On Stopping Biden’s Deadly Energy Policies

Clarice Feldman writes at Climate Change Dispatch How Biden’s Deadly Plan For American Energy Can Be Stopped.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

It’s perfectly understandable for anyone concerned about energy production in the U.S. to be uneasy that Joe Biden appears to be winning this year’s contest for the White House.

Whether he makes it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. remains in doubt, but what is not in doubt is that, should that happen, he would have no substantial mandate.

The climate change part of the platform–like much of his party’s platform–seems to have little purchase other than the coastal bien pensants and the left-wing corporatists dreaming of yet another boondoggle financed by the taxpayers on the same pie-in-the-sky swindle as was Solyndra and California’s train to nowhere.

Of course, my ability to read the future is limited, but let me explain why I think much of what Biden has promised the far Left of his party to secure the nomination and their support, is unlikely to take shape.

At the moment the election in six states is still either still being counted, being challenged in court, or subject to a recount. Excluding those states, President Trump leads Biden 232 to 227 in the Electoral Vote totals. (270 electoral votes of 538 are needed to win the electoral college vote in January).

It is impossible in this fast-changing circumstance to keep track of all the litigation challenges in the various state-run elections. So far this compendium by OSU seems the most accurate.

I’ve seen some of the complaints filed or about to be in Michigan and Pennsylvania and they include numerous credible affidavits documenting substantial illegality. [See The Trapdoor US Election]

If the Supreme Court meant it when they said this twenty years ago in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 105 (2000), I have to believe that the counts in both those states simply do not meet the constitutional standard in Gore.

It must be remembered that “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 555 (1964).

If these recounts and challenges are not resolved by the December 14 cut-off date, the House of Representatives can choose the interim president and the Senate the interim vice president until the results are certified by the states.

In the House, the vote is by state and the Republicans hold the majority there, as they do in the Senate. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the state legislatures, they may under the constitution select their own slate of electors.

Republicans hold the majority in the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, the three states with the most electoral votes among the still disputed contests.

Given the uncertain outcomes, at this time it is preposterous to call Biden “president-elect.”

Nevertheless, there certainly is a reason for concern in the Democratic platform Biden ran on.

The platform reads like a prose version of the Russian film “Battleship Potemkin” substituting only the film’s motif of all forces of the population joining hands in revolution with everyone joining hands to keep the climate from changing. (It misses only scenes of fracking and gas rigs shooting at wounded veterans and orphans.)

Among the specifics are these:

  • A pledge to achieve “zero-net greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.”
  • Eliminating “carbon pollution from power plants through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency.
  • “Dramatically” expanding solar and wind energy deployment.”

The program specifics are even more sophomoric and fanciful, involving retrofitting buildings, setting even higher emissions standards for cars and trucks, including 500,000 school buses, and more in a program “to ensure racial and socioeconomic equity in federal climate, energy, and infrastructure programs.”

(My guess is this was written somewhere else besides California which the document says should again be allowed to set its own vehicle emission standards. I say that because rolling blackouts related to a similar set of juvenile energy policies in that state’s programs would seem to put something of a leash on these overweening goals.)

Biden also has pledged to kill the Keystone pipeline. On that score, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney indicates confidence he can change Biden’s mind, and perhaps he would be successful — pledges from Biden do seem to have a short life span.

He promised during the debates that he would not claim victory until all the state contests were certified. He already has done so when we are far from that point.

He’s also promised to crack down on “climate cheats” whoever they are; push the world on climate change, and invest $1.7 trillion to reduce global warming. At the same time, his team is advocating further coronavirus lockdowns and payouts to those unemployed because of them.

Now I could be wrong. He could have a secret invention to generate trillions of new dollars and is keeping it a secret along with a never-revealed way to fuel this economy without fossil fuels, but I’m suspicious of the ability to fund these grandiose plans or carry the platform’s promises out.

Even if he were crazy enough to try it, he will do so without a great deal of support. At the moment, the Democrats are hanging on to an even thinner majority in the House, having lost a number of seats they expected to win, and jeopardized more who in these weird times are labeled “moderates”.

The party is splintered and recriminations against the left are legion. It seems increasingly likely that the Blue Wave the media promised didn’t materialize and in fact, a Red Wave washed a lot of the Democrats out to sea.

There will be at least 50 Republican senators in the Senate with the likely prospect of two more once the Georgia runoffs are complete in January.

Without a majority in the Senate, Biden can’t revoke the industry-friendly fuel tax; he can’t restore or expand the federal tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles, he can’t repeal the Halliburton provision permitting fracking in the Safe Drinking Water Act, he can’t amend the renewable fuel standard post-2022, he can’t alter the Jones Act, and he can’t change the carbon price, etc.

Some have suggested he can achieve these goals simply through executive orders, and there are a few things he can achieve via this route, beginning with an area in which he has the freest hand — rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Some of the others, more troublesome to be sure, are regulatory actions like blocking oil and gas drilling on federal lands, allowing California to set independent standards for auto emissions and fuel economy, restricting access to low-cost capital for the fossil fuel industry, and setting fuel economy standards.

For these, judicial and public resistance are greater checks on his authority.

Chief Justice Roberts has displayed a penchant for fine-tooth-combing executive orders and rejecting them. The public — reeling from the devastation of the lockdowns, pleased with lower gas prices and anticipating a continued v-shaped recovery — are likely to find Biden’s extremism unwanted and make their opposition known.

Biden may squeak out an election victory. If so, it will have been a Pyrrhic one.

See also US Conflicted over Green Energy

 

 

Bulgarians Winning Covid Fight Using HCQ+, Canadians and Americans Losers

Bulgaria is protecting health care workers and outpatients the smart way, as reported here Hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19 in health care workers: Bulgaria.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) exerts antiviral effects through several mechanisms. Our initial experience suggests that HCQ could be used for prophylaxis of COVID-19 infection in health care workers (HCW) and could help to control the virus in the early disease stages. We suggest a prophylactic strategy with HCQ for autumn-winter-spring 2020-2021.

Providing adequate health care is vitally important during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep morbidity and mortality low. Health care workers (HCW) are key guarantees for this process, and they must feel safe and adequately protected, which includes reliable prophylactic measures (1).

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) could exert antiviral effects, essential for prophylaxis and early treatment of COVID-19, through several mechanisms: 1) endosomal pH increase, which inhibits SARS-CoV-2 entry through the host cells’ membranes; 2) inhibition of ACE2 cell receptor glycosylation, which impedes SARS-CoV-2-receptor binding; 3) blocking the transport of SARS-CoV-2 from early endosomes to endolysosomes, which prevents the release of viral genome; 4) immunomodulation; 5) limiting the post-viral cytokine-storm syndrome (2, 3).

We share the experience of the Bulgarian Cardiac Institute (BCI) regarding the use of HCQ for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19 in HCW.

BCI comprises seven hospitals and eight medical centers, with around 1200 HCW, covering more than two-thirds of Bulgarian territory.

Since March 2020, many of our employees were in close contact with COVID-19 cases. We offered prophylaxis with HCQ 200 mg qd for 14 days to 204 of them. 76.4% of the group (156 HCW) used HCQ and none of them presented with COVID-19 symptoms. Unfortunately, out of the rest 48 HCW that refused HCQ prophylaxis, three developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19.

During the last seven months, 38 HCW at BCI tested positive for COVID-19, half of them symptomatic.

We suggested the following treatment regimen as an early home-based therapy for them: azithromycin 500 mg qd; HCQ 200 mg tid and Zn up to 50 mg qd for 14 days. 33 (86.8%) of them undertook this treatment, with symptoms abolishing between 2nd and 4th day, none of them requiring hospitalization and with a negative PCR on 14th day for all.

