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

 

 

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.

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

 

Oil Demand No End in Sight

Your next car? NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Michael Lynch writes at Forbes  Peak Oil Demand! Again?  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Amid stubbornly low prices and lackluster demand we’re now seeing, on cue, a new round of predictions that oil demand has already or is about to peak (including even scenarios published by BP). These cannot be dismissed out of hand — as the peak oil supply arguments could, inasmuch as they were either based on bad math or represented assumptions that the industry couldn’t continue overcoming its age-old problems like depletion. (See my book The Peak Oil Scare if you want the full treatment.)

Now, the news is highlighting various predictions that the pandemic will accelerate the point at which global oil demand peaks, which is certainly much more sexy than business as usual. When groups like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club predict or advocate for peak oil demand, it doesn’t make much news: dog bites man. But, as the newspeople say, when man bites dog it is news. Thus, when oil company execs seem to believe peak oil demand is near, you get headlines like, “BP Says the Era of Oil Demand-Growth is Over,” The Guardian newspaper proclaiming that “Even the Oil Giants Can Now Foresee the End of the Oil Age,” and Reuters in July: “End game for oil? OPEC prepares for an age of dwindling demand.”

Anyone who is familiar with the oil industry knows that a peak in oil production has been predicted many times throughout the decades, never to come true (or deter future predictions of same). But few realize that the end of the industry has been repeatedly predicted as well, including both the demise of an old-fashioned business model, but also replacement of petroleum by newer, better technologies or fuels.

Until the 1970s, few saw an end to the oil business. The automobile boom created a seemingly insatiable demand for oil, one which has only slowed when prices rose and/or economic growth stalled, neither of which has ever proved permanent.

Yet there have been three particular apocalyptic threads put forward for the oil industry: the industry would spiral into decline, demand would peak, and/or a new fuel or technology would displace petroleum.

The oil industry’s business model was challenged as far back as 1977, when Mobil XOM +1.3% CEO Rawleigh Warner tried to diversify out of the oil business for fear that those who didn’t would “go the way of the buggy-whip makers.” Similarly, Mike Bowlin, ARCO’s CEO, declared in 1999 “We’ve embarked on the beginning of the last days of oil.” Enron’s Jeff Skilling (whatever happened to him?) said he “had little use for anything that smacked of a traditional energy company — calling companies like Exxon Mobil ‘dinosaurs’”

Vanishing demand has been another common motif for prognosticators, especially when high prices caused demand to slump. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson (whatever happened to him?) thought in 2009, when gasoline prices were $4/gallon, that gasoline demand had peaked in 2007. (The figure below shows how that worked out.)

Gasoline demand peaks then recovers U.S. Gasoline Demand (tb/d) THE AUTHOR FROM EIA DATA.

Sheikh Yamani, the former Saudi Oil Minister, warned in 2000 that in thirty years there would be “no buyers” for oil, because fuel cell technology would be commercial by the end of that decade. (From 2000, oil demand increased by 20 mb/d before the pandemic.) The fabled Economist magazine agreed with Yamani in 2003, “Finally, advances in technology are beginning to offer a way for economies, especially those of the developed world, to diversify their supplies of energy and reduce their demand for petroleum…Hydrogen fuel cells and other ways of storing and distributing energy are no longer a distant dream but a foreseeable reality.”

They might have been echoing William Ford, CEO of Ford Motor Company F +0.6%, who said in 2000, “Fuel cells could be the predominant automotive power source in 25 years.” Twenty years later, they are insignificant.

Amory Lovins, whose has probably received more awards than Tom Hanks, has long argued that extremely efficient (and expensive) cars would reduce gasoline demand substantially, including in his (and co-authors) Winning the Oil Endgame, which argued that a combination of efficiency and celluslosic ethanol could replace our imports from the Persian Gulf (then about 2.5 mb/d). (They’ve been replaced, but by shale oil, and demand was unchanged since their prediction.)

He was hardly alone, with Richard Lugar and James Woolsey in a 1999 Foreign Affairs article calling cellulosic ethanol “The New Petroleum.” Perhaps they relied on a 1996 Atlantic article by Charles Curtis and Joseph Room (“Mideast Oil Forever”) which argued that cellulosic ethanol should see its cost fall to about $1/gallon (adjusted for inflation). (In 2017, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory put the cost at $5/gallon.)

