Coverage of manmade global warming theory & energy policy in the [Wilmington] News Journal:  2010

 

6/3/11, A1, State could be left in bind if NRG exits: Risky contract makes finding new developer for offshore wind project difficult, Aaron Nathans – Front page update on 5/26 front page story by Nathans.   The gist is that Governor Markell’s talk about finding someone else to build the Bluewater project if NRG isn’t willing to pursue it aggressively was just bluster, because no one is likely to want in unless tax credits are renewed on a long-term basis.  [Without subsidies, the numbers are not going to work.]

 

6/3/11, A11, Electric car chargers coming to I-5 in Ore.: 8 stations start of West Coast chain, Jeff Barnard (AP) – “A series of fast-charging stations for electric cars will be installed this year along Interstate 4 in southern Oregon to become one of the first links in a Green Highway stretching down the West Coast from Canada to Mexico.”  Where is the money coming from?  Well, seems there is a $700,000 federal stimulus grant involved.  [Just imagine what the entire Green Highway would cost taxpayers.  Time to stop this nonsense now.] 

 

12/30/10, A12, Customers may pay for wind contract: Utility wants to pass on the cost of studying new energy schemes, Aaron Nathans – One of the proposed items to be passed on to Delmarva Power customers via a pending rate case before the Public Service Commission: $4.3 million in study costs (incl. payments to lawyers, consultants, etc.) re the long-term purchase contract with NRG-Bluewater for offshore wind power. Another $3.6 million is being sought for other state-mandated long-term energy planning costs.  Not to be included: money spent for advertising in Delmarva’s initial opposition to the Bluewater purchase contract [which may actually have benefitted ratepayers, since the required contract was cut in half].

Associate Professor Jeremy Firestone, UD, suggests that ratepayers do hold some financial responsibility for the study costs because “It was something ordered by the Legislature.” [This hardly strikes us as a persuasive argument.  Why should the legislature be involved in telling a private company whom they should or should not buy power from?] 

 

12/30/10, A15, US coal exports to Asia paint bleak picture of “green” future, George Will – Clean energy activists are upset by the construction of coal export facilities to ship US coal to China.  Over the past 8 years, coal has been the world’s fastest-growing fuel (while doubling in price).  China is said to have switched from a net exporter of coal to a net importer, although this may be partly due to exporting its low-grade coal and importing better quality coal.  If China’s use of coal continues to rise, this will tend to undercut the perceived usefulness of shrinking the US “carbon footprint.”  Even if the future belongs to electric cars, “those in China may run on energy currently stored beneath Wyoming and Montana.”

 

12/28/10, A10, Sound environmental plan inexplicably under wraps (editorial) – Re the 12/27 article on a methane-fueled power plant, the News Journal questions why “what on the surface appears an excellent environmental strategy to use natural landfill gas to operate a new power plant has become clouded in secrecy and behind-the-scenes maneuvers.”  Sounds like a “win-win situation’ for all concerned, so the City of Wilmington should “speak up and tell all what’s going on.” [Almost any sensible idea for generating power, etc. can be opposed by environmentalists or regulators on some basis or another.  Maybe the City would just as soon not risk such an outcome in this case by publicizing the details of its plan.]

 

12/27/10, A1/A2, Methane-fueled power plant sought for Wilmington: Solution to environmental problems: Project would also dry out city’s sewage-sludge, Jeff Montgomery – This article reports on what seems like a good idea: use methane from garbage to run turbines and generate electricity; use exhaust heat to dry sewage sludge, making it easier to handle.  Related proposals would entail sending landfill gas to Newport for industrial use.  The initiative could end costly shipping of soggy and heavy sludge from the City of Wilmington’s wastewater-treatment plant to a landfill in north-central Pennsylvania.

      A previous scheme was to import coal ash to mix with the sludge, based on claims that the mixture could be sold.  No markets ever developed [oops!], however, and the mixture was spread dozens of feet deep on the closed, city-owned Pigeon Point Landfill near the Delaware Memorial Bridge “under the label of landscaping and drainage improvements.”

        The EPA is considering tougher controls on coal ash disposal.  [See 8/29/10, EPA plans month of hearings on regulating coal ash waste.] Some environmental groups are urging that coal ash be designated as hazardous waste.  While less extreme than calling CO2 a pollutant, this would be a dangerous idea – potentially contributing to the shutdown of coal-fired power plants that could leave the country without adequate supplies of inexpensive, reliable electricity. 

       Here’s an idea:  Shorten and simplify the nuclear power plant approval process to ensure there will be enough inexpensive and reliable electricity to keep the lights on.

 

12/26/10, C1/C3, Tea party activists seeing red over state’s green initiatives, System encouraging solar, wind energy is government meddling, some say, Aaron Nathans – “They’re not exactly money, and they’re not a direct government handout.”  By “they,” the article refers to so-called renewable energy credits (RECs), which are given to owners of a wind or solar system and can be sold on the open market to utilities that need help in satisfying state requirements that a set percentage of the power they provide be obtained from renewable energy sources.  [A disguised subsidy is a subsidy still, with the extra cost of wind and solar power being passed on to consumers without their consent.]

       “Trouble is, [RECs] may be the next target for Delaware tea party activists.”  [A better lead in might be “fortunately,” and critics are not necessarily affiliated with the Delaware tea party.] 

       “Every time a solar panel goes up, we pay for it,” says John Nichols of the First State Patriots.  As though to make his point, there is a big picture of KWSolar installed solar panels on the roof of the Hockessin library.  Nichols has no problem with solar power, but says “I don’t want to subsidize it.”  He is backing an effort to repeal the state’s renewable energy purchase requirements, as well as its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (a regional “cap and trade” regime, which thus far has been rejected at a national level).

       Caesar Rodney Institute CEO Barrett Kidner adds that the cost of these measures “has not been adequately addressed and put forth to the public.”  However, State Representative John Kowalko (D-Newark) is quoted at greater length. Kowalko thinks the renewable energy policies have been helpful, and he characterizes the talk about repeal as “just posturing.” 

       Renewable energy tax credits and capital grants will be phased out over time, says DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, so RECs are needed as “a second revenue stream” to pay the extra cost of solar power.  RECs create a “more level playing field with fossil fuels, which receive any number of indirect subsidies through tax preferences at the state and federal level” and are not required to charge for “societal impacts like air pollution in their price.”  [These claims are fanciful at best, except that a carbon tax has not yet been imposed.  Federal and state regulators have been doing their best to make up for the absence of a carbon tax by imposing unreasonably stringent regulations that target coal power and other uses of fossil fuels.]

 

12/24/10, A1/A12, Controls concern energy industry: Del. plants, refineries would be affected: Jeff Montgomery – EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said “her agency” will propose standards next year for releases of “carbon dioxide and similar pollutants” from power plants and refineries. In Delaware, the Delaware River refinery, Indian River power plant, and Calpine’s Edgmoor & Hay Road complex in Wilmington would be affected.  The agency had already required states to begin regulating carbon emissions from stationary sources.

       House Republicans are reported to “have bluntly opposed any EPA attempt to cap greenhouse-gas emissions” and the State of Texas is challenging the EPA’s stationary source rules in court, but an EPA spokeswoman denies anything unusual is going on.  “The New Source Performance Standards process is a tool of the Clean Air Act that was used 75 times before.  It is not a mechanism to establish a cap on a sector *** It’s an opportunity for us to look at reducing pollution in ways that make sense.”

       Delaware adopted the federal requirements for stationary sources in mid-November, [and will no doubt go along with the new standards to be proposed in 2011].  Senator Tom Carper called the latest EPA move a “reasonable approach” and said “the EPA is giving impacted industries plenty of time to engage and work with the agency on standards that work for clean air and our economy.”

       Various sources, pro and con, are quoted.  Among the critics: The American Petroleum Institute and Atty. Scott Segal of the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani.  “By singling out the energy sector,” says Segal, “the Agency puts the recovery at risk and stifles job creation.  Small businesses, schools, hospitals, and energy-intensive businesses are particularly at risk from high energy prices.”

        [The EPA is relying on the myth that global warming can be stopped by cutting carbon emissions.  There is overwhelming evidence that other factors, notably the level of solar activity, are the drivers of climate change.  This whole exercise may be a tactic to obtain a bargaining chip for some future negotiation.  When the next Congress takes hold, we hope that it will put a stop to this nonsense.  See Blog 11/29/10 for more discussion.]

 

12/23/10, A7/A10, Wind farm needs more buyers: otherwise, Mass. project would shrink, price would increase, Jay Lindsay (AP) – “Cape Wind has outlasted a decade of government review, a slew of court brawls and fierce opposition from mariners, fishermen, Indian tribes and Kennedys just to win the right to sell its wind farm electricity.  Now, all it needs is customers.”

       National Grid, the largest electrical utility in Massachusetts, has agreed to buy half the Cape Wind output at a price starting at 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2013 (with a 3.5% increase per year thereafter).  However, NStar, the second largest electrical utility, "says it can find cheaper renewable power elsewhere,” e.g., from Maine's Kibby Mountain wind farm at 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.  This raises the possibility that the Cape Wind project will have to be downsized, making its power even more expensive.

       And what about the implications for the recently announced 200-turbine, 1,000-megawatt project off Rhode Island?  [See 12/09/10, Wind farm planned off R.I.]  Deepwater’s CEO has said the project’s large size will produce “far cheaper power,” but as noted in this article, offshore power “costs more partly because it is expensive to build and maintain turbines at sea.”

[Government support for offshore wind power may be based on a desire for wind power project that will face less NIMBY opposition than onshore wind power projects.  But sooner or later, the issue of cost must be faced – and once the wheels fall off the climate change bandwagon, it will be seen that offshore wind power is not competitive with other power sources.]

 

12/20/10, A1/A7, Natural disasters pile up in 2010: Deadly outcomes partly man's fault, Julie Bell & Seth Bornstein (AP) – “Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 – the deadliest year in more than a generation.”  And how are humans partly to blame?

The first half of this article cites cheap dwelling construction in poor countries, etc., which for example helps to explain why a medium-size earthquake in Haiti caused many more fatalities than a massive earthquake in Chile.  [How about that, freedom and the free market benefit mankind.  Another example would be clean air, clean water, etc.  Environmentalists frequently undermine their own causes by opposing the affluence that provides these benefits.]

        The second half presents a familiar theme [See, e.g., 8/13/10, Natural disasters are more than just a summer fad, climate experts say]: "Climate scientists say . . . man-made global warming [is] bringing extreme weather, such as heat waves and flooding.” Thus, climate scientists are said to have calculated that the Russian heat wave this summer – setting a national record of 111 degrees – would happen once every 100,000 years without global warming.  [Attributing this and other natural disasters to the relatively modest warming trend since 1800 is inherently implausible, and computer-generated projections of future warming are next to useless. See Willie Soon (an eminent astrophysicist and geoscientist), Hype versus reality on Indian climate change, Townhall.com, 12/19/10. http://bit.ly/eVLhJE]

 

12/19/10, E7, Concern for eagles halts push for wind farms: without permits projects may not get needed funds, AP – "The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended issuing wind permits on public lands indefinitely this summer after wildlife officials invoked a decades-old law for protecting eagles. *** Golden eagles are the latest roadblock to establishing wind farms on federally owned land, already an expensive process plagued by years of bureaucratic delay."

[Wow!  An upside to government inefficiency.  The longer the delay, the less the chance of massive, expensive, undependable wind power, especially given a "year-end deadline to potentially qualify for millions of dollars of stimulus funds" and the prospect that the new Congress will restore some semblance of spending discipline.

More energy will be needed if the country manages to avoid a financial meltdown and economic growth resumes.  A better way to get it would be to shorten the ridiculously long time now required for government approval of new nuclear power plant construction.]

 

12/19/10, A23, Policy aims to protect scientists: political interference a problem under past administration, Juliet Elperin & Rob Stein (Washington Post) – In line with earlier pronouncements about how the current Administration would promote science-based regulations, a four-page memo has been issued that, according to John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, “describes the minimum standards expected as departments and agencies craft scientific integrity rules appropriate for their particular missions and cultures, including a clear prohibition on political interference in scientific processes and expanded assurances of transparencies.”

 In contrast, it is reported, the previous Administration “was frequently charged with censoring federal scientists on climate change and other contentious issues.”  Thus, it is said, administrators under President Bush “made nearly 300 changes to [a] Strategic Plan of the Climate Change Science Program that either played down the link between human activity and climate change, or highlighted scientific uncertainties associated with it.”  Moreover, “political appointees edited federal scientists’ congressional testimony concerning climate change and its effects and screened interviews with scientists on the subject.”

      [Scientists should be free to say what they think, but that does not mean they are entitled to determine political policies.  Furthermore, the “clean energy” emphasis of the current Administration is based on ideology versus science. The manmade global warming theory remains unproven and it appears increasingly unlikely.]

 

12/18/10, B1/B3, State government's energy use, recycling improve: Gov. Markell’s plan is on or ahead of schedule, Jeff Montgomery – [An update on 2/18/10, State government to cut energy].  According to DNREC Secretary Collin O/Mara: “We’ve seen good progress on the renewable goals, the recycling is taking off, and we’re working through contracts and procurement policies for energy and waste management." 

[Energy cost savings by the state are laudable, so long as they are real, e.g., turning down thermostats, reducing unnecessary travel, etc.  But this program also calls for shifting at least 30% of state energy supplies to renewables like solar or wind by mid-2012, and that can be expected to raise energy costs (either directly or via tax credits and subsidies) rather than lowering them.  The reasons cited for this policy, e.g., combating global warming, creating “green” jobs, etc., will not withstand close examination.]

 

12/18/10, A9, Greenpeace asks IRS to review radio ad, “in brief” item – The inquiry pertains to a radio ad aired by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which allegedly broke the law by criticizing Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick’s support for the Cape Wind project in the days before the election.  IRS rules prohibit nonprofits from political campaign activity. [Sounds a bit like “the pot calling the kettle black.”  The dividing line between educating the public and political campaign activity is inherently hazy, and Congress should change the law so that the IRS et al. will not have to make such determinations, e.g., by enacting SAFE’s SimpleTax proposal.]

 

12/16/10,A3, Study shows polar bears, sea ice may still be saved, AP — Photo of a polar bear with two cubs, reclining on pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska.  “If the world changes its emissions habits, destruction of sea ice in the Arctic may slow.” 

A new study rejects the “tipping point” theory – if humans dramatically changed steadily increasing carbon emissions, it concludes, “a total loss of summer sea ice for the bears could be averted.”  This is important, says Steven Amstrup, former senior polar bear scientist for the US Geological Survey in Alaska, because “if people and leaders think that there’s nothing they can do, they will do nothing.”

[The premise that limiting carbon emissions can stop global warming is erroneous, because CO2 is not the big factor that has been driving global warming. Variations in the output of the Sun, and other natural causes appear to cause global warming and cooling.

Polar bear populations have increased due to laws against hunting them.  And by the way, these bears are pretty good swimmers – which helps to explain how the species survived the Medieval Warm Period. 

 If a warming trend continues, it will be up to later generations to decide whether to attempt to control warming, via geo-engineering for the sake of polar bears, or for any other reason.  All of the above could be moot, because the Earth is due for another big ice age.  However, it would take many generations for a big ice age to take hold.

We suggest that no more government grants be awarded for studies like this, because the federal government is broke.]

 

12/15/10, A12, Charging stations key aspect of change – An alliance of automakers, utilities and regulators plans to build thousands of electric car charging terminals in California.

Delivery of Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt electric cars in California starts this month.

Money is coming from the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.  [Both the U.S and California are broke, but that doesn’t seem to concern the climate alarmists and eco-lobby.  For background, see 11/19/10, NRG Energy plans to install more electric vehicle chargers.]

 

12/14/10, A1/A5, Delaware on a new path to clean energy: Despite defeat of cap-and-trade, leaders pledge green strategies, Aaron Nathans – “The demise of federal ‘cap-and-trade’ legislation that would have made carbon-based fuels more expensive poses a major setback to ‘clean-energy’ industries that major corporations, Delaware and others states were banking on for future jobs and economic growth, industry and government officials said Monday.”  It seems that “a conservative electoral wave has buried cap-and-trade,” and without it “alternative energy generators will continue to struggle to be competitive with electricity generated from coal, or oil or natural gas.”  Therefore, clean energy advocates and investors are looking for a new strategy.

The setting was a University of Delaware "clean-tech" [basically meaning no CO2] forum at the University of Delaware, which will conclude today.  And most of the alternative strategies under discussion were reliant on government support in one way or another.

Ellen Kullman, DuPont CEO (big photo), spoke of the company’s commitment to photovoltaic materials and biofuels.  [A shame – the potential of this technology could fade when the wheels fall off the global warming bandwagon.]

Dick Matthys, CEO of Gamesea Technology Corp., which makes wind turbines at a reclaimed steel works near Philadelphia, has been considering building plants to make huge turbines if the US offshore wind industry took off.  Government support would create the market.

One idea is a national mandate for utilities to buy a certain percentage of power from renewable energy producers, along the lines of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that is already in operation.

Senator Carper said the national mandate would be difficult politically unless broadened to include nuclear power and “really clean” coal in the “clean energy” category. [Senator Carper has long advocated nuclear power plants in principle, albeit doing little to promote them in practice.] 

Chad Tolman, a leading climate alarmist, expressed opposition to nuclear energy, which he said carries major risks.  [He was probably referring to the storage of "nuclear waste". This problem can be readily managed by recycling spent nuclear material, as is done elsewhere.]

       Governor Jack Markell, recently returned from a visit to China, noted that Asian companies/countries are pressing for development of solar industries.  However, “I am absolutely convinced that when we step it up a notch, as we absolutely must, we will prevail.” DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara (small photo) added that “we need to figure out how we can make ourselves more cost-competitive.”

Former Senator Ted Kaufman offered this comment [which suggests that the jobs argument is a pretext]: "I think [climate change is] going to kill us, but the argument has to be about jobs.”          

      Were any skeptics present?  Russ Murphy, founder and executive director of the 9-12 Patriots apparently was.  In any case, the article mentions that the group will be holding meetings (starting with one on Bowers Beach on Dec. 15) for critical discussion of the RGGI, which Murphy said will lead to higher utility bills. “There’s got to be a level playing field worldwide, not just in America,” Murphy said.

 

12/14/10, A8, The country needs a consistent clean-energy strategy – According to this News Journal editorial, citing “speaker after speaker” at the UD forum, the clean-energy issue “is primarily about jobs.  We either back clean energy innovation and develop it here, or we will be sending our tax dollars and paychecks to the Chinese government to do it for us.”  Supposedly the public already gets this point, and it is “our political class” that does not. 

Needed: “a national strategy . . . predictability when it comes to tax policies and pollution and energy standards . . . a steady target and consistent support [for innovation teams at universities and in business.” [Shades of the 5-year plans of the former USSR.]

Because: For a long time fossil fuels were cheap, but they are growing more expensive, so now “we are spending more to fuel our enterprises than the Europeans are,” giving them “an automatic price advantage.”  Regaining that advantage “can mean more manufacturing jobs here.”

[Hmm. We agree with using the most economical energy sources.  But if the US has a cost penalty due to the use of high cost fossil fuels, why did speaker after speaker advocate either making fossil fuels more expensive or mandating and/or subsidizing alternative energy?  Why not just put all the energy sources on a level playing field and let the free markets do the rest?]

           

12/14/10, A6, Environmentalists, industry praise N.Y. moratorium on gas fracking, Mary Esch (AP) – NY Governor David Patterson (a lame duck) vetoed legislation to suspend all new natural gas drilling permits in the state of New York until May 15, and imposed an executive order that applied only to high-volume hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). Alarmists claim that the process imperils drinking water supplies, and the EPA is currently conducting a study of the matter. 

        Patterson said the legislature’s moratorium would have effectively shut down an industry that has been operating safely for decades.  [While the ground rules remain controversial, he is to be commended for showing some common sense in this situation.]

 

12/13/10, B3, Grant funds Ocean View solar panels: Array will be installed in April, project manager says, Wallace McKelvey (Salisbury, Md. Daily Times) – The small town of Ocean View, DE will be installing solar panels on its administration building.  [Wow, that’s a news story!]  Why?  The electric costs will be cut in half, and a $458,000 grant from the Delaware Energy Office, using money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will cover the entire up-front cost.  “We’re not chipping one penny or dime into it,” says the town manager.

         [Well, one can’t blame the town for accepting the grant, but why should the federal and state government have provided it?  Seems like some of our political leaders do not understand the magic of the free market, which can bring about economic recovery without government intervention.  As a case in point, consider what happened in the 1920-21 U.S. Depression.  The government did not ride to the rescue with a big sack of cash, the free market adjusted, and prosperity returned rather quickly.  Why not try the same approach again?]

 

12/12/10, A2, Climate accord puts off big questions: all-night talks avert failure, Juliet Elperin & William Booth (Washington Post) – "After an all-night session that included a face-off between Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Bolivia's U.N. Ambassador, Pablo Solon, members . . . agreed to create a 'Green Climate Fund' that will transfer money from rich countries to poor ones."  However, the outcome left a few holes, “including spelling out exactly how the new pot of international aid will be funded.”  [How can these folks stay up all night? I don't even stay up to watch the second half of Eagles late night games.]

There is an "agreed-upon goal of keeping the rise in global temperature from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius" above preindustrial levels.  To achieve the goal, industrialized countries would supposedly have to cut carbon emissions "between 25 and 40 percent,” although they have promised only a 16% reduction. 

       [What a load of baloney!  No one can predict future global temperatures to begin with, but it seems unlikely that the proposed reductions in emissions would have a material impact.  We skeptics have hopefully won the argument as to whether CO2 emissions affect climate.  However, politicians and bureaucrats will continue to waste time and money based on unfounded assumptions.  They will stop sooner or later.  How can we make it sooner?]

 

12/11/10, A1/A2, Tax plan extends favors to win favor: lawmakers working to preserve breaks, Frederic Frommer & Mary Jalonick (AP) – When Congress gets started on a yearend deal, it often does not know when to stop.  Definitely true in this case, when extension of the Bush tax cuts is being larded up with more and more baggage.  [See the 12/13/10 main blog entry for in depth coverage.]  The deal "now includes [an extension of] ethanol subsidies for rural folks, commuter tax breaks for their cousins in the cities and suburbs and wind and solar grants for the environmentalists.”  [As commented yesterday: “There are enough problems with the proposed tax deal already.  WHY MAKE THEM WORSE?” 

More specifically, an almost $5 billion subsidy for corn-based ethanol – on top of mandates and a tariff on imported ethanol -- will increase the cost of gasoline without improving air quality.  In the 1970s, (1) gasoline was not distributed uniformly to the individual cylinders, and (2) fuel systems were designed to provide excess gasoline, so even the 'leanest cylinder would receive enough gasoline to burn up all the air and provide maximum power.  The uniform power from all cylinders gave the driver a "solid" feel.  The excess gasoline went into the air.  Because ethanol contains more oxygen, and correspondingly less carbon and hydrogen, blends of alcohol with gasoline burned more completely, putting less gasoline into the air – albeit with some sacrifice in terms of engine performance.  Today, automobile fuel systems are much better designed and the effects described no longer apply.]

 

12/10/10, A3, UN climate talks to wrap up today, Charles Hanley (AP) – Delegates appear to have given up on substantial CO2 emission cuts, instead "setting the stage for agreements on a support fund for poorer nations."  But even in such “secondary areas,” there was reportedly continued haggling “over the wording of texts.”

       Beware, we are told, because “scientists” [unnamed, but by implication all of them] say “temperatures could rise by up to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit in this century.” [Many scientists have a different view, and it would be interesting to indicate the lower limit of what could happen.]

Bolivia's President Evo Morales put the case as follows: If governments shun strong mandatory emission reductions, "then we will be responsible for 'ecocide' which is equivalent to genocide because this would be an affront to mankind as a whole." [What a lot of hot air.  If anyone really expected grave harm from climate warming, they would be pushing for a geo-engineering solution.]

 

12/10/10, Obama, lawmakers push swift action on taxes: Energy breaks added to package, David Espo (AP) – In the chaotic negotiations on a year-end tax deal, which started with the issue of what exactly to do about extending the Bush tax cuts, a new element has been thrown into the pot – a proposed one-year extension of “breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy.” [There are enough problems with the proposed tax deal already.  WHY MAKE THEM WORSE?]

 

12/09/10, Wind farm planned off R.I.: Massive project would have undersea network, Eric Tucker (AP) – Deepwater Wind is proposing a 200-turbine, 1,000 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island that would cost an estimated $4-5 billion.  It is also planning an undersea transmission network that would connect the project to eastern Long Island and southern New England. “We’ve done a lot of engineering on this project,” says Deepwater CEO William Moore, “and are confident that we can come up with a cost that’s a whole lot less than what’s been discussed to date.”  However, the previously approved Cape Wind project will be selling power at about double today’s price of power from conventional sources.

 [If wind power could compete on a level playing field with conventional energy sources, that would be fine, but for some reason the industry keeps demanding government grants and tax credits. 12/5/10, E1/E3, Bluewater sees shortened path for wind-energy plan, Aaron Nathans.

        Note that a single nuclear reactor could deliver the same amount of power.  It would not need to be located out in the ocean, and (for those who think this matters) would not emit CO2.  Nuclear recycling facilities could dramatically reduce nuclear "waste," no need to bury them in a national repository out in Nevada or wherever.  The small amount of "waste" remaining will contain valuable compounds.  See Terrestrial Energy, 2008, by William Tucker.]

 

12/09/10, A9, Hawaii to build hydrogen lines: GM leads project to supply fuel-cell-powered autos, Mark Niesse (AP) – Imagine cars that burned hydrogen and could travel about 300 miles per fill-up versus the more limited range [cited as 40 miles] between charges for electric cars.  The emissions would be H2O [presumably harmless in the eyes of environmentalists, although water vapor is a greenhouse gas].  No one knows what such cars would cost, but some R&D is being done.  Also, General Motors, a Hawaiian gas company, and the state government are reportedly planning an underground network in Oahu that could support 20-25 hydrogen stations.  Hydrogen stations are going up in southern California too, with 15 built to date and another 22 approved, although in that case the plan is to supply the hydrogen stations by tanker trucks.

 [It would be interesting to know who is paying for these facilities, which do not sound like good investments.  Certainly, hard-pressed state governments need to avoid making or guaranteeing them.  Given the low spark energy required to ignite a hydrogen/air mix, moreover, we are skeptical about the safety of hydrogen-fueled cars.] 

 

12/09/10, A9, UD to host forum on the future of energy: State’s role in changing technology part of focus, Aaron Nathans – The Dec. 13-14 forum was publicized by a full page in the Sunday (12/05/10) editorial page. The focus of the event: “creating jobs in environmentally-friendly technologies.”  There will be appearances by Ellen Kullman (DuPont CEO), Senator Tom Carper, Governor Jack Markell, former Senator Ted Kaufman, and many others.  [Admission of $50 will be charged.  We doubt the event will be worth it.]

Professor Mike Klein, director of the UD Energy Institute, lists Delaware’s strengths re renewable energy as including UD research programs and “a commitment” from its Congressional delegation.  [Why should our legislators commit to any particular type of energy source vs. leaving such decisions to the free market? As consumers and taxpayers, we object.]

John Taylor, Director of the Delaware Public Policy Institute, says "Congress is going to be more conservative, that's clear, but that doesn't mean the reality of the need for alternatives to fossil fuels is going to go away.” [Taylor is a climate alarmist, but he will drop off the global warming bandwagon when the wheels fall off.]

 

12/7/10, A7, Tax dollars boosting solar energy: Industry will maintain growth, new study shows, Aaron Nathans – National Solar Jobs census 2010, a report written by the Solar Foundation, was “trumpeted” at a Silverside Church news conference.  The church has installed solar panels, which after $149,000 of state grants cost the congregation $276,000.  The panels provide more than enough electricity for the church’s daytime needs [except maybe when it is cloudy], with the excess sold back to the grid. Photo provided of solar panels installed in a grassy area near the playground and parking lot.

 The gist of the Solar Foundation’s report is that jobs in the solar manufacturing and installation business are booming, reportedly employing 93,500 workers in August 2010.  A doubling of employment in this sector of the economy has come about as the result of government grants and tax credits.

Owen Dunn (photo provided) of Environment America (which orchestrated the news conference) says “we’re well on our way to generating pollution-free energy and a tremendous amount of jobs to take advantage of the sun’s potential.”  He acknowledges that much of the growth in the solar power sector has resulted from federal and state incentives.

[Provide enough government incentives and people will invest in solar power, no surprise there.  Keep them coming, says Environment America, which supports “a green economic recovery package . . . renewable electricity standard of at least 25 percent by 2025 . . . [mandated] energy conservation and efficiency measures . . . phasing out loan guarantees and other subsidies for dirty coal and risky nuclear power.”  http://bit.ly/f7b5MQ

But things can go badly wrong for subsidized investments when government money starts drying up, as is currently happening in Spain.  See 10/26/10 article, Solar-plan investors on brink of disaster: overburdened Spanish program could renege on subsidies.

News Journal news coverage of the climate change controversy has been overwhelmingly one-sided.  Very limited coverage of climate change skeptics, other than to paint them as heretics – no mention of the local Climate Common Sense organization (40+ members) despite repeated offers to provide comments or be interviewed.

      Was it worth $276,000 for the church to install the solar panels?  Evidently they have reduced their monthly electric bills, but the story does not indicate the payback period on their investment – nor what else they could have used this money for.  Our guess is that the real motivation was a belief in the moral superiority of green energy.]

 

12/5/10 We have noticed that the News Journal tends to run a lot of stories about the alleged threat of manmade global warming, renewable energy boondoggles, etc. in their overpriced (newsstand $1.50) Sunday issues.  Today, they outdid themselves:

 

12/5/10, A18, Specialists warm to the idea of geo-engineering: unusual schemes studied to rein in climate change, Charles Hanley (AP) – This dateline Cancun story reports that “a once-taboo idea hangs over the slow, frustrating U.N. talks to curb climate change” – geo-engineering measures to cool the earth, e.g. spreading sulfate particles in the lower stratosphere to reflect sunlight away from the Earth.  Interest in such ideas has been recognized by (a) the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which recommended in a Sept. 2010 report that the White House “establish a clear strategy for geo-engineering research,” and (b) the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which agreed in October to discuss geo-engineering in 2011.

Opponents say "blocking the Sun could itself suddenly shift the climate, especially precipitation patterns'" and, "do nothing to keep the atmospheric CO2 buildup from acidifying the oceans, a grave threat to marine life.”  [The alleged threat to marine life has been refuted.] There are also questions as to who would decide to take action of this nature, with potentially unforeseen effects.

[We agree that all countries should be consulted before deploying such a geo-engineering approach.  However, it need not be deployed to prevent warming because the net effect of additional warming such as occurred during the Medieval Warm Period, is probably benign.  The real need might come if, at some point in the distant future, a big ice age was to threaten (see 10/18/10 entry).  Meanwhile, research on this topic is fine, but we don’t think U.S. taxpayers should pay for it.]

 

12/5/10, A18, Minimal progress made at climate talks, Charles Hanley (AP) – Participants in UN climate talks at Cancun, Mexico fiddled with a $100 billion a year by 2020 fund, which was promised by richer nations at last year’s Copenhagen conference to help poorer countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.  One issue, presumably, is which countries are going to pay how much and when – although this point is not mentioned in the story.  Another is whether the fund would be administered by a UN body (as the poorer nations want) or by the World Bank (which is viewed as being controlled by developed nations and might be stickier about how the money was spent).  [A better deal for the poor countries might be to rid themselves of corrupt governments that keep them poor.]

 

12/5/10, A33, Delaware’s Energy Future:

 

(a) State is positioned to lead in energy, Collin O’Mara, DNREC Secretary – O’Mara characterizes clean energy as “the greatest economic opportunity of this century.”  And America could lose out, because while Congress is gridlocked on the subject “nations around the globe are positioning themselves to dominate the $6 trillion energy market and seize millions of related manufacturing and research jobs at America’s expense."  We need to wake up and embrace “climate prosperity.”

        If carbon emissions continue unchecked, expect rising sea levels, flooding along Delaware’s coast, drought and crop losses, intense storms, etc.  Not to mention “billions of dollars in domestic health-related costs every year that can be attributed to the burning [of] coal and oil.” Despite the gridlock in Washington, there are opportunities for nimble and close-knit states like Delaware to move ahead, taking advantage of innovation, a skilled workforce, and responsive government.  The writer refers to “market-based mechanisms,” and the efforts of “innovative companies” such as DuPont, Ashland Hercules, WL Gore, etc.  “Now we must integrate the great work occurring across Delaware into a coordinated statewide initiative.” [Fine, go to it – but don’t ask for consumer to pay for high priced green energy or taxpayers to subsidize it.]

 

(b) Government must be a catalyst, Senator Tom Carper – The lead-in acknowledges that this country faces “many challenges,” including “budget deficits,” a dearth of “new jobs,” and uncertainty in the marketplace that has kept investors and billions of dollars on the sidelines.  Somehow, “unhealthy air and a changing climate” do not seem quite as urgent – but Senator Carper swiftly moves to his theme that putting America on a clean energy path is the solution to everything.

        Purported benefits: reduce payments for foreign oil [why not ease restrictions on U.S. oil production?] . . . billions of dollars annually to treat health problems triggered by pollution [makeweight argument].  Catastrophic global warming is not mentioned.

       Government’s role: create a nurturing environment for businesses [OK] – level the playing field between energy sources [great idea!] – create tax credits, loan guarantees and grants “to stand up these new industries until they can stand on their own” [sorry, but how does this square with leveling the playing field, and how will promoting the use of high cost energy sources benefit the US economy?] – have the government buy clean [high cost] energy – send strong signals to the marketplace to encourage private investments in clean energy technologies [why should the government see its role as picking economic winners and losers? – and if this was to be done, why leave out nuclear power?]. 

        Ends with a plug for the upcoming UD conference (see item d), on “how our federal and state government – along with others – can improve their leadership roles in what many foresee as the next industrial revolution.” [In other words, this will be a pep rally, not a conference.]  

 

(c) Marrying innovation and manufacturing, Governor Jack Markell – The governor wants to foster manufacturing in Delaware, and also make the state a cradle for innovation.  The solution: clean energy, which could do both. 

Competitive advantages: (1) “one of the most highly skilled workforces in the nation,” (2) clean tech research programs at UD, (3) companies like DuPont, Gore, and “dozens of other smaller firms” moving into the renewable energy market, and (4) rapidly growing consumer demand in Delaware and nearby.  

Steps taken to date: (1) executive order for state to lead by example in energy efficiency, recycling, and renewable energy opportunities; (2) energy auction that increased our use of renewable energy while saving taxpayers more than $13 million. [Buying more expensive energy cannot save the taxpayers money; this claim must be based on phony accounting.] (3) “Clean Energy Jobs Act and Efficiency Acts produce cost savings, environmental benefits and economic opportunity.” [Again, the cost savings claim is highly questionable.]  

Ends with a plug for the upcoming UD conference (see item d), sponsored by UD, the News Journal [what about journalistic independence?], and the Delaware Public Policy Institute, that will bring together industry, academic, entrepreneurial, and community leaders from around the country “to help turn this industry’s possibilities into greater economic reality.”

 

(d) UD conference is an opportunity to help chart a course, Michael Klein, director of UD’s Energy Institute – In laying out the plan for the conference, the goal is taken as settled: “Environmental, economic, and national security considerations all point to a U.S. energy future with reduced utilization of fossil fuels. *** Harmful emissions must be avoided or captured, including CO2. [OK, everyone, please stop breathing.]  *** the world will need to triple its energy supply [by 2100] while reducing its CO2 emissions to one-third of today’s levels. *** Please join the discussion at the Dec. 13 and 14 conference and help set the basis for action that will propel Delaware on the path to a Clean Energy Economy.” [Note: The conference will take place on Dec. 13 & 14, UD, in Clayton Hall. http://www.udel.edu/partnerships/  Mr., Klein’s views are extreme, and it is disturbing to see the top politicians in the state endorsing the conference.]

 

12/5/10, B1/B4, UD plans test field for wind turbines: Sites eyed in shallow waters off Sussex: Molly Murray – The University of Delaware wants to establish a test site for wind turbines in shallow water off the Delaware coast.  It won’t be anywhere in the Delaware Bay due to concern about migrating birds. Various locations are being considered, and preliminary discussions have been held with various government officials, but no decisions have been made yet.  [This is a news story?]

 

12/5/10, E1/E5, Climate-change market warming up: Companies developing products to help world adapt, Jim Efstathiou and Kim Chapman (Bloomberg News) – DuPont (seed maker), GE (wind turbines), and Zurich Financial Services (insurer) are “devising products to help the world adapt to climate change.”  The reason: “mounting damages from climate-related disasters.”  Thus, insured losses from storms and floods are said to have risen more than fivefold to $27 billion annually over the past four decades.  And Swiss Reinsurance Co. predicts that by 2030 “the world may need to spend $135 billion a year on flood protection, buildings that can withstand hurricanes, and drought resistant crops.”

        The article suggests that the anticipated costs could be mitigated, if only the nations of the world could agree to reduce their carbon emissions.  Everyone interviewed for the article seems to agree that this “must be done,” except “dozens of Republican lawmakers elected last month [who] have expressed skepticism about global warming or actions to curb it.”  Also, one source (an attorney with Covington & Burling in NYC) says it is difficult to make a case to “pay for a more robust piece of infrastructure today to protect against potential damage in 30 to 40 years.”  And even if carbon emissions were cut, some climate-change effects are inevitable because of CO2 already in the atmosphere, according to an August 2010 report of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

        [The past rise in insured losses may be attributable to many factors, including more construction in flood plain or coastal areas and monetary inflation.  The 2030 figure is simply a guesstimate.  Climate change is almost guaranteed, but forecasts of what changes to expect remain virtually useless.  False prophecies beget faulty policy, Willie Soon (an eminent scientist), 12/2/10. http://bit.ly/gEVOap]

 

12/5/10, E1/E3, Bluewater sees shortened path for wind-energy plan, Aaron Nathans – Above the story is a picture of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a baseball style cap, flanked by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Delaware Senator Tom Carper, assembled to announce a wind energy initiative in Baltimore.  The article begins by reminding readers about the federal commitment to speed up permitting requirements for offshore wind power facilities, a subject amply covered in an 11/24/10 article. 

After a string of glowing comments about this development and the prospects for moving ahead with the Bluewater project, it comes out that there is a potential stumbling block.  Wind power is expensive, and can only proceed with government support.  And a Treasury grant program is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, with two tax credit programs for wind power to expire at the end of 2012.

       Bluewater chief Peter Mandelstam predicts that government supports, in some form, will be extended.  He notes that these programs have been endorsed by presidents and Congresses of both parties, and says it is not necessarily accurate to characterize this support as a partisan issue.  [But with a looming fiscal crisis, it is imperative to cut nonessential government programs – and these programs should be on high on that list.]

 

12/4/10, A6/A7, Drilling decisions loom large: fear in the industry that oil rigs could leave for foreign waters, Harry Weber (AP) – Supplementing the 12/2/10 article on offshore drilling, this article notes that since the post-BP oil spill moratorium on offshore oil drilling in the central and western Gulf of Mexico was formally lifted on October 12, “the government has not issued a single permit that would permit the resumption of any previously suspended drilling activities.”  The reason, according to industry watchers, is that the moratorium is effectively being left in place by administratively delaying requests.  “So far, rigs are not leaving the Gulf en masse [for other regions of the world], but industry officials fear they will.”  [The News Journal is to be commended for publishing this information, which evidences bias against energy firms (except, perhaps, wind power companies) and indifference to regional unemployment.  Other Americans will share the pain by paying higher prices for gasoline, which as previously predicted will hit $5 per gallon within 12 to 18 months.]

 

12/3/10, A11, 2010 on track to be one of three hottest years ever: Trend likely man-made, group says, Arthur Max (AP) – A report was presented at the Cancun, Mexico UN conference on climate change by Michael Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization. Jarraud is on board with the climate alarmists.  He is quoted as saying "the long-term trend leaves little doubt the Earth is warming in ways that cannot be explained by nature and is almost certainly caused by man-made pollution that traps heat."

         [This report is misleading, some might call it baloney.  (1) The three hottest years in the database are 1998, 2005 and 2010 – showing there has not been a great deal of warming over the past decade.  (2) Comparable global temperature data going back to 1850 do not exist, and surface measurement data have been distorted by the urban heat island effect, etc.  (3) Secondary evidence shows global temperatures were appreciably warmer than at present during the Medieval Climate Optimum and earlier warm periods, at a time when CO2 levels were well below present levels.  (4) Global temperatures have been fluctuating throughout the Earth’s history.  While it may be true that a warming trend is now resuming, the claim that such a trend “cannot be explained by nature” – ignoring other possibilities such as fluctuations in the energy output of the Sun -- demonstrates a clear predisposition to accept the man-made global warming theory as an article of faith.]

 

12/2/10, A1/A7, Environmental groups unite behind offshore wind; Status quo of fossil fuels, climate change called biggest threat to wildlife, Aaron Nathans – Surprise, surprise, a coalition in favor of developing offshore wind power is emerging, which supports a “swift but orderly federal permitting of turbine farms along the [Atlantic] coast.”  It includes global warming alarmists, wildlife advocates, and companies/unions that expect to profit from building taxpayer-supported offshore wind facilities.  Previously there were concerns “that birds could be killed by the turbines and seal life could be disrupted as monopiles are pounded into the ocean’s floor.”  However, “the continued use of fossil fuels and the acceleration of global warming are particularly catastrophic to animal, marine wildlife, and their natural habitats,” so full steam ahead.  And coincidentally, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced last week that the government will institute a speeded up permitting process.  

 [Let’s start with the elephant in the living room.  The main justification for subsidizing this undependable, expensive energy source rests on two squishy assumptions: (a) global warming is a threat to humanity; (b) carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the major cause of global warming.  Real world evidence indicates otherwise in both cases.

        Even if one accepted the human-induced global warming theory, this does not explain why wind power projects should be supported in lieu of supporting nuclear power plants – which would probably be a better choice from an economic standpoint.  Reporter Aaron Nathans does not discuss the point.

       No critics were interviewed for the article, which is consistent with the News Journal’s stance of cheerleading for wind power rather than reporting the news or offering objective analysis.

         In summary: If offshore wind becomes a reality in this region, we will all be saddled with higher electricity costs for no good reason.  That does not benefit consumers, nor promote economic growth either.  So let’s keep the elephant in the living room clearly in mind as the debate over the renewal of the tax credits, etc. unfolds.]

 

12/2/10, A3, Obama nixes new offshore drilling for oil: BP spill showed need for better rules, Associated Press – Reversing a position taken earlier this year, shortly before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Administration has announced that it will not propose any new oil drilling in waters in the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf [off the Florida coast] “for at least the next seven years.”  The stated reason is lessons taught by the BP oil spill, including the need to “focus on creating a more stringent regulatory regime.”  [Drilling will supposedly resume in the central and western Gulf, although there have been bitter complaints from the oil industry about the substitution of a “permitorium” [very slow approval process] for the supposedly lifted drilling moratorium in these areas.  The government’s anti-drilling policies are almost guaranteed to keep oil imports high and promote rising gasoline prices as the economy hopefully starts to rebound.  Be prepared for $5 a gallon gasoline within the next 12-18 months.  Also, a more reasonable attitude towards U.S. drilling could generate royalty income for the government and support more U.S. jobs, both of which would presumably be welcome.]

