Marita: More Buffalo Chips?
avatar

Link to: The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

 

Greetings!

 

I have been watching the SolarCity solar panel manufacturing factory story for a few weeks. I’ve almost written on it a couple of times. How fortuitous for that, each time, another story captured my attention. Last Thursday, the story took on a whole new dimension: a criminal corruption probe. Now was the right time to write The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing (attached and pasted-in-below). It is a sordid tale—but then, most of the green-energy crony-corruption stories are.

 

As I like to do, The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing combines several stories to present a fresh analysis while incorporating many of my favorite themes: politics, green-energy crony-corruption, and current news. Plus, it should make you mad! Getting all that into one piece, does make it a bit on the long side, but I hope you’ll enjoy the thorough coverage of this underreported story.

 

Please post, pass on, and/or personally enjoy The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

rp_marita-noon-2015-turquiose-e1440459257510.jpg.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM, 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1380

 

 

The Buffalo Billion fraud and bribery scheme: corruption and pay-to-play, a symbol of everything they’re doing

When New York’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo gushed over SolarCity’s new solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, the audience, likely, didn’t grasp the recently-revealed meaning of his words: “It is such a metaphor—a symbol of everything we’re doing.”

 

The 1.2 million square foot building, being built by the state of New York on the site of a former steel plant, is looking more and more like another political promise of help for one of the poorest cities in the state that ends up enriching cronies without ever achieving any potential for the people.

 

Yes, it is a symbol of everything they’re doing.

 

Previously, during her first senatorial bid, Hillary Clinton also promised jobs to the economically depressed region of the state of New York—200,000 to be exact. Citing a report from the Washington Post, CBSNews states: “Jobs data show that job growth stagnated in Upstate New York during her eight years in office, the report said, and manufacturing jobs dropped by nearly a quarter.” The Post’s extensive story reveals that jobs never materialized—despite “initial glowing headlines.” It claims: “Clinton’s self-styled role as economic promoter” actually “involved loyal campaign contributors who also supported the Clinton Foundation.” Through federal grants and legislation, she helped steer money to programs, companies, and initiatives that benefitted the donors but failed to reverse the economic decline of the region.

 

Now, new corruption charges reveal the same pay-to-play model linked to Cuomo’s upstate “Buffalo Billion” economic revitalization plan—and the promised jobs, also, look they will never materialize.

 

Back on January 5, 2012, Cuomo announced a $1 billion five-year economic development pledge for Buffalo.  It was to be the governor’s banner economic initiative with the SolarCity factory as the cornerstone and a pledge of 1,460 direct factory jobs. Other companies, including IBM and a Japanese clean-energy company were also lined up.

 

With the state-of-the-art solar panel factory ready for equipment to be installed, the wisdom of the entire program is being scrutinized—and is coming up short.

 

First, on September 22, two of Cuomo’s closest aides—along with several others—were charged in corruption and fraud cases involving state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Addressing the press at his Manhattan office, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara asserted: “that ‘pervasive corruption and fraud’ infested one of the governor’s signature economic development programs. Companies got rich, and the public got bamboozled,” reports The Observer. Bharara described the bid-rigging and bribery arrangement: “Behind the scenes they were cynically rigging the whole process so that the contracts would go to handpicked ‘friends of the administration’—‘friends’ being a euphemism for large donors. Through rigged bids, state contracts worth billions of dollars in public development monies, meant to revitalize and renew upstate New York, were instead just another way to corruptly award cronies who were willing to pay to play.”

 

The 79-page criminal complaint notes that campaign contributions to Cuomo poured in from people connected to the bribe-paying companies as soon as those businesses began pursuing state projects.

 

One of the companies that received the lucrative contracts was LPCiminelli—run by “Cuomo mega-donor” Louis Ciminelli. He allegedly offered bribes to Cuomo confidante Todd Howe—who has admitted to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers to rig bids on multimillion-dollar state contracts linked to Buffalo Billion projects.

 

Ciminelli received the $750 million contract to build the SolarCity plant. The Buffalo News cites Bharara as saying: “the state’s bidding process for the factory being built for SolarCity at RiverBend in South Buffalo turned into a ‘criminal’ enterprise that favored LPCiminelli, where company executives were given inside information about how the deal was to be awarded.”

 

Part of Cuomo’s deal with SolarCity—in which the state owns the building and equipment with SolarCity leasing it under a 10-year deal—requires the company to meet a timetable of job-creation quotas or pay hefty penalties. Even before the building was complete, however, the company slashed its job commitment from 1460 to 500. According to the Investigative Post, SolarCity claims it will still employ the original number, but due to automation, the majority of them will not be at the Buffalo plant. With the state’s $750 million investment, that works out to $1.5 million per manufacturing job. In a press release, Cuomo promised 1460 “direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility.”

 

Even the 500 jobs will only materialize if the plant actually starts production—currently slated for June 2017. SolarCity’s future is, as Crain’s New York Business puts it: “uncertain.”

 

Amid the company’s myriad problems are the facts that it has never been profitable, nor does it have manufacturing experience.

 

In February 2014, SolarCity’s stock price peaked at about $85 a share. Today, a share is less than $20. Microaxis gives it a probability of bankruptcy score of 48 percent. Crains reports that it posted a $251 million loss in Q1 2016 and a loss of $230 million in Q2. To “stop the bleeding,” Elon Musk (a donor to both the Obama and Clinton campaigns and the Clinton Foundation), who owns more than 20 percent of the company, announced that Tesla (of which he also owns more than 20 Percent) would purchase SolarCity—this after as many as 15 other potential buyers and investors looked at the company and decided to pass. SolarCity even considered selling the solar panel manufacturing business.

 

Both SolarCity and Tesla are, according to the Buffalo News, facing a “cash bind”—this despite receiving billions in federal and state grants and tax credits as I’ve previously addressed. Tesla is described as “cash-eating electric vehicle and battery making businesses.” For SolarCity, its model—which finances its solar panel installations, in order to make a profit on a lease that can be as long as 30 years, while it collects the lucrative government incentives worth billions (a practice for which Solar City is currently under Congressional investigation)—requires constantly raising new money from investors. Once the Tesla deal was announced, SolarCity’s lenders started to pull back.

 

The Buffalo News reports: “Stock in SolarCity…now trades for $4 a share less, or 19 percent less, than what Tesla is offering—a gap indicating that investors are uncertain the deal will be completed.” Additionally, the deal is being challenged by four separate lawsuits—which could delay the deal. Addressing the merger, one analyst said: “We see a lot more that can go wrong than can go right.”

 

Then there is the manufacturing angle. Originally, the Buffalo plant was going to manufacture high-efficacy solar panel modules developed by Silevo—a company SolarCity bought in 2014. Crain’s reports that it will instead produce complete solar roofs. Something it says “Dow Chemical recently abandoned after five years because it could not find a way to make a profit on the technology.” But then, the Buffalo News says: “The initial production in Buffalo is expected to include photovoltaic cells that SolarCity purchases from suppliers and are used in the products that will be assembled in the South Park Avenue factory.”

 

Whatever the plant builds or manufactures, getting it operating will be expensive—even with the New York taxpayers owning the building and equipment—and will drain scarce cash from SolarCity at a time when its financing costs have increased.

 

Buffalo residents wonder if they’ll be stuck with the world’s largest empty warehouse and without the promised jobs.

 

No wonder the entire project is in doubt. Because of the Cuomo administration corruption allegations, other proposed job-creators, including IBM, have pulled out until the probe is completed.

 

For now, Cuomo is not a part of the criminal complaint—though his name is mentioned many times—and he claims he knew nothing about it, nor does he think he’s a target of the ongoing federal probe. “It is almost inconceivable the governor didn’t know what was going on,” Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said. “And if he didn’t know what was going on, you can argue he should have known.”

 

Bharara has suggested that the better name for the program would be: “The Buffalo Billion Fraud and Bribery Scheme.”

 

Yep, the Buffalo Billion project is a “symbol” of the political promises and crony corruption—“everything we’re doing”—that takes taxpayers dollars to reward political donors and then walks away when the jobs don’t materialize.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Leave a comment

Fine examples of true citizens participating as they should … NOT
avatar

 

I am not a real fan of INFO WARS, but they tell the story as well as anyone at this point.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Leave a comment

Conspiracy Brew 9/24/16
avatar

ConspiracyBrews

 

Note: On October 1st,  NM State Auditor Tim Keller will give a presentation and take questions.

Conspiracy Brews @ SW Secondary Learning Center 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM 24 September 2016

Follow Conspiracy.Brews on Facebook

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday.  Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting.   For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact:  ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.

Conspiracy Brews

 

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

Benjamin Franklin

 

Not your average political discussion group!

 

Sept 24, 2016

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center
10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.

 

 

 *** Quotes of the Week ***

 

“After I’m dead I’d rather have peole ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”

 

Cato the Elder

 

That is the greatest fallacy, the wisdom of old men.  They do no grow wise.  They grow careful.”


Earnest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms, 1929)


***
Suggested Topics*** 

 — Do you support the reestablishment of the Death Penalty?

 

– Shall we discuss the legislative special session?

 

– What is the future of oil in our state?

 

*** Light Quotes of the Week ***

 

“After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes.  He said, No hablo ingles’.”


Ronnie Shakes

 

“A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with peper and vinegar, and then thrown out.”

Samuel Johnson

 

“I hate women because they always know where things are.”

 

James Thurber

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Leave a comment

Edgewood Food Pantry & Clothing Distribution Today 9/22/2016
avatar

Edgewood_Mobile_Food_Pantry_Flyer_Sept_2013-page-0

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Leave a comment

Marita: Tiny Cars In Mexico … Made to Adobe Standards??
avatar

My title: I hope Marita will not mind.

Link to: Blame for Ford’s Mexico move falls on Obama administration

 

Greetings!

 

As is so often the case, I had several options for topics for this week’s column. You know I like to address a fresh angle on a current news story, and I love politics—and that is where I went with this week’s column: Blame for Ford’s Mexico move falls on Obama administration (attached and pasted-in-below). Obviously, Ford’s Mexico move made headlines last week. But I had an idea about that I wasn’t hearing in the news coverage. On Thursday, with the subject line: “An idea for Trump on The Ford story. I may write on this for my September 19 column.” I sent the following to Rep. Kevin Cramer—Trump’s energy advisor:

I haven’t heard anyone talk about this angle, but here’s what I understand. Ford is moving production of its smaller cars to Mexico because they are unprofitable to manufacture in the US. In Mexico they will have lower labor costs and, presumably, less regulation. But, apparently, the cars America wants to buy, the SUVs and trucks are profitable, even with union labor costs. This should raise the question: Why does a car company make cars that are not profitable? Or, Why not raise the price. On the price question, the answer is probably that they’d price themselves out of the market in comparison to cars from Korea and Japan. The bigger question is why make cars that you cannot make profitably? This is exactly in Trump’s wheelhouse. The answer, of course, is regulation. In order to meet the tough CAFE standards, a car company’s fleet must reach a certain mileage average and small cars are needed to balance out the fleet.

