Media Matters Not Happy with the Sunday Shows and Global Warming


Here’s the latest outrage from Media Matters via their Twitter feed. . .

An excerpt:

This week, all four major broadcast networks covered extreme weather and climate change on their Sunday morning political talk shows. Those programs have largely ignored global warming in recent years, making their effort to address the issue unusual and laudable. But several of the segments also demonstrated the vulnerability inherent in treating science as a political debate where both sides receive a platform to air their positions.

Major winter storms across the U.S. in the month of February, drought in California, and President Obama’s call for a $1 billion climate change “resilience fund” sparked debates this week over the need for action against climate change. The science of global warming is settled: according to one survey, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that “humans are causing global warming.” But the Sunday shows, because they are built on a model of showing political conflicts, have difficulty putting that fact in context.

ABC’s This Week and NBC’s Meet the Press both featured debates between individuals who support and oppose the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, creating a false balance that could serve to confuse their viewers. Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, meanwhile, hosted a discussion in which no panelist stated that human-caused climate change is occurring while several claimed that it is not. CBS’ Face the Nation, by contrast, featured an interview with a scientist who explained that “we know that climate change is happening and humans are contributing.”

The broadcast Sunday shows devoted a paltry 27 minutes of coverage to climate change in 2013, according to a Media Matters study. Nearly 60 percent of that coverage came on Face the Nation; Meet the Press did not mention the issue all year. Face the Nation also featured the first interview of a scientist to discuss global warming by any of the programs in five years.

It’s a good sign that the Sunday shows are addressing global warming, but treating it as just another political issue causes new complications.

But climate change is just another political issue. Even if you believe the science behind the alarmist predictions is 100 percent accurate, then there still is the messy political process of whether taxpayer money should be used to address climate change, and if so how much.



Edict Watch: Obama T-Bones the Small-Trucking Industry


President Obama issued yet another edict on Tuesday that requires semi-trucks to meet federal fuel-economy standards. And, like other edicts choking coal plants and hiking the federal minimum wage, the little guy will suffer most.

Fuel efficiency is a major concern in the trucking industry. No surprise then, that the truck market — without any federal intervention — has favored diesel engines for decades. Nevertheless, the Trucker-in-Chief has decided that the EPA must now set mpg standards for commercial vehicles just as it does for cars and SUVs as Obama continues his relentless expansion of the regulatory state.

“Improving gas mileage for these trucks . . . reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers,” said Obama at a Safeway store in Maryland. “So it’s not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win. You’ve got three wins.”

Actually, it’s only a win for politically connected Big Business — and a lose-lose for small truckers and consumers.

Independent truckers have vehemently protested the edict as costly to small business since EPA first announced the proposal in 2011.

“The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and its members are warning that the Obama administration’s proposed fuel-economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks could put the cost of new trucks out of reach for many of America’s hard-working professional truckers,” said the trucking industry’s trade group in a statement today.

The EPA itself estimates that the mpg rules will hike the cost of trucks by nearly $6,000, making it harder for small operators to buy new equipment. Larger operators will pass the costs on to consumers. But most conspicuous in the president’s announcement were Big Business supporters of his unilateral order — companies like Safeway, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, UPS, and FedEx. All operate their own trucking fleets and have been bought off by the Obama White House courtesy of the National Clean Fleets Partnership which provides federal alternative fuel subsidies to these member giants.


Not surprisingly, none of these inconvenient truths was reported by Obama’s media parrots, especially the global warm-mongers at the Associated Press which repeated the president’s spin almost word-for-word.

With the economy limping along, the Obama administration continues to pile regulations on the back of business. The result is fewer jobs, higher costs, and more pain for small business — the very folks the president says he is in office to defend.

Tags: trucks , mpg , Obama


VW Vote: Labor Defeats Big Labor


The United Auto Workers and their “progressive” White House ally, President Barack Obama, insist that they are the champions of the working man. It’s notable, then, that the working men and women of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant rejected the UAW in a vote to unionize last week.

