Independence," an effort he said should summon the spirit of the Apollo space missions or Manhattan Project and achieve self-sufficiency by 1980. Instead, the United States was importing more oil by that time.
In January 1975, President Gerald R. Ford said that "Americans are no longer in full control of their own destiny, when that destiny depends on uncertain foreign fuel at high prices fixed by others."
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter called the energy challenge "the moral equivalent of war" and proposed conservation, alternative energy, higher gasoline taxes, ethanol fuels and wider use of nuclear power. He too set a goal of reducing oil imports by a third, to 6 million barrels a day by 1985 from 9 million a day in 1977.
That target was surpassed by 1982, thanks to a rise in Alaskan oil production and the virtual end of the use of oil by electric utilities and manufacturers. But soon imports resumed their relentless climb as a share of U.S. oil needs. By 2006, Bush was calling on Americans to end their "addiction" to oil , warning of "danger and decline" if the country continued to rely on "unstable" countries. He urged a 75 percent reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025.
But President Awesome is on the case now! Time to short the tanker stocks...
Obama also touted a so-called Clean Energy Standard, and by "clean energy" he means politically-favored, economically-questionable, and highly-unreliable windmills and solar panels. Of course, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. You can't run a modern economy without affordable coal, oil, and natural gas. Countries that have tried -- like Spain, Germany, and the U.K. -- have ruined themselves economically. (And of course green groups will sue to block "clean energy" the same way they sue to block everything else.)
Forbes' Patrick Michaels called General Motors a liar for the claim that their Volt hybrid is an "all-electric vehicle" and the onboard generator is only to extend its range. That's a serious charge, considering the huge federal subsidy to buyers of the car is based on that dubious premise.
"It's not a hybrid! It's an electric car with a range-extending, gas-powered generator onboard." That was the party line during most of the masterfully orchestrated press rollout of what we've been promised will be the most thoroughly new car since, what, the Chrysler Turbine? The Lunar Rover? Well, the cat is now out of the bag, and guess what? It is a hybrid, after all. Yes, Virginia, the Chevy Voltís gas engine does turn the wheels. Sometimes.
The salient difference between the Volt and the Prius is that the Prius' gas engine turns on at 60 mph and the Volt's at 100 mph. Motor Trend explains this as a second electric motor giving the Volt its top-end boost but glosses over the fact that the second motor, called a motor-generator, doesn't appear to recharge the battery through regenerative braking as the Prius does. In their diagram they show only "power in" from the engine and motor-generator of the Volt.
So is the Volt better or worse than the Prius? Or even really that much different?
It's amazing how modern politics resembles scenes of Ayn Rand's best-seller Atlas Shrugged.
Like the one in which a high-ranking government official pumps millions of dollars into a failing railroad company. The grateful railroad CEO rewards the government official by renovating his hometown train station and naming it after the government official. The renovation costs $5,700,000 more than expected.
Then comes the ribbon cutting ceremony. The CEO gets on one of his trains to go to the ceremony, but it breaks down. No surprise there: One out of every four trains his company runs is late. The CEO, chuckling at the irony, abandons the train and takes a car to the ceremony.
Unfortunately, that wasn't a scene in Atlas Shrugged. It happened this weekend.
The government official is Joe Biden.
By the way, the first of three Atlas Shrugged movies opens next month, appropriately on April 15th.
In other Biden news, the Daily Caller reports that the Wilmington, Del., Amtrak station was rechristened the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station on Saturday. Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman was there, but no thanks to Amtrak. He was on a train from Washington that got stuck in Baltimore, so he got off and went by car. Sounds like something right out of "Atlas Shrugged," doesn't it?
The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel.
This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle.
Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power.
Consequently, and soon after his appointment, Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced. Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama's Economic Advisory Board?
The repercussions of the 7th largest earthquake in recorded history are just being understood but there's still time to take a shot at the happiest city in America and one of her sacred cows - windpow .. pow .. poof.
Whilst driving my one-ton diesel pickup (by myself) to pick up a lunch burrito I happened to pass Boulder's swank new "multi-use" development that occupies the old Crossroads Mall site. It's called Twenty-Nineth Street. (No, not 29th Street, "Twenty-Nineth Street.") On the most prominent corner of the property, 28th and Arapahoe, they've installed one a them newfangled "wind turbines." "Free energy from the earf" I think they call it. And on a day when wind had whipped a "controlled burn" out of control in the mountains, the weather reports warn of "60 mile per hour gusts" and the average wind speed at Atlantis Farm has been 15 mph or higher all morning the wind turbine is - not spinning. It twists in the wind alright, and the blades aren't completely frozen but if it completes a full revolution in a minute I'd be surprised.
