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.
Perhaps you've heard about the "green" power initiative called "smart grid." According to Wikipedia,"A smart grid, is, in essence, an attempt to require consumers to change their behavior around variable electric rates or to pay vastly increased rates for the privilege of reliable electrical service during high-demand conditions." Well, who in their right mind wouldn't want THAT in their home?!
As it is often eager to do, the city of Boulder, Colorado wanted to be a pioneer in transforming the smart grid into reality so they colluded with utility company Xcel Energy to wire up 23,000 homes at a projected cost in the neighborhood of $20 million. Now that the experiment is over and the final price was $45 million Xcel says, "We would not do that again over the whole service area," But in bailing out on the added cost Boulder says, "There is not a clear consensus among the members of the Boulder City Council with regard to the value of SmartGridCity in its present state or the prudence of this investment."
What? Boulder City Council considering the "prudence" of "investing" residents' money based upon "value?" Pinch me!
Colorado's HB 1365, which I railed against last March, directed electric utility company Xcel Energy to "study" the economic benefits of converting existing coal-fired plants to use natural gas. But don't confuse them with any facts.
Xcel now says building brand new gas fired plants and tearing down the coal units would be cheaper still. How? Well, there are some tax benefits, but there's also a new 10-year contract with natural gas provider Andarko Petroleum.
It almost sounds as though it were a fixed-price contract, but one that long would be most unusual. Historically gas contracts run only a year, said Stutz.
Wouldnít it be easier to make his case if the gas contract were made public? Perhaps, but he said the gas contract is proprietary information.
Hmmm. Proprietary information? Public utility?
But don't expect the Public Utilities Commission to look out for the public. Ron Binz, the chairman of the Colorado PUC, is an environmental activist.
Historically commissioners have not been involved in negotiating controversial legislation that they may end up implementing. A hands-off approach makes sense if youíre supposed to be a neutral arbiter. You rarely hear of judges at any level participating in legislation.
But Binz was quite active in the negotiations involving HB 1365 before it was introduced, as e-mails uncovered in a court proceeding revealed.
Heís also an advocate for climate-change legislation at the national level, and heads the climate task force of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
To quote Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman, "Well THERE'S your PROBLEM!"
We're the party of thought and ideas and ideals. And the ONLY thing that can mess it up is when we win majorities and have to govern.
Rep. Paul Ryan has superb plans for entitlements, Rep Tom Price has an excellent plan for budget and Federal discretionary spending.
Now Kim Strassel shares California Rep. Devin Nunes's Energy Roadmap. And it strikes me as a thing of beauty.
Mr. Nunes's interest is how to answer these concerns in a more free-market way. The Californian's road map is the product of years of work, most recently with Mr. Ryan and a handful of Republicans with energy expertiseóIllinois's John Shimkus, Utah's Rob Bishop, and Idaho's Mike Simpson. It's a bill designed to produce energy, not restrict it. It returns government to the role of energy facilitator, not energy boss. It costs nothing and contains no freebies. It instead offers a competitive twist to government support of renewable energy.
Both Strassel and I would prefer that renewals "sink or swim" ("...and swim just left town...") but Nunes funds them with royalties from extraction and introduces a pricing mechanism, and -- gasp! -- competition and scoring.
It would divert all the federal resource royalties into a fund. Companies or individuals with proven renewable technology would take part in a reverse auction. They'd bid for government bucks; those that can produce the most megawatts for the least money win. Auction winners forego other federal handouts. And consider this: The more fossil fuel extraction, the more royalties (potentially hundreds of billions of dollars) available to boost alternative energy.
Noocyulur power would not be subsidized, but regulatory hurdles would be dealt with. Like the Green Lobby, it would be put up or shut up time for the denizens of deuterium:
Rather than throw federal loan guarantees at uncertain nuclear plants, the legislation attacks the true problem: bureaucratic roadblocks. It streamlines a creaky regulatory process, requires the timely up-or-down approval of 200 plants over 30 years, and offers new flexibility for dealing with nuclear waste. Mr. Nunes likes to point out that his nuclear provision alone would do more to reduce carbon emissions than any Democratic proposal in existence. And it would in fact create, ahem, green jobs. Imagine that.
Now if we can just do something to keep the GOP out of power for a few more years so that these great ideas keep coming.
He is best known for being the man who retired Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004, but GOP Senator John Thune of South Dakota is now striving for some policy and political visibility. He's just made a sweeping proposal to reform the clearly broken Congressional budget process.
Last year, Mr. Thune became head of the Republican Policy Committee, a leadership post that puts him in charge of generating the party's position on key issues. He's also being talked about as a dark horse presidential candidate by Republican strategists who aren't enamored by any of the likely 2012 contenders.
Minus ten points for "line item veto." Conservatives have got to jump off that train if they want to keep any Constitutional cred. Love the idea of President Christie stripping pork but I'm less keen on President Obama stripping out the tax cuts and pocketing the spending increases.
Yet Some Still Doubt Government's Investing Prowess
Below, the Wall Street Journal suggests that that the Feds might not make $1.1 Billion the CBO projected with their scheme to invest in banks and funnel loans to small businesses. Well that's the WSJ Ed Page -- whaddya expect?
Now their right-wing buddies at the New York Times Opinion page carry a guest editorial by Edward Neidermeyer which calls the Government Motors Chevy Volt "a vehicle that costs $41,000 but offers the performance and interior space of a $15,000 economy car."
Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat. Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Voltís Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for ďretoolingĒ its plants, and youíve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt.
In the end, making the bailout work ó whatever the cost ó is the only good reason for buying a Volt. The car is not just an environmental hair shirt (a charge leveled at the Prius early in its existence), it is an act of political self-denial as well.
If G.M. were honest, it would market the car as a personal donation for, and vote of confidence in, the auto bailout. Unfortunately, thatís not the kind of cross-branding that will make the Volt a runaway success.
Over the previous 87 days of the oil spill "disaster" every attempt to plug the leak had the dominant liberal establishment mass media looking over BP's shoulder and then rushing out with breathless reports of "another failure." It's curious that now, with flow stopped for the moment, they all find it within themselves to counsel caution. Better late than never I suppose.
But what is the total damage done by the leak? The linked story cites a leaked volume of four million barrels of raw crude oil. Alright, let's put that in perspective. 4 million barrels is 22458333 cubic feet. From a well head located roughly 5,000 feet below the water's surface this amounts to a column of oil extending from the well to the surface that is about 23 meters (about 75 feet) in diameter. For a geological feature measured in nautical miles this really does amount to a "drop."
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS ABOUT THE PLUG-IN PRIUS: ďSo far, the Inside Line team has racked up more than 500 miles in the plug-in Prius and the experience has to be considered somewhat of a let down. The team has averaged 62 miles per gallon, a good number for sure, but one that many drivers of the more conventional Prius have easily achieved on a regular basis. . . . Given the plug-inís slightly improved efficiency, one would have to drive 215,100 miles to make up for the additional cash laid out to start
ECO BOOST: Ford Mustang V6 Gets 48.5 MPG Around Bristol Race Track.
