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Unions vs. Anti-Fracking Efforts in Carson, Calif.



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It looks like the unions won. The Los Angeles Times reports:

An effort to extend a moratorium on all oil drilling in the city of Carson failed Tuesday night after the five-member City Council failed to reach the four-fifths supermajority needed to keep the ban in place.

The temporary ban, passed last month, was initially sought by the council to allow the city more time to study the potential effects of oil extraction techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and acidization.

Those technologies have been at the center of a controversy over a massive proposed oil project by Occidental Petroleum, which is seeking to drill more than 200 wells near the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus.

Much of the contention was based upon fears that the company would employ those methods at the site, a claim it has repeatedly denied.

Unlike previous meetings, supporters of the drilling project — many of them union members with T-shirts and signs that read “Jobs for Carson” and “Oppose the Ban” — came out in force.

Many said they were Carson residents and argued that extending the ban would hurt jobs within the city.

“We want Carson to be safe,” said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, “but let’s not pass a law that’s going to cut off this city from its economy. Together, we will fight to make Carson safe and prosperous for all residents.”

The rest here.

Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously Still Struggling to Attract Viewers



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James Cameron’s celebrity-filled global-warming propaganda series is bombing in the ratings. Here are the Nielsen numbers from Sunday April 27:

At Showtime, NURSE JACKIE and CALIFORNICATION stayed at 0.2 (although the latter needed rounding up to get to that number), and YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY remained at a tiny 0.04 with 1 more episode to air.  

And here’s Cameron writing about the show:

For the first time since An Inconvenient Truth, we have a media vehicle with the potential to ignite a decisive conversation on climate. The combination of storytelling, star power, and masterful cinematography promises to empower those who are already concerned and engage those who aren’t. This isn’t just about landmark television but about growing a global movement. We can and must work together to find solutions. We sincerely hope you watch the show – the biggest story of our time – with your friends and family and take a stand.

A landmark failure more like it.

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SCOTUS Rules For the EPA on Power-Plan Emissions



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National Journal:  

EPA is on a legal winning streak.

The Supreme Court has a reinstated a major rule to curb soot- and smog-forming power-plant pollution that damages air quality in the eastern United States.

Tuesday’s 6-2 ruling arrives two weeks after an Appeals Court upheld a separate rule to cut mercury and other air toxics from power plants.

The high court’s decision Tuesday revives the cross-state air-pollution rule, overturning a 2012 Appeals Court decision that sided with industry groups and states that challenged the regulation.

Both power-plant rules are major pillars of President Obama’s first-term air-quality agenda.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the cross-state rule, when phased in, will prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis, and 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma annually.

The rule requires states in the eastern half of the U.S. to cut emissions from power plants that blow across state lines.

The decision rejects the Appellate Court finding that EPA took an overly expansive view of its power to force emission cuts under the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision.

“EPA’s cost-effective allocation of emission reductions among upwind States is a permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation of the Good Neighbor Provision,” states the ruling authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and supported by Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Anthony Kennedy, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer.

The rest here.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Finally Converted a Global-Warming Denier



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The convert is Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, representing New York’s 11th congressional district.

Unfortunately for Hayes and his genocidal  fossil-fuel abolitionist movement, Grimm was just indicted on federal fraud and tax charges

Before the indictment, the 501(c)(4) formerly known as President Obama’s re-election campaign, was pretty excited about Grimm’s conversion as well:

Of course, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is excited about Representative Grimm as well, but they’re focused on his legal troubles rather than his new attitude on global warming.

If Grimm thought his last-minute conversion before the indictment would win him any Democratic friends, he was sorely mistaken. 

 

 

‘U.S. Electricity Prices May Be Going Up For Good’



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Candidate Obama did say “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” if he was elected president. Why didn’t anybody believe him? 

Los Angeles Times:

As temperatures plunged to 16 below zero in Chicago in early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S., electrical system managers implored the public to turn off stoves, dryers and even lights or risk blackouts.

A fifth of all power-generating capacity in a grid serving 60 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze, sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had trouble finding enough natural gas to keep power plants running. The wholesale price of electricity skyrocketed to nearly $2 per kilowatt hour, more than 40 times the normal rate. The price hikes cascaded quickly down to consumers. Robert Thompson, who lives in the suburbs of Allentown, Pa., got a $1,250 bill for January.