Could it be that these things require, not just subsidized installation but subsidized maintenance? Stop. Stop! You're killing me!
Even as the energy sector necessarily diversifies, oil will continue to be a key piece of our national energy profile for many decades. And yet Alaska and the Gulf states have been blocked from developing America's oil by politically driven federal policy, much of it aided by misinformation. If Americans wonder what our economic Achilles' heel is, they need look no further than the federal regulatory system that delays permits for domestic exploration and production.
As we watch fuel prices rise, inflation take hold, and government debt reach record levels, Alaskans and those in other oil-producing states are frustrated. We wonder why the Obama administration is openly hostile to a sector of our economy that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, kept the country on an even keel even during the recession, and produces a global commodity we depend on every day.
Authored by the Governor of Alaska
(No, not that one.)
Facebook friend JC linked to a DOE report on energy subsidies in a comment to this post that is about to scroll off the page. I think he may have thought I'm a fan of oil subsidies, since I am an avowed supporter of oil and oil companies. But I want the market to decide, not my congressman. (Well, maybe if it was only mycongressman without the other 434, but I digress.) The linked report offers this nugget on the ability of subsidies to produce more product.
Notwithstanding the doubling of Federal energy-related subsidies and support between 1999 and 2007, and a significant increase in most energy prices over that period, U.S. energy production is virtually unchanged since 1999 (Table ES2). Basic economic principles suggest that higher real energy prices together with the significant incentives provided to various production segments of the energy sector would tend to raise domestic energy production. A variety of factors unrelated to prices or subsidy programs such as State and Federal statutory limitations imposed on onshore and offshore oil and natural gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, uncertainty regarding future environmental policies possibly restricting future emissions of greenhouse gases, and declines in future production from previously developed domestic oil and natural gas resources may have impeded growth in energy production despite modest growth in consumption.
[Emphasis in original.]
Did anyone else notice that none of the regulatory restrictions affected wind, solar, ethanol or biogas? Yet energy production was unchanged. Go figure.
Victor Davis Hanson calls out President Obama for his "confused" foreign policy in the face of the Mideast unrest.
Until only recently this administration did not have a consistent policy of promoting nonviolent evolution to constitutional and secular government across the Mideast. Can't we oppose Iranian theocracy or Libyan thuggery with the zeal we showed in castigating the Mubarak dictatorship?
But despite the uncertainty we face as Middle East autocracy reshuffles the deck chairs, Hanson articulates the obvious path for America to take right now.
Meanwhile, to preserve our autonomy and options, we need to stop borrowing money and drill like crazy for oil and natural gas, as we fast-track coal and nuclear power. Anything less is near-criminal negligence.
Near criminal indeed. Those who call for the impeachment of President Obama over his birth certificate or the Defense of Marriage Act would better serve the future prosperity of the United States by refusing to stand by while oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy are throttled in the name of supposed economic viability for wind, solar, biogas, and sundry other "magical unicorn fart" energy make-believe.
[Plugin cars' reviewer Bard] Berman argues that the Prius' lack of an EV button that would "allow drivers to absolutely keep the gas engine off when they know it's not necessary" is a critical omission on behalf of Toyota.
I remain proud to motor fugally if exclusively on gas. But I hate to be caught so unhip on an acronym.
Been a while since I gave one to George Will. But spring training is in session:
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they--unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted--are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
Time was, the progressive cry was "Workers of the world unite!" or "Power to the people!" Now it is less resonant: "All aboard! -- George Will
Yesterday I wrote about thousands of "clean energy" jobs that could be eliminated if Colorado's largest power company cuts its solar power subsidy in half (per installation). I suggested that those jobs probably wouldn't have existed without the subsidy, which distorted market signals to create economic activity for an economically unviable product.
Building this new economy starts with understanding how clean energy legislation can create jobs. During my four-year term in Colorado, I signed 57 pieces of clean energy legislation. In 2007, for example, we doubled the proportion of energy in the state that is required to come from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2020. In 2010, we increased that to 30 percent for our biggest utility. As a result, Colorado now ranks fourth among the 50 states in its number of clean energy workers per capita, and 1,500 clean energy companies call our state home ó an 18 percent increase since 2004. Wind- and solar-energy companies that have built factories and opened offices in Colorado have brought in thousands of new jobs.
