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While Homeless in Detroit Freeze, White House Spends on Global Warming



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Detroit -
Area shelters are bursting at the seams thanks to record-low November temperatures.

Meanwhile, a White House task force is proposing to spend up to $100 billion – not on helping the homeless survive another brutal winter — but on global warming “preparedness and resilience,” including $6 billion for Midwestern states to combat rising temperatures.

This week’s arctic blast sent temperatures in Detroit to lows not seen since 1880, according to the National Weather Service.

“The record low for this date was 11 degrees set in 1880,” said meteorologist Rachel Kulik Tuesday. Normal daily temperatures are between 34 and 48 degrees. The bone-chilling weather followed record-setting cold weather last winter — and 19 years of global cooling.

“We’ve been seeing record numbers,” said Kathy Goodrich, the director of the Macomb Warming Center and Ray of Hope Day Center, of the influx on homeless to her shelters as temps have plummeted. “Last year on our opening night, we had 97 people, and this year, we had 119 people.”

Yet, the Obama administration will divert more taxpayer money to ivory-tower academics to study global-warming mitigation at universities like Michigan State, which recently received a grant from the EPA.

This month President Obama unilaterally declared — with Communist China appropriately enough — that the U.S. would cut emissions a crippling 26 to 28 percent over the next decade, forcing more misery on Midwesterners by shuttering coal plants and hiking electricity rates. During the Great Recession, the U.S. saw carbon emissions decrease by 7 percent with devastating effects on Michigan’s economy.

The Green Church Has Taken the Fun out of Formula One



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Europe has a history of religious intolerance. Today’s Green Church fits the mold.

In their determination to drain all joy out of life, Green priests have set their sights on Europe-based Formula One racing, the world’s most popular form of motorsport. In a bow to the EU’s anti-carbon doctrine, F1 teams this year were forced to field hybrid-electric racers. Where once F1 defined “screaming speed machine,” they now sound like strangled cats.

“It is important for Formula One to evolve,” said ex-Chief Bureaucrat Max Mosley, godfather of F1’s eco-rules. “The environment is the big challenge of the 21st.”

Actually, F1’s survivability is the big challenge.

The new rules have made the sport less attractive to spectators with attendance down in 2014. Worse, the hybrid engines have accelerated the sport’s affordability crisis where $300 million-a-year budgets were already a concern. At last weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix, two teams pulled out due to high costs — and three more nearly boycotted the event.

Ignore economics and bad things happen. President Obama has put green ideology above people. His job-killing wars on coal and Keystone are contributing factors in the slow U.S. recovery. F1’s surrender to Green zealots is raising concerns up and down the pit lane.

“With race cars, or music, it’s about the sound and the experience of it. If you went to see the Rolling Stones and they came out and said tonight we’re only doing an acoustic set because we’re getting old and don’t want all the noise then the crowd wouldn’t be very happy and rightly so,” says Formula One racing superstar David Coulthard of the negative reaction to Green F1.

Drivers hate it. Teams hate it. Fans hate it. “We cannot afford to ignore our fans,” says Coulthard.

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Planet-savior Ford F-150 Debuts (without a Peep about the Planet)



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San Antonio – President Obama says we have a “moral obligation” to tackle global warming. It’s why the federal government has imposed draconian fuel-efficiency standards that force automakers to build cars that average 54.5 mpg by 2025. It’s why Ford Motor Company has transformed its best-selling Ford F-150 pickup with aluminum body panels — at a cost of billions of dollars — in order to reduce mass and carbon emissions.

Ford unveiled the 2015 Ford F-150 to the media for a first test drive here at the end of September. And not once did the detailed, two-day company presentation mention global warming.

Instead, Ford touted the value of lightweight aluminum in increasing payload capability. It cheered aluminum for its better power-to-weight ratio. For helping reduce fuel costs. For its better handling.

If Ford did sell its truck as a moral virtue, it likely would be laughed out of dealerships by its customers.

“Global warming ranked near the bottom of Americans’ 2014 priorities for President Obama and Congress,” according to a Pew Research poll last month. It ranked well behind terrorism, ISIS, the economy, and so on. And it likely isn’t even on the radar of the demographic — small businessmen, Texans, blue collar workers — who buy and use F-150s.

Global warming is a costly con forced on Americans through the back door of government regulation. Because at the front door, global warming won’t sell.  