The VW workers apparently figured out that union bosses and their Democratic puppets are the most regressive force in American manufacturing today.

The stunning defeat came despite the fact that VW, under pressure from its German union IG Metall, had surrendered the playing field to the UAW. Under a decidedly non-neutral “neutrality agreement,” the UAW was allowed to set up a union vote drive office inside the plant – a right denied UAW opponents. Further stacking the deck in favor of the union, the Democrat-stacked National Labor Relations Board scheduled the secret ballot vote just nine days — instead of the usual 38-42 days — after VW filed a vote petition.

But all this maneuvering could not obscure the fact that Big Labor/Obama are a barrier to job creation. The UAW, after all, used union dues to lobby for Obamacare in 2012 — a law that even labor leaders now concede “will destroy the very health and well-being of our members.” UAW greed was key to the bankruptcies of both GM and Chrysler. And U.S. manufacturing has been experiencing a mini-resurgence in part due to European companies — like VW — fleeing the Old Country’s anti-growth wages, work rules, and high energy costs for the right-to-work American South.

So why would Tennessee workers vote to impose the very things that made VW flee to Tennessee in the first place?

The vote was another defeat for President Obama who came to Detroit in late 2012 in a last-ditch effort to defeat Michigan’s right-to-work law. Obama lost that vote (Michiganders are tired of seeing jobs go south) and lost again after a similar desperation effort last Friday to tip the scales to his union-boss pals.

UAW President Bob King says Big Labor has learned its lessons and that a unionized VW would be evidence of a new Labor Day in America. But the union’s bullying tactics in Chattanooga were proof that little has changed. The UAW tried to short-circuit a secret ballot with a “card check” campaign last fall. When eight VW workers filed charges of UAW “misrepresentations, coercion, threats, and promises” resulting in “tainted cards,” VW ultimately agreed to a proper, democratic, secret-ballot election.

The resulting vote was heard loud and clear last week: Big Labor is no friend of labor.

Tags: UAW , VW , Big Labor

Global Warming Set to Ruin Valentine’s Day


Thanks to global warming, men who forgot to get their ladies some flowers today now have the perfect excuse — snow:


Debating Keystone XL in the NYT


Today’s online “Room for Debate” at is on Keystone XL and is it “worth the fight?” Both sides are represented, but I though enviro Bill McKibben articulates President Obama’s dilemma rather well. In summary, because Keystone XL has become a lightning rod, the entire green movement is looking to the president — and the president alone — to act:

As it turns out, Keystone XL is the issue that has brought more activists into the street than any environmental question in a generation. That’s because they understand that if we’re ever going to tackle global warming we actually have to leave some carbon in the ground. And they understood that this was one place where President Obama, acting by himself, could make an enormous difference. Should he do the right thing, it would be the first time a world leader has said: Here’s a project we won’t build because of its effect on the climate. That might help reopen the international negotiations that the State Department wrecked at Copenhagen in 2009, in the greatest foreign policy fiasco of the first Obama term.

Even if President Obama stops Keystone XL, Canada is still going to tap into its “carbon in the ground.” Why is McKibben and his ilk focusing so much on our end and not on Canada? Go north green man!

And McKibben can hope all he wants that Obama doing “the right thing” will somehow jumpstart international negotiations. Hope is all the alarmists have left.


Global Warming: Here Today and Gone to Sochi


Here’s a picture from today’s New York Times from balmy Sochi where temperatures “at the ski-jumping venue on Thursday reached 63 degrees”. . .

. . .and here’s today’s weather in New York City. . .

. . .Since former mayor and now current UN climate-change envoy Bloomberg is 100 percent settled on the science behind global warming, I wonder why he didn’t have New York City bid for the Winter Olympics as well as the Summer Olympics?

