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Projection on a Green Canvas



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We see today two further examples how, in the “green jobs” and related “global warming” sectors, words simply have lost all meaning.

First, we read of Spain’s “booming renewables sector” — um, not exactly.

The there’s Tom Friedman intoning how it’s actually the refusal to impose this agenda — the express purpose of which is to increase energy prices — that is the real carbon tax. If we would only tax the stuff, it would be cheaper. (Uh-huh.)

Hey, this counts as relative sanity in the world where cooling is just further proof of warming.

Government Motors



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Detroit, Mich. — “If the government now has a 50 percent equity stake in GM, how do you feel about being a nationalized company?” asked an on-the-ball British newspaper journalist in General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson’s press conference this morning in which the Obama-appointed GM chief outlined the company’s latest restructuring plan in which Washington takes an equity stake in return for canceling half of federal loans by June 1.

Replied Henderson: “I don’t think the Treasury has any interest in running GM.”

Maybe the Treasury doesn’t, but its bosses certainly do. And Democrats’ interest is not profitability, but building cars that will satisfy their green political constituency.

GM’s other new major stockholder would not seem to be interested in profitability either. Under GM’s debt/equity proposal, the United Autoworkers would now own 39 percent in return for at least 50 percent of the $20 billion the company owes the union to run a trust covering retiree health expenses.

In theory, the UAW would have a profit interest since the health of its health trust fund is now at stake. Historically, however, the union’s interest has been with job preservation, not the bottom line.

To summarize, then, 89 percent of GM will now be owned by two entities that have historically worked against Detroit profitability. Of the remaining shares, 10 percent will go to bondholders and just 1 percent to existing shareholders.

“GM has entered the never-never world of government ownership,” says Mackinac Center economist David Littman. While CEO Henderson says bankruptcy is still likely for GM, Littman says that term has now lost its meaning since the bondholders have become minority shareholders.

“The bondholders are the government’s competition,” adds Littman, who adds that many of GM’s bondholders are also addicted to TARP money and therefore between a rock and a hard place. “The government now has control. What they’re talking about is a euphemism for bankruptcy. It’s a restructuring. This has become a legal charade.”

With government calling the shots, says Littman, GM will now become a ward of the state producing products that politicians want, not customers.

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Git-R-Done!



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The Kansas City Star loves Larry the Cable Guy.

Of course, his K.C. show did include a sour note for the Star writer — when the comedian “ranted a little about government bailouts and global warming (‘Al Gore is no scientist’).”

Ye Olde Royal Hypocrite



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Prince Charles, out-Goring Gore:

Prince Charles is being accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that he is chartering a luxury private jet for a five-day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues.

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall, plus ten Clarence House staff, will fly from London to Rome this evening. Then they will fly on to Venice and Berlin, before returning to Britain.

Clarence House aides stress that the trip is at the request of the Government to promote its climate change policies.

But instead of using scheduled flights, the Royal party has hired a private plane, thought to be an Airbus A319.

According to experts from the Carbon Managers company, which carries out environmental audits, the aircraft’s four European flights over 2,200 miles will leave a carbon footprint of 52.95 tons – nearly five times the average person’s 11-ton footprint for an entire year.

Each member of Charles’s party will leave a carbon footprint of 4.41 tons — 13 times more than if they had used a scheduled flight on the same type of plane, which can carry up to 156 passengers.

The GOP’s Nuclear Option



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AP:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. should build 100 more nuclear plants rather than spend “billions in subsidies” for renewable energy if it is truly committed to lowering electric bills and having clean air, the Republicans say.

In the party’s weekly radio and Internet address, Sen. Lamar Alexander said the United States should follow the example of France, which promoted nuclear power decades ago. Today, nuclear plants provide 80 percent of France’s electricity, and the country has one of the lowest electric rates and carbon emissions in Europe, he said.

In contrast, renewable electricity provides roughly 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to Republicans. Double it or triple it, and “we still don’t have much,” the Tennessee Republican said.

“There is a potentially a dangerous energy gap between the renewable electricity we want and the reliable electricity we must have,” he said.

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Drill, Maybe, Drill



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The organizers are calling it “a rather successful gathering,” but from the statement the group released, it doesn’t seem that the Indigenous Peoples’ Summit has come down one way or the other on whether to endorse fossil-fuel exploration on their lands:

After hours of debate, a consensus of sorts was reached on a declaration to be presented to the Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December.