Okay, Tangerines and Tangelos. But Look at Gallons per 100 mile:
Super cool, fun, babe-magnet* Mustang: 2.06186
Doofy, expensive, pretentious Prius that has to be plugged in at night and which will require multi-thousand dollar battery replacements at regular intervals: 1.6129
So, every 100 miles, the Plug-in Prius owner saves almost a half a gallon of gas. Seventy five gallons in a 15,000 mile year.
*Granted, the women in Brother Ka's life require the V8, but letís race the V6 against the Prius...
I stay out of the global warming dispute, and I mean completely. I don't argue that we need to do things because the world is coming to an end or going to shift because we have endangered ourselves. I mention global warming in the movie but don't focus on it, and the reason is because I think it's a red herring. If we focus on money, and the bottom line, and we look at what kind of cost savings and profits can be gained through energy efficiency, it makes the global warming argument look like people who just don't understand where the value is. We need to focus on value, because the major change for the green revolution has to happen at a business level.
If you don't provide businesses with value, they won't ever change. They don't care what's happening to the world. Corporations aren't run with a set of moral directives. They are run with one thing in mind, and that's profit. For me, for my work, even for the Fuel film, the question was always: How do we get away from these didactic arguments that just go around in circles and leave people with less understanding, less information, less ability to make informed decisions than they had when they began? How do we give them really clear, insightful information that they can use to actually better their lives? It's great that it betters the planet as a result. And it's great that it improves the air. Of course it's going to reduce carbon emissions. Because at the end of the day, it's an efficiency equation. -- Josh Tickell, the director and star of the award-winning documentary, Fuel
The WSJ Ed Page is impressed by the pointedness of Judge Feldman's (loved him in Young Frankenstein!) "legal rebuke" of the Obama moratorium on deep water oil drilling.
Oil-services companies brought the case, which is supported by the state of Louisiana, arguing that the White House ban was "arbitrary and capricious" in exceeding federal authority, and Judge Feldman agreed. He noted that even after reading Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's report on safety recommendations (which included the ban), and Mr. Salazar's memo ordering the ban, "the Court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium."
Quite the opposite, said the judge, "the Report makes no effort to explicitly justify the moratorium." It does "not discuss any irreparable harm that would warrant a suspension of operations" and doesn't provide a timeline for implementing proposed safety regulations. There is "no evidence" that Mr. Salazar "balanced the concern for environmental safety" with existing policy, and "no suggestion" that he "considered any alternatives." The feds couldn't even coherently define "deep water." Ouch.
Judge Feldman noted in his decision that the Supreme Court has explained an agency rule as being arbitrary and capricious "if the agency has relied on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise."
"That rationale resonates in this dispute," Judge Feldman wrote in his decision.
Translation: You did ALL of these things you jackasses!
For several months now I've taken scant comfort in the belief that "after the healthcare disaster there's no way that congress or the American people will allow the energy tax bill to pass." Then I read this analysis by RCP's Jay Cost:
The only reason to pass such a major piece of legislation during a lame duck session is because the proposal is unpopular. If Democrats could sell the bill to their constituents, they would pass it before the November elections then campaign on it. Party leaders must also expect that the political will for this bill will not exist in the 112th Congress after the voters have spoken in November. In other words, the new representatives coming in are not going to vote for it - so Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama had better get the representatives who were just fired to support it before they're forced into early retirement.
But Jay says the president would be wise to use caution, lest he hurt his own chances for re-election in '12:
Passing health care reform over howls of popular protest then jamming energy reform through a lame duck Congress might solidify the impression that this President is a bully who doesn't care what the people think. That would hand the Republicans a great valence issue for 2012. Nobody likes a bully, after all.
But if the president has already acquiesced to a belief that his re-election is doomed anyway...
JK recently invoked a long-standing theme put forth by Blog Brother Silence: That without government guidance a capitalist economy necessarily results in an extreme gentrification of society, or a "Dickensian" world if you will. I noted in the comments that "it is not only the wealthy who can create wealth. At every level of the economic ladder, when value is traded for value wealth is created." A more thorough explanation of this fact is offered in a Wendy Milling essay: 'No Thomas Friedman, Capitalism is Perfect.'
Some degree of economic malady exists and will continue to exist under any system, including capitalism. It is not the responsibility of capitalism to eliminate, and it is not a feature of capitalism, but of a special facet of reality: Man's free will.
Individuals must perform mental and physical work in order to attain material values, but this requires an act of free will. The existence of free will means that some people will choose to have a different value system, and some will choose not to have values at all. In a pure capitalist system, the opportunity to achieve whatever prosperity level desired is available to everyone.
It is not the proper purpose or function of a politico-economic system to override the free will of man, and any attempt to do so is immoral. It would be an attempt to violate the rights of the virtuous for the sake of those who reject virtue, because in reality, the only way to start equalizing results for people who have chosen to reject effort is to rob from those who have not. To insist that people who demonstrate no commitment to achieving material values, value the materials anyway-and then blame capitalism for their not having them-is to border on the psychotic.
Now, what Wendy has described is only valid in a special place we like to call "reality." Opponents of capitalism can't prevail in the face of these facts using reason. In fact, many deny that reason exists. Instead, as Wendy writes, "they rely on obfuscations, equivocations, and an attitude of militant evasion. One trick is to make inappropriate demands of capitalism, then stomp and pout and denounce capitalism when those demands are not met." She calls this approach "crybaby metaphysics." That is apt teminology, and the reacton to the BP oil leak by President Obama casts him as Crybaby in Chief. ("Just plug the damn hole!")
Milling concludes by answering Friedman's sneering taunt, "But what say the tea partiers today? Who will step forward now and demand that the Ďenergy market' be rescued from regulatory bondage?"
Observe that the government, beholden to an insane environmentalist ideology that views nature as an intrinsic value and superior to human beings, forbade oil companies to drill nearer to the coast line where there were shallow waters. In the shallow areas, an oil leak could be directly accessed. Instead, companies were only allowed to drill in areas too deep for current technology to address.
The liability risk in deep waters was too great for the oil companies to accept. This is an example of the inherent safety features in a free market. However, because we need the oil for our economy, politicians had to entice companies to drill there by capping liability limits on accidents, legally shielding them from the consequences of failure they would bear under a capitalist system. It is government that removes the safety controls and engenders unacceptably risky situations.
There is no regulation that can override the reality of a fundamentally flawed set-up like this, which is why the statists do not offer to explain why such regulations were not already in place in one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy.
It is also an open question what the actual economic damage will be, what it would be were the federal government not interfering with local authorities' attempts to mitigate the spill, and what adaptations the private sector will make to counter the new adversities.