NWS Warns Atlanta of Upcoming Storm


Looks like it’s going to get bad for the Atlanta area. Stay safe:

1041 AM EST TUE FEB 11 2014


1041 AM EST TUE FEB 11 2014







How Bad Policy Will Make California’s Drought Worse


Ben Boychuk writes in the Sacramento Bee:

Drought is a fact of life in California, which explains why so many politicians have been happy to blame nature and duck questions about what role their choices may have played in exacerbating the catastrophe now unfolding across the state.

We’ve had bad droughts before, but never quite like this.

For the first time in 54 years, the California Water Project forecasts “zero allocation” for agencies serving 25 million residents. That means scarcity and rationing are real prospects this summer. Barring a miracle, the effects – economic and political – would be felt well beyond our borders.

Let’s stipulate “government can’t make it rain.” While we’re at it, let’s enter that phrase into the Great Book of Clichés and banish it from public discourse forevermore.

Let’s also stipulate that government cannot make the trains run on time, or make you happy and wise – although, with the right connections, it can make you wealthy.

Might we further stipulate that if government can clean up after a natural disaster, it can also make a natural disaster worse? Judging from much of the indignant demagoguery emanating from Sacramento and Washington, D.C., this week, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.”

Republicans in Congress on Wednesday advanced House Bill 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, which passed largely along party lines. Only 10 House Democrats, including Fresno’s Jim Costa, voted for it.

The brainchild of California’s GOP delegation, the bill will almost certainly meet its demise in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have denounced the legislation as “divisive.” Feinstein even went so far as to call the bill “ugly” and “partisan.” A partisan piece of legislation debated in a political body. Imagine that.

What exactly would HB 3964 do? Simply stated, it would reallocate water controlled by the federal government from conservation and species protection to agriculture. In other words, it would put the needs of farmers above the needs of the Delta smelt.

Now, the idea that public policy might favor people over a baitfish in the face of an honest-to-goodness emergency may strike some as an odd notion. Coincidentally, Gov. Jerry Brown also used the “d”-word in a sternly worded letter to Congress ahead of this week’s vote. Among his complaints: HB 3964 “would override state laws and protections, and mandate that certain water interests come out ahead of others. It falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies.

The rest here.

Gold-Medal Alarmism


There’s a new report out titled “The Future of the Winter Olympics in a Warmer World” that has spawned a slew of alarmist reporting on how global warming will negatively affect future Winter Olympics. LiveScience, for example, posted this on February 4:

Sochi Could Be Too Warm to Host Olympics in 50 Years

This year may be the perfect time for Sochi to host the WinterOlympics , as new research suggests that by the middle of this century, the Russian town could be too warm to support many cold-weather sports.

In fact, the new research found that several of the cites that have hosted Winter Olympics in the past — including Vancouver, British Columbia; Squaw Valley, Calif.; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany — will not be cold enough to host the Winter Games by mid-century, thanks to global warming.

[. . .]

The researchers focused on two major factors that determine whether former and future Winter Olympic  sites would be “climatically reliable” to host the competition again: the probability that daily temperatures would stay below freezing, and the probability that the sites could maintain a snowpack of at least 30 centimeters (11.8 inches). If the site met both criteria for nine out of 10 winters, that site was considered climatically reliable to host the Winter Games.

For starters, can the media stop using Sochi as an example of what global warming will do to future Olympics? NASA describes Sochi as ”the warmest city ever to host the winter games.” Some pre-Olympics events were canceled due to lack of snow. Forget 50 years down the road, it was too warm to have the Olympics in Sochi this year.

And secondly, the report’s scare tactic of showing that some past Olympic venues might not be suitable hosts for future games doesn’t mean much. Here’s the chart from the report that summarizes which past cities would and would not be considered “climatically suitable” for future games under different emissions scenarios:

The four cities researchers find at-risk from global warming in the future, under their rosiest of scenarios, are Sochi (2014), Grenoble (1968), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (1936), and Chamonix (1924). Let’s take a closer look:

In other words, the four sites the researchers think won’t be able to have the Olympics in the future because of a lack of snow probably won’t win the bidding for the Olympics in the future anyway. Cancel the alerts.