Steyer’s anti-carbon crusade bags another win (sort of)



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Detroit – On the heels of blocking the Keystone Pipeline, billionaire global warming activist Tom Steyer and his green allies celebrated another victory over the oil sands industry this summer when Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied Detroit Bulk Storage a permit to store pet coke downriver of Detroit. Pet coke is a carbon-rich, coal-like byproduct from Marathon Oil’s huge Detroit refinery which processes Canadian oil sands. The DEQ’s decision came on the heels of loud protests by greens and Steyer-funded Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters.

But just as America’s fracking industry has succeeded in the face of an anti-carbon White House, the pet coke industry will not be denied.

Cheap carbon energy is the backbone of industrial nations. Just a few miles south of Bulk Storage’s loading docks, Michigan utility DTE Energy is burning Marathon’s pet coke in its Monroe coal power plant.

Just south of Michigan’s border, Port of Toledo’s Midwest Terminal is exporting Marathon’s pet coke to cement plants and coal utilities around the world.

“We’ve stored pet coke at this site for 12 years,” says Noel Frye who runs Bulk Storage as a family business with his brother, John. “Now Marathon’s pet coke business has gone out of state and to DTE.”

Standard for Democratic Big Government, the politicized pet coke market comes at a high price for the little guy.

Detroit Bulk Storage, with less than a million in annual revenue and a handful of full-time employees, has become a lightning rod for green activists. Besieged by complaints from Peters’ special interest allies, a Michigan DEQ spokesman said the agency had no choice but to take action against Bulk, even as its loading docks are surrounded by huge chemical and steel plants on Zug Island, in one the most heavily industrialized areas of Michigan.

“He’s fighting to stop putting special interests ahead of everyday folks,” boasts a Peters campaign ad. But his War on Carbon proves otherwise.

Though Bulk has stored identical-looking coal and pet coke at its facility without complaint for years, the DEQ determined that pet coke is dustier and therefore required different storage criteria.

The state’s compliance plan required that Bulk Storage erect a building to house the energy-rich substance – a massive expense for small Bulk Storage, not so much for a $10 billion utility.

DTE has met the requirements while laying low about its pet coke use in order to avoid negative media publicity. Democratic allies like The Detroit Free Press, New York Times, and Huffington Post have been a megaphone for the Green Church’s anti-carbon crusade. But with coal under assault from Washington, cheap pet coke helps utilities check energy inflation – a key to Michigan’s maintaining the heavy industry that is its economic base.

Funded by Steyer’s millions, Peters fancies himself an anti-oil sands activist.

Yet the expensive regulations he supports haven’t deterred its use. What he has deterred are small business jobs in a bankrupt city that needs more of them. 

EV Market on IV



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Detroit – The headlines continue to trumpet the “electric cars of the future,” but the whisper in the auto community today is that the electric car revolution is sooooo 15 minutes ago.

Numbers from auto research firm Edmunds.com find that, despite a record number of battery-powered models for sale, the hybrid-electric market is low on charge. Fifteen years after the launch of the iconic Toyota Prius, the electrified market has settled in as a niche occupied by well-to-do greens (helped by “populist” Democrats tax credits of up to $7,500 per purchase) instead of the promised gateway to a post-oil future.

“This was a market that was supposed to grow, relatively rapidly, as people embraced these new technologies and more brands began selling these models,” Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell told the Los Angeles Times. “That hasn’t happened.”

Indeed, hybrid sales (vehicles powered by battery-assisted gas engines) are declining as trendy greens have simply switched their purchases from hybrids to battery-only electrics. While the EV market gained 22,939 in sales (to 81,097) in August, the hybrid market declined by 23,112 (to 327,418).

As a result, the battery-powered vehicle market as a whole declined to 3.66 percent of cars sold — down from 3.84 a year ago.

Automakers have made huge bets on electrics as the answer to the Obama EPA’s radical (and unilateral) 54.5 mpg auto mandate by 2025. But with EVs on IV, manufacturers like Toyota and GM are reviving the idea of hydrogen vehicles — not because they will sell, but because they will help automakers gain big mpg “credits” against the law.