In conclusion, our experience at BCI suggests that HCQ could possibly provide protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2 (prophylaxis), and could, if used early, help control the COVID-19 infection (treatment).

Based on this experience, we at BCI adopted a new prophylactic strategy for HCW starting from the 2nd half of October 2020. This includes alternative months of HCQ intake (200 mg qd) and months without therapy. We are planning to continue this prophylaxis regimen throughout the autumn, winter, and spring months.

See also Truth and Lies about HCQ Covid Regimen

From previous post:

Article is HCQ is effective for COVID-19 when used early: analysis of 118 studies.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

HCQ is an effective treatment for COVID-19. The probability that an ineffective treatment generated results as positive as the 118 studies to date is estimated to be 1 in 23 million (p = 0.000000043).

Early treatment is most successful, with 100% of studies reporting a positive effect and an estimated reduction of 63% in the effect measured (death, hospitalization, etc.) using a random effects meta-analysis, RR 0.37 [0.30-0.47].
100% of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) for early, PrEP, or PEP treatment report positive effects, the probability of this happening for an ineffective treatment is 0.002.
•There is evidence of bias towards publishing negative results. Significantly more retrospective studies report negative results compared to prospective studies, p = 0.04.
•Significantly more studies in North America report negative results compared to the rest of the world, p = 0.002.

Figure 2: Treatment stages.

Figure 2 shows stages of possible treatment for COVID-19. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) refers to regularly taking medication before being infected, in order to prevent or minimize infection. In Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), medication is taken after exposure but before symptoms appear. Early Treatment refers to treatment immediately or soon after symptoms appear, while Late Treatment refers to more delayed treatment.

Table 1. Results by treatment stage. 2 studies report results for a subset with early treatment, these are not included in the overall results.

Publication bias. Publishing is often biased towards positive results, which we would need to adjust for when analyzing the percentage of positive results. Studies that require less effort are considered to be more susceptible to publication bias. Prospective trials that involve significant effort are likely to be published regardless of the result, while retrospective studies are more likely to exhibit bias. For example, researchers may perform preliminary analysis with minimal effort and the results may influence their decision to continue. Retrospective studies also provide more opportunities for the specifics of data extraction and adjustments to influence results.

For HCQ, 87.5% of prospective studies report positive effects, compared to 69.8% of retrospective studies, two-tailed z test 2.07, p = 0.04, indicating a bias toward publishing negative results.

The lack of bias towards positive results is not very surprising. Both negative and positive results are very important given the current use of HCQ for COVID-19 around the world, evidence of which can be found in the studies analyzed here, government protocols, and news reports, for example [AFP, AfricaFeeds, Africanews, Afrik.com, Al Arabia, Al-bab, Anadolu Agency, Anadolu Agency (B), Archyde, Barron’s, Barron’s (B), BBC, Belayneh, A., CBS News, Challenge, Dr. Goldin, Efecto Cocuyo, Expats.cz, Face 2 Face Africa, France 24, France 24 (B), Franceinfo, Global Times, Government of China, Government of India, GulfInsider, Le Nouvel Afrik, LifeSiteNews, Medical World Nigeria, Medical Xpress, Medical Xpress (B), Middle East Eye, Ministerstva Zdravotnictví, Morocco World News, Mosaique Guinee, Nigeria News World, NPR News, Oneindia, Pan African Medical Journal, Parola, Pilot News, Pleno.News, Q Costa Rica, Rathi, Russian Government, Teller Report, The Africa Report, The Australian, The BL, The East African, The Guardian, The Indian Express, The Moscow Times, The North Africa Post, The Tico Times, Ukraine Ministry of Health Care, Ukrinform, Vanguard, Voice of America].

We also note a bias towards publishing negative results by certain journals and press organizations, with scientists reporting difficulty publishing positive results [Boulware, Meneguesso]. Although 88 studies show positive results, The New York Times, for example, has only written articles for studies that claim HCQ is not effective [The New York Times, The New York Times (B), The New York Times (C)]. As of September 10, 2020, The New York Times still claims that there is clear evidence that HCQ is not effective for COVID-19 [The New York Times (D)]. As of October 9, 2020, the United States National Institutes of Health still recommends against HCQ for both hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients [United States National Institutes of Health].

Treatment details. We focus here on the question of whether HCQ is effective or not for COVID-19. Significant differences exist based on treatment stage, with early treatment showing the greatest effectiveness. 100% of early treatment studies report a positive effect, with an estimated reduction of 63% in the effect measured (death, hospitalization, etc.) in the random effects meta-analysis, RR 0.37 [0.30-0.47]. Many factors are likely to influence the degree of effectiveness, including the dosing regimen, concomitant medications such as zinc or azithromycin, precise treatment delay, the initial viral load of patients, and current patient conditions.

News website Panorama.it has launched a petition to get the drug hydroxychloroquine officially reinstated so that Italian doctors can once again use it with patients. If not, some of them will go ahead and use it anyway. The retracted Lancet study and trials using lethal doses(!) of HCQ were enough to get it officially banned in Italy as in other countries. Except the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) has not yet reapproved it, despite studies showing its effectiveness. Here are excerpts of the Change.org petition translated from Italian:

At the moment there are no treatments of proven effectiveness to be administered at home. Because the only therapy that AIFA (Italy’s Medicines Agency) had authorized at home, the one based on hydroxychloroquine, has been blocked. It happened on May 26, after the publication of a study in The Lancet, which was withdrawn 13 days later.

Meanwhile, German GPs, who had administered 1,060,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine in March, continued to prescribe it. In the United States, three states lifted the ban on the drug in early August. In China, on August 19, the National Health Commission’s guidelines continued to recommend the active ingredient for Covid 19 patients. And on September 21, The Lancet itself retraced its steps, with a study claiming that hydroxychloroquine reduces mortality.

In order to save lives, we ask AIFA to restore the use of hydroxychloroquine for home patients in the very early stages of the disease, possibly even with an emergency procedure. Otherwise, we invite the Agency to provide shared protocols of treatment practicable in the territory.

Bankers Should Mind Their Own Business, not the Climate

John H. Cochrane writes at the Hoover Institution Central Banks and Climate: A Case of Mission Creep.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The following is adapted from John H. Cochrane’s remarks at the European Central Bank’s Conference on Monetary Policy: Bridging Science and Practice. His full presentation about the challenges facing central banks is here.

Central banks are rushing headlong into climate policy. This is a mistake. It will destroy central banks’ independence, their ability to fulfill their main missions to control inflation and stem financial crises, and people’s faith in their impartiality and technical competence. And it won’t help the climate.

In making this argument, I do not claim that climate change is fake or unimportant. None of the following comments reflect any argument with scientific fact. (I favor a uniform carbon tax in return for essentially no regulation, but this essay is not about carbon policy.)

The question is whether the European Central Bank (ECB), other central banks, or international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development should appoint themselves to take on climate policy—or other important social, environmental, or political causes—without a clear mandate to do so from politically accountable leaders.

The Western world faces a crisis of trust in our institutions, a crisis fed by a not-inaccurate perception that the elites who run such institutions don’t know what they are doing, are politicized, and are going beyond the authority granted by accountable representatives.

Trust and independence must be earned by evident competence and institutional restraint. Yet central banks, not obviously competent to target inflation with interest rates; floundering to stop financial crisis by means other than wanton bailouts; and still not addressing obvious risks lying ahead; now want to be trusted to determine and implement their own climate change policy? (And next, likely, taking on inequality and social justice?)

We don’t want the agency that delivers drinking water to make a list of socially and environmentally favored businesses and start turning off the water to disfavored companies. Nor should central banks. They should provide liquidity, period.