 

I received a response from his team, encouraging me to write on the topic.

 

When I did my research, I found two other outlets that had addressed the idea—though not as completely as I’ve done. I also found that the CAFÉ Standards are up for review in mid-2017.

 

I’ve tied the news in with this other information and produced a complete, and fresh, package on the angle. I hope you (and your readers) find it interesting. For those of you who publish my work, I have an alternate title suggestion: “Making America a place where it makes sense to invest.” Of course, you are always welcome to give it a title you believe works well for your audience.

 

Thanks for your interest!

 

Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, inc.

505.239.8998

rp_marita-noon-2015-turquiose-e1440459257510.jpg

For immediate release: September 19, 2016

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1015

 

 

Blame for Ford’s Mexico move falls on Obama administration

Ford Motor Company made headlines on Wednesday, September 9, when, during an investor conference, CEO Mark Fields told attendees that it will invest $1.6 billion building a manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and will move all of its small car production there during the next two to three years.

 

The announcement was hardly news as Ford has been talking about the shift for more than a year. But in the throes of an election that has both candidates decrying companies that send jobs to low-wage countries, the decision was an invitation for attention. The next day, during a speech in Flint, MI, Donald Trump declared that it was: “horrible.” He’s previously called the proposed move “an absolute disgrace” and promised to punish Ford with a 35 percent tariff on cars made in Mexico that are then sold in America—which he believes will prevent them from moving production out of the U.S.

 

No one wants American jobs to go away—and Ford plans to build more profitable vehicles in the plants that currently produce the Focus and C-Max small cars. It claims it is not going anywhere and that the U.S. is its home. Reports do indicate that no jobs at the Wayne, MI, plant will be lost, as it will likely be converted to building the new mid-size Ranger pick-up truck and, possibly, a new Bronco compact sport-utility.

 

But there’s more to the story that isn’t generally being addressed.

 

Earlier this year, Fields told CNBC: “We’re always going to invest where it makes sense for business.”

 

Obviously, it no longer makes “sense” to invest in small car production in America. Most of the news surrounding the move to Mexico addressed the benefit of low-cost labor. According to the Detroit Free Press: “The industry has known for decades that domestic manufacturers struggle to make a profit on small cars.” In Slate’s MoneyBox blog, Jordan Weissmann says: “You can protest that Ford should find a way to consistently churn out profits while manufacturing small cars at home, but that’s easier said than done.”

 

The number of auto jobs in Mexico is up 40 percent from 2008, while they are only up in the U.S. by 15 percent over the same period. Reuters reports: “American automakers pay Mexican workers $8 to 10 an hour, including benefits.” By comparison, Ford’s labor costs average $57 per hour at home.

 

Even with the huge labor cost differential, American car companies’ trucks and SUVs are profitable to manufacture in the U.S. and they are the vehicles Americans want to buy—which should raise the question: Why do car companies make small cars when they can’t make them profitably? The answer is the story not being addressed in the current coverage of Ford. And this is where Trump could, possibly, change the outcome.

 

In a free-market world, companies that want to stay in business should stop activities that lose money and focus on those that make money. Yet, the big three automakers, continue to produce small cars that for years have made little, if any, money.

 

Business Insider explains: “If Ford is going to keep them around, it needs to address the profit problem. Americans don’t want to buy small vehicles at the moment (actually, they almost never want to buy small cars), so Ford’s only rationale for continuing to build them is to satisfy the more stringent fuel-economy standards in the future.” Those fuel standards are called CAFE—which stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy. In short, it means that car companies can only sell the bigger vehicles that Americans want, if it also produces cars that achieve very high fuel efficiency (including electric vehicles, in which Ford is investing heavily) that results in an “average” of the mandated miles per gallon—which is now 54.5 by 2025.

 

Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, blames the Ford move on, along with other draconian government policies, the CAFE standards: “The CAFE standards, which began in 1975, require auto manufacturers to meet government-imposed fuel economy standards across a fleet of cars. In order to meet those standards, which have been dramatically increased under President Obama, carmakers have to make light, inexpensive cars with high fuel economy to offset their trucks and SUVs with lower fuel economy. And electric cars really help their fuel economy balance. So the companies make minimally or even unprofitable small cars and electric vehicles so they can sell their popular and profitable large products—and hope for a profit in the end. By moving their small cars to Mexico, which has skilled but cheaper labor, Ford hopes to break even or make a little profit off of them.”

 

While the CAFE standards have increased dramatically under the Obama administration, and have also increased costs for consumers, most people don’t realize that they are not set in stone. Brad Plumer, senior editor for VOX.com outlines the options: “A new president can revise them, up or down. These CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) rules are scheduled to come up for a midterm review in 2017. At that point, automakers may lobby to allow the standards to rise more slowly—particularly if sales of fuel-efficient vehicles have been sluggish due to low oil prices. Green groups, meanwhile, could push to make the standards stricter, or to have them keep increasing past 2025, to push vehicle emissions down even further.”

 

A President Trump could, perhaps, by promising to allow car companies to make whatever kind of cars they want to make, entice Ford to keep its money in America—though, admittedly, there are other factors (such as trade deals) that make manufacturing small cars attractive in Mexico. CAFE is just one of the many policies that make doing business difficult in America.

 

Revising the CAFE standards, which could reduce the cost of future cars and would remove government intrusion from vehicle selection, is something Trump can do that would make doing business in America “make sense” again for U.S. car companies. For all business, let’s make America a place where it makes sense to invest.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Leave a comment

Marita Noon: A new international example for bad energy policy
avatar

Link to: A new international example for bad energy policy

 

Greetings!

 

My column for the week of August 29, A new international example for bad energy policy (attached and pasted-in-below), has the usual hallmarks of my writing.

 

First, it is underreported. I haven’t heard, seen, or read anything from the American media about the South Australian energy crisis. Yet, it has huge implications for U.S. energy policy. I did a lot of research in preparing to write it and communicated with several of the folks cited in the column.

 

It ties several news stories together that have not previously been joined to create a fresh commentary. Last week, I was alerted to the story from The Economist, It’s not easy being green. I was interested in it because it addressed the failure of Germany’s green energy policies—something I’ve addressed frequently over the years. Then I discovered the South Australia story in the Financial Times. Bingo! I could connect the dots. I know, it is a big story and getting it all in made for a long report. Sorry.

 

The heart of the story is an over reliance on wind turbines and I haven’t written on wind energy for a few months—so it was time.

 

Last, toward the end of A new international example for bad energy policy, I was able to bring in the important political ramifications. Because it is important for folks to understand how the forced renewables really impact both electricity supply and the economy, I hope you will post, pass on, an/or personally enjoy A new international example for bad energy policy.

 

Thanks for your interest!

 

Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, inc.

505.239.8998

 

rp_marita-noon-2015-turquiose-e1440459257510.jpg

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1469

 

 

A new international example for bad energy policy

If a country’s goal is to decrease carbon emissions by increasing reliance on renewable energy, it only makes sense to install the new equipment in the location with the best potential—both in geography and government.

 

For Australia, which has a national Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 33,000 gigawatt hours of electricity generated by defined renewable sources by 2020, South Australia (SA) is that place. According to SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, who is also the Energy Minister, the federal government had determined that SA is where “the best conditions for wind farms” could be found. The state government was amenable, with SA Premier Jay Wetherill promising to make Adelaide, its capitol city, “the first ‘carbon neutral’ city by 2050.” The state’s RET is for 50 percent renewable energy by 2025. Wetherall, in 2014, claimed: “This new target of half of the state’s power to be generated by renewable sources will create jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries.”

 

In reality, SA has now found that talk is cheap, but renewable energy isn’t.

Australian renewable power plants

Australian renewable power plants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision to set a 50 percent renewable target is now being called “foolish,” by Tony Wood, an analyst at think-tank Grattan Institute, and “complete naivety and foolishness” according to Lindsay Partridge, chief executive at Brickworks, one of the nation’s leading providers of building products.

 

Now the largest producer of wind power, SA has enough installed capacity that, under ideal conditions, it could meet 100 percent of the current electricity demand. “However, wind generation tends to be lower at times of maximum demand,” according to the Australian Energy Regulator. “In South Australia, wind typically contributes 10 percent of its registered capacity during peaks in summer demand.” In fact, on some days, Jo Nova explains, they actually “suck electricity instead of generating it.”

 

Last month, SA experienced an energy crisis that The Australian, the country’s largest newspaper, blamed on “an over-reliance of untrustworthy and expensive wind and solar.” The paper warned that the federal RET “will force other states down the path taken by South Australia, which has the highest and most variable energy prices in the national electricity grid.” Nova adds: “South Australia has more ‘renewable’ wind power than anywhere else in Australia. They also have the highest electricity bills, the highest unemployment, the largest number of ‘failures to pay’ and disconnections. Coincidence?”

 

In July, the confluence of several factors resulted in a huge spike in electricity prices—as much as 100 times the norm.

 

In May, pushed out of the market by subsidized wind, SA’s last coal-fueled power plant was closed. Even before then, The Australian reported electricity prices were “at least 50 percent higher than in any other state.” According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, the average daily spot price in SA was $46.82 per megawatt hour. After the power plant was turned off: $80.47. In June: $123.10—more than double the previous year. In July: $262.97.

 

Fred Moore, CEO of SA components manufacturer Alfon Engineering, addressing the electricity price hikes that are smashing small and medium business, says his latest electricity contract had increased by almost 50 percent. Until the end of May, his businesses electricity bill was about $3,000 a month and is now about $4,500 a month. He says: “I don’t know how long the company is going to be able to afford it.”

 

As a result of the loss of coal, when there’s no wind or sun, SA is now reliant on natural gas generation and from coal-fueled electricity being imported through a single connector from neighboring Victoria.