Toyota, for example, quietly abandoned its joint venture with media-darling Tesla earlier this year to make a battery-powered RAV4 crossover. Instead, Toyota is banking on hydrogen credits and its hybrid lineup to meet its 2025 obligations. Tesla remains the EV hope with its taxpayer-supported Nevada battery gigafactory and the promised 2017, $30k Model E.

Contrary to Democratic rhetoric, in other words, more Washington regs are benefiting the connected rich: Bigger loopholes carved by three-piece suit lobbyists and bigger tax credits for rich consumers and manufacturers.

Revolution? The new auto market sounds like the same old Beltway insider play.

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Straight talk on coal



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Today’s Wall Street Journal has a little Q&A with Greg Boyce, CEO of Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest (by output) coal company. Here’s a portion of the interview:

WSJ: Can you improve the image of coal?

Mr. Boyce: Explain to everyone how much electricity today depends on coal. I mentioned to folks here in the U.S. that we still get 42% of our electricity on coal. And they say, “Wait a minute. I thought we stopped using coal.”

WSJ: What do you say to people who say coal is dirty?

Mr. Boyce: Since 1970, coal use has increased almost 200%, yet the emissions from coal have been reduced by almost 90%. Technology has reduced what used to be the standard emissions for coal—sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury and particulates—so the next wave of technology is what do we do to try to decarbonize and try to reduce the CO2 from coal.

WSJ: But what if Americans are willing to pay more for clean energy?

Mr. Boyce: We have 115 million U.S. citizens that qualify for some kind of low-income energy assistance. We already have a third of the population that can’t afford their utility bills. If there are people who want to use boutique and high-priced energy and can afford it, that’s great. But many people can’t even afford what we already have.

WSJ: Does the Obama administration really have a “war on coal,” as many in the coal industry allege?

Mr. Boyce: They just don’t like fossil fuels. But there are no replacements for fossil fuels at scale, at affordability. [The Environmental Protection Agency said there was no war on any fossil fuel. "We see coal continuing to be a third of our energy mix after these rules are implemented," a spokeswoman said.]

WSJ: The EPA has proposed rules to curb climate change by drastically cutting power-plant CO2 emissions. How will that affect you?

Mr. Boyce: It’s too early to tell. All I know is just about everybody doesn’t like them.Many states have already passed some kind of resolution or law saying, “Hey these aren’t going to work for us.” About 80% of U.S. businesses are saying this doesn’t make sense. The devastation in terms of electricity rates will not be tolerable.

Tags: Coal , EPA , Obama Administration

Remember When Billionaire Tom Steyer Was Going to Affect the 2014 Elections?



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His plan to spread climate alarmism is going too well. The National Legal and Policy Center reports:

Billionaire enviro-liberal Tom Steyer should thank his earth-healing, universalist, Less-Than-Supreme Being that the planet’s survival isn’t dependent on his business influence or political expenditures, because they have been massive flops.

Take, for example, “Risky Business,” his venture (along with figureheads Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomberg) introduced in late June to pressure businesses, investors and policymakers to account for vast planning costs for impending global warming effects in their financial reports. Initial media coverage of the contrived project made it appear that it would exert major influence in the corporate world. But while the scheme attempted to show intellectual rigor and nonpartisan analysis, Risky Business was easily revealed to be nothing more than another deeply biased construction to drive a political agenda.

A month after its introduction – accompanied by a New York Times op-ed by Paulson and interviews by Steyer and Bloomberg – and Risky Business was already fizzling. Now, two months later, it appears to be evaporating into irrelevance.

Steyer utilizes the staff from his nonprofit Next Generation to keep Risky Business alive and relevant, but the Web site has quickly gone dormant. The project’s blog featured just three posts in the month of July, when you’d think Steyer would want the big bucks he spent to create the report to get the most bang. Worse, the entries were nothing original – just links to op-eds written by Risky Business “risk committee” members Henry Cisneros,Robert Rubin and Donna Shalala.

And the money he promised to raise to help Dems in 2014 is missing in action as well:

So that’s Steyer’s business effort – what about his campaign activism? There also we find weaknesses in influence and credibility. As NLPC mentioned a month ago, he pledged to raise $50 million from other donors to match his own $50 million in contributions to climate-conscious Democrat candidates, via his NextGen Climate Action Committee. Politico reported two weeks ago that only $1.7 million has come in, compared to the $11.6 million Steyer has delivered so far. The feeble response is illustrative more of an egomaniac with significantly more bluster than political muscle, but Steyer had an explanation.