But a popular movement wants all institutions of society to jump into the social and political goals of the moment, regardless of boring legalities. Those constraints, of course, are essential for a functioning democratic society, for functioning independent technocratic institutions, and incidentally for making durable progress on those same important social and political goals.

It’s Not About Risk

The European Central Bank and other institutions are not just embarking on climate policy in general. They are embarking on the enforcement of one particular set of climate policies—policies to force banks and private companies to defund fossil fuel industries, even while alternatives are not available at scale, and to provide subsidized funding to an ill-defined set of “green” projects.

Let me quote from ECB executive board member Isabel Schnabel’s recent speech. I don’t mean to pick on her, but she expresses the climate agenda very well, and her speech bears the ECB imprimatur. She recommends that

“[f]irst, as prudential supervisor, we have an obligation to protect the safety and soundness of the banking sector. This includes making sure that banks properly assess the risks from carbon-intensive exposures. . .”

Let me point out the unclothed emperor: climate change does not pose any financial risk at the one-, five-, or even ten-year horizon at which one can conceivably assess the risk to bank assets. Repeating the contrary in speeches does not make it so.

Risk means variance, unforeseen events. We know exactly where the climate is going in the next five to ten years. Hurricanes and floods, though influenced by climate change, are well modeled for the next five to ten years. Advanced economies and financial systems are remarkably impervious to weather. Relative market demand for fossil vs. alternative energy is as easy or hard to forecast as anything else in the economy. Exxon bonds are factually safer, financially, than Tesla bonds, and easier to value.

The main risk to fossil fuel companies is that regulators will destroy them, as the ECB proposes to do, a risk regulators themselves control. And political risk is a standard part of bond valuation.

That banks are risky because of exposure to carbon-emitting companies; that carbon-emitting company debt is financially risky because of unexpected changes in climate, in ways that conventional risk measures do not capture; that banks need to be regulated away from that exposure because of risk to the financial system—all this is nonsense. (And even if it were not nonsense, regulating bank liabilities away from short term debt and towards more equity would be a more effective solution to the financial problem.)

Next, we contemplate a pervasive regime essentially of shame, boycott, divest, and sanction

“[to] link the eligibility of securities . . . as collateral in our refinancing operations to the disclosure regime of the issuing firms.”

We know where “disclosure” leads. Now all companies that issue debt will be pressured to cut off disparaged investments and make whatever “green” investments the ECB is blessing.

Last, the ECB is urged to print money directly to fund green projects:

“We should also consider reassessing the benchmark allocation of our private asset purchase programs. In the presence of market failures . . . the market by itself is not achieving efficient outcomes.”

Now you may say, “Climate is a crisis. Central banks must pitch in and help the cause. They should just tell banks to stop lending to the evil fossil fuel companies, and print money and hand it out to worthy green projects.”

But central banks are not allowed to do this, and for very good reasons.

A central bank in a democracy is not an all-purpose do-good agency, with authority to subsidize what it decides to be worthy, defund what it dislikes, and force banks and companies to do the same. A central bank, whose leaders do not regularly face voters, lives by an iron contract: freedom and independence so long as it stays within its limited and mandated powers.

The ECB in particular lives by a particularly delineated and limited mandate. For very good reasons, the ECB was not set up to decide which industries or regions need subsidizing and which should be scaled back, to direct bank investment across Europe, to set the price of bonds, or to print money to subsidize direct lending. These are intensely political acts. In a democracy, only elected representatives can take or commission such intensely political activities. If I take out the words “green,” the EU member states, and EU voters, would properly react with shock and outrage at this proposal. If the ECB bought different countries’ bonds at different prices and in different quantities to reward those making greater progress on “green” policy implementation, there would likely be an outcry.

That’s why this movement goes through the convolutions of pretending that defunding fossil fuels and subsidizing green projects—however desirable—has something to do with systemic risk, which it patently does not.

That’s why one must pretend to diagnose “market failures” to justify buying bonds at too high prices. By what objective measure are green bonds “mispriced” and markets “failing”? Why only green bonds? The ECB does not scan all asset markets for “mispriced” securities to buy and sell after determining the “right” prices.

Who Gets the Green Light?

At face value, “carbon emitting” does not mean just fossil fuel companies but cement manufacturers, aluminum producers, construction, agriculture, transport, and everything else. Will the carbon risk and defunding project really extend that far, in any sort of honest quantitative way? Or is “carbon emitting” just code for hounding the politically unpopular fossil fuel companies?

In the disclosure and bond buying project, who will decide what is a green project? Already, cost-benefit analysis—euros spent per ton of carbon, per degrees of temperature reduced, per euros of GDP increased—is lacking. By what process will the ECB avoid past follies such as switchgrass biofuel, corn ethanol, and high-speed trains to nowhere? How will it allow politically unpopular projects such as nuclear power, carbon capture, natural gas via fracking, residential zoning reform, and geoengineering ventures—which all, undeniably, scientifically, lower carbon and global temperatures—as well as adaptation projects that undeniably, scientifically, lower the impact on GDP? Well, clearly it won’t.

The ECB is embarking on one specific kind of green policy, popular at the cocktail parties at Davos, but having little to do with cost-benefit analysis or science of climate policy.

In sum, where is the analysis for this program? I challenge the ECB to calculate how many degrees this bond buying plan would lower global temperatures, and how much it would raise GDP by the year 2100, in any transparent, verifiable, and credible way. Never mind the costs for now: where are the benefits?

And how would the ECB resist political pressure to subsidize all sorts of boondoggles? If the central bank does not have and disclose neutral technical competence at making this sort of calculation, the project will be perceived as simply made-up numbers to advance a political cause. All of the central bank’s activities will then be tainted by association.

This will end badly. Not because these policies are wrong, but because they are intensely political, and they make a mockery of the central bank’s limited mandates.

If this continues, the next ECB presidential appointment will be all about climate policy: who gets the subsidized green lending, who is defunded, what the next set of causes is to be, and not interest rates and financial stability. Board appointments will become champions for each country’s desired subsidies. Countries and industries that lose out will object. This is exactly the sort of institutional aggrandizement that prompted Brexit.

If the ECB crosses this second Rubicon—buying sovereign and corporate debt was the first—be ready for more. The IMF is already pushing redistribution. The US Federal Reserve, though it has so far stayed away from climate policy, is rushing into “inclusive” employment and racial justice. There are many problems in the world. Once you start trying to shape climate policy, and so obviously break all the rules to do it, how can you resist the clamor to defund, disclose, and subsidize the rest? How will you resist demands to take up regional development, prop up dying industries, subsidize politicians’ pet projects, and all the other sins that the ECB is explicitly enjoined from committing?

A central bank that so blatantly breaks its mandates must lose its independence, its authority, and people’s trust in its objectivity and technical competence to fight inflation and deflation, regulate banks, and stop financial crises.

A Narrow Role, and Essential

Working for a central bank is a bit boring. One may feel a longing to do something that feels more important, that helps the world in its big causes. One may feel longing for the approval of the Davos smart set. Why does Greta Thunberg get all the attention? But a central bank is not the Gates Foundation, which can spend its money any way it likes. This is taxpayers’ money, and regulations use force to transfer wealth between very unwilling people. A central bank is a government agency, and central bankers are public servants, just like the people who run the DMV.

Central banks must be competent, trusted, narrow, independent, and boring. A good strategy review will refocus central banks on their core narrow mission and let the other institutions of society address big political causes. Boring as that may be.

See also:  Financiers Failed Us: Focused on Fake Crisis

 

 

US Conflicted over Green Energy

Joel Kotkin writes at Real Clear Energy Democrats’ Energy Dilemma.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The biggest challenge facing a putative first-term Joe Biden administration and the Democratic Party may lie with energy policy, where gentry and green wishful thinking confront the daily realities of millions of middle- and working-class Americans.