 

In part, due to a calm, cold winter (weather that is not favorable to wind farms), natural gas demand is high and so are prices. Additionally, the Heywood interconnector was in the midst of being upgraded—which lowered capacity for the coal-fueled electricity on which SA relies. Because of SA’s abandoning coal-fueled electricity generation and its increased reliance on wind, The Australian reports: “The national energy market regulator has warned that South Australia is likely to face continued price volatility and ‘significantly lower’ electricity availability.”

 

Then came the brutal cold snap, which caused more folks to turn on their electric heaters—thus driving up demand. The left-leaning, Labour state officials were prompted to plead for more reliable fossil-fuel-generated power. With the connector constrained, the only option was to turn on a mothballed gas-fueled power station—a very expensive exercise. The gas plant had been shut down because of what amounts to dispatch priority policies—meaning if renewable energy is available, it must get used, pushing natural gas into a back-up power source. This, combined with the subsidized wind power, made the plant unprofitable. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) explains: “Energy experts say South Australia’s heavy reliance on wind energy is compounding its problems in two ways, first by forcing the remaining baseload generators to earn more revenue in shorter periods of time when the wind isn’t blowing, and secondly by forcing baseload coal and gas generators out of the market altogether.”

Big industrial users, who are the most affected by the power crisis, are “furious about the spike in higher power prices.” According to AFR, Adelaide Brighton Cement, one of the few energy-intensive manufacturing industries still operating in South Australia, said the fluctuating price was hurting business. “As a competitor in a global market, it is essential for us to have access to the availability of uninterrupted economically competitive power.” In The Australian, Jacqui McGill, BHP’s Olympic Dam asset manager, agrees: “We operate in a global market…to be competitive globally, we need globally competitive pricing for inputs, of which energy is one.” The report adds that some major businesses in SA warn of possible shutdowns due to higher power prices—the result of a rushed transition to increased renewable energy. The Adelaide Advertiser reported: “some of the state’s biggest employers were close to temporarily closing due to surging SA electricity prices making business too expensive.” Not the job creation promised by Wetherall.

 

“Of course, if you were some sort of contrarian eccentric,” writes Judith Sloan, Contributing Economics Editor for The Australian, “you could argue that escalating electricity prices, at both the wholesale and retail level, have made manufacturing in Australia increasingly uncompetitive and so the RET has indirectly contributed to the meeting of the emissions reduction target—but not in a good way.”

 

The SA energy crisis serves as a wake-up call and a warning to the other states, as the problem is, according to Koutsantonis, “coming to New South Wales and Victoria very soon.” But it should also, as the Financial Times reports: “provide lessons to nations rapidly increasing investment in renewables.”

 

Malcolm Roberts, CEO at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, called the situation in SA a “test case” for integrating large scale renewable energy generation into the electricity grid. According to Keith Orchison, former managing director of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (from 1991 to 2003), now retired and working as a consultant and as the publisher of Coolibah Commentary newsletter and “This is Power” blog, current policy is driven by “ideology, politicking and populism.”

 

Roberts added: “No technology is perfect. Coal is great for base-load power, but it’s not so great for peak demand but gas is well suited for meeting peak demand. You need gas as an insurance policy for more renewables.” Even the Clean Energy Council’s chief executive, Kane Thornton, in the AFR, “conceded conventional power generation such as gas would most likely be needed as a back-up.”

 

Perhaps the best explanation for SA’s energy crisis came from the Australian Energy Council, formerly the Electricity Supply Association of Australia, which called it an: “accidental experiment in how far you can push technologies such as wind and solar power in to an electricity grid before something breaks.” According to Orchison: “The council says that intermittent renewables at scale reduces carbon emissions but ultimately increases end-user prices and system reliability risks.”

 

On August 13, The Economist, in an article titled It’s not easy being green, addressed the three goals of Germany’s energy transformation: “to keep energy supply reliable; to make it affordable; and to clean it up to save the environment, with a target of cutting emissions by 95% between 1990 and 2050.” All three of which, Clemens Fuest, of the Munich-based Ifo Institute think tank, says, “will be missed.” He calls Germany “an international example for bad energy policy.” Now we can add South Australia, and, perhaps, most of Australia, as another.

 

This is the result, Orchison says, of “pursuing a purist view at the political expense of power reliability.”

 

The question remains: will America learn from these bad examples, or will we continue down the path President Obama has pushed us onto—spending billions, achieving little environmental benefit, and raising rates on households and industry? The result of November’s election will provide the answer.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita Noon: A new international example for bad energy policy

Marita Noon: From fracking to flatulance: the all-out assault on methane
avatar

Link to: From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane

Greetings!

I first focused on the methane story back in May when I heard a speaker address it at the Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference. Sometime after that, KSVP radio in Artesia asked me to respond to a piece from the New Mexico Sierra Club—which I did. From that time on, I knew I would be writing on Methane. Then, through communication with my friends at the Heartland Institute (where I am pleased to be considered a Policy Advisor), I found that they were doing an extensive Policy Brief on the topic. We agreed that I’d wait to address methane until the planned report was available.

I received the final draft on Friday morning. I hadn’t previously realized that it was a direct response to an earlier report written by Bill McKibben. Highlighter in hand, I read McKibben’s piece first. Wow! I could easily see why the Heartland team felt the need to address it. I then read the 29-page response written by research fellow for energy and environment policy Isaac Orr (now available through a link in my column and through the Heartland website). Saturday morning I wrote this week’s column: From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane (attached and pasted-in-below). It is part overview of Orr’s work and part my response to McKibben’s. I encourage those interested in the topic to fully read both sources.

Due to the nature of the topic, From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane is a bit more wonkish, less snarky, than my norm—but I think it is still a good read. I hope you agree!

It is also a bit long. I don’t have the 900- or 600-word print versions ready yet. But if you publish my work and would prefer the shorter text, please let me know. I’ll have the 900-word version done within a few hours.

Please post, pass on and/or personally enjoy From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane.

rp_marita-noon-2015-turquiose-e1440459257510.jpg

Thanks for your interest!

Marita Noon

Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, inc.

505.239.8998

For immediate release: August 22, 2016

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1454

From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane

What is the “biggest unfinished business for the Obama administration?” According to a report from Bill McKibben, the outspoken climate alarmist who calls for all fossil fuels to be kept in the ground, it is “to establish tight rules on methane emissions”—emissions that he blames on the “rapid spread of fracking.”

McKibben calls methane emissions a “disaster.” He claims “methane is much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide” and that it does more damage to the climate than coal. Methane, CH4, is the primary component of natural gas.

Apparently, his progressive friends in California agree, as they are now, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ): “seeking to curb the natural gas emanating from dairy farms”—more specifically cow manure and flatulence. The August 12 editorial says that the California Air Resources Board “suggests that dairy farms purchase technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to customers.” It acknowledges that the supposed cure would only be cost-effective with “substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits.” WSJ points out that while California’s proposed regulations might produce the “least GHG intensive” gallon of milk in the world, it would also be the “most expensive.”

To buttress his anti-fracking argument, McKibben is selective on which studies he cites. He starts with a paper from “Harvard researchers” that shows increased methane emissions between 2002 and 2014 but doesn’t pinpoint the source of the methane. He, then, relies heavily on “a series of papers” from known fracking opponents: Cornell Scientists Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea. Within his report, McKibben mentions Howarth’s bias, but, I believe, intentionally never mentions Ingraffea’s. Earlier this year, in sworn testimony, Ingraffea admitted he’d be lying if he said that every one of his papers on shale gas was “entirely objective.” Additionally, a group that Ingraffa co-founded and for which he serves as Board Chair, Emeritus: Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, received, at least, tens of thousands of dollars in coordination with wealthy foundations to support the broad movement of opposition to shale gas drilling.

Because of bias, McKibben claims to reach out to an “impeccably moderate referee”: Dan Lashof. Mckibben then goes on to report on Lashof as having been “in the inner circles of climate policy almost since it began.” In addition to writing reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and crafting Obama’s plan to cut “coal plant pollution,” Lashof was the “longtime head of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council” and he now serves as COO for “billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America.” Lashof is hardly an “impeccably moderate referee.”

Because McKibben goes to great lengths trying to appear balanced in his conclusions, a casual reader of his report might think the research cited is all there is and, therefore, agree with his cataclysmic views. Fortunately, as a just-released paper makes clear, much more research needs to be considered before cementing public policy, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tight rules on methane emissions.”

In the 28 peer-reviewed pages (with nearly 70 footnotes) of Bill McKibben’s terrifying disregard for fracking facts, Isaac Orr, research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute, states: “Although McKibben—a journalist, not a scientist—accurately identifies methane as being exceptionally good at capturing heat in Earth’s atmosphere, his ‘the-sky-is-falling’ analysis is based on cherry-picking data useful to his cause, selectively interpreting the results of other studies, ignoring contradicting data, and failing to acknowledge the real uncertainties in our understanding of how much methane is entering the atmosphere. In the end, methane emissions aren’t nearly as terrifying as McKibben claims.”

In the Heartland Institute Policy Brief, Orr explains why it has been difficult to achieve consistent readings on methane emissions: “Tools have been developed only recently to measure accurately methane emissions, with new and better equipment progressively replacing less perfect methods.” He then details the various methods:

  • Direct measurement of emissions, on-site, identifies methane emissions from specific sources;
  • Ambient Air Monitoring uses aerial surveys, allows large areas to be surveyed, with results affected by uncertainties;
  • Life-Cycle Analyses draw on multiple sources to provide an integrated measure of emissions from the entire natural gas value chain; and
  • Meta-Analyses combine the results of multiple studies using different methodologies or databases to search for overarching trends, recurring facts, and robust findings.

Throughout the section on methodology, Orr draws attention to the results of the various techniques—which he says shows “great uncertainty about how much methane is entering the atmosphere, how much is produced by oil-and-natural gas production, and how emissions can be managed in the future.” He also points out that more than 75 studies examining methane emissions from oil and gas systems have been done, yet “McKibben chose an outdated study [Howarth/Ingraffea] that used unrealistic assumptions and reached inaccurate conclusions.” Additionally: “Natural gas producers have a powerful economic motive to reduce methane leakage and use technologies that capture methane emissions during the drilling and well completion phase.”

Orr calls McKibben’s assertions that methane emissions are from the oil-and-gas sector: “simplistic” and “inappropriate.” Regarding the Harvard study, he explains: “Estimating the contributions from different source types and regions is difficult because there are many different sources of methane, and those sources overlap in the same spatial area. For example, methane is produced naturally in wetlands—and it is worth noting that environmentalists support ‘restoring’ wetlands despite the increases in methane emissions this would cause. Methane also is produced by agriculture through growing rice and raising livestock, fast-growing activities in developing countries. This makes it difficult to calculate exactly where methane is coming from and what sources should be controlled.”