The document says indigenous people are “deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development.”

“Mother Earth is no longer in a period of climate change, but in climate crisis,” the declaration says.

The hang-up was whether to call for a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling and a phase-out of fossil fuels.

The final document contains two options.

One calls for the moratorium where supported by indigenous people. The other says indigenous people would look to an eventual phase-out in the use of fossil fuels while at the same time respecting the rights of indigenous people to develop their resources.

“I think it is the best compromise we can reach,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Asia representative.

Sounds like the compromise position is, “drill if you want to.”

Tax, Baby, Tax



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Cap-and-trade is a tax. Dems know it and Republicans seem to understand it, too. The Hill:

House and Senate Republicans intend to ramp up their attack  of the Democratic-sponsored clean-energy legislation this week in an effort to brand the measure a “national energy tax.”

According to a GOP leadership aide, the Democrats’ American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that minority party members refer to as “cap and tax” offers them a “huge opportunity, and we will use it to hammer that tax message in a communications offensive over the next four weeks — that this bill amounts to a national energy tax that will destroy jobs and increase costs for every single American.”

GOP conference aides seized on an opportunity to demonstrate that there is bipartisan opposition to the nearly 700-page clean-energy bill. On Friday, they were quick to download and forward to reporters a clip of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s most senior member, John Dingell (D-Mich.), calling his party’s clean-energy bill a tax hike.

GM Asks for Debt Forgiveness



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The Hill:

General Motors announced an acceleration Monday of its restructuring into a smaller company that will have fewer employees, brands and dealers.

GM also announced it was asking the Treasury Department to agree to convert half of the company’s debt to the government into equity. This would involve the U.S. forgiving a sizable amount of GM’s debt, and would make the U.S. government a large shareholder in GM.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson said the administration has “not expressed any interest in running” the company. “They want to make sure the company is run well to benefit all the parties,” he said in a press conference broadcast on GM’s web site.

The debt-for-equity exchange with Treasury combined with a separate deal with the United Autoworkers could bring in $20 billion, GM said. GM is under heavy pressure from the Obama administration to restructure itself by June 1 to win additional government loans. GM has already received $15 billion in loans, and wants an additional $11 billion.

Our Inconstant Star



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CCNet’s Benny Peiser today on solar variability:

There is no let up in new research findings and news reports about the extraordinary behaviour of our sun. Both the UK National Astronomy Meeting and the Swedish Research Council are addressing the sun’s prolonged inactivity that is baffling the astrophysical community. Solar researchers are readily admitting that they do not understand the mechanisms and dynamics that drive solar variability. Nor are they able to predict the timing and the climatic effects of the next solar cycles.

Most climate researchers, in contrast, seem happy to ignore the whole quandary as the sun’s shifting activity and its terrestrial impact do not play any significant role in what is called the ‘climate consensus.’

Solar scientists have been monitoring the sun’s activity for many years in an attempt to establish whether or not its variability is correlated with terrestrial temperature changes. Interestingly, the sun was more active during much of the 20th century than it was for the last 1000 years. Yet, as long as the terrestrial warming trend persisted, this discovery was routinely rejected as wholly insignificant.

Now, however, the sun’s cyclical behaviour has gone into reverse. And, coinciding with its exceptional inactivity, temperatures around the world have actually begun to stall, if not to drop slightly. The arrest of the warming trend of the late 20th century at a time that solar activity is exceptionally low again raises the key question of climate science: has our star perhaps a much more dominant effect on climate change than is generally assumed?

As David Whitehouse makes clear in The Independent today, this question can no longer be dismissed that easily. Neither can it be resolved, on way or another, in the short term. Only time and a determined effort to study and understand the sun’s behaviour will provide answers. There is no doubt, however, that a growing number of scientists are concerned that the next two or three solar cycles may coincide with low solar activity comparable to previous solar minima.

Given the unexpected arrest of the global warming trend and the extraordinary behaviour of our sun, it is prudent to reassess the solar-climate link with extra rigour. The current climate lull provides the scientific community and the world’s decision makers with a respite. They would be well advised to spend more time and money on the study of our variable star whose intrinsic dynamics and climatic effects remain a mystery to this day. 

Dearth Day, Illustrated



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In his Impromptus today, Jay Nordlinger offers up this letter from a fan:

Jay,

 

I made a “demotivator” poster for that idiotic “Earth Hour” event where the greenies told us to turn off our lights for an hour. As I work for [a state environmental agency], you can imagine the general reaction I got. Like I give a rat’s behind, as I have 30 years in the harness . . .