Oh, and then there’s this. After all that doom-and-gloom, LiveScience concludes:

It remains unclear how warmer temperatures could influence precipitation. Some recent research shows that because warmer air holds more moisture, climate change may, in fact, increase the amount of precipitation, including snow, in some regions.

Global warming might be great news for the Winter Olympics? Of course it will.


Midwest Poor Freeze, Tax Dollars Go Overseas to Fight Warming


Detroit – Record cold continues to grip the northern United States — Michigan has recorded record low temperatures of -14 degrees Fahrenheit and record January snowfalls. The Winter from Hell is an exclamation point on over a decade of declining global temperatures. The cold has caused one death here in Detroit and 16 total across the region with public-service warnings alerting residents to stay inside. In addition to thousands of dollars spent by local charities to help the homeless cope with the chill, the Michigan Public Service Commission is urging that tax money be budgeted for programs to help low-income Michigan residents pay their energy bills. “Utility bills will reflect this winter’s brutally cold temperatures,” MPSC Chairman John Quackenbush told ABC News Radio.

So naturally, America has sent $7.5 billion overseas in the last three years to help developing countries cope with global warming, according to a federal report to the United Nations.

Why? Because on Planet Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry says it’s “a truly life-and-death challenge.” And because President Obama says we have to act “with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.”

Your tax dollars at work.

Stephen Chu: Keystone XL Is a Political Decision


Former DOE chief Stephen Chu let this little gem slip while speaking in Spain. Via the Oil and Gas Journal:

The decision on whether to permit the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is a political one and not one of that is scientific in nature, according to former US Energy Sec. Steven Chu.

Speaking at a news conference in Port of Spain Chu said, “I don’t have a position on whether the Keystone Pipeline should be built. That is for the secretary of State and the president. But I will say that the decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one.”

Chu then told OGJ that he wanted to expand his statement to say that the studies commissioned by the administration were, in fact, scientific. Late last week, the US State Department said in its long-awaited final supplemental environmental impact statement that the 1,700-mile proposed construction and operations of the Keystone XL line would not have significant environmental impacts (OGJ Online, Feb. 2, 2014).

Chu said, “The entire statement should include that the studies looking into what are the long-term effects are in fact scientific and that is the only scientific part of the decision.”

The rest here.



Green Groups Threaten Dems over Keystone XL


Via The Hill:

Environmental groups are warning President Obama that his liberal base might stay home on Election Day if he approves the Keystone XL  oil pipeline.

Proponents of the $5.4 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline say their case is buoyed by the State Department’s environmental analysis of the project, which was released to great fanfare last week.

But critics say approval of the project could sow liberal discontent and hurt Democratic chances in 2014 — including a host of contests that will likely decide who controls the Senate during the final years of the Obama White House.

“It is very likely that there will be negative consequences for Democrats if Keystone were approved,” said Kate Colarulli, the associate director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign. “This is a tremendous opportunity to protect the climate and build the Democratic base if Obama rejects Keystone XL.”

Green groups are promising acts of “civil disobedience,” if Obama signs off on the project and contend Keystone’s approval could torpedo the president’s broader climate change agenda.

The White House insists the electoral ramifications wouldn’t play a part in the president’s final call on the pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

“He’s been very clear that he’s going to insulate this process from politics,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

The rest here.

State Dept. Releases its Keystone XL Impact Study


And it’s bad news for alarmists. USA Today:

Approval or denial of the Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to have an impact on the rate of extraction of heavy-carbon tar sands oil in Canada, according to a highly anticipated State Department review released Friday.

The release of the review now triggers a 90-day federal process for determining if the project is in the nation’s interest.