Democrats could choose a climate policy that allows for gradual change – for example, transitioning from coal to natural gas – and consider the feasibility of smaller and safer nuclear plants, while keeping the productive economy afloat. But Biden, despite some wriggling about fracking on private land, just last week committed himself to the gradual eradication of the fossil fuel industry. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, is beloved by California’s extremist greens.

Already, in anticipation of a Democratic sweep, utilities are putting some natural gas projects on hold – threatening a powerful growth engine in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. If Biden continues to embrace the basic thrust of the Green New Deal, if not its full-bore socialist program, the impact could be devastating for manufacturing areas that compete with China, which depend largely on natural gas, coal, and nuclear power to keep costs down. These state economies cannot fantasize, as some do in California, that the resulting social costs will be paid for by the wealthy digerati; lacking sufficient numbers of the rich and famous, these states will be hit hard, and fast.

If, as seems likely, victorious Democrats enact legislation broadly derived from the Green New Deal, major blowback – and economic disruption – seems inevitable. Biden and Harris have been almost comically inconsistent in their statements about fracking, but they’re certainly hostile to it: if they win the White House and pursue a ban, it would likely drive higher prices for energy, reduce national energy self-sufficiency, and cause massive job loss among a large number of Americans, particularly in key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The critical gentry-green alliance

Energy effects so many other things – our daily bills, whether an employer locates in our town, our already-frayed economic mobility – and is thus a far broader issue, in terms of its consequences, than, say, abortion or race reparations, which often appeal to limited, albeit passionate, constituencies. Energy policy is certain to fracture the Democrats along ideological, class, and geographic lines.

In the past, Democrats tried to appeal to workers and communities connected to the oil and gas industries. Over the past decade or so, these constituencies have generally expanded; they tend to be unionized and well-paid. Yet today, organizations like the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, once a militantly left union, have far less influence on Democratic politics, while the Sierra Club and its allies among the tech oligarchs and, increasingly on Wall Street, have much more.

You don’t have to be Karl Marx to see the reasons why financial and tech moguls support a restrictive energy regime despite the challenges posed by the high cost and intermittent nature of renewable energy. Being “green” is great if you make such stupendous profits that a few million more dollars in energy costs won’t make much difference to your bottom line. And besides, both Wall Street and the tech moguls have become heavy investors in “green” energy schemes that, due to subsidies and tax breaks, guarantee virtually assured profits.

The “Brahmin left” – as economist Thomas Picketty puts it – benefits politically and economically from centrally imposed scarcity, under the pretext of “human survival.” These interests – notably the tech elites – have lined up massively behind Biden’s exceedingly well-funded campaign. Long before they settled on Biden, Kamala Harris, as California attorney general, was an aggressive enforcer of California’s often-draconian climate and planning laws.

Class warfare by other means

In adopting an ultra-green perspective, Democrats have made a choice to favor their backers among the fantastically rich and on Wall Street, who can use green investments to correct their increasingly low standing among the masses. Get rich, go green – and preen. Tech elites and their Wall Street allies – as opposed to populists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – were clear winners of the Democratic primaries.

Whatever its derivation, the green energy agenda doesn’t harmonize easily with the notion of Democrats as the “party of the people.” It represents a direct threat to the party’s once-vital working-class base. In the past, Democratic voters came in large part from the working class. Today, Democrats do better among well-educated “knowledge workers” and the prestigious companies that employ them. This leads some progressives to believe that white working-class voters are no longer critical to the party’s chances.

This voting bloc is shrinking, true, but it still constitutes as much as 44 percent of the electorate, Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira points out. These voters provided a critical boost to President Obama’s electoral success and later to Donald Trump’s. Teixeira argues that the Democratic focus on cultural and green issues, as opposed to more lunch-bucket concerns, has limited appeal to the working class. Certainly extreme environmental policies, as seen in California, hurt poor and minority populations – and electric-car production and solar plants pose their own, though rarely reported, environmental problems.

Middle- and working-class voters may say that they want a cleaner climate – and most do want something done about climate change – but generally, they consider environmental issues low priority, and they tend to be skeptical of the costs associated with ambitious programs like the Green New Deal. Democrats may feel that minorities will support anything the party proposes as long as racism is invoked, but “people of color” are also people with their own economic interests and families to support.

Today, barely 58% of all working-class Americans are white. According to a 2016 Economic Policy Institute study, nonwhites will become the majority of the working class by 2032. In Green New Deal states like California, policies have increased “energy poverty” and taken away good blue-collar jobs, particularly for the heavily Latino working class.

Regional challenge

Energy policy is unlikely to turn California and most coastal states red (unless you’re using the traditional political meaning of that color). The potential havoc is clearer, though, in parts of the country where low energy prices and production are primary elements of the economy. One can only imagine the damage to the Democratic Party when, despite promises to the contrary, Biden and his presumed heir Harris eventually find a way to “ban” through regulations fracking in places like Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In Texas alone, by some estimates, 1 million jobs would be lost. Overall, according to a Chamber of Commerce report, a full ban would cost 14 million jobs, far more than the 8 million lost in the Great Recession.

The effects will be particularly severe in the Rust Belt, still the fulcrum of American politics. Trump may be underperforming in high-end suburbs, but he’s still doing well in once-Democratic parts of the Midwest, such as Minnesota’s mining country. Beyond the extractive industries, far bigger sectors – logistics, agriculture, and manufacturing – would face serious problems with intermittent and expensive “green energy,” as a recent MIT report suggests. These policies have already been tied to persistent blackouts in California that forced the Golden State to depend on imported energy and delayed its planned decommissioning of gas plants.

These realities may not be enough to save Donald Trump at the polls, but over time, they could further alienate voters in a broad swath of states that generally determine the country’s political future. Ultimately, the test for Joe Biden, and his party, lies in the old union slogan: “Which side are you on?” If Democrats adhere blindly to California’s Ecotopian absolutism, glasses may clink at Davos, on Wall Street, and in San Francisco, but “the party of the people” will surrender its historic legacy – perhaps permanently.

Solar and Wind Energy Underestimated? Not.

Source: Smil (2012) and IEA

The first part of this post is a report that the IEA is accused of underestimating the amount of solar and wind power in recent years.  The second part presents analyses showing that media hype and misinformation lead the public to routinely overestimate the portion solar and wind contribute to power modern societies.

The IEA is under pressure about their wind and solar energy numbers, as reported at energypost.eu World Energy Outlook 2020: IEA responds to some difficult questions.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The IEA has issued an FAQ to try to answer some persistent questions and criticisms about their annual World Energy Outlooks (WEO). How come the growth of solar and wind have been consistently underestimated? When is “peak oil” going to happen? Will the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C this century? Is it realistic? Why has a “Net Zero Emissions by 2050” (NZE2050) pathway been added this year? Do the IEA scenarios rely too much on carbon capture? In this article the IEA forcefully emphasizes that a WEO “…is not, and has never been, a forecast of where the energy world will end up.” It’s to explore pathways. Only governments and citizens can make any of it a reality.

Regarding the NZE2050, “unparalleled changes across all parts of the energy sector would need to be realized simultaneously, at a time when the world is trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic”, something that is clearly not happening, says the IEA.

Q. The WEO has been accused of underestimating the growth of renewable energy technologies such as solar PV and wind. Why is this? And are its latest numbers more accurate?

A. This accusation results from a misunderstanding or mischaracterisation of the WEO’s scenarios, as outlined in the answer above. The spectacular growth of wind and especially solar PV over the past two decades has far outstripped many projections made during the period. This is true for the projections included in past editions of the WEO, which were based on the policies that had been put in place or proposed at the time of publication. Significant new policies that were announced subsequently changed the trajectories of wind and solar by generating new demand and investment, thereby helping foster technological advances and cost declines.

