LA Times Misreports Mexican Energy Realism

 

Emily Green writes at LA Times Alternative energy efforts in Mexico slow as Lopez Obrador prioritizes oil. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The title of the article is not wrong, as we shall see below. But as usual climatists leave out the reality so obvious in the pie chart above. Seeing which energy sources are driving his nation’s prosperity provides the missing context for understanding the priorities of Mexican President Andres Lopez Obrador

The alarmist/activist hand-wringing is in full display:

With its windy valleys and wide swaths of desert, Mexico has some of the best natural terrain to produce wind and solar energy. And, in recent years, the country has attracted alternative energy investors from across the globe.

An aerial view of the Villanueva photovoltaic power plant in the municipality of Viesca, Coahuila state, Mexico. The plant covers an area the size of 40 football fields making it the largest solar plant in the Americas. (Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images)

But the market has taken a step back under Mexico’s new president, who has made clear his priority is returning Mexico’s oil company to its former dominance.

Since taking office Dec. 1, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has canceled a highly anticipated electricity auction, as well as two major transmission-line projects that would have transported power generated by renewable energy plants around the country. He has also called for more investment in coal, and stood by as his director of Mexico’s electric utility dismissed wind and solar energy as unreliable and expensive.

It’s too soon to forecast the long-term consequences, but business leaders and energy consultants are seeing a trend: a chilling in the country’s up-and-coming renewable energy market.

Further on we get the usual distortions and misdirection: Renewables capacities and low prices are cited ignoring the low actual production and intermittancy mismatch with actual needs.

Energy and oil remain sensitive topics in Mexico, where people still recall the glory days of state-owned oil company Pemex, when it was the country’s economic lifeblood. There’s even a day commemorating Mexico’s 1938 nationalization of its oil and mineral wealth.

In recent years, however, Mexico’s energy market has undergone a transformation and reached out to investors. In 2014, Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, fully opened up the country’s oil, gas and electricity sector to private investment for the first time in 70 years.

The effects were immediate. In the oil sector, companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron clamored to explore large deposits that had once been the sole purview of Pemex.

On the electricity side, the reform led to billions of dollars in private investment in Mexico’s power sector, both in renewable energy and traditional sources such as natural gas.

Through a series of auctions, Mexico’s state-owned utility awarded long-term power contracts to private developers. Although the auctions were open to all energy technologies, wind and solar companies won the bulk of the contracts because they offered among the lowest prices in the world. Solar developers won contracts to generate electricity in Mexico at around $20 per megawatt-hour, according to the government. Industry sources said that is about half the going price for coal and gas.

The country’s wind generation capacity jumped from 2,360 megawatts at the end of 2014 to 5,382 megawatts this April, according to the Mexican wind energy association. The numbers were even more stark in solar, which soared from 166 megawatts of capacity in 2014 to 2,900 megawatts in April, according to the Mexican solar energy association.

Virtue Signalling is an Expensive Way to Run an Economy

The electricity auctions were also seen as the main vehicle for Mexico to reach its clean energy commitments made as part of the Paris climate accord to produce 35% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2024, and 50% by 2050. Under Mexico’s definition, clean energy sources include solar and wind generation, as well as sources that some critics say aren’t environmentally friendly — such as hydroelectric dams, nuclear energy and efficient natural gas plants. Currently, 24% of Mexico’s electricity comes from clean energy sources.

Summary

Note that for true believers, no energy is “clean” except wind and solar. And Mexico is another example of how renewables cannibalize your electrical grid while claiming to be cheaper than FF sources and saving the planet from the plant food gas CO2. Meanwhile those two “zero carbon” sources provide only 2% of the energy consumed, despite the billions invested.

I get the impression that ALO is much smarter than AOC.
See Also

Exaggerating Green Energy Supply

Cutting Through the Fog of Renewable Power Costs

Superhuman Renewables Targets

 

 

 

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The End of Wind and Solar Parasites

Norman Rogers writes at American Thinker What It Will Take for the Wind and Solar Industries to Collapse. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The solar electricity industry is dependent on federal government subsidies for building new capacity. The subsidy consists of a 30% tax credit and the use of a tax scheme called tax equity finance. These subsidies are delivered during the first five years.

For wind, there is subsidy during the first five to ten years resulting from tax equity finance. There is also a production subsidy that lasts for the first ten years.

The other subsidy for wind and solar, not often characterized as a subsidy, is state renewable portfolio laws, or quotas, that require that an increasing portion of a state’s electricity come from renewable sources. Those state mandates result in wind and solar electricity being sold via profitable 25-year power purchase contracts. The buyer is generally a utility with good credit. The utilities are forced to offer these terms in order to cause sufficient supply to emerge to satisfy the renewable energy quotas.

The rate of return from a wind or solar investment can be low and credit terms favorable because the investors see the 25-year contract by a creditworthy utility as a guarantee of a low risk of default. If the risk were to be perceived as higher, then a higher rate of return and a higher interest rate on loans would be demanded. That in turn would increase the price of the electricity generated.

The bankruptcy of PG&E, the largest California utility, has created some cracks in the façade. A bankruptcy judge has ruled that cancellation of up to $40 billion in long-term energy contracts is a possibility. These contracts are not essential or needed to preserve the supply of electricity because they are mostly for wind or solar electricity supply that varies with the weather and can’t be counted on. As a consequence, there has to exist and does exist the necessary infrastructure to supply the electricity needs without the wind or solar energy.

Probably the judge will be overruled for political reasons, or the state will step in with a bailout. Utilities have to keep operating, no matter what. Ditching wind and solar contracts would make California politicians look foolish because they have long touted wind and solar as the future of energy.

PG&E is in bankruptcy because California applies strict liability for damages from forest fires started by electric lines, no matter who is really at fault. Almost certainly the government is at fault for not anticipating the danger of massive fires and for not enforcing strict fire prevention and protection. Massive fire damage should be protected by insurance, not by the utility, even if the fire was started by a power line. The fire in question could just as well have been started by lightning or a homeless person. PG&E previously filed bankruptcy in 2001, also a consequence of abuse of the utility by the state government.

By far the most important subsidy is the renewable portfolio laws. Even if the federal subsidies are reduced, the quota for renewable energy will force price increases to keep the renewable energy industry in business, because it has to stay in business to supply energy to meet the quota. Other plausible methods of meeting the quota have been outlawed by the industry’s friends in the state governments. Nuclear and hydro, neither of which generates CO2 emissions, are not allowed. Hydro is not strictly prohibited — only hydro that involves dams and diversions. That is very close to all hydro. Another reason hydro is banned is that environmental groups don’t like dams.

For technical reasons, an electrical grid cannot run on wind or solar much more than 50% of the time. The fleet of backup plants must be online to provide adjustable output to compensate for erratic variations in wind or solar. Output has to be ramped up to meet early-evening peaks. Wind suffers from a cube power law, meaning that if the wind drops by 10%, the electricity drops by 30%. Solar suffers from too much generation in the middle of the day and not enough generation to meet early evening peaks in consumption.

When a “too much generation” situation happens, the wind or solar has to be curtailed. That means that the operators are told to stop delivering electricity. In many cases, they are not paid for the electricity they could have delivered. Some contracts require that they be paid according to a model that figures out how much they could have generated according to the recorded weather conditions. The more wind and solar, the more curtailments as the amount of erratic electricity approaches the allowable limits. Curtailment is an increasing threat, as quotas increase, to the financial health of wind and solar.

There is a movement to include batteries with solar installations to move excessive middle-of-the-day generation to the early evening. This is a palliative to extend the time before solar runs into the curtailment wall. The batteries are extremely expensive and wear out every five years.

Neither wind nor solar is competitive without subsidies. If the subsidies and quotas were taken away, no wind or solar operation outside very special situations would be built. Further, the existing installations would continue only as long as their contracts are honored and they are cash flow–positive. In order to be competitive, without subsidies, wind or solar would have to supply electricity for less than $20 per megawatt-hour, the marginal cost of generating the electricity with gas or coal. Only the marginal cost counts, because the fossil fuel plants have to be there whether or not there is wind or solar. Without the subsidies, quotas, and 25-year contracts, wind or solar would have to get about $100 per megawatt-hour for its electricity. That gap, between $100 and $20, is a wide chasm only bridged by subsidies and mandates.

The cost of using wind and solar for reducing CO2 emissions is very high. The most authoritative and sincere promoters of global warming loudly advocate using nuclear, a source that is not erratic, does not emit CO2 or pollution, and uses the cheapest fuel. One can buy carbon offsets for 10 or 20 times less than the cost of reducing CO2 emissions with wind or solar. A carbon offset is a scheme where the buyer pays the seller to reduce world emissions of CO2. This is done in a variety of ways by the sellers.

The special situations where wind and solar can be competitive are remote locations using imported oil to generate electricity. In those situations, the marginal cost of the electricity may be $200 per megawatt-hour or more. Newfoundland comes to mind — for wind, not solar.

Maintenance costs for solar are low. For wind, maintenance costs are high, and major components, such as propeller blades and gearboxes, may fail, especially as the turbines age. These heavy and awkward objects are located hundreds of feet above ground. There exists a danger that wind farms will fail once the inflation-protected subsidy of $24 per megawatt-hour runs out after ten years. At that point, turbines that need expensive repairs may be abandoned. Wind turbine graveyards from the first wind fad in the 1970s can be seen near Palm Springs, California. Wind farms can’t receive the production subsidy unless they can sell the electricity. That has resulted paying customers to “buy” the electricity.

Tehachapi’s dead turbines.

A significant financial risk is that the global warming narrative may collapse. If belief in the reality of the global warming threat collapses, then the major intellectual support for renewable energy will collapse. It is ironic that the promoters of global warming are campaigning to require companies to take into account the threat of global warming in their financial projections. If the companies do this in an honest manner, they also have to take into account the possibility that the threat will evaporate. My own best guess, after considerable technical study, is that it is near a sure thing that the threat of global warming is imaginary and largely invented by the people who benefit. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere has well understood positive effects for the growth of crops and the greening of deserts.

The conservative investors who make long-term investments in wind or solar may be underestimating the risks involved. For example, an article in Chief Investment Officer magazine stated that CalPERS, the giant California public employees retirement fund, is planning to expand investments in renewable energy, characterized as “stable cash flowing assets.” That article was written before the bankruptcy of PG&E. The article also stated that competition among institutional investors for top yielding investments in the alternative energy space is fierce.

Wind and solar are not competitive and never will be. They have been pumped up into supposedly solid investments by means of ill advised subsidies and mandates. At some point, the governments will wake up to the waste and foolishness involved. At that point, the value of these investments will collapse. It won’t be the first time that investment experts made bad investments because they don’t really understand what is going on.

Footnote:  There is also a report from GWPF on environmental degradation from industrial scale wind and solar:

Class Zero Grad Speeches: Fail

Once upon a time at secondary school graduation ceremonies students who finished with the best grades (Valedictorians and Salutatorians) took to the podium to deliver a speech each one wrote expressing his or her personal thoughts on that life passage. Not any more. In progressive, post-modern places, these speeches are now a canned performance: Now apparently accomplished scholars choose not to express themselves, not to speak out as individuals having earned the right to heard. Instead they read out words written by others to proselytize for a cause.

This Spring We’re Taking Over Commencements Everywhere to Demand a Zero Emissions Future

According to Class of 0000: Starting in may, hundreds of Valedictorians and Salutatorians will deliver the same message in their commencement speeches.  The Speech in italics with my bolds:

Today, we celebrate our achievements from the last 4 years. But I want to focus on what we need to achieve in the next 11.

That’s how long climate scientists have given us; 11 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. It’s already damaging our homes, our health, our safety and our happiness. We won’t let it take our futures too.

Our diplomas may say Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of Zero.
Zero emissions.
Zero excuses.
Zero time to waste.

Across the country, our class stands 7.5 million strong.

And in unity, we’re giving 2020 political candidates a choice:

Have a plan to get to zero emissions, or get zero of our votes.

Together, we have the power to solve the climate crisis.

Every student. Every parent. Every teacher. Every leader.

The future is in our hands.

Local school children join Greta Thunberg's initiative on climate strike during the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice

But it didn’t go off everywhere as planned by the movement.

As Lathan Watts reported at Town Hall, many of these performances were stopped by educators.

Kriya Naidu was the valedictorian of her Florida high school, but she was recently prohibited by school officials from giving her graduation speech because of its content.

Cait Christenson was one of six valedictorians at her Wisconsin high school, but again, school administrators found the content of her graduation speech too controversial and prohibited her from addressing her fellow graduates.

Lulabel Seitz was the valedictorian at her California high school. And, you guessed it, her graduation speech was also censored by school administrators – in fact, her mic was turned off in the midst of her address.

For Lathan Watts, this is a problem. I would agree if they were expressing something other than a call for political and social action. This is the most striking example yet of young people subsuming into an social group and losing individual identity. I don’t know whether to call this Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Stupidity; but it is certainly not genuine, not authentic. Maybe this is what we have to endure in the Age of Greta.

The graduates would have been better served if Robert Curry were at the podium:

As we all know, acquiring common sense can be a matter of life and death. I’m thinking, for example, of the teenage boy who swallowed a garden slug on a dare, became paralyzed, and died recently. Because children lack common sense, parents must do what they have always done, trying to instill common sense in their children while at the same time using their own common sense to encompass the growing child.

Becoming a person of common sense has always been a life-defining challenge, but acquiring common sense has gotten a lot more difficult for young people in our time, especially if they have spent some time in our institutions of higher learning. My witty friend Robert Godwin has this to say about that: “Say what you want about the liberal arts, but they’ve found a cure for common sense.”

When I headed off to college, my high school teacher who was my mentor offered me two commonsense rules to follow“Take care to stay well, and choose professors, not courses.” Because of my high regard for him, I took his words to heart. Later, when I saw the problems my fellow students brought on themselves by not getting enough sleep and generally being careless about their health, I understood the practical wisdom of what he had told me. And the second rule helped me more quickly understand the value of navigating my way through college by who was teaching the course rather than by the course title.

For years, I handed on the same commonsense wisdom to young folks I knew when they headed off to college. But I have not offered that advice for some years now. Here is what I tell them now: “They are going to try to knock common sense out of you; don’t let them.”

Say what you want about the liberal arts, but they’ve found a cure for common sense.

By Robert Curry writes at American Thinker Making Sense of Common Sense. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Greens Are Nuclear Power Deniers

Interesting Engineering reports news about the power of Nuclear energy in the Arctic Russia Gives the Green Light to Its Floating Nuclear Power Plant to Begin Work.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Imagine a massive nuclear power plant. Now picture that massive power plant floating out at sea. And then you have the Akademik Lomonosov.

The Akademik Lomonosov is precisely that, a floating nuclear power plant, run by the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, or Rosatom, as it is more easily abbreviated.

The Akademik Lomonosov is not the first of its kind to start work offshore. Back in the 1960s, the US converted WWII war ship, originally the Liberty ship, was converted into a nuclear power plant, renamed the Sturgis. The Sturgis ended its working days in 1976.

Today, the Akademik Lomonosov has quite some power behind it.

Equipped with two KLT-40S reactor units, each able to generate 35 megawatt of power, it has some power behind it. With this power wattage it could essentially provide enough electricity to power a town of up to 100,000 people.

This is especially useful for a massive country such as Russia, with some extremely off-the-beaten-track towns in the North and Far East, as well as offshore oil and gas platforms owned by the country.

With this nuclear power plant, these far-to-reach spots could finally have electricity.

Rosatom’s subsidiary stated in a press release: “Rosenergoatom (Rosatom’s electric power division) has been authorized to use the nuclear facility of floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov for 10 years, until 2029.”

Allegedly, the floating power plant’s life span is up to 40 years, which could be prolonged to 50 years. 10 years hardly seems a stretch at this stage.

CNN picks up the story and spins it with help from Greenpeace (still mad at Russia for jailing their eco-terrorists).Russia plans to tow a nuclear power station to the Arctic. Critics dub it a ‘floating Chernobyl’ Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it’s key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20% of country’s GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.

The Lomonosov platform was dubbed “Chernobyl on Ice” or “floating Chernobyl” by Greenpeace even before the public’s revived interest in the 1986 catastrophe thanks in large part to the HBO TV series of the same name.

Rosatom, the state company in charge of Russia’s nuclear projects, has been fighting against this nickname, saying such criticism is ill founded.

“It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,” said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection. “Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.”

The idea itself is not new — the US Army used a small nuclear reactor installed on a ship in the Panama Canal for almost a decade in the 1960s. For civil purposes, an American energy company PSE&G commissioned a floating plant to be stationed off the coast of New Jersey, but the project was halted in the 1970s due to public opposition and environmental concerns.

At Real Clear Science Ross Pomeroy’s discusses the main distortions told by Greens The 3 Biggest Myths About Nuclear Power.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Earlier this year, an enormous confinement structure was completed and commissioned to seal away the highly radioactive ruins of Chernobyl’s number four nuclear reactor, a permanent reminder of the awesome – and potentially terrible – power of nuclear energy. More recently, Home Box Office (HBO) broadcast an even more penetrating reminder – the network’s television show Chernobyl garnered rave reviews and enthralled a wide audience. Nuclear power has once again been thrust to the forefront of society’s collective thoughts.

That makes this a great opportunity to shine the light of evidence on an issue clouded by confusion. For its rare, yet resonating disasters, nuclear energy prompts fear. But is that fear warranted?

Here are three common myths about nuclear power:

Myth #1. Nuclear is dangerous. In the minds of many, the examples of Three Mile Island, Fukushima-Daiichi, and Chernobyl, are enough to cement this statement as fact. But a full and rational examination of nuclear’s operational history swiftly dispels this common myth. As a variety of different analyses have shown, even when you factor in nuclear’s memorable accidents, it is vastly safer than any fossil fuel energy source. A NASA study in 2013 reported that “nuclear power prevented an average of over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide between 1971-2009” by displacing fossil fuel-based power stations and their associated dangers for miners, workers, and the general public. Nuclear may even be safer than renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as it reduces the need for hazardous mining.

All over the world, for decades, nuclear power has been producing emission-free energy quietly and consistently with vastly fewer ill effects compared to conventional power sources like coal and natural gas.

Myth #2. Nuclear waste is an unsolvable problem. Nuclear energy results in radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel rods – a big drawback. But did you know that coal plants actually produce more radioactive waste during their operation? Currently, more than 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (which would fill a football field twenty meters deep) are stored at more than a hundred sites around the United States, a workable but undesirable situation. However, that waste could be safely locked away in Yucca Mountain, a remote site in the Nevada desert situated on federal land. Political maneuvering has kept the site in limbo for decades, however. In the meantime, startups with high-profile backers like Bill Gates are racing to develop new forms of nuclear power that can actually recycle that waste, and there’s no technical reason to think that they won’t eventually succeed.

With a half-life as long as 24,000 years, nuclear waste may seem like a permanent problem, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.

Myth #3. Nuclear is prohibitively expensive. No doubt you’ve heard or read numerous accounts about nuclear power plants shutting down or even being canceled in the process of construction for being too expensive. It’s true, in some locations, the landscape of electricity generation makes nuclear unprofitable, but in most locations, nuclear power is doing just fine.

Though renewable energy proponents insist that wind and solar are all that is needed to power the future, current reality does not back that assertion. While cheap and growing cheaper, wind and solar are intermittent and thus require some sort of grid storage in order to provide power all the time. Gigantic batteries are the most likely option. But this technology is nowhere near ready yet, presents its own environmental hazards, and will likely be very costly.

On the other hand, nuclear could readily provide the baseload power our grid needs to provide electricity around the clock.

Footnote: See also Greens Killing Electricity, Nuclear In Decline

 

Climate Faith ≠ Climate Works

Protestors march to raise awareness of climate change and ecological issues on the second day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP) GRANT POLLARD/INVISION/AP

Michael Lynch writes at Forbes Is The Climate Change Debate A Replay Of The Reformation? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

During the Reformation, there was an intense debate over whether Christians could enter paradise by doing good works, or whether faith alone allowed such a benefit. (See Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther and the Fight for the Western Mind by Michael Massing) This reminds me of the current attitude many have towards climate change policy, where some appear to think that faith alone is sufficient to solve the problem.

In the early days of the global warming debate, I read an English writer praising his country’s example of recognizing climate change compared to American skepticism, although he did admit the British hadn’t actually taken steps to address the problem. Similarly, the U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than most countries in the past few years, but incidentally, mostly due to cheap natural gas, and it remains the climate villain in the eyes of many because the president is a denier.

Additionally, a lot of energy, well, effort, goes into demonizing actors or actions that have no practical impact on climate. For example, opposing the construction of oil and gas pipelines does not reduce consumption of oil and gas, and usually increases emissions. Suing the oil or auto industries for blocking climate policies or misleading the public about climate science appeals to many, but with no measurable environmental impact. The same with demanding divestment in fossil fuel company stocks.

Some of the new proposals to address climate change put me mind of the debate between faith and works, especially when they seem more for demonstration purpose than actually reducing emissions. Numerous governments have suggested phasing out all carbon-based electricity generation or all petroleum-fueled vehicles by a point decades into the future, and these tend to be hailed by activists as representing, if not solutions, then great strides forward. New York state, for example, just proposed phasing out carbon-based electricity by 2050; France wants to ban conventional vehicles by 2040, the U.K. by 2050. But as Michael Coren notes, “So far, it’s just words.”

Which reminds me of comedian Billy West who, in the persona of a radio personality, bragged to someone about his fund-raising, adding, “…but mostly it’s just pledges.” Governments have been great at setting goals, but implementation has been seriously lacking. The setting of goals seems more an act of faith than a carrying out of works.

And we have been here before. Many other national and sub-national environmental programs were later abandoned; the 1990s saw California enact mandates for electric vehicle sales—requiring 10% of sales in 2003 be zero emission vehicles—which was adopted by a number of other states, primarily in New England. Ultimately, it was abandoned after wasting billions of dollars. Numerous locales in the U.S. signed on to requirements for oxygenated gasoline, only to back out at the last minute when the cost became apparent.

Technology mandates are a mix of demonizing the producers and demonstrations of faith: telling utilities to buy a certain portion of carbon-free electricity is calling on someone else to act, while hiding the cost of the action. Those who believe in works would do better to buy their own renewable power, either producing it directly or from an independent power producer.

Automobile efficiency standards arguably fall into this category as well, that is, making it seem as if the manufacturers are to blame for consumers’ desire to purchase large, powerful vehicles. There are very fuel-efficient vehicles for sale in the United States, and they are much cheaper than the sauropods dominating American highways, so addressing manufacturer behavior is not the issue. Mandating vehicle efficiency is rather like demanding that a portion of butchers’ sales be veggie burgers; Beyond Meat has shown that success for veggie burgers comes from satisfying consumers, not lecturing them on environmental ethics.

This is where a carbon tax comes in: it is designed to change consumer preferences, reducing carbon emissions in favor of other consumables. It would also motivate producers to meet the demand for products that require less carbon emissions, either in their production or operation. Although the impact would grow over time, it would begin immediately upon implementation, and while it could theoretically be reversed, taxes on consumption tend to be extremely persistent.

Comment:

I like the author’s comparing of the climate faithful marching in processions to the religious faithful marching on Holy Days. He is right to point out the hypocrisy of of those obsessed over CO2 demonstrating their belief, while still enjoying fossil fuel benefits. And he ridicules the symbolic but ineffectual policies proposed, noting they are merely another form of showing faith rather than taking action that works.

But he ends up accepting the warmist unproven premise: We are sinners because we burn fossil fuels. Moreover, he seems to suggest that imposing a carbon indulgence tax overcomes the moral shortcoming. In fact Reformers strongly opposed the Catholic Church practice of taking money for future promises they could not deliver. Now this scam returns with governments taking the opportunity to fill their coffers. Further, as Bill Gates explained, the tax has a faulty premise: There is presently no substitute for fossil fuels powering modern societies.

The good news is, today’s weather and climate are within ordinary bounds.  The bad news:  If they actually turn climate faith into works, it is the end of life as you know it.

Warmists Make Bad Investors

Terence Corcoran explains at the Financial Post: The world needs more of what Exxon is selling (and will for decades). Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

World demand for Exxon’s products, fossil fuels, is expected to increase and remain steady over the coming decade

It’s the kind of story that lights up headlines: one of Britain’s biggest fund managers started selling shares in Exxon Mobil Corp. because the global oil giant wasn’t doing enough to address climate change.

The investment fund manager, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), oversees $1.3 trillion, making it the 11th largest money manager in the world. Legal and General (as it is called) is also one of scores of investment management firms, activists and hand-wringing organizations that are part of the burgeoning global sustainable and environmental social finance and governance effort to promote collaborative engagement and foster responsible investment and divestment. The goal is to enhance disclosure target-setting within corporations so that they can become leaders and builders of business models that will help the planet achieve a prosperous and sustainable future and overcome the climate emergency/crisis/disaster now faced by humanity if fossil fuels are not reduced to near-zero in the not-too-distant future.

As part of this movement, LGIM is a member of an organization called Climate Action 100+: Global Investors Driving Business Decisions, a collection of meddling institutional investors around the world, mostly government-run pension plans — although Quebec’s state pension fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, is the only obvious Canadian member of Climate Action 100+.

Exxon was one of five companies LGIM said it had placed on the divestment list as it steps up pressure on companies to address climate change: ExxonMobil Corporation, Hormel Foods, Korean Electric Power Corporation, Kroger and Metlife. “These names,” said LGIM, “are in addition to China Construction Bank, Rosneft Oil, Japan Post Holdings, Subaru, Loblaw and Sysco Corporation, all of whom remain engaged but who have yet to take the substantive actions to warrant re-instatement.”

Meryam OImi, head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy at LGIM, said the investment firm “will continue to push companies to build business models fit for a prosperous, sustainable future.” LGIM’s name-and-shame strategy was enthusiastically endorsed last week in Forbes magazine for maintaining “a sophisticated approach to climate change.”

One has to wonder, however, about the wisdom of divesting Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s most successful fossil-fuel producers, at a time when world energy forecasters project continuing expansion of fossil fuel demand well into …

Whoa. Hold on a second. Let me go back a few paragraphs. Loblaw? Is that our Canadian Loblaw, national champion virtue-signalling food industry giant, master of green product marketing, installer of solar panels on supermarket roofs, and most recently recipient of government funding to help upgrade the company’s refrigeration units to make them more green?

By gosh, it is our Loblaw. In a release, LGIM said “Loblaw, the Canadian grocery chain,” will continue as an “exclusion candidate.” According to Angeli Behham, a corporate governance manger who leads LGIM’s “pledge engagements with the food sector,” Canada’s leading food company “has made improvements in its governance, appointing a Lead Independent Director to ensure a counter-balancing voice to the Chair/CEO role. But we believe there are still a number of necessary steps for companies of such scale, and look forward to continuing engagement and support for substantive changes in the future.” Only then, it seems, will Loblaw be removed from the “divested” list and “reinstated.”

A colleague here at FP Comment, Peter Foster, sent an email to a public affairs person at Loblaw’s head office in Toronto about LGIM’s listing of Loblaw as a climate laggard. “Did they tell you where you are falling short? Are you taking steps to regain their approval? Does this mean they don’t invest in you at all, or just in one of their funds?” There has been no reply as of deadline.

Meanwhile, back to Exxon Mobil, from which LGIM has commenced divesting. Presumably the objective is to use slow trickle-down divestiture as a form of blackmail: change your ways, Exxon, or we will take away our investment, publicly announce our intent and drive your share price down.

This may be terrific green headline-grabbing investment politics, but in the stock market world the plan seems a little naive. According to the latest forecasts — from the International Energy Agency, BP’s Energy Outlook, and McKinsey — world demand for Exxon’s products, fossil fuels, is expected to increase and remain steady over the coming decades.

Natural gas demand, for example, surged last year, and McKinsey reports that gas demand will continue to increase from about 3,500 billion cubic feet (bcf) today to a peak of about 4,200 bcf in 2035 before declining slightly back to today’s level by 2050. Over the next 30 years, oil will also gain from 100 million barrels a day (MMBD) a year today to 108 MMBD a year in 2033 before falling back down to 100 MMBD by 2050.

That means that Exxon and other fossil-fuel companies are forecast to produce a total of 3,000 MMBD of oil over the next 30 years and 120,000 billion cubic feet of gas.

By most investment standards, this is no time to be divesting fossil-fuel stocks. If LGIM and other dumb fund management clucks agitating for sustainable investment and divestment want no part of it, then let them have their political fun. Sell, baby, sell. As they do their bit to keep the fossil-fuel stocks low, they are creating buying opportunities for smarter investors. In future, it seems, the world will need more Exxon.

Comment:  How is it that so-called professional wealth managers can be so crippled with wish dreams and political correctness?  Do they think that everyone with disposable income lives in their progressive, post-modern bubble?  I hope they lose their shirts.  (Except for Quebec pension fund who need to send me a check every month.)

Climate Zealots Throw Sand into Energy Supply

Roger Conrad reports on how the US energy infrastructure is hobbled by climate activists empowered by funds and lawyers. His article at Forbes is Best Bets On Pipeline Politics. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But barely two years back, permits for new US oil and especially natural gas pipelines were basically a formality.

Back then, the only US pipeline facing significant regulatory hurdles was TC Energy Corp’s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Alberta oil sands to US markets. And on the day the Obama Administration rejected that project for the final time, officials actually approved two oil pipelines elsewhere.

Everything changed following the November 2016 presidential election. Congress’ failure in 2016 to fill empty seats on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission led to the lack of quorum in early 2017.

New approvals ground to a halt for nearly six months. That gave “keep it in the ground” advocates precious time to tap into record fundraising, fueled by a groundswell of opposition to Trump Administration policies.

One result has been legal challenges to projects on an unprecedented scale at multiple venues. Work on Enbridge Inc’s (ENB, ENB) Line 3 pipeline expansion, for example, is now completed in Canada as well as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Project suspended in June 2017.

Courts, however, have overturned Minnesota regulators’ prior approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement. That’s forced officials to go through the process again, delaying completion at least until the second half of 2020.

We’ve also seen a decided shift to more restrictive energy politics in several states, notably Colorado. Others like New York have dug in further in refusing to grant water permits from long-delayed projects like the Constitution Pipeline. That’s triggered warnings of prospective natural gas shortages from New York City’s distribution utility Consolidated Edison ED +0% (ED), which is restricting new customer additions.

Time equals money when it comes to multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates a $2.75 million cost increase per mile of planned pipeline for every one-quarter delay in construction. The projected final cost of the Line 3 expansion, for example, is already billions higher than initial estimates.

Consequently, the game being played by pipeline opponents is to delay. That means mounting enough challenges to ramp up costs and ultimately convince developers to walk away. And for the first time, they have the funds to do the job.

Project abandoned in April 2016.

Opponents have been particularly successful quashing projects in New England and the Northeast US. To date, they’ve failed in Texas, where several giant pipelines are under construction. Kinder Morgan KMI +0% Inc (KMI) has one major gas pipeline from the Permian Basin coming on full stream later this year. It has another next year and a third in early stages of development.

Ground zero now in pipeline politics is the struggle of two projects in the Middle Atlantic/Southeast US to cross the Appalachian Trail: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

These projects’ ultimate success or failure will have a huge impact on the long-term profitability of Appalachia-based gas and oil producers, which are sitting on huge reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale. Ironically, the longer they’re delayed, the greater demand will be for Texas energy and by extension new pipelines in the state.

That will benefit Texas developers like Kinder Morgan and Plains All-American Pipeline (PAA), which is focused on oil. And it will hit pipeline companies in the East like EQM Midstream Partners LP (EQM), which faces a massive writeoff if the Mountain Valley Pipeline can’t win through.

To be sure, natural gas development especially still has plenty of support in the US. Replacing older coal-fired facilities with gas, for example, reduces operating costs and electricity rates. New plants increase utilities’ rate base, spurring earnings and dividend growth. And the prospective environmental benefits are enormous, cutting future legal liabilities.

Gas emits none of coal’s particulate matter, which is blamed for a host of respiratory woes. It emits no acid rain gases that have caused billions in property damage and creates no toxic ash.

As for carbon dioxide, equivalent sized gas power plants emit less than half what coal does. In fact, gas adoption is the single biggest reason America is still meeting greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris Accords. Finally, surging US energy production has dramatically shifted global energy politics, demonstrated by the relative lack of reaction in oil prices to elevated tensions in the Persian Gulf.

During the Obama years, those facts were more than enough to hold together a consensus for US natural gas development. And the result was a relatively easy path for pipeline approvals.

These days, that’s not enough for pipelines to succeed. The silver lining is the more difficult it becomes to build, the more valuable existing infrastructure and ultimately successful projects will be.

In the days when pipeline approvals were swift, any company raising funds economically could get projects built. These days, would-be developers need to be financially and operationally strong enough to handle legal challenges wherever they occur.

Footnote:  The Climatist Manifesto

Mission: Deindustrialize Civilization

Goal: Drive industrial corporations into Bankruptcy

Strategy: Cut off the Supply of Cheap, Reliable Energy

Tactics:

  • Raise the price of fossil fuels
  • Force the power grid to use expensive, unreliable renewables
  • Demonize Nuclear energy
  • Spread fear of extraction technologies such as fracking
  • Increase regulatory costs on energy production
  • Scare investors away from carbon energy companies
  • Stop pipelines because they are too safe and efficient
  • Force all companies to account for carbon usage and risk

See Also Why People Rely on Pipelines

Payback Upon Climate Grasshoppers

 

 

Superhuman Renewables Targets

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! It’s Superman.

New York is not the only climate cuckoo’s nest in the United States. Here are four more states promising efforts to install wind and solar power at rates that would exhaust Superman. EIA reports; Four states updated their renewable portfolio standards in the first half of 2019. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As of the end of 2018, 29 states and the District of Columbia had renewable portfolio standards (RPS), or polices that require electricity suppliers to source a certain portion of their electricity from designated renewable resources or eligible technologies. Four states—New Mexico, Washington, Nevada, and Maryland—and the District of Columbia have updated their RPS since the start of 2019.

States with legally binding RPS collectively accounted for 63% of electricity retail sales in the United States in 2018. In addition to the 29 states with binding RPS policies, 8 states have nonbinding renewable portfolio goals.

New Mexico increased its overall RPS target in March 2019 to 100% of electricity sales from carbon-free generation by 2045, up from the previous target of 20% renewable generation by 2020. The new policy only applies to investor-owned utilities; cooperative electric utilities have until 2050 to reach the 100% carbon-free generation goal. The target has intermittent goals of 50% renewable generation by 2030 and 80% renewable generation by 2040.

In April 2019, the Nevada legislature increased its RPS to 50% of sales from renewable generation by 2030, including a goal of 100% of electricity sales from clean energy by 2050. Later that month, Washington increased its RPS target to 100% of sales from carbon-neutral generation by 2045, an increase from the previous target of 15% of sales from renewable generation by 2020. In addition, the policy mandates a phaseout of coal-fired electricity generation in Washington by 2025. Nevada and Washington became the fourth and fifth states, respectively, to pass legislation for 100% clean electricity, following Hawaii, California, and New Mexico.

In May 2019, Maryland increased its overall RPS target to 50% of electricity sales from renewable generation by 2030, replacing the earlier target of 22.5% by 2024. In addition, the legislation mandates further study of the effects and the possibility of Maryland reaching 100% generation from renewables by 2040.

Carbon Tax Dubious Economics

How could 3508 economists be wrong? Let us count the ways.

Michael Davis writes at Regulation Magazine The signatories of the recent “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends” must address some important issues. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Economists are disagreeable people. And it’s good that they are. Most important economic questions are complex, multi-dimensional puzzles with no obvious, simple answers. But debate and disagreement advance our understanding of the world, and so good economists debate and disagree.

If you heard that thousands of the very best economists actually did agree on something, you’d probably think that it was something glaringly obvious—maybe they issued a joint statement condemning the designated hitter rule or calling for a total ban on Super Bowl halftime shows. But those aren’t the subject of the recent “Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends,” signed by 3,508 economists and released by the Climate Leadership Council. The statement supports the creation of a Pigouvian tax on U.S. carbon emissions on the grounds that “global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action,” and that “a carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.”

This agreement is remarkable! The environment and the economy are both complex systems. Intelligent people can agree on a few things involving them—of course, manmade global warming is real—but there is vast uncertainty about how the complex climate system interacts with the complex economic system to shape the human condition in the distant future. More importantly, core questions about climate change engage fundamental moral values about intergenerational equity. How to deal with climate change is the very epitome of a “wicked problem.”

[Note: Intelligent people also note that in the world (as opposed to models) manmade global warming has yet to be detected separately from natural global warming. I understand the author is not questioning the science or the impacts (later on), but is raising serious issues about the policy proposal.]

This is a serious proposal advanced by serious people to deal with a serious problem. But it is also a radical proposal. According to a joint study by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the Urban Institute–Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, in the first year the tax would amount to about $2,000 for a family of four. No matter what is done with the tax revenues, this proposal would have far-reaching economic consequences.

And so, before we get too far along, we need a proper argument over this proposal’s merits. Here, then, are five important questions about the plan. Let’s hope these questions lead to some disagreeable, but fruitful, discussions.

QUESTION 1: What if these economists are right about the principle but wrong about the tax rate?

The principle behind the carbon tax makes perfect economic sense. The market price of any good reflects at least some of the costs of making that good. The price of a gallon of gas, for example, needs to be high enough to compensate all those who worked to get the gas into your car. But some goods—and gasoline is one of them—impose costs on others that are not reflected in the price. Economists call these costs “negative externalities.” If burning a gallon of gas causes damage to coastal property, drivers are not paying the full price of their consumption and that distorts their consumption choices. That’s unfair and inefficient.