Based on McKibben’s approach, other sections of The Heartland report include: Methane and Global Warming, Repeating Gasland Falsehoods, and What’s the Fracking Alternative?—with the latter being my favorite.

Because McKibben’s ultimate goal is to keep fossil fuels in the ground, he goes to great lengths to support how wind and solar—the fracking alternatives—have progressed (an argument that Orr takes apart). However, a careful read of McKibben’s version of the story reveals that he acknowledges that his preferred energy sources are uneconomic. Within his report, McKibben admits that fracking has “brought online new shale deposits across the continent.” He sarcastically derides politicians who viewed fracking as a win-win situation by suggesting they were cynically saying they “could appease the environmentalists with their incessant yammering about climate change without having to run up the cost of electricity.”

McKibben even attacks President Obama’s support of natural gas—made abundant thanks to the companion technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. (He’s not too happy with Secretary Clinton’s efforts either.) Here are a few of the key phrases McKibben uses in that paragraph: (Note: McKibben sees these as negatives.)

  • “The fracking boom offered one of the few economic bright spots”;
  • “Manufacturing jobs were actually returning from overseas, attracted by newly abundant energy”; and
  • “The tool that made restrictions on coal palatable.”

Combine these McKibben statements and he is clearly aware that his plan will take away one of the few economic bright spots; that due to higher priced electricity, manufacturing jobs will leave our shores; and coal regulations will be unpalatable. While McKibben touts the oft-mentioned line about Denmark generating 42 percent of its power from wind, Orr reminds us that the figure only accounts for electricity—not total energy. When factoring in all of Denmark’s energy consumption, wind, solar, and geothermal only account for 5 percent of the energy mix and, as Orr explains, Denmark has the highest electricity rates in Europe and is still dependent on fossil fuels for the vast majority of its energy.

I am often asked why the anti-fossil fuel crowd has so recently turned against the decades-old technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has provided such economic and environmental benefits and has become even safer due to ever-increasing advances. In his report, McKibben states what is essentially the answer I often give: “One of the nastiest side effects of the fracking boom, in fact, is that the expansion of natural gas has undercut the market for renewables.” It has upset the entire world-view of people like McKibben who’d banked on oil and natural gas being scarce—and therefore expensive. In that paradigm, wind and solar power would be the saviors. Now they are an expensive redundancy.

Worrying about whether methane emissions come from oil-and-gas activities, from agriculture, such as cow flatulence or rice farming, or from naturally occurring seeps may seem irrelevant to the average energy consumer’s day. However, when you consider that long-term, expensive public policy is being based on this topic, it is important to be informed fairly and accurately—and to communicate with your elected officials accordingly.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita Noon: From fracking to flatulance: the all-out assault on methane

MARITA NOON: The few, the loud, the anti-fossil crowd
avatar

Link to: The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd

Greetings!

Like so many weeks, I had several themes I was considering for my weekly column. I printed out research on two and read through them—highlighter in hand. Nope. Neither one captured my attention. I went back to my inbox as I recalled receiving a release on the anti-fracking ballot initiatives in Colorado. I found the notice and did some additional research. There was my story! The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd (attached and pasted-in-below) allowed me to connect several other similar news items on which I’ve previously written. While the story is about Colorado, it has national implications and it is important to the November elections—though this week’s column doesn’t have a direct presidential election connection (I thought I’d give my readers a break on that).

As I said just this morning on a radio interview, the average person doesn’t understand the importance of hydraulic fracturing on America’s new era of energy abundance and, therefore, why the anti-fossil fuel crowd works so hard to ban fracking. The Colorado story shows they are not as successful as they want people to believe they are. As The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd illustrates, they’ve even resorted to stagecraft to disguise their dwindling support—though that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have a battle on our hands. The won’t give up without a fight.

Please post, pass on, and/or personally enjoy The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd.

rp_marita-noon-2015-turquiose-e1440459257510.jpg

Thanks for your interest!

Marita Noon

Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, inc.

505.239.8998

For immediate release: August 15, 2016

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

The few, the loud, the anti-fossil fuel crowd

If you get your news from the mainstream media, you likely think the views expressed by the environmental activists represent the majority of Americans. After all, their highly visible protests against the Keystone pipeline—sit-ins in front of the White House, locking themselves to the White House fence and then being arrested for it, and parading down the National Mall carrying a huge inflated tube emblazoned with the words: “Just say no to Keystone”—were effective. Despite repeated polling that showed a majority of Americans supported the pipeline, with a small minority opposed, the loud theatrics of the anti-fossil fuel crowd eventually won out. After years of stall tactics, President Obama finally bowed to their demands and said no to the job-creating infrastructure project.

Earlier this year, the usual group of suspects, led by well-known anti-fracking activist Bill McKibben, planned a “global wave of resistance” called BreakFree2016—scheduled to take place from May 3-15—on six continents. The event’s website announced the various activities, including an appearance and speech by McKibben, a Vermont resident, at the Colorado rally that promised: the “largest mass mobilizations for climate action in the history of Colorado.” It confirmed that there would be “civil disobedience.”

Did you hear about it? Probably not.

A news report of the planned Colorado activities said: “And on May 14, 350 Colorado is planning a day of speeches, live music and activities protesting oil and gas developments close to neighborhoods and schools in Thornton. The goal is to draw 1,000 people to the upcoming events.” The website, post-event, states: “about 800 people joined the action throughout the day” with “about 30-40 people” still there at the end of the day for the dramatic “frack-site” invasion. Yet, as even their own Facebook page photos indicate, not even 100 were present for the big McKibben speech. Without vendors and media, he may have had no audience at all.

After flying in to Denver, and then being driven to the protest site in a limousine, McKibben jetted off to Los Angeles, California, where he was joined by the greens’ “Daddy Warbucks,” billionaire political campaign donor Tom Steyer—with much the same results: a few hundred protesting fossil fuels and, as Energy In Depth reported, “the very social and economic underpinnings of liberal democracy.” The typical anti-everything protestors were present—but only a few.

In Iowa, as I addressed last week, a meeting of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition—which according to the organizer includes those with “concerns about the impact it could have on the environment, farmers who worry about their cropland and religious groups who view expanding use of fossil fuels as a moral issue because of climate change”—expected a crowd of 200. Instead, according to the Ottumwa Courier, “only 40 or so were seated when the meeting began. Others trickled in as the meeting progressed.”

Now, Colorado is ground zero for “one of the biggest environmental fights in the country this year,” as Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director for Food and Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based group advocating for safety in food production and oil and gas production, called it. Two ballot initiatives, 75 and 78, have the potential to, according to Colorado regulators, “effectively halt new oil and gas development in as much as 90 percent of the state.” In order to get the initiatives on the ballot, 98,492 valid signatures needed to be turned into the Colorado Secretary of State by August 8—no later than 3:00 p.m.

In June, The Tribune reported that Tricia Olson, who has pumped in most of the funding for a group backing initiatives 75 and 78, hoped to “collect 160,000 signatures to account for the invalid signatures that inevitably pop up.” (Politico just announced: “recent campaign finance reports were filed with the Colorado secretary of state, the Sierra Club gave $150,000, making it the largest single reported contributor to the anti-fracking effort.”)

Because the Colorado Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision on May 2, declared local fracking limits “invalid and unenforceable,” as state law trumps local ordinances, Olson sees the ballot initiatives as their “last ditch effort.”

On Monday, August 8, exercising stagecraft, at 2:30 p.m., dozens of supporters emptied a U-Haul truck and delivered box after box of signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. They celebrated their “victory.” 350 Colorado, one of the groups behind the measures, proclaimed: “We did it! Over 100,000 signatures delivered on initiatives to limit fracking!”—not the 160,000 originally hoped for, and likely not enough to get on the ballot in November.

By CBS Denver’s accounting about 105,000 signatures were turned in—most in half empty boxes. Lynn Bartels, Colorado Secretary of State Communications Director, tweeted: “Proponents of fracking measures turned in lots of boxes with very few petitions in them.” Once the petitions were consolidated, there were roughly 50 empty boxes. Simon Lomax, an associate energy policy analyst with the conservative Independence Institute in Denver and a consultant who advises pro-business groups, said: “To make it look more impressive they added a bunch of empty boxes, or boxes with very few petitions. It just sort of shows, these groups don’t do substance, they just do deceptive publicity stunts.”

On CBS Denver, former Secretary of State Scott Gessler explained that you need about 98,000 signatures to get on the ballot because, for a variety of reasons, at least 30 percent are rejected, you need to submit at least 140,000. He says that for the 105,000 signatures turned in to qualify would be “unprecedented,” something that “has never occurred in Colorado for a ballot initiative.” According to Gessler, the effort is “doomed”—though we will not know for sure until next month when the final counts are released.

Noted election reporter and national affairs columnist for the National Review, John Fund, told me: “If there is enough public support for an issue to get the votes needed to pass, getting a surplus of signatures to get it on the ballot is an easy task.”

Many Democrats, including Governor John Hickenlooper, support hydraulic fracturing and have come out against the ballot initiatives. Politico posits that because mainstream environmentalists “fear that their movement will suffer a demoralizing defeat if the two proposals make it in front of the voters,” they “hope the ballot initiatives will die instead.”  Additionally, “A decisive referendum on oil and gas production would increase calls for [Hillary] Clinton to explicitly take a side.” She’s previously aligned with 75 and 78—which could spoil her attempts to attract moderate Republicans she’ll need to win the state.

Despite their drama and declared “victory,” it doesn’t seem that the Colorado anti-fossil fuel crowd has enough signatures, or support, to make it onto the November ballot. They may be loud, but, alas, they are few.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on MARITA NOON: The few, the loud, the anti-fossil crowd

Marita Noon: Those biojunk things again
avatar

Marita is good at pointing out the pits and foibles of the various renewable energy schemes.  This time is no different … Just different stuff crooks.  Have a look at,“set up for fraud.”

Greetings!

This week, like most, I had several topic options for my column. I settled on The Renewable Fuel Standard: “set up for fraud” (Attached and pasted-in-below) because it has all the hallmarks of the what I like to address: It contains fresh news items, connects the dots on previously unconnected stories, the heart of it is under-reported, it covers both energy and politics, and it should make readers mad. Additionally, it perfectly dovetails with the body of work I’ve done on Green-energy crony-corruption. I actually had a fun writing it—especially as I found more and more biodiesel fraud stories. Truly, I had no idea! I bet our readers don’t either.