Thus, if it were not for government interference, there might still have been an accident at some point, but there would have been no "disaster." Statism was the problem, and laissez-faire would have prevented this situation.
Capitalism is not to blame for the flaws of our mixed economy, the do-gooders' "fettering" is.
ThreeSourcers who wish to extract an I-told-you-so can search for posts in which I argued against the European ('nuff said?) method of measuring fuel economy by the reciprocal: liters per 100 kilometers. Just a different scale said I.
And a logarithm is just a number and an exponent is just like a factor and -- what did you say your major was in school? Mea Maxima Culpa, I was "wrong as pants on a trout" to quote Mister Quint.
If you really want to see the effect on fuel economy, the reciprocal form conveys more important information. Y'all may be way ahead, but I had to play with some numbers. Imagine vehicles that get 10, 20, 25, 33, 50 and 100 mpg. The jump from 33 to 50 looks pretty substantive, as when I trade my MR2 for my sanctimonious in-laws' Honda Hybrid. But trading your 20 mpg truck for a 25 mpg hybrid or minivan. why bother?
We don't have to use metric, but let's look at those in terms of gallons per 100 miles. This is a measure of how much gas you'll buy and burn. 10,20,25,33, 50, and 100 equal 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 gal/100mi.
Little different, n'est ce pas? Moving from 20 to 25 has the same fuel savings as from 33 to 100 or 50 to 100. Or even 100 to zero!
And that's the significance of this story, claiming that "over half of the 130,000 hand-raisers for the Nissan Leaf, currently own a Toyota Prius."
That's a pretty significant signal to us. It tells us that there is a segment of eco-friendly consumers who are interested in going to the next level. They own a hybrid vehicle. But if the next step is available, they want to take it.
Well <southparkvoice>Good for You!</southparkvoice> But you're saving a marginally small amount of fuel.
Scientific evidence supports the origination of petroleum reserves from the decay of carbon matter such as ancient dinosaur and vegetation remains. However, researchers (...) have used laser heating in a diamond anvil cell (DAC) to demonstrate that high-temperature compression of natural elements in the upper mantle of the earth do indeed create hydrocarbons that could be transported through deep faults to shallower regions of the crust and contribute to petroleum reserves in an abiotic (having nothing to do with biology) process.
In other words, not coming from decayed dinosaurs or vegetation, hence the scare quotes in the title. (A more apt term would be geological, or geo-fuels.)
Naturally occuring subterranian gases, under extreme heat and pressure, appear to "partially reacts to form saturated hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, and butane), molecular hydrogen, and graphite. These hydrocarbons are a primary component of petroleum and were detected in the experiments using Raman spectroscopy."
I asked my PhD physicist friend, who sent me this article and told me that crude oil may well be a renewable resource, Would this mean that Peak Oil is a myth?
"Could we really take over BP?" Robert Reich is apparently serious.
Q: But why should we expect government to do any better job than BP?
A: BP would still be at the job -- and its expertise, equipment, and other assets would continue to be utilized. But the federal government would be in overall control of the operation -- weighing public risks and benefits, deciding what resources are necessary, getting accurate information and disseminating it to the public.
Our story (a story on loan from Holman Jenkins, Jr.) opens in Sunny California. And it has cool cars, high livin' entrepreneurs, dreams-a-plenty, and I'll work in some bikini-clad blonde women if you give me some time.
Everybody's favorite $100,000 'lectricar is coming into production! Huzzah!
Tesla is the dreamchild of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, but not even Mr. Musk's ample bank account is capable of providing financing on the scale required to bring a car to market. Especially not when it's already being drained to finance his unprofitable space-rocket company and now a divorce. In February, Mr. Musk told a judge he's "out of cash" and living off loans from "friends."
Among the friends he didn't enumerate is the federal government, which under a law Mr. Obama keeps bragging about has become Tesla's biggest supplier of working capital, in the form of $465 million in federal loan guarantees. But there's a wrinkle: This money can't be used directly to put Tesla's new "Model S" into production, but will be available only after Tesla raises the necessary funds from private investors.
Bottom line: Tesla needs an IPO, even in today's inhospitable market and despite its unpromising business plan. Mr. Musk himself especially needs an IPO to refloat his lifestyle by converting some of his Tesla stake to cash.
Huh, that didn't sound too good did it? Well, no doubt it is going to get better because 'lectricars are THE thing now, and everybody agrees that the $100,000 Tesla 'lectricar is the coolest!
What we have here is a political kludge of the murkiest order. Tesla reportedly was within hours of closing a deal for a plant site in Downey, Calif., when the Toyota offer materialized, thanks in part to undisclosed state incentives orchestrated by Mr. Lockyer. ("Downey is awesome," Mr. Musk wrote to city fathers apologizing for the last-minute jilting.)
Hardly was the deal announced before White House aide Jared Bernstein was on a conference call urging Tesla to rehire laid-off UAW workers. And already scheduled was Mr. Obama's campaign, er, presidential visit to Northern California, in which he was pleased to take credit for the deal.
Within days too, a bipartisan cabal of legislators introduced identical bills in the House and Senate to ladle out fresh subsidies for electric cars, including $5 billion to reward "deployment communities" or "corridors" (in California, say) that sponsor local schemes to spur sales of electric cars.
Kudlow fans will know Jared Bernstein as the sweet, loveable but highly misguided lefty foil who can be counted on to oppose anyone with reason. He entered the Administration early as VP Biden's Economic Advisor (Big Bird was unavailable?) I guess he's running GM now.
Jenkins suggests that California and the US could use some business that might, um, if I can broach the topic, generate revenue instead of mop up subsidies. But no, this calls for a victory lap. 'lectricars! Green Jobs! Bankruptcy!
On the heels of Charles Krauthammer's King Canute reference, [third comment] Mark Steyn fills us in on the background.
In the age of kings, we were taught that kings were human, with human failings. Now, in the age of citizen-presidents, we are taught that government has unlimited powers over "heaven, earth and sea." Unlike Canute and Alfred, the vanity of Big Government knows no bounds.
You won't be sorry if you read it all. He even takes a whack at the Euro.
Hondaís R&D chief thinks he may at least be in his underwear.
What Honda knows about electric cars is considerable. But what Honda, as one of the worldís leading manufacturers, knows about the car business is even more considerable. And as to the electric part of that business, Kawanabe says ďWe lack confidenceĒ in it.
ďWe are definitely conducting research on electric cars,Ē he recently told Bloomberg News, ďbut I canít say I wholeheartedly recommend them.Ē
Why? As a leading engineer for the builder of some of the worldís most popular cars, Kawanabeís answer is right to the point. ďIt is questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them.Ē
Kawanabe is not saying anything new, but he is saying something that is either ignored or has yet to sink in with electric enthusiasts. EVsóincluding the very best of themódonít go very far. They go even less far if they go fast. They go even less far if they contain passengers or any significant cargo. Or if it is very cold. Or if it is very hot.