 

12/2/10, A16, Sussex cleanup project is worthy of congratulations – Editorial lauding the Indian River cleanup project reported on 12/1/10, including the approval of Sussex Country and state recovery zone bonds “with no tax hikes attached” to reduce NRG’s cost.  [The cost to the federal treasury, which is running deep deficits, is conveniently ignored.]

 

12/1/10, A1/A7, "$366 M clean-up plan set for Indian River plant: bonds aimed to help create jobs, better air, Jeff Montgomery – This updates a 2/3/10 story re the agreed shutdown of all but the newest and largest power unit at the Indian River coal power plant, coupled with environmental upgrades for the unit that will continue operating.  “Plant wide emissions, often a focus of environmental group criticism in the past, will drop by as much as 93 percent.”

       The new element in the story is that Sussex County is allotting $57 million tax-exempt bonds, and the state of Delaware previously approved $190 million of tax-exempt bonding authority to the same project.  This does not mean that the county or state governments will be paying for the upgrades, but simply that public involvement will enable NRG to borrow some of the funds required at below market rates.  [We disapprove of subsidies for any form of energy investment.  Moreover, we do not think that coal power plants necessarily need to be as “clean” as is being demanded in this case. But we do approve of keeping some of the Indian River power capacity in operation, there being no plans on the drawing board that would replace its power on a dependable and economical basis.  Moreover, we would urge that the three units designated for retirement be mothballed rather than scrapped, just in case future electricity demand surges past installation of additional nuclear and natural gas plants.]

 

11/29/10, A9/A11, Electric cars worry utility companies: Equipment may need upgrading, Jonathan Fahey (AP) – The worry: "the surge in demand could knock out power to a home or even a neighborhood" when an electric car is plugged into a heavy duty recharging socket that “can draw as much power as a small house.” For which reason, power companies may need to upgrade transformers in neighborhoods where electric cars are expected to be in high demand.  The article goes on to review pros and cons of electric cars.

Reduced fuel cost is a significant plus – roughly $1,000 per year.  However, the additional cost of the car is several times the gasoline saving, even with subsidies [and without them forget it].  The Volt costs $41,000.  After a federal tax credit of $7,500 and state and local subsidies that "can total" $8,000, the owner will still be out more than $25,000.  

"Governments are promoting the expensive technology as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality."  [Humbug!  First, cutting carbon emissions has not been shown to be desirable – CO2 promotes plant growth, which will make it easier to feed the Earth’s growing population.  Second, there are more logical ways to lessen dependence on foreign oil (ease restrictions on drilling for oil in the US) and reduce pollution (green light a new generation of nuclear power facilities, to be built to the extent they can compete with fossil fuel power plants on a level playing field). 

Also, if millions of electric vehicles really were put on the roads, this country would need to ramp up electrical power generation fast – not just upgrade some transformers – and there are no practical plans on the drawing board for doing this.  Sounds like our government is trying to take a leaf out of the economic planning book of the former USSR.]

 

11/29/10, A3, Hurricanes steered clear of U.S. land – “For the first time in recorded history, 12 hurricanes formed this year in the Atlantic basin without a single one making landfall in the United States . . .”.  [No mention is made of Jeff Montgomery’s 5/10/10 article, “Forecasters: Hurricane season may be wild one: 2010 could rival busiest years.”  But apparently, things went better than expected.]

 

11/28/10, A15, Climate progress at stake in UN talks, Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) – For those who came in late [see lengthy story on 11/21], the Cancun, Mexico boondoggle starts tomorrow.  Expectations have been lowered this year after the lack of progress in Copenhagen, but readers are given to understand that the meeting is still very important because “without some modest progress in Cancun - on issues such as preserving tropical forests, transferring clean technology to developing nations and establishing the framework for international climate aid -- the process [of reducing carbon emissions] might collapse altogether."  [The process deserves to collapse, and the 2011 South Africa and 2012 Brazil conferences should be cancelled.  The foundation for this activity is the discredited assumption that CO2 is a major cause of global warming.  This whole expensive farce is obsolescent, and will become obsolete.]

 

11/27/10, A9, N.M. utility joining energy storage project: Researchers focusing on solar power, Susan Bryan (AP) – U.S. Dept of Energy has awarded over $2 million to the Public Service Company of New Mexico for the “Prosperity Energy Storage Project,” which will combine batteries with solar panels in order to provide electricity when the Sun is not shining.  This project will include about 8 Acres of solar panels, capable of providing electricity for 250 homes and batteries to store about two megawatt hours of electricity.

[Batteries will add significant cost to the hugely overpriced solar panel electricity source, most likely reducing the cost effectiveness of solar power versus improving it.  In any case, we oppose subsidized energy research projects.  Government support for the use of expensive "Renewable Energy" will be costly for both consumers and taxpayers  – at a time when the economy is in rough shape and the government is on the verge of a fiscal meltdown – and the rationale of curbing carbon emissions is fatally flawed.  Remember, and keep reminding others, that carbon dioxide is beneficial, not harmful.]

 

11/27/10, D1, Volt named Car of the Year, Detroit Free Press – The 2011 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle has been named Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine for General Motors’ second title in four years.  A picture of the vehicle (red model) is displayed.  [The price, tax credits, and technical limitations of the Volt are not mentioned in the article.  We would certainly not recommend buying it.]

 

11/24/10, US Speeds up process to OK wind farms in the Atlantic: Bluewater welcomes plan for streamlined coordination, Nicole Gaudiano – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar played lead role in announcing the creation of an “interagency wind office to coordinate all federal agencies involved in offshore wind.”  His rationale: “If you have a process that’s seven to nine years, it simply is unacceptable.”

        The steps: (a) Leasing process will be simplified when there is only one qualified, interested developer. (b) Bureau officials will work with states to indentify “wind energy areas” with high wind potential and few conflicts from competing uses off coasts of VA, MD, DE, NJ, RI, and MA in next 60 days.  (c) In January, Dept. of Interior will issue a “request for interest” to developers who might be interested in leasing in these areas.  (d) Govt. will begin an environmental assessment of the wind energy areas, and follow up by offering leases in the areas by late 2011 or early 2012.  (e) Developers could then propose projects that would receive a full environmental impact statement. 

        Off Delaware, Bluewater is expected to install a meteorological tower in the spring and begin construction on the wind farm in 2014.  Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons attended the news conference, along with other notables.  Carper said the new process will provide “predictability and certainty” for businesses, calling it a “wonderful start.”  However, the federal government must also ensure that wind turbines, transmission lines and wind-energy infrastructure are built in the US [how?], while promoting industry-friendly tax policies.  Carper and Coons said they will work to extend investment and wind production tax credits, which are essential to proceed with the projects. 

        [First, tax credits for wind power are unwarranted.  All energy projects should compete on a level playing field – it is not appropriate for the federal government to attempt to pick the winners and losers.  Second, this announcement is sadly at variance with the manner in which offshore oil and gas drilling is being stiff-armed by the federal bureaucracy – including Mr. Salazar.]

 

11/22/10, "Carbon dioxide pollution drops worldwide in '09," from Associated Press reports – A 1.3% drop in CO2 emissions from 2008 was due to the economic recession.  So what?  The apparent point is the reference to CO2 [a natural component of the atmosphere essential for life as we know it] as “pollution,” both in the headline and the one-paragraph story.

 [The news coverage of the News Journal remains obdurately alarmist, with continuous reinforcement by stories of three reporters on its staff.  The local 40+ member "Climate Common Sense" organization has never been mentioned, despite information provided to more than one reporter, and many national level stories have been ignored as well.  See our 11/21/10 entry re the unreported trading shutdown on the Chicago emissions exchange.]

 

11/22/10, A12, Contrary to public opinion, electric cars are not green, Howard Smith, Newark

Smith’s letter notes that plug-in electricity comes from coal and natural gas power plants, which produce carbon dioxide so “you do not have a green car.”  [A good point for anyone who has the mistaken idea that driving an electric vehicle would be virtuous because CO2 is bad.]

He also asks:  "Where do all the dead batteries end up?"  

Smith says electric vehicles would reduce dependence on foreign oil.  [Maybe, but such dependence could be reduced much more by easing the restrictions on drilling for domestic oil and gas.  In any case, we have plenty of local and nearby oil for the military.]

 

11/21/10 – Trading is shutting down on the Chicago emissions exchange, a lucrative venture that would have been spawned by “cap and trade” legislation.  We have been looking for the story in the News Journal, which has ardently published other news pertaining to the manmade global warming theory, so far without avail.  http://bit.ly/aq4Eka

 

11/21/10, A7, Climate change central focus at Cancun UN Conference: “Green fund” is one of three issues, Charles Hanley (AP) – “The last time the world warmed, 120,000 years ago, the Cancun coastline was swamped by a 7-foot rise in sea level in a few decades.  A week from now at that Mexican resort, frustrated negotiations will try again to head off a new global deluge.”  The 194-nation, UN sponsored conference [or boondoggle] will run from Nov. 29-Dec. 10, reprising the action at Copenhagen last December that failed to produce a legally-binding “climate agreement.” 

A standoff is reported between the US, which for 13 years has refused to join the rest of the industrialized world in the Kyoto Protocol, and China, India, et al. that were exempted by that treaty and have continued to increase their carbon emissions.  No one expects Cancun to resolve the standoff, so delegates will focus on climate financial aid [slush fund paid for by developing countries, possibly $100B a year by 2020],” etc. to try to “revive momentum” for future conferences (South Africa in 2011, Rio in 2012).

Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change “seem to be accelerating,” which brings us back to the initial claim about the rapid sea level rise 120,000 years ago.  The basis: a study of fossilized reefs in the vicinity of Cancun [not new information; the study was publicized in April 2009 during the run-up to Copenhagen] that supposedly shows waters rose “at least two meters (6.6 feet) in as little as 50 years.”  At the time [when carbon emissions from humans were insignificant], says the article, temperatures [global average, and if so how measured?] were “only” 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. So watch out, because based on this study and other information, “authoritative projections of 2007” – that seas might rise by up to 1.94 feet by 2100 – “now appear too conservative.” 

“Scientists and conservationists” say “only a binding treaty with deep reductions can ensure the world will avoid the worst environmental upheavals.”  But U.S. action has been ruled out for two years, due to “the takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, many of whom dismiss scientific evidence of human-caused warming.”

[This is propaganda, not news.  In a similar vein, see Hanley’s 8/13/10 article, “Natural disasters are more than just a summer fad, climate experts say.”    

        It is not science either, because there is far more known about sea level history than is here deduced from the Cancun reefs study. For example, “during one relatively short period fourteen thousand years ago, sea level rapidly rose about 100 feet.”  To a geologist, “the past is key to the future,” Steve Goddard, SPPI paper, 10/210/10. http://bit.ly/bOPX5x

        If sea levels truly are poised for a major rise due to renewed climate warming – and we are unaware of any compelling scientific evidence to support such an outlook -- hugely expensive restrictions on carbon emissions are unlikely to stop it.

There is something real in this story, however, which is the self-interest of the less developed countries – and the bitter politicization of what should be a scientific debate.]

 

11/20/10, A7, Spain cuts subsidies for new solar-power projects, Ben Sills (Bloomberg News)

Spain reduced subsidies for new solar-power projects while backing away from plans to impose cuts on existing generators after owners threatened lawsuits.  [Hard to take something away, as the US may find in trying to do what’s required to avoid severe inflation.] For new ground-based photovoltaic plants, the subsidy will be cut 45%; there will be a 5% cut for new home roof installations.  For existing plants, subsidies will expire after 25 years, rather than being lowered.  [Spain went all out to cut CO2 emissions by subsidizing solar power, and got into severe economic trouble as a result. See 10/26/10 story by Sills on the same subject.]

 

11/20/10, A8, U.S. Supreme Court should rule on Delaware dredging – Re 11/19 report of dismissal of Delaware suit against dredging of the Delaware River shipping channel, this editorial points out that there is still a New Jersey lawsuit going and also the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has vowed to appeal.  “We have long opposed this now 10-year-old-plus battle to deepen the main shipping channel . . . economic development benefits [will] go almost entirely to Pennsylvania [what about the Port of Wilmington?] . . . we are highly concerned . . . about how these federal rulings in favor of the U.S. Corps of Engineers are affecting states’ rights and local environmental regulation.”  Therefore, we hope the case will go to the U. S. Supreme Court.  “Its input on the federal-state relationships regarding environmental control is needed.”  [Time for some common sense, doesn’t Delaware have anything more important to worry about?]

 

11/19/10, A1/A2, Judge tosses out Del. lawsuit: Ruling deals blow to state’s authority over river, Sean O’Sullivan U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson dismissed a Delaware state lawsuit against plans of the Corps of Engineers to deepen the shipping channel in the Delaware River.  The Corps did not need to obtain permits from the State, she said, because Congress had given it authority to proceed, superseding state rules.  Work may resume in December, but likely will not restart until next summer.  [At long last, this absurd controversy appears to be over.  The state authorities should have folded their tent a long time ago.]

 

11/19/10, A7/A9, NRG Energy plans to install more electric vehicle chargers: Stations will be placed near stores and in homes in Houston, Tom Fowler (Houston Chronicle) – NRG (which operates the Indian River power plant in Delaware) is planning to install 150 charging stations within 25 miles of downtown Houston and to offer monthly plans for in-home chargers as a way to ease consumers into the idea of buying one of the many new electric vehicles scheduled for production in the next few years.

       According to the story, the network of charging stations will be “privately-funded.”  [Maybe so, in which case we have no objection.  However, a parallel story in today’s Wall Street Journal notes that “to date, the Department of Energy has dominated the creation of public car-charging infrastructure with $130 million in grants to two California companies, Coulomb Technologies Inc. and EcoTally Inc., which are installing public chargers in two dozen cities.]

        80-90% of electric vehicle (EV) charging will occur at home; the public stations are primarily to provide assurance against getting stranded.  NRG will offer monthly payment plans that include installation of 240-volt home-charging stations.  The high-end ($89 per month) plan will cover all electricity costs for charging both at home and at the public stations.  It is expected that NRG’s charging business “will be a money-loser for several years” because “car companies are rolling out new EVs on a limited basis.”

        [Does NRG really see this program as a sound business proposition, and if so why?  Despite commentary in the article about the purported cost savings of EVs, we remain skeptical.]

 

11/19/10, A9, Toyota plans plug-in hybrid for ’12: All-electric car also in works for US, Europe, Yuri Kageyama (AP) – Article reports on Toyota’s plans to offer a plug-in hybrid for $36,000, supposedly “without subsidies,” and also come out with a true electric vehicle (EV) in 2012 “mainly for short commutes.”  The company has sold 2.8 million hybrids around the world since the first-generation Prius went on sale in 1997.

 According to the article:  "A plug-in hybrid is cleaner than a regular hybrid because it travels longer as a zero-emission electric vehicle." [Not necessarily, if the electricity comes from a coal-fired plant.]

[Sales of pricey hybrids and EVs have benefitted from the assumptions that CO2 causes global warming, such warming is harmful, the world is running out of oil, etc., which have been used to justify government mandates [rising fuel economy requirements] and subsidies. When the wheels finally fall off this creaky bandwagon, that justification will disappear.  Meanwhile, automakers will be selling these vehicles at high prices to a small market.]

 

11/18/10, A7/A9, Calpine gets to work: Conectiv’s successor plans to expand Edgemoor plant, Aaron Nathans – Following its purchase of 19 Conectiv generating stations (5 in Delaware) last summer, Calpine converted the Edge Moor Energy Center plant from coal to natural gas.  It has now announced plans to expand the plant’s 760-megawatt capacity with a 350-megawatt “peaker” plant.  The new facility would become operational around 2014, and unlike the current plant would be fired up  to meet peak demand versus being run continuously.  “It’s my goal to modernize this facility for the next 30, 40 years,” said CEO Jack Fusco.

       [Good!  If we "dodge the bullet" and escape the super-inflation threat, there will be a need for more generating capacity.  New local capacity should help local consumers, sparing them from higher rates for remotely generated power.]

 

11/14/10, A1/A5, Campuses go solar: Panels can be cost-effective and they put a school ahead of the renewable-energy curve, Wade Malcolm – The article features installation of solar panels on the roof of the University of Delaware Field House.  Wesley College and DelTech plan similar projects.  UD’s energy costs will supposedly be reduced “by more than $30,000 per year at today’s energy rates and as much as $60,000 per year if electricity prices increase as expected.”   More to the point, however, is the statement that "universities across the country are finding renewable energy projects appealing for environmental stewardship and image enhancement."

        About those cost savings: A 30% federal tax credit is counted as a saving.  Also important is a Delaware statutory requirement that utility companies derive 25% of their renewable energy from renewable sources by 2025, plus the fact that solar power does not provide continuous power supply.  No wonder Economist John Stapleford of the Caesar Rodney Institute suggests that the government might do better to subsidize more competitive power sources like nuclear energy, or perhaps sponsor research on how to store intermittent wind and solar power so that backup generators won’t be required.

        [Government support for solar/wind power rests on a shaky foundation - demonization of Carbon Dioxide.  That idea may collapse after the 2011 publication of "Climate of Corruption" by Larry Bell.  From a book review in Heartland Institute's November issue:  "Larry Bell has uncovered through outstanding investigative reporting why and how this scam has been so successful for nearly 20 years.  Also, we do not support government subsidies for any type of energy, including nuclear – level the playing field and let the market decide.]

 

11/14/10, A5, For US energy chief, a race to encourage alternative fuel: Stimulus money is almost all gone, Steven Mufson (Washington Post) – Energy Secretary Steven Chu rides a bike to work, with a Secret Service agent riding close behind.  He is a Nobel Prize winning scientist, meaning he is very intelligent.  And he spends a lot of time and effort pushing for alternative energy projects based on his alarmist views about global warming, effectively serving as the Administration’s “green-energy czar.”   

            “It isn’t easy to foster innovation or choose economic winners; many policymakers say government shouldn’t even try and that there are better ways to create jobs.” [We share the latter view.]

       “We’re looking very hard at what would bring solar-power costs down by a factor of four,” says Chu. [Do that and solar power might be competitive.]  “In the meantime, many people are judging the energy portions of the stimulus programs on the basis of jobs.” [And we all know how successful the stimulus programs have been, just look at how the jobless rate has fallen.  This kind of interference in the economic sector should be stopped, along with much other nonproductive government activity.]

 

11/14/10, A29, With Chevrolet’s Volt, American taxpayers are taken for a ride: George Will – Paralleling Charles Lanes’ column on 11/2/10, Will derides the forthcoming “Volt” as a costly boondoggle based on “meretricious accounting and deceptive marketing.”  Having a million plug-in cars in America by 2015, as the president foresees, “will require much higher gasoline prices (perhaps $9 a gallon) and much bigger bribes: GM, which originally was expected to produce 60,000 next year, now says 10,000 for all of North America.”

 

11/14/10, D1, Will Fisker sell cars to GE?  Jonathan Starkey – For reasons best known to itself, GE made news last week by promising to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015.  Of these, it has committed to buy 12,000 Volts from GM.  Which leaves the fascinating question of whether some of the other 13,000 electric vehicles will be purchased from Fisker Motors, which “would probably love to unload” some of the 100,000 Ninas that it plans to build by 2013 on GE.  “Whether that’s unrealistic remains to be seen – as does the car, which remains a concept.” [Doesn’t the News Journal have anything better to think about?]

 

11/13/10, A7, Fisker to unveil factory-built Karma in L.A., Jonathan Starkey – An $88,000 Karma sport sedan was flown from Paris to California for the L.A. Auto Show.  CEO Henry Fisker issued a fatuous statement:  "As a center for style and culture made up of people who are proud to express their personalities and their concern for the environment, Los Angeles is the perfect place for the Karma to make its North American debut".  [Those who have earned the money are entitled to enjoy the novelty of the Karma and have the right to express a fatuous concern for the environment.  Half of the plug-in electricity will come from coal-fired plants.]

The much cheaper Nina is scheduled for production at the old GM plant on Boxwood Road near Wilmington DE, aided by $21.5 million in State of Delaware grants and loans, and a $528.7 million loan from the U.S. Dept of Energy.  [Federal and state governments should be more friendly to business, but should leaving picking winners and losers to the free market. Looks like it is time to disband the Department of Energy.]

 

11/8/10, A6, Electric cars due on streets soon – but then what? Widespread acceptance will take years, many say, Chris Woodward (USA Today) The president has “set a goal of a million plug-in electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015,” but there is some question as to how this could work.  One of the skeptics is auto researcher J.D. Power and Associates: “Barring significant changes to public policy, including [more?] tax incentives and higher fuel-economy standards [see 10/2/10 report], we don’t anticipate a mass migration to green vehicles in the coming decade,” says Senior V-P John Humphrey. [In other words, the idea is to disable market mechanisms and force this expensive boondoggle on the American public.  Not a good idea!]

 

11/7/10, E1, Boehner on climate change, Aaron Nathans If the discussion about addressing climate-change “moves into the next Congress,” the president will “need the help of the anticipated new House speaker, John Boehner, to do anything the EPA can’t do alone.” [Apparently intent on labeling Boehner as a climate change denier,] Nathans cites an April 2009 appearance on ABC’s “This Week in which Boehner “sounded reluctant to push the United States to take unilateral action.”  Among other things, Representative Boehner said “we’ve had climate change over the last 100 years.  *** The question is how much does man have to do with it, and what is the proper way to deal with this.  We can’t do it alone as one nation.  If we got India, China and other industrialized countries not working with us, all we’re going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas.” [Well put!]

 

11/7/10, EI, Fisker Auto looking to privately raise $75million-$150 million, Jonathan Starkey

The contemplated financing is on top of $300M already raised in the private sector, $529M borrowed from the U.S. Energy Dept., and $21.5M in grants and loans from Delaware.  We’re told that “eventually, a public offering of Fisker’s stock is expected to pay back all of those private investors – past and present.”  [But how’s that going to work, when in fact electric cars figure to be an expensive novelty item with limited market potential? See 11/2/10 column by Charles Lane.]

 

11/5/10, A12, Outlook for ‘cap-and trade’ dims: Carbon futures slide; might reduce budget for Delaware’s SEU: Kim Chipman and Simon Lomax (Bloomberg News) – According to this story, the president is “[distancing] himself from the ‘cap-and-trade’ program he once backed as the best tool to limit global warming.”  And “futures contracts in the U.S. Northeast’s carbon market fell to their lowest level in six weeks,” which could “mean less money for Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility to use for energy-efficiency grants.” [Good!]

Also, Republicans in the next Congress are reportedly “likely to increase pressure on Obama to delay or scrap his plan to regulate carbon through the Environmental Protection Agency.”  [They had better move quickly, because] “the EPA is preparing to regulate CO2 as a pollutant starting January 2.” [For the last time, CO2 is not a pollutant.  Note that the EPA is planning to target petroleum refineries and coal power plants, ignoring all other sources of CO2 emissions, in an effort to avoid a tidal wave of public opposition that could not be ignored.]  

        The Northeast “cap and trade” scheme – [including Delaware, but excluding Pennsylvania and West Virginia] – remains operational.  [Delawarean John Nichols has given talks about why this program should be disbanded.  We need to keep up the pressure.]

       Various alternatives to cap-and-trade, which would achieve much the same effect by mandating/subsidizing alternative energy, are under discussion in Washington. (1) Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) would set a national standard requiring the use of renewable fuel such as solar and wind power.  (2) Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has a similar idea in mind except that he would add nuclear power and “clean-coal” plants to the preferred energy sources. [We say no to either mandates or subsidies.  Level the playing field and let the market decide.]

 

11/4/10, A15,  A turn for the better? – Last paragraph of Associated Press article re effects of the election results on foreign policy:  " - on the global environment, the election campaign already has hurt Obama's chances of passing legislation that would curb climate-warming emissions.  Candidates from both parties railed against it as anti-business." [This is good news, maybe we are making progress.]

 

11/4/10, Obama says he may compromise – on some issues, David Espo (AP) – Obama also virtually abandoned legislation, hopelessly stalled in the Senate, which includes economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. "I'm going to be looking for other means of addressing this problem," he said. "Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat." [Was the president referring to geo-engineering approaches? More likely he had in mind EPA regulations that would force CO2 emission reductions without the benefit of legislation – a very bad idea.]

 

11/2/10, A8, Wind-power plan kicks up scuffle: Aim is to help Google-backed company transport energy, Jim Snyder (Bloomberg News) – Further to a 10/13/10 article re proposed $5B offshore transmission line to link planned and future wind-power projects in a network, prospects may be improved by a regulation drafted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The aim of the regulation is to help make wind and solar energy competitive with coal and natural gas by mandating that transmission pricing plans submitted by regional grid operations and utilities, which FERC must approve as “just and reasonable,” take into account “transmission needs driven by public-policy requirements” including standards calling for the use of more renewable energy. In other words, conventional energy systems would be taxed to support the offshore “backbone” and also new transmission lines to transmit mid-continent wind energy to the East Coast. [A sneaky way to subsidize undependable, expensive energy sources.  The scheme is rightly opposed by energy suppliers on behalf of their customers.  We hope the results of the mid-term election will help build enough opposition to kill the idea.]

 

11/2/10, A11, Evidence against electric cars fails to dissuade Obama, Charles Lane – Lane questions the outlook for electric cars, citing among other things a J.D. Power and associates report confirming, “in devastating detail, what many other experts have found: Electric cars still cost too much, even with substantial federal subsidies for both manufacturers and consumers, to attract more than a handful of wealthy buyers.” Some selected points: (1) Fine print on the GM Volt ad promises just “25-50 miles of electric driving in moderate conditions,” after which the gas motor takes over. (2) Volt’s price $33,500 after $7,500 federal tax credit.  (3) Industry and government not close to resolving lack of a nationwide recharging infrastructure.  (4) Little support for talk about bringing cost of battery packs down 70% by 2014, and J.D. Powers doubts it.  [Rising prices of rare earth minerals (another story on A-8) wouldn’t help.]  (5) Environmental problems associated with disposal of used battery packs. (6) Re reduction of CO2 emissions, much of the electricity to recharge batteries would come from coal-fired plants.  “In short, the Obama administration’s commitment of $5 billion in loans and grants for electric cars is the biggest taxpayer ripoff since corn-based ethanol.  It benefits no one but a few well-to-do car buyers and politically connected companies.” [Great column!]

 

10/31/10, A26, "House leader issues geoengineering report," Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) -

"A senior House Democrat from Tennessee [Rep. Bart Gordon, D-TN] issued the first congressional report on geoengineering Friday, just as delegates from 193 nations approved a ban on such research under a global biodiversity treaty."  A recently concluded Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan [representatives of 193 nations got expense-paid trips; didn’t these folks ever hear of videoconferencing?] approved the ban until such time as there is an international, science-backed consensus as to the desirability of using geoengineering measures (e.g., ocean fertilization with iron to increase CO2 uptake by the phytoplankton, and injecting sulfates "into the ozone layer”) to manipulate the climate and prevent global warming, etc.  Small-scale scientific research studies are permissible under the convention, however, and the U.S. has not yet ratified the convention anyway.

        The report of Gordon’s House Science and Technology Committee focuses on providing “insight into where federal research capabilities lie that could be leveraged for these activities.” Roles are identified for the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Energy Department. [Sounds like these agency do not have enough to do, and are looking for government-funded research projects to oversee. Shades of NERO, fiddling around as the federal government drowns in debt.

See our comments on a 10/18/10 column by Dana Milbank, covering the same subject, including reference to the 1990 studies of physicist Edward Teller.  We would suggest that Congress spend less time on such matters, and concentrate on balancing the budget and reversing federal government roadblocks to business that prevent Americans from getting jobs.]

 

10/28/10, A14, "Tough, flexible approach needed in House" – In this editorial, the News Journal endorses John Carney for the House seat, ostensibly because “Mr. Urquhart’s insistence that tax cuts are the cure-all for our problems, limits his flexibility.” 

Actually, Urquhart would appear to have an advantage when it comes to recognizing that “at some point, federal spending programs will have to be adjusted to face economic reality.” He has suggested some actual spending cuts.  The only evidence cited of Carney’s willingness to cut spending is the statement that “both candidates are willing to consider the recommendations of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission” when issued in December.  

Reading between the lines, we suspect the real tiebreaker came earlier: "But [Urquhart’s] appeal for less regulation to spur business investment without sacrificing safety measure(s) rings hollow for someone who considers climate change a scheme and advocates getting rid of the Energy Department." [Oh dear, it seems that the News Journal still buys into the discredited theory of human-caused global warming.  Where is that wooden stake?]

 

10/28/10, A7 "Constellation sells nuclear stake to EDF after dispute,” Jim Polson and Kari Lundgren, Bloomberg News – Article mostly about a dispute between companies.  Foreign companies (EDF is French) cannot legally hold a U.S. nuclear plant license, so "EDF will need a new partner.  New nuclear in the U.S. is not attractive at this juncture,” spelling a likely delay in a proposed nuclear power reactor at the Calvert Cliffs, Md. plant.  This represents an update of an Aaron Nathans story on 10/12/10.

[We like nuclear, but if new supplies make natural gas cheaper - go for gas.  Natural gas may not remain cheap, however, if the environmentalists win out.  They have raised concerns about possible groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing fluid used to break up shale and release the entrapped natural gas.]

 

10/27/10, A21, Urquhart vs. Carney columns on energy policy – Herewith a tabular comparison of the policy differences expressed:

 

 

Carney

Urquhart

Title

“Renewable energy is key to security and prosperity”

“Regulatory scheme will stifle energy innovation”

National security

Meet needs of troops in the field without fuel convoys [how?], reduce oil imports from unfriendly regimes

Develop domestic sources of natural gas and oil, especially on shore. 

“Green” jobs

Great opportunity to convert old manufacturing plants for production of cutting edge products, e.g., Fisker takeover of old GM plant.  Extend tax credits, speed regulatory approvals, improve job training

Favors “all of the above” energy policy. Wind energy, etc., will need large-scale power storage.  Offer “huge national prizes” for an economically feasible system; let private sector choose lines of research. Revamp federal regulations to encourage cleaner coal power plants. “Tweak” loan guarantee programs for nuclear power plants. Continue Energy Star conservation program.

Protecting  environment

“Scientific evidence linking human activity to global climate change is more than compelling.”  Delaware is particularly at risk, as a low-lying costal state.  I strongly oppose oil and natural gas drilling off Delaware’s coast.

 No specific comment on manmade global warming theory, but “emission free energy is good for everyone.”  Develop domestic sources of natural gas and oil, especially on shore.

 

10/26/10, A6/A7, Solar-plan investors on brink of disaster; Overburdened Spanish program could renege on subsidies, Ben Sills (Bloomberg News) – It seemed like such a neat idea.  The country receives 900 thousand terawatt-hours of irradiation from the sun each year, more than 3,000 times the power used annually by its citizens.  Convert a small portion of this power to electricity, and it could be a solar-energy revolution.  But a substantial subsidy was required to make the solar power economic, and the spending did not generate any “green” jobs because Spanish investors imported most of their solar panels “when domestic manufacturers couldn’t meet short term demand.”  Also, the Spanish government wound up being saddled “with at least $176 billion of obligations to renewable-energy investors.”  Subsidies are now being cut back, and investors may wind up with substantial losses. [A cautionary tale that should be heeded in this country.]

 

10/24/10, A29, "Don't waste tax dollars on green ventures,"Shaun Fink (Executive VP of the Caesar Rodney Institute)“Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Delaware Development Office recently announced a new revolving loan fund designed to ‘make loans . . . to businesses that cannot otherwise obtain capital.’  Put in a more straightforward way, the state is going to be loaning tax dollars to businesses that cannot borrow money.” And the envisioned beneficiaries, apparently, are in the “emerging green technology” sector, which “cannot obtain capital because “costs remain too high and demand is too low.”

Mr. Fink goes on to say taxpayer dollars should be loaned to the most deserving candidates from an economic standpoint, whether “green” or otherwise, in part because “this is anything but a robust economy.” He urges due consideration to “hundreds of existing businesses that would benefit immensely from a little more DEDO attention – businesses that have passed the market test and are looking to expand.”

 [As we understand it, the CRI generally supports a free market and smaller government.  We agree that taxpayer dollars should not be used “to gamble on an industry that cannot survive in the marketplace,” e.g., green technology ventures.  But the logic of loaning taxpayer dollars to sound businesses escapes us, thereby usurping the role of private sector lenders.

 In our opinion, governments should not offer taxpayer money to attract business.  The competition between states should be based on providing an attractive business climate, including moderate taxes and sensible business regulations.]

 

10/23/10, A8, Vote for candidates who will oppose cap and trade, John Greer, Wilmington – “Cap and trade will cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars and millions of jobs for little or no real-world benefit,” this letter to the editor begins.  Some will make fortunes, while “ordinary people” see their energy costs soar.  And costs will rise for virtually every product and service due to the higher cost of energy to produce and move [or provide] them.

        China’s carbon emission growth will offset any U.S. decline.  European cap and trade plan, “plagued by abuse and corruption,” has failed to stop the growth of carbon emissions there.  [Also, the allegedly pernicious effects of carbon emissions remain an unproven theory.]

        So “please vote for Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart, who strongly oppose cap and trade [while] “Chris Coons and John Carney support cap and trade.” [We would welcome a solid debate of these issues in the electoral campaigns.  To our knowledge, it has not happened yet.]

 

10/18/10, A13, "Global warming and innovative solutions," Dana Milbank – Although this column has some positive aspects, there are more holes in it than in Swiss cheese.  Furthermore, we wonder whether Milbank is serious about the course of action that is outlined or is simply trying to scare people having the audacity to question the manmade global warming theory.

 Since Cap & Trade isn't going to pass in the next two years, says Milbank, Democrats should get serious about "proposals to cool the Earth and remove excess carbon." [Most climate alarmists are not insistent on removing CO2 already in the atmosphere, but there are exceptions such as people in the “350 network”.]  Geoengineeering ideas include painting roofs white [see 9/18/10 entry], covering deserts with reflective aluminum, spraying clouds with sea salt to make them whiter, scattering fine particles with reflective qualities in the upper atmosphere [an idea suggested by physicist Edward Teller in the 1990’s], and putting sun reflectors into orbit. 

Milbank is not necessarily advocating any of these ideas, but only organizing research program to study them [just think of all those lovely government research grants].  But he apparently would prefer restrictions on carbon emissions, as suggested by his statement that “some environmentalists think geoengineering will give opponents an excuse not to pursue carbon regulations."

        [We are agnostic about geoengineering research so long as the government is not spending a lot of money on it. Scattering reflective particles in the atmosphere or whatever could be much cheaper than a forced makeover of U.S. energy systems.  But it would be premature to implement any of these ideas because: (1) The current warming trend looks to be benign.  The climate was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period and earlier warm periods than it is at present, and nothing terrible happened.  And if the climate really did start heating up in a big way, which has not happened to date, there should be time to take counter-measures (see below). (2) Longer term, another Ice Age looks more likely than the catastrophic warming that is visualized, although it would take thousands of years to develop, again allowing time for counter-measures. 

Note than Edward Teller’s “sunscreen” idea could be implemented in such a way as to either cool the planet (using particles to reflect heat away from the Earth) or warm it (using particles to reflect heat back towards the Earth). “Global Warming and Ice Ages,” 1997 preprint of a paper for the 22nd International Seminar on National Emergencies, Erice (Sicily) Italy.]

 

10/17/10, E5, "Natural gas alters landscape for power producers,” Jonathan Fahey (AP)

 Shale beds hold enormous amounts of natural gas.  Because of new hydraulic fracturing ("Fracking") techniques, this gas can now be extracted economically.  Natural gas prices are down to about $3.50 per 1000 cubic feet.  As a result: "Proposed wind farms and nuclear reactors have been delayed or scuttled.”  Coal power plants will also be under pressure due to the cost of meeting increasingly stringent pollution standards (caps on CO2 emissions would make things even worse for coal power).

            [Good news: power prices may be far cheaper than has been anticipated.  The cancellation or delay of wind power plants is particularly encouraging since offshore wind power would be over twice as expensive as nuclear power. But don’t celebrate yet, because “there is a fear that fluids from fracking could contaminate drinking water supplies,” and good old Congress has asked the EPA to study the issue. Also, even though natural gas power emits about 50% as much CO2 as coal power, it is still subject to attack based on the manmade global warming theory.  Let’s hope that for once the regulators and Congress do not strangle a promising new technology by attempting to impose unreasonable restrictions on it.

            If gas power turns out to be cheaper than nuclear power, so be it, but we continue to favor streamlining the approval requirements for nuclear power plants.  The idea is to create a level playing field for all power sources, with the exception of regulations that are truly justified on a cost vs. benefit basis, and then allow market forces to determine the winners.]

 

10/14/10, A3, “New EPA ruling raises ethanol ‘blend wall’: 15% concentration OK for newer vehicles,” Ledyard King (Gannett) – This decision is described as “a partial but important victory for a biofuels industry that’s been stuck in neutral because of production roadblocks.”  A maximum 15% ethanol blend gas (E15) would replace the E10 standard set in 1979, initially for vehicles made since 2007, but probably for all vehicles down the line. The last paragraph of the story discloses that the ethanol has its critics – environmental groups “say it eats up billions in federal subsidies without doing much to cut greenhouse gases or reduce dependence on foreign fuel.”  Food manufacturers warn of higher food prices as corn is raised for ethanol production.

[So the EPA is doing all this to gratify ethanol producers and farmers?  Tell us it is not so.]

 

10/14/10, A16, “Google boldly leads way with wind power venture – Editorial lauds “the Internet company” Google [actually, a Japanese company is the “Google” involved in this venture, see the 10/13/10 report] and other investors for pledging an unspecified amount of money for the offshore transmission line proposal.  “Many feared only the federal government would have the money and the inclination to invest at such a scale.”  And since offshore wind power could “move from region to region as the power of the wind rises or falls . . . the offshore power sources would be even more reliable.”  OK, arrangements with regional projects will be required, a slew of tests completed, and dozens of license obtained before the project gets underway.  “But the announcement is good news.  Go for it.” [See our comments yesterday.  We rest our case.]

 

10/13/10, A1/A8, "Transmission line planned off the East Coast," Aaron Nathans – An investor group, including Trans-Elect (a transmission company) and Good Energies and Marubeni Corp. of Japan (aka Google), is planning a 350 mile underwater cable to connect offshore wind farms and "dispatch clean power to wherever it is needed along the Atlantic Coast and provide a steady supply of electricity during periods of low wind." [It would be steadier, but not steady.  There will be periods of low wind along the entire coast.  Also, high wind especially during a hurricane when the blades must be stopped.]

        “The investors are pledging an unspecified amount of money to plan and gain permits for the [transmission line] backbone, and would have to raise more funding to build the $5 billion line.”

To proceed with the project, they would “need sign-offs from 13 federal agencies.” 

        Firms that have been working of individual wind power projects are leery that the backbone proposal could complicate their plans, which already include transmission arrangements.  Thus, said Scott Jennings of PSE&G Global, the backbone “is simply not needed” for the projects currently on the drawing board.

       Obviously, the project is a long-term proposition, and Google’s interest may be a matter of environmental PR.  The company has reportedly “been under pressure to go green because its data centers consume huge amounts of electricity.”

        [The $5 billion cost of the backbone, would presumably run up the $230 per million watt hour cost for offshore wind power (Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook, April 2009), which is already quite high.  Onshore wind power cost is $142/mwh.  Conventional coal power is $78/mwh. 

This proposal should, and probably will fall by the wayside as more scientists and others recognize that CO2 is beneficial, not harmful.]

 

10/12/10, A6, “Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant expansion now in doubt: Partner’s withdrawal, market conditions will slow progress,” Aaron Nathans – "A proposed third reactor has been planned for the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant on the shore of Chesapeake Bay -- "But it's not going ahead because natural gas has gotten cheaper, and the Department of Energy wants an $880 million fee [over what period?] to guarantee payment on loans.”

        [We need a free market for energy suppliers, so why would the federal government be guaranteeing loans?  The Energy Department should be shut down.  It is working against itself by helping and hindering energy production at the same time.

       Nuclear energy companies are apparently working to get preliminary approvals for new plants so as to lessen the delay in case they want to go ahead.  It would be unwise to expect nuclear power plants to be built quickly; this is unlikely to happen without a big change in policy at the top.

        The writer neglects to bemoan this development as a setback in the battle against global warming; somehow, the specter of global warming only seems relevant in justifying wind and solar energy projects.]

 

10/10/10, A3, “Oil still there even if reporters are not: Gulf disaster fades from media now that well is capped,” Jay Reeves (AP) Environmentalists are apparently disappointed that the damage done by the BP oil spill in the Gulf did not live up to its billing and life in the region is getting back to normal fairly quickly.  Why else would Dave Edmonds, who lives on the Delaware coast, have “started a nonprofit organization (Taking Back the Gulf) “to keep the disaster on people’s minds with a website and social networking campaign”?  Other people are apparently pursuing damage claims, such as Chef Chris Sherrill, whose “wedding catering and event business in Gulf Shore, Ala., is teetering because few brides are still coming to the beach for weddings.” [Enough, this “update” is not news, it is propaganda.]

 

10/10/10, A33, “China shining spotlight on clean-energy efforts: Country touts success at climate-change meetings,” Tini Tran (AP) – China may be “the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas producer,” according to this report, but it “poured $34.6 billion into clean energy in 2009, nearly double the U.S. investment.”  Now the country has launched  “a media blitz to promote its energy initiatives, [take] aim at developed countries for inadequate emission cuts and [showcase] its model environmental technologies.”  One of the showcase projects is a $1 billion “near-zero emissions” GreenGen plant being built on the outskirts of Tanjing, which will burn coal gas instead of solid coal, thereby “making it easier to capture carbon emissions.”  [China is not about to hobble their economy with high cost investments, but they do want a stake in “clean energy” technology in hopes of exporting it and are also anxious to improve their standing in the eyes of the world.  It will be interesting to see how they play the environmental image game.]

 

10/10/10, G1, “Atlantic City takes the plunge on wind energy: Demonstration project on fast track,” Aaron Nathans – Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey wants to build a six-turbine demonstration wind farm three miles offshore (in state waters, so federal permit are not needed).  They hope to get state permits by the end of 2010 and build by 2012.  The firm “says building a smaller project will help convince investors of the financial soundness of offshore wind projects.”

The State of New Jersey funded a $7 million study re the effects on avian and sea life.  Also, it “passed a law that will require all utilities to buy off-shore wind power.  And lawmakers have “tasked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities with examining a variety of factors when approving offshore wind electricity sales” rather than worrying “mostly about electricity prices.”   

Daniel Cohen, president of Fisherman’s Energy, did say, however, that “it’s important we provide the public a commodity at a price the public is willing to pay.” [OK, why doesn’t New Jersey butt out and let the market decide?  That might help the state to cut spending, as the new governor has pledged to do.]