“We have gotten a lot of people who I think would put in money alongside us as opposed to through us,” Steyer said at a conference in Aspen, Colo. “Because I think people like — particularly people when they think they’re spending a lot of money — like to feel as if they have some control over it, and if it’s their effort.”

That’s baloney, as there are PACs all over the place for wealthy liberals to give their money to – and they do. But they’re not giving it to NextGen.

The whole thing here.

 

Tesla Chooses Nevada for its $5 Billion Battery Plant



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Details here.

Hey, Why Don’t We Just Suck the CO2 Out of the Air and Use It?



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Newsweek:

Global industrialization has poured carbon in the sky, and now we must pay the price: the nasty specter of climate change, with its sinking islands and superstorms. But what if we could bring some of that carbon dioxide back down to earth?

Direct air capture (DAC) is the scooping of carbon from the sky. Unlike traditional carbon capture and storage, DAC doesn’t try to simply capture carbon from chimneys and factory flues; instead it scoops carbon directly from the atmosphere, no intermediate steps necessary. Better yet, the most sophisticated DAC plants don’t even need much electricity to function—they run on excess heat produced by other industrial processes. The temperatures needed to capture a ton of atmospheric carbon dioxide are “less than what is needed to boil your cup of tea,” says Graciela Chichilnisky, founder of direct air capture company Global Thermostat.

The CO2 removed from the air by plants like Chichilnisky’s has a variety of applications: It can be frozen into dry ice, introduced to greenhouses as plant food, used to carbonate beverages and even injected into oil wells in a process known as “enhanced oil recovery.”

“A lot of demand for CO2 is unmet,” says Chichilnisky. “In fact there’s a market for it that exceeds one trillion dollars per year.”

Companies like Chichilnisky’s want to profit from this unmet demand, an aggressive example of doing well while doing good. Global Thermostat’s pilot plant at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, has been profitable since construction finished, says Chichilnisky: The cost of producing compressed carbon dioxide via direct air capture is “minuscule” compared to compressed CO2’s sale price. Now she wants to build plants elsewhere, using the excess heat from power plants and foundries. “If the technology shows the way to be profitable is by cleaning up the atmosphere then this will be the strongest motivation for the world to attack climate change.”

The rest here.

Climate and Fracking Alarmism Meets Geologic Realism



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We read a lot about how climate change might hurt Napa’s wine industry and we read a lot about how fracking might cause earthquakes in California, but it looks like businesses in Northern California were not prepared for the certainty of an earthquake caused by the natural process of plate tectonics.

For example, here’s the damage at Bouchaine Vineyards via the Washington Post:

I grew up in California. Every bookcase was secured to a wall and we were never allowed to hang as much as a picture over our beds lest they get disturbed by even a minor earthquake. 

Not all businesses were so unprepared, however. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Duncan of Silver Oak said his main storage room, where hundreds of barrels are kept, was largely unharmed. He was able to salvage three barrels that fell to the ground and leaked.

“We had a fire in 2006, so we rebuilt things to withstand an earthquake,” Duncan said. “It worked very well.”

In the next few weeks, the shock of what happened in Napa will wear off and the enviros will be back in the news pitching their apocalyptic climate scenarios. And as we’ve just seen, California is not fully prepared for the real risks the state faces, and that is truly alarming. 

 

 

People Ignore Climate Scientists Because They’re Not Enough Like the Kardashians?



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Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry thinks scientists need to get better at social media to make an impact on what the public thinks about global warming. Via Oilprice.com:

Oilprice.com: You’ve also talked about the “Kardashian Factor” … Can you expand on this?

Judith Curry: The Kardashian Factor relates to a scientist’s impact in social media. There is a growing disconnect between scientists who impact within the ivory tower, as measured by publications and citations, versus those scientists that are tweeting and blogging. While some of the smartest people on the planet are university professors, most of them simply don’t matter in today’s great debates. The use of the term ‘Kardashian Factor’ is designed to marginalize social media impact as shallow popularity.

Social media is changing the world, and academia hasn’t quite figured out what to do about it. On issues relevant to public debate, social media is rivaling published academic research in its impact. Social media is leveling the playing field and democratizing science. The skills required to be successful in social media include good writing/communication skills and the abilities to synthesize, integrate, and provide context. Those who are most successful at social media also have a sense of humor and can connect to broader cultural issues – they also develop a trustworthy persona. These are non-trivial skills, and they are general traits of people that have impact.