A good example of this is China, where policies and targets for solar strengthened dramatically after 2007, putting China on a path to becoming a driving force for solar worldwide.

The projections in this year’s WEO reflect the continuing technology advances and cost declines of wind and solar. In the STEPS, renewables meet 80% of the growth in global electricity demand to 2030. Solar is the main driver of growth, becoming the new king of electricity markets worldwide as it sets new records for deployment each year after 2022, followed by onshore and offshore wind. The advance of renewable sources of generation, and of solar in particular, is much stronger in the SDS, where solar generates 13 times as much electricity in 2040 as it did in 2019. Growth is even more rapid in the NZE2050.

So IEA answers the criticism by claiming a rosy future for renewables compared to past performance.  Left out is any reference to how small is the baseline, which makes easy impressive growth numbers.  Left out also is any measure of the proportion of total energy supply coming from renewables, specifically wind and solar, despite referring to solar as “the new king of electricity markets worldwide.”  That misleading lack of perspective is addressed in a previous post reprinted below.

Exaggerating Green Energy Supply (previous post)

dave_gangland

As noted here before, public opinion surveys are often “push polls”, raising issues like climate change as part of an effort to promote public concern.  Such surveys also inform activists how successful or not has been the media messaging in generating belief and support for climate policy proposals.

Sometimes the questionnaires are manipulated to show the greatest possible public awareness and support..  For example, see:  The Art of Rigging Climate Polls.

Other times, the survey is used to chide the public for failing to buy into claims and propaganda prominently advanced in the media.  For example, see: “Hottest Year” Misdirection, where mainstream media claims 17 of the last 18 years were the hottest on record, while the public in 37 countries guessed only 9.  After checking the data, the correct answer is more likely 5.

That same survey, Perils of Perceptions, reported that in most countries the public overestimates how much green energy they consume.  That finding is the subject of this post.  As we will see, energy from renewables is perceived to be much higher than numbers from the World Bank. 

And since those numbers are themselves exaggerated, the gap between virtuous green behavior and performance is even greater than stated.

The renewable energy finding from Ipsos (here):

The majority of countries overestimate the amount of energy used that comes from renewable sources in their country. The average guess is 26% when it’s actually only 19%. Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China and Singapore were the furthest out; some countries, though, actually underestimate how much progress they have made with renewables, such as Sweden and Montenegro.

Now, 19% of energy consumed coming from renewables looks high to me, so let’s explore two of the countries:  Canada and the Netherlands.

First, The Canadian Story on Green Energy Supply

energyuse

Question is Framed to be Misleading

Note that wind and solar power are presented as examples of renewable energy sources, when in reality hydro and nuclear are much larger sources of power (electricity). Note also respondents are led to confuse power with total energy, which is a much larger amount.

What is the Reality of Canadian Energy Supply (Consumption)

World Bank shows 22% of Canada’s total energy consumption was from renewables in 1990 and 2015.

Let’s test that number against the Canadian Energy Fact Book 2016–2017 (which presents 2014 as the latest statistics).  The categories are defined nicely in this diagram:
Energy FlowWorking from the top down, first is the mix of total primary energy supply by source:
Canada Primary Energy Supply
In this fact book, energy supply is equivalent to energy consumed, since it is calculated after adjusting for energy imports and exports. Note that 17.7% is the amount of energy from renewables, and hydro is 11.6%.   Let’s see how much of renewable energy comes from wind and solar:
Canada Renewable EnergySo Canadians actually consume 4.35% of their renewable energy from wind and solar. 92% of Canadian renewable energy comes from the traditional sources:  Hydro dams and burning wood.

Combining the two tables, we see that 80% of the Other Renewables is solid biomass (wood), which leaves at most 1% of Canadian total energy supply coming from wind and solar.

Second, the Netherlands Green Energy Story

According to the Ipsos Perils of Perception survey, respondents from the Netherlands said on average 22% of their energy is Green, while the World Bank says only 6% comes from Green sources.  Last year there was a provocative and entertaining analysis of Dutch perceptions versus green energy realities broadcast on a popular Sunday morning TV show.  The episode was called Green Electrical Shocks, and is provided below for your enjoyment and edification.

Green Electrical Shocks

 

On Sunday Feb.4, 2018, a weekly news program aired in the Netherlands on the titled subject. H/T Climate Scepticism. The video clip is below with English subtitles. For those who prefer reading, I provide the substantial excerpts from the program with my bolds.

How many of you have Green Electricity? I will estimate 69%
And how much nationally? Oh, 69%!
So we are very average, and in a good way, because the climate is very important.

Let me ask: Green electricity comes from . . .?
Yes, electricity produced from windmills and solar panels.
Nearly 2/3 of the Dutch are using it. That’s the image.

Well I have green news and bad news.
The green news: Well done!
The bad news: It is all one big lie.
Time for the Green Electrical Shocks.

Shock #1: The green electricity from your socket is not green.
When I switched to green electricity I was very proud.
I thought, Yes, well done! The climate is getting warmer, but not any more thanks to me.

Well, that turned out to be untrue.
All producers deliver to one communal grid. Green and grey electricity all mix.
The electricity you use is always a mix of various sources.
OK. It actually makes sense not to have separate green and grey cables for every house.
So it means that of all electricity, 69% is produced in a sustainable way. But then:

Shock #2: Green Electricity is mostly fake.
Most of the green electricity we think we use comes from abroad.
You may think: So what. Green is green.

But that electricity doesn’t come from abroad, it stays abroad.
If you have green electricity at home, it may mean nothing more than that your supplier has bought “green electricity certificates”.

In Europe green electricity gets an official certificate,
Instead of selling on the electricity, they sell on those certificates.
Norway, with its hydro power, has a surplus of certificates.
Dutch suppliers buy them on a massive scale, while the electricity stays in Norway.

The idea was: if countries can sell those certificates, they can make money by producing more green electricity.
But the Norwegians don’t produce more green electricity.
But they do sell certificates.

The Dutch suppliers wave with those certificates, and say Look! Our grey electricity is green.
Only one country has produced green electricity: Norway.
But two countries take the credit.
Norway, because they produce green electricity, and the Netherlands because, on paper, we have green electricity. Get it? That’s a nice deal.

More and more countries sell those certificates. Italy is now the top supplier.
We buy fake green electricity from Italy, like some kind of Karma ham.

Now, let’s look again at the green electricity we all think we use.
So the real picture isn’t 69%. If you cancel the certificates, only 21% of electricity is really green.
Nowadays you can even order it separately if you don’t want to be part of that Norway certificates scam.
You may think: 21% green is still quite a lot. But it is time for:

Shock #3: Not all energy is electricity.
If you talk about the climate, you shouldn’t just consider electricity but all energy.
When you look at all energy, like factories, cars, trains, gas fires, then the share of consumer electricity is virtually nothing.
If you include everything in your calculation, it turns out that only 6% of all the energy we use in the Netherlands is green. It is a comedy, but wait:

Trees converted into pellets by means of petroleum powered machinery.

Shock #4: Most green energy doesn’t come from sun or wind, like you might think.
Even the 6%, our last green hope, is fake. According to the CBS we are using more sun and wind energy, but most of the green energy is produced by the burning of biomass.
Ah, more than half of the 6% green energy is biomass.

Ridiculous. What is biomass really? It is organic materials that we encounter every day.
Like the content of a compost heap. How about maize leaves or hay?
The idea behind burning organic materials is that it will grow up again.
So CO2 is released when you burn it, but it will be absorbed again by new trees.

However, there is one problem. The forest grows very slowly and our power plants burn very fast.
This is the fatal flaw in the thinking about biomass. Power plants burn trees too fast, so my solution: slow fire. Disadvantage: it doesn’t exist. So this is our next shock.