“I thought, how am I going to pay this?” he recalled. “This was going to put us in the poorhouse.”

The bill was reduced to about $750 after Thompson complained, but Susan Martucci, a part-time administrative assistant in Allentown, got no relief on her $654 charge. “It was ridiculous,” she said.

The electrical system’s duress was a direct result of the polar vortex, the cold air mass that settled over the nation. But it exposed a more fundamental problem. There is a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity system, experts warn, the result of the shutdown of coal-fired plants, reductions in nuclear power, a shift to more expensive renewable energy and natural gas pipeline constraints. The result is likely to be future price shocks. And they may not be temporary.

One recent study predicts the cost of electricity in California alone could jump 47% over the next 16 years, in part because of the state’s shift toward more expensive renewable energy.

“We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,” said Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who said the steady reduction in generating capacity across the nation means that prices are headed up. “If you take enough supply out of the system, the price is going to increase.”

In fact, the price of electricity has already been rising over the last decade, jumping by double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation. In California, residential electricity prices shot up 30% between 2006 and 2012, adjusted for inflation, according to Energy Department figures. Experts in the state’s energy markets project the price could jump an additional 47% over the next 15 years.

The problems confronting the electricity system are the result of a wide range of forces: new federal regulations on toxic emissions, rules on greenhouse gases, state mandates for renewable power, technical problems at nuclear power plants and unpredictable price trends for natural gas. Even cheap hydro power is declining in some areas, particularly California, owing to the long-lasting drought.

“Everywhere you turn, there are proposals and regulations to make prices go higher,” said Daniel Kish, senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research. “The trend line is up, up, up. We are going into uncharted territory.”

The rest here.

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How Many Agencies Supply Water in California?



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Good question. If you find out, please tell California the answer, because they don’t have a clue.

Reuters:

In the middle of one of the worst droughts in California’s history, no one knows exactly how many agencies supply the state with water.

While state regulators supervise three companies that provide gas and electricity for most of California, drinking water is delivered through a vast network of agencies which collectively do billions of dollars of business, setting rates and handing out contracts with scant oversight.

There are so many agencies, in fact, that the California Department of Water Resource, which is responsible for managing and protecting the state’s water, concedes that it does not even know the exact number.

“We think the total number is about 3,000 but there is no definitive resting place for those numbers,” a department spokesman said.

Some state officials and water experts are calling for change, arguing that the process of providing water should be as clear as the product, especially in the middle of a drought. As one of the nation’s agricultural leaders and a trendsetter in environmental regulation, California’s actions could be felt beyond its borders.

Wes Strickland, an attorney who specializes in water law, says most of these water agencies do a good job. Cities and towns like controlling their own resources, and most of the agencies are elected, assuring a level of accountability.

But, Strickland says, good and bad, most operate “under the radar”, with little public scrutiny. “These agencies are at the forefront of the drought response,” he added.

And. . .

“The lack of transparency provides a breeding ground for unchecked spending, corruption, and fiscal mismanagement,” said Chiang, who in October warned nine cities and 117 special districts, some of which were public entities solely responsible for managing and supplying water, that they were delinquent in filing financial records.

Just 138 utilities – those owned by investors – are regulated by an outside body, the California Public Utilities Commission, Strickland says. The rest are governed by small boards of locally-elected officials.

The whole thing here.

Rachel Maddow on Big Oil’s Influence over U.S. Policy in Russia



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Maddow has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post where she asks, “Will U.S. energy companies disrupt Obama’s Russia policy?”

Wait, we have a policy on Russia? If we do, she doesn’t explain it in her piece.

Anyway, her basic argument is that U.S. and international energy companies with huge investments in Russia will stand in the way of President Obama if he decides to sanction Russia’s energy industry. Her conclusion:

Now, in Russia, the world’s energy giants already have their capable hands all over Russia’s vast supplies of both oil and gas. As such, the energy industry’s acute economic interest is in a Russia that is not so at odds with the world that it can’t freely trade its oil and gas. What role will the industry play in achieving that end?

So far, the companies are acting as a counterweight against U.S. and European diplomatic pressure. Exxon’s new geophysical surveys of the eastern Arctic with Rosneft were announced three days after NATO said it was suspending “all practical civilian and military cooperation” with Russia and three days before thinly disguised Russian forces started taking over government buildings in eastern Ukraine. Why would Putin fear U.S. threats of economic isolation while the biggest U.S. oil company is jumping into his lap?