But governor, have you not heard that the American economy is no longer robust enough to support elective boutique energy "just in case" environmental scientists might be partially correct? It's about as popular with voters right now as free pensions and sweetheart health insurance for unionized Wisconsin teachers. Feel-good energy layoffs are happening now in the U.S. European plants are closing now. Why not just wait until the science and technology is sufficient for sustainable energy to be sustainable? It will save a lot of wasted money and effort building new plants and then closing them.
America's political addiction to ethanol has consequences, from raising the price of food to lining the pockets of companies like Archer Daniels Midland. So we're delighted to see another prominent booster--Bill Clinton--see the fright.
"We have to become energy independent" but "we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots," the former President told an agriculture conference Thursday. He urged farmers to consider the needs of developing countries--the implication being that the diversion of corn to ethanol production limits food supplies and artificially raises prices.
Yes, he opens with the un-Ricardian sop to "energy independence," and one suspects an ADM donation to the library may have swayed #42 steely resolve. But I think we might be nearing a turning point.
Synfuels and Mohair are ancient history to people today. But the environmental movement watched ethanol, rooted for it, and supported its subsidies. Now it is a perfect poster child for all that is wrong with government intrusion: more expensive, worse for the environment, and now contributing to global famine! A trifecta!
Cui bono? Why Archer Daniels Midland, of course! You cloth-eared-gits have sold your soul to further the profits of a multinational corporation. It really doesn't get any better. Enviros can see what a sham it is and how difficult it is to dismantle. Of course, the ones I know still believe the next government energy pick will be good. But baby steps. Baby steps.
Don't Want to Throw "the H word" around Lightly...
But Florida Gov. Rick Scott is having a Hoss moment, rejecting a high-speed rail boondoggle jobs-producin'-federal-stimulus project.
My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities:
-- First -- capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.
-- Second -- ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million Ė $575 million over 10 years) ó Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.
-- Finally --if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.
Brother Keith says he doubts rail, but here's one that brings in 16.25% of its operating budget from passenger revenue. Man, where can I get in on a deal like that?
Messrs. Obama and Biden argue that the U.S. has to invest in high-speed rail to stay competitive with the world. Only if we're competing in the Debt Bowl. Two high-speed railways in the world have broken even, and those are in densely populated areas of France and Japan where people drive less because gas prices are twice as high as in the U.S., and many foreign intercity highways levy tolls.
Two. And they didn't so much make money as break even.
The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency released Tuesday.
Does this come as any surprise? With so much new oil becoming accessible through the new process the energy nazis at EPA have to find some way to put a halt to it.
The EPA proposal notes that 603 rigs were drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier. Horizontal wells can require millions of gallons of water per well, a much greater volume than in conventional wells.
One point of contention is the breadth of the study.
Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said he understands the need to address any stage of the fracking that might affect drinking water, but he's skeptical that water withdrawals meet the criteria.
"Peak oil" has been forecast for about as long a stingy-haired, berobed sandal-wearers have been holding signs on street corners warning that the end is near. Somehow, technological advances just keep proving the predictions wrong.
Yesterday, the AP carried a piece describing new drilling techniques that could open reserves in the mid-US that exceed the Gulf of Mexico. This is the Niobrara formation under Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.
This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.
Petroleum engineers first used the method in 2007 to unlock oil from a 25,000-square-mile formation under North Dakota and Montana known as the Bakken. Production there rose 50 percent in just the past year, to 458,000 barrels a day, according to Bentek Energy, an energy analysis firm.
In the Bakken formation, production is rising so fast there is no space in pipelines to bring the oil to market. Instead, it is being transported to refineries by rail and truck. Drilling companies have had to erect camps to house workers.
Unemployment in North Dakota has fallen to the lowest level in the nation, 3.8 percent ó less than half the national rate of 9 percent. The influx of mostly male workers to the region has left local men lamenting a lack of women. Convenience stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked with food.
Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost U.S. production 20 percent to 40 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates production will grow a more modest 500,000 barrels per day.
Of course, back during the ANWR debate, 1,000,000 barrels per day was "insignificant" and the 10 years-to-market was too far in the future to be meaningful. Never mind that such production would be online today and boost domestic production another 10 percent.