I think that Honda has a good gift for planning strategically and taking the long view. The electric car fanatics are developing a technology that is years away in popular availability and adoption. The article suggests that 10% of the market in ten years is optimistic.
I'd suggest that predicting as faddish a trend as 'letriccars five or ten years into the future is pretty difficult. A little caution looks wise. Tesla is sui generis, the Chevy Volt is appealing to the firm's political owners, Nissan is free to bet on the Leaf. But all of these will come out of other R&D, and the 2013 Honda line might show a company that made the right pick..
"[T]hink of what's happening in countries like Spain ... where theyíre making real investments in renewable energy. They're surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in these new industries," declared then-President-elect Barack Obama back in January 16, 2009. -- Ron Baily
A meta-QOTD today, the whole post is superb. (HT: Instapundit)
Don't worry, the AP suggests you're coming out okay:
WASHINGTON Ė Drivers will have to pay more for cars and trucks, but they'll save at the pump under tough new federal rules aimed at boosting mileage, cutting emissions and hastening the next generation of fuel-stingy hybrids and electric cars.
The new standards, announced Thursday, call for a 35.5 miles-per-gallon average within six years, up nearly 10 mpg from now.
By setting national standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, the government hopes to squeeze out more miles per gallon whether you buy a tiny Smart fortwo micro car, a rugged Dodge Ram pickup truck or something in between.
Where do you start with the awfulness of this policy? First principles. Government does not create more fuel efficient cars -- like the minimum wage, it just makes some purchases illegal.
It seems that citizens could choose whether they wanted to pay more for a more fuel efficient car. But as subjects, we are told.
Haw about a little energy scarecrow? I'm sick of health care.
I saw this on a Stossel clip on Hulu and meant to ask the ThreeSources' cognoscente about it. Stossel has a blog post about it today. Key 'graph:
I thought that nuclear power is a wonderful underutilized energy source, hampered only by idiots who believe the scaremongering pushed by the likes of Jane Fonda and The China Syndrome. After all, France gets 80% of its electricity from the atom, and they handle the nuclear waste without a problem.
But Cato Institute energy analyst Jerry Taylor set me straight. Yes, the waste is manageable, he says, but affordable nuclear power is a Republican energy myth: ďTake a Republican speech on energy and cross out nuclear, replace with wind and solarÖand youíve got a Nancy Pelosi speech on energy. Exact same thing.
I won't say Cato is never wrong, but I am disinclined to say that he's nuts on this.
Colorado following California into Anti-Coal Stupidity
Watch out Pennysylvania, you're probably next. Yesterday Colorado's lame-duck governor announced a "Clean Air - Clean Jobs Act" that looks like it's on the fast track through the state legislature, having "bipartisan" sponsorship in both the house and the senate. The sponsoring GOP senator, in particular, draws my ire. It's been a while since I've felt the need to publish outside of the friendly confines of ThreeSources, but I wrote the editor of the Denver Post about it.
Re-thinking Josh Penry
Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry has been making a name for himself in conservative circles but it may be time to reconsider. The Post reported Tuesday that he co-sponsored Governor Ritter's new "Clean Air - Clean Jobs Act" that outlaws coal power in Colorado. Have we not learned from California's mistake? Electricity costs 40% more there, largely due to their coal ban. Why do it?
Penry isnít quoted but reasons given include anticipation of federal regulations that could ďlead to a 4 to 6 percent increase in rates.Ē Thatís still 34% less than California. Xcel Energy and natural gas companies support the plan. The latter because coal always wins in a free-market; the former because theyíll get money for new plants and cover for raising rates. Itís like light bulb manufacturers encouraging the ban on cheap light bulbs.
And then there are coalís higher carbon emissions. As Curtis Hubbard alluded last month on his Post blog, if the events of the past year havenít convinced us that the whole ĎClimate Changeí issue was a fraud we have reason now to at least ask the question.
Fortunately, the coal guys are fighting back. Today I heard the first ad against the bill deriding the mad rush to pass the bill "and raise electricity costs for Colorado residents for decades to come." The ad was paid for by American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal lobbying group.
Which to side with? The one that doesn't want to restrict the market - Coal.
I'm not quite ready to address the question of why the secular French and Russian revolutions "made such a hash of things, when the relatively devout American [revolution] succeeded." As a warm-up exercise I'll attempt to explain why America's elected leaders insist on cutting the nose off of America's energy policy. Hint: It is to spite America's face.
I remember wondering 20-odd years ago in my college days if environmentalists who lobbied government for ever greater restrictions on oil and gas development (and every other productive activity, it seemed) seriously believed that elected leaders would do something so obviously harmful to the American standard of living. Looking back now it clearly wasn't as obvious to our elected leaders as I had assumed. More importantly, however, it's also no longer obvious to a huge portion of the electorate. For decades the environmentalists and their minions, through vehicles such as global warming and Avatar movies, have lectured Americans that we are evil earth killers. For most of that time there was little in the way of self-defense on the part of "big oil." I'm pleased to say that has changed. "The US oil and natural gas industry is moving ahead with a long-term educational advocacy program to build understanding and appreciation of the role the industry and its products play in fueling the nationís economy."
But just why has the industry felt the need to undertake such a program? Red Cavaney, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), provides some context. ďLike many industries, especially those with roots dating back a century or more, we have traditionally focused on just getting our job done, if you will,Ē he says. ďTo the extent we communicated externally, our companies have tended to focus on their brand.Ē
Cavaney explains that on issues related to public policy, the industry has tried to be responsive to a policy-maker audience. ďThe industry has not, however, engaged stakeholders and others more broadly about its irreplaceable role in fueling our nationís overall economic growth or its contribution to an improved quality of life for the American consumer,Ē he says.
As my high-school history professor Doc Ton used to say, "The pendulum always swings back."
The House of Representatives recently passed its own version of the largely symbolic, but very expensive, 15 ba-billion dollar jobs bill. What frustrates me most of all about this is how they ignore a simple and inexpensive way to create real, private-sector jobs, increase tax revenue, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. EnergyTomorrow.org sez:
Increasing access to oil and natural gas resources could generate nearly 160,000 new, well-paying jobs, $1.7 trillion in revenues to federal, state and local governments and greater energy security. And according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry already supports 9.2 million American jobs and contributes more than $1 trillion to the national economy, or 7.5 percent GDP.
Our nation has vast on-and-offshore oil and natural gas resources that could be produced safely to put this country's economy back on its feet.
But it's not just domestic oil and gas that will provide the jobs and energy our nation needs. Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north and top supplier of oil, will continue to play a vital role as we seek greater energy and economic security.
According to a recent CERI study, the economic impact of Canadian oil sands development is expected to lead to 342,000 U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015, and an estimated $34 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 and $42.2 billion in 2025.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Many answers to our economic woes are easy to find; if government hacks really intended to fix the economy they would do it.