 

10/9/10, A9, "Addressing global warming must be a priority," Chad Tolman – According to this Delaware Voice column, everyone who counts has bought into the manmade global warming theory except GOP candidates Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart. Tolman’s prior submissions to the News Journal, e.g., a 2/27/10 column, have a similarly one-sided flavor. 

        [Wonder whether the writer believes what he is saying or is simply flinging a "Hail Mary" desperation pass.  His column does underscore a point we made yesterday, however, namely it would behoove O’Donnell and Urquhart to get up to speed on this issue.]

       According to Tolman: "The vast majority (more than 97 per cent in a recent study) of climate scientists agree with the consensus position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change *** [that] the primary cause (of warming) is increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases - especially carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels."

        [97 out of 100 scientists living on government grants might say this, but compare a petition signed by over 30,000 scientists and engineers, which reads, in part, as follows: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's climate.  Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."]

Tolman writes: "sea level could rise as much as 5 feet by 2100, but could be much more than that.”  [Actually, sea level rise has continued at a relatively steady rate of about 7 inches per century since the Little Ice Age.  This is based on 23 scientific studies reviewed in "Climate Change Reconsidered" by Idso and Singer, 2009.]

        2010 will likely be the hottest in recorded history – we already have too much “waste” from fossil fuels in the atmosphere (about 390 parts per million) – Sunday will be an international day of climate awareness and action in over 150 countries, with 350 trees to be planted in Delaware – British economist Nicholas Stern says it will take 2-3% of world GDP to convert to alternative energy in “a timely way,” but “delaying could cost 20 percent of world GDP each year” -- to understand why we need a green revolution, read “Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman.

[By way of response, remember that CO2 is not the primary cause of global warming.  Before 2010, for example, global temperatures plateaued for several years while CO2 concentration continued to rise.

      Warming and cooling is nothing new.  Between two ice ages, there have been many such cycles.  The most recent warm periods were appreciably warmer than at present, while CO2 concentration was appreciably lower.  During the Medieval Warm Period which preceded the Little Ice Age, there was farming in Greenland, and grapes were grown in areas that are too cool for grapes now.

       CO2 is beneficial to plant life, so it is counterproductive to subsidize undependable, expensive energy sources in order to decrease CO2 emissions.  An EPA finding that CO2 is a pollutant was not based on an independent review of the scientific evidence, and the agency declined to reconsider its findings after the Climategate scandal surfaced.]

 

10/8/10, A1/A2,  "Parties face environmental divide: GOP’s O’Donnell, Urquhart decline invitation to debate ‘green’ issues,” Jeff Montgomery – Congressional candidates from both parties were invited to participate in an October 12 forum sponsored by “some of Delaware’s largest environmental and citizen groups, including Delaware Nature Society, the League of Women Voters, the National Wildlife Federation and the Jewish Federation of Delaware.” From the article, the forum would have covered the gamut of environmental issues, including “smog standards, clean energy, toxic-waste cleanups, groundwater contamination, control of farmland runoff, greenhouse-gas emissions, rules for federal dredging projects, climate change, sea-level rise and river water standards.”

       Chris Coons and John Carney were eager to participate; O’Donnell and Urquhart have reportedly declined. [Big surprise - politicians understandably don't like to go before unfriendly groups.]  Critics lashed out at the GOP candidates for ducking a subject that is, in the words of Delaware State University Professor Samuel Hoff, “absolutely critical to Delaware.”

        [Under prevailing circumstances, it makes sense to give precedence to the economy and jobs over “the environment” – which overall is hardly being neglected, even though Cap and Trade was blocked in Congress and is hopefully dead, offshore wind power projects are experiencing delays, etc.  There probably should be a debate, but it should be focused on the policy issues that are actually in dispute, not environmental issues in general, and perhaps some other groups like the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce should be involved in sponsoring it.

      We like the fact that O'Donnell and Urquhart oppose Cap and Trade, and are willing to say so.  It would be to their advantage to have a staff member become very knowledgeable about the manmade global warming theory and be available to help their candidates with statements and possible debates.]

 

10/7/10, A16, "Wind execs decry permit delays: Generating costs also occupy industry," Aaron Nathans – About 1700 attended the "American Wind Energy Association's annual offshore wind power conference."  Chris Hart of the U.S. Energy Department said cost can be driven down with taller towers, longer blades and increased reliability. [Bigger wind turbines would kill more birds and spark more public opposition.]

However, Scott Jennings (President of PSEG Global, a wind power developer) said, “Research and development are much less important than streamlining the permitting process, extending tax credits, and passing climate legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions."

[Rewording this, we have no interest in competing with other energy sources on the basis of relative economics. So let’s artificially increase the price of other energy sources, subsidize wind, and proceed before the wheels come off the global warming bandwagon.]

As we have said before, delay is our friend.  It can help limit the development of expensive unreliable energy sources.  Electricity from offshore wind would be almost three times as expensive as coal power, and about 70% more expensive than onshore wind power. Pass the word.

 

10/6/10, A12, Military outpaces Congress in moving past fossil fuels – “Congress has flopped around for years” about green energy, and now the U.S. military is showing them what needs to be done – “identify a problem, focus and then move.” [Not a good idea unless “the problem” is a real one.  See our comment on a 9/12/10 story, “Uncle Sam is going green: 56 agencies detail ways to reduce carbon footprint.”]

        “Feeling the strain of supplying fuel for their vehicles and equipment,” says this editorial, the military is “pushing forward with programs to end that dependence.”  Why in the world should we be importing fossil fuel [ugh] into Afghanistan at a cost estimated by the New York Times at up to $400 a gallon?

        So lets use portable solar panels and solar chargers for computers and communications.  [Maybe so, could well be cheaper than relying on fuel-based generators.]

       But there is much more: “The Air Force is switching to biofuels and the Navy will be running some ships on electricity at lower speeds.” [The logic breaks down here! Biofuels would be more expensive to produce than oil and just as expensive to transport, maybe more so given that ethanol delivers less energy per gallon.  Hybrid ships would probably involve a big cost premium versus conventionally powered vessels.]

 

10/5/10, B1/B2, "Nuke plant worker suspected of terror ties," Jeff Montgomery (update on his 3/13/10 report) – Al-Qaida suspect Sharif Mably was arrested as a terrorist in Yemen in March 2010.  Previously, while living in the U.S., he had worked at the Salem/Hope Creek (76 weeks), Limerick (4 weeks), Peach Bottom (4 weeks), Three Mile Island (2 weeks), and Calvert Cliffs (2 weeks) nuclear power plants. “Only Three Mile Island is more than 50 miles from the [Delaware] state line.”

Between 2004 and 2009, Mably had made a number of trips to the Middle East.  Also, co-workers had heard him make statements, such as that Islam is the only true faith and that non-Muslims are infidels, although these statements were apparently not reported to management.  Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. William Owens (D-NY) have pressed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the possible security lapse in this instance, and the NRC is in the process of reviewing its plant access and control regulations. However, Neil Sheehan of the NRC’s regional office near Philadelphia is quoted that these regulations are already “quite robust,” albeit always under review.

As in his previous article, Montgomery contacted Norm Cohen, leader of "Unplug Salem.” "We've talked for years,” says Cohen, “about the need to tighten the way they vet the contract workers" 

 [Probably matters could have been handled better in this case, but beefed-up regulations will not necessarily prevent recurrences – nor can security and other risks ever be reduced to zero.  Even if all nuclear power plants were shut down, there are plenty of risks associated with alternative energy sources. Note that when Mably’s security clearance was renewed in 2008, he passed the background check despite the foreign trips and suspicious statements.  Perhaps the issue here is more a matter of organizational culture – when someone starts talking about infidels and a holy war, it is OK to report it – than of filling out more forms and such.]

 

10/3/10, A1/A11,  "Offshore wind faces political blowback," Aaron Nathans – "At least six more summers are likely to pass before a Bluewater wind turbine produces any power" due to “[a] long recession, low oil prices and a political climate that now frowns on government mandates and market subsidies."

        But it seems that economics may have something to do with the delays.  [We do not recall such an admission in Nathans’ many prior stories about wind energy, e.g., 14 since 4/1/10]. Thus, several other wind power projects along the Atlantic seaboard have come under fire because the resulting electricity was expected to be too expensive, and the CEO of Deepwater Wind is quoted that “if we want to move off of fossil fuels, we’re all going to have to pay more for electricity.” 

       Deepwater “won a purchase contract this summer that will require Rhode Island ratepayers to pay 24.4 cents per kwh starting in 2013.  And it still faces a regulatory battle over the 18.7 cents per kwh that a Massachusetts utility agreed to this spring.  Yet, Bluewater is quoting a price of 12.4 cents per kwh, which is “barely higher than the 11.98 cents per kwh most residential Delmarva customers in Delaware pay today. [Is the wind stronger off the Delaware coast, or is someone cooking the books?]

To offset the cost penalty for wind power, the industry is “looking to Washington for help.”  Tax credits and purchasing mandates are mentioned.  Also, the “full costs of fossil-fuel-generated electricity” must be recognized by “accounting for carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.” [Always the same story:  “If you can’t beat them on a level playing field, get the government to tilt it.”  But the delays that have been experienced are good news. Call me optimistic, but I think the wheels will fall off the global warming bandwagon and kill offshore turbines.]

 

10/3/10, A11,  "Obama touts cleaner energy: New solar, wind initiatives create jobs, president says,” Erica Werner (AP) – In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said (in effect) that "wind, solar and other clean energy technologies produce jobs and are essential for the county's environment and economy."  [Economists have shown that subsidized jobs destroy more jobs than they create.]

       By supporting such projects, “we are staking our claim to the continued leadership in the new global economy.”  [Meanwhile, China is building coal and nuclear power plants.  Reliance on high cost, unreliable energy sources will not be the key to economic dominance.]

And the president also refers to reducing reliance on foreign oil.   [The “energy independence” mantra is like a magician's misdirection, which diverts attention from the economic drawbacks of wind and solar power.  It also ignores the feasibility of expanding domestic oil production.]

 

10/2/10, A5, Planning a future of better mileage: 2025 standards far less wasteful: Ken Thomas (AP) EPA and DOT are not satisfied with currently projected tightening of mileage standards, but are already publicly discussing standards that would require car lineups “making today’s high-mileage hybrids seem conventional and turning gas guzzlers into mere relics.”  The new rules could “take on added significance if Congress is unable to pass energy legislation capping greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.”  Following up on the current “technical analysis,” the government intends to issue a “proposal” in September 2011 and a “final rule” by late July 2012.  [Not one word about whether consumers want the cars that would be required, nor the effect on vehicle costs, nor whether maybe – just maybe – the global warming concern is overstated.  Just one more indication that the war over sensible energy policies is being waged on multiple fronts.  We need to stay alert!]

 

10/1/10, A9, "Bluewater test tower delayed until 2011: Weather window closes while permits are awaited," Aaron Nathans – Complaints about permitting delays have been noted before, see e.g., 9/26/10 story re wind power in the UK, but this time they are spelled out.  Bluewater wants to build a metrological tower for testing purposes (monitor wind speeds, bird flight patterns, etc.), which would be “the first tangible evidence of its planned offshore wind farm.”  As of now, only the EPA has granted a permit for the “met tower,” which it accomplished in record time by delegating the review to DNREC.  However, three other federal agencies (BOEMRE, NOAA, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) also needed to sign off on the tower – and have yet to do so.  “It’s unclear,” grouses Nathans, “why Bluewater has so far been unable to procure the other permits.”  But never fear, because Bluewater hopes to build the tower in 2011 and can be doing tests from a boat in the meantime.

        [The U.S. curse of too much government may come in handy in this particular case. The more delay, the greater the chance that the case for CO2-caused warming will fall apart completely, eliminating government support for this expensive, unreliable power source.

According to Bluewater President Mandelstam, "The weather window has closed” for this year.  It seems the strongest winds occur in winter, although the greatest need for power occurs during air conditioning season.]

 

9/30/10, A12, “Del. offers its won rebate for home energy upgrades: Program modeled after stalled federal bill,” Nicole Gaudiano – Tired of waiting for Congress to act, Delaware is moving ahead with a new rebate program designed to help homeowners save money, improve the environment and generate construction jobs.

        Energize Delaware (a nonprofit) is offering homeowner rebates worth $300 to $8,250 through Dec. 31 to upgrade of replace air sealant, insulation, heating and cooling systems. The $5.3 M program scheduled to run through 5/31/12 is primarily funded by the 2009 stimulus bill + $1M from the RGGI.  Program is modeled after a federal bill that is “stalled in the Senate.”

        “We can’t wait for federal action,” said Collin O’Mara, of DNREC.  “We need to get people to work.”  To qualify for rebates, homeowners must get a home energy audit and use an approved contractor.  “If the federal bill passes, the state incentives will be tweaked.”

        [We think it would be better for both the state and federal government to stay out of this sort of issue and allow homeowners to decide what to do on a cost vs. benefit basis.  However, a program at the state level – with no federal grants or strings – is better than looking to the federal government for funding and oversight.]

 

9/29/10, A16, “Delaware seen as wind power’s proving ground,” Aaron Nathans – The Oceana Group (“an environmental group with a focus on oceans”) says “the winds off Delaware’s shores could completely replace fossil fuels to generate electricity in the state.”  It would only take scaling up the NRG BlueWater  project (55 to 70 turbines) by a factor of about 10 (to 725 turbines).  Reports by the Department of Energy (2008) and by Willett Kempton of the University of Delaware  (2007P reached similar conclusions.  And of course, we have now seen what an oil spill can do in the Gulf of Mexico – drilling ban in place until November 30 [thank goodness]. 

According to the Oceana report, offshore wind development would be “more cost-effective than seeking out new sources of domestic oil and gas,” so “why should we waste our time with the little oil and gas that’s out there.”  Let’s end federal subsidies [see below] for fossil fuels and redirect these subsidies toward renewable energy sources [which are already being heavily supported by government mandates and subsidies or there would be zero interest in pursuing them for most applications].  In any case, Congress must break logjams to extend tax credits for offshore wind and require electric utilities in all states to buy renewable energy.

Matt DaPrato, an analyst with HIS Emerging Energy Research in MA, says fossil fuel subsidies are “subtle,” e.g. property tax abatements, assistance for infrastructure such as railroads, and liability caps that reduce the amount of insurance needed to drill.  [Excise taxes on gasoline, onerous regulations, barriers on oil and gas exploration, etc. are not so subtle.  And we didn’t notice that the liability cap did BP much good.]

 

9/26/10, A23, "International envoys deadlocked on greenhouse-gas cuts: Climate summit to meet in Nov.,” John Helprin (AP) – Last year it was Copenhagen – the summit meeting that failed.  Although that meeting produced a nonbinding “Copenhagen Accord,” which has prodded some nations to promise lower carbon emissions, “the emission reductions envisioned in those pledges fall far short of what researchers [not all of them!] say is needed to keep the atmosphere from warming dangerously through this century, leading to shifts in climate, worsening droughts and floods, rising seas and other damage.” [Oh, no!]

 This year, representatives of the world’s nations will meet in Cancun (Nov. 26-Dec.10), to discuss essentially the same green energy agenda, albeit with somewhat lower expectations.  According to Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s top climate official, the key issues “are frankly in a deadlock” and the official negotiating text is bogged down by national interests. 

[Taxpayers from all over the world will pay for this boondoggle.  It seems that governments everywhere are loath to say "The king has no clothes," and openly take on the politically strong environmentalists (climate alarmists).  At the same time, they may not want to be out front when governments finally, finally acknowledge there is nothing to the demonization of CO2.

Time is on our side, but we need to keep plugging to minimize the harm that could be done in the meantime by misguided policies to force a transition to alternative energy sources.]

 

9/26/10, D1, “World’s largest offshore wind farm opens off England,” Aaron Nathans – The Thatnet wind farm “formally began operation” on 9/23/10.  It was built by the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, and “when the wind is blowing the hardest, the turbines could power 200,000 homes.”  Reportedly, “the project will help the UK get to 15 percent renewable power by 2020.”  Meanwhile, [sigh], the Bluewater wind power project off the coast of Delaware “is slogging through a seven-to-nine year morass of permitting, and awaiting the renewal of federal incentives.

            [This account of the UK charging ahead with wind energy is overstated.  See, e.g., the recent statement of Roger Carr, an energy firm executive, that Britain must wake up to its future reliance on nuclear energy if it wants “to keep the lights on.”  Carr, by the way, supports major reductions in carbon emissions.  UK Telegraph, 9/18/10. http://bit.ly/97WXTE ]

 

9/22/10, A1/A12, “The Truth About Cap and Trade: Conservatives’ doubts helped propel tea party candidates to victory,” Jeff Montgomery – “Cap and trade” is reported to have “played an outsized role in lifting Christine O’Connell’s primary campaign over Rep. Mike Castle’s bid for [the Senate],” as “a stripped-down surrogate for the running national debate over energy policy, the environmental cost of American dependence on fossil fuels, and the price of paying now, or later, for carbon dioxide emissions.”  The issue is also said to have “wrecked Michelle Rollins’ bid for the nomination as the Republican House candidate.” [We don’t know what position Michelle Rollins took on this issue.]

        “I think it got hijacked by politics,” said Liz Martin Perera of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who spoke of how easy it was “to call it ‘cap and tax’ and start messaging to Americans who don’t know any better.”

        [Turn to A12 in another section of the newspaper for the other side of the story.]  David Anderson, a spokesman for Glen Urquhart: “Most people are concerned about jobs and the fact that this would kill jobs.  There’s no real evidence that it would do anything for the environment, and we don’t believe that’s the way we need to approach clean energy.  You don’t impoverish the American people to do it.”

       But of course “cap and trade” is not a new idea, it has been tried before and works great.  Listen to Senator Tom Carper: “The emissions reductions were achieved for sulfur dioxide in about half the time anticipated for about one-fifth the cost.”  And reports by the EPA and private researchers reached the same conclusion.  $122 billion in health and environmental benefits were [supposedly] achieved for about $3 billion in costs [sounds seriously understated].

       Todd Wynn, an officer of the Cascades Policy Institute in Oregon, responds that it is much more expensive to reduce CO2 emissions than SO2 emissions.  

       Both of the final Republican candidates are against “cap and trade.”  John Carney is for it.  A spokesman said Chris Coons is “certainly in line” with Castle’s “moderate” stance on the matter.  [Castle voted for a cap and trade bill in the House in June 2009.] 

       As for state policy, a representative of Governor Markell’s office was quoted that Delaware benefits from being in the Regional Green Gas Initiative (RGGI).  “The initiative has helped create jobs, reduce energy use and allows consumers to save money.”  Delaware has sold Delaware utility carbon credits for more than $17 million, used most of the proceeds to fund “green” energy projects, and “none [of this] has been blamed for raising utility bills.”

       The article closes with comments by Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, who claims that allowing utilities and autos to release CO2 without accounting for the health and environmental consequences “makes fossil fuels artificially cheap because the price of oil and coal doesn’t include the cost of climate change or respiratory diseases.”

        [Do you sense a logic gap here?  If fossil fuels are cheaper than alternative fuels, how could a switch to alternative fuels be compelled without inflating energy costs?  And while environmental costs of CO2 might conceivably tip the balance against fossil fuels, the manmade global warming theory is largely conjectural so these costs remain to be proven.]

 

9/19/10, Newark Community Day, dateline 6:00 p.m. – From time to time, we report an event that was NOT COVERED by the News Journal.  Here is one about the Climate Common Sense table on Newark Community Day – good show!

We found our location, which was under a tree.  Good for shade, but unsuitable for our banner, "Climate Common Sense".  We traded spots with someone in the sun - he called the trade a "no-brainer".  When four people arrived, we deciphered the design of our contraption that holds the banner without making holes in the ground (prohibited).

We started giving handouts to passersby while erecting three easels.  Two held last year's posters and the third held a combination of 8 1/2 X11" information sources for use when discussing climate information in detail.  For example, one showed a bar graph of the greenhouse effect of CO2 at different CO2 levels.  The effect is very large for the first very small amount of CO2, and very small at concentrations in the present range.

Seven members (Bill Day, Fred DeVries, John Greer, Greg Inskip, Bill Morris, Don Taber, and Jerry Towe) participated, and there were generally at least four at the table.  Our main activity was handing out an excellent 8 1/2 X5 1/2" flyer, designed by our Secretary, John Greer.  These were gone by the middle of the afternoon.  We made 300, but should have made 400.  We then handed out a 6-page 8 1/2X11" paper Bill Morris had used in conjunction with talks on global warming.  When folded, passersby took them as willingly as the smaller flyers.  We hope most looked at both later and learned something about climate change.

There were a few who made comments, about equally divided between agreement and disagreement.  Maybe a dozen stopped for longer discussions.  Two were memorable.  One was a young Political Science instructor who was personally insulted by our presence - by our expressing such an outrageous view.  He is a classic "true believer".  The other was a mathematics professor, easily recognizable by his scruffy beard.  He thought we should be concerned by a risk of making the Earth like Venus, which has a CO2 atmosphere and is extremely hot.

There was a Sierra Club table down the line, operated by one woman.  She expressed concern about the rate of increase of temperature.  Two or three passersby who disagreed with us expressed the same concern.  This may be a current "party line", and we may choose to address it.

In general, we need to persist in our educational efforts until both federal and state government leaders “get the message.”

 

9/19/10, E1, Acorn Energy putting money on coal power: Technology makes plants more efficient, Jonathan Starkey – “Acorn Energy – a holding company whose modest, unmarked office is across the street from Krazy Kat’s restaurant and next door to the old DuPont train station – invests in new technology that makes old, dirty, coal-fired power plants more efficient and theoretically more environmentally friendly.”  Per CEO John Moore, this could be “a better investment than throwing dollars at new solutions that are unproven, at least on a large scale.”  He has co-authored a book on the topic, The Hidden Cleantech Revolution.  “I think renewables are important,” he says, “but you can’t argue with coal.”

        [Interesting, an article on energy that does something other than mindlessly push wind and solar power.  And if cleaning filters rather than buying new ones saves money and reduces emissions of nitrogen oxides, who could argue with that?  Maybe there is a future for coal power after all, at least until the way can be cleared for more nuclear power plants.]

 

9/18/10, A6, "White is the new green," Sean O’Driscoll (AP) – Roofs are being painted white to save energy.  The idea is being promoted by the "Cool Roof Rating Council", a non-profit founded in 1998.   U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said painting roofs white could contribute to the fight against global warming.

[Global warming is not a big threat, but saving energy is a good idea so long as government subsidies are not involved.  We are not aware of any “white roof” tax credits yet.  Still, there are questions.  What’s the up front cost?  After heavy insulation in the attic, how much additional cooling is provided?  What happens to white-painted roofs after a few years, e.g., are they more prone to leak than conventional roofs?  I won’t waste time considering whether to paint my roof.]

 

9/17/10, A15, Natural gas seeks to dethrone coal, Moming Zhou (Bloomberg News) – Utilities are making greater use of natural gas power plants vs. coal power due to (a) lower market prices for natural gas, and (b) “uncertainty in the regulation of coal, on sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides as well as carbon [dioxide].”  However, coal power still accounts for 47% of U.S. electricity vs. 23% for gas power in 2010. 

[The increased supply of natural gas is encouraging - we'll need much more electricity when the economy improves.  The question is whether natural gas availability, cost and safety will allow the above trend to continue.  Don’t bet the ranch on the continued rise of natural gas power, particularly if the EPA gets involved in regulating the “fracking” of shale deposits.

Longer term, this country will need more nuclear power, so let’s keep the heat on for quicker approvals.  Furthermore, coal plants that are shut down should be mothballed just in case.]

 

9/16/10, Coal miners rally against EPA’s “strangulation by regulation”: On Capitol Hill, hundreds assail limits that they say will wipe out industry, Frederick Frommer (AP) – Nice picture of demonstrators, with signs such as “I am a friend of coal” and “Stand up for American coal jobs.”  Specific policy being assailed would make “mountaintop mining” more expensive by tightening water quality standards for valley fills at surface coal mines in WV, KY, PA, OH, VA, and TN.  EPA Administrator List Jackson has reportedly said “the goal is a standard so strict that few, if any, permits would be issued for valley fills.”

         [Unlike proposals to regulate CO2 emissions, mountaintop mining is a tough issue.  But we do think a common sense balance is needed between being lax and being too strict.  Setting out to shut down industries is not the way to promote a vibrant economy.]

 

9/15/10, A18, Skeptics on global warming say humans are not at fault, Dorothy Kendall, Clayton – In response to the 9/9/10 editorial, “It was a tough summer for global warming deniers,” the writer takes the positive approach and thanks the News Journal for acknowledging that global warming “may not be man-made.”  It also pointed out that while global warming has occurred since the end of the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Climate Optimum (about 900 to 1300 AD) was warmer than we are today – and nothing very terrible happened.  Ergo, the News Journal should be questioning a lot of wasteful spending, including storing CO2 and subsidizing expensive, undependable energy sources, based on “the false assumption that we are causing global warming.”

 

9/13/10, A14, Protect clean energy and climate change legislation, John Sykes, Lewes – Mr. Sykes attributes stalling of “clean energy and climate” legislation in the Senate to “corporate polluters and their lobbyists.”  But now EPA will save the day with (1) Good Neighbor Rule (to help avoid at least 23,000 heart attacks, 26,000 hospital visits, 240,000 asthma attacks, and 36,000 premature deaths from polluted air each year); (2) Ozone rule (prevent more than 5,000 heart attacks and up to 12,000 premature deaths annually); (3) Coal ash rule (keep known toxic coal carcinogens out of our water); (4) Effective Clean Air Act (authority to clean up global warming pollution).  “Our country must clear the way for the EPA to set the strongest possible standards to protect our public health and welfare, hold corporate polluters accountable, and create a clean energy economy.”

        [This is a real letter; we did not make it up.  No mention of cost or practicality.  The power to regulate is the power to destroy.]

 

9/12/10, F4, "For nuclear power, similarity is key: Utilities want to pick new reactors from standardized models," Ray Henry (AP) – The idea is that the government would approve “a handful” of reactor designs and then let companies choose from the list, which would hopefully speed up approvals for new nuclear plants.  A custom made approach was followed for the first wave of nuclear plants, and as a result no two of the 104 U.S. nuclear plants currently in operation are the same.

The Southern Company is seeking approval to build a nuclear plant (Plant Vogtle, GA, using some $8 billion in federal loan guarantees), the first since 1978, and has chosen Westinghouse Electric's AP1000 reactor.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not expect a final decision on the reactor design until September 2011.  Among other things, the reactor will be subject to a requirement – added after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks – that the reactor core be protected from the impact of a large airliner.

Nuclear power critics are [never] satisfied, and they have this to say about an off-the-shelf approach: “If a bad design is approved and not fixed, the problem could end up at nuclear plants across the country."

[Nuclear power is required to meet safety standards many times stricter than other power sources, yet the article says "critics of the nuclear power industry still question whether the sector has absorbed the lessons from disasters such as the Three Mile Island accident." Disaster? No one was killed in that case, the most serious nuclear power accident in U.S. history, nor did a major release of radioactive materials occur. See "Terrestrial Energy", 2008 book by William Tucker.)

If we are lucky and have a recovered economy within five years, look out for a major shortage of electricity as this country keeps shutting down coal power plants while unnecessarily delaying the construction of more nuclear power plants.  A spokesman of French-based Areva notes that “projects in China are meeting schedule.”  That is how things should be in the United States.]

 

9/12/10, A23, “Uncle Sam is going green: 56 agencies detail ways to reduce carbon footprint,” Lisa Rein (Washington Post) – The president has set a goal of a 28% reduction in carbon emissions (vs. 2008) over the next decade, and there is a lot of brainstorming going on.  Among the ideas: “carrier strike group of nuclear ships powered by biofuel” [??], solar panels on dams, rain gardens and green landscaping, recycling, using less water, “green” government motor vehicles, expanded use of video conferencing technology, etc.  [Some of these ideas may make sense, but overall the effort is a costly boondoggle – which will be funded mainly by “grants from the economic stimulus.”  As taxpayers, we object.]

 

9/12/10, B1/B3, “Cleanup of coal ash dump blocked: State will review company’s plans,” Jeff Montgomery – An article reported on 8/29/10 that the cleanup of a coal ash dump at the Indian River Plant, reflecting practices several decades ago, could be complicated by contemplated EPA regulations reclassifying coal ash as “hazardous.”  This story by Jeff Montgomery focuses on the same situation from a state regulatory perspective.  [Between the federal and state regulatory authorities, it sounds as if NRG Energy will be hard pressed to ever get the necessary approvals to proceed with its cleanup plans.  Truly, the superabundance of regulatory authorities entails a significant downside in terms of impeding business decision-making and action.]

 

9/9/10, A14, "It was a tough summer for global warming deniers" – Following up on yesterday’s front page headline “it’s so hot this summer” story, this editorial reports that 2010 has had a record-breaker summer, etc.  Therefore, “for those who doubt that global warming has taken hold of area weather patterns, we can only say phooey.”  And although “it may not be man-made” or “from industry and pollution,” concludes the editorial, “we tend to believe the scientists over Rush Limbaugh.”

        [Re the data, the News Journal fails to mention an unusually cold summer in southern California, nor the possibility that local temperature readings dating back to 1895 have been affected by the urban heat island effect. 

As for the characterization of our position, we have never claimed there is no warming. To the contrary, considerable warming has taken place since the Little Ice Age ended – and although the warming trend stopped over the past decade on a global basis it is entirely possible that the trend will resume.  Our core points are: (a) carbon emissions from human activity are not the primary factor driving climate changes, and (b) vastly expensive measures to reduce carbon emissions would have little or no effect on global temperatures. The suggestion that we get our ideas on this subject from Rush Limbaugh is frankly insulting as we have attempted to follow the scientists in this debate and they are most assuredly not all on the side of the global warming alarmists.  Count on at least one letter to the editor clarifying these points.] 

 

9/8/10, A1/A2, “How hot was it?  Hottest ever: Fire danger follows on heels of record June-August temps,” Jeff Montgomery – Forest and brush fire hazards were reported across the region “less than a week after Delaware ended a summer now expected to rank as the hottest recorded in 116 years, according to available federal records.”  A table to the side shows the following data for “Delaware’s 10 hottest summers [June-August]”: 2010 -78.3 estimated; 2005 – 76.4; 2002 – 76.4; 1988 – 76.2; 2006 – 76.1; 1987 – 76.1; 1900 – 76.1; 1943 – 76.0; 1999 – 75.9; 1901 – 75.9.

        [Why the front page headline story based on these statistics?  Well, lest it be forgotten, “researchers around the globe have warned that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ can lead to extremes in weather, with more rain arriving in heavy downpours, more frequent droughts and rising sea levels.”  The last “it’s so hot” story ran on 8/29/10, and there were plenty of earlier stories in a similar vein.]

 

9/8/10, B1,  "Critics call for probe of Salem,” Jeff Montgomery – "Longtime nuclear power critics called Tuesday for a probe of PSEG Nuclear's inspection records and practices, citing disclosures about leaks and cracks at the Salem-Hope Creek nuclear complex."  The disclosures came about in the course of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission review of applications for new 20-year permits to operate the three reactors, and the NRC has ordered PSEG to “answer a long list of questions” about the issues that were raised.  However, Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman, “cautioned that public safety was never threatened.”

        [Stringent regulation of the nuclear power industry is justified, but nuclear opponents are never satisfied.  Witness the suggestion by a representative of Unplug Salem that “the NRC should treat the disclosures as violations rather than complications in a permit review.”  A demand for zero defects is unreasonable, for nuclear power or any of its competitors.  If safety was compared based on quadrillion watt-hours, nuclear deaths would be zero and injuries much lower than for coal, natural gas, wind power, et al.

PSEG is seeking approval for one or two more reactors at the site. In part, the drumbeat of complaints against existing operations is intended to raise questions about the new reactors, which will presumably be more modern and even safer than the existing operations.]

 

9/7/10, A6, “FutureGen coal-fired plant alive: Some companies waver after big changes by DOE, David Mercer (AP) – Update on an experimental coal-fired power plant in Illinois, which would feature burying CO2 in an underground storage site.  Price tag $1.2 billion; a number of companies would participate through the FutureGen Alliance.

        “Surprise changes” were announced last month, scrapping plans to build a new power plant in Mattoon, Illinois (first proposed in 2003, stalled so long that several other projects are already testing the visualized process) and instead proposing to modify an existing plant somewhere else and pipe the CO2 to another location.  A majority of the private companies involved are expected to stick with the project and submit a proposal about how to build and run the pipeline and storage site, but some may drop out.

        [Just another plan based on the human-caused global warming theory.  The use of taxpayer dollars to bribe private firms into participating in the activity makes it more difficult to drive a stake through the heart of this discredited assumption.  We are also struck by the sheer bureaucratic ineptness of the Department of Energy, in that “the changes were announced without any consultation with the alliance companies or officials in Mattoon.”]

 

9/5/10, A11, “Blame Bambi and Godzilla for inaction on climate change,” George Will – Columnist Will suggests that skeptics are defeating the crusade for legislation to combat climate change.  [Let’s hope he is right.]  More importantly, he offers an interesting suggestion.  The environmentalist movement was started by a little band of skeptics, he says, who questioned the conventional thinking of government experts.  Thus, Jane Jacobs argued in a 1961 book that the city planning ideas of New York’s Robert Moses “were, by their 10-thumbed interventions in complex organisms such as cities, disrupting social ecosystems.”  And others dared to do battle with another Godzilla, the Army Corps of Engineers, over the costs versus benefits of big dams.

        Somewhere along the road, the environmentalists morphed into the very being they had opposed, becoming a Godzilla advocating “a big and simple fix for all that ails us: a global carbon cap.”  Thus, they joined the progressive movement, which holds that “all will be well once we have concentrated enough Washington power in the executive branch and have concentrated enough ‘experts’ in that branch.” So, the environmentalists are now saying it’s a sin to question the consensus, the sign of bad moral character to doubt.  “Bambi, look in the mirror.  You will see Godzilla looking back.”

 

9/5/10, Feds let prime solar-energy sites lie idle: Records show Goldman Sachs grabbed outsized leases, but hasn’t move to develop a single power plant: Jason Dearen (AP) – The article expounds at length on how greedy capitalists have laid claim to millions of acres of government-owned desert in Nevada for solar power developments, yet “not one project to build shimmering solar farms has even broken ground.”  A picture shows an employee of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) surveying a proposed solar energy site (scrub desert), where Goldman Sachs has held the lease for more than three years without submitting a detailed plan for site development.  Bottom line: despite the Administration’s intent to expedite the most promising projects, “it will be years before the companies begin sending electricity to the Southwest’s energy-hungry cities.”

        The main problem cited is the need for a crackdown on the corporate “squatters” who are filing applications without intending to pursue them in a timely fashion.  [Could it be that Goldman Sachs et al. are effectively acquiring options on future legislation and/or regulations that would make solar power competitive by drastically increasing the cost of fossil fuel power?]  One suggested answer would be for the BLM to hire more qualified employees so it can monitor applicants more effectively.  Ironically, the pilot solar power operations undertaken thus far are located on private land. 

        [The real question is not why so few solar power plants are being built, but whether anyone would have an interest in building them without federal mandates or subsidies to offset the cost penalty versus other forms of power.  We believe the answer is clearly no, and that should be the end of the matter.]

 

9/4/10, A2, “Latest oil-rig fire could stay agency from ending ban,” Matthew Daly (AP) – Another oilrig fire in the Gulf of Mexico “has set off a wave of anxiety along the Gulf Coast and prompted calls for the government to extend its six-month ban on deepwater drilling.” 

       No workers were killed, no oil was spilled [initial reports of a mile-long oil sheen were apparently erroneous], and one expert was quoted that “there’s over 100 fires in the Gulf in a given year” and, “were it not for the BP incident, this would receive very little coverage.”

       But environmental groups and some lawmakers hastened to once again denounce offshore drilling and urge that the 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling not only be extended in time but expanded to cover shallow water drilling as well. 

        [The power to regulate is the power to destroy, and demanding absolute safety in any industry is a path to closing it down.  By the way, a recent Heritage Foundation study shows that wind energy has had more workplace fatalities on an energy output basis than the oil or coal industries. http://blog.heritage.org/?p=37131 So let’s insist on a common sense approach by government regulators.]

 

8/31/10, A2, “Car label proposal goes down to the letter: Government pitches ‘grade’ for emissions,” Ken Thomas (AP) – The government plans to require that overall fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions (e.g., CO2) be noted on showroom window stickers for new cars and trucks, and may mandate the posting of a letter “grade” as well.  The changes are said to be required under a 2007 energy law, although the Environmental Protection Agency is working out the details.  Thus, all electric vehicles would get an A+, plug-in electrics an A, gas-electric hybrids an A-, Toyota Camry a B or B- depending on the engine, Ford F150 truck a C+ or C depending on the engine, and a souped-up Ferrari would receive a D (the lowest grade). 

An EPA official (Gina McCarthy) assured that the letter grades were not meant to represent a judgment on the vehicles in question.  Environmental groups generally supported the plan on grounds that “you shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to buy a car,” and the grades would make it “much easier for consumers to comparison-shop.”

[Truly, “big brother/sister” is watching out for us.  What’s next, a requirement that the grade be displayed permanently on the driver’s side door in letters at least a foot high?]

 

8/31/10, no coverage noted of a report that criticized the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – If the investigation had given the IPCC clean bill of health, its findings would doubtless have been reported.  See stories on 7/8/10 and 2/4/10.  However, the InterAcademy Council (chaired by Harold Shapiro, president emeritus of Princeton University) recommended "fundamental changes" to avoid future errors and charges of bias. 

Said Mr. Shapiro: "We found in the summary for policymakers that there were two kinds of errors that came up - one is the kind where they place high confidence in something where there is very little evidence. The other is the kind where you make a statement ... with no substantive value, in our judgment."

Review of U.N. climate panel calls for oversight changes, David Eldridge, Washington Times, 8/30/10. http://bit.ly/d2Hmm8

 

8/29/10, A3, Sweltering heat sets records in Northeast, Mary Esch (AP) – Although the weather over the past several weeks has been quite pleasant, this article takes pains to inform readers that “preliminary figures provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University show 28 cities from Washington, D.C. to Caribou, Maine, set record highs from March through August.”

       The article concedes that “a short-term weather pattern alone cannot be interpreted as a sign of global climate change” and also that last year’s summer was unusually cool.  Nevertheless, the final paragraph states that: “Atmospheric scientists have grown increasingly concerned about human-induced global warming in recent years, though political pressures and fierce arguments about climate change have slowed efforts to develop solutions.” 

        [Articles like this one do not seem newsworthy.  There has been more than enough coverage about the relatively hot weather this summer already.  See, e.g., 8/13, 7/30, 7/18, 7/3.]

 

8/29/10, A25, "Nuclear power opponents update fight in the nuclear age: Decades-old message travels faster on Web," Melanie Welte (AP) – Moving with the times, nuclear power opposition groups are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread their propaganda. However, some of them, such as Patrick Moore, now co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, have changed their minds.  

"Nuclear energy is a safe and valuable resource,” says Moore.  Although “construction costs for nuclear plants are high, operating costs are low."  [Construction and other initial costs are high partly because of the unjustified opposition of anti-nuclear activists.]

Opponents of nuclear power feel the battle is starting all over again.  A 66-year-old activist: "It's still not safe, there's still no solution to the waste storage, and it's costly."  [Nuclear power has had an excellent safety record in recent years. Waste storage will become a manageable problem if we recycle.  As for cost, see above.]

Another activist said no one wants to live near a nuclear plant. [Actually, nuclear power approval is 90% in areas with plants.  This was evident at a hearing re a fourth plant at the Salem-Hope Creek complex that we attended.]

[As advocates of enlightened energy policies, we need to participate in public hearings on nuclear power projects – see 5/13/10 entry – and to educate the public about recycling, nuclear safety, and the spread of nuclear power in other countries.  Opponents may be misguided, but they are not giving up.]

 

8/29/10, A25,  "EPA plans month of hearings on regulating coal ash waste: Industry, environmentalists support differing proposals," Julie Schimitt (USA Today) – The question being considered is whether to define coal ash as hazardous, which would discourage recyclers from accepting it for use in concrete, cement and wallboard. Coal ash contains mercury, cadmium and arsenic.  A representative of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group estimates that a new national standard (standards have previously been set on a state-by-state basis) being considered by the EPA could cost the industry $20 billion a year.

[Quantity matters, or “the dose makes the poison"  Tighter regulations mean higher cost of electricity, or even the shutdown of coal-fired power plants.  Coupled with unreasonable restrictions on nuclear power, the result could be a disastrous increase in electric power costs.]

 

8/26/10, B9, "Military pledges to reduce pollution: Measures will help protect Chesapeake," Alex Dominguez (AP) - Military leaders of facilities near the Chesapeake Bay are considering porous parking lots to allow storm water to filter into the ground, rather than run directly into the bay. [Good idea if the cost is reasonable, but unfortunately the discussion did not stop there.]

At a brainstorming session also attended by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus talked about various ways in which the Navy could contribute to the fight against global warming, e.g. increasing the use of electric and hybrid vehicles [a non-solution to a non-problem].

And when someone asked [bravo!] “why the environment should be a priority for the military, whose mission is to defend the country,” Malbus responded that (1) it endangers national security to buy fossil fuels from “potentially volatile places,”[fine, why not ease the restrictions on domestic oil production?], and (2) climate change has profound implications for stability around the world [a meaningless generality, aka baloney].

 

8/25/10, A14, Climate change deniers should update reading lists, Fred Schueler (Newark)

Those who would deny “the human causes and profound effects of global climate change” be warned, because “the fate of our civilization will be largely determined by the choices made by the American electorate in the first few decades of the 21st century.” Thus, they should embark on “some serious reading of the science on this issue, and here (on the RealClimate.org site, which is supposedly restricted to climate science by climate scientists) would be a good place to begin: http://bit.ly/3ndpGz.

        [This site is restricted to the thoughts of climate alarmists.  Ergo, the letter is merely propaganda.]

 

8/24/10, A4, "Scholar leads the charge toward battery-driven cars," Ken Thomas (AP) -

David Sandalow, U.S. Energy Department Assistant Secretary, had his Prius converted to plug-in, and can drive 30 miles on a charge.  He has helped shape expensive government plans to boost cars running on electric power.  Costs include $7,500 per vehicle tax credit, $2.4 billion grant programs to develop next-generation batteries, and billions in loans for auto makers to retool for electric cars.  "With many people worried about global warming and oil politics,” says the article, “the administration sees an opportunity in electric cars."

[The incorrect CO2 assumption still has legs, however shaky, which support expensive government programs.  We realists do the country a favor by keeping up the drumbeat - CO2 is not a significant factor. 

As for oil, concern about unfriendly sources is overblown, because there are so many sources - Canada is an important source.  Furthermore, oil is fungible.  If a country tried to cut us off, it can be purchased elsewhere.

If electric cars really took off, an electricity shortage could be amplified.  Shutting down coal plants and delaying nuclear plants contribute to a shortage, increasing blackouts.]