The revoltionary unrest in Egypt is bound to cause a spike in world oil prices, even if Egypt's 2 million barrels per day continue to flow. The reason is fear. Fear that any slight disruption in the flow of oil through the stages of refinement and distribution will cause shortages. And that fear is well founded. Recall the story I posted in Autumn '08 highlighting how tightly the world oil supply is controlled to match demand.
The take away from this should be that adding as little as 1.9 million barrels per day (2.3%) to the world oil market at any time in the last 2.5 years would have put the market in surplus at the time. Remember that the next time someone says, "The small amount of oil we could produce domestically would not lower prices for 10 to 15 years."
So what does "oilman" T. Boone Pickens tell us about the situation in Egypt? Speaking with FNC's Cavuto this morning-
Pickens: "What this is gonna do, let's go over to the United States. We have "resources" in America that we should be using. And we shouldn't be sittin' here when somethin' like this comes up, here we're all runnin' around sayin' what in the hell is gonna happen to us, ya know, how's this gonna affect America and everything else. When we should be getting on our own "resources." Uh, it's just, it's the saddest thing in the world that your leadership doesn't take you in the direction of independence."
Cavuto: "When the administration announced this past week that it's going to end oil subsidies, focus on some of these alternatives ... too little too late for you?" Not enough?"
Pickens: "Well, what was said was in 2035? We're gonna be over to renewables? My God, that's twenty-five years from now. We can do this much, much sooner. And we need to do it sooner. And, it's available to us. What I want the president to do is say look, all federal vehicles in the future will be on our own "resources." Domestic "resources." And we have 'em, we can go to it. It can be done. And it should be done. We're gonna do it now. I think this is gonna push us over the edge."
[Emphasis and scare quotes on "resources" mine.]
I scare-quoted resources because Pickens never explained what he meant by the word. Certainly he can't mean wind power, which he declared "dead as hell" early in the first year of the Obama administration. He might be thinking of natural gas, of which America does have huge a domestic supply.
But we also have massive domestic reserves of oil and coal. If everyone could be free to risk his own investment in developing the energy source he thinks best then the marketplace would enjoy a full supply of every known energy source and could pick and choose from them as needed at any time, accomodating any crisis. America does not need government "leadership" in this area. In fact, government leadership invariably goes in the wrong direction. What is needed for energy independence is economic and regulatory independence. That America doesn't have or demand this is what's really "the saddest thing in the world."
Great News, you'll soon be able -- through your tax dollars -- to help Wall Street Fat Cats® buy $70,000 automobiles:
Mercedes-Benz' AMG models pound the pavement. The AMG lineup consists of vehicles that can dash from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a flash and exceed legal speed limits with ease. In short, AMG models have always been, and will continue to be, focused on performance. However, it appears as though even they aren't immune from the drive to improve fuel efficiency that's sweeping the automotive industry.
In President Obama's first year in office there was a major push to create "green jobs" in the U.S. In October of that year his Commerce Secretary said, "Building a green economy isn't going to be easy, but if government and businesses work together, America can and will be a world leader in clean energy."
Oops.Evergreen Solar to Shut Down U.S. Manufacturing, Move to China
CEO Michael El-Hillow commented: "While overall demand for solar may increase, we expect that significant capacity expansions in low cost manufacturing regions combined with potential adverse changes in government subsidies in several markets in Europe will likely result in continuing pressure on selling prices throughout 2011. Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry. While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint."
"Low cost manufacturing regions..." and their "low manufacturing costs" put the U.S. at a "disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint." Perhaps there are forces at work here other than generous government subsidies for preferred sectors. Maybe it's just too damned expensive to hire employees in the U.S.
ďThese new numbers show that even though global wage differentials are narrowing, policy-induced costs in the United States, especially corporate taxes, continue to undermine manufacturersí ability to compete with our largest trading partners,Ē Duesterberg said.
One for my brothers: 'Brown' Energy Brings Prosperity
Quick--which state produces more oil: Alaska or California? Thatís easy. Alaska, du-uh. And that's wrong. California passed Alaska in daily oil production in June last year (561,000 bbls per day for CA; 533,000 bbls per day for AK).
But Alaska and California are both restricting extraction, sending the prosperity to...North Dakota.
Ausgetzeichnet! German genius businessman selling efficient, earth-friendly "Heat Balls®" to EU customers.
The problem is that people will buy Heat Balls primarily as a way around the ban on incandescent bulbs. Rotthaeuser's Heat Balls could end up really taking off in a market starved for the familiar warmth of the incandescent bulb.