Because RIN fraud is a complex scheme, The Renewable Fuel Standard: “set up for fraud” is on the long side—over 1700 words—I’ve already whittled it down to 900. The shorter version is attached. For those of you who publish my work, please use which ever version you feel works best for your readers—though it pained me to trim all those fraud stories.

I am optimistic that The Renewable Fuel Standard: “set up for fraud” will actually play a role in helping to shape RFS reform in 2017—though it will depend, in large part, on our next president. I believe that if Congress was to send such a bill to the White House, a President Trump would sign it—while a President Clinton, whose party platform calls for 100% renewable energy by 2050, wouldn’t.

Note: for my IPANM friends who receive this, I am sad not to be with you all this week for what would have been my 10th IPANM Annual Meeting. I’ll be in California where I’ll be speaking for the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES). I hope to see you at NMOGA in October!

Please post, pass on, and/or personally enjoy The Renewable Fuel Standard: “set up for fraud”.

 Thanks for your interest!

Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, inc.

505.239.8998

For immediate release: August 1, 2016

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1756

 

 

The Renewable Fuel Standard: “set up for fraud”

America’s rush to renewables has invited corruption and fraud.

Researcher Christine Lakatos and I, together, have produced the single largest body of work on green-energy crony-corruption. Our years of collaboration have revealed that those with special access and influence have cashed in on the various green-energy programs and benefitted from the mandates, rules, and regulations that accompany the huge scheme. Dozens of the projects, including biofuel, which required the unwitting investment of taxpayer dollars have failed—leaving employees without jobs, buildings without tenants, taxpayers without repayment, and cronies without pain (even snatching hefty bonuses on the way down). Most people know about Solyndra, the first bankruptcy, and some may know about Abengoa, the biggest bankruptcy, but there are many more.

These big projects allowed the politically connected to bilk taxpayers of billions and is the definition of corruption. But, there’s fraud in renewable energy, too—and, while it doesn’t hit us as hard as taxpayers, it does cost us as consumers.

Wednesday, July 20, representing the latest fraudster to be convicted—but not the first and surely not the last—“a jury found an Indiana man guilty of securities fraud and other crimes connected to a massive biodiesel fraud scheme,” reported Greenwire. It turns out, Jeffrey Wilson and his multistate cohorts pretended to manufacture biodiesel, which allowed them to claim renewable fuel credits—known as Renewable Identification Numbers or RINs. The Department of Justice said Wilson’s actions resulted in a $20 million loss to investors, $140 million in revenue, and $56 million in criminal profit.

I know more than most about the corruption surrounding green energy, but I hadn’t followed this. I dug further.

Just two weeks earlier, two men in Florida pled guilty to a “multistate biodiesel fraud scheme.” Biodiesel Magazine says Thomas Davanzo and Robert Fedyna operated several shell companies that were used to facilitate the “multistate scheme to defraud biodiesel buyers and U.S. taxpayers by fraudulently selling biodiesel credits and fraudulently claiming tax credits.”

Six months before, on December 21, 2015, two men were indicted on “101 charges alleging they abused incentives offered to companies that produced biodiesel fuels.” According to The Morning Call: “A federal prosecutor says they took subsidies for fuel they did not produce and sold renewable energy credits to unsuspecting buyers.” The charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, filing false tax documents, obstruction of the Internal Revenue Service, and obstructing a federal investigation. The indictment claims Dave Dunham and Ralph Tommaso used a complex scheme that reached from Lehigh Valley, PA, to Washington state and into Canada and allowed them to apply for and receive government subsidies for producing clean diesel.

Also in 2015, two Las Vegas men and an Australian man were sentenced to federal prison for schemes to generate and sell fraudulent biodiesel credits. In another case, Rodney Hailey, owner of Clean Green Fuels in Maryland, was convicted of selling $9 million in counterfeit RINs from his garage without even trying to make biodiesel. Hailey’s neighbors called authorities because they were alarmed by the “profusion of luxury cars” that showed up in his “suburban Baltimore neighborhood”—22 in all, claims a report in Bioenergy Connection. Then there is Jeffrey David Gunselman, owner of Absolute Fuels in Lubbock, TX, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas for lying about producing biodiesel fuel and selling the resulting renewable fuel credits. Reports indicate that he generated some 48 million RINs without actually producing any biodiesel fuel. He’s remembered for using his ill-gotten gain to purchase, among numerous luxury items, a demilitarized Patton tank.

The most interesting biodiesel fraud case may be that of Philip Rivkin, founder and chief executive of Houston-based Green Diesel who is now serving a 10-year sentence for selling fraudulent RINs. Over a seven-year period he concocted an elaborate scheme that included, according to Bloomberg: “a three-story steel skeleton crammed with pipes and valves”—some of which were not connected to anything. In late 2008, Green Diesel did reportedly produce a batch of about 130,000 gallons of biodiesel, but the quality was “too poor for commercial sale.”

Biodiesel RINs have become a valuable commodity because, as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), refiners are required to blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply and the RINs supposedly prove they’ve complied. Rivkin sold more than $78 million in sham RINs. He bragged about building a $500 million company without any debt. When he fled the U.S. in 2011, prior to his 2014 capture, he did so in his $3.4 million Canadair Challenger jet.

These cases of RIN fraud are just those who’ve been caught—but they all have a common thread. They aren’t the names we are used to in the green-energy corruption story like billionaires Warren Buffet and Tom Steyer or former politicos like Al Gore and Bill Richardson. They aren’t cronies who’ve used political connections to work the system. They are fraudsters who found a way to fortune through the flawed RFS—first enacted by Congress in 2005 and expanded in 2007—which contains a credit-trading program.

In a July 25 report on the RFS, Marlo Lewis, Jr., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, explains: “Each gallon of biofuel produced is assigned a unique 38-digit Renewable Identification Number (RIN). When a refiner sells a gallon of biofuel in the motor fuel market, it earns a RIN credit. A refiner that does not meet its annual obligation by actually blending and selling biofuel can comply by purchasing surplus RIN credits from another refiner that exceeded its obligation. A refiner can also bank surplus RIN credits to meet up to 20 percent of the following year’s obligation.”

Because the law requires ever-increasing quantities of biofuel be produced—even beyond what consumers want or most vehicles can handle—RINs offer refiners a way to presumably meet the mandates while providing the market with what it wants. But, according to Brendan E. Williams, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers executive vice president, biodiesel RINs are especially lucrative: “Ethanol RINs stay attached to physical gallons of ethanol until the ethanol gallon is blended with petroleum.  This separation usually occurs at terminals, which are rarely owned by ethanol producers. Once ethanol is blended, the RIN is detached and becomes a tradable commodity.  Therefore, rather than a refiner or ethanol producer, it is often the terminal operator who does the blending that controls ethanol RINs.  A refiner that has a terminal rack at the refinery for local gasoline distribution can also do this blending, but this is not the usual situation because refineries are not located everywhere.  Biodiesel RINs work differently. EPA allows biodiesel producers to detach the RIN as soon as the biodiesel is produced. There is no requirement for biodiesel to be blended to petroleum diesel before the RIN is detached. This difference highlights why there is more fraud in biodiesel. The biodiesel fraudsters lie about producing physical biodiesel just so they can generate RINs on paper to sell. This is made possible based on the previously mentioned fact that there is no requirement for biodiesel to be blended with petroleum diesel.” A graphic in the Bloomberg report adds: “Biodiesel RINs tend to cost more than ethanol RINs or other types because they are scarcer and can be used to satisfy multiple requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

“RIN swaps,” according to Bloomberg, “are usually agreed upon between companies, traders, and brokers via email, phone, texts, and chatroom messages.” The onus is on the buyers, “if the RINS are found to be fraudulent, the holder has to purchase new credits to replace the phony ones”—and the new credits must be purchased at the current price that may be higher than the original purchase.

Of course, the refiners’ purchase of RINs—and in the case of fraudulent RINs, the double purchase—is passed on to the consumer. We are stuck holding the bag for the fraudsters’ get-rich-quick scheme that is enabled by the RFS.

“Because refiners can buy them to satisfy their obligations to introduce renewable fuels into the national market,” Scott Irwin, an agriculture economic professor at the University of Illinois, according to The Morning Call, calls the RINs: “valuable.” He explains: “A combination of little regulation, the small-business nature of biodiesel producers and higher-than-expected prices for credits produced a rash of fraud. … It was kind of set up for fraud.”

Because the EPA, whose expertise is in things like oil spills and air pollution, isn’t equipped to handle these cases of sophisticated financial fraud, Bloomberg reports, it has reached out to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission—“which is itself stretched thin because of its responsibilities under Dodd-Frank.” The lack of oversight made the RFS biodiesel program a “government playground for con artists.”

The biofuel fraud is just one prong in the growing push for RFS reform. The economic and technical realities of the “blend wall,” as detailed in Lewis’ report, is another. On July 27, Bloomberg chronicled the history of the unlikely third prong: big green groups’ biofuel blunder. They’ve now turned against ethanol due to the agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland. Environmentalists, who once championed biofuels, are now seen as a factor in “improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.”

Reforming the RFS is not a partisan issue. Free market advocates don’t like the mandates. Consumers resist been forced to purchase something they don’t want. Environmentalists don’t like the loss of prairie land and damage to the water supply. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) says the RFS has “truly been a flop. The environmental promise has been transformed into an environmental detriment.”

The only resistance to calls for RFS repeal or reform comes from the biofuel producers lobby—though as I’ve previously addressed, corn ethanol would likely still be blended into our fuel supply at about the current levels as it is a valuable oxygenate that increases octane.

Lewis concludes his report with this admonition: “Congress should repeal the RFS so that consumer preference and competition, rather than central planning policies, determine which fuels succeed or fail in the U.S. marketplace. Failing that, Congress should sunset the RFS so it ends after 2022. In the meantime, the EPA should cap mandatory biofuel sales at the E10 blend wall, while allowing biofuel producers to sell as much additional renewable fuel as consumers actually want to buy.”