 

8/24/10, A8, Carney’s ideas on green jobs will be best bet for country, “Peaches” Whalen, Wilmington – Re story on House seat candidate John Carney’s touting of wind power (8/20/10 entry), the writer expresses nostalgia for lost manufacturing jobs in Delaware and lauds Carney’s “idea of using renewable energy projects to grow manufacturing and create jobs for our workers.” [The misconception about “green jobs” is just as misguided as the manmade CO2 emissions causing global warming theory.  However desirable it may be to preserve/add manufacturing jobs, a forced switch to unreliable, high cost renewable energy will destroy more jobs than it creates.]

 

8/22/10, "NRG offers plan to contain ash pile: Critics says DNREC slow to move on Indian River pollution," Jeff Montgomery – DNREC ordered a major landfill cleanup effort in July 2008, about 3 years after an agency inspector noticed that coal ash on Burton Island from the NRG Indian River plant was eroding into the Delaware River.  The ash had been dumped by Delmarva Power on unprotected ground along the river between 1957 and 1979, a practice no longer allowed.   NRG (the present plant owner) now proposes to cover the Button Island shoreline with stone.  The article refers to mercury, arsenic, selenium and cadmium contaminants.

[The presence of these elements isn't necessarily harmful - "The dose makes the poison."  A deal was recently announced on the future of the Indian River Plant, involving a shutdown of three of the four coal power units by 2014, with only the newest and largest one to remain in operation, which the News Journal hailed as an environmental triumph.  7/16/10 & 7/17/10.  Is it really necessary to keep harping on residual pollution problems like this one, and is the objective to close the plant entirely?  See also our comments on the next article.] 

 

8/22/10, E5, “Cost still pollutes effort to clean up coal plants: Despite federal “clean coal” incentives, conventional units keep cropping up,” Matthew Brown (AP) – According to this article, “utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry’s standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing [shudder] gases for years to come.”  Reference is also made to “tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.”

The investments are going ahead because (a) “clean coal” technology [defined as power units that would capture CO2 and transfer it to long-term storage in underground geological formations] is a long way from commercialization, and (b) investors are willing to gamble that carbon emission restrictions will not be imposed on their plants.  However, “scientists and environmentalists have tried to stop the coal rush with some success, turning back dozens plants through lawsuits and other legal challenges.”

Utilities are said to be “clinging to coal” because its abundance makes coal power cheaper than the alternatives, although “the price of coal plants is rising and consumers in some areas served by the new facilities will see their electricity bill[s] rise by up to 30 percent.”  [Does this have anything to do with regulatory restrictions and lawsuits? Nah, couldn’t be.]

 Although CO2 sequestration is not practical yet, if it ever will be, considerable progress has been made in removing nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, etc. from emissions. The cost is substantial.  Thus, the price tag for the WyGen power plant in Wyoming was “bumped up” by 48% (from $167 million to $247 million) by pollution controls.  [Pending the installation of a new generation of nuclear power plants, it is important to continue the use of coal power so as to have sufficient low cost electricity.  We should be alert to oppose unnecessarily stringent anti-pollution requirements that would make coal power unnecessarily expensive.]

 

8/20/10, B1/B2, Carney touts the power of wind: Candidate suggests Riverfront site for building turbine components, Beth Miller – Democrat congressional candidate John Carney covered at appearance on waterfront property of Steel Suppliers Erectors.  He envisions site as a perfect location to make wind turbine components and thereby create “green jobs” in Delaware.  Carney boosted wind energy while he was running for governor in 2008, and subsequently became CEO of Transformative Technologies, a subsidiary of which applied to the Delaware Economic Development Office for a $350K grant to develop turbine components in Edgmoor.

         If elected in November, Carney pledges to support tax credits to companies investing in renewable energy projects, work to speed up the regulatory process, and support training for Delaware workers.  In his remarks, he referred to this region as “the Saudi Arabia of wind.”

        The final paragraph mentions that there are two Republican contenders for the House seat, Michele Rollins and Glen Urquhart.  [It would be interesting to know where they stand on mandates and subsidies for wind and solar power, with the idea that the voters be empowered to make an informed choice.  Were their campaigns contacted about this, we wonder.]

 

8/18/10, A16, “Extreme temps are not unusual or global warming,” Gregory Inskip, Wilmington – Glaciers form where it is too cold for all the snow to melt in summer.  Over the years, it piles up, turns to ice, and grinds its way downhill.  Some Greenland glaciers eventually reach the sea, where they break off thousands of icebergs – every year.

       None of this is driven by warming, and climate alarmists are foolish to pretend that a big new iceberg is a “powerful emblem” of global warming.  Greenland was warmer in the 1930s and 1940s than now.  It was till warmers in the 900s, when Norse farmers settled Greenland and gave it its name. [Well put!  See also Greg’s prior letters on 3/27/10 and 1/5/10.]

 

8/17/10, A6, "Outlook is bright for solar panel project at UD: Installation of largest rooftop system in state to begin this fall," Nichole Dobo – More than 2,000 solar panels will be installed on three buildings by Standard Solar, Inc. of Maryland as part of UD’s plan to cut carbon emissions 20% by 2020.  [Also DelTech, see 4/23/10 entry.] The panels are expected to generate 1,035 kilowatt-hours of energy a year – the equivalent of using 93,363 gallons of gasoline.  There is no upfront cost to UD [who is paying this cost?], but the university will agree to purchase [from whom?] “whatever energy is generated over the next 25 years.” According to David Singleton, vice president of facilities at UD, “there will be a small savings in dollars, which is great, but obviously solar is very beneficial from an environmental standpoint.”

[We could argue that there will be a negative environmental effect to the extent this project reduces CO2, because plants love CO2.  As for claimed cost savings, they are almost certainly based on government subsidies and/or some kind of imputed credit for reduction of carbon emission.  The reason: solar panels are a more expensive way to generate electricity than other alternatives, and this fact should be frankly acknowledged by the university instead of being obfuscated in this manner.]

 

8/15/10, A20, “Nuclear power is our best bet for electricity, Johanna Bishop, Director, Behavioral Science Program, Wilmington University – Formerly employed at the Salem/ Hope Creek nuclear plant, the writer attests to numerous safety protocols at the plant.  While apparently in agreement with the need for “non-polluting electricity” and “energy independence from oil,” she endorses nuclear power as the best near-term alternative.  [That’s better than backing reliance on wind and solar power, but see the following comment.]

 

8/15/10 – Comment re 8/14 entry, Paul Linsen - I believe that all of us involved in CCS are supportive of nuclear power, but we should keep our eye on the ball-namely the struggle to discredit the mythology that combustion of fossil fuel is harming the planet. Remember, we are advocates for climate common sense, not advocates for replacing fossil energy, and we must not get bogged down in arguments as to which replacement technology is best. Wind, solar and nuclear all have plusses and minuses as does the extraction and use of fossil fuel, but this misses the main point-climate change is not caused by man-made carbon emissions to any significant extent-period.  By pushing any alternative technology, we are lending credibility to the global warming nuts.

       As scientists, we should always support any technology that replaces older, less efficient ones, but at the moment, the battle is over whether current technology is harmful. We all believe that it is not and this should be our focus. Nuclear will find its place in due time with or without our support, but I believe we should stay on course as advocates for sane policies as they relate to climate.   Sooner or later, some unforeseen accident at a nuclear facility will give the technology a setback, regardless of its overall impact-witness the Three Mile Island event-and we do not need another reason to be attacked by our adversaries. The public is not afraid of known technologies as much as they are of new ones, and nuclear is a scary word to many.     

 

8/14/10, A3, "Russia: Iran's nuclear plant to receive fuel" - Russia announced Friday it will begin the startup next week of Iran's only atomic power plant, etc. At the end:  "The terms of the deal commit the Iranians to allow the Russians to retrieve all used reactor fuel for reprocessing.  Spent fuel contains plutonium, which can be used to make atomic weapons."

[This incorrectly implies that if the Iranians kept the spent fuel, they could use it to make a bomb.  The spent fuel will contain four different plutonium isotopes, only one of which could be used to make a bomb, and separation of the plutonium isotopes would be extremely difficult. See "Terrestrial Energy", a book by William Tucker.  This same misunderstanding has prevented the U.S. from recycling spent fuel, which would minimize the nuclear waste problem.

The arrangement for the Russians to use their recycling capacity is common sense economics, not necessary to prevent Iran from making a bomb.  Russia and several other countries reprocess, but the U.S., still stuck in the last century, does not.]

 

8/13/10, A1, "Natural disasters are more than just a summer fad, climate experts say," Charles Hanley (AP) – “Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown.  It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.”

       Geneva-based World Metrological Organization – “these scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming -- “no time to waste” says British government climatologist Peter Stott – “very keen” to develop supercomputer modeling that would enable more detailed linking of cause and effect as a warming world shifts jet streams and other atmospheric currents – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – better to think in terms of odds, e.g., warming might double the chance for heat waves – hottest summer ever recorded in Russia – heaviest monsoon rains on record in Pakistan, 12 inches in 36 hours – China witnesses worst floods in decades – Iowa has wettest 36-month period on record – huge iceberg calves off Greenland, summer melt has reached unprecedented proportions in recent years – melting of land ice into the oceans is causing about 60% of the accelerating rise in sea levels worldwide (now up to about 1.34 inches per decade) – 17 nations have recorded all-time high temperatures in 2010 – the United States remains the only major industrialized nation not to have legislated caps on carbon emissions.

        [The "climate experts" cited in this article are wrong - CO2 is not a major factor causing global warming.  Their computer models are useless to predict climate changes, yet modelers are "very keen to develop supercomputer modeling" to predict natural disasters.  Actually, they are "very keen" to keep the government grants coming. 

If climate alarmists were right about rising CO2 levels driving global warming, they should be boosting nuclear power.  They might also support study of geo-engineering methods for cooling the earth, such as putting reflective particles into the stratosphere as suggested by Edward Teller.  Since they have not seen fit to support anything except switching from fossil fuel energy to high cost, unreliable renewable energy it is reasonable to doubt their sincerity.]

 

8/13/10, A16  "Nuclear power won't kill as many trees as other options," Ralph Sutter, Wilmington – Sutter's letter to the editor notes the huge land area required to produce electric power from solar panels, e.g., nearly 47 square miles to produce the equivalent power to the San Andrea nuclear power plant in Southern California.  To supply a significant part of our electricity, he writes, parkland forests [which by the way use up CO2] would have to be leveled.  Why not emulate the French, who get nearly 80% of their electricity from nuclear power?  Good question.

 

8/12/10, A7  "Rhode Island panel OKs wind power agreement: Deal unfair to ratepayers, critics say," Eric Tucker (AP) –The three-member RI Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved an agreement for National Grid to buy energy from a proposed eight-turbine project by Deepwater Wind, at 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.  The PUC "approved the agreement after weighing economic and environmental benefits and whether the terms were reasonable for ratepayers."  However, Commissioner Mary Bray dissented, asking whether “any reasonable person [would] invest a substantial amount of money into something they know will at best cost three times what they will possibly get out of it?”  And RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch plans to appeal the decision to the state supreme court, because the deal makes ratepayers buy "grossly overpriced electricity".

[The problem here is pretty simple, namely there are no economic or environmental benefits, and the rate is unreasonable.  The push to develop expensive, undependable energy sources is a distraction from the need for installation of dependable, inexpensive energy sources, including coal and nuclear.  There is a huge risk of electric blackouts within a few years.  Reserve electricity generation capacity is at a risky low level.  This story provides a preview of coming attractions if the Bluewater offshore wind power project continues to be pushed in this area.]

 

8/11/10, A7, "Ice island buoys climate concerns: Massive chunk could wreak havoc," Karl Ritter (AP) - A huge iceberg, said to be 100 square miles and four times the size of Manhattan, has broken off from a Greenland glacier.  Several scary scenarios are presented – from damaging offshore drilling platforms to large chunks of ice reaching the heavily trafficked waters where another Greenland iceberg sank the Titanic in 1912.  An iceberg of similar size is said to have broken off in 1962, but the article does not provide information on its fate. [From another source, that iceberg was 230 square miles, and it did not do any major damage.]

       Possible responses are mentioned, including redirecting the iceberg with water cannons, except it is probably too big for this, and dismantling offshore drilling platforms that might be in harms way.

Although "experts say it's difficult to directly tie the giant ice island to climate change," such a linkage is implied by the headline and also by statements like this one:  “Few images can capture the world’s climate fears like a 100-square mile chunk of ice breaking off Greenland’s vast ice sheet, a reservoir of fresh water that if it collapsed would raise global sea levels by a devastating 20 feet.”

[We need to continue to point out that climate realists are not denying global warming could resume, let alone that the Greenland ice cap is calving off on the edges while growing in the interior, they are simply saying human-caused CO2 is not a major cause. Government mandates and subsidies for expensive and undependable wind and solar panel energy would be a waste of money, because greater use of renewable energy would not stop global warming anyway.]

 

8/10/10, A1/A2, Delaware state climatologist disputes global warming claims; Independent researcher predicts electric rates will soar due to energy policies being followed by Delaware and other states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – The action took place from 7-9 p.m. on August 9 at the Frog Hollow Golf Clubhouse in Middletown, DE, courtesy of the First State Patriots.  The speakers were knowledgeable, well prepared, and informative. Thus, to cite but one aspect of his talk, Dr. David Legates rather convincingly refuted the claim that rising global temperatures are resulting in extreme weather events and dramatically rising sea levels (see prior entries on 8/8/10, 8/6/10, 7/22/10, 2/27/10, etc.)  On the economic side, John Nichols explained why the energy policies of the Delaware state government, et al. will inevitably cause electricity rates to soar – and argued that the only “fix” is to discard these policies and vote out the politicians (on both sides of the aisle) who have supported them. 

The meeting had been well publicized, including a paid advertisement in the News Journal and invitations to Delaware legislators, etc., so one might have expected some political leaders and reporters to turn out.  Aside from Glen Urquhart, who is running for Delaware’s House seat this year (primary on September 14) and several Team Christine members, however, there were no indications of such participation.

We must confess, moreover, that the captioned story did NOT appear in the News Journal this morning – nor indeed has there been any coverage of this event or the viewpoints that were expressed at it.  Too bad, because in our opinion the meeting was more “newsworthy” than many of the events that have been covered in this area.      

 

8/8/10, A1/A2, “Wild weather, what’s to blame: Going to extremes: No mater the season, records fall – but experts aren’t certain why,” Molly Murray – Record snowfalls in February, record heat in July – experts say severe fluctuations in weather are becoming more common – less than 50 “climate-related” natural disasters in the 1950s, per the World Meteorological Organization, versus between 350 and 400 in 2000 – federal disaster spending of $76 million (cumulative since 1962) for Delaware, billions in Texas – Bob Siciliano of Cumberland, MD, is quoted that such extreme weather events are “going to become the norm” and “I worry that it’s going to become more extreme.”

      Why?  [To Molly Murray’s credit,] there is some acknowledgement that the apparent increase in harm due to extreme weather events may be due to factors such as population increases, building in formerly undeveloped coastal areas (a hurricane that struck Long Island in 1938 did relatively little damage because, according to one source, “hardly anybody lived there” at the time), and the desire to qualify for federal assistance by having weather events declared to be natural disasters.  But there are also comments about “extreme weather that is linked to climate change,” and dire predictions about what may be coming.  Thus, federal research program scientists predict “heavy downpours that now are a one in 20 year occurrence will begin to happen every four to 15 years by the end of the century.”  And Heidi Cullen, a climatologist and author of “The Weather of the Future,” says the weather this July “is absolutely going to be a cool July by 2050.” [Sounds like a lot of hype to us, without much hard information to back it up.]

 

8/6/10, A1/A2, “Record ocean temperatures may mean above-normal hurricane season, Jennifer Kay (AP) – Warning, “the Atlantic hurricane season [is] on track to be the busiest since 2005, government forecasters said Thursday.”  However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “slightly lowered the outlook it released in May [see 5/13 story].”  As usual, moreover, the forecast is couched in terms of what “could” happen – which to date has been very little “but the peak period for hurricanes runs from August to October.” [This story is not news, why is it being reported?]

 

8/4/10, A14, "The president fails to keep his clean energy promises," Phil McDonald Sr., Dover – “During his 2008 campaign,” the president assured us “of a green energy economy that would provide thousands graduating into millions of new green jobs.  Clean energy, including wind, solar and biofuels, produces less pollution, more affordable energy and a permanent lift to our economy . . . "  Delaware Governor Jack Markell has been a strong leader in the green energy fight, and the president should provide the support requested by backing the Joint Mid-Atlantic States Wind Energy Pact.

[Green jobs based on subsidized energy are an illusion.  Has not worked elsewhere, e.g., in Spain where a study showed 2.2 jobs lost for every green job gained, nor will it work here.  And Governor Markell’s pitch for federal government purchase contracts for wind energy is a very bad idea.  See 7/22/10 entry.

Key points: Wind power is expensive and unreliable; it can only succeed with government mandates and/or subsidies.  CO2 is not a pollutant, and a shift to greater reliance on wind power will have no discernible effect on global temperatures.  Finally, if it were decided to phase out electricity produced from fossil fuels, the most logical alternative would be nuclear power – not wind and solar power.  No government subsidies should be promised; just cut the red tape that is slowing proposals for new nuclear power plants to a crawl.]

 

8/1/10, A24, "Dems should have pressed forward on climate control," Paul Donohue – Mr. Donohue’s last letter (5/6/10) attacked “global warming deniers” for repeating “common untruths.”  This time he expresses sadness that “Sens. John Kerry and Harry Reid decided not to introduce their climate bill because they could not get a single Republican to sign on and avoid a Republican-led filibuster.”  He is “further saddened by the paucity of coverage of this important news.”  [It is true the News Journal did not cover the matter.  See our 7/23/7/24 entry.]

       U.S. historically the biggest CO2 emitter – rest of world watching in dismay – renewable energy will suffer – continued reliance on unstable foreign energy producers – more oil and coal disasters – this January to June the warmest on record (per National Climate Data Center) – “most scientists agree we might pass a tipping point, causing runaway warming and crop failures no matter what we do” – U.S. will be blamed – wants Democrats to proceed with the bill, and if the Republicans filibuster it the voters will see that they are “to blame for global warming and against clean energy.”

[No source cited for “most scientists agree we might pass a tipping point,” probably because there is none.  Recently, a climate realist (Lord Monckton) challenged his opponent in an Oxford debate to provide a citation for the proposition that 95% of scientists are in agreement that man is responsible for a coming climactic cataclysm.  The climate alarmist was jeered for his answer: “Everyone knows it’s true.”  http://bit.ly/doswb9

Re global temperatures, Donohue fails to mention the Medieval Warm period, etc., which were warmer than the present despite lower CO2 levels.  According to NOOA data, moreover, the 2000-2009 average temperature was less than one degree Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th Century as a whole.  See our comments on Donohue’s 5/6/10 letter, and John Greer’s 5/29/10 letter citing numerous sources for the Medieval Warm period, etc.

Donohue is right that the global warming theory has been highly politicized, which we think is unfortunate.  Members of Congress should approach this issue based on their individual understanding of the scientific debate, with due appreciation for the cost and impracticality of the clean energy sources Donohue favors.  And if it is ultimately decided to move away from coal power for generating electricity, let’s pursue the most practical alternative – nuclear power.]

 

7/31/10, A10,  "GM provides a big jolt, but electric cars still offer hope,” editorial - The "jolt" is the just announced base price for the Chevrolet Volt -- $41,000 vs. $32,000 for the Nissan Leaf [which lacks a gasoline backup engine].  In either case, purchasers may be able to reduce their cost by claiming up to $7,500 in federal income tax credits.  The News Journal correctly suggests that a $41,000 car that seats only four “is far too expensive to change the way we drive.”

        [For all the hoopla about GM and Chrysler doing better, these companies are still shaky despite the injection of massive government funding.  It is urgent to restore a free market.  The government should stop trying to tell the auto companies what cars to make, and start really helping by removing government mandates & roadblocks, minimizing taxes, and cutting government spending.  Pushing electric cars, while discouraging production of electricity, is a prime example of government ineptitude.]

 

7/30/10, A1/A2, “Hottest month may set record: Steamy July making history across U.S., Doyle Rice (USA Today)On and on about how unbearably hot it has been, etc., which – no surprise – segues into the specter of global warming.  “A comprehensive review of key climate indicators confirms the world is warming and the past decade was the warmest on record,” the annual State of the Climate report declares.  * * * “Global warming is undeniable,” although the report “does not specify a cause.”

        [Despite its alarmist tone, this article appears to be accurate, although the fact that it was warmer still during the Medieval Warm and other periods should be kept in mind. Ditto the distinction between climate and weather, e.g., San Diego had the coldest July since the 1930s. http://bit.ly/bgGn2G  Perhaps the warming trend is resuming, time will tell, but we doubt there is any great cause for alarm.]

 

 

7/27/10, A9, “Just when the country needs it, horse sense is scarce,” John Engelman (Community Advisory Board) – “Horse sense” is defined as developing efficient ways to solve real problems, and blue collar workers are said to know all about it.  But white collar workers not so much, when “any old Ivy League graduate can become an investment banker and put his company, and country at incredible risk as he pursues a multimillion-dollar commission.” [What about what government officials do?]

       Republicans are now trying to blame the oil spill on President Obama – but it was they who demanded deregulation and reducing size and cost of government.  “Drill baby, drill,” etc.  And then BP “made a series of avoidable mistakes that a better-funded government regulatory agency could have prevented.”  *** “I want Obama to keep attacking BP.  I want Republicans to defend BP.  One gets places in politics by getting in front of popular issues.”

        [BP did make mistakes, and we have no interest in defending them.  See our comments on an earlier column by Senator Ted Kaufman, 6/20/10.  However, this type of sentiment is misguided and destructive – doesn’t sound much like “horse sense” to us.]

 

7/26/10, “Carbon dioxide and global warming are not related, Dorothy Kendall (Claymont) – The writer takes issue with 7/16 letter that classed global warming as a “clear and present danger,” pointing out the Medieval Warm Period, etc.  “Our real problem is big government and the risk of a financial collapse,” she concludes. [How true!]

 

7/23/10 & 7/24/10, Decision re clean energy bill – We could find no coverage of a 7/22 decision by the Senate Democrats to drop, at least for now, the “clean energy bill” that was previously reported on in a 7/16 article and 7/19 editorial.  For information, here is the story from the Washington Times. http://bit.ly/dniF1U

 

7/22/10, A1/A2, "Sea level rise could doom Del. resources," Molly Murray –Partnership for the Delaware Estuary issued a report, "the culmination of two years of research engaging more than 25 experts at 12 institutions” that “predicts increases in temperatures, precipitation and sea level in the estuary, putting drinking water, habitats at wildlife at risk.” 

       One recommendation of the report is to preserve more forests in southern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania near the Delaware River’s source.  There is also discussion of planning and adaptation that may be helpful in preserving fragile salt marshes, which are reportedly “losing elevation” as a result of dikes built to hold in fresh water and keep out salt water.” [Sounds reasonable, at least on the surface, and consistent with Representative Mike Castle’s column on A-15, “Collaboration is essential to watershed conservation.”]

       Collin O’Mara, secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, sees this program as a way of looking at the “local impact” of global warming” versus “climate change impacts in the Indian Ocean” or whatever.  [In other words, the report is designed to scare Delawareans.]

       According to findings in the report: (a) median temperatures will increase by 4 to 7 degrees” [centigrade or Fahrenheit?] by 2100, (b) precipitation will increase 7% to 9%, (c) there will be “more days of extreme heat and more days of heavy rain or snow” [emphasis added], and (d) sea level will rise between 1.5 and 5 feet causing salt water migration up the Delaware River.

       According to Raymond Najjar, a research at Penn State, the range in these predictions reflects low vs. high CO2 emissions [versus, say, a range of uncertainty concerning future variations in solar activity].

[The macro assumptions about global temperatures are hogwash.  Scientists do not know whether there will be a renewed warming trend or a cooling trend, but the available research shows the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is not the primary driver. As for sea level, the predicted increase appears considerably exaggerated. [As we noted in a 12/27/09 entry, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change only projects a one foot rise in sea levels by 2100.]

 

7/22/10, A10, Wind power pitched to Obama: Govs. Markell, O’Malley encourage federal commitment, Aaron Nathans – The proposal letter asks the president to direct the Department of Defense and other designated federal agencies to commit to buying a gigawatt (enough to power about 300,000 homes) of offshore wind energy from the mid-Atlantic region, which would sell out the Bluewater project that is on the drawing board several times over and could supposedly “lead to the creation of up to 20,000 jobs.”

       Other goodies on the wish list: increasing loan guarantees, extending a production tax credit, and quickening the permitting process.

       Bluewater was supposedly not involved with the letter, but the company’s president is quoted that “we’re enthusiastic to respond to any solicitation or competition to provide power to the military and federal agencies.”

        [The ideas keep getting worse.  The government should buy the electricity it needs from the cheapest available sources, and wind power is not entitled to any support beyond a level playing field with alternative power sources – including nuclear plants.]

 

7/19/10, A10, Editorial: "We must overcome reliance on foreign oil" – Basically a plug for the energy bill [Cap-and-Tax lite] that Senator Carper is supporting, repeating most of Carper’s talking points.  Conclusion: “We think most Americans are ready for the kind of change Congress [or at least the Democratic members thereof] is talking about, including affordable electric cars.  It’s up to Congress to make it work.”

        [See our comments in the 7/16 entry: Additionally, we question whether a policy of energy independence would truly be in the national interest – even though politicians have been saying this since the 1970s.  No doubt “some of those petro dollars end up in the hands of terrorists,” but not most of them.  And oil imports would fall substantially if the government would just relax the array of restrictions that it has created to the development of unexploited U.S. oil and gas reserves.

Recall that international trade is of benefit to all concerned, contributing to global wealth.  What’s next, a U.S. ban on goods manufactured in China?  Level the playing field, enable U.S. firms to be competitive, and let the chips fall where they may.]

 

7/19/10, A10, Editorial cartoon depicting the “financial reform bill” as a cap on “Wall St. recklessness” – thereby likening it to the cap that has for now stopped the BP oil leak in Gulf –

with two members of Congress looking on.  “Let’s hope it works,” says one to the other.

        [Let's not forget the role of Barney Frank and other members of Congress who pushed lenders to sell homes to unqualified buyers.  Wouldn't it be great to see Representative Frank et al. on the “hot seat” at a Congressional hearing?

 

7/19/10, A7/A8, Solar pumps replacing windmills: More ranchers are abandoning old technology, Matt Joyce (AP) – In western states, beyond the range of power lines, farmers and ranchers have been using windmills to pump water for the past 150 years.  Now, however, with improving solar technology, “more and more Western ranchers are pulling them down and converting to solar-powered systems.”  The basic tradeoff is between initial investment (solar is more expensive) and maintenance costs (windmills have moving parts that require periodic replacement or servicing). Replacement decisions will typically be deferred so long as existing windmills are operable.

        [An informative article.  What a concept that energy source choices should be based on economics and/or user preference versus government policy!]

 

7/18/10, A21, Political cartoon – Nerdy man with a cap is sitting at a table on a low platform, under a Global Warming Deniers Club banner. “We will now be moving our meeting to the cooling center!” he says. A second man has fallen on his back, with feet pointed to the sky.

[Poking fun at deniers/skeptics/realists may seem fair, after fun was poked at alarmists during the cold winter.  However, there is a difference.  When there was no warming for several years, even though carbon dioxide continued to rise, the alarmists had some explaining to do.

Time will tell whether the extended hot spell corresponds to a resumption of the global warming trend that stalled about 10 years ago, but climate realists never claimed there has been no warming. We simply questioned a dubious theory, namely that global warming is being driven by the manmade buildup of C02 in the atmosphere.

After C02 reaches a certain level, it has no significant further effect on global temperatures.  The alarmists assume a positive feedback effect wherein a slight warming effect increases water evaporation, releasing more water vapor, the principal greenhouse gas.  The data do not support that assumption, but indicate a negative feedback.  In the tropics, when the temperature reaches a certain level, the high clouds disappear, allowing more heat to radiate from the Earth to space.

The global warming that has taken place since about 1800 is not unusual.  We are not yet as warm as conditions in the Medieval Warm Period, when grapes grew in England and there was farming in Greenland.  There have been alternate warm and cool periods throughout human history, which were probably due to changes in solar activity.]

 

7/18/10, D1, Delaware Inc. – Two of the three entries in this blog are written about wind energy, both by Aaron Nathans. 

“Offshore wind industry finally gets lobbying group” – It wasn’t enough to have one group representing wind power, so a new one has been organized to specifically represent offshore wind power.  “One of the group’s main focuses will be to shorten the permitting timeline for offshore wind projects,” an idea the News Journal has been pumping (see 7/15, 7/4 and 6/24 entries).  

“Task force meets in Lewes to discuss offshore wind issues.”  State and federal environmental officials get together to discuss “status of offshore wind matters,” notably whether a competitive auction will be required because there are now two firms (Bluewater and “the little-known Occidental Development & Equities of Bayonne, NJ”) with an interest in building renewable energy projects off the Delaware coast. [Hmm, competition for government subsidies, that could get confusing.]

 

7/17/10, A8, Closing 3 coal-fired boilers an environmental triumph – Editorial rehashes the news story on 7/16 of the shutdown of three of four reactors at the Indian River power plant and lauds the outcome.  Among other things, “the plan will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent and other pollutants by 80 to 90 percent.”  [No mention of how the power will be made up.  Also, one more time, CO2 is not a pollutant.]

 

7/16/10, A8, Obama lauds construction of car-battery plant in Mich.: President calls facility a symbol of revitalization of U. S. manufacturing, Julie Pace (AP) – “Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth,” the president states at the groundbreaking. However, “this is the ninth factory to begin with the help of [federal government] economic stimulus money, in this case $2.4 billion.”  [Actually, we believe that this is the total for the program, and that the grant for the Compact Power plant was, as stated in a 7/15 News Journal story, $151 million or about half the cost of the plant.  In addition, buyers of electric-powered cars will receive tax credits.]  “This is a symbol of where America is going.” [We hope not!]

 

7/16/10, A18,  "Yet another Climate change report silences naysayers," David Martin – Letter writer labels Climategate a "momentary distraction" and cites "third independent investigation." which "again vindicated the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Center.”  He goes on to call global warming a “clear and present danger.”  Letter was prompted by news story on 7/8/10, A6.  [See our comments on that story, and also The Climategate Whitewash Continues, Patrick Michaels (Cato Institute), Wall Street Journal, 7/12/10, re chilling effect of scheme to ban climate realist research from peer-reviewed journals. http://bit.ly/9DbxbH.]

 

7/16/10, B1/B9, “NRG to shut off third boiler: Indian River plant pact promotes clean energy,” Jeff Montgomery - The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has accepted NRG's proposal to permanently shut down its 155-Megawatt Unit 3 coal-burning boiler at the Indian River Plant in December 2013 without installing mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide controls that had previously been ordered by DNREC.  NRG will also mothball its two smallest and oldest generating units at the site.  NRG's 410-Megawatt coal-burning boiler, the most modern and largest unit, will continue operating.  [This appears to represent a formalization of the deal reported on 2/3/10.  The deal seems OK, but we are not in agreement with the assumption that the generation reduction will be made up by costly, undependable wind power.  Time to get serious about new nuclear power plants, or else build more gas power generators.] 

 

7/16/10, B1, Clean energy bill gets Carper’s support: Objective is to cut ties to foreign oil, Peter Urban (Gannett Washington Bureau) – Senator Carper is reportedly backing a scaled-back energy bill [do cap and tax in pieces rather than all at once] in the Senate, which would supposedly “save more than 8 billion barrels of oil per day when fully implemented by investing heavily in electric passenger cars, shifting cargo from trucks to trains and imposing higher fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks.”  [These ideas would be immensely costly.  They won’t work without massive government intervention, guaranteed to hurt the U.S. economy.]

Carper’s party says “long-term energy independence cannot be achieved through increased drilling at home because oil reserves here are not adequate to sustain the current demand.  Conservation and a shift to alternative energy sources is the only realistic option.” [Complete energy independence may not be possible, but  huge U.S. oil and gas reserves are not being exploited due to government restrictions, e.g., the ill advised Gulf oil-drilling moratorium.  Blaming the domestic production shortfall on declining reserves is disingenuous.]

 

7/15/10, A1/A6, Energy audits in limbo: Angry weatherization workers demand answers from officials: Mike Chalmers – Delaware already had a weatherization program (making qualifying participants’ houses more energy efficient at taxpayer expense), and substantial funding was included in the 2009 “economic stimulus” bill.  The state office administering the program was overwhelmed, and a federal audit found “gross mismanagement and potential fraudulent activity.”  It is planned to move the program to the Delaware Energy Office (overseen by DNREC), but in the meantime funding has been cut off and private contractors (some of whom underwent training to do the work) are upset.  The federal Department of Energy must approve a resumption of activity.  There are also reports that “some weatherization contractors are paying far less than the prevailing wage,” which could lead to complaints to the U.S. Department of Labor. [The real scandal is establishing the program in the first place.  Also, giveaway programs are seldom appreciated, and government activity breeds more government activity.]

 

7/15/10, A1/A7, Officials want wind regulated separately: Lawmakers fear delay in offshore projects: Nicole Guadiano – Prior reports [7/4 and 6/24] noted that the Bluewater offshore wind farm project could be slowed by federal red tape.  Now a solution has been proposed, backed by all three members of Congress from Delaware: the U.S. Interior Department would “temporarily create a special office to regulate offshore wind.”  [As far as we are concerned, there is no reason to arrange fast track approval for wind power projects, while oil drilling, shale gas drilling (next story), nuclear power plants, dredging of the Delaware River, etc. are studied to death.  What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.”]  

 

7/15/10, A7, Panel sets more hearings on gas drilling in basin, AP – A new extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing has opened up vast shale oil gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale formation.  Power generated with natural gas is cleaner than coal power, but environmentalists are pushing for regulatory delays and restrictions with some success.  Thus, the Delaware River Basin Commission has declared a moratorium on natural gas drilling deep below the river basin, which in May was extended to exploratory drilling.

       At a 7/14 hearing, the environmentalists squared off against the drilling companies, land owners, etc.  The DRBC relented to the extent of voting to allow two new exploratory wells in Wayne County, PA, and its proposed regulations will be forthcoming later in the summer.  [Hard to tell how this will play out, but we would be inclined to side with the drillers.]

 

7/15/10, A9, White House promotes electric cars: Administration to show stimulus dollars at work: Ken Thomas – Several examples are cited, including the president’s trip today to Holland, Michigan for the groundbreaking of a Compact Power, Inc. factory to manufacture lithium ion cells.  Cost of plant, $303 million: received from federal stimulus program, $151 million.  [Shovel out enough federal money and you can get people to do almost anything, but what about the drag on other economic activity that is being taxed to pay for these handouts?]

 

7/15/10, A10, We can put worries about nuclear energy safety to bed, Ben Corballis, Wilmington – The writer reacts to the 2+ page headline story on 7/11/10, which greatly exaggerated the risks of expanding the nuclear power plants in the area.  Are there risks?  Of course, but “all life is risky” – including flying, driving, etc.  Energy is needed, and “we must not let scare tactics, such as recent news, keep us from using an excellent resource already available – nuclear energy.”

 

7/14/10, A11, New power supplier touts savings, clean energy, Aaron Nathans – Clean Currents of Rockville, MD was recently certified as a competitive electricity supplier n Delaware.  The firm reportedly plans to offer “fifty percent wind” electricity at lower rates than Delmarva Power.  [Cheaper power is fine, but not when it is based on the award of renewable energy credits to wind farm developers – i.e., taxpayer subsidies for an undependable, uneconomic form of energy.]

 

7/14/10, B1/B2, “Hearing airs cases for, against dredging of river: Project would deepen Delaware’s channel to 45 feet,” Jeff MontgomeryAnother public hearing in Dover on plans to deepen the Delaware River shipping channel, and as the article says the same arguments are being made.  Generalized environmental claims of potential damage, which the U.S. Corps of Engineers has supposedly failed to rebut, versus the economic reality that a deeper shipping channel is needed to keep area ports competitive.  “Both sides staked out the same territory in December 2001.” [See our comments on the 4/6/10 story.  This sort of unreasonable, closed-mind environmentalism is a growing threat to the regional and U.S. economy.]

 

7/13/10, A8, from letters to the editor: – Carol Vanela of Avondale fires back at a 7/11 letter that “Continual hysteria about earth’s future is intolerable” or any other criticism of the “liberal” agenda.  “Science . . . makes clear that the earth is in peril.  That issue is no longer in dispute.  The only thing left to argue is who is responsible and what to do about it.”  [Wonder why climate alarmists are so keen on cutting off discussion of their unproven theories.]

        Simon Miller, New Castle, derides volunteers who spend an hour “saving a pelican from the deadly Gulf oil [spill]” and then “have other birds for dinner for dinner at local fast-food outlets.”  Apparently, they forget that “meat and dairy harm the environment and their family’s health.” [Get it, Big Brother (or Sister) should tell us what to eat because, left to our own devices, we will make the wrong choices.]

 

7/11/10, A1/A6-7, "Nuclear growth puts region at risk: With nine reactors 40 miles or less from Delaware, proposals to build more make safety a real concern," Jeff Montgomery – The biggest article in the Sunday newspaper, taking up about 40% of the front page (including a foreboding picture of the Salem-Hope Creek Station taken from our side of the Delaware River) plus two inside pages, with no real news to report except that several additional reactors at existing sites are in the early planning stage. [The May 5 public hearing in New Jersey was not covered by the News Journal, see our 5/13 entry.]

Area residents were interviewed for the story, including Julie Harrington in Port Penn, Dae Kwak in Hockessin, and Carl Cook in Middletown, all whom are “surrounded by nuclear reactors” in that “nine reactors stand 40 miles or less from Delaware’s border.” Maps are provided of the 10, 20 and 50-mile circles around these facilities.  The psychological effect of periodic drills based on these “danger” zones is noted:  “Reminders of nuclear power’s risk keep popping up, however, when the plant tests its emergency sirens or officials distribute the potassium iodide tablets residents are supposed to take in the event of a serious radiation leak.”

Officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) say “past studies painted too scary a picture” and the chances of a truly dangerous incident are remote, but this does not seem to satisfy the alarmists.  Thus, Michele Boyd, with Physicians for Social Responsibility, “said the nuclear industry and government are simply understating the likelihood of a major accident or act of sabotage.”  Just look at the Gulf oil spill, which wasn’t expected to happen either.

 “Nuclear has plenty of interest and friends in Delaware,” it is said. One of them is Senator Tom Carper, who, however, (a) believes nuclear power requires strong safety standards and aggressive oversight by the NRC, and (b) acknowledges that the Salem/Hope Creek plant have had a “checkered past.”

When is something actually likely to happen?  “PSEG has tentatively set 2021 as a startup date for a new reactor, following a five to seven year construction period.”

[This is outrageous, a front-page article, obviously attempting, on the flimsiest grounds, to foster opposition to one or two additional reactors at Salem/Hope Creek.  If the country escapes a financial disaster, it will need additional capacity for electricity from nuclear power, the safest, economical, dependable source (unless nuclear power gets buried in regulatory red tape, which could easily happen).

About the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents, which are of course mentioned.  Nobody died at Three Mile Island.  Chernobyl was an unsafe design, and run badly, yet the number of people killed was fewer than those killed in a week of auto accidents in this country.  U.S. nuclear plants were orders of magnitude safer than Chernobyl at the time, and they have been improved greatly since.

The 10-mile and 50-mile radii around nuclear plants serve no useful purpose and amount to a PR scheme.  Jeff Montgomery is a skillful, productive reporter.  Unfortunately, he is in league with zealots who remain stuck in the nuclear superstitions of the last century.

Here's a parallel to such articles:  Delawareans remain trapped in dwellings only a few yards from roads where automotive behemoths run at speeds guaranteed to crush anyone who stands in the way.  Over 100 Americans are killed each day by these machines that are used mainly so that people can waste their lives spending time to get where they work, away from hearth and home.  So why not ban cars and require everyone to ride bicycles?]

 

7/11/10, A7, “As president touts green power, plants launch a ‘nuclear renaissance,’” Jeff Montgomery – In a shorter companion article, Montgomery questions the reality of proposals for what some have dubbed as a “nuclear renaissance” – even though “President Obama and the federal government have become increasingly supportive of nuclear.”  [However, the Yucca Mountain national waste repository is no longer being supported, and there is no agreed alternative procedure for the long-term disposition of nuclear waste – an issue that must be resolved before any more nuclear power plants can realistically be built in this country.]

            High initial cost: “estimated reactor costs range as high as $8 billion each,” and nuclear firms are angling for “taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to make [their projects] work.” [We disapprove of these or any other form of energy subsidy.]

            It is hoped that “nuclear power will be perceived as a greener power source than coal, overcoming opposition from environmental groups,” but this may not happen.  Thus, John Byrne of the University of Delaware is quoted to the effect that “investments in big new generators [producing inexpensive power] would only prop up and increase energy use, rather than improve efficiency and conservation.” 

            And Peter Bradford, a former NRC commissioner, points to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as “reason enough to keep regulations and risk reviews tough.”  

              [This is not how America put a man on the moon in 10 years, built the Panama Canal, etc.  If nuclear power is going to play its proper role in the energy picture, there must be a major shift in the current mindset – and a willingness to try new things, such as smaller reactors and nuclear waste recycling.]

 

7/11/10, A13, “Energy & Votes, paid advertisement by Daniel G. Anderson [a real estate developer based in Rehoboth Beach] – This half-page political ad covers a lot of ground, among other things accusing the Administration of “waging a constant war” against the least expensive of the country’s energy sources, e.g., coal and oil, and seeking to “replace them with alternative energy sources, i.e., wind power, grain power [ethanol], perhaps nuclear power, thus creating ‘green’ jobs.”  [Some points seem overstated, and the call for action is political, but on the whole this is a good summary of what is wrong (and has been wrong for decades) with U.S. energy policy.  Too bad that Mr. Anderson has to pay for coverage of his viewpoint, while the other side gets nonstop coverage for free.]

 

7/11/10, A20, “Continual hysteria about earth’s future is intolerable,” Jack Clymer, Newark – The writer chronicles “save the world” scares over the past 40 odd years: acid rain – hole in the ozone – global warming, now known as climate change.  “Anyone with an ounce of sense knows this [global warming] scare is a hoax,” and “the continuous hysteria from the left is not funny anymore.”  There are very real problems in this country, and “we do not have the time or money to waste trying to fight another nonexistent bogeyman.” 

 

7/10/10, A9, "Climate change skeptics are in denial: Accepting reality is key to debating policy," Eugene Robinson -  Columnist Eugene Robinson apparently does not know that the present warm period is far from unique, so we are mailing him the following letter:

Dear Mr. Robinson: Re your column in the 7/10/10 Wilmington DE News Journal, almost everyone agrees that the Earth has been getting warmer as we recover from the Little Ice Age. The important question is whether carbon dioxide is a major  cause.  About 31,000 scientists have signed a petition agreeing that it is not.