Sanctimonious progressives ridicule social conservatives for refusing to acknowledge the validity of the theory of evolution. Too bad they are too dense to see the obvious parallel with their refusal to acknowledge the lessons of history. But IBD's Michael Ramirez sees it.
This post Insty linked to made me think of ThreeSources's token left-of-center Silence Dogood. We may not vote alike but we frequently think alike.
One smart comment of his is that government regulation in fuel economy and transportation safety have stifled the development of hybrid vehicles -- not gas-electric hybrids, but scooter-motorcycle, cycle-car skateboard-bus vehicles which might find a market yet cannot be brought to market because of governments need to stratify and classify.
BMW's 120MPG hybrid motorcycle-car-stealth-bomber-thingy might make some sense but one finds it hard to see its coming to market.
The diesel has become so seamless and the mileage so good that you canít help but wonder if the technology could become the most realistic high-mileage solution for large passenger vehicles until other technologies are perfected.
This observation isn't notable so much for it's brilliance as its obviousness, and its similarity to other such observations. For example:
- The automobile has become so comfortable and convenient that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace the horse and buggy until other technologies are perfected.
- The electric lamp has become so safe and economical that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace the kerosene lamp until other technologies are perfected.
- Centralized generation of electric power from fission fuels has become so clean and ubiquitous that you can't help but wonder if the technology could replace fossil fuel generation UNTIL OTHER TECHNOLOGIES ARE PERFECTED.
I wonder if the Germans will ever show us the way on that too.
Or, a better title might be "Gimme That Old Time Paternalism..."
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu "sees Americans as unruly teenagers and the Administration as the parent that will have to teach them a few lessons." WSJ:
ďThe American publicÖjust like your teenage kids, arenít acting in a way that they should act,Ē Dr. Chu said. ďThe American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is.Ē (In that case, the Energy Department has a few renegade teens of its own.)
The administration aims to teach themóliterally. The Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on real children. Partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization, the agency earlier this month launched a cross-country tour of 6,000 schools to teach students about climate change and energy efficiency.
ďWeíre showing people across the country how energy efficiency can be part of what they do every day,Ē said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. ďConfronting climate change, saving money on our utility bills, and reducing our use of heavily-polluting energy can be as easy as making a few small changes.Ē
You may have seen the new Audi commercial with barrels of oil rolling through the streets and back onto the tankers that brought them here from overseas producers. "If 1/3 of us drove a TDI clean diesel vehicle, we could send back 1.5 million barrels of foreign oil every day."
A TDI engine is revved several times while a white hanky is held near the exhaust pipe. Spotless.
"One drop of diesel fuel has 12% more power than one drop of gasoline."
I'm ready to do my part to reduce global warming-
"If 1/3 of Americans switched from gasoline to diesel, it would be the equivalent of planting 2.2 billion trees."
"so if you take the combination of phenomenal performance with reduced emissions and the positive impact that has on the environment there can truly be no compelling argument against the adoption of clean diesel technology for use on the roads in the United States."
Well, except for the fact that it would obliterate all of the "crises" that environmentalists have concocted to take us back to the caves.
Hey Obama, stimulate THIS!
[UPDATED to add video of the commercial from YouTube.]
Also of interest, a history of diesel cars in America since 1979. Via AudiofAmerica on YouTube. They call it Audi TDI: TRUTH IN DIESEL
You'd think the Audubon Society might be celebrating the Petrosesquicentennial. You would, of course, be wrong.
But as Brother JG and I seek to crowd more people into the petroleum evangelists' revival tent, some bird lovers might want to consider baptizin':
A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birdsónearly all protected by the migratory bird actóare being whacked every year at Altamont.
Altamont's turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon's tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.
The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies.
"Somebody has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card," Mr. Fry told me. "If there were even one prosecution," he added, the wind industry would be forced to take the issue seriously.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's trade association, each megawatt of installed wind-power results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines.
This from a WSJ editorial decrying the double standard in enforcement, as oil and power companies have been levied with huge fines based on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
JK recently heralded America's Petrosesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the first American oil well. We are quite enamored of the "black gold" on these pages. And why not? 3.8 gallons of oil derived gasoline (you may have heard of it - it's been used as a primary motor fuel for nearly a hundred years) which can be purchased on any street corner for about ten bucks, produce as much energy as an average lightning bolt (about 500 megajoules.)
And the safety of this miracle fuel is such that anti-industrial zealots like those on Dateline NBC have had to use remotely detonated explosives to recreate accidental fuel tank explosions.
But there's more to oil than gasoline. Much more. Modern necessities made from oil include jet fuel, propane gas, plastics, asphalt, and dozens of petrochemicals essential to hundreds of industries we could hardly imagine living without. (Paints, fertilizers and textiles to name just a few.)
I went searching for the historical significance of the Petrosesquicentennial and found the following graph of world population and income since 1500. It shows a precipitous rise in population around the time of the Industrial Revolution. But the per capita world GDP rose only 31 percent in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution (1820 to about 1870). In the next 30 years however, inflation-adjusted individual incomes went up another 45%, and 20 years later nearly doubled from there. Finally, by the end of the 20th century, individuals earned a whopping SEVEN TIMES what their ancestors did at the time commercial oil production began.
(Click on graph to enlarge)
While the Industrial Revolution began in the early 1800's without oil it "centered on improvement in coal, iron and steam technologies." The truly modern developments "steel, electricity and chemicals" were hallmarks of the Second Industrial Revolution which, though not clearly delineated from the first, roughly coincided with the commercialization of oil in America.
So if you love iPods, cell phones, jet planes, mass transit, modern medicines, supermarkets, artificial light, white collar jobs ... and the income to pay for all of these and more ... you'd best come to grips with your closet love affair with oil.
UPDATE [10:43a EDT]: As often happens, I omitted a key argument in the thread. The point of all this was to set up the assertion that the advent of cheap and abundant oil was not only coincident with the Second Industrial Revolution, but catalyzed it. Try to imagine the course of the industrial age without it. Certainly a gallon of gas could have been replaced, say with 121 cubic feet of natural gas or 9 pounds of coal, but extracting and using a liquid fuel proved far more practical and economical than those gaseous or solid ones, at least for some uses. And I contend those uses were - and remain - important. Add to this the less obvious fact that many chemical uses of oil may be irreplaceable.
Oil has clearly fueled prosperity. Not only that, it did so for everyone.
Blog Brother Cyrano sent a link that I wish I had posted yesterday. I am claiming coinage for the title word, though I am not sure when it will be used again.
But August 27th was the 150th anniversary of the first American Oil well -- and if that's not a better cause for celebration than Labor Day, I'll drink a quart of 10W30. IBD Ed Page:
On that day in 1859, Edwin Drake struck black gold with the first commercial oil well ó creating an industry that would provide the lifeblood for modern civilization.
And yet no one seems to care.
In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultraconvenient energy ó and is as vital today as ever.