Every politician in Washington talks about getting rid of waste, fraud, and abuse. Getting rid of the RFS would go a long way to achieving that goal.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21.http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2009.asp Total energy is from BP Statistical Review.http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita Noon: Those biojunk things again

As if we did not know
avatar

Finally the list of organizations put upon by The Infernal Revenue Service (most of them) has been revealed.  There are many organizations that have chosen not to become involved.  You can read the story as provided by the Patriot Post just below:

IRS Enemies List Revealed

Nate Jackson · Jun. 7, 2016

Barack Obama’s IRS enemies list included a total of at least 466 organizations, the IRS has admitted after three years of legal wrangling. It only took a federal appeals court order. The total is a far cry from the 298 organizations the Treasury Department’s inspector general said had been targeted when the scandal first broke in May 2013. And the number also comes with a caveat: Though the vast majority were conservative groups, some number of leftist groups were on the list, but attorneys for the plaintiffs believe the IRS cast its net wider once the scandal was discovered so as to blunt the charges of an ideological bent to its targeting.

According to The Washington Times, “Sixty of the groups on the list released last month have the word ‘tea’ in their name, 33 have ‘patriot,’ eight refer to the Constitution, and 13 have ‘912’ in their name — which is the moniker of a movement started by conservatives. Another 26 group names refer to ‘liberty,’ though that list does include some groups that are not discernibly conservative in orientation.” The IRS redacted the names of 40 organizations that opted out of legal action. As Mark Alexander recounted, “A legal and tax advisor to The Patriot Post informed us that the Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, our education fund advocating Liberty and constitutional integrity, clearly ‘met the criterion for the corrupt IRS inquisition,’ but for a couple of reasons (which we can’t disclose publicly) we were passed over for review.”

The whole scheme was clearly an effort to derail conservative opposition to Obama’s re-election bid. Many of these groups were essentially unable to participate in the campaign, and we’ll never be able to quantify exactly how much that helped Obama. Yet Lois Lerner, one of the chief IRS officials at the center of the scandal, was able to retire in peace, and no other accountability has been forthcoming. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, confirmed in 2013 on promises to reform the agency, has stonewalled all efforts to do so.

And because Obama successfully avoided any kind of paper trail, we may never know the extent of his involvement. As Alexander wrote previously, the administration was “smart enough to use ‘cutouts’ between their office and the bureaucrats committing the offense. Cutouts are bureaucratic managers who act as surrogates to do the political bidding of elected officials. They are blamed and sacrificed for the ‘good of the cause,’ in order to protect (read: ‘provide plausible deniability for’) elected officials who feign outrage and indignation at the violation of law in support of their political agenda. When the president of the United States is the elected official behind a culture of corruption and abuse of power, the layers of cutouts make it nearly impossible to find impeachable evidence of executive collusion.”

On a final note, the Leftmedia has done nothing but circle the wagons. According to NewsBusters, “[I]t’s been 587 days since any network reported on the IRS scandal, when CBS This Morning made a mention of it on October 28, 2014. NBC last noted the targeting scandal 614 days ago and it’s been over two-years — a whopping 760 days — since ABC last mentioned it on the May 8, 2014 Good Morning America.” Hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil.

 Thanks for the story, The Patriot Post (http://patriotpost.us/subscribe/ )”
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on As if we did not know

Marita: It isn’t fracking
avatar

Marita tells us there is a whole lot of shakin’ going on, but not from frackin’.

Greetings!

A year-and-a-half ago I was on the Off the Grid program with Jesse Ventura. He asked me about the earthquakes caused by fracking. Ever since then, I’ve kept an eye out for news stories on the topic. Last week, the Wall Street Journal published this one: Earthquake Shakes Cushing Oklahoma. It piqued my interest.

I looked up more on the increasing earthquakes in Oklahoma and was surprised to learn that Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than California. Further research netted me a priceless clip on the topic from Rachel Maddow (be sure to check it out) that gave me the fuel I needed to write this week’s column: Shaking out the lies surrounding earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing (attached and pasted-in-below). Information on last week’s “Great ShakeOut” provided me with a fun opening that also connected the Taylor Swift quote at the closing. For my readers who are in the industry, you’ll find Shaking out the lies surrounding earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing is full of links to important information that will enhance your knowledge. For my general public readers, you’ll learn why the anti-fossil-fuel crowd wants to claim that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes—which it doesn’t.

I think I’ve provided a factual and fun piece on a technical topic. I hope you like it!

Please post, pass on, and/or personal enjoy Shaking out the lies surrounding earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing.

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

 

 

Shaking out the lies surrounding earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing

The Great ShakeOut, the annual “PrepareAthon” that advocates rp_Marita-Noon-2015-Turquiose-e1441081653998-240x300.jpgearthquake readiness, took place across the globe on October 15, at 10:15 AM—10/15 @10:15. Unless you have a child in a participating school, the “Ready Campaign” may have passed without your awareness. I grew up in Southern California, where earthquakes were so routine, we paid them no mind; we didn’t have earthquake drills.

But that was then. Now, the Great ShakeOut is a global campaign. Now, Oklahoma has more earthquakes than California—and students in Oklahoma participated on 10/15 at 10:15. As if choreographed, Oklahomans had a reminder 4.5 earthquake just days before the drill.

The anti-fossil crowd has declared the cause. Headlines claim: “Confirmed: Oklahoma Earthquakes Caused By Fracking” and “New study links Oklahoma earthquakes to fracking.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow gleefully teased the earthquakes in Oklahoma as “the story that might keep you up at night.” On her October 16 show, she stated that Oklahoma’s earthquakes are: “The terrible and unintended consequence of the way we get oil and gas out of the ground. …from fracking operations.” Yet, when her guest, Jeremy Boak, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director, corrected her, “it’s not actually frackwater,” she didn’t change her tune.

Despite the fact that the science doesn’t support the thesis, opponents of oil-and-gas extraction, like Maddow, have long claimed that the process of hydraulic fracturing is the cause of the earthquakes. Earthworks calls them “frackquakes” because the quakes, the organization says, are “fracking triggered earthquakes.”

The anti-crowd doesn’t want to hear otherwise. If you were to fully read the two previously mentioned news reports (linked above) that declare “fracking” as the culprit, you’d see that the actual text, and the study they reference, doesn’t say what the headlines insinuate. The 2014 study they cite, blames the earthquakes “on the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations”—which as Boak told Maddow is not “actually frackwater.” Even the Washington Post announced: “Fracking is not the cause of quakes. The real problem is wastewater.”

But the ruse goes on. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers announced: “The fracturing fluid seems to be lubricating existing faults that have not moved in recent years. The fracturing process is not creating new faults, but are exposing faults that already exist.”

Earthworks believes that states like Oklahoma are not doing enough to solve the problem. Its website says: “Despite the increasingly apparent threat posed by fracking-related earthquakes, many states are ignoring the issue.”

In fact, many scientific studies have been, and are being, done—as once the cause is determined, a remedy can be found. These studies, as the Washington Post reported, have concluded that “wastewater” is the problem.

If you don’t know what it is or how it is being disposed of, “wastewater” sounds scary. It is often called “toxic”—although it is naturally occurring. This wastewater, according to a study from Stanford researchers, is “brackish water that naturally coexists with oil and gas within the Earth.” As a part of the drilling and extraction process, the “produced water” is extracted from the oil and/or gas and is typically reinjected into deeper disposal wells. In Oklahoma, these wells are in the Arbuckle formation, a 7,000-foot-deep sedimentary formation under Oklahoma.

“Industry has been disposing wastewater into the Arbuckle for 60 years without seismicity,” Kim Hatfield told me. He is the chairman of the Induced Seismicity Working Group—which includes members from a variety of entities including the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oklahoma Department of Energy and Environment, and Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. Hatfield continued: “So, we know some level of disposal is safe. We need to figure out the exact mechanism by which this wastewater injection is triggering these seismic events and modify our procedures to prevent them.”

Addressing water quality, Hatfield explained that in the area of the seismicity, ten barrels of produced water—which contains five times more salt than ocean water—is generated for each barrel of oil.

The Stanford study, done by Stanford Professor Mark Zoback and doctoral student Rall Walsh, found that “the primary source of the quake-triggering wastewater is not so-called ‘flowback water’ generated after hydraulic fracturing operations.” Zoback, the Benjamin M. Page Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, states: “What we’ve learned in this study is that the fluid injection responsible for most of the recent quakes in Oklahoma is due to production and subsequent injection of massive amounts of wastewater, and is unrelated to hydraulic fracturing”—which is contradictory to the premise on which the study was launched.

Explaining the study, Walsh said: “it began with an examination of microseismicity—intentionally caused small quakes like those resulting from hydraulic fracturing,” which he referred to as their “jumping off point.” When I asked Walsh if he was surprised to find that fracking wasn’t the cause of the earthquakes, he told me: “We were familiar with the few cases where hydraulic fracturing was known, or suspected to be associated with moderate sized earthquakes. In the areas of Oklahoma where the earthquakes first started (just outside of Oklahoma City) we knew that the extraction process was predominantly dewatering, not hydraulic fracturing, which led us to suspect that produced water would be the source of the issue, even before we did the volume calculations to show it.”

Science writer Ker Than reports: “Because the pair were also able to review data about the total amount of wastewater injected at wells, as well as the total amount of hydraulic fracturing happening in each study area, they were able to conclude that the bulk of the injected water was produced water generated using conventional oil extraction techniques, not during hydraulic fracturing.” Additionally, Boak told me: “Less than five percent is actually frackwater.”

“So what?” you might ask. The distinction is important as there is an aggressive effort from the anti-fossil-fuel movement to regulate and restrict—even ban—hydraulic fracturing. The more scare tactics they can use, the more successful their efforts. They are unimpeded by truth. Remember the disproven claims about fracking causing tap water to catch on fire and those about fracking contaminating drinking water?

Now, you can add “Oklahoma earthquakes caused by fracking” to the list of untruths propagated by the anti-fossil-fuel crowd. The true headline should read: “Oklahoma earthquakes not caused by fracking.” But, that conflicts with their goal of ending all fossil-fuel use. More than ninety percent of the new oil-and-gas wells drilled in America use hydraulic fracturing. Therefore, if they can ban fracking, they end America’s new era of energy abundance and the jobs and economic stimulus it provides. Groups like Earthworks seem to hate the modern world.

Here some advice from singer Taylor Swift might be warranted. Instead of “getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world,” after all, she says: “And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate,” her solution is: “I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake. Shake it off.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita: It isn’t fracking

Marita: Rolling back the tide of big government overreach
avatar

Can we really be so lucky?  Marita thinks so.  Read below to find out what Marita thinks.

Greetings!