So, why do I do spend a lot of my time engaging with the public via social media? I’m interested in exploring social media as a tool for engaging with the public, group learning, exploring the science-policy interface, and pondering the many dimensions of the wicked climate problem. I would like to contribute to the public debate and support policy deliberations, I would like to educate a broader and larger group of people, and finally I would like to learn from people outside the group of my academic peers (and social media is a great way to network). I am trying to provoke people to think outside the box of their own comfort zone on the complex subject of climate change.

The whole interview here.

The problem is scientists and climate activists are already active on social media. For Neil deGrasse Tyson has over 2 million followers on Twitter; Bill Nye has over 1.6 million. They even took the social-media equivalent of a peer-reviewed paper — a selfie — with the president:


But if Tyson and “The Science Guy” — the Kim and Kourtney of science Twitter accounts – can’t change the debate, Curry and her 2,700 followers on Twitter won’t do much. As for Curry’s claim that she is “engaging with the public via social media,” I don’t see much evidence of it. Here are here recent tweets, none of which show any engagement with her readers. You can love or hate the third Kardashian of science, Richard Dawkins, but you can’t say he doesn’t get into a dialog with followers, i.e., here’s Dawkins going back and forth with many, many people angered by his recent tweets on abortion. But Dawkins didn’t change anybody’s mind even with his high level of engagement.

Yes, social media is important, but it’s important because it’s a medium to deliver to people the content they want to read, not to deliver the content that you want them to read. 

 

 

Science: ‘Unexpected’ Link Between the Sun and Cold Temperatures



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From Watts Up With That:

Lund University have published a reconstruction of solar activity vs snow accumulation in Greenland, which indicates a strong correlation between solar minima and a colder climate.

‘The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change,’ Dr Muscheler said in a press release.

‘It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. ‘Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions.’

According to the study abstract;
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2225.html

“We find that during the Last Glacial Maximum, solar minima correlate with more negative δ18O values of ice and are accompanied by increased snow accumulation and sea-salt input over central Greenland. We suggest that solar minima could have induced changes in the stratosphere that favour the development of high-pressure blocking systems located to the south of Greenland, as has been found in observations and model simulations for recent climate9, 10. We conclude that the mechanism behind solar forcing of regional climate change may have been similar under both modern and Last Glacial Maximum climate conditions.”

Dr. Muscheler emphasised that he does not believe that the sun is the main factor driving current global warming – but he does believe that climate modellers will have to pay more attention to the influence of the sun on climate change.

However, he warned that the sun was not the only factor in causing climate change.

‘Climate skeptics like to say sun is causing more global warming than we think but I don’t think so.

‘What our paper shows is we need to include all processes – greenhouses, the sun and so on, especially for local climates which is important of course.

The rest here.

Global Warming ‘Alarmists’ Should Embrace the Term



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They really think this will work. Eric Holthaus of Slate writes:

I’m sick of having to hide it, so here goes: I’m a climate change alarmist.

There, I said it. After years of fighting off Internet trolls and being ridiculed on Fox News for caring about the Earth and its inhabitants enough to make big changes to my life, I’ve had enough. It’s time that we climate change alarmists reclaim this dismissive term and defend ourselves.

Many of us have been lambasted for talking about the fundamental health of the planet. Climate scientist Kerry Emanuel has written “those interested in treating the issue as an objective problem in risk assessment and management are labeled ‘alarmists,’ a particularly infantile smear considering what is at stake.”

Now, I’m also an optimist. I’m convinced that humanity has the ability to tackle the problem and come to international agreement on how to do so in a fair way. It simply must happen. But for something so serious, it seems like there’s a general lack of alarm, a lack of emotion, and—to be blunt—a lack of ambition to act with the scale and urgency the issue requires.

Tragically, there’s a vast mismatch between our actions to date and what’s needed. This isn’t just another big environmental issue. When the ozone hole was discovered decades ago, the world got together and agreed to change the chemical used in making refrigerators cold. In hindsight, that seems incredibly easy compared to this. Climate change cuts to the core of who we are as a civilization and what kind of world we want to create for our kids. Perhaps understandably, that’s meant that a lot of smart people are really pessimistic about our future.