I celebrate modernity today and link to an extended, director's cut of my favorite TV commercial (embedding disabled, sorry!): Putting the 'No' in Innovation!
I always wonder why my conspiracy theory accepting friends are never dissuaded by the number of opposing views if not by Occam's Razor. To be sure, truth is not a democracy, and I have been proud to stand for many minority positions. But when I see "9-11 Truthers" and a few friends who believe that five billionaire families meet in Germany once a year and plan everything that happens everytwhere, I wonder that the tidal forces don't affect them.
And yet, my favorite wacko belief got linked by Instapundit today: Hydrocarbons in the deep Earth? I heard it called "outgassing" and had the pleasure of a personal presentation by Dr. Sterling Colgate, who was a former President of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a good friend of a(nother) guitar player in my band.
His pitch was that almost every hunk of rock we see floating around kicks out low level hydrocarbons, when these comets and asteroids clearly did not have millions of decaying dinosaurs to create oil. Maybe, just maybe, Earth was no different and these small molecules were compressed into more complex organic structures as they came through the intense heat and pressure of the Earth's mantle.
This was in an apolitical part of my life and I had no dog in the fight. I admittedly got a pitch from a charismatic and obliviously brilliant physicist, but it has always made more sense to me.
Austin Energy officials say that times have changed and that the nation's most successful (by volume of sales) green-energy program, which offers the renewable energy only to those who select it, might no longer be the best way to carry out the city's goals. It now costs almost three times more than the standard electricity rate.
"I think it's time to sit back and look at the philosophy behind GreenChoice," said Roger Duncan, the head of Austin Energy and the chief architect of GreenChoice.
"It was our intent to use it to stimulate the market for renewables, which it did, and then eventually phase it out," Duncan said. "It was never intended to go on forever."
Duncan said part of the solution might just be adding new wind, solar and other renewable-energy projects into the bills of all Austin Energy customers, which could increase rates for everyone
A perfect blueprint for the nation! Create a bunch of green energy that is too expensive to find a buyer --- and then make everybody buy it.
"Balanced" and "sensible" climate change bill passes House
That's the spin thrown on the bill by President Obama yesterday. Surely it was far from either of those qualities at the time, but prior to passage another 300 pages were shoe-horned in ... at 3 am this morning! [What in the hell is the fixation that Washington politicians have with that time of day?] Minority Leader Boehner said the obvious:
Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky, said the cap-and-trade bill represented the "economic colonization of the heartland" by New York and California.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called the bill a ďscamĒ that would do nothing but satisfy ďthe twisted desires of radical environmentalists.Ē
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) called it a ďmassive transfer of wealthĒ from the United States to foreign countries.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that, without the bill, the United States would remain energy-dependent on people who want to ďfly planes into our buildings.Ē
I'd hoped to insert a bulleted list of ways that this bill is a colonoscopy for America but then I realized, Who the hell knows what it does... it jumped from 1200 pages to 1500 overnight!
I really wanted to include a little graphic showing the state of California with a FOR SALE sign planted in it right about at Sacramento. Well, just use your imagination.
California's Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed selling a number of state landmarks (state ownership of which is in some doubt) to raise cash and balance the state budget. One-time proceeds are estimated at $1 billion. The budget shortfall is $15.4 billion, just for the next fiscal year. Obviously state officials need more stuff to put in their garage sale. Hmm, I wonder what California has that someone might be willing to pay cash for (other than federal bailout dollars, that is.) Gee, that's a tough one!
According to this handy interactive graphic the total government lease royalty revenue that would result from lifting current oil and gas production moratoria is $1695 billion and of that amount, $1386 billion of it comes from the outer continental shelf (Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf regions combined.) A summary report here provides numerous tables showing the breakdown by area but none were clear enough for me to cite specifically. Let it suffice to say the California budget shortfall, at $15.4 billion, is a bit over 1 percent of the possible OCS government windfall. If the Governator would simply work toward responsible development of his state's natural resources he could balance its budget overnight, and for decades to come.
Scrivener.net has a little fun with the Obama Administrations abandoning funding for Hydrogen cars. He links to a WSJ blog with the sorry scoreboard:
ďWeíre very good at starting programs. Weíre not so good at deliveringĒ on the promises made by those programs, Mr.[Robert] Fri said. For example, President Nixon called for a low-emissions car in 1970. Jimmy Carter urged the reinvention of the car in 1977. The Clinton administration started the ďPartnership for a New Generation of VehiclesĒ in 1993. President Bush launched the FreedomCar project in 2003. Meanwhile, General Motors only put Hummer up for sale this summer, when gasoline hit $4 a gallon.
I got beat up very badly when my band was traveling outside Shreveport, LA. We were, as AlexC would point out, a bunch of dirty hippies, but still I have harbored some less than positive feelings about the place.
Now, however, Shreveport may deliver our country from shortages on Natural Gas -- and with any luck obviate some of the nonsensical subsidies for "Green" energy. Those who realize CO2 is not a pollutant must concede natural gas to be one of the cleanest fuel choices.
CADDO PARISH, La. -- A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.
Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.
"There's no dry hole here," says Joan Dunlap, vice president of Petrohawk Energy Corp., standing beside a drilling rig near a former Shreveport amusement park.
It's a little too far North, but I'll still extend them a heartfelt Lasseiz rouler les bon temps!
"The UK has large wind resources and it's a priority for the government but the orders didn't move. That's why we're telling employees that we're not reinvesting there.
"We are waiting to see in the coming period if the government initiative announced last week will get the market to move again. At least it gives some hope but it's too early to tell."
Those pesky government-induced markets are a real bugger. Be sure to follow the link though and watch the impressive video of a wind turbine exploding. It's not described but appears to me as an overspeed condition. Too windy?
Found this while searching for the Governmentium joke. That old blog has been replaced by this new one by Anthony Watts - Watts up with that? Looks like good stuff.
The climate change benefits that accrue from solar and wind power with 100 percent fossil fuel backup are associated with the fossil fuels not used at the standby power plants. Because solar and wind have the capacity to deliver only 30 to 40 percent of their full power ratings in even the best locations, they provide a carbon dioxide reduction of less than 30 to 40 percent, considering the fossil fuels needed for the "spinning reserve." That's far less than the 100 percent that many people believe, and it all comes with a high cost premium.
The economic disadvantages are mentioned too, if you care to read the article, but I figured you're already tired of reading about those.
NB, I'd be happy to discuss if you care to. Either in the comments, in person or via email.
So why doesn't 'big oil' diversify and use some of its wealth and expertise to find [fill in your favorite cuddly adjective - clean, renewable, alternative, sustainable, holy] energy technologies to replace their "reprehensible" products? Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson says it's because if his company were to go into that field then congress would immediately cancel the tax subsidy. Actually what they would do is they would just cancel it for us," he said. He added: ďIn reality, that is what I fear would happen. So we are not going to go into investments that are dependent on a government providing a tax system to make them viable.Ē
By the way, Exxon said it was increasing its capital budget by 11% and will spend $29 billion next year on finding, drilling and refining fossil fuels and chemicals. So, theyíre not planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.