Shock#5: Biomass isn’t all that sustainable.
It’s getting worse. There aren’t enough trees in the Netherlands for biomass.
We can’t do it on our own. We don’t have enough wood, so we get it from America.

In the USA forests are cut at a high rate, Trees are shredded and compressed into pellets.
These are shipped to the Netherlands and end up in the ovens of the coal plants.
It’s a disaster for the American forests, according to environmental groups.

So we transport American forests on diesel ships to Europe.
Then throw them in the oven because it officially counts as green energy.
Only because the CO2 released this way doesn’t count for our total emissions.

In reality biomass emits more CO2 than natural gas and coal.
These are laws of nature, no matter what European laws say.
At the bottom line, how much sustainable energy do we really have in the Netherlands?
Well, the only real green energy from windmills, solar panels etc. Is only 2.2%. of all the energy we use.

In Conclusion
So the fact that 2/3 of the audience and of all Dutch people use green electricity means absolutely nothing. It’s only 2.2%, and crazier still, the government says it should be at 14% by 2020.
They promised: to us, to Europe, to planet Earth: 14 instead of 2.2.

Instead of making a serious attempt to save the climate, they are only working on accounting tricks, like buying pieces of paper in Norway and burning American forests.
They are only saving the climate on paper.

Summary Comment

As the stool above shows, the climate change package sits on three premises. The first is the science bit, consisting of an unproven claim that observed warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The second part rests on impact studies from billions of research dollars spent uncovering any and all possible negatives from warming. And the third leg is climate policies showing how governments can “fight climate change.”

It is refreshing to see more and more articles by people reasoning about climate change/global warming and expressing rational positions. Increasingly, analysts are unbundling the package and questioning not only the science, but also pointing out positives from CO2 and warming.  And as the Dutch telecast shows, ineffective government policies are also fair game.

More on flawed climate policies at Reasoning About Climate

 

An End to Frivolous Climate Lawsuits?

Craig Richardson writes at Real Clear Energy The Supreme Court Is Taking Critical Step Towards Resolving Frivolous Climate Suits. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Sometimes the most important Supreme Court decisions are overlooked because of their technical nature. That is the case with the Supreme Court’s choice to hear jurisdictional claims in B.P. P.L.C., et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.

The Court’s ruling will either allow cities to pursue superfluous nuisance claims against energy companies in state courts or limit the suits to federal courts that are less prone to accept broad liability claims.

These jurisdictional claims are significant because they set the appropriate scope of appellate review for these suits. Lawsuits predicated on federal laws and involving federal officers’ actions should be decided at the federal level. By agreeing to hear arguments in the Baltimore case, the Supreme Court is taking a crucial step towards setting a consistent legal playing field.

The Supreme Court will not rule on the merits of Baltimore’s claims. Instead, they will decide whether the defendants can appeal a jurisdictional claim after a federal court rejects it.

Under existing law, it is clear the defendant can appeal aspects of the decision, but not whether the whole claim is fair game. A ruling in favor of the defendants would force multiple Circuit Courts to reevaluate their previous rulings and rehear jurisdictional claims by the energy companies.

Even though the justices won’t decide on the merits, the key is the context of Baltimore’s lawsuit. For years, city and state officials have been – in partnership with trial lawyers and leftist environmental groups – twisting the meaning of public nuisance laws to sue energy companies for their alleged contributions to climate change, even though these companies aren’t breaking the law. In recent months, localities have filed even more suits, making it especially important that lower courts know whether these cases should be resolved at the federal or state level.

These suits aren’t about helping the environment but are filed by leftist politicians and their backers hoping to score political points as they desperately attempt to fill their city or state coffers.

A senior Rhode Island official said the state’s climate lawsuit was designed to create a “sustainable funding stream” for Rhode Island. The state is desperate for funding because decades of big-spending policies have left Rhode Island officials with a budget deficit approaching $160 million.

In another instance, San Mateo County filed a lawsuit claiming there was a 93% risk of deadly floods by 2050 while telling municipal investors they had nothing to worry about. The S.E.C. is now investigating the county for fraud, and it is clear its lawsuit is motivated by politics, not science.

Instead of addressing climate change or working to build a sustainable future, leftist officials are trying to profit off energy companies, which would drive up the cost for all Americans. Given the clear political undertones of these cases, and the potential devastating impact on the U.S. economy, they must receive a fair hearing in a neutral venue.

It shouldn’t be surprising that state and city officials are fighting to have the cases heard in the state courts, the most favorable jurisdictions possible for them. Local officials are confident they can find a state judge who will issue a broad ruling against the energy companies, which would be difficult to overturn on appeal, regardless of the merits.

This outcome would be a disaster for energy companies and their customers, who would have to worry about individual state judges’ whims. These judges could create a mishmash of legal rulings that ends up being totally incoherent. It is easy to imagine a scenario where the defendants prevail in most of these frivolous lawsuits but lose a few in unfriendly jurisdictions and all of us will pay the price monetarily.

Additionally, state courts shouldn’t be addressing national political issues, especially on climate change, an issue that in the past the Supreme Court ruled should be handled by Congress and the president, not state courts. If laws need to be changed, Congress should change them, instead of having individual judges legislate from the bench. Some courts have already dismissed similar climate suits for this very reason.

Allowing state courts to decide debates of global importance is a recipe for disaster.

Generally, federal courts “are far less likely, as a whole and with some exceptions, to be willing to entertain expansive theories of liability than state courts,” according to George Mason University law professor Donald Kochan. This means federal courts are unlikely to perform legal gymnastics to try and hold energy companies accountable when it is clear they are operating within the law and have permits from the government.

Green Trucks May be Fraud

Another Green Energy dream product is looking like a swindle.  Despite California’s declaring an end to fossil fuel vehicles, these trucks are little more than smoke and mirrors.  Stef Schrader explains at The Drive Now the Justice Department Is Looking Into the Nikola Fraud Allegations. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The DOJ is joining the Securities and Exchange Commission’s probe into claims that Nikola misled investors with overblown claims about its own tech.

The U.S. Department of Justice has now initiated a probe into the allegations that electric and hydrogen truck startup Nikola made misleading claims about its technology to investors, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Justice Department is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the probe, who already started examining these allegations.

Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office are looking into reports that Nikola misrepresented its progress in developing technology that was key to its upcoming models.

Nikola came out swinging with big promises, including a hydrogen fuel cell semi-truck capable of going 750 miles per fill-up and a 600-mile-range electric pickup that would beat even the recently unveiled EV range queen, the 517-mile Lucid Air.

The company’s initial public offering was in June, which went so well that the company rocketed up to a $26.3 billion market valuation, which made its CEO Trevor Milton the 188th richest person in the world.

Nikola has been in a back-and-forth fight this month with self-proclaimed short seller Hindenberg Research, who published a detailed report claiming that Nikola engaged in “intricate fraud” to inflate its company valuation to incredible heights for a truck company that hasn’t actually sold any trucks yet.

Hindenburg alleged that Nikola used rolling models in promoting the company instead of functional prototypes without defining them as such, made exaggerated claims about its battery technology, and that Milton engaged in nepotism to hire his brother to build out the company’s hydrogen network.

In response, Nikola threatened legal action against Hindenburg and hired an attorney, who contacted the SEC about the report on Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal. (I guess they got what they wanted—sort of?) The company admitted to using non-running but rolling trucks in a 2018 Nikola One advertisement and at the 2016 unveiling of the Nikola One, but notes that the company was privately held at the time, and that it had the necessary components to make the trucks run—albeit still in development.