I just loved that letter — and the “demotivator” is even better: here. It shows the famous satellite image of the Korean peninsula at night, with the north all dark and the south all lit up. And the poster says: “Earth Hour: Guess which Korea is free and which is a Stalinist dictatorship. Guess which Korea eats and which one starves. Electricity is good. Choose freedom, and build more power plants.”

The image in question:


Newt in the House, Yo



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Newt Gingrich’s testimony before Energy and Commerce is available here. Not included there, of course, is a priceless floor exchange between the former Speaker and Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Beverly Hills).

It may be news to the Renewable Energy Now crowd, but America has had a little experience with market-driven technological advance — and it didn’t come at the point of a regulatory gun, using the “tax and destroy” method preferred by President Obama and Congressional Dems.

“We didn’t build the trans-continental railroad by punishing stage coaches,” Gingrich sagely observed.

“Well I am glad you’re not in charge of foreign policy,” replied Waxman (as if today’s Democratic caucus is well known for its use of sticks over carrots in foreign-policy negotiations).

Replied the former Speaker: “I don’t think of the American people in the same terms as foreign dictators.”

Newt ZINGrich!

The Pits



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House of Pain



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I don’t know about your experience, but watching the House’s spotty audio and video webcast feed of today’s global warming confab left me even less comfortable than before about the prospects of their keen ministrations engineering a ration- and quota-driven energy supply.

When the feed managed to come through, however, highlights included Congressmen Henry Waxman and Jay Inslee not even bothering to conceal the fact that they were reading from pre-printed scripts, prepared before they even sat down, expressing outrage and surprise over “what we just heard” from former Speaker Gingrich. The only thing I can imagine is that Newt Gingrich actually was asked to provide — and provided — his testimony the day before, just as mere mortal witnesses are required to do. Al Gore, I understand, still has not provided his tightly held slides from recent Senate testimony — which the rules apparently dictate should have been provided in advance.

I was comforted by how the Democrats were reduced to relying upon a thoroughly exposed effort by an MIT professor that seems to require at least one of the following assumptions: either a) the Obama administration is lying when it admits to just a fraction of the billions it plans to take in energy taxes (their advertised $650 billion over ten years from selling cap-and-trade ration coupons might actually total in the several trillions); or b) that every dollar taken from the taxpayer is actually a dollar in benefit to the taxpayer — which is the more likely assumption, and patently absurd.

With such great lead arguments, I can hardly wait to hear the rest.

Al Gore, Climate Propheteer



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Get a load of Rep. Ed Markey (D., People’s Republic of Massachusetts) swooning over Al Gore earlier today:

Long before greenhouse gases and global warming became a subject of daily discussions, Al Gore, Henry Waxman, John Dingell and I debated ways to improve the Clean Air Act. Vice President Gore was a leader of the debate in the 1980s. And now the whole world knows that he has long been a visionary. It is sometimes said that a prophet is someone who is right, but too soon. Al Gore is an example of someone who, not only was right early, very early, in fact, but who dedicated his life to educating our country so that they, too, saw the threats he foresaw decades ago.

Dingell: Cap-and-Trade is Toast



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At today’s House platform for Al Gore to push the investment portfolio for which he is so aggressively lobbying, we just saw something of great import, affirming what I have been telling thumb-suckers for a while now.

That is, former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Dingell said:

“cap-and-trade is a tax and it’s a great big one.”

Remember what MoveOn said last week:

“If Republicans convince voters that clean energy legislation amounts to a new tax, Obama’s plan is toast.”

So, it seems that Mr. Dingell is convinced, and his party’s cap-and-trade rationing taxes are now toast.

NASCAR Going Hybrid



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The New York Times’s “Wheels” blog reports:

Toyota announced this week that its Camry Hybrid would be the pace car for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway on May 24, thus becoming the first hybrid pace car to serve from start to finish in a Nascar race.

It seemed like a nice, if minor, marketing coup, timed to coincide with Earth Day. But could the announcement also have been a small tweak at Ford?

In case you forgot, Ford’s Fusion Hybrid earned the distinction last November of being Nascar’s first hybrid pace car when it led the field to the green flag at Homestead, Fla. But the hybrid gave way to the gas-powered Ford Fusion Sport after the start of the race, leaving room for Toyota to make its own Nascar milestone.