Two very bright and well intentioned friends have assured me that gub'mint intervention is required to transition from fossil fuels because "the infrastructure is not in place" to support biofuels, electric, what have you.
Itís the first McDonalds to have a Level 2 Electric Charger in the U.S., though Cracker Barrel is adding EV chargers to 24 restaurants in Tennessee. The idea of filling up your belly and your electric vehicle at seems to be catching on with Americans and American companies. The company that revolutionized fast food could have a dramatic impact on EV charging, should it so decide. Imagine if all of the more than 12,000 McDonalds restaurants in America had charging stations? Youíd have a hard time arguing that the infrastructure for electric vehicles arenít in place.
Now I happen to remain unconvinced that plug-in hybrids and electrics are the answer, but I love the idea of McDonalds and Cracker Barrel and Walmart* providing this elusive infrastructure as a way to secure customers. Instead of tax revenue.
After some sunny days cheering Tea Party wins on tax and spending, the news-skies have turned a bit grey: net-neutrality (read John Fund's devastating look at the forces behind it), continuing ethanol subsidies, wind subsidies, executive power grabs under the auspices of ObamaCare®...
Permit me a moment of the famed jk understatement. We really have not won yet.
Not even rising to five worst list? "Obama's Electric Car Cult." Here's Charles Lane in the WaPo:
Last year the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council concluded: "Subsidies in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. . .will be needed if plug-ins are to achieve rapid penetration of the U.S. automotive market. Even with these efforts, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are not expected to significantly impact oil consumption or carbon emissions before 2030."
Yet, like a rural voter clinging to his guns, the Obama administration brushes aside the experts because - well, who knows why? Perhaps subsidizing electric cars helps a Democratic administration make corporate welfare and tax breaks for the wealthy seem progressive. It's possible President Obama feels bound by his grandiose campaign promise to put a million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
Did somebody say misallocation of capital? Bueller?
So market forces can even conquer the hair-shirt principle of the eco-mobile. Young buyers value "green" cars but still care what they look like when cruisin' Main Street. No surprise there. How long until the modifier "hybrid" is as non-descript as "GT?"
Worth mentioning: Honda's commercial (bottom right corner of linked page) for the new kid-rod, which implies that fire and ice can coexist. "Complete opposites, in complete harmony."
The ethanol extension is the bipartisan handiwork of Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, who both regularly abandon their professed principles (fiscal conservatism for the Republican and equity for the Democrat) in the service of agribusiness.
Discredit also goes to the environmental lobby and its running game of bait and switch. The greens have turned on ethanol because of its carbon emissions, but their tax bill support has also been purchased with extensions of such energy subsidies as a Treasury grant program for wind and other renewable projects that were part of the stimulus.
Brother jg and I are involved in a soon to be three-digit Facebook thread. It started with the brit PSA blowing up the children -- 'member that? Our interlocutor considers it essential that we stop burning fossil fuels immediately. While he admits that ethanol is a waste and a boondoggle, he still expects the government to choose the right one next time. (No, pig, breathe from your diaphragm! Rounded tones...Maaa-may-meee-moo-muuuuu...)
That's the future rallying cry of back-to-the-cave types in China, Japan and Korea. And the source of that "evil" "foreign" coal? Colorado.
The New Elk Mine was opened in 1951 by CF&I Steel Co. to provide metallurgical coking coal for its blast furnace iron and steel production plant in Pueblo. In 1981, Wyoming Fuels purchased the facility and operated it until 1989. The coal preparation plant continued operating with coal from other nearby mines until 1996.
The mine will produce metallurgical coal that will primarily be exported to Asian countries, including Japan, Korea and China.
No mention anywhere of a government subsidy or incentive. Just buyers and sellers. How quaint.
Blog patriarch JK thinks we "did not know what we got till it was gone" in the Obama/Boehner deal to not raise taxes on "the rich." For my part, I didn't make numerous treks to the capitol steps over the last two years and spend numerous weekends knocking on neighbors doors to sign up GOP absentee ballots just to keep taxes and spending at their 2010 levels.
Despite opposition from academics, environmental organizations, libertarian organizations, editorial boards across the country, and dozens of other groups, the ethanol tax credit and resulting tariff is said to be locked into the tax bill that will be passed before the end of the year.
How many stakes must we drive through the hearts of Congressional Democrats to be rid of their Frankensteinian monsters?