The environmental impact study should end the debate on the project, supporters of the controversial pipeline said, and President Obama should back the project that would bring oil from the tar sands of northwest Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Congressional Republicans have been particularly vocal supporters of the pipeline.

“The Keystone XL Pipeline is the single largest shovel-ready project in America, ready to go, but for years President Obama and his hard-left allies have stalled these jobs in a maze of red tape,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “But if the president meant what he said this week about ‘a year of action,’ he’ll act now on this important project that won’t cost taxpayers a dime to build but will bring thousands of private sector jobs to Americans who desperately need them.”

A 2011 State Department report concluded that several thousand temporary construction jobs would be created by construction, in addition to a few dozen permanent jobs associated with operating the pipeline.

Environmentalists say the 1,700-mile pipeline would have a devastating impact on the environment and have pressured Obama to reject it.

The rest here.

‘Long-Lasting’ Light Bulbs Not So Long-Lasting


If these light bulbs don’t last as long as advertised, shouldn’t the alarmists who worked to kill the incandescent redo their math and tell us what we’re really going to save? I won’t hold my breath, however. 

The Daily Mail:

Many energy-efficient LED light bulbs failed before their advertised lifespan, tests have found.

Some did not even reach the EU’s new minimum of 6,000 hours which comes into force in March.

LED bulbs from Ikea and Technical Consumer Products (TCP) performed worst, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog and European partners tested five samples of 46 types of bulb. New EU regulations say that from March 1, 90 per cent of any batch of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours.

The bulbs were switched on for 165 minutes, then switched off for 15 minutes, in a continuous cycle until they failed.

Five types of bulb, some costing more than £10, stopped working before 6,000 hours in the majority of samples tested.

Another five failed before 10,000 hours for the majority of samples tested, despite claiming lifespans of at least 25,000 hours. In total, 66 of the 230 samples failed before 10,000 hours, though all claimed to last at least 15,000.

Bulbs from TCP and Ikea were the  only ones sold in the UK. Both companies said the types of bulbs tested have now been discontinued.

The rest here.

The Oil & Gas Jobs Recovery



The US oil and gas industry has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, following a period of low oil prices and declining production. And job growth in the sector reflects a robust and growing need to both replace retiring workers and fill new positions.

Forbes’ latest rankings of the 15 most valuable college majors includes geology at #7 and petroleum engineering at #9. Environmental engineering, physics and finance – also integral to the US oil and gas industries – appear on the list as well.

There are job opportunities in oil and gas all across the country, as new unconventional finds have popped up in places like Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  But a good deal of the activity underway is in the Gulf Coast, home to the vast majority of US refining infrastructure, as well as a number of onshore and offshore oil and gas fields. And oil and gas activity in the region suffers from less of the “dirty oil” stigma common on the East and West Coasts. “It’s part of the culture here,” Dr. Jayathi Murthy, Chair of UT Austin’s Mechanical Engineering Department, told Breaking Energy.

“It’s always an attractive option, not least because it pays much better than other specialities,” Murthy said. “Obviously there are ups and downs, but the industry has been doing really well in the last 5-10 years.”

Among the region’s best petroleum engineering programs, University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M feature at or near the top of many of the lists we found, with other Gulf Coast region schools including Louisiana State University’s A&M College, University of Houston and Texas Tech.

The rest here.

‘Why and How We Should Break OPEC Now’


A good piece by Robert Zubrin in The New Atlantis:

Usually when a country is likened to Saudi Arabia, it is not a compliment — unless of course it concerns vast energy resources. Since the 1970s, American politicians and energy analysts have described the United States as “the Saudi Arabia of coal” — a phrase meant to suggest that, while America’s oil reserves were inferior to those of the desert kingdom, we could take consolation in having the world’s largest coal reserves.