Nikola lost over 20% of its valuation since Hindenburg’s report dropped last Thursday, the WSJ reports. Securities filings from Monday show that Milton increased his investment in the company to over 41,000 shares for $1.2 million, meaning that Milton now owns a quarter of the company. The company has also hired a crisis management firm, Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher.

That wasn’t the first allegation that the once-success story wasn’t what it seemed. A Bloomberg report in June claimed that Nikola led the public to believe that a show model of the Nikola One semi-truck was driveable when it was not. Milton also responded with legal threats against Bloomberg.

Even though none of these allegations directly involve any behavior on the part of Nikola partner General Motors, it’s still rather damning, as it insinuates that GM wasn’t able to see through Nikola’s allegedly overblown claims. GM agreed to take an 11% stake in Nikola in exchange for GM building the Badger pickup in one of its factories and GM supplying Nikola with batteries and fuel-cell tech in the near future.

Thus far, GM CEO Mary Barra has defended the company’s decision to partner with Nikola, telling the Wall Street Journal, “Our company has worked with a lot of different partners. We’re a very capable team that has done the appropriate diligence.”

According to the WSJ, Nikola announced Monday that it delayed the delivery of its first prototype truck from later this year to early 2021. That truck is destined to go to Anheuser-Busch, which Nikola says ordered 800 trucks in 2018. The company also claimed to receive an order for 2,500 trucks from waste company Republic Services in August.

 

EPA Skeptical of Cal Ban on Gas Cars

The federal government is raising legal and practical questions about a recent California executive order attempting to end sales of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035.  Source Microsoft News: Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday, saying he believes California would need to request a waiver from his agency for the order to be implemented and implying that the state’s electricity infrastructure is insufficient for a shift toward electric vehicles.

While the [executive order] seems to be mostly aspirational and on its own would accomplish very little, any attempt by the California Air Resources Board to implement sections of it may require California to request a waiver to U.S. EPA,” Wheeler wrote.

The EPA last year revoked a waiver that allowed California to set its own vehicle tailpipe emissions standards, so it appears unlikely that the agency would grant one on car sales under the current administration.

California, alongside 22 other states, has sued the agency over that decision, arguing that its standards were achievable and that the EPA’s decision is bad for climate change.

The executive order also comes as California has recently faced rolling blackouts, Wheeler noted.

“California’s record of rolling blackouts – unprecedented in size and scope – coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” the country’s top environmental official wrote.

“The truth is that if the state were driving 100 percent electric vehicles today, the state would be dealing with even worse power shortages than the ones that have already caused a series of otherwise preventable environmental and public health consequences,” he added.

The Wheeler letter is here.

Red Flag: Ontario’s Green Energy Debacle

Babatunde Williams writes at Spiked Ontario’s green-energy catastrophe.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

A transition to renewables sent energy prices soaring, pushed thousands into poverty and fueled a populist backlash.

In February 2009, Ontario passed its Green Energy Act (GEA). It was signed a week after Obama’s Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the US, following several months of slow and arduous negotiations. It also had grand plans to start a ‘green’ recovery following the financial crash – although on a more modest scale.

This was the plan: increased integration of wind and solar energy into Ontario’s electricity grid would shut down coal plants and create 50,000 green jobs in the first three years alone.

Additionally, First Nations communities would manage their own electricity supply and distribution – what observers would later call the ‘decolonisation’ of energy – empowering Canada’s indigenous communities who had been disenfranchised by historical trauma. Lawmakers promised that clean and sustainable energy provided by renewables would also reduce costs for poorer citizens. This won an endorsement from Ontario’s Low Income Energy Network – a group which campaigns for universal access to affordable energy.

But on 1 January, 2019, Ontario repealed the GEA, one month before its 10th anniversary. The 50,000 guaranteed jobs never materialised. The ‘decolonisation’ of energy didn’t work out, either. A third of indigenous Ontarians now live in energy poverty. Ontarians watched in dismay as their electricity bills more than doubled during the life of the GEA. Their electricity costs are now among the highest in North America.

To understand how the GEA went irreparably wrong, we must look at Ontario’s contracts with its green-energy suppliers. Today, Ontario’s contracts guarantee to electricity suppliers that they ‘will be paid for each kWh of electricity generated from the renewable energy project’, regardless of whether this electricity is consumed. As preposterous as this may seem, it’s actually an improvement on many of the original contracts the Ontario government locked itself into.

Earlier contracts guaranteed payments that benchmarked close to 100 per cent of the supplier’s capacity, rather than the electricity generated. So if a participating producer supplied only 33 per cent of its capacity in a given year, the state would still pay it as if it had produced 100 per cent.

This was especially alarming in context, as 97 per cent of the applicants to the GEA programme were using wind or solar energy. These are both intermittent forms of energy. In an hour, day or month with little wind or sun, wind and solar farms can’t supply the grid with electricity, and other sources are needed for back-up. As a result, wind and solar electricity providers can only supplement the grid but cannot replace consistently reliable power plants like gas or nuclear.

Many governments, including other Canadian provinces, have used subsidies of all hues to incentivise renewables. But Ontario put this strategy on steroids. For example, the Council for Clean and Reliable Energy found that ‘in 2015, Ontario’s wind farms operated at less than one-third capacity more than half (58 per cent) the time’. Regardless, Ontarians paid multiple contracts as if wind farms had operated at full capacity all year round. To add insult to injury, Ontario’s GEA contracts guaranteed exorbitant prices for renewable energy – often at up to 40 times the cost of conventional power for 20 years.

By 2015, Ontario’s auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, concluded that citizens had paid ‘a total of $37 billion’ above the market rate for energy. They were even ‘expected to pay another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032’, again, ‘on top of market valuations’. (One steelmaker has taken the Ontarian government to court for these exorbitant energy costs.)

Today, this problem persists.  Furthermore, electricity demand from ratepayers declined between 2011 and 2015, and has continued to fall. Ontarians were forced to pay higher prices for new electricity capacity, even as their consumption was going down.

Ontario’s auditor general in 2015 stated that: ‘The implied cost of using non-hydro renewables to reduce carbon emissions in the electricity sector was quite high: approximately $257 million [£150million] for each megatonne of emissions reduced.’ Per tonne of carbon reduced, the Ontario scheme has cost 48 per cent more than Sweden’s carbon tax – the most expensive carbon tax in the world.

Clearly, bad policy has led to exorbitant waste. This wasn’t the result of corruption or conspiracy – it was sheer incompetence. It’s a meandering story of confusion and gross policy blunders that will fuel energy poverty in Ontario for at least another decade.

As democracies across the West respond to the coronavirus crisis with hastily prepared financial packages for a ‘green recovery’, they should consider the cautionary tale of Ontario.

The GEA’s stubborn defenders refuse to recognise that poor policy, even with the best intentions, discredits future efforts at cutting emissions. ‘Green New Deals’ for the post-pandemic recovery in the US and Europe should learn from the GEA. Clean energy at any cost will be rightfully short-lived and repealed, and its supporters will be unceremoniously booted out of power.

See Also:  Electrical Madness in Green Ontario

 

Conn AG Adds to Climate Lawsuit Dominos

Climate Dominos

William Allison reports at Energy In Depth Echoes of New York’s Failure:  Connecticut Files Climate Lawsuit.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Four Years In The Making, But The Same Failed Arguments

Back in 2016, Tong’s predecessor, former Attorney General George Jespen, enlisted Connecticut to take part in former New York Attorney General’s Eric Schneiderman’s “AGs United for Clean Power” – a coalition of state attorneys general that aimed to investigate major energy companies over climate change. Not only did Jepsen participate in the March 2016 press conference announcing the coalition, he discussed how it’s formation allowed for easier collaboration between attorneys general.

While the coalition ultimately fell apart, following the withdrawal of several attorneys general and scrutiny over the political motivation behind its formation, the group’s demise (and even New York’s unsuccessful lawsuit) hasn’t stopped Tong. In fact, he’s using many of the same arguments that Schneiderman ineffectively deployed nearly five years ago.