Wind power developers have long relied on complex tax-equity financing to bring most of their projects to market, but that system, once hailed as innovative, has collapsed over the last year, leaving the wind sector flailing for the cash it needs to make generation projects a reality.
This ought to give some insight into the economics of "alternative" energy in general and wind power in particular. Nanobrewer recently said he was convinced that wind power "works" economically and I suspect these complex tax-equity financing schemes are the biggest reason for that belief. But nothing about the scheme that made it "work" was the result of a free market. There are myriad ways for the house of cards to crumble. And now, in the wake of AIG and investment banking failures, even last year's most popular wind champion has to admit defeat.
So how badly is the sector hurting? Oil tycoon turned wind speculator T. Boone Pickens recently described the wind market as "dead as hell" to the Wall Street Journal. Richard Saunders, director of project development at GreenHunter Renewable Power, said Pickens was not far off.
Saunders estimates that in 2009, about 4,000 megawatts in new wind capacity will come online. That would be down significantly from the 8,400 MW built last year. And much of the new capacity is "really just things that are carrying over" from permits already issued in 2008.
"They've slowed down their activities tremendously," Saunders said. "They can't get the money."
If wind power "worked" economically then none of this would be happening. Consumer demand for the stuff would bring investment capital in torrents.
I also enjoyed the following point-counterpoint between wind industry analyst Tyler Tringas and ARI's Yaron Brook: "He [Tringas] added that he does not believe in government meddling, but he does think lawmakers need to account somehow for the cost of carbon." Brook's reply - "I don't believe there's an externality cost to CO2," he told Tringas.
UPDATE: This may (or may not) be the WSJ piece where Pickens first made the "dead as hell" assessment. I can't tell since it's subscription only and I only get the preview. Nonetheless, it bears mention for this:
Hit hard by the recession, the clean-energy industry is on the ropes. Governments are injecting stimulus money in hopes of keeping it alive, but what the industry ultimately needs is a far bigger dose of private investment.
In the space of a few months, the recession has slammed the brakes on what had seemed a full-tilt push for new ways to power the planet while emitting less pollution.
Umm, wasn't government "investment" supposed to create millions of "new energy jobs" that would pull America out of recession? If the recession itself has "slammed the brakes" then how can ANY amount of government "stimulus" make any difference?
1. There will be no green revolution in energy or anything else. No leader or law or treaty will radically change the energy sources for people and industries in the United States or other countries. No recession or depression will make a lasting change in consumersí passions to use energy, make money and buy new technology ó and that, believe it or not, is good news, because...
2. The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run.
A little choir preaching -- but ThreeSourcers should cherish every word, and then store the link to rebut their acquaintances.
Boulder Weekly Films & Center for ReSource Conservation:
Tuesday, April 14, 8:00 pm
FUEL is an insightful portrait of America?s addiction to oil and an uplifting testament to the immediacy of new energy solutions. From Rockefeller?s strategy to halt Ford?s first ethanol cars to Vice President Cheney's petrochemical company sponsored energy legislation to revealing available solutions to "repower America" ? from vertical farms that occupy skyscrapers to algae facilities that turn wastewater into fuel.
What kind of lazy-ass blogger posts three "QOTDs???"
Well, what could one possibly add to this?
No one at GM ever said that the first-gen Volts would make money, but Troy Clarke, president of GM's North American operations, recently told Automotive News that the second-generation vehicles might also be a red entry on the books. Of course, "as we get a chance to change the generations of technology, we'll lose less and less," he said, adding that, "It's not our intention to lose money forever." Well, that's something. -- autobloggreen.com
But even if man-made climate change was real (sorry tg, is real) and even if "renewable" energy sources were beneficial to counter it, the least effective entity to make them a reality is - wait for it - government.
Industries generally develop in three stages. First is scientific feasibility, second is engineering feasibility, and third is economic feasibility.
Using the airline industry as an example, the question in the 1800s was: "Is long-distance air travel possible?"
In the 1800s, balloons were already in use but were not practical. The problem to solve was the heavier-than-air machine.
The Wright Brothers in 1903 proved scientific feasibility. They risked their time, money and lives to show that a heavier-than-air machine could fly.
Lindbergh, in 1927, proved engineering feasibility. He risked time, money and his life to show that long-distance air travel was possible.
This gave investors enough confidence to risk their money in the aircraft industry. In 1935 the Douglas Company came out with the DC-3, which was the beginning of economic feasibility.
The modern airline industry resulted from all this risk-taking. Today, a middle-class American can go anywhere in the world much faster, and in much greater comfort, than a Roman emperor could. Travelers fly because the benefits are greater than the costs. This is economic feasibility.
This three-step model explains why governments are terrible at economic development. The "experts" who comprise the government gamble with other people's money, so they tend to confuse scientific and engineering feasibility with economic feasibility.
Once science and engineering prove something can be done, those who comprise the government will do it - even if the costs are greater than the benefits. [emphasis mine]
This economic development of the economically unfeasible is precisely the modern story of:
Solar photovoltaic power
Ethanol (both glucosic AND celluosic)
Hydrogen fuel cells
Dual-mode hybrid cars
The list goes on...
Yesterday I commented that there's "another important dragon to be slain before" the next elections for congress and for president. That dragon is the myth of man-made global warming caused by our use of economical, safe and abundant energy sources. Many of us have long contended that the idea is founded upon pseudo-science. The late Michael Crighton agreed and in an appendix to his wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking novel 'State of Fear' he wrote "Why politicized science is dangerous."
Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.
This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high-school classrooms.
I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.
Candidate Obama promised his administration would create millions of "green collar jobs," and to most it was a successful platform. Myself, I heard "Wasted $Billions and stifled innovation from government intrusion" but I am a partisan hack.
I'd bore whoever would listen with "when the government picks winners in the energy sector we get Synfuels and Ethanol." Let the Senators decide what projects get funded and don't be surprised if we're all driving our cars on Iowa's major export. Had Senator Craig had not been busted, I suppose we'd be developing a potato-fuel infrastructure.
In addition to creating more greenhouse gases, costing more, and adding to volatility in world food markets -- how's that Ethanol decision panning out? Instapundit links to this story about the collapse of North Dakota's ethanol industry and the evaporation of subsidies promised to keep the economically unviable industry afloat:
North Dakota has an annual capacity of 333 million gallons of ethanol. Due to this yearís excessive commodity fluctuations, VeraSun, the stateís largest producer (which recently filed for bankruptcy), is itself eligible to claim a full $1.6 million from just one quarterís worth of production. Over the past two months the price of corn has dropped sharply, leaving producers with very expensive inventories.
It remains to be seen if this fund is essential to North Dakotaís ethanol producers and if they can weather the storm without it.