Today, however, America is in the midst of an energy boom that seems to be changing the nation’s energy outlook. Thanks in part to advances in hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”), horizontal drilling, and other techniques, the U.S. energy industry is bringing to market vast supplies of oil and natural gas that were previously inaccessible. Consider the statistics for oil: In 2008, U.S. production slumped below 5 million barrels per day, the lowest it had been since the 1940s; by the end of 2013, it exceeded 8 million barrels per day, the highest in more than two decades. By 2016, production is projected to reach or exceed the historic high of 9.6 million barrels per day set in 1970. The rise in natural gas production has been even steeper. In 2007, the United States produced 1.3 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas; in 2011, it produced 8 trillion cubic feet. That figure is projected to reach 31.9 trillion cubic feet by 2025 and to keep climbing in subsequent decades.

As President Obama put it in 2012, the United States is now “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Indeed, with the United States even projected to become the world’s top oil producer by 2016 or earlier, perhaps such comparisons to Saudi Arabia are becoming outdated.

The rest here.

Global Warming Threatens Pensacola, Fla.



The National Weather Service is forecasting snow for parts of the Florida Panhandle thanks to an arctic blast.

Meteorologist Steve Miller says freezing rain and snow could move in later Tuesday afternoon. He says there could be up to an inch of snow in areas north of Interstate 10 in Escambia and Okaloosa counties.

He says a large area of rain is currently moving over Louisiana and Mississippi. It should move in to Florida later Tuesday, brining freezing rain and — for some — snow. That’s unusual for Florida.


Polar Bears Unexpectedly Switch Diet to Respond to Melting Ice


The polar bear is shocking the scientific community by changing it’s diet. NBC News reports:

Arctic polar bears may be adjusting their eating habits as their sea ice habitat melts and the furry white predators stand to lose the floating platform they depend on to hunt seals, their primary food. According to researchers, however, the bears are displaying flexible eating habits as their world changes around them.

Indeed, scientific studies indicate polar bear populations are falling as the sea ice disappears earlier each spring and forms later in the fall. But a series of papers based on analysis of polar bear poop released over the past several months indicate that at least some of the bears are finding food to eat when they come ashore, ranging from bird eggs and caribou to grass seeds and berries.

“What our results suggest is that polar bears have flexible foraging strategies,” Linda Gormezano, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a co-author of several of the papers, told NBC News. 

The results stem from research in western Hudson Bay, near Chruchill, Manitoba, Canada, which is in the southern extent of polar bear habitat and serves as a harbinger of what the animals are likely to face throughout their Arctic range as the climate continues to warm and sea ice breaks up earlier and earlier each spring.

The flexible foraging strategy of polar bears “means that there may be more to this picture in terms of how polar bears will adjust to changing ice conditions” than indicated by models based on the spring breakup date of the sea ice and thus their access to seals, Gormezano said.

She added that nobody knows for sure how well polar bears will adapt to the changing food supply, but a big step toward an answer is to study what they eat on land “rather than assume that they may just be fasting.” 

Looks like the alarmists will need a news mascot. The rest here.

Fuel Efficiencey Standards Are Raising Costs and Safety Concerns in Detroit


Henry Payne writes in today’s WSJ on the consequences of  new manufacturing techniques to meet EPA fuel-efficiency standards. The opener:

Fuel-Efficiency Rules Are Already Raising Costs in Detroit
Electric cars are a sideshow. The real story is Ford’s big bet on aluminum and other expensive design changes.

At the dawn of 2014 the federal government has exited General Motors and Chrysler. Both companies have repaid their auto-bailout loans and Fiat is purchasing Chrysler outright. But federal carbon limits imposed on the auto industry in the depths of the Great Recession—when it was powerless to resist—will haunt manufacturers for years to come. The re-election of Barack Obama has cemented EPA fuel-efficiency regulations requiring that, by 2025, auto makers’ products average 54.5 miles per gallon.