Several weeks ago, a federal judge overturned the Obama administration’s 2014 listing of the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as a threatened species. At the time, I thought about writing on it, even assumed it would be my column for that week. But, another news story caught my attention—and not that many average citizens really care about the LPC anyway. With every week that passed, other stories took precedence and the LPC became a stale topic.

However, this week, I’ve connected some dots—as I like to do— with the LPC decision to create: Rolling back the tide of big government overreach (attached and pasted-in-below).

Back in August, I wrote on WOTUS. Since then, including the LPC and WOTUS decision, there have been five distinct victories for responsible land use. While it does make for a long column, I address them all in Rolling back the tide of big government overreach. The other three are the hydraulic fracturing rule, the sage grouse, and the wolf reintroduction.

I am writing this introduction from the Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association where I have been able to share this good news with many of the attendees. When you string these five stories together, as I have done, it does offer encouragement.

Please post, pass on and/or personally enjoy Rolling back the tide of big government overreach.

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

For immediate release: October 5, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

 

 

Marita

The reason most often cited for the success of the nonpolitical candidates is the frustration with Washington; the sense that the system is broken. Voters feel that we have no control and that government has gone wild. Even people who don’t watch the news or closely follow politics are aware of the “overreach.” It seems that, perhaps, the messages the outsiders have been heralding on the trail has caught on.

Washington’s overreach has been rolled back—by courts and commissioners and, even, in response, the government itself. In little more than 30 days, there have been five distinct cases that you may have missed—each, a victory for responsible land use.

WOTUS

First was WOTUS, or the Waters of the U.S. rule—which was scheduled for full implementation on, Friday, August 28. WOTUS attempted to greatly expand the federal government’s authority over water and land and could apply to ditches, streams, wetlands and small isolated bodies of water. Late on Thursday, August 27, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a temporary injunction sought by North Dakota and 12 other states. In his decision, Erickson wrote: “Once the rule takes effect, the states will lose their sovereignty over interstate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act.” Calling the rule “arbitrary and capricious,” he declared that the EPA “violated its congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the rule.”

Undaunted, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pushed back, stating that the rule only applied to the thirteen states that requested the injunction. For the remaining 37 states, the EPA is enforcing the regulation as planned. At least 10 lawsuits—including 29 states and 14 agricultural and industry organizations—have been filed in federal district court challenging the rule.

Constitutional and environmental law professor, Jonathan H. Adler, addressed WOTUS in the Washington Post, saying: “As a general matter (and as the Supreme Court has recognized) land-use control is generally beyond the scope of federal power. In this case, the district court concluded that the states were likely to succeed on the merits as the EPA had adopted an ‘exceptionally expansive’ view of its own jurisdiction under the CWA.”

Perhaps, as you’ll see, if the WOTUS deadline was a month later, the EPA may not have been so bold in its assertion that it would continue to enforce the rule. But, then again, this is the Obama EPA.

Lesser Prairie Chicken

Once again, a federal agency has been acting “arbitrarily and capriciously.” This time, it is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). On September 2, U.S. District Judge Robert A. Junell overturned the Obama administration’s 2014 listing of the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as a threatened species, which gave the bird protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and limited land use in five states.

Citing the “more than 180 oil and gas, pipeline, electric transmission and wind energy companies” that had enrolled in voluntary conservation plans, The Permian Basin Petroleum Association challenged the listing, as soon as it was finalized.

The FWS is required to consider the conservation plans. The court determined that FWS “did not properly consider active conservation efforts for the bird when listing it.” Junell wrote: “The Court finds FWS did conduct an analysis, however this analysis was neither ‘rigorous’ nor valid as FWS failed to consider important questions and material information necessary to make a proper evaluation.”

Addressing the LPC decision, The National Law Review, states: the “ruling raises important questions about the upcoming Service decision whether to list the greater sage-grouse under the ESA. A sage-grouse decision was due on September 30.

Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sees that the FWS “has been illegally steam rolling states by their own secret rules.” He added: “The Obama administration has been merciless in its quest to list species—even when the science says otherwise.”

Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

On September 30, another federal district court judge smacked down another federal agency—this time the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which, in March, issued federal fracking rules designed to spur states to follow suit (most energy-producing states already regulate fracking). BloombergBusiness states: “There are more than 100,000 wells on federal land making up 11 percent of the nation’s natural gas production and five percent of its oil.” The rule, if implemented and adopted by states, as hoped for by the administration, would magnify the impact, “potentially slowing development of oil and natural gas resources”—which is likely the goal. As a result, BloombergBusiness adds, producers “would have faced higher costs at a time when profits already are strangled by low crude prices.”

In his 54-page decision, Wyoming’s U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl wrote: “Congress has not authorized or delegated the BLM authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing and, under our constitutional structure, it is only through congressional action that the BLM can acquire this authority.” He issued a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the rules, “finding that those suing had a good chance of winning their case and getting a permanent order barring enforcement.”

Different from the EPA’s arrogant decision to move forward with implementing WOTUS, a BLM spokeswoman, according to the Wall Street Journal, said: “While the matter is being resolved, the BLM will follow the Court’s order and will continue to process applications for permit to drill and inspect wells sites under its pre-existing regulations.”

Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at Western Energy Alliance, a party to the lawsuit against the government, is overjoyed to finally be “getting relief from the courts regarding the regulatory overreach of the Obama administration.” She added: “We hope the BLM, EPA and other agencies that are rushing to implement even more regulations on the very businesses that create jobs will pause and actually follow the law and regulatory procedure.”

“The case will proceed to a final resolution,” BloombergBusiness reports, “probably early next year.”

Wolf Reintroduction

Ranchers in and around New Mexico’s Gila Forest have been fighting the federal government’s plan to release “another dozen or so Mexican grey wolves.” Already, in the region, wolves since their introduction in 1998 have killed livestock, and children waiting for the school bus often do so in cages for protection. I’ve written on the sad tale several times.

On September 29, in a 7-0 vote, concerned about the impact to ranchers and elk hunters, the New Mexico Game Commission upheld an earlier decision denying the FWS permits to release Mexican wolves into federal land in southwestern New Mexico.

“Federal policy requires FWS to consult state agencies and comply with their permitting processes when releasing endangered animals from captivity,” Science Magazine reports, “even when releases are made on federal land.”

In June, according the Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico Game and Fish Department Director Alexandra Sandoval rejected a federal permit for the Mexican wolf program because she said the FWS lacked a detailed plan to release up to ten captive wolves in the Gila National Forest, leaving her without enough information on what effects the predators would have on deer and elk populations.”

In response to the decision, Game Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan of Roswell, NM, said she and her colleagues could only overturn the director’s decision on the wolf permit if they found it “arbitrary and capricious.”

Sage Grouse

This string of recent decisions may have been noticed by the Obama administration. On September 22, after years of debate, and after the LPC listing was overturned, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the sage grouse would not be listed under ESA. The Washington Post reports that “the chicken-like grouse does not meet the required standard because a collaboration of federal agencies, states, ranchers, industry and environmental groups has already begun to restore areas where it breeds.” “According to state fish and game agencies,” Kent Holsinger, a Colorado attorney specializing in lands, wildlife and water law, told me: “sage grouse populations have risen 63 percent over the past two springs.”

An ESA listing would “significantly limit future development.”

The ESA, Brian Seasholes, director of the endangered species program at the Reason Foundation, states: “has a well-deserved reputation for putting severe restrictions on otherwise normal and legal forms of land and resource use, such as farming and energy development.” In an op-ed in The Hill, he adds: “When a species is listed under ESA, landowners can face steep fines, penalties and land use controls that can devalue their property.”

While environmental groups see the decision as a victory for “industry and its supporters,” others, such as Utah Governor Gary Herbert—who estimated Utah would lose more than $40 billion in economic production from oil and gas if the sage grouse were listed—are still not happy.

Rather than listing the sage grouse—which would likely be overturned in court—the DOI’s BLM has released a plan to implement more than 90 land use strategies. Herbert sees that the federal government rejected the successful sage-grouse conservation plan and says the land use plans that govern use of over 60 million acres of federal land “constitute the equivalent of a listing decision outside the normal process.” He calls the plans “a significant overreach by the federal government.” Bishop agrees: “Do not be fooled. The announcement not to list the sage-grouse is a cynical ploy… With the stroke of a pen, the Obama Administration’s oppressive land management plan is the same as a listing.” The land-use restrictions have been decried as “every bit as rigid as could be expected under ESA.”

While “the West’s sage-grouse worries are far from over,” I see that, when combined with the aforementioned stories, the unwarranted decision is still welcome news. Land-use plans will be easier to revise under a new administration than removing an ESA listing. But, more importantly, I view it as a recognition that big government overreach has reached its limits.

The good news about having so many reform-minded outsiders running for president is that they are like a band of crusaders spreading the message of big government overreach far and wide. That message is, apparently, being heard. Voters are, hopefully, ready for responsible land use. The tide is being rolled back.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita: Rolling back the tide of big government overreach

Why is Congress playing with the American people
avatar

Why do we (the collective we) hesitate to condemn Planned Parenthood and their killing and rendering factories.  I can’t fathom the reason and I bet you can’t either.  There should be no doubt as to why Planned Parenthood should not be funded after folks read the following from the The Patriot Post (http://PatriotPost.US).  We should all do what we can to wake Congress from their slumber of irresponsibility.

Spending $500 Million to Deprive Children of Life

By Allyne Caan

2015-10-01-fe8ad699_large.jpg

During the five-plus hours Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent before a congressional hearing on Tuesday, her organization had time to kill more than 185 babies.

Unfortunately, while debating whether the abortion mill should continue to receive more than $500 million annually in taxpayer dollars, Republicans, who rightfully called the hearing, asked the wrong question: “Does Planned Parenthood really need federal subsidies?”

Instead, they should have gotten to the crux of the issue: Does the Constitution authorize spending money to deprive children of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The correct answer is, of course, no.

Were the right question asked — and correctly answered — the hearing could have begun and ended in five minutes. But since Republicans went down the road of financial “need,” let’s take a look at those numbers.

Far from being a health clinic chain desperate for federal dollars, Planned Parenthood is a massive profit machine, grossing nearly $1.3 billion annually and holding $1.4 billion in assets. Richards herself pocketed pay of more than $590,000 in 2013, while more than 40 other Planned Parenthood execs make more than $200,000.

Richards admitted she “can’t think of a specific impact” of losing taxpayer dollars. We can think of 327,000 specific impacts.

(Incidentally, Richards also couldn’t think of any instances in which unborn children survive abortions. It’s amazing the sudden onset of amnesia a congressional hearing can spur.)

But back to funding, Planned Parenthood doesn’t “just get a big check from the federal government,” Richards said. “We, like other Medicaid providers, we are reimbursed directly for services provided.” And pulling federal funding “would deny people on Medicaid the ability to go to a provider of their choice, and many of them do go to Planned Parenthood for a variety of different reasons.”

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, public expenditures for family planning exceeded $2.3 billion in FY 2010 — and 75% of this went toward Medicaid. It’s all part of the Title X Family Planning Program, enacted in 1970, in accordance with Article Nil, Section Nonexistent of the Constitution. This funding purportedly supports a variety of family planning and preventative health services.

Of course, for Planned Parenthood, this “variety” does not include basic women’s health services like mammograms — no matter how many times its defenders lie about that particular service.

Perhaps this is why Richards herself does not rely on Planned Parenthood for her own health care.

In fact, if Richards is to be believed (cue: sarcasm), just a teeny weeny bit of this “variety” is abortion. According to Richards, Planned Parenthood’s 327,000 annual abortions are just 3% of the health services offered by its clinics.

Hmm, that’s odd. Richards herself has said Planned Parenthood serves 2.7 million women each year. Do the math, and the percentage is closer to 12 million. Not only this, but as Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) noted during the hearing, more than 86% of Planned Parenthood’s non-government revenue in 2013 came from abortions.

Even Common Core math can’t make 86 equal anything close to 3.

Still, Richards attempted to skirt the truth, explaining that some people come to Planned Parenthood “more than once for different services.” And she pulled the famous “federal money does not go for abortions” lie, saying, “So the federal portion that we were discussing is reimbursement for preventative care services.” Perhaps in fantasyland she’s right, but saying taxpayer money doesn’t fund abortions is like saying you can pour a bucket of water in the deep end of a pool and keep it out of the shallow end. The taxpayer dollars doled to Planned Parenthood are entirely fungible — and paying for some services allows the abortion mill to divert other resources to practice its primary and deadly trade.

In truth, Richards and her corporation masked as a non-profit organization are cashing in — at the expense of taxpayers — on the blood and body parts of innocent babies. And how tightly Planned Parenthood is holding onto its rhetoric of lies shows just how much their factories of death stand to lose.

2015-10-01-018f999a_large.jpg

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Why is Congress playing with the American people

Is it a controversy about fact or just the plain truth
avatar

In a recent Republican party debate for a spot on the next Republican presidential ticket, Carly Fiorina came out with serious accusations about Planned Parenthood, abortion and the harvesting of brain tissue from a still living fetus.  The main-scream media jumped on her statements and sought to disprove them.  But, video was discovered which shows something very close to what Ms. Fiorina discussed during the debate.  While the jury may be out on all of her allegations, there remains enough evidence of horrific attitudes and actions to the extent that every one who purports to respect and glorify life should be deeply concerned.

The following is a link to a Breitbart News article:

Was Carly Fiorina right?  Please know that the videos accompanying the narrative portion of the report are very graphic.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Is it a controversy about fact or just the plain truth

Marita: The dope on the Pope
avatar

Greetings!

 

Even though I don’t like to write on the same topics other pundits are addressing, I assumed, that for this week, I’d write on the Pope. Some topics are just too big to ignore.

 

In this week’s column: The Pope, climate change and VW (attached and pasted-in-below), I, both, wrote on something most others aren’t and included the Pope’s visit.

 

I conducted an unofficial poll on my Facebook page in which I asked if people were following the VW scandal. Some were. Many were not. A few knew about it, but weren’t following it. Several indicated that they had no idea what I was talking about. The responses validated my premise: with all of the news coverage on the Pope’s visit, the VW scandal was under the radar for most—but, as I demonstrate in The Pope, climate change and VW, they are connected. Pope Francis is pushing for policies that promote emission reductions based on the belief that CO2 emissions are driving climate change and Volkswagen, I believe, engaged in the approach they did because of the impossible requirements to cut emissions.

 

In The Pope, climate change and VW I offer a quick overview of the VW story for those who haven’t followed it and then make the connection to the unattainable regulations and the carbon reduction policies driving them. Those who reviewed it prior to publication were very positive about the approach. One said: “Great article and exactly on point.”

 

Please post, pass on and/or personally enjoy The Pope, climate change and VW.

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

For immediate release: September 28, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

The Pope, climate change and VW

While Pope Francis was shuttled around during his historic visit to the U.S. in a Fiat, he shared the news cycle with Volkswagen.

 

The pope made headlines with his calls for action on climate change. USA Today touted: “Obama, Pope Francis praise each other on climate change.” In his September 23 speech from the White House lawn, the Pope addressed President Obama saying: “I find it encouraging that you are introducing an initiative for reducing air pollution.” Addressing that comment, Business Insider added: “He praised President Barack Obama for his proposals, which aim for the US to cut emissions by up to 28% over the next decade.”

 

The core of the entire climate change agenda is the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions which proponents like to call “air pollution.” It comes from sources we can’t control: volcanoes; sources we can kind-of control: forest fires (better forest management would result in fewer fires) and human beings exhaling (reduce the population, reduce CO2 emissions); and sources we can control: the use of fossil fuels (we can virtually outlaw them as several countries, including the U.S., are trying to do).

 

The drive to cut CO2 emissions is at the root of Volkswagen’s unprecedented scandal that broke last week, resulting in the CEO’s abrupt ouster on September 23—the day that Pope Francis’ U.S. visit went into full swing.

 

With nonstop coverage of the papal activities—including his Fiat Popemobile—the Volkswagen story was likely lost on most Americans. But it is not going away.

 

On September 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed the scandal: Europe’s biggest auto maker, with 600,000 employees world-wide and 300,000 in Germany, utilized software on some VW and Audi diesel-powered cars to manipulate the results of routine emissions tests—allowing them pass strict emissions standards in Europe and the U.S. The “defeat devices” have reportedly been fitted to more than 11 million vehicles since 2008 and may cost Volkswagen up to $18 billion in fines in the U.S. alone. Owners of the impacted vehicles will need to have a heretofore unavailable “fix” installed and may have to provide a “proof of correction certificate” in order to renew their registration and will suffer “loss due to the diminished value of the cars.” As a result of the scandal, Volkswagen’s stock price and reputation have both fallen precipitously, and class-action lawsuits are already taking shape. Fund managers have been banned from buying VW’s stocks and bonds. Tens of thousands of new cars may remain unsold. USNews stated: “Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges in Germany.”

 

The question no one seems to be asking is: what would drive Europe’s biggest auto maker to make such a costly decision, to take a risk, from which it may be impossible to recover, and tarnish the “made-in-Germany brand”?

 

While the question isn’t asked, Reuters coverage of the story offers the answer: “Diesel engines use less fuel and emit less carbon—blamed for global warming—than standard gasoline engines. But they emit higher levels of toxic gases known as nitrogen oxides.”

 

In short, the answer is the drive to lower CO2 emissions and the policies that encourage reduction.

 

In BloombergView, Clive Crook offers this excellent explanation:

Beginning in the mid-1990s, mindful of their commitments to cut carbon emissions, Europe’s governments embarked on a prolonged drive to convert their car fleets from gasoline to diesel. With generous use of tax preferences, they succeeded. In the European Union as a whole, diesel vehicles now account for more than half of the market. In France, the first country to cross that threshold, diesel now accounts for roughly 80 percent of motor-fuel consumption.

 

What was the reasoning? Diesel contains more carbon than gasoline, but diesel engines burn less fuel: Net, switching to diesel ought to give you lower emissions of greenhouse gases. However, there’s a penalty in higher emissions of other pollutants, including particulates and nitrogen oxides, or NOx. Curbing those emissions requires expensive modifications to cars’ exhaust systems. To facilitate the switch, Europe made its emission standards for these other pollutants less stringent for diesel engines than for gasoline engines. The priority, after all, was to cut greenhouse gases.

 

If anyone could solve the dilemma, one would expect it to be the Germans, who excel in engineering feats. It is Germany that is touted as the world leader in all things green. The reality of achieving the goals, however, is far more difficult than passing the legislation calling for the energy transformation.

 

Addressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s push for de-carbonization, BloombergBusiness Points out: “Merkel has built a reputation as a climate crusader during a decade as Chancellor.” She “has straddled between pushing to reduce global warming while protecting her country’s auto industry.”

 

Merkel is, apparently, bumping up against reality. After shutting down its nuclear power plants, Germany has had to rely more on coal. BloombergBusiness continues: “She successfully helped block tighter EU carbon emissions standards two years ago.” Those tighter emissions standards would have hurt Germany’s auto industry, which accounts for 1 in 7 jobs in the country and 20 percent of its exports. At last week’s Frankfurt Auto Show Merkel said: “We have to ensure politically that what’s doable can indeed be translated into law, but what’s not doable mustn’t become European law.”

 

Evidence suggests the issue “could be industry-wide.” CNBC reports: “several major companies having exposure to the same diesel technology.” BMW’s stock price plunged, according to BloombergBusiness: “after a report that a diesel version of the X3 sport utility vehicle emitted more than 11 times the European limit for air pollution in a road test.” The Financial Times quotes Stuart Pearson, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, as saying: VW was “unlikely to have been the only company to game the system globally.” And an October 2014 study, cited in BloombergBusiness, claims that “road tests of 15 new diesel cars were an average of seven times higher than European limits.”

 

The VW emissions scandal is more than just a “‘bad episode’ for the car industry,” as Germany’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, called it. It provides a lesson in the collision of economic and environmental policies that strive to reach goals, which are presently technologically unachievable—a lesson that regulators and policy makers have yet to learn.

 

The Los Angeles Times (LAT) reports: “Regulators have ordered Volkswagen to come up with a fix that allows vehicles to meet environmental regulations.” If it were that easy, even economically possible, the much-vaunted German engineering could have solved the problem instead of developing technology that found a way around the rules. LAT concludes: “automotive experts believe any repair will diminish the driving dynamics of the vehicles and slash fuel economy—the two major characteristics that attracted buyers.”

 

The fact that, while waving the flag of environmental virtue advocated by Pope Francis, those, with the world’s best engineering at their fingertips, had to use the expertise to develop a work-around should serve as a lesson to policymakers who pass legislation and regulation on ideology rather than reality.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Comments Off on Marita: The dope on the Pope