I don't have to remind ThreeSourcers of my high esteem for Instapundit. Professor Reynolds gets the lion's share of my hat-tips and I find it hard to imagine his equal in effectively voicing a pragmatic, little-l libertarian philosophy.
We differ on immigration, but I accept that. I differ with many I respect on that topic.
But I remain muchly vexed with Reynolds's unequivocal support for flex-fuel mandates, specifically the Zubrin Plan. I join him in looking forward to powering our cars and trucks on kudzu. But I wholly reject the idea of government mandates in the name of "energy independence."
To his credit, he offers the flip side today, if without mea culpas:
For the 2008-2009 period, fully 61% of vehicles had exemptions to run on gasoline. The mandate resulted in flex-fuel vehicles purchased for Puerto Rico and Hawaii, where E85 pumps donít exist as itís quite expensive to ship large quantities of ethanol. In some locations, said pumps are nearby but donít accept government credit cards. So, despite all good intentions, the result is an increase in government gasoline consumption. Not mentioned in the article was that the billions of dollars in purchases went almost, if not wholly to the Detroit 2.8, as import manufacturers (still) donít offer many flex-fuel cars or trucks.
Perhaps we could recoup the energy of Hayek spinning in his grave. Government does not have the information to dictate automotive design, nor would I trust them to make the right decision if they did. When those 0.99/gallon KudzuCo stations start opening up, consumers will demand flex-fuel vehicles where they are appropriate.
The data available at the time was only through the end of 2007 and was still showing a supply deficit. The latest data, updated earlier this month, shows the first surplus since 2005 occurred in the second quarter of this year. It's not difficult to understand, then, how the predicted oil price drop materialized in the form of $1.70 gas replacing the $4 variety.
The graph above is my own, created from EIA's Excel data, to which I've added the "Total World Supply Balance" data line comprising supply minus demand. Note that I had to multiply the resulting data by 10 in order to see plus or minus movement on the same scale as the overall supply and 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."
Larry Kudlow had a guest last night (not listed on the blog, sorry), an ostensibly conservative money manager, who was peddling this line. He wants $140 oil because he does not want to lose momentum in alternative energy. Kudlow suggested that it would have to drop to $50 or below to threaten that, but Mister Guest thought that the psychological value of oil had a huge influence.
'Scuse me fellas, but is anybody paying attention to what is happening? Three dollar gas will be a huge break for small business and the American consumer. It's one a few things that überoptimist Kudlow can seize onto.
I know Lutz has put all his chips on an electric car that will lose money at three times the price of a comparable combustion vehicle. I'm a Friedmanite and will support his defense of what's left of his shareholders' value. But for any responsible economist to root for more "back to the caves" (That would be Karl Popper, also five stars, but good luck finding it!) to prevent us from global warming has perhaps not noticed the correlation of per capita income and environmental concerns.
Professor Mankiw has his damned (pronounce two syllables) Pigou Club and Professor Reynolds has his Zubrin plan. I should let it rest, but every time they push it I wonder how those two can be so off.
Dr. Zubrin massacres the Obama Energy proposal today. It lacks any mercy at all and should be read in full, several times a day. The lone happy note at the very end of the piece is that -- like Zubrin -- the Obama plan calls for mandates to force automakers to produce "flex fuel" vehicles.
The best part of Obamaís plan is his strong support of biofuels. In contrast to John McCain, Obama favors both the renewable fuel standard and ethanol production subsidies. These subsidies cost taxpayers $0.45 per gallon of ethanol produced but save the nation $3 in foreign oil purchases at the same time. Why John McCain prefers to send $3 to Saudi Arabia instead of $0.45 to Iowa is difficult to understand, especially given the strategic nature of the commodity in question, and the fact that the foreign oil money helps to finance acts of war and terror against the United States. Yet he does. So on this question Obama has it right and McCain has it badly wrong.
Moreover, there is one part of the Obama plan which is absolutely splendid, and that is his explicit promise to require flex fuel capability on all new cars sold in the USA by the end of his first term. This is indeed a potential real game changer, especially if the flex fuel standard is written to include not only automobile compatibility with gasoline and ethanol, but methanol as well. Methanol compatibility only adds about $30 to the cost of an ethanol-gasoline flex fuel car (which itself is only about $100 more expensive than a comparable gasoline-only car), but multiplies its versatility, since methanol can be made out of any kind of biomass without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash.
Now, I think biomass methanol and cellulosic ethanol are exciting technologies. I also like puppies and would like to see kids drinking clean water.
But Zubrin wants to pick the winner today. Screw the market, we'll mandate $130.00 extra cost to new American cars. T. Boone wants CNG cars. I am leery of some of his plans but CNG cars seem to make sense just on their own.
I propose that if you make $2 gallon Kudzu-ethanol, you will have a lot of Americans demanding flex fuel vehicles or upgrading their own. The $2.40 CNG on the Pickens Plan Commercial could do the same.
We might also find algae output that could go straight in a diesel engine or landfill waste or a rapid adoption of plug-in hybrids. Let's not have the gub'mint pick a winner first. And. Dr. Z, don't be shocked that Senator McCain would rather willingly send money to Saudi Arabia than be forced to send subsidies to Iowa. The difference is coercion, not geography.
Hat-tip: Instapundit, of course, who links favorably
My illustrious Senator, Ken Salazar, was picked to provide the Democratic response to the President's radio address. I'm sure nobody missed hearing that, but let's go over some of our favorite parts, as the Senator sent me a copy:
Democrats are working for change, and it starts with being honest about our energy future.
We consume 25 percent of the worldís oil, but we have less than 3 percent of the worldís oil reserves. We simply canít drill our way to energy independence.
In Colorado, weíre doing our part on drilling. We have more than 34,000 active gas wells. And weíre going to drill a whole lot more in the coming years.
But we also know that drilling alone is not sufficient. Yet that was the only idea that John McCain and his friends at the Republican National Convention offered. ďDrill baby drillĒ Ė thatís not enough.
We need it all.
We need to replace the oil we import from countries that donít like us with alternative energy sources that we produce right here at home. Biofuels. Wind. Solar. Hydrogen. Geothermal. Clean Coal. American energy, American jobs. Thatís what we need.
There's more but you get the drift. Here's the audio if you want to relive the excitement!
This strikes me as one of the most amazing misrepresentations I have heard since "I did not have sex with that woman." Drilling was the only idea at the RNC? GOP legislators have been pretty clear about an "all-of-the-above" strategy with all of Senator Salazar's kumbaya fuels plus nuclear plus expanded offshore drilling. Salazar downplays the environmentalism that he knows won't sell too well with his rural constituents, completely ignores nuclear, and misrepresents the rest.
I'm a big boy. I can handle and dig a little spin, a little shading, and a little aggressive positioning. But this is an outright lie.
And it was heard by at least ten or twenty people!