In Monday’s press conference announcing the Connecticut lawsuit, AG Tong said:

“We tried to think long and hard about what our best and most impactful contribution would be. And what we settled on was a single defendant with a very simple claim: Exxon knew, and they lied.” (emphasis added)

Apparently Tong did not get the memo that “Exxon Knew” – the theory pushed by activists and lawyers that the company knew about climate change and hid that knowledge from the public – has been completely debunked. It was this theory that Schneiderman initially built his case against the company around, but he was forced to abandon it because the facts were not on his side. Indeed, after his successor was told to told “to put or shut up” on the accusations, the lawsuit was revised to remove these claims and instead focus on alleged accounting fraud. The case resulted in a resounding defeat for the New York attorney general, with State Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager calling the lawsuit “hyperbolic” and “without merit.”

The only other two climate lawsuits that have been decided on their merits were filed by San Francisco and Oakland and then New York City, both of which failed.

Connecticut Has Benefitted From The National Campaign

The Connecticut lawsuit isn’t a standalone effort, but part of a larger national campaign supported and funded by activist and wealthy donors to pursue climate litigation against energy companies.

Tong is still pursing the “Exxon Knew” angle that’s been developed by this campaign despite its previous losses and thinks his lawsuit is the strongest in the nation because Connecticut’s Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act doesn’t have a statute of limitations, allowing him to recall ExxonMobil documents from decades ago – even though the company already turned over 3 million documents as part of the New York Attorney General’s failed investigation.

Connecticut was also mentioned in the Pay Up Climate Polluters report, “Climate Costs 2040,” which seems to be a target list of cities to carry out potential litigation, as recent plaintiffs Hoboken, N.J. and Charleston, S.C. were also featured. Pay Up Climate Polluters is a campaign that promotes climate litigation that is sponsored by Center for Climate Integrity, which in turn is a project of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), which, ironically enough, is paying for the outside counsel in Hoboken’s lawsuit.

IGSD also receives money from a network of Rockefeller groups, which with the help of wealthy donors and activists, have manufactured the entire climate litigation campaign. Tong even filed an amicus brief in support of the climate lawsuit filed by San Francisco and Oakland.

During his press conference, Tong even thanked 350.org and The Sunrise Movement, two other Rockefeller-supported groups that support and actively promote climate litigation.

Conclusion

The lawsuit filed by the Connecticut Attorney General is just the latest case to emerge in the broader, national campaign being pushed by weather donors and activist groups. But while a new lawsuit generates new headlines, it does nothing to change the fact that it’s based on another rehashing of the debunked “Exxon Knew” theory that failed in New York and will do nothing to address climate change.

Background from Previous Post:  Climate Lawsuit Dominos

Posted to Energy March 05, 2020 by Curt Levey writes at InsideSources Climate Change Lawsuits Collapsing Like Dominoes.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Climate change activists went to court in California recently trying to halt a long losing streak in their quest to punish energy companies for aiding and abetting the world’s consumption of fossil fuels.

A handful of California cities — big consumers of fossil fuels themselves — asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse the predictable dismissal of their public nuisance lawsuit seeking to pin the entire blame for global warming on five energy producers: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

The cities hope to soak the companies for billions of dollars of damages, which they claim they’ll use to build sea walls, better sewer systems and the like in anticipation of rising seas and extreme weather that might result from climate change.

But no plaintiff has ever succeeded in bringing a public nuisance lawsuit based on climate change.

To the contrary, these lawsuits are beginning to collapse like dominoes as courts remind the plaintiffs that it is the legislative and executive branches — not the judicial branch — that have the authority and expertise to determine climate policy.

Climate change activists should have gotten the message in 2011 when the Supreme Court ruled against eight states and other plaintiffs who brought nuisance claims for the greenhouse gas emissions produced by electric power plants.

The Court ruled unanimously in American Electric Power v. Connecticut that the federal Clean Air Act, under which such emissions are subject to EPA regulation, preempts such lawsuits.

The Justices emphasized that “Congress designated an expert agency, here, EPA … [that] is surely better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case injunctions” and better able to weigh “the environmental benefit potentially achievable [against] our Nation’s energy needs and the possibility of economic disruption.”

The Court noted that this was true of “questions of national or international policy” in general, reminding us why the larger trend of misusing public nuisance lawsuits is a problem.

The California cities, led by Oakland and San Francisco, tried to get around this Supreme Court precedent by focusing on the international nature of the emissions at issue.

But that approach backfired in 2018 when federal district judge William Alsup concluded that a worldwide problem “deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” Alsup, a liberal Clinton appointee, noted that “Without [fossil] fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible.”

In July 2018, a federal judge in Manhattan tossed out a nearly identical lawsuit by New York City on the same grounds. The city is appealing.

Meanwhile, climate lawfare is also being waged against energy companies by Rhode Island and a number of municipal governments, including Baltimore. Like the other failed cases, these governments seek billions of dollars.

Adding to the string of defeats was the Ninth Circuit’s rejection last month of the so-called “children’s” climate suit, which took a somewhat different approach by pitting a bunch of child plaintiffs against the federal government.

The children alleged “psychological harms, others impairment to recreational interests, others exacerbated medical conditions, and others damage to property” and sought an injunction forcing the executive branch to phase out fossil fuel emissions.

Judge Andrew Hurwitz, an Obama appointee, wrote for the majority that “such relief is beyond our constitutional power.” The case for redress, he said, “must be presented to the political branches of government.”

Yet another creative, if disingenuous, litigation strategy was attempted by New York State’s attorney general, who sued ExxonMobil for allegedly deceiving investors about the impact of future climate change regulations on profits by keeping two sets of books.

That lawsuit went down in flames in December when a New York court ruled that the state failed to prove any “material misstatements” to investors.

All these lawsuits fail because they are grounded in politics, virtue signaling and — in most cases — the hope of collecting billions from energy producers, rather than in sound legal theories or a genuine strategy for fighting climate change.

But in the unlikely event these plaintiffs prevail, would they use their billion dollar windfalls to help society cope with global warming?

It’s unlikely if past history is any indication.

State and local governments that have won large damage awards in successful non-climate-related public nuisance lawsuits — tobacco litigation is the most famous example — have notoriously blown most of the money on spending binges unrelated to the original lawsuit or on backfilling irresponsible budget deficits.

The question of what would happen to the award money will likely remain academic. Even sympathetic judges have repeatedly refused to be roped by weak public nuisance or other contorted legal theories into addressing a national or international policy issue — climate change — that is clearly better left to elected officials.

Like anything built on an unsound foundation, these climate lawsuits will continue to collapse.

Curt Levey is a constitutional law attorney and president of the Committee for Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the rule of law.

Update March 10

Honolulu joins the domino lineup with its own MeToo lawsuit: Honolulu Sues Petroleum Companies For Climate Change Damages to City

Honolulu city officials, lashing out at the fossil fuel industry in a climate change lawsuit filed Monday, accused oil producers of concealing the dangers that greenhouse gas emissions from petroleum products would create, while reaping billions in profits.

The lawsuit, against eight oil companies, says climate change already is having damaging effects on the city’s coastline, and lays out a litany of catastrophic public nuisances—including sea level rise, heat waves, flooding and drought caused by the burning of fossil fuels—that are costing the city billions, and putting its residents and property at risk.

“We are seeing in real time coastal erosion and the consequences,” Josh Stanbro, chief resilience officer and executive director for the City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, told InsideClimate News. “It’s an existential threat for what the future looks like for islanders.”  [ I wonder if Stanbro’s salary matches the length of his job title, or if it is contingent on winning the case.]