The present warm period is not unique.  Between major ice ages, there are alternating warm and cool periods.  The Medieval Warm Period, which preceded the Little Ice Age, was appreciably warmer than the present warm period, even though the carbon dioxide level was lower than today.

Evidence that it was warmer during the Medieval period includes the fact that there was farming in Greenland, and that grapes were grown in England and elsewhere at locations too cool now for grape growing.

What causes the alternating warm and cool periods?  The cause appears to be changes in the output of the Sun.  ("The Chilling Stars", 2007 book by Svensmark & Calder.)

In case you'd like to explore this issue further, I believe the Heartland Institute of Chicago is a good source.

A chart is enclosed showing temperature vs. time for three ice ages and the intervening periods. Very truly yours, William E. Morris, Climate Common Sense

 

7/10/10, A8, Science doesn’t support Al Gore’s view of warming, Arlen D. Besel, Elkton, MD

Al Gore likes the word “unequivocal,” but the writer suggests a different use for it: “Science unequivocally shows that CO2 is not the cause of global warming, but the result.”  Why?  (1) Climate stopped warming in 2002 or earlier; (2) CO2 increases follow temperature increases by as much as 800 years and solar activity is the primary driver in climate change; (3) CO2 is a plant nutrient, not a pollutant; (4) Possible deaths in developing countries without inexpensive electrical power; (5) 31,000 scientists signed petition to stop cap-and-trade activity; (6) Global warming leaders are making millions by their actions.  [Sounds about right.  Careful about (1), though, because the warming trend could resume.]

 

7/9/10, A14, Recent NRC reports verify global warming’s reality, Chad Tolman, Wilmington

Tolman lauds the 6/27 column of Professor Jonathan Sharp and decries what he calls “a great deal of confusion and misinformation in the public discussion of the issues.”  He names the National Research Council of the U.S. National academies as “one of the most reliable sources of scientific information,” cites three recently issued climate change studies (“Advancing the Science,” “Limiting the Magnitude,” and “Adapting to the Impacts”), and provides a link to “an informative presentation by the chairs of the study panels.” 

       [We did not choose to watch the 59-minute NRC video, but for those who may be so inclined here is a shortened link. http://bit.ly/d29805.  For earlier statements by Tolman, see the 3/13/10, 2/27/10 and 1/22/10 entries.]

 

7/8/10, A6,  "Science vindicated again on so-called Climategate,” Raphael Satter (AP) – An independent British report by Muir Russell, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, "found there was no evidence of dishonesty or corruption" in the Climategate e-mails.  This was “the third major probe of the e-mails,” [none of which have reported evidence of outright fraud.]  However, Russell did “chide the scientists involved for failing to share their data with critics” and for condoning “a trick” that resulted in a “misleading” graph.

John Burns, "distinguished professor of energy and climate policy" at the University of Delaware, is quoted as hoping “the report will put the focus back on the science.  We're storing too much carbon in the atmosphere," he states, and the assessments of the manmade global warming theorists “if anything, are conservative in their conclusions.”

[The real Climategate scandal is not outright fraud, it is the subversion of the spirit of open scientific inquiry, and we have heard nothing to indicate that Phil Jones et al. are repentant.  Do they now plan to welcome publication in peer-reviewed journals by climate realists?  Will they admit facts that are inconvenient to the manmade global warming theory, such as the existence of the Medieval Warm Period or the urban heat island effect that has tainted surface level temperature readings (dictating reliance on more accurate NASA temperature data)?

Will Professor Burns demonstrate the sincerity of his concern about CO2 by advocating quicker development of nuclear power plants?  We are not holding our breath.]

 

7/5/10, A13,  "In Lewes, future of energy comes with the wind," Daniel Schneckenburger (a member of the News Journal’s advisory board) – The writer expresses his enthusiasm for wind power as “a viable [renewable] energy source, a research tool and a symbol of oil independence for the East Coast.”   He ends the column with: "What is the best solution for gaining our independence from oil, much of it provided by foreign sources?  The answer is blowing in the wind."

        [An odd metaphor, as “blowing in the wind” has traditionally expressed futility.  We are a long way from oil independence, particularly if roadblocks keep being put in the way of domestic oil exploration and production.  And even if everyone winds up driving electric cars eventually, this does not justify reliance on high cost, unreliable wind power instead of nuclear power.  Time for less poetry and a harder look at the facts.]

 

7/4/10, D1/D3, "Fisker's course uncertain, but Tesla IPO offers beacon," Jonathan Starkey - Tesla Motors raised $202 million this week from an initial public offering and Fisker (which is committed to buy the former GM plant on Boxwood Road) has raised over $300 million from private investors.  Each company has also received about $500 million loans from the federal government.  However, “several questions linger” about the future for “luxury electric car makers” like Tesla (“makes a $109,000 electric Roadster, but has yet to turn a profit”) and Fisker (“has yet to deliver its first product, the $88,000 Karma plug-in hybrid sports sedan to customers”).  Not to mention competition from much lower priced electric cars to be offered by other companies.  Including pictures of the Tesla and Fisker cars, this article takes up about 40% of the first page of the business section – or 50% if one throws in the wind power story.

[These federal government loans are a spectacularly bad idea, especially when the federal government is in a deep fiscal hole.  So is other meddling in the automotive market (e.g., steadily tightening fleet mileage standards) and energy market (e.g., subsidies and mandates to force increasing use of more costly “renewable energy”) that is going on.  Let’s wake up and demand that the federal and state governments discontinue these ill-advised policies so the free market can work its magic.]

 

7/4/10, D1/D6, "Offshore wind farm hits EPA roadblock: Project could be delayed till next year," Aaron Nathans – “Who knew an offshore wind farm project could get tangled up over air pollution emissions?”  NRG-Bluewater Wind wants to erect a meteorological tower to record wind speed and bird flight patterns, but this part of the project is being delayed by an EPA request (or demand) for information on how much pollution will be emitted by a boat to be used in building the tower.

[Seems the environmentalists are being “hoist by their own petard.”  Good!  The greater the delay, the greater the chance that the public will not be saddled with expensive, undependable wind power.  See also our 6/24 entry re an earlier story attributing the permitting delay to bureaucratic turmoil in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.]

 

7/3/10, A1/A4, "Forecast shows no relief in sight," Jeff Montgomery – Story, including big photo of a dusty field being prepared for planting under a “With drought declared, more dry, scorching weather on the way” caption, takes up about 1/3 of the front page. The forecast for the 4th of July is a hot one [coming after several days of truly delightful temperatures], readers are informed, and “federal climate agencies officially declared portions of the Delmarva Peninsula, including southernmost Sussex County, to be in drought.”  Energy meters will be spinning – late peas “burnt up” – jet stream kept well to the north in recent months – record temperatures – only about 2/3 of normal rain over the past 90 days – keeping daycare children inside – “local cooling centers for seniors – “Code Orange” smog and soot conditions alert.  David Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist, said “global and local long-term average temperatures appear to be slowly rising” although “he cautioned against attributing any single year's local records or short-term extremes to climate change and the debate over control of heat-trapping pollutants called greenhouse gases."

[When it’s hot, alarmists think global warming.  When it’s cold, that’s just weather. The concerns in this story seem obviously overstated, and we think it more than a coincidence that Jeff Montgomery never seems to call Dr. David Legates, the Delaware State Climatologist.]

 

6/27/10, A29, "It's real: Denying global warming is not an option,” Jonathan Sharp (UD Professor of Oceanography) – There has been “an aggressive campaign to convince the public that climate change is not an important problem,” this column claims, and the media “can be faulted in their failure to be more discriminating in their presentation of opinion and news.” [If anything, the shoe is on the other foot.  Media coverage over the past several decades has relentlessly publicized the manmade global warming theory, as shown by four other stories in today’s edition, while largely ignoring the evidence against it.]

But remember, “most environmental scientists who have studied the evidence conclude that the Earth is warming and that human contributions of excess greenhouse gases are, at least partially, the reason for the warming.” [This is not saying much.  How much warming over what time period, who says what level of greenhouse gases is “excess,” and what does “at least partially” mean?]

“The issue is not just global warming,” and “as we are seeing today, offshore oil drilling can have disastrous consequences.” [Climate alarmists will keep coming up with new arguments for their preconceived conclusion and hope that something sticks.]

        So let’s all support a “massive new energy policy in this country,” which can generate “an economic boon [sic] as well as an environmental salvation.” [Reputable studies indicate that the “cap and tax” policy that is on offer would have seriously detrimental effects on the economy.]

[If Sharp were really serious about his belief that warming will resume and have devastating effects, and that CO2 is a major contributor, he should be pushing for the construction of new nuclear power plants.  No CO2 involved, and such plants would be safe, inexpensive, and dependable.  But there is no mention of nuclear power in this rather long column.]

 

6/27/10, A21 "Future uncertain for US polar bears” Dan Joling (AP) – “Federal officials have declared that the Endangered Species Act will not be used in the attempt to regulate greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming and melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.”  [Environmentalists are planning a court challenge to the ruling, natch.] However, the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating 187,966 square miles of U.S. territory – 95% of it the Beaufort and Chukchi seas – as “polar bear critical habitat.”  Environmentalists like this idea, because it would create one more opportunity to fight offshore oil drilling.  “Alaskans on the other side of the issue are bewildered over why the agency is bothering to designate critical habitat for polar bears.  The proposal covers an area larger than California.”

        [We have nothing against polar bears, but they are not in danger of extinction.  These bears are considerably more numerous than they were in 1970s, and they are highly adaptable.  We understand they can swim over 100 miles.]

 

6/27/10, B1/B4, Votes due on green energy measures: Markell administration pushes “ambitious” bills, Jeff Montgomery – Three different pieces of legislation are proposed, which would generally push ahead with government mandates/ subsidies for “renewable energy.”  However, one of the bills would require “consideration of less costly home improvements, such as insulation and more efficient appliances, before the receipt of subsidies from some green-energy programs.”  [As we see it, these mandate and subsidy programs should be discontinued.  They do not make economic sense, nor can the state government afford to continue supporting them.]

 

6/27/10, B1/B4, Offshore oil drilling protested worldwide: Opponents join hands on Del. beaches, Molly Murray – “Dozens of people joined hands from Bowers Beach south to Dewey Saturday to oppose offshore oil drilling and promote the use of clean energy.”  One of the participants explained in an interview that she did not plan to stop driving a car, watching TV or running her air conditioner.  It’s about coming up with sustainable, alternative energy, which she likened to “having your cake and eating it too.”  Similar demonstrations were held “across the United States and in foreign countries and at noon – to show solidarity – everyone joined hands in a silent protest.”  [However irrational, these demonstrations are brilliant PR for the environmentalist agenda.  It’s hard to see what climate realists can do to counter them, but we need to come up with something.]

 

6/27/10, F1/F6, Going green, but keeping a piece of history intact, Jonathan Starkey – Mounts are being used to install solar panels on the flat roof of the Bourse Building in Philadelphia, which once housed the first U.S. commodities exchange and has now been converted into a shopping and office space complex.  The roof does not need to be replaced, and the mounts don’t have to be bolted into the roof (which could cause structural damage).  The mounts are made and installed by Solar Dock, a subsidiary of a Wilmington real estate development firm (The McConnell Companies). [Hmm, wonder why this story is considered newsworthy.]

 

6/24, A5, "Bluewater deadline extended: Date to make commitment to offshore wind project delayed due to Gulf spill,” Aaron Nathans – Delmarva Power has granted NRG Bluewater an extension of a contractual deadline to be committed to a $6 million penalty if it ultimately pulls out of the contract.  Discussion of this and other matters “could put the completion date [for the project] past the current target of 2014.”  Bluewater attributes the delay to “bureaucratic turmoil in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.”  [We suspect the delay has more to do with growing public resistance to rising taxes and higher power costs than with the Gulf oil spill.  In any case, it could not be clearer that the Bluewater project is dependent on massive government support (via mandates and subsidies).  More electricity will be needed in years to come, and Delmarva should be encouraged to contract for it from cheaper, more dependable sources.]

           

6/24/10, B1, "Salem-Hope Creek safety drill trips up states: N.J. will have to redo nuclear exercise, Jeff Montgomery - Both New Jersey and Delaware made mistakes in a six-year readiness exercise, according to federal authorities, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency ordered a state do-over (in July) for two New Jersey counties.  The exercise was based on a hypothetical scenario of “a radiation plume crossing the Delaware River and state.”  

[Anti-nuclear zealots succeeded in getting 10-mile and 50- mile zones established years ago.  The 10-mile radius defines an "evacuation potential" zone, and the 50-mile radius is used to "develop safeguards against direct contamination or consumption of radioactive food or water."

In our opinion, this concern about “worst case” events is excessive.  Remember that no one died as a result of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the worst nuclear power accident in U.S. history, while there have been many deaths in connection with other energy sector accidents and roughly 40,000 Americans are killed every year in automobile accidents.]

 

6/20/10, A27, Make Gulf spill an impetus for a new national energy policy, [Senator] Ted Kaufman – Delaware’s junior senator claims there is “an urgent need to end our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels,” as “we should have learned in the 1970s, when an energy crisis crippled the country.”  The solution, he says, is to accelerate development of “clean technology that will create a new generation of clean energy jobs, ensure a strong economic future and greatly enhance our national security.” 

            [The BP oil spill was an unfortunate accident, but it does not warrant the radical plan that is being proposed.  Also, the moratorium on offshore drilling, etc. will put many people out of work and drive up energy costs for the rest of us, quite unnecessarily.

            A far more urgent need, in our opinion, is for the government to get over its reliance on deficit spending, which is driving this nation towards a financial meltdown of epic proportions.  There has been no comment from Senator Kaufman on this issue, which will be revisited in detail in the 6/21/10 blog entry. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm

            As for oil, the U.S. and overseas oil producers both benefit when the U.S. buys the oil it needs.  However, more of our oil could be produced domestically if the federal government removed unnecessary restrictions on the production of oil from Alaska and elsewhere.

            Coal probably will be phased out as a power source over time, although a crash program is not needed and would be very costly.  The leading contender to replace coal power is nuclear power, if regulatory requirements for reprocessing nuclear fuel and building new facilities can be appropriately streamlined.  The principal obstacle to progress is the opposition of environmentalists who are stuck in nuclear superstitions of the last century.  As a former engineer, Senator Kaufman should be pushing for the expansion of nuclear power, which is dependable, economical and safe – but the subject is not mentioned in his column.

            Wind and solar power are undependable, and they should be charged for the backup energy sources and alternative transmission systems that they would require.  This country cannot afford to continue mandating and/or subsidizing these uneconomical power sources.]

 

6/17/10, A2, Obama wins apology, $20 billion from BP: Oil company won’t control fund for Gulf damages, Jennifer Loven (AP) – Details of the fund extorted from BP are recited as “the first big success Obama has been able to give to Gulf residents and the nation,” but “by no means a cap.”  It is also stated that “it won’t be a government fund,” even though the fund will be administered by the Administration’s “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg, who previously oversaw the $7 billion government fund for families of victims of the 9/11 attack. [This arrangement will be an unmitigated disaster for BP, which will surely be subjected to a deluge of legal claims after the $20 billion fund is exhausted and may not survive as a company.  We find it hard to view this outcome as a “big success” for anyone.]

 

6/17/10, A15, Time for new energy policy is right now, Jennifer Mihills (Delaware Nature Society) – “America’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels imperils our environment.  The Senate must take action this year to reduce this dependence on dirty fuels.”  [We agree with the title of this column, but not much else.  (1) The rhetoric is overstated, e.g., “Gulf disaster” and “irrevocable damage.”  Although the current situation is serious, nature will recover as it has done before (e.g., after the intentional oil spill in the Persian Gulf at the start of the Gulf War in 1991). (2) The Gulf oil spill is not due to Americans “dependence on oil” so much as industry and governmental failures.  (3) The economic effects of proposed energy legislation, e.g., a cap-and-tax regime, could prove considerably more serious and long lasting than the environmental damage.  (4) Nuclear power is not mentioned, but the country needs it now because it is dependable, safe and economical.  Even though nuclear power produces no CO2, however, many environmental groups seem stuck in the nuclear superstitions of the last century causing them to continue to oppose nuclear power.]

 

6/16/10, A1/A2, Obama: “We will make BP pay”: President pledges to restore Gulf in address to nation, Jennifer Loven (AP) – accused BP of “recklessness” – long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan – sure to be in the billions of dollars – would “inform” [BP executives] that the company must set aside whatever resources are required – urged the nation and Congress to get behind his goal of sweeping energy and climate change legislation.  [This speech was predictable and to a large extent misguided.  See 6/14 and 6/7 entries in SAFE blog. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm.]

 

6/16/10, A2, Caper, Kaufman applaud Obama’s vows – Senator Kaufman’s statement concentrated on holding BP accountable including ensuring that “Gulf Coast residents whose economic livelihoods have been affected by the spill will be fully compensated.”

He also attributed the oil spill to “failures resulting from past deregulation,” which “deregulatory mindset in this country allowed irresponsible industry players like BP to take ‘shortcuts,’ putting our nation at tremendous risk.”  Senator Carper’s statement “focused on Obama’s call for enactment of measures to spur development of non-carbon fuels.”  Representative Mike Castle “did not issue a statement following the speech.” [Judging from these reactions, we have a long way to go in our educational efforts.]

 

6/13/10, BI/B5, “Del. raises $2.1M from CO2: Regional initiative ending pollution’s free ride, Jeff Montgomery – This article rehashes a 3/14 article (also written by Jeff Montgomery), “Del. gains $2 million in carbon credit sale.”  Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – DE has received $16M so far [$13.9M in the previous article], “nearly all of it earmarked for energy efficiency and conservation programs or aid for clean energy activities” – “scientists say” manmade global warming a big threat – UN call for 80% reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions by 2050 “to avert the worst consequences of global warming” – EPA endangerment finding. For unexplained reasons, however, Congress is “squabbling over federal authority to regulate [CO2].”  Also, a leader for the new Delaware City refinery, PBF Energy CEO Thomas O’Malley, says it is “idiotic to basically force people out of business here in the United States with CO2 legislation, and then import the oil products from India, from the Middle East, from China.”

        [Right on Mr. O’Malley, but we would like to go a step further and remind area governors of their childhoods when they said to their mothers, “If Johnny can do it, why can’t I?”  The reply was generally along the lines that “If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you follow him?”  California has jumped off more than one cliff in its time, but for the RGGI states this is unnecessary silliness – they should be more sensible than California.

       CO2 is a beneficial gas.  Plants love it.  Even if warming will resume, it may not be harmful, and in any case real world evidence does not show CO2 is a major factor.

       The RGGI scheme is an indirect way to collect taxes with the proceeds earmarked to subsidize energy programs that could not be justified otherwise.  The results: higher energy prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy. State governments and the federal government should stand down so the free market can work its magic.]

 

6/11/10, A3, “Senate squelches GOP bid to limit EPA air standards: Six Democrats join Republican effort,” Jim Abrams (AP) – By a 53-47 vote, the Senate rejected a resolution to stop the EPA from moving ahead with proposed regulations based on limiting CO2 emissions as a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act.  The vote is described as “a signal of where lawmakers stand on dealing with climate change,” i.e., how they are likely to vote on the American Power Act (a cap-and-tax proposal rather similar to the House energy bill that was passed a year ago).  Delaware’s two senators (Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman) voted against the resolution.

        [Carper and Kaufman should know better.  It is simply not true that CO2 is the main driver of global warming (assuming a warming trend will resume, which is far from certain).  Hopefully, the APA can be blocked (it only takes 41 votes) for now.  After the November elections, Congress may be even less disposed to proceed with the demonization of this beneficial gas, and perhaps another run can be taken at the EPA regulations.]

 

6/8/10, A1/A4,  "Harnessing the sun—cheaply," Jonathan Starkey –The DuPont Company has opened a new solar power lab at Chestnut Run, outside of Wilmington, similar to labs in Switzerland and China.  Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), and dozens of others joined DuPont CEO at an “elaborate, hours-long ribbon cutting Monday afternoon to laud the company’s efforts to boost research into renewable energy development.”  Reportedly, “the goal of the research is to make solar power competitive with carbon-sourced electricity.”  To which end, a state panel “recently approved a Delaware Strategic Fund grant of up to $240,000.”

[We have nothing against solar power if it is economically competitive, but the state grant is just the tip of the iceberg. The main government handout is subsidies for solar power installation – which a federal government teetering on the fiscal brink can ill afford – and mandates for rising purchases (whether economic or not) of “green” energy by power companies.  Instead of such measures, how about removing government roadblocks and letting the free market decide what form(s) of energy are most economic?]

 

6/8/10, A3, "Worker dead in natural gas line blast in Texas" - Brief item on the third page would have been much larger and on the front page if this had been a nuclear plant accident.

 

6/8/10, A8, “We should be considering more sources of fossil fuels” – Letter from SAFE member Harry Kenton, points out that environmentalists have done a lot of damage by blocking the growth of nuclear power and on-land oil drilling based on “their dreamy myth” that wind, solar, etc. is all we need.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/letters.htm

 

6/5/10, A1/A5, Oil disaster stretches to Fla., AP – Sensationalized reporting of the Gulf oil spill continues, including lines such as these: “The oil has now reached the shores of four Gulf states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida – turning its marshlands into death zones for wildlife and staining its beaches rust and crimson in an affliction that some said brought to mind the plagues and punishments of the Bible.” [Beware a shortsighted backlash against the oil industry, which could put a cap and tax bill over the top.  Stay tuned for the 6/7/10 entry in our main blog: http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm]

 

6/5/10, A8, “Some simple research to prevent future catastrophes,” Steve Senderoff, Wilmington – A letter writer points out historical record of oil spills, concluding that "any educated person can see a recipe for continuing disasters if we do not implement major government regulation of the industry." [To paraphrase Justice John Marshall,  “the power to regulate is the power to destroy.”  We reach a quite different conclusion from the historical record in the 6/7/10 entry on our main blog: http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm]

 

6/1/10, A5, "Producers of biodiesel in limbo: Industry presses Congress on crucial tax credit," Parker Leavitt (Content One) – For the second day in a row, the News Journal headline story in the business section is about energy tax credits, this time a $1 a gallon tax credit to small biodiesel producers that Congress has been slow to renew.  Biodiesel is “a clean-burning fuel made primarily from used vegetable oil.”  One biodiesel investor is quoted that “if the credit does not pass, the industry is gone.”  In other words, biodiesel cannot compete with petroleum-based motor fuel on a level playing field – and biodiesel producers are looking for this credit to be provided indefinitely.

 [Many would agree that government support of favored industries is problematic.  We say it is wrong.  Three cheers for Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ).  In reply to an e-mail seeking support for renewal of the incentive, Flake wrote, "I don't think Congress should attempt to pick winners and losers by allowing tax incentives for one form of energy over another." (That implies wind turbines, solar panels etc. vs. fossil fuel and nuclear, as well as “green” motor fuels vs. gasoline.)

For those who mistakenly favor subsidizing high cost forms of energy, we say:  "Try to induce individual states to do it," That would be a lower level of improvidence than foolish spending by the near-bankrupt federal government.]

 

5/31/10, A11, "No wait for that solar rebate: Residential projects are first in line for stimulus funds," Aaron Nathans - Using $1.3 million in federal "stimulus" funds, Delaware will clear up a rebate waiting list for residential solar panel installation.  The $1.3 million will be supplemented by the state of Delaware, which also gives rebates for geothermal and small wind projects.

[What is wrong with this picture?  Plenty!  First, the federal government is in a big fiscal hole and still digging.  To protect the next generation, the federal government should cut spending and start paying off debt.  The misnamed "stimulus" program should stop ASAP, in favor of efforts to make it easier for business to form, expand and hire workers.

Subsidies of solar panels and wind turbines are being justified on the basis of replacement of power sources that emit carbon dioxide.  It is not clear that global warming is occurring, not clear that warming is bad, and not clear that carbon dioxide is causing warming.  Even if all of these propositions were true, the solution would still be to accelerate the expansion of nuclear power, which is economical, safe and dependable.  See "Terrestrial Energy,” a book by William Tucker.]

 

5/29/10, A8, “History’s warm periods have been well documented, John Greer – A CCS response to an earlier letter from Paul Donohue [A5] who castigated “global warming deniers for repeating “common untruths” without providing references.  Greer’s letter provides numerous sources for the Medieval Warm Period, the discrediting of the “Hockey Stick” graph concocted in an attempt to hide the inconvenient facts that it was hotter 1000 years ago than it is now, and techniques that have tended to overstate the observed warming trend during the 20th Century.  Good job!

 

5/28/10, A12, “Environmentalists and White House share blame for Gulf fiasco,” Charles Krauthammer – According to this column, environmental opposition to drilling in less technically challenging and/or less vulnerable areas has led to deep water drilling (under some 5,000 feet of water) in a center for fishing and tourism.  Why not drill in shallower waters off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts or in Alaska?  But alas, Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is “now dead.”  Krauthammer goes on to skewer BP (series of engineering lapses, no planning for contingencies), federal officials (“laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight”), and the president for condemning finger pointing while trying to blame his predecessor.

        [It will be a tough sell, but the U.S. needs to develop its oil resources as an alternative to importing more and more oil from abroad to power motor vehicles that keep the country going.  That includes oil obtained from deep oil drilling, which is being done because there is a lot of oil to be had on a cost competitive basis.  The causes of the BP disaster need to be studied in depth – as they no doubt will be – including appropriate changes in regulatory practices.  But the “just say no” approach to regulation would be a big mistake, and to the extent that Krauthammer is suggesting otherwise we disagree with him.

       When overblown environmental demands are given in to, e.g., by imposing a de facto national ban on new nuclear plants after the Three Mile Island meltdown, the long-term effects are not just bad for the economy.  They also have negative environmental effects.  By blocking nuclear power plants, for example, the environmentalists promoted the construction of more coal power plants (which produce a substantial volume of real pollutants, as well as harmless CO2 that many environmentalists also abhor).  It’s high time to collapse the ridiculous delays in putting nuclear power on stream so that coming generations can have inexpensive, dependable electricity.]

 

5/26/10, B3, "PSEG nuclear files for site permit," Jeff Montgomery – The application is for approval of the proposed site for a fourth reactor at the Salem-Hope Creek complex across the river.  It runs 4,000 pages, and has been under development for 2-1/2 years.  Federal officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expect to take up to 3 years to review the application, and then, if they approve it, PSEG may proceed to seek approval to actually build and operate a nuclear plant.

[This paperwork obstacle course may seem ridiculous, particularly when all that is involved is the addition of another reactor at an existing nuclear site.  But it is the logical result of diehard opposition by the Sierra Club and likeminded groups. And the director of the Sierra Club in New Jersey, who is quoted extensively in the article, claims nuclear power costs "more than 13 times as much as wind power.” It's a shame that the nuclear industry and the rest of us have to put up with such claptrap.  Ironically, the success of the Sierra Club et al. in blocking the expansion of nuclear power has resulted in building more coal power plants to supply the electricity that is needed.  Looks like they will try to keep doing it.]

 

5/24/10, A6 "Plugging into clean energy: New initiatives being rolled out to help Delaware consumers," Aaron Nathans – This article (complete with a large cartoon, in color), applauds the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) for making loans and grants in the interest of energy efficiency.  Late in the article, we read:  "The SEU gets its own money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is a cap-and-trade system - " Also, SEU is applying for federal stimulus funds.

[First, energy efficiency decisions should be made on a cost basis, not on the basis of supposedly averting climate change.  The manmade global warming theory is unproven, and it is looking increasingly dubious.

Second, spending money in this way is reprehensible.  The federal budget deficit must be closed, state budgets must be balanced as well, and imposing additional restrictions and/or taxes on power companies will just drive up the cost of electricity.  Both as taxpayers and consumers, we object to paying for “clean energy” handouts.]

 

5/23/10, G6, "National park's namesake fast disappearing: Glacier National Park - celebrating its 100th year - visually makes the case for climate change," Nicholas Geranos (AP) – This 20+ column inch article (adorned with a photo of bighorn sheep traversing a snowy landscape) reports that glaciers within the northwestern Montana park have been melting and predicts that all of them “could be gone by 2020.”  Concerns are expressed about earlier springs, drier summers, and disruption to wildlife in the area.

        [Temperatures are warmer now than they were 100 years ago, and it is no surprise that glaciers have been shrinking.  Barring the onset of a cooling trend, this will probably continue.  However, we would imagine that the park is still beautiful, and the wildlife is finding ways to adapt.  One blessing: the article does not blame the warming that has occurred on human activity.]

 

5/22/10, A1/A4  "Greenpeace blimp puts spotlight on chemical dangers: Millions live downwind from toxic gases used at DuPont plants," Jeff Montgomery & Robin Brown - Using a hot-air blimp, Greenpeace got front-page coverage (including a picture of the blimp above the Edge Moor plant) for their stunt calling attention to alleged danger from tank cars of chlorine at DuPont's Edge Moor and Chambers Works plants.  Greenpeace wants to discontinue use of chlorine, or at least minimize the inventory held for production.

[Greenpeace’s ideas about choosing safer means of production may be worthwhile in some cases, but many of their demands would cost money without commensurate benefits.  Bear in mind that only an affluent society can afford a super-clean environment and extreme safety measures, and that unrealistic demands in this area can easily lead to continuing erosion of the regional (and U.S.) manufacturing base, loss of jobs, and a declining standard of living. 

In a similar vein, the Sierra Club and others have been blocking expansion of nuclear power in the US because of a superstitious fear of nuclear radiation.  The result was an expansion of coal-fired power plants, which were not very clean.  We are inclined to prefer nuclear power over coal power for the longer term, but we also prefer coal power over electricity shortages.]

 

5/20/10, A3, "Top scientists urge forceful action on climate: Academy drops measured tone in reply to questions by Congress," Seth Borenstein (AP) - The National Academy of Sciences has reportedly “urged the government to take drastic action [either “cap and trade” or a carbon tax] to raise the cost of using coal and oil to slow global warming."  Robert Fri, who chaired one of the three panels producing separate climate reports, is quoted:  “We really need to get started right away.  It’s not opinion.  It’s what the science tells you.”

[Many “top scientists” hold a different opinion, and even the NAS (per the Wall Street Journal story this morning) “acknowledges that there is significant uncertainty when attempting longer-term predictions about climate change.”  But the worst part of this business is the attempt to politicize scientific research, as evidenced by something else Fri said: “The charge we got from Congress [presumably the sponsors of the American Power Act] was not just to tell them what the science says but what to do about the problem.”

In our continuing efforts to counter the notion that disruptive and very costly changes in this country’s energy infrastructure should be undertaken in panic mode based on an unproven theory, we might do well to reference the essay of the late Michael Crichton at the end of his 2004 novel, “State of Fear.” It lays out what we are up against in a very thoughtful and eloquent way.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/nwsltr50.htm#MICHAEL]

 

5/18/10, A7, Power grid capacity charge rises 75%, Aaron Nathans – Capacity charges make up about 20% of a Delmarva Power customer’s bill, and they are expected to be hiked 75% by PJM Interconnection, which oversees the regional electric grid.  [All else being equal, that would mean a 15% increase in electric bills, which does not sound quite as alarming as the headline but is not good news.]

“The reason for the added cost is that regional electricity demand is projected to increase, while transmission and generation will not, said Ray Dotter, PJM spokesman.”  [RX: time to expand capacity before we start experiencing brownouts and even higher prices.] And Dotter added that the economics of building new power plants are being affected by “uncertainty in the way the government will charge for carbon dioxide emissions.” [In other words, we are already seeing effects of the proposed legislation and/or EPA regulation in this area – it is time for this misguided effort to be put on the shelf.  A push is needed to shorten approval times for additional nuclear capacity, and we should also encourage quick installation of a natural gas-fueled power plant in Delaware.  Wind and solar are OK too if undertaken without government mandates and subsidies.]

 

5/14/10, A3, “For cold-blooded lizards, heat becomes their mortal enemy: Scientists blame global warming for mass extinctions,” Randolph Schmid (AP) – The prime source for this story is Barry Sinervo, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz.  The theory is that lizards are cold-blooded animals, so when the temperature gets too hot they must retreat to the shade and cannot hunt for food.  Thus, “Sinervo was doing field work in France when he noticed a decline among lizards” that supposedly indicated “levels of 30 percent extinction across southern Europe.”  Similar findings have been reported in Mexico’s Yucatan region. [Hmm.  California has enough troubles without spending money on saving lizards in France or Mexico.  Also, according to NOAA satellite data, global temperatures over the last 10 years were only about 1 degree Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th Century, hardly enough of a change to doom the lizard population.]

 

5/14/10, A9, “EPA readies rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” Matthew Daly (AP)

“The Environmental Protection Agency moved Thursday to more tightly control air pollution from large power plants, factories and oil refineries, a step to limit emissions widely blamed for global warming.”  However, the next sentence says the EPA “is completing a rule,” not that the rule has been issued.  It is also indicated that the rule to be proposed will be somewhat less stringent than one announced last September in that the threshold limits would be higher so only large “polluters” would be affected.  [One more time: CO2 is not a pollutant, and the EPA finding to this effect is based on bogus science.  Also, raising the threshold limits is based on politics – “divide and conquer” – not science.]

As for the possible tie-in of this announcement with the American Power Act (introduced in the Senate yesterday by Senators Kerry & Lieberman), an EPA spokesman “denied any connection.” [If you believe that statement, would you consider some oceanfront property in Arizona?]

 

5/13/10, A3, “Bill aimed to stem global warming, create jobs – One paragraph story with Washington dateline, about a 987-page bill introduced by sponsors Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.  “The legislation aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and by more than 80% by 2050,” the same goals “as those set by a House bill approved last year.” Reportedly, “the measure faces a steep road in the Senate.” [Interesting that nothing more was said about the bill than this, watch for more coverage in coming issues.  We hope the last sentence is correct!]

 

5/13/10, A1/A4, “Forecasters: Hurricane season may be wild one: 2010 could rival busiest years for named storms,” Jeff Montgomery – The annual prediction of more hurricanes than usual, but this time without a claim that hurricane activity is increasing due to manmade global warming. [No comments.]

 

5/13/10, no coverage to date of 5/5/10 hearing re 4th reactor at the Salem-Hope Creek nuclear plant aside from 4/23/10 article re plans for the hearing – [Bill Morris, John Greer and Bill Day of Climate Common Sense attended the meeting, and had a chance to talk with Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PSEG representatives.  We were struck among other things by the predominant support of New Jersey resident and local political leaders.  Of course, this is just the first step in a long and involved approval process, and the environmentalists will be doing their best to throw sand in the gears.]

 

5/8/10, A1/A2, “Nuclear water leaks into N.J. aquifer: State agency calls for stopping flow, from staff and wire reports – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating station to halt the spread of contaminated water under ground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking-water supplies.”  The water contains small quantities of tritium, a product of nuclear fission that “has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.”  At the present rate of underground dispersal, “it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking-water wells about two miles away.”  However, the DEP Commissioner called for “urgent action,” and an environmental group spokesman claimed that “this leaky 40-year-old plant” has “become a major threat to South Jersey’s drinking water.”

        [We seriously doubt there is a major problem here.  Environmentalists watch nuclear power plants very closely, and are constantly agitating to shut them down.  In the process, they overlook the fact that other electric power sources are more expensive and/or polluting.  Thus, many fewer coal-burning plants might have been installed over the past 30 years if there had not been so much hysteria about the risks of nuclear power plants – which have an excellent safety record.]

 

5/6/10, A10, “Fact check the ‘facts’ of climate change deniers,” Paul Donohue – “Recent letters from global warming deniers repeat common untruths” without citing references, asserts the writer.  For “true facts,” see the Websites of NASA, NOAA, and the IPCC.  Thus, “2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record” and “Medieval times” were not warmer than today. 

[Mr. Donohue’s claims have been made by global warming alarmists many times, but they are carefully worded and will not withstand close scrutiny.  Thus, the NOAA site says “2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record,” and we accept this as true.  However, it is also indicated that (1) the 2000-2009 average was less than one degree Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th Century as a whole; and (2) Year-to-year increases in global temperature stopped around the turn of the century, despite continuing increases in CO2 levels.  By the way, scientists do not know whether the warming trend will resume or not.

As global temperature records only go back to 1880, according to the NOAA, the temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) must be inferred from other evidence.  One source of information is ice core data.  Another is the fact that grapes were grown at higher altitudes in Europe during the MWP than they can be grown today.  For a reconstruction of the applicable temperature data over the past 3,000 years, see “A Global Warming Primer,” National Center for Policy Analysis, 2007, page 14.”]

 

5//3/10, A12, Doubters of global warming keep getting more evidence – Excellent letter by William Day of Climate Common Sense.  Sample: Meanwhile, warming “believers” and their media and enviro allies have been struggling to keep the “warming” scare alive, in spite of the very damaging “Climategate” disclosures of widespread malfeasance, and increasing contrary scientific evidence by climate experts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many other universities (and even one brave scientist at the University of Delaware).

 

5/2/10, A31, “Energy solutions require deep public commitment,” Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and former DuPont Chairman Chad Holliday – The authors claim that “without significant efforts to tackle the climate issue, the effects of warming will grow, undermining agriculture, making droughts and floods more common and more severe and eventually destroying ecosystems.” [These claims are improbable, and they certainly have not been proven.]  But “power plants last 50 years or more, and they are very cheap to run once built [so] there is little market for new models.”  Accordingly, the private sector will not fund energy innovation [if left to its own devices,] and it is up to the government to promote an enormously expensive new energy infrastructure [passing on the bill to taxpayers and/or consumers]. 

       Gates, Holliday and other corporate leaders have formed the American Energy Innovation Council to promote the foregoing viewpoint.  [Bad idea!  These guys may be doing some useful things, but this is not one of them.  With the economy weak and the government verging on bankruptcy, it would be hard to imagine a worse time to undertake a costly boondoggle like this.  The real goal should be dependable, inexpensive energy, which in our view would be furthered by scrapping (a) the “cap and tax” idea, (b) subsidies for renewable energy, and (c) unwarranted roadblocks to the construction of more nuclear power plants.  We don’t want a handout, just a level playing field.]

 

5/2/10, Guilt Trip Tactics – Two examples of the insidious, seemingly endless propaganda for wind, solar, etc. projects.  A27, 2/3-page ad by Christiana Care Health System, with a “Caring for Our Planet” paragraph that begins “Imagine a hospital powered by wind . . .”.  What does this have to do with running a hospital?  E5, “Greenpeace knocks Facebook data center.” Facebook chose Grant’s Pass, Oregon for a data center due to cool nights and dry air, hoping to make it an energy efficiency landmark.  Not good enough for Greenpeace, which complains that the facility will use power produced in coal-burning power plants.  “If you want to really be responsible for your carbon footprint, you should be trying to provision your electricity supply with renewable energy as much as possible.”

 

5/1/10, A8, “Time to Try Nuclear Again?” cartoon – An offshore drilling platform is depicted, with leaking black oil that spells out the above message in fuzzy but recognizable letters.  [It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one is compelling.]  The cartoon is prompted, of course, by a disastrous and as yet unplugged leak from a BP drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico that will inevitably result in a major setback for offshore oil drilling.  And talk about a “perfect storm” for fossil fuel, there was recently a coal mining disaster in West Virginia that possibly involved the shortcutting of safety measures.  [We take some solace in the suggestion that nuclear power, not wind energy, etc., might be the logical alternative to fossil fuels.  Let’s keep questioning why nuclear fuel is not recycled.  Acceptance of recycling can cut the ground from under diehard nuclear opponents.]

 

4/29/10, A6/A7, “Cape Wind project approved: Federal OK for Mass. wind farm clears way for offshore power: Delaware project now more likely than ever,” Aaron Nathans – According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, granting of a federal permit represents “the final decision of the United States of America.”  However, groups that oppose the decision, including the Industrial Wind Action Group, plan to sue “immediately” in continuing efforts to stop the project.  [From the IWAG Website: “The rapid growth of industrial wind energy has been fostered by federal and state policies that, while well intentioned, fail to reflect wind energy's limitations as an energy source, its ineffectiveness in reducing emissions, and its impacts on our environment, economy and quality of life.”] 

       Various comments on the federal action are expressed, mostly favorable, but Lester Lave, a professor of economics at Carnegie-Mellon University, is skeptical that offshore wind can be made economically competitive with traditional energy sources.  However, Lave says “you ought to let somebody try it” and Cape Wind could make a good test case.

        [We agree, “let somebody try it,” provided the trial is not financed by the taxpayers.  Wind energy, space adventures and other unnecessary projects should be set aside in view of the risk of a federal government fiscal meltdown. Incidentally, with all the News Journal’s coverage of the wind energy saga, they did not report one word about the first meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which took place on Tuesday, April 27th.]

 

4/28/10, A1 (with a big picture)/A7, On the winds of innovation, Molly Murray – “Using a single wind turbine [costing $5 million, and located on top of a 256 foot tower] the University of Delaware’s Lewes campus soon will shift from being an electricity consumer to a producer – powering its campus [when the wind is blowing] and selling the surplus to the city of Lewes.”  In addition to the power generation, operation of this facility is envisioned as providing experience with wind power in a marine environment, e.g., corrosion from salt spray and effects on migratory birds. [If this project raises feasibility issues concerning the Bluewater offshore wind power venture, that would be a plus, potentially leading to a loss of support for an undependable, uneconomic venture.  Although the wind may be free, wind turbines are expensive and they do not last forever.  Fossil fuel power is cheaper than wind power, and nuclear power could be cheaper in the future if the artificial roadblocks to building more nuclear power plants were removed.]  

 

4/28/10, A14, U.S. should approve plan for offshore wind power, editorial – Federal approval of the Cape Wind project is urged despite the objections that have been lodged by landowners and Indian tribes on Cape Cod.  As pointed out by Delaware Governor Jack Markell and five other governors, a decision to proceed with this project could help to clear the way for additional offshore projects like Bluewater.  And note that it has taken nine years and $45 million to get the Cape Wind project to this point.  [Without necessarily endorsing the arguments against the Cape Wind project, see 4/18/10 entry, we cannot agree that clearing the way for heavily subsidized offshore wind power projects is in the long term national interest.  To the contrary, we believe that inexpensive energy should trump “feel good” green energy projects unless and until the manmade global warming theory is convincingly proven.]

 

4/27/10, A7, UD academics share visions of energy future, Aaron Nathans – At an “energy day for media,” faculty specialists shared a range of [dubious] views. Interesting that the University of Delaware has both a Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, which touts energy conservation, and a Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration that thinks our salvation lies in offshore wind power.  [Nobody advocated leveling the playing field and letting the free market decide what energy sources should be employed, which would be the right answer.]

       A University of Maryland professor frets that nuclear power “holds great promise for a lower carbon future,” but my be impeded by a shortage of trained engineers and workers due to high retirement rates of experienced personnel.  [We are not concerned.  It will take years to build more nuclear power plants, even if the nuclear program is accelerated, and highly skilled veterans of our nuclear submarine fleet could become instructors in training programs for the next generation.]

 

4/27/10, A8, Conspiracy adherents are at it again with the climate, Steven K. Dentel, Newark – The writer suggests likens climate change skeptics to people who thought NASA reports of landing on the moon were an elaborate hoax.  “More than 20 years ago, [scientific] models were predicting the global warming that we are now observing.  Global temperatures continue to rise, and these models show that, with inaction, we are headed for an environmental crisis.”  However, “just as with the moon rocks, the conspiracy theorists will never admit they’re wrong . . . [and they are] funded by the fossil fuel industries.”