If Europe and the United States decide to pressure Russia with sanctions targeting the energy sector, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the Russian economy, will the big American and Western oil companies stand in the way? As Putin increasingly acts out his dreams of grandeur — his ridiculous Eurasian Union idea, his fantasies of restoring czarist “novorossiya” or the U.S.S.R. — he is testing the edges of his power. He wants to be seen as too big to fail. Big Oil siding with him could make those dreams come true.

Demanding that other countries choose to be “with us or against us” was one of the Bush administration’s many regrettable failures after Sept. 11. But if we asked the big Western oil companies the same question now, how would they answer?

A couple of things. One, the president has been necessarily vague on what future sanctions will look like, but is there any indication that he’d target Russia’s energy sector? I haven’t heard that threat. Maddow can blame “big oil” standing in the way of such yet-to-be-issued-or-discussed sanctions if she cares to, but in the end it’s President Obama who has to make that decision. If the president caves to Maddow’s “big oil,” her beef should be with Obama and not the energy companies.

And two, maybe she should think about apologizing to Mitt Romney for his 2012 remarks on Russia as America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. Here’s what Maddow wrote back then:

For another, calling Russia the nation’s “number one geopolitical foe” has renewed a debate over whether Romney understands these issues as well as he thinks he does.

The Democratic National Committee, for example, distributed this statement from former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig:

“Governor Romney offered his judgment today that Russia is our nation’s number one geopolitical foe. This conclusion, as outdated as his ideas on the economy, energy needs, and social issues, is left over from the last century. Does Governor Romney believe that a Cold War foreign policy is the right course in the twenty-first century? Does he believe that Russia is a bigger threat to the U.S. today than terrorism, or cyberwarfare, or a nuclear-armed and erratic North Korea?

“Oddly, before calling Russia our number one foe, he issued a foreign policy white paper that only got around to Russia after sections on China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East, Iran, North Korea, and Latin America. His most recent statement is yet another revelation that Mitt Romney repeatedly speaks inconsistently and in ways that are disconnected from twenty-first century realities.”

The twenty-first-century reality is the one Romney described and the Left has yet to admit they were wrong. 

WaPo Editors to Obama: Approve Keystone XL



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Do read their entire editorial, but here are some of the highlights:

  • “IF FOOT-DRAGGING were a competitive sport, President Obama and his administration would be world champions for their performance in delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.”
  • “We would rather see Canadian crude traveling a well-built, well-regulated pipeline in the United States than on the rail cars, barges and ocean tankers that will move it until cheaper options inevitably come online.

That does not mean we like burning dirty oil sands crude. But symbolic gestures will have no impact on climate change.”

  • “As for the pipeline’s routing, planners and regulators have already considered all sorts of options through Nebraska, and they already shifted the route once. Neither route posed environmental concerns of a sort that would justify concluding that Keystone XL is outside the national interest. It is bizarre to imagine that a new route from an even more careful process in Nebraska would significantly increase environmental concerns.”

And the conclusion:

  • “The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now, bow to reason, approve the pipeline and go do something more productive for the climate.”

 

Climate Change Discussion Dominated by Men



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Why do climate alarmists hate women?

Via Media Matters:

REPORT: Eighty-Five Percent Of Climate Change Guests Are Men

Two Media Matters analyses suggest that over 85 percent of those quoted in the media about climate change are men. Several top women in the field denounced this disparity, noting that women will be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.

A review of a recent Media Matters analysis of print and television coverage of the U.N. climate reports found that women made up less than 15 percent of interviewees. A look back at our analysis of broadcast coverage of climate change unearthed the same stark disparity: less than 14 percent of those quoted on the nightly news shows and Sunday shows in 2013 were women.

Years of Living Dangerously Silent on Palm Oil’s Use As a Biofuel



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Last night was the second episode of the global-warming-alarmist propaganda, James Cameron–produced Years of Living Dangerously.