The obvious solution is to levy a Pigouvian tax equal to the harm caused, forcing consumers to shoulder the externality cost of their consumption and, perhaps, change their consumption pattern. But we have very little idea of the magnitude of the actual harm from a ton of CO2 emissions and so we don’t really know how high this carbon tax should be. Estimates of the “Social Cost of Carbon” published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate that a ton of CO2-equivalent released in 2020 could cause harm of as little as $5 or as much as $123. (This roughly translates to a range of between 4¢ and $1 of damage from the burning of a gallon of gas.) The $40-per-ton tax suggested by the Statement signatories is a kind of average of several disparate estimates. As such, it is almost certainly the wrong number.

These economists will, no doubt, point out that the current carbon tax of zero is also wrong. But that observation, alone, is not enough to justify the proposed tax because setting the rate in excess of the actual external harm would cause real economic damage.

The economic argument in favor of carbon taxes needs to be coupled with a clear understanding that cheap, abundant energy has been an essential part of recent human progress. Fossil fuels provide food, shelter, health care, education, the arts, and countless other goods. They are not some vile poison, and consuming fossil fuels is not a shameful sin. When something is taxed, less is consumed. If, as seems likely, we consume too much energy from carbon-based resources, a tax can help to moderate that consumption appropriately. But if the tax is too high, we will consume too little. If we consume too little, we will miss out on some of the benefits that come from fossil fuels.

Here’s another problem related to the practical question of the appropriate carbon tax rate: Many fossil fuels are already heavily taxed. For example, the average tax on motor fuels is now about 48¢ per gallon, the equivalent to a tax of $54 per ton of carbon. These taxes exist mostly to raise revenue for transportation infrastructure, not control some other externality. Should the proposed new carbon tax be in addition to those existing taxes?

QUESTION 2: Should the United States impose carbon taxes even if the rest of the world does not?

In 2019 the world will produce a bit more than 35 gigatons of CO2-equivalent emissions. The United States will contribute about 5 gigatons to that total. The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that, in 2040, world emissions will increase to 43 gigatons while U.S. emissions will drop by a small amount. A 2018 report by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University forecasts that if we impose a tax of $50 per ton of carbon in 2020 and increase that tax by 2% per year, annual U.S. emissions will fall by 13%–29% by 2030. But by 2030, U.S. emissions will be less than 15% of the world total. Even under the best-case scenario, our carbon tax would reduce global emissions by less than 5% and climate change will continue.

If the rest of the world doesn’t join us, the U.S. carbon tax won’t matter. This leads to a related problem. If the United States levies a carbon tax, it becomes more expensive for U.S. firms to make and transport goods. That means a U.S. carbon tax will reward those countries that don’t do anything to reduce their emissions by giving those places a competitive advantage. Exploiting that advantage will likely be too much of a temptation for others—especially developing countries with desperately poor people—to ignore. It is even possible that by pushing energy-intensive production to places with no controls on carbon emissions, this policy will make global emissions worse.

QUESTION 3: Doesn’t the “border-adjustment tax” that has to be part of the plan present enormous practical and political problems?

This carbon tax should not just apply to U.S. emissions, but to foreign emissions resulting from goods imported into the United States. Assessing a border-adjustment tax on these goods would be difficult from both an economic and political perspective. For example, almost 5% of the world’s carbon emissions result from the production of cement. But different production technologies for cement and different modes of transportation result in vastly different emissions. Even though two different shipments of cement may be practically identical, they won’t have similar carbon footprints. How would U.S. authorities determine which bags of cement face what tax rates?

The political problems are also tough. First of all, to the rest of the world a border-adjustment tax would seem like a tariff. How would we impose this tax without violating treaty obligations and without inviting retaliation? Second, how would we keep the crony capitalists away from the treats? The temptation to game the system for competitive advantage would be enormous.

QUESTION 4: What about adaptation?

All but the most apocalyptic of the potential harms from global warming can be managed through some type of adaptation to the changing climate. Building practices, for example, can be changed to deal with the threat of rising sea levels. There is also the possibility of some sort of geo-engineering solution. Remember that atmospheric CO2 is an otherwise harmless substance and that the burning of fossil fuels is enormously valuable. This means that if it is less costly to adapt to the effects of a ton of CO2 emissions than it is to eliminate the carbon, we should adapt. But to the extent that the carbon tax actually works to reduce CO2 emissions, it creates disincentives to adapt.

The proponents of a tax might say that the estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon already balance adaptation costs. The problem with that argument, though, is that the most effective adaptation solutions probably haven’t been created. New technologies to deal with climate change—altering agriculture practices, geo-engineering solutions, and other initiatives we can’t currently imagine— may well prove extraordinarily effective and efficient. An effective carbon tax reduces the incentive to find those solutions that allow us to enjoy the benefits of fossil fuel use without much cost.

QUESTION 5: Isn’t economic growth much more important than lowering CO2?

Every four years, a distinguished group of analysts delivers to Congress the “National Climate Assessment.” The latest version came out last November and was full of sobering projections. Anyone who chooses to ignore the threat of global warming should read what it has to say. Among the direst warnings was a graphic showing that if the worst-case scenario played out, by 2100 the effects of global warming would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by about 15% from current projections. To put that number in perspective, during the 2008 recession GDP fell by about 1%. That was accompanied by huge increases in unemployment and economic dislocation. Between 1929 and 1933, the worst years of the Great Depression, GDP fell by about 34%. That led to tremendous misery and, arguably, a world war. Remember, too, that the potential decline of 15% of GDP in 2100 isn’t just a short-term event. As bad as the Great Depression was, the economy recovered. The scary scenario is that by failing to address global warming, we will cause future generations to suffer a huge permanent decline in GDP.

But there’s another thing to keep in mind: if the United States could boost annual GDP growth rates between now and 2100 by an additional 0.2 percentage points, by the year 2100 U.S. GDP would be more than 17% larger than is currently projected. Think about it this way: Suppose that you had to pick between two tax policies. The first would reduce U.S. carbon emissions and maybe prevent the potential loss of 15% of GDP by 2100. The second would increase annual growth rates by 0.2 percentage points, increasing GDP by 17% by 2100.

As you’re picking between the choices, keep in mind that even if the carbon policy controls U.S. emissions, it is uncertain whether the rest of the world will go along and climate change will stop. Remember, too, that there is huge uncertainty about the specifics of global warming. The carbon emissions policies target the worst-case scenario. The GDP growth policy, on the other hand, doesn’t depend on the rest of the world and the benefits are guaranteed by the simple mathematics of compound growth.

Don’t try to waive off this choice by saying you want to do it all. We all want many things, but what we can have is bounded by our scarce resources. This particular group of distinguished economists has—quite deservedly—an impressive stock of political capital and prestige. But political capital and prestige are two such scarce resources. Why target carbon taxes rather than growth-enhancing tax reform?

Climate lemmings sticking together.

CONCLUSION

Let’s end where we started, with a call for a conversation. These five questions aren’t intended as some snarky put-down of a silly economic proposal. No good economist—and certainly none of the 3,508 who signed the Statement—should feel disrespectfully challenged by these questions. There are intelligent responses to each of these questions. And at the end of the discussion, we should all have a better idea about whether the answers are good enough to go ahead with the tax.

Fort Lauderdale Repels Climate Pirates

This just in from Erin Mundahl writing at Energy In Depth Fort Lauderdale Deals Another Blow to Climate Litigation Campaign. The article will appear below in italics with my bolds. But first some background.

Background on Climate Piracy

Those paying attention have noticed for some years now a new type of pirate has emerged: Climate Lawyers. Taking their game plan from the Tobacco Pirates, they are now targeting a different set of deep pockets: Big Oil Companies. Since 30+ Billion US dollars were extracted from tobacco companies (including contingency fees to lawyers), a comparable, if not larger payday is sought by these new corporate raiders. Unlike Somali pirates who attacked the tankers themselves, Climate Lawyers are using the courts to sue Big Oil for damages their products cause consumers. In order to succeed in these lawsuits, they recruit jurisdictions like states or cities to claim they have been victimized by having fossil fuel products imposed upon them.

[Full Disclosure: The photo above symbolically depicts Climate Lawyers in the boat confronting an oil tanker, when in fact they won’t get their suits wet. The original image was a Greenpeace zodiac]

Fort Lauderdale Stands Up Against Pressure from Climate Lawyers

It’s a bright day for Fort Lauderdale. Despite a full-court press by climate activists, city officials have decided not to pursue a climate liability lawsuit. This is a blow for climate activists, who are hoping to expand their litigation campaign into Florida.

Over the past six months, lawyers and environmental groups have devoted considerable time and effort to persuading cities in the Sunshine State to join their quixotic climate litigation campaign. Despite their efforts, Fort Lauderdale was not convinced.

EarthRights International hides behind NGO to lobby city officials.

Released emails show that EarthRights International, the Rockefeller-funded organization representing the City and County of Boulder and San Miguel County in their climate change lawsuit, and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) coordinated to lobby Fort Lauderdale city officials throughout 2018.

In June, Mayor Dean Trantalis and his chief of staff, Scott Wyman, received emails from a Miami Beach lobbyist, Seth Platt. Platt was hired to represent IGSD, which runs the Center for Climate Integrity, a project that “supports meritorious climate cases aimed at holding fossil fuel companies and other climate polluters liable for the damages they have caused.” The emails show that Platt was eager to introduce Trantalis and Wyman to EarthRights International (ERI) and their agent, Jorge Musuli, who Platt said was working with the City of Miami to file a climate nuisance lawsuit:

“I have invited Jorge Mursuli to the meeting as his group, [ERI], is working with the City of Miami to file a lawsuit. We are trying to collaborate on advocacy in Broward.”

Sher Edling joins EarthRights International in their pursuit

In a surprising twist of fate, ERI added another plaintiffs’ attorney firm involved in climate litigation, Sher Edling, as co-counsel in their pursuit of the city. By July, Seth Platt had arranged for Vic Sher and Matt Edling, who represent more than a dozen cities in climate cases, to join ERI for a meeting with Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Alain Boileau. After the meeting, Boileau followed up with the mayor, telling his boss about the “positive meeting” he had had with Sher, Edling, Marco Simons (general counsel for ERI), and Mursuli, all thanks to Platt.

Records show that Platt conducted all of these meetings on behalf of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development – not ERI. When pressed on this by local reporters, Platt did not respond.

IGSD finds itself at the center of the climate litigation campaign…. again

Platt’s lobbying affiliation highlights the well-coordinated network of climate activism aimed at taking down fossil fuels by any means necessary. IGSD is a key player in a carefully organized media campaign that rehashes a stale, repeatedly debunked story for the sake of silencing dissent . Richard Wiles, who serves as the ringleader for their climate litigation campaign, produced the IGSD-funded podcast Drilled and published Climate Liability News, an activist site designed to promote climate litigation.

ERI fails to impress the City Commission

In October ERI General Counsel Marco Simons gave a presentation to Trantalis and the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. The meeting was a full court press that emphasized how climate change could hurt city finances and how wealthy anti-fossil fuel foundations were willing to foot the bill for the lawsuit. Simons explained their strategy during the pitch:

At the litigation stage it would be necessary to join together with co-counsel from private firms. They would be interested in pursuing this on a contingency fee-basis… And it would be a combination of our pro-bono representation and a private firm, contingent fee representation, again with no up-front cost to the city and that’s the model that’s been done in all of these cases so far.”

Thankfully, Fort Lauderdale decided to resist the pressure. Despite the focus Simons put on how the lawsuit could financially benefit the city, it would tie the city up in litigation for months or years, taking attention away from much needed resiliency projects. So far, none of the plaintiffs – or the cities – pursuing climate litigation across the country have seen a dime. Meanwhile, the major green donors financing the pro bono legal work are using the lawsuits to promote their own climate agenda, both in the courtroom and the court of public opinion.

Local voices also reject lawsuits

Over the past several months, op-ed pieces in papers around Florida have emphasized that suing energy companies distracts attention from the harms of climate change and discourages cooperation between industry and government. In a Naples Daily News op-ed this spring, Sal Nuzzo of the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute, criticized using lawsuits to develop state policy, instead pushing for cooperation between businesses and government for environmental issues:

“For policies to succeed, public officials must work with business…Florida’s unemployment rate is low and our economy is growing at a faster pace than the U.S. economy overall in part because our tax and regulatory burdens are lower than many other states. A hostile approach toward manufacturers would ill serve our state and hinder efforts to address environmental issues.”

Not only does litigation waste taxpayer money, it also distracts from state-level policies that are making meaningful improvements to Florida’s environment. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) “went green” in the words of political columnist Barney Bishop, who wrote in the Sunshine State News to praise the governor for his plan to invest heavily in resiliency efforts and Everglades restoration and water cleanup, an approach he contrasted with that of “public officials working hand in hand with activists”:

“The reality is that real-life actions like the ones being taken by Gov. Ron DeSantis are the best way to help our environment. Lawsuits such as these offer no real benefit and only serve to threaten American companies and American jobs.”

It’s a good thing Fort Lauderdale saw through the scam.

See also US State Attorneys Push Back on Climate Lawsuits

See also Is Global Warming A Public Nuisance?