FAA Releases Bird-Strike Data



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Can we start shooting the geese yet? The environmental friendly methods of the past decade aren’t working:

WASHINGTON — Airplane collisions with birds have more than doubled at 13 major U.S. airports since 2000, according to Federal Aviation Administration data released for the first time Friday.

Topping the list of airports where planes were either substantially damaged or destroyed by birds since 2000 were John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with at least 30 such accidents and Sacramento International Airport in California with at least 28 such accidents. Kennedy, the nation’s 6th busiest airport, is located amid wetlands that attract birds, and Sacramento International, the nation’s 40th busiest, abuts farms whose crops draw birds.

And some airplanes just seem jinxed:

A single United Airlines 737 passenger jet suffered at least 29 minor collisions with birds and one accident involving a small deer — more than any other plane since 2000.

Global-Warming Report from Michigan



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Reader Dan D. sends in a report from the field:

Per the Presque Isle County Road Commission and published in the Onaaway Outlook, as of 3-31-09, there has been 157 inches of snow (13.08 feet) this season, second highest amount since record keeping began in 1955.

(FWIW, it’s also been too cold for to grass to grow, so I’m saving big bucks on lawn care at my office)

Green Trucks or Unions in Los Angeles?



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A brewing fight out in La-La land. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Monday is shaping up to be a bad day for the Teamsters, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a handful of environmental groups, whose efforts to unionize port truckers will probably be squelched by a federal judge. That’s just as well, but we’re afraid the mayor and his union backers won’t take no for an answer.

The clean-truck program at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a long-overdue attempt to reduce the diesel pollution that sickens and kills thousands of Angelenos every year, forces truckers to buy cleaner, more modern vehicles and imposes a fee on shipping containers that pass through the ports in order to help pay for them. None of that is controversial, and if that were all the program did, it wouldn’t be enriching an armada of lawyers. But it also contains concession agreements that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has determined will probably be ruled unconstitutional.

At the Port of Los Angeles, the program would eliminate independent truckers, insisting that they all be employees of drayage companies by 2013 (opening the door for the Teamsters to unionize them). The Port of Long Beach doesn’t insist on employee truckers, but it does impose other requirements that may not pass legal muster. That’s because U.S. law forbids local jurisdictions from making rules that affect the price, route or service of motor carriers.

The rest here.

What the FERC Is He Talking About?



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So far, the Obama administration has been kind of fun in that you can at least watch his run-of-the-mill socialist mind at work. He’s going to raise taxes, spend our way out of a recession, redistribute wealth, nationalize health care, and make friends with Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran. You know sooner or later these things will blow up in his face and make him an easy target in four years.
 
But what happened Wednesday had the ring of cold terror (and not the kind that comes from overseas).

On Earth Day, Jon Wellinghoff — President Obama’s month-old pick as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — claimed that we may never have to build base-load coal or nuclear power plants again. Windmills are going to take care of everything. (“Base load” comes from power plants that run night and day, keeping the world running; “intermediate load” is added during the day when demand rises; “peak load” is the high point reached, say, on hot summer days when everybody turns on the AC.)
 
Here are Wellinghoff’s exact words:

I think baseload capacity is going to become an anachronism. Baseload capacity really used to only mean in an economic dispatch, which you dispatch first, what would be the cheapest thing to do. Well, ultimately wind’s going to be the cheapest thing to do, so you’ll dispatch that first.  People talk about, ‘Oh, we need baseload.’ It’s like people saying we need more computing power, we need mainframes. We don’t need mainframes, we have distributed computing.

Let me tell you, anybody who says this hasn’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about. This is just boilerplate picked up from a hundred handouts by environmental groups. (For an analysis of why wind won’t work, see here.) It’s almost superfluous to note here that Wellinghoff is a lawyer and not an engineer. 
 
What Wellinghoff has said is identical to what Jerry Brown — “Governor Moonbeam” — announced when he decided to put California on the “soft energy path” in 1980. The Golden State didn’t build any new base-load power plants for 20 years. It practiced draconian conservation, subsidized every conceivable form of so-called renewable energy from wind farms to solar collectors to burning old tires for electricity — and by 2000, it didn’t have enough electricity to run its traffic lights.

That’s the road we’re now going down as a nation. This isn’t some wild-eyed pamphleteer from Greenpeace talking. This is the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC has to give its permission before any new power plant in the country can be built.
 
Start laying in diesel generators. It’s going to be a rough ride.

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