The move not to renew ethanol mandates is chugging along like a John Deere on biodiesel. The WSJ page reports a broad right-left coalition:
Last week, no fewer than 17 Senators signed a letter calling ethanol "fiscally indefensible" and "environmentally unwise." Led by Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Jon Kyl, the group said Congress shouldn't extend certain subsidies that expire at the end of the year, including the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline and tariffs on cheaper imports. Conservatives like Tom Coburn dislike this costly industrial policy, while liberals like Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse are turning against the hefty carbon emissions that come with corn fuels.
Even Energy Secretary Steven Chu seems to have found the anti-ethanol religion. Speaking at the National Press Club last Monday, Mr. Chu said that "ethanol is not an ideal transportation fuel" and that the government's focus should be "on ways that we can actually go beyond ethanol." Like most greens, he still supports so-called advanced fuels that aren't made from corn and also aren't commercially viable, but we'll take his partial conversion.
The ethanol industry is responding by predicting disaster if it loses its taxpayer feeding tubes, with the Renewable Fuels Association evoking massive job losses and another Dust Bowl. But what kind of business can't survive without subsidies when government also mandates that consumers buy its products? As the Senators dryly noted, "Historically our government has helped a product compete in one of three ways: subsidize it, protect it from competition, or require its use. We understand that ethanol may be the only product receiving all three forms of support from the U.S. government at this time."
Like the pay freeze, this can be derided as small potatoes (corn, actually...), but I would see it as a new dawn of freedom!
At the stroke of midnight on December 31 of this year, the 45Ę per gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), commonly known as the blenderís credit, and the 54Ę per gallon tariff on imported ethanol, will expire.
A bipartisan group of 17 senators, led by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), say itís time for these special-interest giveaways to go gently into the night. A broad coalition of environmental, taxpayer, hunger, free market, and food industry organizations are urging House and Senate leaders to let the VEETC meet its statutorily appointed fate.
An exciting prospect ó for the first time ever, Congress may decide to put the general welfare of consumers and taxpayers ahead of the corporate welfare of the ethanol lobby.
Of course, maybe if you mix ethanol with mohair, you might have a cure for cancer. All of us free market types would be pretty sheepish then...
Prof. Ann Althouse does a nice riff on incandescents and incandescence, including a line from Tennessee Williams:
Look, Mother, do you think I'm crazy about the warehouse? You think I'm in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that - - celotex interior! with -- fluorescent tubes?! Honest to God, I'd rather somebody picked up a crow-bar and battered out my brains -- than go back mornings! But I go! Every time you come in yelling that Rise and Shine! Rise and shine!! I think how lucky dead people are! But I get up. I go! For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever!
Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams and the Laniers are the illustrious wing of my family, including Tennessee, the poet Sidney Lanier, and even Red Barber. And their great-great nephew is not going to live under CFL tyranny. I am going to fill the garage with incandescents before the calendar turns 2011.
Popular Mechanics tries to explain the 99 MPG EPA fuel rating on the all 'lectric Nissan Leaf:
Or maybe they're claiming the number is infinite, but the spreadsheet they used will only display two-digit integers, so 99 was as high as they could list. (Programmers are funny that way: 99=infinity, but only for very large values of 99, and other stuff like that.) -- Mike Allen
I've been desirous of an "I love Coal" T-shirt for quite a while now, probably since Climategate hit the news - possibly in response to Colorado's legislature voting to subsidize coal's competition. I've been a denier since before it was cool, but now it's cool! I thought I would have to design and print my own. False.
Anyone who wants to join me can use this refer-a-friend link and reward me with a $10 Cafe Press credit (because you're so thoughtful.)
If Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is humming any tune these days, it might be: "I fought the law, and the law won." That sums up the Obama Administration's record trying to defend its response to the BP oil spill in court. -- WSJ Ed Page
And less poetic, but expository:
Federal Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans last week unceremoniously dumped the 10 safety regulations Mr. Salazar slapped on the drilling industry in June in the wake of the spill. The judge found Interior had ignored clear rule-making requirements. Public "notice and comment were required by law. The government did not comply," and so the rules are void, declared Judge Feldman, who is the same judge who previously threw out the Administration's deep water drilling moratorium as unjustified by either science or safety.
If I buy a Chevy Volt -- like any patriotic American would do -- that gets a bit under 50 MPG when not using electricity from 1920s-era coal-fired power plants, I will be gifted with a $7500 tax credit.
If I buy, however, the new Mazda2, that gets 70 MPG, does not require a $2500 charger, and does not use gigacoulombs of coal produced charged particles, I get, um, nothing.