        [The models showed a continuous warming trend, all right, but the warming stopped about ten years ago.  Scientists do not know what will come next, renewed warming or a cooling trend; the only sure thing is continuing climate change.  There is ample proof of higher temperatures in the past, at a time when CO2 levels were lower than they are now.  Some of the fossil fuel companies mistakenly jumped on the global warming bandwagon, and there are plenty of firms that could make a killing from a “Cap and Trade” regime and/or alternative energy subsidies.  As for inability to admit error, the letter speaks for itself.] 

 

4/25/10, A24, “U.S. deletes analysis of air attack on nuclear plant from website,” AP Pennsylvania anti-nuclear group claimed that a memo posted on a DOE Website could be used by terrorists plotting to strike nuclear power plants, showing areas where a plane could hit with maximum effect and buildings or targets where a strike could release radiation.  Representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Exelon Corp. (owner of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant) denied that the availability of the memo posed any real risk, but it has been removed from the Website.  The group complains that the memo may still be available on microfiche at libraries and/or available for purchase from the DOE.  A “Near Delaware” box reminds local readers that “three nuclear-powered generators have portions of their 10- to 50-mile safety zones overlapping parts of Delaware.” [Golly, how can people sleep at night?]

 

4/23/10, Pollution worse than reported: EPA is aware of discrepancies, but hasn’t changed how it measures, A1/A13, AP – For reasons discussed in the article, it is claimed that “pollution from petrochemical plants is at least 10 times greater than what is reported to the government and the public.” [We can believe underreporting, but such an order of magnitude discrepancy sounds improbable.  Also, how much would it help the global environment to raise standards high enough to destroy the U.S. petrochemical industry and drive all the refining and jobs offshore?  A reality check might not hurt on this kind of story.]

 

4/23/10, DelTech takes important step on carbon emissions, A14 – Editorial lauds DelTech goal of reducing its “carbon footprint” by 20% over the next 10 years (4/22/10 story), timed to coincide with Earth Day.  Students will be offered “the opportunity to study how the equipment works, which is as important as the energy they’ll save.” [The question remains: why should the federal government be subsidizing the solar panels being installed, etc.?]

 

4/23/10, B1/B2, “Salem/ Hope seeks to add reactor: PSEG Nuclear to file application for fourth plant at site,” Jeff Montgomery – A lengthy approval process will kick off with a public open house scheduled for May 6 (5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) at the Salem Community College Performing Arts Theater, 460 Hollywood Avenue, Carney’s Point, NJ. Some anti-nuclear groups will be there. [Perhaps some of us should consider attending to show support.]

 

4/22/10, Earth Day Issue – In March it was “Earth Hour” (3/28/10 entry), it is Earth Day (on the 40th anniversary of the original event on April 22, 1970).  In honor of the occasion, a number of articles (too many to discuss in detail, but the connections to the manmade global warming theme are indicated where they aren’t obvious)

ü      “Wind farm nears reality: Feds open bidding for renewable energy projects off Del. coast,” A1/A6, Aaron Nathans.

ü      “Laying waste to wastefulness: Composting center puts Delaware in forefront of food recycling,” A1/A2, Jeff Montgomery – “land-filled food produces liquid pollutants and methane, a gas that contributes to global warming”

ü      “New threats to planet harder to see than burning rivers,” A1/A2, AP.

ü      “Conectiv sale to cost 150 jobs,” A7/A9, Aaron Nathans – Calpine Corp. of Texas will be converting the coal-fired power facilities it is buying in Edgemoor and Pennsville, NJ to natural gas [which produces less CO2 than coal].  Calpine President Jack Fusco said decision to discontinue use of a coal as a fuel “reaffirms our strong sense of environmental stewardship.” An $80 million investment by Conectiv in emission controls on the coal-fired units at Edgemoor, installed at the urging of state regulators, “will no longer be needed.” [In other words, the money was wasted.  As for switching to natural gas, we hope this decision is based on sound economics.]

ü      Online Poll question, B1, “Are you planning to be more ‘green’ today in honor of Earth Day? [Responses, reported the next day: Yes, 23%; No, 77%.]

ü      “Delaware Tech plans big cut in waste, emissions: Target is 20% reduction in carbon footprint,” B1/B2, Wade Malcolm.

ü      B4: Mutts comic strip: Another in a series of “Earth Days” [one day not enough?] strips.

ü      “All Green to Me: Plugged In,” special section  (28 pages) – Includes an update on the Fisker hybrid venture, “Going green with the Markells” (picture shows family on bikes), Solar power, “Six steps to help kids go green,” “Smart talk, good times” (networking events for “people who share a passion for green living”), and “Obama reverses Bush’s course on environment” (the former president is described as having “used his executive power to weaken clear air and water regulations, open public lands to increased oil and gas drilling and block action to fight climate change”). [Most of the ads harmonize with the environmental theme, but not the one by Brandywine Chrysler Jeep Dodge with a big picture and pitch for a “Hemi V8” truck.]

 [We agree with many aspects of the environmentalist agenda, the manmade global warming theory aside, but there comes a point of overload.  Simply put, environmental worries are far from the most serious problems facing mankind, and regulations need to be kept within reasonable bounds or the economy will be undermined. Perhaps the media should reconsider its priorities.]

 

4/21/10, A6/A7, “The Eruption in Iceland: Volcanoes: A blast from the past, Christopher Yasiejko (special to the News Journal) – Two-pages with pictures on this developing situation.  One of the effects: the ash cloud entering the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere “will change our climate for the next year or two, resulting in cooler and wetter weather conditions.”

       At the bottom is a Coming Thursday [tomorrow] notice: “On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, look for our All Green to Me Section.  Stories include a look at whether solar power at home works for you, the latest on Fisker’s arrival and helping kids go green.” [More propaganda based on the manmade global warming myth; we can hardly wait.  How about more coverage of problems that really are being spawned by human activity, e.g., the coming fiscal meltdown?]

 

4/19/10, A12, “Stop wasting time on climate change fallacies, letter to the editor (Gerry Lucht) – Arrested warming – warmer periods earlier with lower CO2 – EPA finding does not make sense – no justification shown for subsidizing wind and solar power – remove barriers to low cost energy and let free market take care of “energy independence.” Good letter!

 

4/19/10, A12, DPL’s decoupling plan only discourages “going green,” letter to the editor (Roy& Diana DeWalt) The writers complain that proposed change in Delmarva rate schedule would force “those of us trying to save our planet to pay more for what needs to be done by all.” [Government mandates and subsidies having a far greater effect on electricity prices are conveniently not discussed.]

 

4/18/10, E5, “A fight for future of energy: Cape Wind offshore farm threatened by Indian rites, Kennedy wish” (Bloomberg News) – Update of 1/6/10 story, this time with pictures, one of Dutch offshore wind turbines and the other of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar standing at a microphone in a wide-brimmed hat and talking about the viability of the Cape Wind project.

        The problem: Leaders of 3,200 Wampanoag Indians . . . say Cape Wind’s turbine blades reaching 440 feet into the air would desecrate the view of the sunrise that’s essential to their prayer ceremonies.  And a month before his death, Senator Ted Kennedy wrote the president imploring him to stop the wind farm, which would be visible from the Kennedy home.  What’s more, according to Energy Management, Inc., placing the turbines further offshore “isn’t an option because that would interfere with migrating whales and seals.”

        The decision: A federal advisory council recommended against the project on April 2.  Salazar’s ruling, expected this month, could have implications for other offshore wind projects.

[A better reason to oppose this project, not mentioned in the article, is that it would be dependent on government mandates and subsidies.]

 

4/15/10, A1/A8, Changes in atmosphere fuel rise in pollen levels, Molly Murray – A high pollen count this spring was accorded front-page coverage with a big color picture.  “Some experts” think the problem is more about weather than climate, but the article manages to insinuate that there is more going on than beyond above-average precipitation and a sudden burst of warm spring temperatures.

        “Even disregarding climate change, odds are that increased levels of carbon dioxide – carbon dioxide has increased 40 percent since Colonial times – are fueling more rapid growth, the scientists said.”  The primary source cited is a just released report of the National Wildlife Federation report entitled “Extreme Allergies and Global Warming.”

        [What do allergies have to do with wildlife?  Not much, but the NWF is looking for ways to support its claim that climate change is a big problem.  The complaint about CO2 boils down to resistance to “change” – even though change is inevitable.  Analogous claims include the discredited theories that global warming will destroy the coral reefs and melt all the Himalayan glaciers in another 30 years.  We’ve even heard global warming blamed for the allegedly increased prevalence of poison ivy!  Lighten up, people, it’s not clear that the warming trend will resume, and even if it does there will be pluses as well as minuses and plenty of time to adapt.] 

 

4/14/10, A16, Global warming “science” is an unreliable construct, Robert Smiley – This letter to the editor refutes a prior letter (see 3/20/10 entry) that claimed “all major scientific climate models are clear that you will have disastrous runaway changes to global climate patterns.”  Computer models should not be labeled scientific – arbitrary assumptions – do not predict what has happened or will happen in the future – no “disastrous runaway changes” during the Medieval Warm Period – apparent trend toward lower-temperature warm periods may presage a new ice age.  [Well said!]

 

4/13/10, A6, Electric contract to save $13.2M: State gets prices 18 percent lower from Washington Gas. Aaron Nathans – This 3-year saving (fiscal years 2011-2013) will be under a new electric supply contract with Washington Gas Energy Services [one of the largest electricity suppliers in the Mid-Atlantic region] versus rates currently being paid.  The saving is attributed to electric power competition, lower natural gas costs, and an expanded purchasing pool.

        The agreement specifies that 30.5% of the electricity will come from wind power facilities during the first year of the contract, increasing to 35% by the third year, which is said to be up from a current rate of 8%.  The contract achieves the 30% renewable-energy target that Governor Markell set in an executive order signed in March.

[This discussion of wind power aspects is confusing at best.  A representative of Washington Gas reportedly said the electricity will not be produced from wind projects, and that “the wind purchase” will be in credits from wind farms around the country.  The state’s 30% renewable-energy purchase target was set forth in an executive order signed in February.  See 2/18/10 entry. We are skeptical that purchases of 30%-wind energy would be compatible with the overall cost savings that is described if the cost of the “wind” credits is being included in the reported purchase price, and certainly “wind energy savings” are not identified as one of the reasons for the cost savings.]

 

4/12/10, A1/A7, Green is global, industry says: Buy-American rule is seen as short-sighted,  Aaron Nathans – What happens if Congress mandates and/or subsidizes high-priced renewable energy generation for the purpose of creating “green jobs,” and it turns out that the jobs will be added overseas?  You guessed it -- Congress will add a “buy America” requirement to qualify for government subsidies, as it attempted to do in the economic stimulus package pushed through Congress last year.

        Turns out, however, that things are a bit more involved in a global economy.  Thus, Motech Industries assembles solar panels in Delaware, and hopes to increase production.  However, the silicon wafers that it uses are made in Taiwan.  These plants in turn consume polysilicon power, which will soon be coming from a plant in Pennsylvania.

        So does Motech qualify as a U.S. producer or not?  The office of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) “did not immediately returns calls seeking a comment.”

        [Government attempts to run the economy are a bad idea.  The benefits are exaggerated, the costs are ignored, and there are inevitably unintended consequences – like, shudder, creating jobs somewhere outside the U.S.  Don’t be surprised if other countries try to retaliate against U.S. industries, to the ultimate detriment of the global economy – it’s known as a trade war.]

 

4/10/10, B3, “Radioactive water leak probed at Salem 2, “from wire reports” – After the owner (PSEG) of the Salem 2 nuclear power plant advised the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of a leak of radioactive water into catch basins, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sent some of its people to monitor the situation.  They reportedly found that the contaminated water had not gotten into the groundwater or surviving environment.  [Whew!]

       However, lest it be forgotten, PSEG reported a tritium leak into groundwater at its Salem I unit in 2003. Also, a nationwide survey supposedly found that tritium had escaped into the groundwater at 27 of the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants.

        [The nuclear power industry has an outstanding safety record, but set the standards high enough – never mind whether the risks are material or not (remember the hormesis concept) – and there will be occasional deficiencies.  We need to keep pushing for common sense regulatory standards to be enforced by one government agency, most logically the NRC.]

 

4/9/10, A1/A12, “Deal struck for refinery: Reopening to bring 600 jobs, buyer says,” Jeff Montgomery & Ginger Gibson; A16, Deal on former Valero plant is a feather in Markell’s cap

A deal has been struck to reopen the Delaware City Refinery.  The new owner will be PBF Energy Partners LLC, and the deal has been strongly supported by Governor Jack Markell et al.  Various financial incentives will be provided by the state.  The use of plant facilities for imports of refined gasoline will begin at once, while the plant startup will take a year or so.

        Comments reported were generally positive.  However, Ann Kohler, a refining industry analyst, said there is overcapacity in the refining industry that undercuts refiner profitability. 

And Alan Muller of Green Delaware called the deal “bad news” because “we need to be reducing petroleum consumption, rather than trying to increase it” even though the refinery reopening “benefits a few hundred people [plant workers].” 

        The News Journal editorial makes a passing reference to Del. City’s “spotty environmental record,” but on balance characterizes the deal as “a major coup for Gov. Markell, who persuaded Valero not to demolish the plant.”

        [It is good to see the state government showing some interest in preserving an industrial base in this region for a change.  Importing refined gasoline is an option, but with reasonable environmental requirements it should be more economic to do the refining here.]

 

4/7/10, A18, Wind farms could act as backup power for others – According to this editorial, the problem of lulls in the wind was a legitimate concern for offshore power development. “There was even talk about building a gas powered plant in Sussex County” for the Bluewater Project, which [shudder] “customers would have to pay for.”

        But now a team of UD scientists has come up with the idea of linking wind farms by undersea cable so they could provide backup power for each other (see story on 4/6), “an idea that’s simple and logical, although, as the team said, a lot would depend on the cooperation of various states and power companies.” [Translation: more mandates and subsidies would be proposed.  No deal!]

 

4/6/10, “UD study: Taming wind just takes a ‘backbone’: Linking offshore farms could eliminate need for backup power,” Aaron Nathans – The study suggests that one of the drawbacks of offshore wind energy projects, they don’t work unless the wind is blowing, could be mitigated by building a lot of plants and linking them all together by underwater transmission lines.  Then when the wind was not blowing in one area, backup power could be provided by wind power facilities in other areas versus building “costly backup power plants on land.”

        [Sounds like a dubious proposition to us, as the planned investment in high cost wind energy would be increased substantially.  A huge increase in government mandates and subsidies would no doubt be required to make the proposal work.] 

 

4/6/10, “NJ: Keep dredge suit out of Del.: Other issues remain, U.S. district judge told,” Jeff Montgomery – The Corps of Engineers has moved to transfer anti-dredging suits in New Jersey to the District Court in Delaware, where they would presumably be merged with the suit that has for the most part already been dismissed and thus save a lot of time and energy.  By dint of reporting on this procedural development, the News Journal once again sets forth all the arguments against dredging the shipping channel in the Delaware River 5 feet deeper – an issue that has been pending in the courts for a decade.

        [We are getting tired of reading about this issue, and probably many other people feel the same way.  It seems as though the environmentalists simply cannot concede that they are, once again, making a mountain out of a molehill.  We doubt that the deeper dredging will cause much environmental damage, suspect the claims that the project is a big waste of money are overstated (many federal spending bills are far worse), and would note that the world economy is becoming increasingly interdependent and big ships are more economical than little ships.]

 

4/4/10, NRC judges nuclear safety; Regulators to discuss Salem/Hope Creek findings; The annual meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday,” Jeff Montgomery – Federal officials have already concluded that the plant operated safely in 2009 and are prepared to relax “special oversight of the plant’s safety practices and workplace culture.”  And PSEG Nuclear is undergoing an elaborate review process aimed at securing 20-year service extensions.

        But a public hearing will be held in Salem, New Jersey, at which anti-nuclear activists will be able to reiterate their concerns about the Salem/ Hope Creek nuclear complex.  This article reprises some of their talking points: oppose plan to produce radioactive Cobalt 60, demand that the facilities be reengineered to add cooling towers, fret about the 10-mile emergency planning zone.  The same points have all been reported before.

        [Bottom line: the intent is to impose so many restrictions on the operation of nuclear power plants that they will not be practicable.  Comprehensive federal regulation is not viewed as enough.] 

 

4/4/10, “Refineries in U.S. have bad safety records, study says: Friday blast draws attention to issue,” (AP) – An explosion killed five people at a Tesoro Corp. refinery in Washington state.  Various officials and industry representatives are quoted concerning the industry’s safety record, which is said to have been marred by “a deadly string of explosions.”  An OSHA chief is quoted

 

4/3/10, A1/A2 – Dredging benefits in doubt, GAP says: Corps economic analysis out of date, report finds, Jeff Montgomery – “The $300 million Delaware River dredging project, already under way, could be a colossal waste of money, according to a report released Friday by the Government Accountability Office.”  Specifics cited were a downturn in crude oil imports along the Delaware River and unproven assumptions about likely shifts in container ship traffic if the shipping channel is deepened from 40 to 45 feet.

        Senator Frank Lautenburg (D-NJ) and other members of Congress from the Garden State requested the study, no doubt pandering to the opponents of the dredging.  And although members of Congress from Delaware could not immediately be reached for comment, the article states that all of them have shown support of the review by the GAO in the past.

       Comments are reported from various interested groups, which are pretty much in line with their past statements.  The Corps of Engineers plans to keep going; so do the folks who are pursuing court challenges. 

According to the Corps of Engineers: Average benefits over the project’s 50-year life would be around $30.1M, while costs would be around $22.3M, meaning taxpayers would get around $1.35 in economic benefits for every dollar spent.

[Our take: With growing interdependence among countries, it makes sense to maintain adequate depth for efficient, large ships.  And if the river channel is not deepened, the result will be a continuing decline in the economic vitality of this region. There must be a way to settle issues like this without endless administrative and legal battles, which could very well cost more than the dredging will.  Also, it sounds like the News Journal may have exaggerated the costs in its lead paragraph.]

 

4/2/10, A1/A2, "Better mpg, higher prices" (AP); A12, Why did it take 30 years to establish emission rules? – New EPA/ Department of Transportation mileage standards for motor vehicles designed to boost mileage, cut emissions and hasten “the next generation of fuel-stingy hybrids and electric cars” have been issued. The general thrust of the news story is that the average cost per vehicle will increase by $926 by 2016, but car owners will save more than $3,000 in fuel costs over the lives of their vehicles.  However, Ed Tonkin (who chairs the National Automobile Dealers Association) is a skeptic.  “Under these new mandates,” he said, “the price of new cars and light trucks will rise significantly, meaning fewer Americans will be able to buy the new vehicles of their choice.”

        In its accompanying editorial, the News Journal lauds the fact that the rules will cover the entire nation so “manufacturers will not have to deal with the uncertainty of varying federal, state and regional standards.”  And the country will “cut the nation’s dependence on oil and cut greenhouse emissions by 30 percent” [which is assumed without discussion to be a good thing].  But all this took way too long, and “the nation would have been better off if Congress had imposed a carbon tax on gasoline two decades ago.”  When it comes to power plants and refineries, “let’s hope the answer doesn’t take another 30 years.”

        [Seems like governments do not know when to leave well enough alone.  Regulations to reduce smog were OK, but regulations aimed at limiting carbon emissions and forcing energy conservation will prove counterproductive and expensive.  We need to keep reminding people about the weakness of the arguments offered by the proponents of such regulations until the points finally sink in.

The manmade global warming theory remains highly suspect.  Medieval and early warm periods when there was less CO2 in the atmosphere – a 10-year plateau in global temperatures despite continued increases in atmospheric C02 – total unreliability of global temperature forecasts.  Even if there is a warming trend in our future, moreover, it might well prove beneficial.  In short, the EPA finding that CO2 is a “pollutant” for purposes of the Clean Air Act is totally unjustified.

As for energy conservation, let prices be set by supply and demand and consumers will make the appropriate decisions; the government does not need to control this area.  As for the concern about high oil imports, what’s wrong with really clearing the decks for domestic oil and gas production as opposed to the halfway, halfhearted approach that the president has announced?  See 4/1/10 entry and “Gusher of Lies,” a 2008 book by Robert Bryce.]

 

4/1/10, A1/A6, "Obama proposes offshore drilling: Move permits exploration off East Coast, including Del.," Jeff Montgomery; A1/A6, Senate critics threaten to oppose climate legislation, Nicole Gaudiano; A7, “Environmentalists fear impact on Del. waters: Oil spill could harm wildlife, disrupt construction of planned farm, they say,” Molly Murray; A7, Interest in region not new: 1970s test drilling found no reserves, Molly Murray; A8, Wind firms: Drilling not in conflict: However, state officials fear loss of offshore space, Aaron Nathans; A10, Offshore drilling proposal puts U.S. on sensible path.  [Wow, five articles by four reporters and an editorial; the News Journal staff pulled out all the stops on this story.]

        The president reportedly said offshore energy development could help to keep the nation’s economy growing while it shifts from heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels. However, “this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies on homegrown fuels and clean energy.” 

        And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made clear in his remarks that only a small area off the coast of Virginia is ready to go forward with leasing in the near term, and bidding even for that area is unlikely before late 2011 or early 2012. 

       “Some conservatives, including House Republican Leader John Boehner” complained that the president was needlessly banning development along the West Coast, Florida’s Gulf Coast, some waters off Alaska and areas north of Delaware.

Delaware political leaders have various opinions: Senator Kaufman is forthrightly opposed; Vice-President Biden sees plan as “more balanced” than proposals under President Bush; Senator Carper supports “limited exploration if it’s done in an environmentally feasible way” and says this move and others could help to pass “climate change legislation;” Congressman Castle said the nation should “certainly” include new domestic petroleum supplies in short-term planning; Governor Jack Markell wants to think about the White House’s proposal and reasoning.

Environmentalists are quoted at length about their opposition to offshore drilling.  However, Mark Martel of the Delaware Audubon Society called the president “shrewd for putting an initiative in front of [Republicans] that has traditionally been one of theirs.”   

[Our take: Don’t count on domestic oil production being increased any time soon!  Like the president’s much-vaunted announcement about supporting a nuclear resurgence (2/17/10 entry), the offshore drilling proposal is subject to all kinds of qualifications and restrictions, including the high probability of lawsuits being filed to endlessly delay anything being done.  And for goodness sakes, it is time to (a) put that “climate change bill” to rest once and for all, and (b) eliminate federal subsidies for wind energy projects.]

 

3/30/10, A9, "Tobacco leaf:  The next big biofuel?” (AP) – Some researchers believe tobacco could be genetically modified for use as a biofuel. The logic: (1) not a food source, so would not drive up food prices; (2) tobacco leaves would be used to extract oils and sugars, not burned as such (creating, shudder, “second hand smoke”); and (3) “tobacco farms have been hard hit in recent years and this may be an opportunity for some of those tobacco farmers.”

[Fine, on one condition: no government subsidies.  But if this would be a replay of the corn-based ethanol boondoggle, NO THANKS!]

 

3/30/10, B3, "Delaware sirens for Salem nuclear plant to be tested" – “The testing is to validate recent routine siren maintenance and will be conducted through Friday.” [This is news?  And, by the way, why should there be an Emergency Planning Zone ringing this plant with 37 dedicated sirens?  Sounds like a sop to the anti-nuclear zealots, and a waste of taxpayer money. The sirens should either be removed or re-dedicated for general emergency notification.]

 

3/28/10, A2, "Millions go dark for Earth Hour" (AP) – Sydney’s Opera House, Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Colosseum, the Empire State Building, the National Cathedral (D.C.), and Coca-Cola’s headquarters (Atlanta) all fell dark for an hour.  The occasion was the fourth annual "Earth Hour," started by the World Wildlife Fund (a climate alarmist organization).  Millions of people supposedly followed suit, turning off their lights and appliances for an hour (starting at 8:30 p.m. on March 27, local time) in order “to highlight environmental concerns and to call for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

[Earth Hour is probably a cost-effective way to promote the climate alarmist agenda.  Makes no difference whether anyone notices lights being turned off, just so long as they read about it.

Similarly, we climate realists need a variety of cost-effective ways to promote our ideas.  Letters to the editor are a good start, but would there be some way to dramatize the benefits of CO2?  How about starting a Green Plant Day?]

 

3/27/10, A8,  "Don't sacrifice new energy sources for a political fad," Gregory Inskip [of Climate Common Sense] – This letter to the editor notes the negatives of wind energy – high cost, energy sprawl, strobe light effect, bird kills.  The conclusion: "Delaware and other states should re-evaluate the pros and cons of different energy sources before sacrificing the economy and environment to a politically correct fad."

[The heading assigned by the News Journal implies that “new energy sources” are in danger of being sacrificed, rather than the economy and environment.  A more accurate heading might have been: "Wind energy has negative effects".  The other three letters in today's paper had appropriate headings.  Maybe it is a coincidence, but we are beginning to suspect that the News Journal employee who decides the headings for letters is a climate alarmist.  Still, the letter did get published – way to go, Greg!]

 

3/26/10, A5, "Fragile coral's food chain stretches around the world" (AP) expresses concern that coral reef destruction would decrease fish life that many nations depend on.  Main source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  A key quote:  "Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for destruction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral."

        Just as global warming heads the list of alleged causes, it also heads the list of proposed cures:  "Experts say cutting back on carbon emissions to arrest rising sea temperature and acidification of the water -----" 

        [This is one more phony claim about global warming.  Actually, coral reefs have survived through the ages including periods when “when temperatures were as much as 10-15°C warmer than at present, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 2 to 7 times higher than they are currently.” Moreover, the adaptability of coral reefs has been demonstrated by tests that show the reefs adapt very well to increases in both temperature and acidity.  See “CO2, global warming and coral reefs,” a 101 page 2009 book by Dr. Craig Idso.

        Refuting the claims of the warming alarmists is like playing “whack a mole.” When you whack at one hole, the mole pops out at another.  So we will have to stay alert and be persistent.]

 

3/24/10, A1/A2, "New plan for refinery: Facility could store imported gas before any potential restart," Jeff Montgomery - Connecticut-based PBF Investments declared its interest in buying Valero's Paulsboro NJ refinery as well as the Delaware City refinery.  Apparently, PBF’s European principals “have a major and immediate interest in getting gasoline and other already fuels into American markets from other regions of the world,” [this possibility was noted in our 2/4/10 entry], but will be in no rush to resume refining operations at the Delaware City plant. 

[How can foreign-refined gasoline compete successfully with U.S.-refined?  President Hans Linhardt of LTDI Consulting, a California-based energy industry and engineering consulting company, explains that “the refining market in the United States is in real trouble - the markets and the regulatory environment have been very negative."  In other words, overly strict regulation in the U.S. is undermining a domestic industry, with resultant loss of profits and jobs.]

 

3/21/10, A27, "State's future includes idled wind and solar projects," Al Rogers (Wilmington) - Letter to editor calls renewable energy a greater evil than gambling because people can choose whether to patronize casinos but they cannot escape high costs for electricity.  Here is a quote: "Turning backwards to renewable energy is equivalent to a revival of the horse and buggy industry." [Excellent!]

 

 3/21/10, A21, "Sandstorm chokes people of Beijing: Storms increase as deserts expand" (AP) – This article says China’s expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country.  A desertification trend is attributed to “overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought.”   

        [Climate alarmists will predictably attribute these problems – like floods, storms, and goodness knows what else – to manmade CO2 emissions. A preemptive strike is needed. We should point out that African deserts are shrinking due to the beneficial effect of CO2 on vegetation.]

 

3/21/10, E1/E6, "In tough times, Delaware farmers give solar a shot," Aaron Nathans – This article enthuses about solar power as not only saving money for farmers but potentially providing them with a source of revenue.  One farmer got a state grant and installed solar panels, acting early enough “to gain a state grant that paid for nearly half the cost.” [As taxpayers, we object!]

Another farmer who delayed action is “on a long waiting list for a smaller grant,” and, in addition, under existing law, can’t build a large enough unit to sell the excess output to power companies.  “But if Gov. Jack Markell gets his way, the state would allow farmers like [him] to sell excess solar energy.

[Cutting the government red tape would be fine by us, provided government grants and renewable energy purchase requirements are eliminated as well.  The idea would be to get the government out of the energy management business entirely.]

 

3/20/10, A10, "Writer misses the big point in climate change debate," David Donohue, M.D., Wilmington – This letter attacks an op-ed column [see 3/18 entry] on "The hysteria of warming," accusing author Ed Okonowicz “and other climate change deniers” of claiming that “there is a vast conspiracy among climate scientists, and that this wing of science is getting rich selling books by hyping hysteria about climate change.”  [Pretty close, except the payoff is government research grants, publication of research findings, and political access, rather than book royalties.]  "All major scientific climate models are clear,” Donohue continues, that there will be “disastrous, runaway changes to global climate patterns.”

[The models in question require some arbitrary assumptions, and the results are generally recognized to be unreliable.  This is not science, it is guesswork that is subject to manipulation based on political biases, and no one really knows what will happen to global temperatures, etc. in the future. Temperatures are lower now than they were during the Medieval Warm Period, or the earlier Roman and Minoan warm periods, when human beings were consuming much less fossil fuel than at present.  Apparently, there were no disastrous climate patterns during those periods.  So like Ed Okonowicz, we see no reason to push the panic button about global warming now – or the risk of another ice age for that matter.  Even if a pronounced warming trend did develop, there would be plenty of time to adapt.]

 

3/19/10, A10,  "Owner threatens to shut Oyster Creek nuke plant: Exelon protests cooling towers"  (AP) – Last year, the 40-year old plant, first one built in the U.S., received a 20-year extension of its operating license [from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission].  However, New Jersey environmental regulators have now mandated the addition of cooling towers.  Exelon says this would cost $800 million, more than the plant is worth, and that the requirement would force a shutdown of the facility.

        Environmentalists, including the Sierra Club and Save Barnegat Bay, say the cooling tower(s) could be built for $200 million. [Why they should know better than the plant operator, and how the two estimates differ, possibly facility cost vs. facility cost plus disruption to plant operations, is not explained.]  Water leaving the plant is about 10 degrees warmer than when it entered, which environmentalists claim "is altering the fragile ecosystem of the bay."  Also, marine life is sucked into the plant or trapped against the screen.  “Save Barnegat Bay estimates that the plant kills nearly 3 percent of the bay's marine life each day [at that rate, there would be no life left by this time] - an assertion Exelon disputes".

         [It seems highly likely that the environmental claims are overstated and reflect misguided animus against nuclear power. Keeping the cost of electricity affordable for residents of this region is crucial, power produced by existing nuclear plants is a bargain, and it is time to demand that the environmentalists start acting responsibly. They have had a virtual monopoly on public input, and we should end that situation.]

 

3/18/10, A1/A4, State hopes solar science, history can coexist,” James Merriweather – "The Markell administration wants to dramatically demonstrate its commitment to green technology" by installing solar panels on the roof of Woodburn, the governor's official residence. The governor reportedly sees the proposal as a way for the state to “lead by example.”

[Thumbs down!  Choosing a high-cost energy source for no good reason is a poor idea; one way or another, Delaware taxpayers or consumers will get stuck with the bill.  Given that Markell is struggling with a bloated state government (courtesy of his predecessors) and ailing state economy, one would think he would be more intent on balancing the budget than chasing environmental will of the wisps.]

 

3/18/10, A13  "The  hysteria of warming,” Ed Okonowicz – This community view column draws a parallel between “recent planet-boiling scenarios” and previous scares about Y2K and Swine Flu. The writer links all three theories with the Chicken Little "sky is falling" story.  He also reminds us that the global warming issue ranks dead last among concerns of the public, according  to surveys.  

[Thumbs up! It is encouraging when you find that someone you don't know is on your side of an issue.  This column should remind us that the government frequently lags behind the public in evaluating pseudo-scientific claims, and that significant harm can result before it catches up.]

 

3/17/10, A12, "Governors push wind proposals," Aaron Nathans is a full-blown version of yesterday’s “in brief” item, this time with a picture of Delaware Governor Jack Markell and quotes by various interested persons:

• Iowa Governor Chet Culver would like the renewable energy percentage raised to 25% by 2025, in conformity with the federal energy bill that passed the House last year.  But as said bill includes Cap and Trade, which “has drawn criticism from Republicans who have called it too expensive” [translation: the bill is dead in the water], Culver favors separating out the renewable energy purchase mandate to get it passed quickly. “It’s a much longer conversation when you’re talking about trying to get consensus on climate change anywhere in the world right now.”

• Brian Selander, a spokesman for Governor Markell, says “Delaware can only benefit by a national wind energy industry . . . which we think could be one of the nation’s great untapped energy sources.”

• Jeremy Firestone, an associate professor at the University of Delaware, enthuses that mandating that utilities provide at least 10% of their electricity from “green sources” by 2012 could enable Delaware to become a net exporter of renewable energy credits from offshore wind farms to states all over the country.  “It also might spur creation of a wind technology manufacturing base in the state.”  Noting the vast number of landowners who would need to sign off for extensive new power corridors, however, he also says “you’re never going to get [said new power corridors] built.”

• Lester Lave, professor of economics at Carnegie-Mellon University says "getting to 10%(renewable power) by 2012 would be impossible."

            [The issue is not whether this set of proposals is possible within the visualized timeframe, but whether it is desirable at all.  For the reasons stated in yesterday’s entry, we believe wind power should be required to make its way without special government support.  And Governor Culver’s point about forcing increased use of wind power before the manmade global warming theory has been proven would be like “putting the cart before the horse.”]

 

3/16/10, A7, “Governors seek wind energy boost" – A coalition representing governors of 29 states (including Delaware) is urging the federal government to take steps to boost wind-generated power, notably by requiring utilities to purchase at least 10% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2012, extending stimulus grants for wind projects, and paying for extra transmission lines.

        [If the federal government keeps spending beyond our means, there will be a huge fiscal meltdown – and everyone will suffer the consequences.  So the state governors should start finding ways to spend the money at their disposal more prudently instead of lining up at the federal trough to ask for more. 

As citizens of Delaware, we should urge that this state withdraw from the coalition; as U.S. taxpayers, we should urge that federal subsidies of wind power be stopped; as economic realists, we should keep pointing out that using more wind power would have no notable effect on global temperatures. Bottom line: Let wind power compete on a level playing field.]

 

3/14/10, B1/B3, "Del. gains $2 million in carbon credit sale: Auction helps curb greenhouse gases," Jeff Montgomery – Using the latest in a series of transaction as “news,” the News Journal reminds readers about the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that was established several years ago by “states from Maine to Delaware.”

       1. “[Require] power plants to buy permits to release CO2 by the ton for each year’s operation,” with a 10% reduction to be forced in collective CO2 emissions by 2018.

However, “companies that meet limits don’t have to buy credits and can sell any extra credits they may have, while those unable to meet control deadlines can purchase credits needed to cover excess emissions.”

       2.  Spend the auction proceeds for “programs that benefit the public, such as energy-efficiency programs.”  So far, Delaware (through DNREC) has collected a total of $13.9 million in auction proceeds, of which “more than $1 million” has been set aside “to support new approaches to greenhouse-gas control programs.” 

[What’s not to like about this tax and “green energy” slush fund program?  Higher power prices come to mind, which all of us are paying, not to mention unwarranted restrictions in the allocation of state government revenues.  Although the impact of the RGGI has been relatively modest so far, it could grow as the economy recovers from recession.  We do like the idea of tree planting, which is touted by Philip Cherry of DNREC, better than contributing to DNREC overhead – which is where much of the money is likely to wind up going.]

        Jeff Montgomery quotes “researchers” that “rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere already have raised global temperatures, setting the stage for seal-level rise, the loss of polar ice sheets and world glaciers and long-term climate changes.” It is acknowledged that "critics” hold a different view, but none of them are quoted. On the other hand, the article cites a UN goal of an 80% drop in CO2 emissions by 2050 in order “to hold the average global temperature rise to about 3.5 degrees.  [Oh, please!  By 2050,the global warming hoax should be long dead.]

 

3/13/10, B5/B10,  "Evangelicals are seen as key in climate debate: Panel touts nexus between spirituality and environmentalism," Gary Soulsman – According to Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, "influencing evangelicals is key to swaying Republicans, as they rely on evangelicals for votes."  He envisions getting mainline evangelicals to "sign on to the movement to lower carbon emissions and avert climate change."

       A second member of this panel, held at the Newark Unitarian Church, brought a "green bible" with "passages on caring for God's creation highlighted in green." (And a third member, Chad Tolman referred to skeptics as "powerful interests with a lot of money at stake." [If only!]

        [The validity of the manmade global warming theory should be a scientific issue, not a religious one.  This thrust suggests that the alarmists cannot win based on the facts and are trying to change the subject.  They will never give up, so we need to continue our efforts until a wooden stake is driven through the heart of this bad idea.]

 

3/13/10, A1/A2, ‘FBI probes Del. links of al-Qaida suspect: Former resident worked at area nuclear plants before his arrest in Yemen,” Sean O’Sullivan & Jeff Montgomery – Sharif Mobley has been charged with a crime in Yemen, and the FBI is investigating his former activities in the U.S., where among other things he was employed at nuclear sites (Salem/Hope Creek, Calvert Cliffs, and Peach Bottom).  According to a spokesman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mobley worked as a “laborer” and “would not have had access to secure or sensitive areas.”  However, Norm Cohen of an anti-nuclear group, “Unplug Salem,” says the NRC should publicly release details about Mobley’s employers and specific assignments.

        [Although this is a legitimate news story, we question whether it merited placement at the top of the front page.  Free publicity for the anti-nuclear activists, who will leave no stone unturned in trying to raise public doubts about nuclear power.]

 

3/12/10, A2, "More stress on migratory birds" (AP) – First two sentences: "Global climate change poses a significant threat to migratory bird populations . . . according to a report released yesterday. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined scientists and conservation organizers at an Austin (TX) news conference to release the study." 

[The article does not say who is responsible for “The State of the Birds” report, but the following information is posted on line: “The report is the product of a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, between federal and state wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations including partners from the American Bird Conservancy, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.”  Wow, that’s a mouthful!

Secretary Salazar's expense account for this trip may not have been completely wasted if it kept him from some other mischief.  The biggest expense for taxpayers was probably the federal outlays and grant money for this study, which got 6 column inches in the News Journal and hundreds of other newspapers.

Birds are always stressed one way or another.  Otherwise, we would be overrun with birds.  We do enjoy them, though, at the bird feeders outside our kitchen window. See also our 1/10/10 entry on this subject.]

 

3/11/10, A8, "Markell plans bigger push for renewable energy push," Aaron Nathans - Gov. Markell proposed yesterday that every electric utility in DE be required to buy 30% of its electric power by 2029 from "renewable sources such as solar or wind power." Under current law, Delmarva Power must buy 20% by 2019. Also: (1) the requirement that utilities get 2% of their power from solar by 2019 would be raised to 4% by 2029; (2) utilities would be required to “buy some excess power generated from residential solar installations; (3) utilities would be required “to turn first to Delaware sources of renewable power before looking to buy green power from other states,” and (4) payments from the state’s Green Energy Fund would be reserved for nonprofits “while residents and businesses take advantage of expanded federal incentives.”

       The article says nothing about averting manmade global warming [an alleged threat that may be losing its cachet]; the idea is apparently to support favored ventures including (a) Motech Solar, which plans to purchase the Glasgow solar plant that GE closed down, and (b) offshore wind farms, as a mean to create “green jobs” in Delaware.

[Such government meddling in the economy is uncalled for, and Governor Markell should be concentrating on making Delaware more business-friendly.  Repeal of the current law would be a useful step in that direction, since high energy costs are bad for business, and the new proposals would obviously make things worse. 

Also note that nuclear power is excluded from the definition of “renewable power,” although it is the most logical candidate to replace coal power over the longer term.  Just one more indication of the inadequacy of present and proposed energy policies.] 

 

3/10/10, A8,  "Scientists to review warming panel" (AP) – As indicated earlier [see 2/28/10 entry], there will be an “outside” review of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reporting procedures.   The InterAcademy Council (IAC), a Netherlands-based organization of the science academies of 15 nations, “will be given complete control to review the rules, procedures and reports” of the IPCC.  According to one source, “the idea is to have the review finished before the annual meeting of the IPCC in October.”

        [Pardon us for being skeptical, but we predict that the IAC review will be a whitewash.  The arbitrary deadline is one clue; another is the statement in the article that proven IPCC “mistakes don’t undercut the broad consensus on global warming.” 

But if the IAC conducted an honest review, the conclusion should be that the IPCC – its alarmist summary report in 2007 notwithstanding – does not know whether the warming trend will resume or the world will be entering a new ice age.

The IPCC does deserve credit, however, for not parroting all the silly claims that James Hansen and Al Gore have made about huge sea level rises, etc.]

 

3/9/10, A1/A5,  "Fisker plan becoming a reality, CEO says: Hybrid jobs here soon, he tells NCCo Chamber," Eric Ruth – [It's hard not to root for Fisker’s success at the former Boxwood plant.  However, here is another example of the government - state government in this case - giving money it doesn't have to a risky enterprise.

        If the government would stick to its basic job of keeping order, and leave commerce to the free market, the free market would correct itself, as happened in the 1921 recession that everyone has forgotten about because it (unlike the Great Depression of the 1930s) was soon over.

       Given that the real unemployment rate (factoring in people who have stopped looking for work) is about 17% and the government has not had the sense to stay out of the way, we will need a lot of luck to get out of the current economic mess.]

 

3/5/10, A16,  "Limiting greenhouse gases still the best strategy for us," Lawrence DeHeer (New Castle) – This letter parallel’s John Greer’s defense of 31,000 signer’s petition (see 2/11/10 entry), ending with a reference to “the global environmental and economic disruptions and the associated human disease, suffering and death which would ensue from the current harmful, unnecessary and ineffective proposals to limit greenhouse gases.” [The assigned headline is 180 degrees off.  Perhaps the concept that the proposed restrictions on greenhouse gases might cause the very ills they are supposedly designed to prevent was too much for the staffer concerned to deal with.]

 

3/5/10, B1/B2, "Feds targeting three pollutants," Nicole Gaudiano – Last month [see 2/5/10 entry], Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) & Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill to cut sulfur dioxide 80% by 2018, nitrogen oxides 53% by 2015 and mercury 90% by 2015.  Now Senator Carper is quoted during a subcommittee hearing that the proposed reductions will “save more than 215,000 lives over a 15-year period” and “cost consumers less than $2 a month.” 

To give the story a local angle, a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is quoted that a “national solution” is needed.  Delaware’s air quality doesn’t meet federal standards, she says, due to high levels of pollution from other states upwind.

From the other comments reported, it sounds as if this legislation or something like it will pass.  Thus, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said he thinks lawmakers can pass a bipartisan bill and that the main concern would be imposing strict emission reductions too quickly on power plants. 