The rest here.

California Solar Plant Igniting Birds in Midair



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And you thought only windmills killed avian wildlife. Via the AP:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The rest here.

Al Gore Is Suing Al Jazeera



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Bloomberg:

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore sued Al Jazeera, claiming the satellite news provider owned by the Qatari royal family owes him and a partner $65 million from a deal to buy his network, Current TV, for $500 million.

Gore, 66, and Joel Hyatt, another former Current TV owner, accused Al Jazeera American Holdings I Inc. of fraud and breach of contract. They are seeking undisclosed damages in a mostly sealed complaint filed today in Chancery Court in Wilmington, Delaware. The men alleged that Al Jazeera illegally tried to seize $65 million in escrow funds.

“Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” David Boies, a lawyer for Gore, said in a statement. “We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”

So, Al Gore wants more of the Qatari royal family’s dirty oil money? This is all so confusing. The rest here.

Oregon State Univ. Won’t Divest from Fossil Fuels



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From the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

A campaign led by Oregon State University faculty, staff and students to persuade the OSU Foundation to divest its holdings in fossil fuels has failed.

The foundation has announced that it will not divest, angering OSU Divest supporters who said they will continue the battle.

In a letter distributed to the OSU community, Ruth A. Beyer, who chairs the foundation’s Board of Trustees, cited divestment’s “impact on the foundation’s portfolio” and whether it would advance the cause of climate change as key drivers of the decision.

While noting that fossil fuels constitute only 6 percent of the foundation’s nearly $700 million in holdings, Beyer wrote that “categorically removing this sector would violate prudent investing rules that characterize best practices in asset allocation.”

Beyer also said that OSU’s record on environmental and energy issues was worthy of the support of the foundation, which is a nonprofit entity governed separately from the university.

“OSU is at the forefront in the research and development of technologies designed to improve the deployment of solar, wind and wave energy,” Beyer wrote, adding that OSU is an “unquestioned global leader” in small-scale nuclear energy.

“In short, our university’s actions dictate clearly our real and meaningful commitment to reducing carbon emissions. We believe that supporting this leadership financially is the best way for the foundation to contribute to the goal of carbon reduction.”

Ken Winograd, an OSU professor in the College of Education and spokesman for OSU Divest, expressed disappointment in the decision.

“We believe the foundation’s rejection of divestment undermines the university’s goals for sustainability both locally and globally,” Winograd said. “The foundation is disingenuous regarding fiduciary duty by not doing all it can to protect the future of our students and, instead, continuing to support an industry whose business plan is to pollute and degrade until the planet is completely exhausted.”

The rest here.

Debunking the New Keystone XL Study



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The alarmists were pretty excited a few days ago when a new study from Nature Climate Change found that building Keystone XL “could be worse for global warming than previously believed.” Via the Toronto Star:

The world’s most debated pipeline could be worse for global warming than previously believed, a new economic analysis says.

Keystone XL could produce four times more greenhouse gases than the U.S. State Department calculated in January — those estimates did not take into account that the added oil from the pipeline is likely to decrease prices and increase consumption — which would probably create more pollution, researchers say.

“There is no indication that the State Department took the market implication into consideration,” said lead author Peter Erickson.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Erickson and Michael Lazarus, of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Seattle, Wash., evaluated how building Keystone XL could affect oil prices: they found that for every barrel of oil obtained from Alberta’s oilsands as a result of the pipeline, global oil consumption would increase by 0.6 barrels because the surplus oil would lower oil prices and encourage people to use more.

“This is our analysis, and we believe that it could have the greatest emissions impact of the pipeline,” said Erickson in an interview.

Or not. Andrew Leach writes in Macleans:

A paper on Keystone’s climate impacts would fail Econ 101

The claim that Keystone will lead to lower oil prices and thus higher consumption is based on a faulty model

Well, most of what the alarmists believe is based on what we consider incomplete and faulty models. Why should Keystone XL be any different? Here’s Leach’s opener:

An article published this week in Nature Climate Change (article via Nature paywall) is making the rounds of the headlines because it makes some pretty bold claims—namely that the US State Department under-estimated the emissions impact of the Keystone XL pipeline by up to a factor of four.