One of my persistent themes has been that too much writing is not based on rigorous analysis but superficial ideas, a few anecdotes and footnotes, supposedly supporting Herculean changes.

(See Tom Nichols The Death of Expertise.) Peak oil demand is the flavor of the month and people are rushing to publish predictions, prescriptions, guidelines, and fantastical views of a fantastical future. But petroleum remains by far the fuel of choice in transportation and the pandemic seems unlikely to change that. Sexy should be left for HBO and not energy analysis.

There are many reasons the demand for fossil fuels is strong and growing.  

Footnote:  Shareholder activism against Big Oil is based on a cascade of unlikely suppositions including declining demand and stranded assets.  See: Behind the Alarmist Scene

 

 

Stop Pension Funds Gambling on Energy Fads

Haley Zaremba writes at oilprice Will Trump’s Proposed ESG Regulation Help Big Oil? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The ESG Push to Gamble Pension Funds on Climate Concerns

Instead of joining the financial revolution geared toward environmental, social, and governance (ESG) that many experts believe is coming down the pike (with or without the cooperation of the United States) the Trump administration has actively fought against this likely inevitability. A new proposed regulation from the United States Department of Labor would explicitly bar the department from taking ESG into consideration in decision making concerning U.S. employer-provided pension funds. Ostensibly, this move is because the government doesn’t believe that the nation’s pension fund managers are doing a good job, but many critics see this as a blatant attempt to redirect investment dollars towards fossil fuels, which are increasingly falling out of favor with investors.

[Note: The author’s bias shows, favoring subsidized wind and solar enterprises over oil and gas companies that provide reliable energy powering modern civilization, reliable returns and tax revenues.]

This week Bloomberg Green reported that in this new proposed ruling, “the language reaffirms the standard interpretation of fiduciary guidelines that only financial risks and returns can be considered in the management of U.S. employer-provided pension funds; ‘non-pecuniary goals,’ for example relating to political or public policy, should not guide pension investments.” As Bloomberg Green points out in the report, “The timing is ironic, coming as the fossil fuel industry begins to confront existential questions about its near-term future. It would almost be amusing if it wasn’t for the fear, uncertainty, and doubt the proposal leaves in its wake.”

For Balance, Consider How Risky are Wind and Solar Investments

Paul Driessen writes at CFACT Reporting renewable energy risks.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The whole thrust of the ESG campaign is to burden oil, gas and coal companies with additional reporting and scrutiny regarding hypothetical global warming impacts and to downgrade their worth in investors’ eyes.  Driessen correctly points to the risk of renewable energy projects collapsing when public support and tax dollars are withdrawn, as is already happening in some European countries.

If efficient energy companies must disclose climate-related financial risks, so should renewables.

Replacing coal, gas and nuclear electricity, internal combustion vehicles, gas for home heating, and coal and gas for factories – and using batteries as backup power for seven windless, sunless days – would require some 8.5 billion megawatts. Generating that much electricity would require some 75 billion solar panels … or 4.2 million 1.8-MW onshore wind turbines … or 320,000 10-MW offshore wind turbines … or a combination of those technologies … some 3.5 billion 100-kWh batteries … hundreds of new transmission lines – and mining and manufacturing on scales far beyond anything the world has ever seen.

That is not clean, green, renewable energy. It is ecologically destructive and completely unsustainable – financially, ecologically and politically. That means any company, community, bank, investor or pension fund venturing into “renewable energy” technologies would be taking enormous risks.

Once citizens, voters and investors begin to grasp:

  • (a) the quicksand foundations under alarmist climate models and forecasts;
  • (b) the fact that African, Asian and even some European countries will only increase their fossil fuel use for decades to come;
  • (c) the hundreds of millions of acres of US scenic and wildlife habitat lands that would be covered by turbines, panels, batteries, biofuel crops and forests clear cut to fuel “climate-friendly” biofuel power plants; and
  • (d) the bird, bat and other animal species that would disappear under this onslaught – they will rebel. Renewable energy markets will implode.

Growing outrage over child labor, near-slave labor, and minimal to nonexistent worker health and safety, pollution control and environmental reclamation regulations in foreign countries where materials are mined and “renewable” energy technologies manufactured will intensify the backlash and collapse. As the shift to GND energy systems brings increasing reliance on Chinese mining and manufacturing, sends electricity rates skyrocketing, kills millions of American jobs and causes US living standards to plummet, any remaining support for wind, solar and other “renewable” technologies will evaporate.