The only clear-cut opposition was from a spokesman of the American Electric Power Service Corp, who said some provisions in the bill are “unrealistic and inflexible, and would increase the cost of compliance unnecessarily.”

[The claimed savings in lives by the Environmental Protection Agency are probably based on the same linear–no threshold projection procedure that causes grossly inaccurate assessments of the effects of lower level radiation.  See 2/21/10 entry re Hormesis.  The writer’s brother played with mercury as a child; he is now in his 80s and quite healthy.  Still, mercury and the other substances are real pollutants, unlike CO2, and some level of regulation is appropriate.  The issue is striking a sensible balance.]

 

3/4/10, A7  "Study: Tainted food costs U.S. $152 billion" (AP) – "The government estimates 76 million people are sickened by food-borne illness each year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and about 5,000 die." [Perhaps these losses could be reduced by eliminating restrictions on irradiation of food.]

 

 3/4/10, A7, "Carper bill would extend offshore wind tax credits,” Nicole Gaudiano -

The proposal is to extend production and investment tax credits for offshore wind farms until 2020. "This legislation is essential to encourage the continued growth of this fledgling industry," according to Carper.  [Comments: (1) the cost to taxpayers is conveniently omitted from the article; (2) if wind farms are not economically feasible without government support, they should not be built.]

 

3/4/10, A14, "Time to move past quibbling in the climate change debate," Peter McLean (Middletown) – According to the writer, our country should ignore “the very small chance the [manmade global warming] evidence is unsupported” because “the consequences of not acting soon will be severe for all life” and “there’s little harm . . . in working with nature by developing renewable energy economies.”

[Actually, the manmade global warming theory has not been well supported, and more and more people seem to be catching on.  See, e.g., “Unwinding the Great Global Warming Delusion,” The Heartlander, Jan.-Feb. 2010, Heartland Institute.

As for renewable energy, the problem is sticking the country with a huge bill for expensive, undependable energy.  Ignoring these drawbacks will not make them go away.]

 

3/3/10, B3, "Comments sought on PSEG test at Hope Creek reactor" – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will review a PSEG plan to produce radioactive Cobalt 60 in the reactor core, using modified rods containing CO that will change to CO60.  The Cobalt 60 can then be used in "cancer radiation-therapy devices, systems for sterilizing food or medical equipment."

      Written comments can be submitted to the NRC until April 1.  (Here’s a link to the instructions: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2010/10-039.html).

[This may be an opportunity to point out damage caused by opposition to sterilization of food.  We plan to submit anti-anti-nuclear comments before the 4/1 deadline.]

Petitions for a public hearing must be filed by May 3.  [Expect anti-nuclear zealots to request a public hearing so they can get anti-nuclear publicity.]

 

2/28/10, A20, "Public's resolve to address global warming melts away" (Bloomberg News)

U.S. Rep. Bob Ingles (R-SC) became an alarmist four years ago "when scientists showed him evidence of melting ice in Antarctica."  And three years ago, former Vice President Al Gore “won a Nobel Prize for sounding the alarm on climate change and GE joined a coalition of companies pushing for a cap on greenhouse gases.”

       Yet recent polls find more Americans questioning whether human activity is leading to climate change and just how important it is to overhaul the U.S. energy system during a recession.  Copenhagen failed, the United Nations climate chief plans to step down, and three major companies are quitting the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.  The House-passed cap and trade bill is stalled in the Senate, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) calls the manmade global warming theory a “massive hoax.” 

       The other side is not giving up, of course.  Their new talking points are that (a) the threat is climate variability versus warming (former Sen. Tim Wirth, a Colorado Democrat who now heads the U.N. Foundation), and (b) legislation is needed so companies will know how to proceed with long-term investments (Jeffrey Immelt of GE). 

An outside review of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change procedures has been promised in the wake of Climategate, etc. (see the AP sidebar), but “scientists say the problems are minor and have nothing to do with the main conclusions about man-made global warming.”

[It’s great to see signs of progress.  There has been a lot of money wasted, and a lot of attention diverted from real public issues such as ensuring dependable, inexpensive energy and slashing wasteful government spending.  We can be proud of our part in the effort to put a stop to this nonsense.  Let’s keep up the drumbeat.]

 

2/27/10, A9, "Carper backs up EPA on emissions," Chad Tolman (Delaware chapter of the Sierra Club) –This column praises Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) for opposing Senator Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) move to strip EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The following statement from a Carper news release (1/21/10) is quoted: "I strongly oppose Sen. Murkowski's resolution to overturn the EPA endangerment finding because the science about global warming is clear:  Greenhouse gases endanger public health."  Tolman adds that Delaware “is especially vulnerable to sea-level rise, one of the consequences of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.”

However, “the forces of denial and resistance to change are strong.”  Therefore, readers are urged to “take a few minutes to call your members of Congress and let them know they are appreciated.” The list includes Senator Kaufman (said to support Carper’s position) and Congressman Castle (voted in favor of the House energy bill last year).

       [Some calls may be appropriate, but we would suggest a different message.  For starters, the EPA did not review the evidence bearing on the manmade global warming theory, it simply cited preexisting studies such as the 2007 summary report of the IPCC (which has recently come under fire as the result of the Climategate scandal and other revelations).  It would seem appropriate to withdraw the endangerment finding and undertake a real study of this issue, as SAFE recommended in a 6/09 letter to the EPA.

Among the evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is not driving global warming, we would note that the warming trend has paused over the past decade despite continuing increases in CO2.  Temperatures were warmer during the Medieval Warming Period than they are at present, with no apparent ill effects on public health.  And there is no credible evidence that rising sea levels could have a serious effect on Delaware in the foreseeable future.

Finally, who is truly resisting change?  We think it is the global warming alarmists, who believe the government should seek to prevent climate change no matter the cost, not those who understand that the climate is always changing and believe the human race will be able to adjust.]

 

2/27/10 - Speaking of resistance to change, two other items if the editorial page deserve brief mention. Both pertain to the tendency of special interest groups (of which there are many in the “green” energy coalition) to fight for their own position in the scheme of things without regard to the interests of the general public.

“The next villains: public workers,” Joe Mysak (Bloomberg News) – Having fought for pay and benefit packages that are straining state and local government budgets around the country, especially in California, public employee unions are fiercely resisting adjustments and/or layoffs.  The writer’s premise is that something has to give and the unions may wind up being about as popular as overpaid investment bankers. 

“Tax preparers likely to fight a move to simplify filing,” editorial – Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) are backing a measure that would supposedly make tax filing so much easier that “most of us would choose to do it ourselves.” And it is said tax preparers will lobby against the measure, fearing the resulting loss of business.  Count us as skeptics, because the tax code has gotten more complicated with every passing year, but if the story were true we would say shame on the tax preparers.

 

2/26/10 –More snow, gusty winds, messy winter driving, what’s next?  Our prediction: continued variation in the weather, a popular topic of conversation since Mark Twain’s day and before.

The Earth always has variation in the weather and, longer term, the climate. Over the ages, the Earth was apparently a snowball at one time and ice-free at another. An in-between climate is more pleasant for human beings.  Activities of our species may have some effect on the climate, if only due to deforestation and reforestation, but the evidence shows that nature, not human activity, is the predominant influence.

       What if nature sends another big ice age?  Human beings might be able to counteract it by injecting particles into the stratosphere that reflect energy back onto the Earth. The feasibility of such an approach was covered in a paper by Edward Teller, Lowell Wood and Roderick Hyde, August 15, 1997, prepared for presentation at the 22nd International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies.

Or if there was a major long-term warming trend that threatened to force the human race into a relatively narrow zone around the equator, it might be able to cool things down by injecting different particles into the stratosphere to reflect some of the Sun’s energy away from the Earth.  Interestingly, the price tag would be modest in comparison to the cost of measures currently being proposed to combat the unproven threat of manmade global warming. See Physicist Edward Teller’s 10/17/97 letter to the Wall Street Journal.

       But there is no emergency now, and major climate changes would be slow in coming.  It took some 100 years for the Little Ice Age to take full effect, and on the order of 10,000 years for big ice ages to take full effect.  So let’s all relax and enjoy the effects of the slight warming that has occurred.  If the warming trend resumes, we may approach the benign climate of the Medieval Warm Period.

 

2/25/10 – Nothing much on topic in the News Journal today, but the Wall Street Journal reported a Vermont Senate vote (26-4) to oppose continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (operating permit expires in 2012), which provides one-third of the state’s electricity.  The primary issue: safety fears sparked by the discovery last year of radioactive tritium leaks.  Hmm, sounds like there is a need to continue talking about radiation Hormesis, a concept last covered in the 2/21 entry.

Natural radiation levels vary widely around the Earth, and it is well established that moderate levels of nuclear radiation are beneficial to health.  What are those levels? 

On average, Americans receive 350 millirems of radiation per year from a variety of sources.  Those who receive more radiation than this are healthier than those who receive less.  Radiation levels are higher elsewhere in the world, e.g., residents of Ramsar Iran receive about 10,000 millirems per year with no apparent ill effects.

       An experiment occurred by accident in Taiwan, starting in the early 1980's.  A Taiwan steel company accidentally mixed highly radioactive cobalt 60 into a commercial batch of steel.  The steel was then used to make reinforcing rods (rebar), which were used in constructing 1,700 apartments.  When the error was discovered 15 years later, officials surveyed past and present apartment dwellers.  They expected to find much more than the statistical norm of 160 cancers but, to their astonishment, found only 5.  ("Terrestrial Energy," page 315, by William Tucker).

        This is one of many examples of Hormesis, wherein a small quantity of something can be beneficial, while a large amount is harmful.  Occupants of the Taiwan apartments were receiving 7,400 millirems of radiation per year, over 20 times the average exposure of Americans.

        A graph of harm and benefit of nuclear radiation would start at zero for zero radiation, curve into the benefit area, and then, as harm overcomes benefit, curve through zero into the harm area.  If we assume that 7,400 millirems of radiation provides the maximum benefit, the curve would enter the harm area at about twice that level or 14,800 millirems.

       On that basis, harm would start at about 40 times our normal radiation exposure.  Below that, money spent to minimize nuclear radiation would be wasted or even counterproductive.

 

2/24/10, B1/B2, "Yet another major snowstorm cranking up," Jeff Montgomery – Forecast is for high winds and another snowstorm tomorrow, which is described as “possibly [the] most brutal storm of the winter season.”  The cause?  "Weather scientists have blamed warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean . . . for some of the winter’s wild weather across the country.” [This “El Nino” effect is well known.  Similarly, ocean warming has been observed to cause more snow on the Antarctic continent, limiting sea level rise.] However, David A. Robinson, New Jersey State Climatologist [Montgomery never contacts David Legates, the Delaware State Climatologist] is quoted that “temperatures [where?] in February have been 3.5 degrees below normal,” albeit “slightly above normal in January and only a degree below normal in December.”

        [Climate alarmists have increasingly switched their emphasis from "global warming" to "climate change,” which can be interpreted as variations in weather without a change in average temperature.  As the weather is constantly in flux, the latter claim is not easy to prove or refute.

        It doesn't matter.  Whether climate warming or weather variation, the important questions are:  "Is it harmful?" and "Is human activity responsible?"  Both answers have to be "yes" to justify spending huge sums to make our country dependent on expensive, undependable forms of energy.  The evidence of the Medieval Warm Period shows that the answers to both questions are "no".  Case closed.]

 

2/23/10, A7, "Weather, Chinese demand push up coal prices" – Coal prices are up 21% from 2009 lows, and they may go higher, due to “the coldest U.S. winter in nine years” and record Chinese imports. [Revenue on U.S. coal exports to China is good news, somewhat mitigating this country’s overall trade deficit.  The bad news is that our cost of electricity could increase, although coal-fired power plants are still the cheapest source of power.

       A longer-term threat to inexpensive electricity is posed by government regulations and legal challenges, which are designed to prevent new coal plants from being built and force existing coal plants to shut down. The rationale is that coal plants emit (a) pollution and (b) carbon dioxide (a natural component of the atmosphere, which is essential to life).

       Nuclear power plants may represent a satisfactory replacement for new coal plants, provided the government clears the way to build them without inordinate restrictions and delays, but we should resist the closure of existing coal plants lest blackouts results.  And when a coal plant is shut down, it should be mothballed just in case the power might turn out to be needed.

      When Greenpeace, Sierra Club etc. push for coal plant shutdowns, we should remind them publicly that they are responsible for coal plant expansion, because they stopped expansion of nuclear power.  Starting now, let's refer to "Greenpeace Coal Plants."]

 

2/22/10, A13,  "Dear America, don't be idiotic about climate," Eugene Robinson – We heartily agree  with the title of this column, but not with most of its content.  Robinson criticizes Senators Jim Inhofe and Jim DeMint for implying that the big snowstorms are negative evidence of man-made global warming, and goes on to lecture about the distinction between weather and climate – albeit complaining about the mini-glacier on his own property.

[We think the two senators were just poking fun at Al Gore.  But the absence of a warming trend in recent years, while the carbon dioxide concentration continues to increase, conflicts with dire predictions of an accelerating spike in global temperatures.  Nobody knows what will happen next.  Warming may resume, a new Little Ice Age may come, or we may be entering the next big ice age.  But this period of no warming underscores the point we have made repeatedly – nature, not human activity, controls the climate.]

       Robinson uses the numbers game - numbers of scientists and numbers of years they have been saying "that the Earth is warming and that humankind is probably responsible." 

[This so-called evidence is trumped by the 31,000 scientists who signed a petition to the contrary.  No, Mr. Robinson, there is no "Scientific consensus."]

 

2/21/10, A23, “Future lies in growing the green economy,” Ted Kaufman –  “Green technology is not just an environmental movement anymore,” writes Senator Kaufman, ”it is a wise financial investment and a linchpin in ultimately putting Americans back to work.”

He sees everyone jumping on the bandwagon, including “many of our smartest investors” (John Doerr, Vinod Khosla), “companies that have been on the forefront of innovation” (GE, DuPont), and other nations (Norway, Japan, Germany).  Even China “is now working around the clock to expand green technologies – from nuclear power and carbon capture and storage to more efficient lighting and heating.”  So lets go, USA, with Delaware at the forefront (Fisker Automotive, Bluewater offshore wind power, W.L. Gore fuel cell technology, etc.).

[If “green” energy is such a natural, why must it be supported at every turn by government mandates and subsidies?  Also, let it be remembered that the green jobs created will be offset by a larger number of regular jobs lost. But there is one point we can agree with: including nuclear power in the “green” energy mix instead of focusing solely on high cost, unreliable renewable energy.  With a level playing field, nuclear power will win hands down over wind and solar.]

 

2/21/10, An expensive extrapolation, Bill Morris – Intense radiation can kill a person almost instantly.  A large dose can cause a significant percentage of people to die prematurely of cancer.  It is difficult to detect the long-term effect of a small dose of exposure because some people would be afflicted with cancer anyway.

The government chose to extrapolate the effect of radiation on a straight line to zero, because at zero radiation, there would be zero effect of radiation.  With this linear - no threshold (LNT) assumption, any radiation causes some harm.  But, wait a minute.  Human beings are exposed to radiation from a variety of sources, e.g., Americans receive an average of 350 millirems per year.  Is it reasonable to assume they would be better off with no radiation?

       Real world data suggest low-level radiation is actually beneficial.  People living in areas of above average radiation are healthier than those who live in areas with below average radiation.  This is attributed to "Hormesis", a phenomenon wherein something harmful at a high level (e.g., 100 pills all at once) may be beneficial at a low level (one pill a day).  Thus, physics professor Bernard Cohen analyzed average cancer rate data and average Radon concentration in 1,729 U.S. counties and found a highly significant correlation.  The higher the Radon concentration, the lower the cancer rate. 

       Yet in 1992 the EPA published "A citizens guide to Radon" warning that Radon is causing 14,000 lung cancer deaths per year (see "Terrestrial Energy", 2008 book by William Tucker).  The EPA arrived at that figure by taking cancer death rates of early Uranium miners who were exposed to extremely high levels of Radon, and extrapolating to zero, using the LNT assumption.  As a result, homeowners with higher levels of Radon are required to buy expensive equipment to reduce the Radon level before they can sell their homes.

       The LNT assumption has also been used as a basis to require extremely expensive means to reduce radiation from nuclear power plants below one millirem per year for someone living at the plant boundary, when the health effects of such additional exposure would be negligible (or even beneficial).  Just one example of how the cost of nuclear power has been inflated by unnecessary government regulations.

 

2/20/10, A6, "Fast track for wind in view," Aaron Nathans – "Offshore wind farms need to be granted permits more quickly, East Coast governors and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Friday."  This was reportedly in response to a request of NRG-Bluewater Wind that two "substantially similar" 18-24 month environmental impact statements be combined.  [Two years for an environmental impact statement?  Why so long?  Because it's the government.

      "The governors and Salazar vowed to create a formal consortium to deal with the various issues surrounding offshore wind."  [A “consortium” might expedite offshore wind, or might slow it down.  The slower the better, because wind turbines are not dependable or economical.]

        [Hopefully, the nuclear power logjam has been broken with the announcement (2/17/10) of federal government support for two new nuclear plants in Georgia.  Nuclear plants meet the primary objective of wind power - they produce power without emitting carbon dioxide.  The country needs fast expansion of nuclear power, rather than expensive, undependable wind turbines, so let’s hope sensible ground rules for the recycling/ disposal of nuclear waste will be established soon. Salazar’s comment that “investors will not invest if they have to wait seven to nine years” to get their turbines into the water has equal applicability for multi-billion dollar nuclear power plants.]

 

2/20/10, A8, "Climate change deniers show ignorance of science," letter to the editor (Rebecca Scarborough, Frederica) -- The writer berates global warming skeptics for calling attention to the heavy snow in the mid-Atlantic, thereby confusing “weather” and “climate.”  She also commends the switch in terminology from “global warming” to “climate change,” saying it is more descriptive of “extreme and erratic and destructive weather patterns . . . heat wave in Rio . . . wildfires in Australia . . . Hurricane Katrina.”  Oh, and “how about the fact that January was the third hottest month globally in 32 years of satellite monitoring?”

[Is Scarborough herself confusing weather and climate?  As for global temperatures in January 2010, the NOAA Website states they were the 4th highest on record, but only 1.08 degrees F above the 20th century average.  And the claim that human activity is the cause of erratic weather is dubious indeed.]

 

2/19/10, B1/B3, "City water plant becomes solar energy station," Adam Taylor – Using "stimulus" money from the federal government, 2,300 solar panels have been installed at Wilmington's Porter Reservoir.  The $8.9 million cost will result in a $60,000 per year saving in electricity cost.  [That’s only a 0.7% return on the investment!]

       Wilmington will also receive a one-time $250,000 "rebate" from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control [contributing to the State’s financial problems?] and $120,000 a year from Delmarva Power for renewable energy credits [will these be worth anything to Delmarva if, as looks increasingly likely, a Cap and Trade bill is not passed?]

        [One can hardly blame the City for availing itself of the handouts that have been offered, but this project looks a lot like “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”  And ultimately, will the mighty U.S. government fail if it keeps running trillion dollar deficits?  Quite possibly, with dire results for all of us, for which reason it is time to slash federal spending now.  For some specific ideas along these lines, see “Don’t just stand there, do something constructive [about the budget deficit], 2/15/10, http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm.

 

2/18/10, B1, "State government to cut energy use: Markell says order will create jobs," Jeff Montgomery – Governor Markell signed an executive order designed to reduce state government energy use by 10% (vs. mid-2008 levels) as of mid-2011.  The longer-term goal is a 30% reduction by 2015.  State petroleum use would be cut by 25% and vehicle travel by 15%.

       Also covered by the order: (a) expanded clean energy purchases (increase use of renewable energy, e.g., wind and solar power, to 30% by mid-2013), (b) stepped-up government recycling (recycle or divert 75% of waste now sent to landfills by mid-2012), and (c) wider use of environmentally friendly products. 

“There’s a lot here.  It’s bold, but we believed it’s achievable,” said Markell, who claims the changes would support the growth of “green” industries and “the creation of real jobs, at a time when we desperately need them.”  Offshore wind and solar power, energy efficiency overhauls for buildings, and builders of alternative-fuel vehicles (such as Fisker Automotive) are mentioned in the article.

        [Some reactions: (1) In the light of experience with similar goals in the past, we are inclined to be skeptical. (2) Buying more “clean energy” is likely to raise costs, not lower them.  (3) Some “green” jobs might be created, but more regular jobs would be lost. 

To really create jobs, the state should focus on streamlining regulations, thus making it easier to start and run businesses.  Similar action is needed at the federal level – including drastic simplification of the tax laws.  Then stand back and let the free market work its magic.]

 

2/17/10, A11, "Obama pushes nuclear  resurgence," Aaron Nathans – Hallelujah!  Maybe we won't suffer an electricity shortage  after all.  The government is planning to provide $8 billion in loan guarantees for “the first new reactor in the United States in about three decades.” This support will go to the Southern Company for two nuclear power plants in Burke County, Georgia.

       Breaking the logjam is important, but there is an obvious question:  How about nuclear  waste?  As the article says, “a long-planned nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada” has been scuttled and a blue ribbon commission will be asked to “find another solution.” [Goodness knows how long this could take.  For perspective, the Yucca Mountain site was selected in the 1980s, and over $10 billion was spent on planning and site preparation.  What a waste, as the Administration pulled the plug in 2009.] Also, nuclear plants will be held to “the strictest safety standards.”      

[The best solution for nuclear waste is not a national repository, it is recycling, as other countries do.  As of 2008, according to “Terrestrial Energy” (p. 367) by Michael Tucker, Areva (a French nuclear firm) was “building a reprocessing plant at the old Barnwell site in South Carolina.”  However, we been unable to confirm that such a project is underway.  An Areva spokesman did not mention it in his Congressional testimony about recycling on 6/17/09.]

       The News Journal article includes comments from several groups.  One renewable energy activist was said to be “willing to stomach nuclear power if it meant forgoing investments in coal.”  Jim Black of the Clean Air Council said the nuclear industry should stand on its own, i.e., why should there be federal loan guarantees?  [Good question!]  Developers of the proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear plant (in Maryland, southeast of Washington) commended the president for putting authorization for such loan guarantees in the budget and are hoping to get their own project approved.  And so forth.

        [Obviously, new nuclear power plants may take a while.  Let’s hope the politicians are finally getting serious about them.]

 

2/16/10, A9, "Let jobs, not climate, drive green cause," Dana Milbank (Washington Post columnist) – Milbank ridicules any notion that “the existence of heavy snow in the mid-Atlantic debunks global warming theory,” contending that “global warming could actually lead to heavier snows, because warmer air carries more moisture".  [This brings to mind Antarctic negative feedback, whereby a warmer ocean results in more snow falling on Antarctica, resulting in less sea level rise.]

       But Milbank goes on to say the global warming theory has been overstated a tad and suggest “a shift in emphasis.”  Thus, the greens should “keep the argument on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually, some of that going to terrorists rather than to domestic job creation.”

And right on cue, current TV ads by Al Gore's climate advocacy group "show workers asking their senators for more jobs from clean energy".

        [We reiterate that creation of a clean energy job results in the loss of two jobs elsewhere.  As for the high cost of imported oil, why not wise up and relax the restrictions on domestic oil production in the vast areas that are currently off limits?]

 

2/16/10, A9, "Did big snowstorms bury the climate bill?" – The Washington Post solicited comments from Christie Todd Whitman and two American Enterprise Institute scholars, and this is what they got.

      Whitman: There has been "overreach and simplification on both sides of the debate."  The decision to complain about “climate change” rather than “global warming” was a good one, as it will prevent “people such as Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., from being able to claim that this is all a hoax.” [“Climate change” also fails to convey what disaster is foreseen and needs to be averted.]  

"The sooner we take steps to slow the [climate] changes, the better off we'll be."  [Basis for this claim?  Maybe Whitman hasn't noticed that the warming trend stopped about 10 years ago without any significant steps.]

       AEI:  "There may be an energy bill or a jobs bill with "green energy/green jobs folderol, but it won't have a strong climate title."  [Please forget "green jobs," which would waste taxpayer dollars and destroy other jobs.  The way to create jobs is to dial back taxes and regulations on business and let the free market work its magic.]

 

2/16/10 - In response to both articles, we acknowledge that the recent snowstorms did not bury the global warming theory.   However, a 10-year period without significant warming, plus the ups and downs in temperature within the longer-term warming trend since the Little Ice Age, shows that a steady increase in carbon dioxide concentration is not the major driver of global temperatures.

Nobody knows what will happen next.  The warming trend could resume.  We could have another Little Ice Age.  Or, there could be a very slow descent into another big ice age.

       Remember, the human race is very adaptable, and there will be plenty of time to adapt.

 

2/15/10 – Again no News Journal coverage on point, just a lament about the effects of putting salt on the roads, so here is another pitch for nuclear power.

        Energy demand has declined because of the current recession, but should bounce back quickly afterwards.  Now is the time to build the new capacity that will be needed.  Otherwise, this area could very well face the danger of electrical blackouts.

Unfortunately, climate alarmists have convinced many that new energy should come from wind turbines, solar panels, etc.  These "renewable" energy sources are very expensive and undependable.  Thus, wind turbines cannot produce electricity when the wind is too slow, too fast, or, reportedly, too cold.  California ran into severe problems due to an attempt to rely on these forms of energy. It is time to face reality before a whole lot of money is wasted on subsidizing renewable energy.

       At present, coal is the main source of electricity, but climate alarmists continually exert pressure to shut down “dirty” coal power plants.  In the long run, they may have a point, because coal plants emit a lot of real pollutants in addition to non-objectionable (in our opinion) carbon dioxide.  Shutdowns should not be rushed through, however, without creating replacement capacity that is inexpensive and reliable. See yesterday’s comments about coal plants. 

       A new generation of nuclear power plants provides an answer that both sides of the global warming debate could favor.  The challenge is to jettison burdensome regulations on nuclear power and curtail endless legal challenges by diehard anti-nuclear zealots.

       And to get to that point, nuclear proponents must win the battle in the court of public opinion.  Common sense information about nuclear power and the fact that other countries are expanding their use of nuclear power should be helpful in that battle.

       Let's keep the lights on.

 

2/14/10 – Nothing on topic in the News Journal, aside from a story about the next snowstorm, so we give you: FUTURE SUPPLY OF ELECTRICITY -- A memo from Bill Morris

       Here is what Rick Sergei, President of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation said at the beginning of his talk at a 11/21/08 meeting:  "Let me candidly tell you that I am concerned ** operating closer to the edge ** leading indicators signal problems ahead ** trends are at best disturbing."

       Here is what I have to say as of 2/14/10:  The main problem is failure to build sufficient capacity, which will probably surface when this recession is over.  The push to close coal-fired power plants is part of the problem.  Three Delaware coal plant shutdowns are scheduled in the next few years.  Fortunately, they will be mothballed.

       False reliance on "politically correct" energy sources contributes to the problem.  California's severe energy problems are a leading indicator of what could happen.  William Tucker, author of "Terrestrial Energy" describes California's problem as follows:  "Alternate and renewable energy sources cannot replace coal and nuclear as the base load for electric power."

        Improvement in nuclear plant operation could have resulted in a false sense of security.  On-stream time was increased from 60% to 90% over a ten-year period.  This huge improvement provided a lot more electricity without building more capacity.  However, there is little room for further improvement.

       A huge amount of natural gas has been found in northeast U.S., which can be recovered by using new techniques.  However, environmentalists are opposing the recovery of this natural gas – or any other source of inexpensive, abundant energy.

       Here is what we need to prevent future electrical blackouts: (1) Drop preference for wind turbines, solar panels, etc.  Let them compete in a free market; (2) Keep coal plants running as long as possible, and mothball any plants that are shut down; (3) Add new natural gas plants, at least for peak power, if economics are favorable; (4) Get new nuclear power plants built and operating ASAP, under a free market system, without expensive unnecessary standards, overriding delaying tactics of anti-nuclear zealots.

 

2/13/10, A8, "Green energy leaders say U.S. needs long-term strategy," Chuck Raasch (column) – The point of the column is that advocates of various forms of renewable energy are demanding that tax credits, etc. be extended in support of their plans.  Thus, Robert Cleaves, CEO of the Biomass Power Association, complains that expiration of a tax credit for existing biomass plants at the end of 2009 threatens half of his emerging industry.  In contrast, Europe and China are said to have long-term renewable strategies.

        [If an energy source is uneconomical, it requires government support for as long as possible, preferably forever.  One form of support is subsidies, e.g., the tax credits under discussion.  Another is the imposition of penalties on more economical energy sources that will drive up their cost and make high cost energy sources more competitive.  Whatever form the government support takes, one question should be asked: "Why?"

        If the reason is to decrease carbon dioxide emissions (based on the dubious manmade global warming theory), nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide.  It is dependable, safe, clean and economical.  Government subsidies are not needed.  What is needed are more reasonable regulations, and some degree of protection from endless litigation.

If the reason is to create "green" jobs, this column notes, "an estimated 80 percent of the $2 billion in stimulus spent on wind went to foreign turbine producers."  So now what is supposed to happen, “buy America” requirements that would make wind power even less economical?  Remember too that each "green" job created leads to the loss of 2.2 other jobs, according to a study by a Spanish Economist.

       Real job creation can be fostered by providing abundant inexpensive electricity.  That means allowing coal power plants to operate while jump-starting a resurgence of nuclear power.  Also helpful would be the removal of regulations that hamper business activity and a cut in the U.S. corporate income tax rate.]

       One more point from the column:  "There have been reports this Winter that turbines in Minnesota, one of the top wind power states, aren't turning in extremely cold weather."  [If this is confirmed, we can say: "Wind turbines don't produce electricity when the wind is too fast, too slow, or too cold."]

 

2/12/10, A16,  "FDA should take tougher look at radiation practices” (editorial) reports “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally bowed to concerns about the medical use of radiation for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes."  The FDA will focus on how CT scans are conducted, error reporting, and the training of medical personnel “in operating machines that deliver enough radiation to equal 400 chest X-rays.”

       The study was sparked by reports of patients at a Los Angeles hospital receiving up to eight times the intended radiation, and the FDA also plans reviews of nuclear medicine studies and fluoroscopy (use of radiation-emitting device to view internal images).  Not satisfied, the editorial urges going beyond “media scares of patient suffering” to core training process and quality assurance policies of medical equipment suppliers.

       [There is no question that radiation in high doses can be deadly, as was illustrated by the highly publicized death of millionaire Eben Byers in 1932 due to long-term use of a patent medicine that contained radium. There was a crackdown on the reckless use of radiation, which also inhibited medical innovation.

In the 1990s, a BELLE (biological effects of low-level exposure) study group championed more widespread use of internal imaging, which has offered many medical benefits. See www.belleonline.com, Dec. 1999 newsletter.

The FDA is almost guaranteed to smother the current problem with overkill.  Remember food irradiation?  In response to radiation superstition, the FDA refuses to approve the sterilization of most foods by radiation.  The result is that many are sickened and a few die during occasional outbreaks of tainted food.]

 

2/11/10, A12, "The numbers are on the side of climate doubters" - A letter by John E. Greer Jr. refutes a letter [see our 1/30/10 entry] calling a petition signed by 31,000 scientists "bogus."

       THE SIGNERS: (1) "Petition signers do not claim to be climate experts but instead that they have earned a bachelor of science degree or higher, giving them a solid foundation for evaluating scientific evidence;” (2) the site says “credentials are evaluated and identities verified before names are added to the petition, contrary to the writer’s claim,” and (3) the writer said he could not verify petition signers, but Greer “verified 25 signers from a list of Delaware licensed professional engineers and another seven from personal knowledge.”

       THE PETITION STATEMENT: This statement, which is backed by a peer-reviewed, 12-page scientific summary, reads in part: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other green­house gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” [The News Journal’s title for the letter omits any reference to human activity, thereby implying that petition signers doubt “climate change” – which has been happening since the world began – as distinguished from “manmade global warming.”]

       COUNTERVAILING EVIDENCE: “A consensus is often claimed for 2,500 scientists involved in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, but only 53 were authors of the critical chapter on causes of climate change. This chapter received favorable comments from only seven of 55 official reviewers, according to ‘Lawrence Solomon: Numbers Racket.’ Over 700 prominent international scientists, including many UN IPCC scientists, disputed manmade global warming claims in a U.S. Senate report.”

        [An advanced science degree or a specialization in some aspect of science is not needed to use common sense.  For example:  It is not disputed that that there was farming in Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period, and grapes were grown in Europe at higher altitudes than they can be grown now.  Therefore, it was warmer then than it is now.  Human beings were not burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide nearly to the extent that we are now.  If London had flooded, we would read about it in the history books.  You wouldn't need a college degree to disagree with the climate alarmists.  You could easily conclude that they are exaggerating problems from global warming, and that nature, not human activity rules the climate.]

 

2/10/10 – Nothing on topic in the News Journal today, only a front-page headline on the snow, so we’ll point out an ironic situation. Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and others who want to shut down coal power plants are themselves responsible for the fact that coal is used to generate half of our electricity.  By blocking the expansion of nuclear power, they opened the door for coal to fulfill the need for inexpensive electricity.

       Now these groups want to shut down coal power plants because they emit carbon dioxide as well as real pollutants such as sulfur dioxide.  All the coal and natural gas power plants plus new nuclear power plants will be needed to meet growing demand for electricity once the current recession is hopefully behind us (the only obstacle is misguided government policies).

       Other countries have made much more use of nuclear power, and they will be supplying this country with nuclear power plants and infrastructure.  Thanks a bunch, Greenpeace and Sierra Club.  Let's rename the coal plants, Greenpeace 1, Greenpeace 2, -------

 

2/9/10, A1/A4, "Scientists: Global warming real despite harsh winter," Jeff Montgomery – Current conditions notwithstanding, “climate scientists” [not some or “most, but by implication all of them] are said to recognize "a larger trend of the Earth getting warmer.” Thus, Cornell weather scientist, Stephen Colluci is quoted:  "It's very easy to look out a window and say global warming isn't happening.  Tell that to people who are living in areas where sea level rise will make them homeless."

       And “a majority of governments around the globe now agree that human-caused pollution has changed the atmosphere,” which will supposedly result in “more extreme weather and more human suffering." [Such claims are hard to refute because “extreme weather” is such a subjective concept.]

       There is a reference to "both sides in the science debate," which implies another point of view.  Also, atmospheric scientist Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama is quoted:

" . . . most variability in weather, no matter where it is on Earth, is natural and not related to any kind of long term climate change due to mankind." [At least Montgomery acknowledges a difference of opinion.  We need to keep up the pressure.]

       [Warming may resume, and take us to the benign climate enjoyed during the Medieval Warm Period.  Or, we could enter another Little Ice Age, or there could be a very slow descent into another big ice age - the present period between big ice ages has already been unusually long.

In any case, there does not seem to be much need to worry about the climate.  Human beings are very adaptable, and there will be plenty of time to adapt.]

 

2/8/10, A3,  "Connecticut power plant blast kills five" (AP) – A 620 megawatt natural gas power plant that was under construction exploded, killing at least 5 people and injuring a dozen or more, as workers were purging the gas lines.

 [There may or may not be a small follow-up story on this accident, but note the routine coverage.  A comparable event at a nuclear power plant would be a huge story.  How many people were killed at Three Mile Island?  The answer is zero.

            Petr Beckmann lucidly explained the relative safety of nuclear power in a 1976 book, "The health hazards of not going nuclear".  Since his book and the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, control room design and operator training have improved greatly. See "Terrestrial Energy", a 2008 book by William Tucker.

       Approval and construction of new nuclear power plants are needed now to meet the upcoming increased need for electricity, even if the sale of plug-in electric cars does not become significant.  The question is whether anti-nuclear zealots can continue to block nuclear power plants.  Increased public support of nuclear power could help overcome that roadblock, but the jury is out as to whether it will materialize.]

 

2/6/10 (posted 2/7/10), “NOAA reports show there’s little temperature variation” – Yesterday’s News Journal was found under the snow today.  This letter to the editor by Bill Whipple starts with:  "Although the editorial pages of The News Journal have covered both sides of the manmade global warming debate, the same cannot be said of the news coverage."  [Very true. Three climate alarmists are easily identified among News Journal reporters, based on the stories they cover and how they cover them.  There may well be skeptics on staff, but they are covering other kinds of stories.]

       The letter references the Jan 21 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, which stated that 2009 tied 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record. And to put this factoid in perspective, using the same data series, 2009 was cooler than 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2005.  Also, directly from the NOAA report,  2009 was only "1.01 degree F above the 20th century average." 

[“On record” refers to data based on direct measurement since 1880, which leaves out the Medieval Warm Period, not to mention much warmer temperatures millions of years ago.  Based on the NOAA data, the warming trend is relatively modest and currently stopped.

        In publishing this letter, the News Journal omitted two key paragraphs. For the unexpurgated version, see  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/letters__2.htm#February_1,_2010.

The NOAA, other government bodies and the Associated Press are frequent sources of climate alarmist stories.  We skeptics can at least provide our point of view frequently with interesting letters to the editor.]

 

2/6/10 – Hooray for electricity!  Hooray for coal-fired power plants that supply half of our electricity at low cost.  I'll gladly put up with whatever pollution they emit in order to stay warm and cook my food.  I'm especially thankful today, when over a foot of snow overwhelmed the News Journal's excellent paper delivery system - it's in my driveway before 5:30 every morning except today.

       Color me skeptical about pressure from Greenpeace, Sierra etc. to shut down coal-fired power plants.  When people died in London long ago from coal smoke, and Pittsburgh was black with smoke, something had to be done, and it was.  As we became more affluent, we could afford cleaner air.  But, there is a limit to how clean we can afford to be, and I suspect we have already passed it.

      We are in danger of blackouts when the demand for electricity increases, and we need new nuclear power plants soon.  We cannot afford to put up with the endless delays that are blocking them.  Meanwhile, keep the coal-fired power plants in service so the lights will stay on.

        

2/5/10, A6,  "Carper seeks to decrease air pollutants,” Nicholas Gaudiano (News Journal Washington Bureau) - Senator Carper's proposal is to lower the limits in the Clean Air Act, including the mercury limit which is already very low.  This appears to be like nuclear radiation limits - overkill added to overkill.

       Analytical methods allow detecting the most harmful elements and compounds at levels well below those causing any harm.  If analytical methods were much better, they would probably detect every element in the periodic table in any shovelful of dirt on the Earth.

        The result of this proposal would be to make electricity from coal power plants more expensive, which could have a serious impact on energy costs because half of the nation’s electricity comes from coal. The idea of rapidly expanding wind and solar power is impractical, so natural gas and nuclear plants would be needed to fill the void (and will probably be needed to meet growing demand for electric power in any case).

       Carper is on record as favoring a “safe” nuclear renaissance (News Journal op-ed, 7/16/08), but he doesn't seem to be doing much about it.  Last year, we offered to provide information on the safety of nuclear power, but got no response or expression of interest from his staff.  It is time for another approach to Carper's office.

 

2/4/10, B1, "Union OKs contract with buyer of refinery," Jeff Montgomery – Local United Steelworkers Union members at the Delaware City Refinery have reportedly approved contract terms for a potential reopening of the Delaware City Refinery by PBS Energy, a European-led venture that may purchase the facility from Valero Energy.  [See 1/23/10 entry.]

        The Delaware City Refinery was built to process heavy, high sulfur crude at a time when heavy crudes were considerably cheaper than light crudes.  Other refineries apparently improved their ability to refine heavy crudes, resulting in a narrowing price differential.  Valero’s shutdown decision last November cited poor market conditions, high operating costs, and maintenance problems that led to $1 million-a-day losses. 

 It is unclear how PBS could run the Delaware City facility profitably when Valero was unable to do so, but several possibilities can be gleaned from the article: (1) acquiring a working import-export terminal and tank farm at a bargain price [could be useful in importing refined gasoline from elsewhere]; (2) State “business incentives to support a reopening” of the refinery; and (3) “possible addition of an ethanol fuel additive plant [the use of ethanol in motor fuel is heavily dependent on government mandates and subsidies] and an upgrade and reactivation of the power plant gasifier.” 

        [Looks like a nuclear power plant in Delaware City is not in the cards; that leaves Sussex County as the most logical location in Delaware.]

 

2/4/10, B2, " No climate research impropriety in stolen e-mails" (AP) – A Penn State internal inquiry dismissed three allegations against “a leading climate scientist” re suppressing or falsifying data, deleting or concealing e-mails, etc., but recommended further investigation of Professor Michael Mann’s “research conduct.” Mann is said to be a target of criticism by “deniers” [more properly skeptics] of the manmade global warming theory.

[The ongoing investigation would presumably focus on Mann’s infamous "Hockey Stick" graph of temperature against time, which shows the Medieval Warm Period to be cooler than the present.  This is an obvious mistake, although Mann and others continue to use the "Hockey Stick."]

 

2/3/10, A1/A6, "NRG deal promises cleaner air, bays," Molly Murray – NRG Energy has agreed with Delaware regulators to shut down three of its four generating units at the Indian River Power Plant. The plan is to close Units 1 and 2 (1950s, 164 MW) by 2011, but keep Unit 3 (1970, 177 MW) going until 2013 without installing air emission scrubbers as required by a 2009 court order (approval of the court required).   

Unit 4 (1980, 442 MW), which has a cooling tower, would be upgraded with advanced pollution controls and continue in operation.  [The shutdown units would be mothballed, so if a severe shortage of electricity developed they could be put back in operation.]

       A box (“The Impact”) on the front page cites a series of actual or alleged environmental benefits.  As for the impact on the supply and cost of electricity, it is stated on page A6 that  “an analysis must be completed to ensure that the unit shutdowns will not affect power availability or reliability.” 

An NRG executive says the shutdown of Unit 3 would coincide with the planned start of the Bluewater Wind project.  [This would not ensure power reliability or affordability because wind power is expensive and unreliable. Remember that wind turbines could not be used when the wind was too slow or too fast, and that this project would be subsidized using taxpayer dollars.

A better alternative would be a nuclear power plant of 1,000 MW or more. Clean, safe, no carbon dioxide emissions, much smaller environmental footprint, and dependable electricity at lower cost.  About 70% of Americans support nuclear power, and 90% of those living near a nuclear plant support it. "Terrestrial Energy", William Tucker, 2008.]

 

2/2/10, A6/A7, "Salem applications unaffected by radioactive leaks in Vermont (Jeff Montgomery) leads with a statement by owners of the Salem nuclear plant on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River that their application for a license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not been affected by recently discovered radioactive water leaks at a Vermont nuclear plant.  [The only apparent purpose of this story is to keep New Jersey nuclear power plants and anti-nuclear activists in the news.]

        Tritium, a weakly radioactive isotope of hydrogen, was found at levels 100 times the federal drinking water limit in a pipe conduit under the Vermont Yankee plant, and about 5% higher in nearby groundwater.  And [lest anyone forget] “leaks of the same material caused an uproar last year at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey . . . and in 2003 at Salem.”  The article goes on to discuss concerns expressed by several environmental groups about “other pipes leaking” and “more serious problems that have yet to unfold.”

        [Dedicated critics of nuclear power will never be satisfied; they must be beaten by superior arguments.  That’s why we have urged publicity about Hormesis – see yesterday’s entry – as a counter to unwarranted fears about low-level radioactivity.]