One of the storylines from last night, which continued over from episode one, was Harrison Ford taking on the palm oil industry in Indonesia. Ford and the documentary focused on the use of palm oil in food while ignoring the use of palm oil as a green, environmentally approved biodiesel fuel. Ford does take discuss corruption in Indonesia, but by ignoring “green” biodiesel and it’s growing importance to Indonesia’s economy, he misleads viewers. It’s the demand for biodiesel that analysts now say is the driving force in the palm oil market:

As much as 3.4 million tons of palm will be used for biodiesel this year in Indonesia, Hasan said on Feb. 24, after Southeast Asia’s biggest economy increased the blending rate to reduce import costs and narrow the current-account deficit.

Indonesia boosted in September the amount of biodiesel blended with fuel to 10 percent from 7.5 percent and power plants had to blend 20 percent from January. PT Pertamina has already secured 2.4 million kiloliters of biodiesel, 45 percent of the 5.3 million kiloliters it’s seeking for this year and next, the state oil and gas company said Feb. 16. Pertamina will hold more auctions to buy the remainder.

Malaysia is extending its B5 biodiesel program in the country which will result in consumption of 500,000 tons of palm methyl ester annually, according to the government.

“The demand side of the equation has been overtaken by biodiesel,” Dorab Mistry, director of Godrej International Ltd., said by e-mail. “It remains to be seen how much of the Indonesian mandate is actually fulfilled.”

Andy Revkin of the New York Times noticed the omission, too:

Planet Gore has already covered how the demand for palm oil as a fuel is causing environmental havoc, especially with orangutans:

How ‘Green’ Palm Oil Is Killing Orangutans

Now Showtime, Ford, Cameron, et al. have no problem using heartwarming shots at an orangutan nursery to help sell it’s anti-palm-oil message . . .

. . .but they won’t tell “the inconvenient truth” that it’s the environmental movement itself that shares significant blame for Indonesia’s deforestation crisis.

At some point we need to stop using food for gasoline. Years of Living Dangerously had a chance to advance this message and didn’t, out of what looks to be a desire to protect the environmental movement as a whole and to make the complex story of global warming as simple as possible. 

 

Settled Science: Corn Ethanol Worse for Global Warming than Gasoline



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AP:

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.

The rest here.

Switchgate: Tort toadies seeding fear



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Americans can be excused if they are getting whiplash from the Democratic party’s sudden about face on General Motors. For the last five years, Government Motors was key to Democratic electoral success as President Obama bailed out the company to preserve the gravy train of UAW contributions to Democrats — and to ensure reelection for key politicians (including himself) in crucial swing states like Michigan and Ohio. As recently as this January, Obama invited GM CEO Mary Barra to the State of the Union address to celebrate Democrats’ close ties to GM.

That was then, this is now.

In the wake of revelations that a defective ignition switch in Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ions, and other vehicles may have played a part in 13 deaths, the party’s tort lobby has taken over the driver’s seat from the UAW. Follow the money.

With the prospect of millions at stake in tort fees, trail-lawyer-fed Democrats are taking the lead in roasting GM (the government’s ownership conveniently ended a month before the Switchgate revelations emerged last year). On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) grandstanded before the cameras that CEO Barra (No kind words for the first female CEO, senator? Are you a combatant in the War on Women?) must disclose when dealers will have replacement ignitions for recalled cars. Blumenthal – a veteran of the tobacco shakedown (as Connecticut AG) and global-warming hysteria – counts the legal lobby as his #1 campaign contributor.

GM has said it may be October before it has enough ignition parts to fix 2.6 million vehicles worldwide. In the meantime, the company is reassuring owners that the cars are safe to drive if only a key is on the keychain (a fact I confirmed in test-driving a 2006 Cobalt this week).

But rather than join the public service announcement, Blumenthal is panicking customers by declaring GM cars death traps.

“I have repeatedly called on GM to tell customers that recalled vehicles are unsafe to drive until they can be repaired,” he says.

That’s contrary to GM’s experts. And it would inconvenience thousands of low-income Cobalt owners who need their vehicles to get to work. But like his fellow tort toadies, Senators Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) Blumenthal would rather seed fear.

Bjørn Lomborg: Stop ‘Applauding’ Alarmist Policies that Hurt the Poor



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Bjørn Lomborg has a good piece up on how the latest IPCC report actually shows that the costs of global warming have been exaggerated by the media and by politicians enamored with green policies that ultimately hurt the world’s poor. An excerpt:

US President Barack Obama promised that policies to combat global warming would create five million new green jobs. The EU claimed that green energy would help “improve the EU’s security of energy supply.”