Pension funds and publicly owned companies should therefore be compelled to disclose the risks to their operations, supply chains, “renewable energy portfolio” mandates, subsidies, feed-in tariffs, profits, employees, valuation and very existence from embarking on or investing in renewable energy technologies or facilities. They should be compelled to fully analyze and report on every aspect of these risks.

The White House, Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve, Committee on Financial Stability, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and other relevant agencies should immediately require that publicly owned companies, corporate retirement plans and public pension funds evaluate and disclose at least the following fundamental aspects of “renewable” operations:

* How many wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, biofuel plants and miles of transmission lines will be required under various GND plans? Where? Whose scenic and wildlife areas will be impacted?

* How will rural and coastal communities react to being made energy colonies for major cities?

* How much concrete, steel, aluminum, copper, cobalt, lithium, rare earth elements and other material will be needed for every project and cumulatively – and where exactly will they come from?

* How many tons of overburden and ore will be removed and processed for every ton of metals and minerals required? How many injuries and deaths will occur in the mines, processing plants and factories?

* What per-project and cumulative fossil fuel use, CO2 and pollution emissions, land use impacts, water demands, family and community dislocations, and other impacts will result?

* What wages will be paid? How much child labor will be involved? What labor, workplace safety, pollution control and other laws, regulations, standards and practices will apply in each country?

* What human cancer and other disease incidents and deaths are likely? How many wildlife habitats will be destroyed? How many birds, bats and other wildlife displaced, killed or driven to extinction?

* For ethanol and biodiesel, how much acreage, water, fertilizer, pesticide and fossil fuel will be required? For power plant biofuel, how many acres of forest will be cut, and how long they will take to regrow?

* What “responsible sourcing” laws apply for all these materials, and how much will they raise costs?

* How will home, business, hospital, defense, factory, grid and other systems be protected against hacking and power disruptions caused by agents of overseas wind, solar and other manufacturers?

* What costs and materials are required to convert existing home and commercial heating systems to all-electricity, upgrade electrical grids and systems for rapid electric vehicle charging, and address the intermittent, unpredictable, weather-dependent realities of Green New Deal energy sources?

* What price increases per kWh per annum will families, businesses, offices, farms, factories, hospitals, schools and other consumers face, as state and national electrical systems are converted to GND sources?

* How many power interruptions will occur every year, how will they hurt families, factories and other users – and what will be the cumulative economic and productivity damage from those power outages?

* To what extent will policies, laws, regulations, court decisions, and citizen opposition, protests, legal actions and sabotage delay or block wind, solar, biofuel, battery, mining and transmission projects?

* How many solar panels, wind turbine blades, batteries and other components (numbers, tons and cubic feet) will have to be disposed of every year? How much landfill space and incineration will be required?

* How accurately are climate model predictions of temperatures, sea levels, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts and extreme weather events that are being used to justify renewable energy programs?

These issues (and many others) underscore the extremely high risks associated with Green New Deal energy programs – and why it is essential for lenders, investment companies, pension funds, manufacturers, utility companies and other industries to analyze, disclose and report renewable energy risks, with significant penalties for failing to do so or falsifying any pertinent information.

See Also Cutting Through the Fog of Renewable Power Costs

2020 Update: Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

gas in hands

Previous posts addressed the claim that fossil fuels are driving global warming. This post updates that analysis with the latest (2019) numbers from BP Statistics and compares World Fossil Fuel Consumption (WFFC) with three estimates of Global Mean Temperature (GMT). More on both these variables below.

WFFC

2019 statistics are now available from BP for international consumption of Primary Energy sources. 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. 

The reporting categories are:
Oil
Natural Gas
Coal
Nuclear
Hydro
Renewables (other than hydro)

Note:  British Petroleum (BP) for the first time uses Exajoules to replace MToe (Million Tonnes of oil equivalents.) It is logical to use an energy metric which is independent of the fuel source. OTOH renewable advocates have no doubt pressured BP to stop using oil as the baseline since their dream is a world without fossil fuel energy.