 

2/1/10 – More on “hormesis,” a concept introduced in the 1/26 entry.  The basic point – which can help in promoting expanded use of nuclear power – is that low level nuclear radiation is not harmful and may actually be beneficial. Thus, studies show that the cancer rate decreases as the radiation dose increases up to well above the average dosage of 350 millirems per year.

       An accidental experiment occurred in Taiwan.  Cobalt 60 was accidentally mixed with steel used to make reinforcing rods (rebar) used in construction of apartment buildings with about 10,000 residents.  When this was discovered about 15 years later, a study was made of cancer mortality.  Results showed only 3.4% of the expected amount based on experience for the general population. (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 1994)

Another example:  "In 1992, the EPA published a 'Citizens Guide to Radon', warning that Radon was causing 14,000 cancer deaths per year" ("Terrestrial Energy" by William Tucker, p. 334).  The basis was death rates of Uranium miners exposed to extremely high levels of Radon, extrapolated using the erroneous Linear No Threshold assumption.  In response, physics professor Bernard Cohen analyzed average cancer rates and Radon concentrations in 1,729 U.S. counties, and found a highly significant negative correlation (Reason Magazine, March 1999).  But the counterproductive EPA standards are still in effect, costing U.S. homeowners money for unnecessary remediation.

       The irrational fear of low-level radiation has resulted in ridiculous and very expensive standards. "After Three Mile Island the Nuclear Regulatory Commission forced the industry to spend $2 billion per reactor for safety features to reduce emissions to 10 millirems per year."  Also, "living on the property line of a nuclear plant all year round would expose a person to 1 millirem" (Terrestrial Energy).

      We need a resurgence of nuclear power as a cost effective way to meet future power needs.  Winning public acceptance should not be too difficult, because 90% of people living near nuclear plants support them.  We should be ready with good ideas for overcoming any roadblocks that could result in large costs or delays.

 

1/31/10, A22, "New Mexico bill first step toward capturing carbon" (AP) - New Mexico rancher Jack Chatfield is pushing a bill to define property rights to underground fissures.  Once ownership is established, lawmakers would have to clear the way for the state to establish regulations.  The idea is to enable landowners to sell rights to store carbon dioxide underground.  [Of course, the value of such rights would be dependent on government rules and regulations penalizing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.]

       Melissa Pollak, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota is "part of a national team studying the national potential of carbon capture and storage.”  [Oh Boy!  Government grants galore!]

[Even if there were a need to limit CO2 emissions, sequestration by underground storage would be an obviously bad idea.  The CO2 would probably leak out eventually, and a large amount that escaped suddenly could be deadly.  A less bad idea is iron fertilization in areas of the ocean where phytoplankton would dramatically increase uptake of carbon dioxide.]

       Another potential use for underground fissures is mentioned in passing: "The underground space could also store compressed air as a part of a process to generate clean electricity."  [This would be a variant of pumping water uphill during low electricity demand, and using it to produce peak demand electricity.  OK, try it, but don’t ask for any government subsidies.]

 

1/31/10, E1  "Taking it to the streets nuclear waste style" (Aaron Nathans) – Exelon Energy's Limerick nuclear plant [Montgomery County, PA] is running out of storage space, so they have applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to send ”a truckload or two” to the Peach Bottom plant [York County, PA].  [This is news? Low-level radiation is not harmful, and the NRC should not need to micromanage this sort of routine operation.]

The situation is attributed to the lack of “a permanent storage solution,” which is causing nuclear plants to store their waste onsite.  [The Obama Administration has apparently killed plans for a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, after years of study and over $10 billion of preliminary expenditures, without announcing an alternative. Maybe this is just as well, because it is time to permit recycling, but can you imagine how much transportation of nuclear waste would have been involved in implementing this scheme?]

           

1/30/10, A8, "List of so-called scientists appears to be pretty bogus," letter to editor (Raphael Ross) throws cold water on the list of over 31,000 scientists who have signed a statement: "We urge the United States Government to reject the global warming agreement - there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse is causing or will, in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

        The writer criticizes the lack of rigorous verification procedures for the names and scientific degrees on on-line submission forms.  Picking 20 names at random, he found only two matches on Google scholar that lists published scientific work and neither were climatologists.  And even if the petition is “not largely or wholly bogus,” he says, it “is peopled by ‘scientists’ without the expertise necessary to render an opinion on climate issues.”

[Bill Morris responds: I don't believe anyone has claimed that everyone on the list is a climate scientist, but there have been statements about 31,000 “scientists,” which admittedly involves some degree of overstatement.  Thus, I signed the statement myself, circa 1998 when there were 19,000 signers, yet do not consider myself a scientist.  I am a skeptical Chemical Engineer with a B.S. degree.  Perhaps we should say over “31,000 scientists, engineers, and informed laypeople,” but that gets a little cumbersome.

        Furthermore, the number of scientists who embrace the manmade global warming theory has been exaggerated far more egregiously.  An Op-Ed piece that I wrote, published in the 11/9/98 Delaware State News, provides the following background: The IPCC issued a report which is said to be inconclusive about any effect of human activity on climate.  Then just a few of the IPCC members wrote an executive summary stating that human activity is affecting the climate.  Even though just a few wrote the summary, global warming proponents continually refer to more than 2,000 scientists and economists working for IPCC who agree that there is a discernible effect of human activities on world climate.

       There are undoubtedly many eminent scientists among the over 31,000 people who have signed the statement, including climatologists.  However, scientists or not, signing a statement does not determine facts, it just indicates opinion.  The statement in question was a reaction to a bogus claim that “the science is settled” and there is an urgent need to curb carbon emissions without regard to cost or practicality.  

       The present system of government grants has polluted science.  The primary goal becomes getting the next grant rather than getting at the truth.  This helps to explain Climategate and other shenanigans of the global warming alarmists.]

 

1/29/10, A4, "Winter latest sign of climate change?" (Washington Post) – “This winter's extreme weather - with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures - is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)." Scientists quoted in the article are Amanda Staudt of the NWF and Richard Somerville, a lead writer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, [both of whom are presumably invested in supporting the manmade global warming theory.] 

       There is a reference to “a wealth of scientific evidence,” and the article says “the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that 2009 tied as the second-warmest year on record.  [The NOAA report, which is posted on line, states that global temperatures in 2009 “tied with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record.”  See also our 1/20/10 entry, which comments on data in this series.]

“The American public is increasingly skeptical that climate change is happening at all,” however, [to the frustration of climate alarmists.]

(1) Yale and George Mason University survey: 57% of respondents said global warming "is happening,” down from 71% in October 2008. And 50% were "very" or "somewhat" worried about global warming versus 63% in 2008.

       (2) Pew Research Center survey: people were asked to rank 21 issues in terms of their priority.  Global warming came in last, and this time “it was worse than usual” because only 28% of respondents (versus 35% in 2008) listed global warming as a top priority.

[Oh boy, what fun!  Let's whack a mole!  Climate is simply the average weather conditions in a region.  The weather is constantly changing, and so is climate.  But scientists do not know whether average global temperatures will rise or fall over the next 100 years, only that they are unlikely to stay put.

Increasingly, climate alarmists are falling back on the presumption that “everyone knows” manmade climate change is a huge threat because they don’t have any convincing proof to offer.  Remember the Sierra Club table at last September's "Community Day" affair on the University of Delaware's campus.  Their pitch:  "Want to stop climate change?" and directly underneath: "Sign here".  But it looks like an increasing number of people are not buying it.]

 

1/28/10, A1/A10, " Federal judge clears way for dredging to begin,” Jeff Montgomery - U.S. District Court judge Sue Robinson ruled that dredging the Delaware River main shipping channel from 40 to 45 feet can begin, but only for part of its 102-mile length from Cape Henlopen up to Philadelphia.  Several parties are involved in this conflict between economic and environmental concerns, which has been going on since at least 2001.  There is also an unresolved claim under the Clean Air Act, and two other lawsuits to block the dredging are pending in a federal court in New Jersey.

       Port interests say the region must accommodate deeper-bottomed vessels or lose billions of dollars in jobs and commerce.  Environmentalists claim the dredging could stir-up buried toxins and disrupt habitats for some aquatic life, including sturgeon.

       [The headline is misleading, since the decision is at best a partial victory in one of several lawsuits.  Jobs or no, this controversy may not be settled for years.  What ever happened to common sense?

Similar legal processes have been used to delay and defeat nuclear power.  We must pay attention to this, and the first step in getting the cheap and reliable energy that will be needed is to educate the public.]

 

1/28/10, A13, "W.VA. Wind farm agrees to protect bats" – Beech Ridge Energy of Rockville, MD, a wind power developer, settled a lawsuit by environmental groups concerned about potential harm to an endangered bat species.  24 turbines will not be built, and 31 proposed sites abandoned at a West Virginia wind farm.  Other turbines will be operated only during daylight hours for the period of the year (April 1 to mid-November) the bats are not hibernating.

[Presumably this arrangement will make power produced from these facilities even less economic than it would be otherwise, although the wind turbines will be able to operate – wind conditions permitting – during peak air-conditioning hours.  And what about birds, don’t they need protection too?]

 

1/28/10, A12  "GM's Md. plant plans could benefit Del. Workers," Andrew Eder – Union rules give preference to workers in the region of a particular plant, so workers laid off from the Boxwood plant have a chance to be hired at a GM plant in Maryland that is slated to produce motors for electric cars. 

       Long-time workers have an incentive to work a few more years to qualify for a full pension, [which would add to the financial pressures on GM.]  The new facility is to be funded in part by a Department of Energy grant, [so we're all paying for it.]

        [If electric cars catch on with taxpayer help, the frequency of electrical blackouts will increase.  Just one more reason to build new power plants ASAP.]

 

1/27/10, A12, “Markell takes hybrid for a spin: State courts car developer during tour across country,” Jeff Montgomery – Washington state-based AFS Trinity is promoting a hybrid automobile with a patented special feature, "super capacitor" electric storage devices that are used during power surges.  This reduces strain on batteries, increasing battery life.   AFS could start making cars, license their patents, or go out of business.  [The current situation is remindful of the early days of the automotive industry when many start-up companies failed to make the grade.]

       According to AFS Chairman Edward Furia, a plug-in hybrid with the AFS design would cost about $8,700 more than a Saturn Vue hybrid [which in turn is probably more expensive than a conventional car], but cost less to run.  And “Federal tax incentives would offset most of the extra costs.”  [There is no reason taxpayers should underwrite such incentives, let buyers decide what types of vehicles they want.]

        [The need for electricity in the U.S. could increase greatly if plug-in electric cars gain widespread acceptance, and will grow steadily in any case.  We can help to meet that need in two ways: (1) win the debate with climate alarmists and stomp out the idea that "renewable energy" can replace dependable energy sources; (2) jump start a resurgence of nuclear power.  Both solutions are covered in past microblogs and will continue to be emphasized.]

 

1/26/10 - Second day in a row without anything significant in the News Journal about climate or energy.  It's a chance to write about "Hormesis," a word that is probably not in your dictionary.  The concept is that a small amount of something (e.g., one pill a day) may be harmless or even beneficial, despite the fact that a large amount of the same thing (100 pills all at once) would be lethal.  Hormesis is important for nuclear energy, because a huge amount of money can be spent trying to prevent exposure to low-level radiation that would actually do no harm.

       Years ago, there were no data on the possible danger of low-level radiation, so the difference between zero levels of radiation (obviously harmless) and high levels (e.g., 50% fatality rate with exposure to 500,000 millirems) was extrapolated on a straight-line basis. Using such a procedure, aka "linear no threshold (LNT)," 10,000 millirems would kill 1% and 1,000 millirems would kill 0.1%.

       However, the LNT assumption is flat out wrong, because of hormesis.  "Cancer rates among people living in the Rocky Mountain States, which have the highest radiation exposure in the country, are 1/3 lower than the rest of the nation, while people living in the Louisiana Delta, which has the lowest exposure, have the highest rates of cancer in the country.  (Terrestrial Energy, William Tucker, 2008, p. 323).  Average exposure is about 350 millirems, but people living in the Ural Mountains receive about 10,000 millirems without apparent harm.

       There is much more, but this is a microblog.

 

1/25/10 - interesting news day for The News Journal, but nothing significant about climate change or energy.  So, let's consider a 2008 book – “Terrestrial Energy” by William Tucker -- that can help the U.S. move ahead on nuclear power.

       • Nuclear power plants are very safe if they are decently designed and competently operated. The Chernobyl design was poor, with no containment. Three Mile Island failure was the result of poorly trained operators, and a poorly designed control room.

       • Current operation of nuclear power plants is very safe with highly trained operators, including veterans of the U.S. nuclear submarine fleet.  There is continual training and re-training using mock-up control rooms, much like on-the-ground training of airline pilots.

       • The Price-Anderson law whereby the U.S. federal government provided back-up insurance is gone.  Now, each reactor has $300 million insurance from private insurance companies, plus $100 million back-up from each other reactor.  This is over $10 billion total.  Operators of nuclear power plants have a strong incentive to cooperate in safety matters.

       • Nuclear plant uptime has improved from about 60% (similar to other power plants) to about 90%.  Emphasis is on preventive maintenance vs. fixing things when they break down. 

• Spent nuclear materials are stored in water pools for months.  Then, after a large decrease in radiation intensity, they are placed in caskets, inside concrete where they could be kept onsite for 50 to 100 years.  However, we should be recycling nuclear materials, as is done by France, Britain, Russia and Canada.  After recycling and re-use, the leftover materials in France can be stored in one room.

       • Recycling was prohibited during the Carter administration for fear enemies could get bomb-making materials. This is not a problem, because spent nuclear material contains four plutonium isotopes and only one is useful for bombs.  Separation would be prohibitively difficult.

        In summary, the U.S. should join the rest of the world in recycling spent nuclear materials, and make whatever changes are needed so that nuclear power plants can be built in a reasonable amount of time.

 

1/24/10, E1/E6, "Lower energy projections put brakes on power lines," Aaron Nathans -

Regional power grid operator PJM “is dialing back its projections of future energy use amid a sluggish economy, increases in energy efficiency and the new economics of energy in the age of carbon consciousness." Plans for new power lines are being reassessed, especially power lines for electricity generated in the mid-west. Carol Overland, an attorney for opponents of a large power line in New Jersey, reportedly views the reassessment as “a chance to wean the country off fossil fuels and build the infrastructure around locally sited renewables without having to erect giant electrified structures in peoples’ backyards.”

        [The sluggish economy should go away unless perpetuated by misguided government policies.  Let’s hope that pressure from Tea Partiers and others will help in that regard – see next entry.] 

        The Department of Energy now forecasts that energy consumption will grow at a rate of 1% per year through 2035, vs. an annual growth rate of 1.8% projected in 2005.  Reasons cited for the changed outlook: (1) lower economic growth, (2) rising cost of coal-fired electricity due to “new pollution standards and the potential of a national carbon allowance trading program,” (3) new energy-saving standards for appliances and lighting, and (4) “smart meters” that will help cut peak power demands.

        Most of the people interviewed for the article favor the rethinking that is going on.  However, Bob Dobkin, a spokesman for Pepco Holdings [a large energy delivery company], sounds concerned.  “Do people want to have their lights on or not? Or do you not want that, because there’s coal-fired generation.”  [Bravo!]

        [Slow growth in energy demand can be expected if decisions are made that result in higher energy prices.  And closing coal-fired power plants, mandating increased use of renewable energy, etc. would surely raise prices.  Such decisions should not be made based on unproven theories and visceral feelings about fossil fuels, including – ugh – coal.]

        There is only one mention of nuclear power in the article, namely the addition of a third unit at the Calvert Cliffs plant [southeast of Washington, D.C. on the Patuxent River].  However, it is reportedly uncertain whether this expansion will proceed on schedule.  [Why not build a nuclear power plant in Delaware? It would make more sense than the wind power projects that are being proposed.]

 

1/24/10, A1/A22, "Del. Patriots shun debate in favor of proclamations," J.L. Miller – An excellent article [but only a small portion appears on the front page, with the rest buried in another section] about the 9-12 Delaware Patriots (now joined by the Delaware Tea Party), who have cast aside the “Delaware Way” for a more confrontational style.

        The two groups staged a “Welcome Back” rally Jan. 12 in front of Legislative Hall, and “presented legislators with lists of demands, not requests.”  Their issues include voter initiatives and referendums, gun rights, open primaries, and restrictions on illegal immigrants.  [Hopefully, these groups will also embrace sane energy and fiscal policies that can get the local and national economy back on track.]

 

1/23/10, A1/A5, "Valero nears deal on plant," Jeff Montgomery - PBF Investments is negotiating to buy the shutdown refinery at Delaware City.  Governor Jack Markell is credited with being “instrumental in these negotiations,” and the Delaware Economic Development Office has estimated that “the shutdown would cost the state’s economy $882 million.” 

Area residents reportedly approve because of restored jobs, despite restored emissions from the plant.  [If the deal goes through and the refinery starts back up, they will start complaining about smells from the plant again soon enough.]

PBS is a partnership, including Petroplus, Europe's largest refiner.  Thomas O'Malley is chairman of both Petroplus and PBF, and was the top officer of Premcor when they owned and operated the refinery, so PBF should know what it is doing.

       Although the tone of the article is upbeat, reporter Jeff Montgomery sounds a note of caution.  “While state officials are eager to see the plant saved, a restart would put the plant back among Delaware’s top sources of toxic and smog-forming pollutants. [Perhaps, but a reasonable balance between economic and environmental concerns is essential to keep the economy going.]

 

1/23/10, A10, "Peer-reviewed climate views are no longer trustworthy" - We have to love this heading (provided by The News Journal) for a letter to the editor by Jose Alvarez.  The letter replies to William Donohue's criticism of an Op-Ed piece by the prolific writer, William Morris.

       Donohue’s column quoted a statement from Wikipedia (a user-generated content site on the Internet) that the Medieval War Period was cooler than today.  Alvarez refutes the error, and another letter writer suggests that Donohue undermined his credibility by citing a source that Delaware students are taught is “unacceptable . . . for even the most basic of research papers.”

        Skeptics are beginning to dominate the letters to the editor section, and we should keep it up until we win.

 

1/22/10, A13, "East power goal: 20% wind by 2024" (Jeff Montgomery) – A government report assumes thousands of wind farms across the East to increase wind power to the 20% level by 2024.  [What a nightmare!  Wind turbines everywhere you look.]

       Achieving this result would require “billions in spending for transmission lines and other needs.” [In fact, the report says up to $90 billion in investment, much of it funded by the federal government (aka taxpayers).  And remember that wind turbines must be stopped when the wind is blowing too hard, and won't turn if there is too little wind. Let's hope that sensible Americans join in a "Whack a Mole" game, knocking this idea out of sight.]

        The report was from the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  [The DOE should be high on the "Government Department abolition list.”  As for the NREL, it is funded by DOE, but run by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, which in turn . . .] 

        Predictably, there is this statement [to intimidate anyone who might be worried about the high cost of wind power]:  "Scientists around the globe have concluded that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants are trapping more heat in the atmosphere, warming the world's oceans in ways that could cause dramatic climate changes worldwide." [No mention is made of the many scientists who think otherwise.]

        Chad Tolman of the Sierra Club Delaware Chapter is cited as an enthusiastic supporter of wind power, especially for Delaware as “it’s a coastal state that is very vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.”

[No members of Climate Change Common Sense were contacted for this story, but if we had been our comments might have been along the lines of our statements at a public hearing on January 12: In a nutshell, we question the purported link between human-caused carbon dioxide and global warming, and oppose the present requirement to buy 20% of energy in 2019 from "green" sources (wind turbines, solar panels and biomass).  To the extent that more “green” energy is to be purchased, we suggest expansion of nuclear power, which is dependable, economical, and safe.  For the full statements, see http://www.s-a-f-e.org/events.htm.]

 

1/21/10, A5, "Climate panel embarrassed by error-filled paragraph” (AP) reports the discovery of “five glaring errors” in one paragraph of “the world’s most authoritative report on global warming” (referring to an 838-page report issued in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC).  Notably, it was predicted that glaciers in the Himalayas would melt away by 2035, which may have reflected a transposition of a date “in a study from Russia that says glaciers could come close to disappearing by 2350,” and were melting faster than glaciers elsewhere.  [According to an earlier report in the London Times, the primary source for the error-filled paragraph was a 1999 news story in New Scientist, which in turn was based on “a short telephone interview” with a “little known Indian scientist.”]   

       Patrick Michaels, a scholar at the Cato Institute and “global warming skeptic,” is reported to have called for the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, to resign.  However, “the mistakes were found not by skeptics like Michaels, but by a few of the scientists themselves.”  [Michaels holds a PhD degree in ecological climatology. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and has served as a contributing author and reviewer for the IPCC.]

      While apologizing for the errors, the “climate panel and even the scientist who publicized the errors said they are not significant in comparison to the entire report” and “do not negate the fact that world-wide, glaciers are melting faster than ever.” [From what we have read, this trend is by no means universal.]

      Moreover, “a number of scientists” have reportedly said "the mistakes do not invalidate the main conclusion that global warming is without a doubt man-made and a threat."  [That assertion is the big error.  Ask 31,000 scientists.]

 

1/21/10, A10,  "DuPont to expand solar film production," Andrew Eder - DuPont plans to invest $175 million in its Circleville Ohio plant, backed by a $50.7 million tax credit.  [Still not a free market.  Taxpayers are being forced to support an uneconomical and undependable form of energy.  The unwritten story is the danger of electrical outages as demand increases up to about 50% in the next 25 years. What we need is government undoing.]

 

1/20/10, A9, "2000-2009 warmest decade on record" (AP) - "The 2000-2009 decade was the warmest on record, easily surpassing the previous hottest decade - the 1990s - researchers said Tuesday in a report providing fresh evidence that the planet may be warming at a potentially disastrous rate."  Source: a study by the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC).

[The phrase "on record" indicates that the study is about global temperatures “since records began” in 1880 rather than temperatures since the Earth’s inception.  Indirect records show considerably warmer temperatures in the past, e.g., about 125,000 years ago. This information is from ice cores - the records that Al Gore used to imply that high carbon dioxide concentrations caused high temperatures, although ocean temperature changes actually preceded carbon dioxide changes - undoubtedly due to the solubility change with temperature.

       The report is also misleading in another way.  By averaging data by decades, the NCDC avoids acknowledging that the warming trend stopped about ten years ago.  Annual data from the series (available on line) show that global temperatures in 2009 were cooler than those in 2005, 1998, 2003 and 2002, and tied with 2006.  Also, the average temperature in 2005 (supposedly the hottest year on record) was a mere 1.10 F above the 1901-2000 average combined land and ocean temperature of 56.90 F.  

       Calling this annual extension of the NCDC’s data series “fresh evidence that the planet may be warming at a potentially disastrous rate” is a bit of a stretch, we would say.  Researchers?  Spin Doctors more likely, wasting tax dollars.

       Bottom line:  Don't worry about the climate; the risk of a fiscal meltdown should be of far greater concern.]

 

1/18/10, A15, "Undeniable Climate Data," Paul Donohue Op-Ed is devoted to criticism of "Thankfully, Copenhagen Failed,” a 1/6/10 Op-Ed by Bill Morris, which Donohue characterizes as “full of misinformation.”  Here is Morris’s rebuttal:

       Granted that the U.S. did not bind itself to the Kyoto Protocol, this country has done plenty to limit CO2 emissions. Ethanol mandates and subsidies, average mileage requirements for new motor vehicles, and restrictions on development of untapped domestic petroleum reserves come to mind. The cost has certainly added up to “many billions of dollars,” if not more.

       Here is a valid point: "New nuclear plants would be good, but they're expensive and slow to install."  But a major reason for high costs and delays is obstruction by anti-nuclear zealots, and this country cannot afford to continue putting up with that.  If severe electrical outages result, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and others will share the blame.

       Why can’t “renewable” energy projects be undertaken without “political and economic incentives,” including Cap and Trade?  Inexpensive energy is needed, which the free market can provide.  Let the best projects win.

      Morris did not impugn the motives of scientists as such; he merely quoted several climate alarmists who seem more interested in getting their way than finding the right answers.

        It is well documented that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today’s climate.  A Wikipedia.com entry saying otherwise is hardly persuasive.  There is also ample evidence that the Earth’s climate has fluctuated over time, and no reason to believe that scientists can accurately predict whether global temperatures will rise or fall over, say, the next 100 years.

Donohue quotes New Scientist magazine as stating that if "Earth warms 7 degrees Fahrenheit this century, new deserts will make it mostly uninhabitable."  Wrong, because warmer means wetter.  Also, rising CO2 levels stimulate vegetation and would therefore contribute to greening of the deserts.

 

1/17/10, A2, "Antarctica goes green with launch of wind farm" – Halfway between U.S. and New Zealand science bases on the Ross Sea Coast of Antarctica, a $11 million wind farm has been built to decrease the risk of polluting the environment with oil spills and reduce carbon emissions. The facility will provide 11% of the electricity used by the two bases.

[A million dollars for each % sounds pricey.  As for reducing the risk of oil spills, why not just be more careful? This environmental feel-good hype might lead one to question the value of the Antarctic science gig.  And it exemplifies the fact that a small percentage of the Earth’s inhabitants may have ulterior motives for resisting the downfall of the human-caused global warming theory.]

 

Oil & Gas Journal Editor's Perspective, Week of 1/11/10 issue - Editor Bob Tippee is concerned that failure of healthcare legislation [fingers crossed!] will lead to a reinvigorated push for Cap & Trade.  He says the European Union has lost 5 billion Euros from fraudulent trades.  Criminals were buying emission allowances in countries where they didn't have to pay the Value Added Tax (VAT), reselling in VAT countries, collecting the tax from buyers, and absconding with the money.

[Corruption of this type would be inevitable with a “Cap & Trade” system, and the windfall profits for traders and financial firms would be far greater.  No wonder there is so much “business” support for this pernicious proposal.]

 

1/16/10, A11, "In Iran, education is grounds for incarceration," Paul Greenberg column is primarily about Iran government actions against those who get high marks in school and show any signs of thinking for themselves. 

Toward the end, Greenberg shifts to our world:  "The American method of suppressing dissent is more subtle and effective," he says, namely ostracism of those who deviate from intellectual fashion.  He cites the tactics used by “scientists” at the "formerly respected" climate analysis operation at East Anglia, as revealed by recently surfaced e-mails.  In brief, “anyone who harbored doubts about manmade climate change was to be treated as a heretic” and “reduced to unpersons in the scientific hierarchy, their work unpublished.”

        [The tide is turning, apparently, and climate alarmists are hunkered down, waiting for Climategate to blow over.  It's up to us skeptics to step up communication with the public.  When there is nothing different to say, repeat what you said before, perhaps in a different way.

 In a few months or a few years, the man-made climate idea will collapse, as did Eugenics – the idea that “inferior people” should have fewer children to keep the human race from going downhill – which was supported by many prominent people in the 1930s.  After World War II, as the late Michael Crichton notes in an appendix to “State of Fear” (Harper Collins, 2004), “nobody was a eugenicist and nobody had ever been a eugenicist.”]

 

1/15/10, A11/A14,  "Fisker, battery maker have deal," Andrew Eder - One day after talks were broken off with one battery supplier for its planned plug-in hybrid cars, Fisker Automotive announced a deal with another one.  The new supplier is A123 Systems (an MIT spinoff company).  Fisker plans to introduce an $87,900 car in September, and later to produce a less expensive model at the former GM Boxwood Road plant. [It is doubtful that either model would be marketable without federal tax credits for purchasers.]

Fisker will receive a $529 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to buy and retool the Boxwood Road plant.  It has received financing from several venture capital firms, but the DOE wants more equity capital.  A123 will help by investing up to $23 million ($13M cash, $10M stock) in Fisker.  By the way, A123 received a $249 million DOE grant last August. [Got all that?  Friends have reminded me that similar arrangements and the government control that went with them were characteristic of Fascism.]

[What is the excuse for government grants, loans and tax credits? The “green” jobs involved do not sound like much of a bargain, especially after considering associated job losses elsewhere in the economy.   Surely not the effect on global temperature, if any, and there are far more effective ways to reduce oil imports such as relaxing restrictions on development of untapped domestic oil and gas resources. 

The proliferation of plug-in cars could exacerbate the developing shortage of electrical capacity due to misplaced emphasis on wind turbines and solar panels.  More economic power sources will be needed, including fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.  We hope to foster a better public understanding of the advantages of nuclear power. 

In summary, Fisker is a risker.]

 

1/14/10, A9, "Quakes, floods, hurricanes; 'It doesn't get any worse' (AP) – The toll from a big earthquake in Haiti has been very high.  Poverty contributed to low building standards before the quake, and has slowed rescue and relief operations.  A similar pattern can be seen with the hurricanes and flooding of recent years. "It starts with poverty, includes deforestation, poor building standards, low literacy rates and then comes back to poverty."

        [Affluence is a big help in maintaining a good environment.  Haiti is an extreme example of the opposite.  Extreme environmentalists would have this country become more like Haiti.  Consider the push to shut down coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly half of our electricity.  That would decrease pollution somewhat; it would also predictably lead to electrical blackouts and contribute to the decline of the U.S. industrial base.

This country can afford to put up with stringent environmental standards because we are affluent, but the cost-benefit ratio needs to be kept reasonable. We certainly should not put up with a ridiculous threat by the EPA to declare life-giving carbon dioxide a pollutant.]

 

1/13/10 - No coverage re global warming or energy policy today, but we will point out that the News Journal did not have a reporter at last night's Wilmington public hearing re Delmarva Power's 10-year energy purchase plan. Too bad; they missed some citizen input (3-minute comments) that deviated from the standard and oft-repeated environmentalist talking points. 

Three members of "Climate Common Sense", a Delaware area organization, questioned the purported link between carbon dioxide and global warming.  We also opposed the present requirement to buy 20% of energy in 2019 from "green" sources (wind turbines, solar panels and biomass).  And to the extent that more “green” energy is purchased, we suggested expansion of nuclear power, which is dependable, economical, and safe.

 

1/12/10, A1/A2, "N.J. tells nuclear plant to build cooling tower," Jeff Montgomery - New Jersey regulators have recommended a cooling-water tower at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant (one of the nation’s oldest) to reduce "thermal pollution.” The plant takes in 662 million gallons of water daily from Forked River off Barnegat Bay (on the Jersey Shore) for cooling purposes, a practice long criticized by fishing and environmental groups. [We wonder whether energy from the hot water could be extracted in some manner, with a resultant economic benefit.]

 The new cooling system would reportedly cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with construction disrupting operations for years.  Exelon warns that it would “have no alternative” but to close the plant, which would increase consumer electricity costs by $190 million (annually?) and eliminate 1,700 jobs directly and indirectly. A public hearing is scheduled on February 24.

[In April 2009, after a lengthy review, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a 20-year extension of the operating permit for the Oyster Creek plant.  Now critics are apparently attacking it at the state level.  Let’s hope a lot of people attend the hearing, and let the regulators have it about the economic impact of this proposal.]

              Besides being important in its own right, the Oyster Creek recommendation is "expected to increase pressure for towers at the Salem nuclear plants.” The Salem facility (substantially larger than Oyster Creek) is located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River and operated by PSEG.  The recommendation could also “create momentum for modernization of water intakes at power plants and factories in Delaware,” not to mention discouraging investment in new nuclear plants. 

 

1/11/10, A1/A2, "For auto industry, the word is small (AP) – “Electric, hybrid and small cars will grab center stage at the Detroit auto show this week, as the industry adapts to a world reshaped by the Great Recession and environmental worries." [Sounds like Horse and Rabbit stew made from one Horse and one Rabbit.  Polls show most Americans would willingly spend almost nothing to respond to climate change, which is predictably going to happen anyway.]

       Much of the show’s buzz is expected to come from electric cars, which will be “expensive” (e.g., about $40,000 for a Chevy Volt) but will qualify for up to $7,500 in tax credits.  [Presumably these cars would not be purchased without the credits, which will be unwillingly paid for by taxpayers, and they may still be a tough sell.  What a bummer if a lot of these cars get sold and the country starts experiencing power outages.]

       Of local interest: Fisker Automotive, a plug-in hybrid electric car startup announced plans in October to retool and reopen the General Motors Boxwood Road plant. [Delawareans can hope that Fisker will have some kind of advantage.  It will need one to compete successfully with the experienced automakers, which can afford to lose money on electric cars in order to curry favor with the government.]

 

1/10/10, E5, "Showdown in the desert: tortoises vs. clean power" (AP) – The Sierra Club et al. want a proposed solar energy complex in the Mojave desert relocated to preserve what they call a near-pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including desert tortoises (federally protected), Western burrowing owls, and bighorn sheep.  Despite favoring solar energy projects, they say this one is “located in the wrong place.”  It could reportedly take months for state and federal regulators considering the plan to make a decision on the tortoises’ fate.

[An interesting version of NIMBY, pitting environmentalists against each other.  A more important conflict is between environmentalists who favor nuclear power because it doesn't emit CO2 and others who cannot get over their superstitious opposition to something they don't understand.]

 

1/10/10, B1 cont’d on B8, "Valero likely to be torn down," Jeff Montgomery – The Delaware City Refinery will be dismantled unless a buyer surfaces soon.  European refiner.  European refiner Petroplus has inspected the facility but made no offer.  Delaware state officials are concerned about the loss of hundreds of Delaware jobs and the impact on the state economy.

        [This might be a good site for a nuclear power plant if nearby residents were educated as to the advantages.  Public opinion polls show that 90% of those living near nuclear plants view nuclear favorably, as compared to a favorable view held by 70% of the general population.]

 

1/9/10, A6,  "Gore, DuPont due tax credits" (Bloomberg News) – As part of the $787 billion stimulus bill in 2009, $2.3 billion in tax credits will be spread among 283 companies.  The largest DuPont project was a tax credit to cover 30% of the cost of a capacity expansion for high-performance polyvinyl films (used in solar photovoltaic modules) at the Circleville, Ohio plant.  [If such a project makes sense, why should DuPont need a tax credit?]

The object of the tax credits, according to the article, is "to leverage clean-energy manufacturing projects in 43 states,” which will supposedly “create more than 17,000 jobs by 2014.”  The announcement came out on the same day as a U.S. Department of Labor report that 85,000 jobs were lost in December 2009. 

        [Claims of creating jobs are dubious.  A Spanish Economist has estimated that every job created by government subsidy of alternative energy results in the loss of 2.2 jobs elsewhere.]

        The Administration plans ask for a $5 billion expansion of tax credits to encourage alternative energy technology because the original offer was oversubscribed. [Signs should be placed all over Washington D.C  "When you are in a hole, stop digging."]

 

1/8/10 - This was not in the News Journal, but it should and perhaps soon may be, with a heading like: "Electricity shortage looms."

According to “Terrestrial Energy,” an excellent 2008 book by William Tucker, the on-stream time for nuclear power plants averaged only 60% in 1991. With improvements in operating procedures by retired nuclear submarine veterans and others, it was raised to 90% by 2001; "coal, responding to the competition has pushed (from 60%) up to 70%.”

Tucker says these improvements have added the equivalent of 23 new 1,000-megawatt reactors to the national grid.  That’s outstanding, but there is just so much room for further improvement.  Installation of new generating capacity must be accelerated to meet future needs.

            Instead, we see a push for uneconomical, undependable power sources, notably wind turbines and solar panels.  The main justification is to limit carbon dioxide emissions so as to supposedly slow global warming, while somehow ignoring nuclear power as a more viable alternative to fossil fuel power.

  Here is one more incentive to question the unproven link between manmade carbon dioxide and global warming.  Forget CO2, keep the lights on!

 

1/7/10, A1 (cont’d on A4), "Chill out - cold stretch is here to stay awhile" (AP) acknowledges chilly winter weather around the globe, but never mind because "experts say the cold snap doesn't contradict global warming at all - it's just a blip in the long term heating trend.”  Two scientists are quoted in support of this conclusion, and there is a general reference to “experts interviewed by the Associated Press.”

[We doubt the AP looked for experts who question “the long term heating trend,” but some top-flight scientists do just that. See, e.g., “The Climate Science Isn’t Settled,” Richard Lindzen (Professor of Meteorology, MIT), Wall Street Journal, 11/30/09.

Moreover, it is a mistake to assume that recent climate trends will continue/accelerate without looking at the longer-term record.  Remember the concerns about disastrous global cooling that came into vogue just as a cooling trend from about 1940 to 1970 was about to end?

Warming resumed from about 1970 to 2000, but has paused since then.  No one can be sure what will happen next, and it remains to be seen whether the weather this winter is “a blip.”  See the column in yesterday’s News Journal.]

 

1/6/10, A13,  "Thankfully, Copenhagen failed" – Op-Ed piece by William E. Morris covers the bases, concluding that global warming is not bad, and that we are not causing it.  Also, no one knows what will happen to the climate in the future and there is surely no need to worry about it. "The warming period may resume, and eventually reach the benign climate that our ancestors enjoyed during the Medieval Warm Period.  Or, there may be a very slow descent into another ice age."  [A third possibility would be a new Little Ice Age, in view of the present cold weather and the low activity of the Sun.] 

            [The News Journal's editorial pages have commendably covered both sides of the global warming debate. We need to continue taking advantage of this opportunity. For this column and some prior letters on global warming/energy and other topics, see 

http://www.s-a-f-e.org/letters.htm.]

 

1/6/10, B1, "Across Delaware, a lingering cold,” Angie Basiouny – This article reports on the “cold weather that has gripped the region for several weeks” and some of the problems that have been caused.  [No mention of the freeze down south, an exceptionally cold winter in Europe, and heavy snow in Beijing.  Also, no suggestion that such conditions are out of line with predictions of the global warming alarmists.]

 

1/6/10, A5, "Tribes seek protection to block Cape Wind plan" (AP) -Two Indian tribes say that wind turbines in Nantucket Sound would interfere with their sacred rituals. Their objections harmonize with opposition by the Kennedy family and others who consider wind turbines to be unsightly.  [They would also be uneconomical, unjustified, unnecessary, and unnerving for birds.  Better a nuclear power plant, which would be more economical and have a smaller environmental footprint.]

 

1/5/10, A8, letter to the editor (Gregory Inskip) attributes declines in Christmas bird counts for three bird species to loss of habitat rather than global warming.  “It is not as warm now,” he observes, as it was in 1998 or 1934.”  The National Audubon Society blamed global warming in a Jan 1 article, as we previously noted. 

        [Attribution of decreases in bird populations to warming is part of a pattern of blaming warming for as much as possible. 

Another example is blaming hot weather for premature deaths, even though more deaths are caused by extreme cold than by extreme heat.  Thus, the Medieval Warm Period was a favorable time for human beings. During the Little Ice Age that followed, crops failed, and about a third of Europeans died prematurely of the Plague, exacerbated when people huddled together indoors to keep warm.]

 

1/4/10, from 1/2 B3, "Md. marina may sell additive-free gas" - Gasoline with ethanol has damaged many boat engines, due to corrosion that occurs when a boat is stored, so the Ocean Pines marina plans a switch to unadulterated gasoline.  The corrosion problem is not significant for cars, [but there are other drawbacks of using ethanol in motor fuel.]

 [(1) Ethanol blends cut mileage without a compensating reduction in the cost of motor fuel, not to mention contributing to higher taxes for everyone.  Also, some small lawn mowers are very hard to start with ethanol blends – one SAFE member had to throw out a mower that was practically brand new.

        (2) There would have been an anti-pollution advantage years ago because fuel systems ran "rich", supplying excess gasoline to ensure enough gasoline reached each cylinder.  As ethanol contains oxygen, it would have made the mixture leaner and resulted in less unburnt fuel.  But this advantage does not apply for recent model cars with advanced fuel and exhaust systems.

(3) The so-called “energy independence” advantage of burning biofuels is partially offset by the use of petroleum in growing the corn used to make ethanol.  And don't forget the increased cost of food resulting from, in effect, burning food.

The only solid advantage is political.  Using ethanol for fuel makes some of the global warming alarmists feel good. It also benefits corn farmers and ethanol producers, who show their gratitude by supporting their representatives in Congress.  Oops!]  

 

1/3/10, A6,  "One family at a time, Sweden helping U.S. think green" (Washington Post) – Four Virginia families selected by the Swedish embassy are being coached by Swedish families to lower their use of fossil fuels.  Thus, one of the “Climate Pilot” families is installing a geothermal heat pump in their front yard and will cut back on consumption of meat.  The object is to reduce carbon emissions and thereby prevent global warming.  [It has not been demonstrated that global warming is bad, nor that reduced carbon emissions will prevent it.]

            Participation is voluntary, each family is linked with a Swedish family, and they are apparently enjoying the experience.  “But it remains unclear whether there is enough grass-roots support for a dramatic change in U.S. climate policy.”  [As the word “policy” suggests, such a change is improbable without government coercion. Equally telling is the reference to “European Union rules” that “require everything from energy-efficient building codes to disclosing a home’s overall carbon output when it goes on the market.”]

            In 2005, according to the article, greenhouse gas [carbon?] emissions were 23.5 metric tons per capita in the U.S. vs. 10.3 in Europe and 7.4 in Sweden.  The relatively high level of U.S. emissions is attributed to “what we burn for fuel and how much we drive.”  [A key reason that “fossil fuels account for nearly three quarters of our fuel mix” vs. “just more than half of Europe's" is that Europe makes more use of nuclear power.]

 

1/2/10 - No mention of climate or energy in today's News Journal, and no letters to the editor on any subject (which is unusual).  But last night, Fox News aired a one-hour TV special on global warming, including interviews with both alarmists and skeptics. 

Some of the Climategate e-mails were shown, including one by Michael Mann of Penn State (author of the discredited "Hockey Stick" plot of temperature versus year).

             Estimated cost of the "Cap and Trade" bill passed by the U.S. House was quoted as about $800 to more than $3,000 per family per year, which would cause most Americans to rebel. 

            The Senate is not disposed to pass "Cap and Trade", so the administration is threatening to have the EPA regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.  [A ploy to force the Senate to pass "Cap and Trade" - can you say "Backfire"?]

1/1/10, A1, cont’d on A4,  "Bird count tallies its 110th Christmas," Molly Murray - The author is one of the News Journal's leading climate alarmists, so we were not surprised to see observed changes in bird counts over the years attributed to global warming. Thus, Murray cites a February 2009 Audubon Society study showing that three species shifted their ranges about 250 miles north over the past 40 years. "The big question,” she goes on to speculate, “is how far they will be able to move in the face of climate change before they run out of habitat, food or even luck." [We fail to see a problem here.  Climate is always changing, as it has throughout the ages, and bird species can and will adapt.]

 

1/1/10, A17, letter by Fred Kleiner (we don't know him) cites the 1940 to 1975 temperature decrease while CO2 was increasing as one reason to doubt that CO2 is a major climate driver.  [Solid point!] He also says man-made CO2 constitutes only 0.1% of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere vs. 3.5% for natural CO2. [CO2 levels have risen about 35% since the start of the Industrial Revolution, which would suggest that about one-fourth of CO2 in the atmosphere is man-made on a cumulative basis.]

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