With the completion of the latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we can now see that this narrative is mostly wrong. The first installment of the IPCC report showed that there is indeed a climate problem – emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO₂, lead to higher temperatures, which will eventually become a net problem for the world. This result was highly publicized.

But the report also showed that global warming has dramatically slowed or entirely stopped in the last decade and a half. Almost all climate models are running far too hot, meaning that the real challenge of global warming has been exaggerated. Germany and other governments called for the reference to the slowdown to be deleted.

The second IPCC installment showed that the temperature rise that we are expected to see sometime around 2055-2080 will create a net cost of 0.2-2% of GDP – the equivalent of less than one year of recession. So, while the IPCC clearly establishes that global warming is a problem, the cost is obviously much less than that of the twentieth century’s two world wars and the Great Depression.

Again, not surprisingly, politicians tried to have this finding deleted. British officials found the peer-reviewed estimate “completely meaningless,” and, along with Belgium, Norway, Japan, and the US, wanted it rewritten or stricken. One academic speculated that governments possibly felt “a little embarrassed” that their previous exaggerated claims would be undercut by the UN.

The third installment of the IPCC report showed that strong climate policies would be more expensive than claimed as well – costing upwards of 4% of GDP in 2030, 6% in 2050, and 11% by 2100. And the real cost will likely be much higher, because these numbers assume smart policies, instantly enacted, with key technologies magically available.

And. . .

We live in a world where one in six deaths are caused by easily curable infectious diseases; one in eight deaths stem from air pollution, mostly from cooking indoors with dung and twigs; and billions of people live in abject poverty, with no electricity and little food. We ought never to have entertained the notion that the world’s greatest challenge could be to reduce temperature rises in our generation by a fraction of a degree.

The whole thing here.

Switchgate: Cobalt Driving Lessons



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Amid Washington’s media hysteria, General Motors has called in NASA engineers to verify its claim that recalled Chevy Cobalts are safe to drive — with only a key in the ignition — until owners get to a dealer to install a new ignition switch.

“In 2010, the space agency was (also) asked by the U.S. Transportation Department to investigate whether Toyotas . . . might have electronic defects that contributed to incidents of sudden, unintended acceleration,” reported USA Today. “The investigation found no electronic issue that could cause the problem.”

That would be news to USA Today readers. And Washington Post, ABC News, and CNN viewers.

Cheering the Holder Justice Department’s punishment of Toyota last month with a $1.2 billion fine, not one of these news outlets — or dozens of others — mentioned that NASA had absolved the Japanese automaker of the primary charge that electronically malfunctioning accelerators caused Toyotas to careen out of control in 2010.

It’s deja vu all over again. Lacking concrete information, news outlets are once again jumping to conclusions about GM’s recalled vehicles by relying on trial-lawyer-fed safety advocates like Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety. “Our advice to consumers is, ‘park it now,”‘ Ditlow told a credulous Reuters reporter, challenging GM’s advice.

This is the same Clarence Ditlow who approved NBC News’ scandalous rigging of GM pickups to explode two decades ago. The same Ditlow who claimed that Toyota’s electronic throttles were at fault in sudden acceleration deaths.

Ditlow and his media parrots are likely to be proved wrong — again — when NASA reviews Cobalt ignitions. I drove a 2006 Cobalt SS this week with the original, faulty ignition. As advised by GM, I drove it with only a key in the ignition. Additional weight on the keychain can cause the ignition to rotate back into “accessory” position, thus causing the car to stall.

Contrary to frenzied claims that this causes the car to veer out of control, the car remains drivable. The brakes work, as does the steering. However, the steering loses its power making it more difficult to turn — which was surely disorienting for the many impaired drivers among Switchgate’s victims. Regardless of the circumstance, GM should be held accountable for these incidents (the faulty ignition may well have its roots in GM’s acrimonious relationship with supplier Delphi in the mid-2000s, reports the Detroit News).

However, after a day driving the Cobalt with only a key in the ignition — over Detroit’s worst roads (and they are bad) — the ignition never faltered. My observation is that the switch’s quality is not on par with Japanese rivals of the same period (thus Detroit’s reputation gap) — it’s Off-to-Accessory-to-Start turns are soft while a Honda Civic ignition, for example, clicks sharply into place.