From BP conversion table 1 exajoule (EJ) = 1 quintillion joules (1 x 10^18). Oil products vary from 41.6 to 49.4 tonnes per gigajoule (10^9 joules).  Comparing this annual report with previous years shows that global Primary Energy (PE) in MToe is roughly 24 times the same amount in Exajoules.  The conversion factor at the macro level varies from year to year depending on the fuel mix. The graphs below use the new metric.

This analysis combines the first three, Oil, Gas, and Coal for total fossil fuel consumption world wide. The chart below shows the patterns for WFFC compared to world consumption of Primary Energy from 1965 through 2019.

To enlarge, open image in new tabl

The graph shows that global Primary Energy consumption from all sources has grown continuously over 5 decades. Since 1965  oil, gas and coal (FF, sometimes termed “Thermal”) averaged 89% of PE consumed, ranging from 94% in 1965 to 84% in 2019.

Global Mean Temperatures

Everyone acknowledges that GMT is a fiction since temperature is an intrinsic property of objects, and varies dramatically over time and over the surface of the earth. No place on earth determines “average” temperature for the globe. Yet for the purpose of detecting change in temperature, major climate data sets estimate GMT and report anomalies from it.

UAH record consists of satellite era global temperature estimates for the lower troposphere, a layer of air from 0 to 4km above the surface. HadSST estimates sea surface temperatures from oceans covering 71% of the planet. HADCRUT combines HadSST estimates with records from land stations whose elevations range up to 6km above sea level.

Both GISS LOTI (land and ocean) and HADCRUT4 (land and ocean) use 14.0 Celsius as the climate normal, so I will add that number back into the anomalies. This is done not claiming any validity other than to achieve a reasonable measure of magnitude regarding the observed fluctuations.

No doubt global sea surface temperatures are typically higher than 14C, more like 17 or 18C, and of course warmer in the tropics and colder at higher latitudes. Likewise, the lapse rate in the atmosphere means that air temperatures both from satellites and elevated land stations will range colder than 14C. Still, that climate normal is a generally accepted indicator of GMT.

Correlations of GMT and WFFC

The next graph compares WFFC to GMT estimates over the five decades from 1965 to 2019 from HADCRUT4, which includes HadSST3.

Since 1965 the increase in fossil fuel consumption is dramatic and monotonic, steadily increasing by 237% from 146 to 492 exajoules.  Meanwhile the GMT record from Hadcrut shows multiple ups and downs with an accumulated rise of 0.9C over 54 years, 6% of the starting value.

The graph below compares WFFC to GMT estimates from UAH6, and HadSST3 for the satellite era from 1979 to 2019, a period of 40 years.

In the satellite era WFFC has increased at a compounded rate of nearly 2% per year, for a total increase of 87% since 1979. At the same time, SST warming amounted to 0.52C, or 3.7% of the starting value.  UAH warming was 0.58C, or 4.7% up from 1979.  The temperature compounded rate of change is 0.1% per year, an order of magnitude less than WFFC.  Even more obvious is the 1998 El Nino peak and flat GMT since.

Summary

The climate alarmist/activist claim is straight forward: Burning fossil fuels makes measured temperatures warmer. The Paris Accord further asserts that by reducing human use of fossil fuels, further warming can be prevented.  Those claims do not bear up under scrutiny.

It is enough for simple minds to see that two time series are both rising and to think that one must be causing the other. But both scientific and legal methods assert causation only when the two variables are both strongly and consistently aligned. The above shows a weak and inconsistent linkage between WFFC and GMT.

Going further back in history shows even weaker correlation between fossil fuels consumption and global temperature estimates:

wfc-vs-sat

Figure 5.1. Comparative dynamics of the World Fuel Consumption (WFC) and Global Surface Air Temperature Anomaly (ΔT), 1861-2000. The thin dashed line represents annual ΔT, the bold line—its 13-year smoothing, and the line constructed from rectangles—WFC (in millions of tons of nominal fuel) (Klyashtorin and Lyubushin, 2003). Source: Frolov et al. 2009

In legal terms, as long as there is another equally or more likely explanation for the set of facts, the claimed causation is unproven. The more likely explanation is that global temperatures vary due to oceanic and solar cycles. The proof is clearly and thoroughly set forward in the post Quantifying Natural Climate Change.

Background context for today’s post is at Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming.