The paper’s authors apply a simple model of the world oil market to reach their conclusions, which are driven by the potential for the pipeline to increase global oil supply, thus lowering oil prices and increasing consumption.  If this is true, then the increased consumption induced by the pipeline should be treated as a consequence of the project, and accounted for in a broad analysis of its costs and benefits (of course, so too should the benefits of increased oil consumption at lower prices).

This paper attempts, basically, what those of us who teach or have taught undergraduate economics often try to do—the authors take a simple model of a market, in this case oil, and apply that model using a real world example, in this case, KXL.  What’s important, however, is to get the basics of the example correct. If you miss that, you’ll reach a conclusion or generate a set of numbers, but they won’t really mean much.  It’s also, of course, important to discuss what you miss in building your simple model.  There’s a lot left out of the basic model used in this paper, but I think they also get the basic model wrong.

The rest of Leach’s analysis here.

 

GAO Criticizes EPA’s Cost-Benefit Analysis of New Power-Plant Rules



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The Government Accounting Office has found that the “most transparent administration” in history isn’t transparent enough on the analysis of new power-plant regulations. From The Hill:

A government report made public Monday finds fault with the Environmental Protection Agency’s analyses of the costs and benefits of its regulations. 

The Government Accountability Office report concluded that information incorporated into the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIA) was sometimes murky. 

Additionally, the GAO found that the agency did not always monetize the costs and benefits of proposed actions and that the EPA had estimated effects of its regulations on employment by, in part, using a study that is more than two decades old. 

“Without improvements in its estimates, EPA’s RIAs may be limited in their usefulness for helping decision makers and the public understand these important effects,” the GAO concluded. 

And . . .

The EPA’s rules lacked transparency, the GAO found. 

“Specifically, the information EPA included and presented in the RIAs was not always clear,” the report found. “According to OMB guidance, RIAs should communicate information supporting regulatory decisions and enable a third party to understand how the agency arrives at its conclusions.” 
 
EPA officials told GAO researchers that the costs and benefits cannot always be gauged, given the limits of agency resources and available data. 

The report concedes that such estimates are not always possible. 

“However, without doing so, the public may face challenges understanding the trade-offs associated with regulatory alternatives,” the GAO found.

The entire piece here.

How to Teach Children About Climate Change?



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The enviro-mag Grist suggests reading a “classic story” to your kids because even though the stories “weren’t written with ecology in mind, the books are goldmines for environmental meanderings.”

I agree with this. And tonight, I will read to my daughter the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The NYT Is Questioning How Obama Handled High-Speed Rail Funding



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The New York Times really seems shocked that the president’s vision for high-speed rail isn’t working out as planned:

$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along

WASHINGTON — High-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.

While Republican opposition and community protests have slowed the projects here, transportation policy experts and members of both parties also place blame for the failures on missteps by the Obama administration — which in July asked Congress for nearly $10 billion more for high-speed initiatives.

Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into those projects, critics say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existingAmtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 miles per hour. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast Corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail.

On a 30-mile stretch of railroad between Westerly and Cranston, R.I., Amtrak’s 150-m.p.h. Acela hits its top speed — for five or 10 minutes. On the crowded New York to Washington corridor, the Acela averages only 80 m.p.h., and a plan to bring it up to the speed of Japanese bullet-trains, which can top 220 m.p.h., will take $150 billion and 26 years, if it ever happens.

Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, all led by Republican governors, canceled high-speed rail projects and returned federal funds after deeming the projects too expensive and unnecessary.

“The Obama administration’s management of previously appropriated high-speed rail funding has been as clumsy as its superintending of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout,” said Frank N. Wilner, a former chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board, a bipartisan body with oversight of the nation’s railroads. 

When Mr. Obama first presented his vision for high-speed rail nearly four years ago, he described a future of sleek bullet trains hurtling passengers between far-flung American cities at more than 200 m.p.h.

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,” Mr. Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union address. “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”

But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.

“The idea that we would have a high-speed system that 80 percent of Americans could access in that short period of time was unadulterated hype, and it didn’t take an expert to see through it,” said Kenneth Orski, the editor and publisher of an influential transportation newsletter who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. “And scattering money all around the country rather than focusing it on areas ripe for high-speed rail, didn’t help.”

Imagine if the Times had raised these concerns prior to the spending of the funds? You know, like we did at Planet Gore.

The rest from the Times here.

 

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