Nevertheless, the public should be reassured that Cobalts are safe and will not fly out of control. Just as electronic gremlins never caused Toyotas to suddenly accelerate.

Tags: Clarence Ditlow , Chevy Cobalt , Switchgate

EPA Wins Appeal on Power Plant Emissions and Mercury



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Politico:

The Environmental Protection Agency took home a sweeping victory Tuesday when an appeals court upheld the agency’s pollution limits for mercury and air toxics from power plants.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s rule, known as MATS, denying challenges from states, utilities and industry groups that argued the rules came out of a flawed regulatory process and illegally imposed exorbitant costs on power producers that will force dozens of power plants to shut down.

Tuesday’s decision, which also shot down arguments from environmental groups that it was too weak, was the latest chapter in a saga that began during the Clinton administration. Its strict pollution control requirements will push many of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants into retirement when it takes effect in 2015.

The court upheld EPA’s decision to take into account environmental damage from the pollutants, rather than just health-based harms, when it decided to regulate. And the agency based its decision on the impacts of hazardous pollution broadly, rather than just emissions from power plants — a “commonsense approach,” wrote Judge Judith Rogers, to “statutory ambiguity” that was within the bounds of EPA’s discretion.

The rest here.

Is Anybody Watching Years of Living Dangerously?



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Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime’s celebrity-filled, James Cameron–produced, documentary series is certainly garnering plenty of media praise: See here, here, here, and here for just a few examples.

But is anybody watching it? Years didn’t crack the Top 100 cable shows on Sunday April 13. For comparison purposes, the Showtime drama Shameless was No. 12 on Sunday April 6

As the goal of the series is to communicate the dangers of global warming to viewers, I’m not sure things are working out as planned. 

Eat Road Kill to Save the Planet



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What is it with environmentalists and eating meat by the side of the road? Grist:

[. . .] Some argue that salvaging road kill is actually the most ethical and environmentally responsible way to eat meat: It’s a way to maintain carnivorous habits while still opting out of highly questionable conventional means. “The meat industry is pretty extraordinary, particularly things like red meat. It takes something like 27 kilos of CO2 to produce each kilo [of beef],” Cummings says. “I think most people think about [the environmental impact of] jumping in their car, but they might not consider the environmental disaster of beef.”

Just Google “roadkill sustainable meat” to see how often this idea pops up.

 

 

California Turns to Drought Expert Bibi Netanyahu



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Haaretz:

California is having its driest year in recorded history. Ten percent of the state is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the highest possible level, according to the United States Drought Monitor. Most of the rest of the state is suffering “severe drought,” and since California produces much of the fruits, vegetables, dairy and wine that Americans eat, the crisis will affect the entire U.S. food economy.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and California Governor Jerry Brown Jr. signed an agreement last month for Israel and California to collaborate on research and development, and joint projects in both countries – they were acknowledging how advanced Israel’s water technology has become.

“Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be,” Brown remarked at the signing ceremony. Indeed: How not to run out of water is apparently something California can learn from Israel.

The rest here.

Exit question: How will Governor Brown’s embrace of Israeli technology affect the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement — BDS — of Israeli companies?

NYT Op-Ed: Climate Alarmism Doesn’t Work



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This is great op-ed by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute on how alarmist ”scare tactics” aren’t convincing more people of the threat of global warming. The opener:

IF you were looking for ways to increase public skepticism about global warming, you could hardly do better than the forthcoming nine-part series on climate change and natural disasters, starting this Sunday on Showtime. A trailer for “Years of Living Dangerously” is terrifying, replete with images of melting glaciers, raging wildfires and rampaging floods. “I don’t think scary is the right word,” intones one voice. “Dangerous, definitely.”

Showtime’s producers undoubtedly have the best of intentions. There are serious long-term risks associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from ocean acidification to sea-level rise to decreasing agricultural output.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

For instance, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” popularized the idea that today’s natural disasters are increasing in severity and frequency because of human-caused global warming. It also contributed to public backlash and division. Since 2006, the number of Americans telling Gallup that the media was exaggerating global warming grew to 42 percent today from about 34 percent. Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether global warming is caused by humans rose to 42 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming. And beginning in 2007, as the country was falling into recession, public support for environmental protection declined.