Disunity Over Going Green

Joel Kotkin writes at Real Clear Energy The Green Civil War. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

Like many contemporary social movements—#metoo, Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March—the environmental lobby has tended to create an atmosphere of unanimity. In its struggle to win public and elite opinion, it has frequently evoked “science” as something settled and immutable, warning that those who dissent are either self-serving or seriously deranged.

Yet in recent months, there has been growing criticism about the current green orthodoxy, including from people long associated with environmental causes. This has been most widely seen in the strange case of the Michael Moore–produced Planet of Humans, which exposes the rapacious profit-seeking and gratuitous environmental damage caused by the renewable energy industry.

Critics have attempted to get Moore’s film de-platformed, and the green establishment has pressured distributors not to take the film. Such censorious behavior is increasingly common among the greens. Some veteran climate scientists—such as Roger Pielke and Judith Curry, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, and former members of the UN International Panel on Climate Change—have been demonized and marginalized for deviating from what Curry has described as an overly “monolithic” approach to the issue of climate change. Some political leaders even seem ready to take dissenters to court in an effort to ban their ideas by legal means. Not only energy companies but think tanks and dissident scientists have been targeted for criminal prosecution. These tactics are all too reminiscent of the medieval Inquisition.

The Green War on the Working Class

Moore’s apostasy may be better known but lacks the breadth of Michael Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never. A green zealot from his high school years, the Berkeley-based Shellenberger has worked on protecting habitats for endangered species and has battled climate change. His book, like Moore’s movie, exposes the hypocrisy of the green elite but, importantly, offers a more hopeful approach than Moore’s Malthusian worldview.

Like Moore, Shellenberger has become utterly disillusioned with the self-serving and often counterproductive policies pushed by the green lobby. He demonstrates how green policies backed by oligarch-funded nonprofits have often worked against the economic interests of people in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, often leaving them with little recourse but to pillage their own natural environments.

Shellenberger blasts green nonprofits for blocking new energy development—dams, gas plants, pipelines—in these countries. Such actions may seem noble enough to the rich of the West, but it slows the manufacturing growth that could allow these countries to become rich enough to accommodate such things as habitat preservation. People working in textile or garment plants need not rely on the jungle for their survival, reducing the need to consume its bounty.

“Rainforests in the Amazon and elsewhere in the world can only be saved if the need for economic development is accepted, respected, and embraced,” Shellenberger states. “By opposing many forms of economic development in the Amazon, particularly the most productive forms, many environmental NGOs, European governments, and philanthropies have made the situation worse.”

Green plans to raise energy prices, eliminate cars, and ban fossil fuel development also have stirred fierce opposition from the working class, whether in pro-Trump middle America, or among France’s gilets jaune. But it’s not just the proverbial angry white men. In California, some 200 local civil rights leaders have filed lawsuits against the state’s regulators, arguing that the state’s climate policies are essentially discriminatory toward poor people and minorities.

Challenging Religious Orthodoxy

Even before Black Lives Matter, mainstream American journalism was being transformed into an extended-stay resort for the woke. Shellenberger calls out “stealth environmental activists working as journalists” who report the most drastic environmental projections while ignoring any contrary perspectives. “Much of what people are being told about the environment, including the climate, is wrong, and we desperately need to get it right,” he insists, suggesting that he is “fed up with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism.”

Shellenberger places his hopes on “competition from outside traditional news media institutions,” having seen the gullibility of most reporters. For decades, they have embraced notions, first seen in Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb, that humanity would “breed ourselves to extinction” if birthrates were not severely curtailed. Reporters also widely hailed the Club of Rome report in 1972, which took a similar apocalyptic approach, predicting massive shortages of natural resources unless there was a shift to lower birthrates, slower economic growth, less material consumption, and, ultimately, less social mobility.

Many of these apocalyptic predictions, like those in the Middle Ages, proved exaggerated or even plain wrong. Contrary to environmentalist dogma from the 1970s, natural resources, including energy and food, did not run out but became more available than anyone expected. So why the constant hyping and hysteria? Because what Shellenberger calls “the apocalyptic environmental tradition” demands it.

In a way that perhaps only someone bitten by the green bug could understand, Shellenberger labels environmentalism as “the dominant secular religion of the educated, upper-middle-class elite in most developed and many developing nations.” This applies, he reports, not only to seemingly deranged cults like Britain’s Extinction Rebellion but also to august environmental groups like the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth. Christianity offered guidance for how one should live and conduct one’s personal affairs in a manner pleasing to God, but the green movement seeks to steer people toward a life in better harmony with nature.