Mazda, which has no hybrid engine systems of its own, has taken to vastly improving its line of gas and diesel engines to compete with hybrids. If these rumors are true, not only are they competing, but completely blowing the competition out of the water. A 70 mpg gas-only car would outdo every hybrid on the planet.
Sorry, Mazda, the US Senate has already decided how to make fuel efficient, earth-friendly vehicles. And it requires two power trains, lots of extra weight and complexity, and hundreds of pounds of batteries with toxic heavy metals. Your silly scheme of making cars more efficient is of no interest to us in the good old USA. Thanks for trying.
One of the Update links at the linked article in the Dr. Hal Lewis resignation story was a copy of the APS's public response with rebuttal by Dr. Lewis and two others interspersed in context. While the resignation letter itself is scathing evidence of Global Warming as hoax, it doesn't directly address the issue of "well-funded people believing" and thus, it "not going away." This does: [First the APS' statement, then Lewis' rebuttal.]
Dr. Lewisí specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding.
The chair of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) that re-endorsed the 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change sits on the science advisory board of a large international bankhttp://annualreport.deutsche-bank.com/2009/ar/supplementaryinformation/advisoryboards.htmlThe bank has a $60+ billion Green portfolio, which it wishes to assure investors is safeÖnot to mention their income from carbon trading. Other members of this board include current IPCC chief Pachauri and Lord Oxburgh, of Climategate exoneration fame. The viability of these banks activities depends on continued concern over CO2 emissions. Then there is the member of the Kleppner Committee (that reviewed the APS 2007 Statement prior to POPA) who served on that committee while under consideration for the position of Chief Scientist at BP. The position had been vacated when Steve Koonin left to take a post in the administration at DOE. Soon after the Kleppner Committee report in late 2009, this committee member took the BP job. BP had previously funded the new Energy Laboratory at Berkeley, which was headed by current Energy Secretary Steve Chu.
UPDATE: Reformatted for clarity and bolded text for emphasis.
Last November 20 I posted this first news of Climategate, which included James Delingpole's headline: Climategate: The final nail in the coffin of 'antropogenic global warming?'
JK was more circumspect but by December 1 admitted that the scandal was a "game changer." Yet, he still hedged: "But it does not expose a hoax as some have claimed. The believers truly believe. As long as well funded people believe, it is not going away."
Today, or rather October 8, the hoax is exposed.
Harold Lewis - Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, Presidentís Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board - resigned from the American Physical Society over events that have transpired since Climategate.
In discussing the publicly released resignation letter Anthony Watts says,
This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.
From the letter:
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
He then goes on to expose the calculated lengths that APS management went to defeat his efforts to establish a Topic Group on Climate Change within the APS. Sharp, smart and irretrievably damaging to APS and the Climate Change movement.
Jason Bieber Murphy! What are we gonna do with all this Ethanol?
There is so much of this unwanted crap, they've had to increase the amount that can be blended with gasoline -- to try and get rid of it.
So the EPA decided that more ethanol should be mixed with less gas, lifting the cap to 15% for model years 2007 and later, or about one out of seven cars and light trucks currently on the road. The decision came in the nick of time for the ethanol industry, which is at market saturation and producing a glut that the government is not requiring anyone to buy. "We have lots of gallons of ethanol chasing too few gallons of gasoline," Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen told the New York Times in May.
Mr. Dinneen was displeased by the EPA's ruling, even though it is an opening wedge for his larger demands. In a statement, he complained that "ethanol producers are hitting an artificial blend wall today." You've got to love that "artificial"--for a fuel that is more expensive than gas, gets worse mileage than gas, increases carbon emissions more than gas does, and that few consumers would willingly buy unless required by law.
This will require new pumps, and warning labels to ensure drivers do not harm their older vehicles (kinda glad to be driving the '04, now that you mention it).
In other news, "Shares in Archer Daniels Midland, the second largest U.S. ethanol maker, rose to a near 28-month high." Oh. No. Wait. That's in the same editorial.
Governor Ritter touted the benefits of the "new energy economy" as including not just new jobs, but clean jobs in clean energy. Alas, it seems that reality still exists. Fort Collins Coloradoan: Vestas Using Potentially Harmful Chemicals
A two-month investigation by the Coloradoan shows that a handful of employees working at the Vestas facility, 11140 Eastman Park Drive, have been injured by an epoxy resin used in the blade manufacturing process.
OSHA fined Vestas $1,500 and cited the company twice with eight separate violations for failure to train employees how to properly use respirators as well as a failure to complete incident report forms for injuries at the facility.
Vestas has had similar problems in Europe.
More than a year ago across the Atlantic, Vestas found itself in a similar situation. In June 2009, the Isle of Wight County Press newspaper in the U.K. reported that Vestas Blades Newport turbine factory, which has since closed, was fined almost $800,000 for health and safety violations pertaining to 13 employees who suffered dermatitis after exposure to epoxy resin between 2005 and 2007.
The WSJ Ed Page crucifies the Administrationís new report which shows that job losses from the Deep Water Drilling Moratorium were not so bad.
For an Administration that loves to tout stimulus projects that create a handful jobs here or there, it takes some nerve to describe the loss of up to 12,000 high-paying Gulf jobs as a triumph. Also unmentioned in the report is that if the Administration had listened to its own outside experts--who insisted a moratorium was unnecessary--the jobs lost would have been near zero. It is the White House that handed the Gulf these pink slips--not the spill, or a poor economy.
But the best is to capture the Keynesians on stimulus. It seems the precious multiplier is less than unity when government destroys spending, yet greater when they artificially boosts it (you see, phlogiston in metals has negative mass...)
The report's numbers also violate the very logic the White House offered earlier on the stimulus spending. According to the authors of the stimulus, every $92,000 the government injected in the economy was supposed to create one job-year. Yet according to the moratorium report, pulling $92,000 out of the economy doesn't result in the reverse. Instead, the authors offer several imaginative explanations for why it is important to "discount" that $92,000 by 40% to 60% when estimating how many jobs will be lost because of the $1.8 billion decline in spending on Gulf drilling. Thus they arrive at 8,000 to 12,000 lost jobs. Louisiana State University Professor Joseph Mason, who has penned a rigorous critique of the report, notes that if the government had not engaged in such "ad hoc" discounting, the estimate of lost jobs would be about 20,000--in line with prior estimates.
One week after publishing the story I linked about the Colorado PUC chairman colluding with Xcel Energy (to mandate the use of natural gas to replace coal for electrical generation) the author, Peter Blake, wrote this article about the same PUC chairman and another commissioner, which gives details on that collusion.
As early as last Dec. 8, Binz noted that the commissioners ďare being engaged by gas producers to examine the potential for replacing coal with gas in the dispatch order.... (fellow commissioner) Matt (Baker) and I have talked to reps from IPAMS, COGA, Noble and Chesapeake.Ē
Engaged by the gas producers? Why would regulators, who are essentially jurists, be holding unilateral talks with just one side in the energy business?
Coal, though still the cheapest provider of 24/7 baseload energy, was never involved in discussions and didnít know the bill was coming. Ritter, in a moment of candor, explained why to a renewable energy conference in Aspen last Saturday. ďWe didnít believe that coal was going to be really able to add to the conversation,Ē he said, claiming its lobbyists would have pushed for a study instead.
Let me translate: "We hate coal."
There are state laws designed to prevent this sort of thing. From the 8/26 Blake piece:
But there is in fact a law requiring commissioners to disqualify themselves ďin any proceeding in which their impartiality may reasonably be questioned.Ē
There is an even stronger law requiring their removal by the governor should they ďlend the prestige of their office to advance the private interests of others,Ē or ďconvey the impression that special influence can be brought to bear upon them.Ē
But what if that special influence is being brought to bear upon the governor too?
Professor Mankiw links to an Economist article that suggests solid state lighting will not reduce energy use -- it will simply increase the demand for light.
The light perceived by the human eye is measured in units called lumen-hours. This is about the amount produced by burning a candle for an hour. In 1700 a typical Briton consumed 580 lumen-hours in the course of a year, from candles, wood and oil. Today, burning electric lights, he uses about 46 megalumen-hoursóalmost 100,000 times as much. Better technology has stimulated demand, resulting in more energy being purchased for conversion into light.
That, at least, is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics by Jeff Tsao of Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and his colleagues. They predict that the introduction of solid-state lighting could increase the consumption of light by a factor of ten within two decades.
Just as the efficient vehicle owner finds himself driving more miles, so these will increase consumption. This would be good news to me, but blog brother jg is more concerned about light pollution than I.
Either way we can agree that the ridiculous nannying toward adopting these devices will -- mirabile non freakin dictu -- not achieve the nannies' goals.