Still, environmental groups have known since 2000 that efforts to link climate change to natural disasters could backfire, after researchers at the Frameworks Institute studied public attitudes for its report “How to Talk About Global Warming.” Messages focused on extreme weather events, they found, made many Americans more likely to view climate change as an act of God — something to be weathered, not prevented.

Some people, the report noted, “are likely to buy an SUV to help them through the erratic weather to come” for example, rather than support fuel-efficiency standards.

How funny is that? “Hey, honey? You know, this global warming looks really bad. We better get the bigger truck.”

The rest here.

Callous ‘old GM’? Cobalt was recalled multiple times



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In November, 2004, General Motors recalled 2005 model year Chevy Cobalts for faulty headlamps that could cause “additional glare, increasing the risk of crash” to oncoming drivers. In January, 2007, GM recalled more Cobalts to install energy-absorbing plastic in the headliner trim “to reduce the severity of head impacts in a crash.” And in March, 2010, GM again recalled Cobalts to replace crabby power steering motors that would fail “requiring greater driver effort (and) increasing the risk of a crash.”

So much for claims by politicians and their media chorus last week that the late Chevy Cobalt was Exhibit A of an “old GM” that put the bottom line above customer safety.

In fact the multiple GM recalls prove that Swtichgate — the latest, February, 2014 recall of Cobalts (and its sister Saturns and Pontiacs) for faulty ignition switches tied to 13 deaths –– is an anomaly in an industry that relentlessly tracks vehicle faults and recalls them in a timely manner. Last year, more vehicles were recalled than were sold — and this year the industry is on track to recall more vehicles than the record-setting year (30 million) of 2004. Such is the automakers’ obsession with satisfying customers in an intensely competitive market.

The truth is that last week’s Switchgate hearings were evidence not of a failed auto-industry culture but a sick Washington culture where trial-lawyer-funded pols grandstand before cameras about products they don’t understand, while witnesses clam up for fear of criminal gotcha probes by circling U.S. attorneys.

“You don’t know anything about anything,” snapped Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D., Calif.), as GM CEO Mary Barra tip-toed through her testimony. Boxer was one of two women — Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D., Mo.) was the other — who led the Barra witch-hunt in part because they could grill the first female auto CEO without looking like bullies.

But the other part is that Boxer and McCaskill are stooges of the trial-lawyer industry — an industry that stands to make millions from Switchgate lawsuits.

Both senators are on the Top Ten list of trial-lawyer campaign contributions, according to OpenSecrets.org. In the last six years of available data, McCaskill was No. 2 (behind only Harry Reid) with $374,000 in tort lawyer contributions, while Boxer was No. 10 with nearly $200,000.

They are also among those legislators who have endorsed higher fuel-economy mandates (so-called CAFE laws) — even as the National Academy of Sciences found that CAFE standards cause 1,300 to 2,600 traffic deaths every year (a number that dwarfs Switchgate fatalities) by forcing manufacturers to build smaller and lighter cars.

This is not to excuse GM’s slow response to a ten-year-old defect. But the evidence points not to a corporate conspiracy but to product engineers who failed to classify the switch as a safety defect or who covered up the flaw with a circa-2007 fix that didn’t include a corresponding change in part number.

Such issues will be resolved by an internal GM investigation — and in court. In the meantime, Barra was dragged to Capitol Hill fully aware that any uninformed statement could be twisted into a criminal prosecution. Only last month, Toyota was fined $1.2 billion by the Justice Department. Toyota’s crime? Its Congressional testimony didn’t comport with internal documents expressing concerns about sticky gas pedals — even though NHTSA ultimately concluded sticky gas pedals were not a safety problem.

Saturday Night Live had a field day with Barra’s scripted answers. But Barra and her lawyers were guided by the Toyota precedent. Such is the farce of Congressional “fact-finding” hearings.

Barra even played along with the “Old GM-new GM” ruse in order to simplify the narrative. “We had more of a cost culture,” she said stressing that GM was “changing to a customer culture that focuses on safety and quality.” The media ate it up even as the evidence of the Cobalt’s three prior recalls shows the company has always been concerned about safety.

Quality? Well, according to JD Power, that’s where GM has some catching up to do.

Tags: Chevy Cobalt , McCaskill , GM

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