Like medieval Catholicism, the green faith foresees impending doom caused by human activity; human sin was the primary reason for the world’s problems in medieval times, and has been rediscovered by environmentalists. “Apocalyptic environmentalism gives people a purpose: to save the world from climate change, or some other environmental disaster,” Shellenberger writes. “It provides people with a story that casts them as heroes“.”

Needed: A New Human-Centered Approach to the Environment

Perhaps what is most revolutionary about Shellenberger’s book is his call for a new, more human-centered, environmentalism. In contrast to the green movement’s jihad against material progress, he suggests that only by making people more affluent will they be able to afford the environmental redress that the planet, in fact, needs.

Rather than battle industrialism, greens need to appreciate what technological progress has done for the environment. The development of plastics helped reduce demand for ivory, hawksbill turtles, whale oil, and the despoiling of old forests. Dealing pragmatically, as opposed to religiously, with environmental concerns, means accepting the reality that some forms of efficient energy production, such as natural gas or nuclear, need to be part of a cleaner future. “It is only by embracing the artificial that we can save what’s natural,” he states.

The key to environmental success lies in affluence. “Richer countries are more resilient,” he says, quoting MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel, “so let us focus on making people richer and more resilient.” Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and particularly Scandinavia become cleaner, in large part, because they can afford to do so and also must respond to popular pressures. Poor autocratic and officially socialist states, like those of the former Soviet bloc and China, did not face the same pressures for a cleaner environment.

In the future, to succeed, environmental policy has to consider human concerns, particularly those of the working and middle classes. It needs not only to “protect the natural environment but also to achieve the goal of universal prosperity.” Thus Shellenberger speaks of “a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism.” Like any movement in a still-democratic society, he suggests, environmentalists can win over the population not by terrorizing them but by showing that we can protect nature without stomping out all natural human aspirations.

Coal Needed to Power Recovery

By Conor Bernstein explains at Real Clear Energy  For Energy, Affordability, Reliability, and Balance Matter More Now Than Ever.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

While we are still in the throes of the crisis, it’s essential we already plan for the recovery. Affordable, secure and reliable power will be all the more important as the nation tries to get back on its feet.

But, if we aren’t careful, near-term market conditions could accelerate retirements of additional well-operating coal plants, further eroding the balanced electricity mix that has long ensured affordable, reliable power in markets across the country.

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, cracks were emerging in regional grids where fuel security and balance have been traded for increased reliance on just-in-time fuel delivery. Shrinking reserve margins, flirtations with rolling blackouts and spiking wholesale electricity prices are becoming far too common for comfort.

Michigan offers the latest evidence of the challenges emerging from the pivot away from coal. Just a week ago, the region’s grid operator, MISO, reported that capacity prices for the Lower Peninsula maxed out in their annual capacity auction. With a shrinking reserve margin, clearing prices for the capacity auction jumped 10 times what they had been a year ago.

This comes as Michigan utilities have closed more than a dozen coal plants since 2016 and have more retirements scheduled.

Wholesale electricity prices are going up just when consumers and industry need support for economic recovery. The timing couldn’t be worse. Michigan is turning to costly energy imports to ensure reliability. The takeaway should be clear: the shift away from coal – often driven by state policy – is coming with real costs.

As policymakers, regulators and utilities grapple with the ramifications of the pandemic, pumping the brakes on further plant retirements is a logical step to hedge against uncertainty and to ensure our balanced, affordable and reliable electricity mix doesn’t become another victim of this unprecedented moment.

Indiana, even before the crisis, had already moved to require additional review of proposed retirements to ensure utilities weren’t passing unnecessary costs onto consumers while weakening the reliability of the grid. A thoughtful, do-no-harm approach to the electricity sector is exactly what’s needed across the country as we confront the uncertainty of the months ahead.

The past several years have seen a shift away from what we know works – balance, certainty, fuel security – to increased reliance on thinner margins, weather-dependent resources and the inherent vulnerability of just-in-time fuel delivery. With global supply chains turned upside down, with chaos wreaking havoc across the oil and gas sector, and the economy shaken to the core, the era of flying by the seat of our pants into the unknown and of utilities filing a record number of rate cases needs to end.