On the floor of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, which is open to the public until Jan. 26, there is ample evidence that the regulations are starting to bite. Detroit temperatures have hovered in the single digits after hitting a record low, minus-14 degrees, in the first week of January—temperatures consistent with a planet that hasn’t warmed in more than a decade. Yet the gods of global warming must be satisfied, and the sacrifices to the EPA’s climate ideology come with a big price.

While auto makers are once again parading cars and trucks their customers want to own, company strategies are nevertheless being driven by government fuel-economy rules. Behind the glitzy displays, gorgeous vehicle introductions and relief that vehicle sales are almost back to 2007 prerecession levels, there is worry about the costs the fuel-efficiency rules impose.

Take the radical, expensive redesign of the Ford F150 pickup, America’s best-selling vehicle. The F150 is the talk of the show because it is the first truck—and the first large-volume vehicle—to have its body made entirely of aluminum to save weight and reduce fuel consumption.

The driving force behind Ford’s decision was the EPA standards that will force full-size trucks to get upward of 30 mpg in 10 years—up from 20 today. Ford had already made significant gains in efficiency by redesigning its powertrains to add less-thirsty turbo V-6s to its lineup, but the step to aluminum is an indication that the EPA rules will require much more than squeezing engines. The switch to costlier, lighter aluminum means a massive capital investment that involves the retooling of factories and the remaking of Ford’s material supply stream as it shifts away from steel sheet for body panels. Ford won’t disclose the investment, but it runs into the billions.

The rest here (behind the paywall).

And one thing Henry didn’t mention in his piece are the trickle-down costs. For example, Bloomberg reports that if you happen to crash your aluminum F150, there aren’t many body-shops that can fix it:

After laboring for five years to develop its aluminum F-150, Ford Motor Co. (F) now confronts a new challenge: preventing higher insurance rates and a dearth of mechanics equipped to repair its body from deterring buyers.

Less than 10 percent of the more than 30,000 independent repair shops in the U.S. are certified and meet training and equipment requirements to work with most aluminum auto-body parts, according to an estimate by Darrell Amberson, chairman of the Automotive Service Association. While some dealerships do in-house body work, independent businesses handle the vast majority of collision repair in the U.S., he said.

This will increase insurance costs too, no?

It’s not just cost. Safety is suffering, too, in a quest to meet EPA standards. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested 11 fuel-efficient minicars using the institute’s ”small overlap front crash test,” which is designed to better simulate a real-life car crash. Their conclusion:

Only 1 minicar out of 11 tested achieves an acceptable rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap front crash test, making these tiny vehicles the worst performing group of any evaluated so far.

The Chevrolet Spark’s acceptable rating in the test, along with good ratings in the Institute’s four other crashworthiness evaluations, earns the new minicar a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK award. The Spark was among the initial award winners announced in December. The new small overlap test results for the rest of the minicar group mean that no other models in this size category join the Spark in the winner’s circle yet.

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

The test is more difficult than the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the longstanding IIHS moderate overlap test because most of the vehicle’s front-end crush zone is bypassed. That makes it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy, and the occupant compartment can collapse as a result. Nevertheless, in many size categories, manufacturers have found ways to improve vehicle structures to meet this challenge.

“Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That’s why it’s even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection,” says Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research. “Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren’t performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash.”

The worst performers were the Honda Fit on the left and the Fiat 500 on the right. Scary looking: 

The best performer and the only one to earn the IIHS’s ”acceptable” designation was the Chevy Spark. (Acceptable is the second highest grade behind “good.”) Video of the crash tests here:

The next obvious test — at lest to me — is to crash an aluminum F150 into a Chevy Spark to see how much it costs to fix both vehicles.

The IIHS does note that the slightly larger cars in the small car category are much safer, with There are “five good ratings and five acceptable ratings among 17 small cars that have been evaluated so far.” 



Which Global-Warming Alarmists Will Stay at the Igloo Hotel at Davos?


This hotel in Davos, Switzerland is the perfect spot to discuss the horrors of a warming planet — in the Jacuzzi, of course:



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