Time and again, grid operators overestimate capacity additions while underestimating retirements. That kind of miscalculation, in a perilous moment like this, could prove disastrous. Now, more than ever, we need smart policymaking that puts reliability, resilience and affordability first. Ensuring we maintain essential coal generating capacity and properly value the security and balance it brings to the grid must be a priority.

See Also New York Nukes Itself

Surprise! Carbon Fuels are Plentiful, not Scarce.

Brentan Alexander writes at Forbes $40 Oil Will Return: This Isn’t The End Of Fossil Fuels. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

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Yesterday, May futures for WTI crude, a benchmark often used for U.S.-sourced oil, crashed into negative territory for the first time ever. It was the last day to trade a May contract, and with storage space filling up as oil demand craters, contract holders with nowhere to put the oil they were obligated to physically accept were forced to pay to have somebody take contracts off their hands. This moment represents a stunning new chapter in the ongoing oil crisis that has seen record drops for oil consumption and prices globally. Spot prices in May will remain depressed, and the June market is likely to be painful as well. It may seem like the days of $40 oil are behind us, and that we’re witnessing the beginning of the end for oil as the lifeblood of the global economy. We aren’t:

Oil will one day return to $40 a barrel, but the last few weeks have demonstrated in hyperdrive how the oil endgame will play out.

It seems that oil isn’t the precious commodity it has been made out to be. Much ink has been spilled on the concept of peak oil, wherein dwindling reserves of oil cause rising prices as the marketplace becomes more and more supply-constrained. In the endgame scenario, supply shocks send prices soaring to levels that force global economies to find alternative fuels, renewable energy, or otherwise. A key issue with the peak oil theory is that ‘reserves’ are only counted if they’re known to exist and can be extracted with current technology.

As prices soared to upwards of $100 a barrel around 2008, many wondered if the high prices were here to stay, and if peak oil was coming to pass. Instead, high prices were just the motivation needed to unlock a bit of American ingenuity. Within 10 years, new technology unlocked vast fields of oil and gas throughout Texas, Pennsylvania, and the Dakotas. The ‘reserves’ in the United States multiplied, oil prices dropped, and the United States regained its status as the world’s leading producer of oil.

Peak oil, it turns out, is a story of peak demand.

As some economies of the world begin to face the realities of climate change, new renewable and net-zero (or negative!) technologies have emerged and will emerge to supplant fossil oil. At first, these technologies require higher fossil prices, government programs, or both, to compete in the market. But as they mature and grow, prices come down. Demand for fossil will drop accordingly. And at some point, so little demand will exist for crude oil that producers will have to pay somebody to take if off their hands or stop producing it altogether.

This market conversion has already begun. Tesla has proven electric vehicles can out-perform and out-sexy the incumbents. Biorefineries are being built to turn household trash in to jet fuel. Governments are taking action to incentivize cleaner fuels. Nevertheless, action thus far has been spotty at best and despite the current market, peak oil demand has not yet come to pass.

The unprecedented demand destruction caused by COVID-19 will eventually subside as the threat of the pandemic wanes. The public will fly again, drive again, and buy plastic again; oil demand will ratchet up again. Shuttered wells won’t restart, stored oil will be drawn down, OPEC will maintain supply controls to balance government budgets, and prices will rise to $40 or more again. But someday, hopefully in the not too distant future, oil will again find itself in decline when a different (and more permanent) source of demand destruction weans the global economy off of fossil carbon for good.

Comment:

This article makes a distinction between short and long term energy supply and demand.  Thus the price drop yesterday signifies a present glut of carbon fuels.  Climate activists can not count on the supply of fossil fuels falling as long as they are plentiful and inexpensive.  For example, others note coal reserves exceed 100 years at current rates of consumption, and will remain attractive for electrical power production.  In the absence of economical substitute energy sources, modern societies for years to come will depend on companies providing carbon-based fuels.

As Bjorn Lomborg has long maintained, this is the time to invest in advanced energy technologies, including nuclear, to engineer price-competitive energy alternatives and achieve an orderly transition for future generations.  It is not a time for short-term bad bets on immature wind and solar tech that do not scale to societies’ need for reliable affordable energy.

BTW, Bill Gates also shares and funds this perspective: