Court Thwarts Seattle Climate Power Play

News today that the Washington state supreme court has blocked a scheme by Governor (and erstwhile candidate for climate President) Inslee from taking over the energy industry.  Washington state is a place where leftist progressives live in large numbers in and around Seattle and impose their virtue signalling ideas on the rest of the population who are more skeptical.

This story is also of interest since the maneuver follows the practice of weaponizing environmental law to overthrow society’s dependence on energy from fossil fuels.  For example, NGO lawyers have attacked permits for infrastructure like pipelines by demanding that the assessment also include emissions from end users burning the gas or oil after it has left the pipeline.  In the Washington state case, Inslee tried to put the Department of Ecology in charge of taxing energy used by the transportation industry under the auspices of a Clean Air Act. This was in fact an end run around the defeat of a state carbon tax in the last election.

The story from the Seattle Times is State Supreme Court limits Gov. Inslee’s rule cutting greenhouse-gas emissions  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Washington State Supreme Court has invalidated key portions of a rule imposed by the administration of Gov. Jay Inslee capping greenhouse-gas emissions by fuel distributors, natural-gas companies and other industries.

In a 5-4 ruling Thursday, the court upheld a 2017 lower-court decision that the state Department of Ecology had exceeded its legal authority in trying to apply clean-air standards to “indirect emitters” that don’t directly burn fossil fuels.

“The issue is not whether man-made climate change is real — it is,” wrote Chief Justice Debra Stephens in the majority opinion. However, Stephens wrote, the department’s efforts to enforce the state Clean Air Act went beyond what had been authorized by the law.
[That is a social opinion not a legal one since IPCC suppositions have not yet been litigated.]

“We are confident that if the State of Washington wishes to expand the definition of emission standards to encompass ‘indirect emitters,’ the Legislature will say so. In the meantime. Ecology may not claim more authority than the Legislature has granted in the Act,” Stephens wrote.

The state had projected the rule would reduce emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2035 — about two-thirds of the target established by the Legislature in 2008. But three-quarters of that reduction would have come from applying the regulation to indirect emitters, according to the court ruling.

[The hypocrisy is striking; people who burn gasoline in their cars and trucks are directly responsible for those emissions, not their suppliers.  Energy products are provided in a free society to those who want and can afford to pay for them.  Those who want to live without such energy are also free to make that choice.  But beware, in modern nations like the G20 nearly 90% of energy comes from burning fossil fuels. CO2 zealots want to shut off the supply for everyone else instead of themselves.  Socialism is another name for shared misery]

Figure 12: Figure 9 with Y-scale expanded to 100% and thermal generation included, illustrating the magnitude of the problem the G20 countries still face in decarbonizing their energy sectors.

During a news conference, Inslee said he disagreed with the court majority’s central conclusion but hasn’t yet decided whether to ask lawmakers to amend the Clean Air Act to include indirect emitters.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, praised the court ruling in a statement calling the clean-air rule “a classic example of government arrogance and overreach.”

A longtime opponent of Inslee’s climate agenda, Ericksen, the ranking Republican member of the state Senate’s environment committee, said the rule would have imposed “onerous new regulations on oil refiners and distributors of natural gas” and passed potentially billions of dollars in costs on to consumers.

Ericksen added he hoped the decision would “quell the enthusiasm of other agencies” to push legal boundaries, citing the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to develop a low-carbon fuel regulation.

Frustrated by legislative inaction, Inslee had directed Ecology in 2015 to use executive authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.

After a lengthy rule-making process, the state issued regulations in 2016 which would have targeted dozens of top emitters, from Skagit County oil refineries to Boeing’s Everett plant and Eastern Washington food processors. The rule required such facilities to cut their carbon footprint by an average of 1.7% a year — either by cleaning up their own facilities or paying for carbon-reduction projects off-site.

But the rule was quickly challenged in a lawsuit by business groups led by the Association of Washington Business. The association’s president, Kris Johnson, said in a statement he welcomed the court’s ruling and intends to work with lawmakers “to find a bipartisan solution” to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.

A trade association for paper mills said its members remain concerned about the effects of even a more limited version of the clean-air rule.

EPA Overhaul Long Overdue

Prudent public officials should anticipate that some future periods will be warmer and other periods cooler than today. They should also affirm that cold is the greater threat to human health and prosperity. Thus investments should place priority on building robust infrastructure and ensuring reliable affordable energy. These things can not be achieved if the planning and approval process is so long and costly that needed developments are discouraged or abandoned.

The worst kept secret in US politics is how effectively environmental activists and lawyers have used EPA regulations to block, impair and frequently kill off projects for energy infrastructure. Some regions like the Northeast are lacking natural gas supply pipelines from US sources and are forced to import from Russia, among other foreign producers. Former EPA administrator made the point that some people believe that if you are for the environment you are against development, and if you are for development you are against the environment. Instead the law and the agency have the mission of ensuring environmentally responsible development, recognizing that natural resources are essential to human flourishing.

Thus I welcome this announcement reported in the Wall Street Journal Trump Seeks Overhaul of Federal Environmental Rules  Of course the subtitle say: Environmentalists criticize proposal, saying it will hamper efforts to slow climate change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

WASHINGTON—President Trump proposed a major overhaul of federal environmental permitting, responding to business complaints of bureaucratic delays to infrastructure projects such as roads and energy pipelines.

“We want to build new roads, bridges and highways bigger and faster,” Mr. Trump said from the White House, adding that the proposal would help create new jobs.

But environmentalists assailed the changes to rules tied to the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, saying they would weaken standards at a time when climate change is making federal review even more critical.

“Forcing federal agencies to ignore environmental threats is a disgraceful abdication of our responsibility to protect the planet for future generations,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said this week anticipating the overhaul. He called it a “gift to the fossil-fuel industry.”  The administration sees the move as a broad-based effort to modernize rules that have gone largely untouched for more than 40 years.

The primary aim is to shorten the review process to two years—a drastic change given that assessments can now take a decade or more.

“The step we’re taking today…will hit a home run in delivering better results to the American people by cutting red tape that has paralyzed common-sense decision-making for a generation,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said on a call with reporters. “The consequences of the government being stuck in place are far-ranging.”

Some projects that don’t have significant federal government funding or involvement might now become more likely to skirt the process altogether, a change likely aimed at helping pipelines in particular. For projects that do have to go through the NEPA review process, the changes would clarify what environmental effects agencies have to plan for and what future changes to the environment permit reviews will have to consider in advance. The stated goal is to limit reviews to environmental risks more directly associated with a project.

Critics fear that is a major setback for planning around climate change. Administration officials say agencies would still have the option to include climate-change risks in their permitting processes. But infrastructure experts and environmentalists say any weakening in that connection would be a step in the wrong direction as the effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced and society needs stronger rules to adapt to those emerging risks.

Issuing this proposal is an early step in what could be a lengthy process. There will be at least two months of public comment starting when the proposal is published on Friday, administration officials said. Many more months of review will likely follow that before any changes are finalized.

Many expect the administration won’t have enough time to finish an overhaul if Mr. Trump isn’t re-elected in November. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, on Thursday called the rewrite illegal, potentially foreshadowing several lawsuits that could further delay an overhaul.

The president on several occasions has criticized the environmental permitting process as a bureaucratic barrier to economic development. Many lawmakers and economists say that America needs to fix a backlog of infrastructure needs, which the administration has pegged at roughly $1 trillion.

In recent months, the administration has turned its attention to addressing several bedrock environmental laws and changes aimed at jump-start development. A plan to overhaul NEPA would be the latest in a series of moves that have also tried to limit the reach of the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, especially in how much those laws require consideration of risks associated with climate change. The NEPA review process can serve as the ultimate fail-safe on environmentally unsound projects.

But energy companies and manufacturers in particular have argued that NEPA, in recent decades, has become a tool for environmentalists to block progress. Since its last update, major roads and pipeline projects have become harder to complete and a drilling boom has led to an expansion of oil-and-gas production nationwide. Industrial interests have asked for a modernization to improve efficiency and consistency in permitting across federal agencies.

“The administration’s modernization of NEPA removes bureaucratic barriers that were stifling construction of key infrastructure projects needed for U.S. producers to deliver energy in a safe and environmentally protective way,” said Anne Bradbury, chief executive of the American Exploration & Production Council, a trade group for some of the country’s largest independent oil-and-gas companies.

Environmental groups have been concerned that an attempt to streamline NEPA permitting would degrade its ability to protect the environment. They have criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 decision to eliminate letter grades that often came as guidance in the process. Such changes can make NEPA reviews less helpful to the public and weaken a process designed to prevent oil spills and other environmental accidents, environmentalists said.

Footnote:  

Convoluted and CO2 obsessive regulations are a large factor leading to the Australian bushfires.  Also, Canada is unable to build a badly needed pipeline expansion that the federal government wants and owns because of the same kind of onerous environmental permitting processes.

2020 Green Obstruction Targets

The remarkable turnaround in the US economy was achieved despite large and expensive Green efforts to stop economic projects and infrastructure. While needed energy pipelines and power plants remain unbuilt in coastal places like New York and California, the heartland will be a battleground for activists wanting to leave the best sources underground in favor of aboveground dilute and intermittent wind and solar power.

Walker Orenstein writes at the Minnesota Post The five environmental stories to watch in 2020. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Next year will be a pivotal one for many of Minnesota’s most controversial environmental debates, from mining to climate change and the 2020 elections. Here’s a look at some of the big questions heading into 2020:

File photo courtesy of the Timberjay PolyMet Mining has won state and federal approval to break ground on its $1 billion copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.

1. Will PolyMet move forward?
PolyMet Mining has won state and federal approval to break ground on its $1 billion copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes. But the project now faces serious questions after Minnesota courts put several permits on hold by this year.

First, The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered a lower court to examine if state regulators hid concerns the federal government had with a key water safety permit. The Court of Appeals is also investigating whether Glencore, the Swiss mining giant that owns a majority of PolyMet’s shares, should be named on state permits, and whether the plan for a tailings dam at the mine is safe enough.

On top of the permit issues, PolyMet’s majority owner Glencore is now facing a bribery investigation in the United Kingdom and is in the midst of a leadership change.

After a year of turmoil, 2020 could be pivotal for a project that has faced 15 years of environmental review and could bring hundreds of jobs to the Iron Range. If built, it would be the first copper-nickel mine in the state.

2. Will the Line 3 pipeline get built?

Another controversial project on the brink of construction is Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline. The Canadian energy company is hoping to build a 337-mile pipeline through northern Minnesota to replace an aging and corroding one that is operating at half capacity. State regulators on the Public Utilities Commission granted the $2.6 billion project a Certificate of Need and approved its route.

In July, however, the Court of Appeals ruled the PUC failed to consider the impact an oil spill could have on Lake Superior’s watershed, setting the project back months. A new environmental assessment was completed earlier this month by the Department of Commerce, modeling a spill into a tributary of the St. Louis River. In a worst case-type scenario, the research found oil would be unlikely to reach Lake Superior.

Final Line 3 Replacement Project routek

The five-member PUC now needs to vote again on whether to approve Line 3, which also needs federal permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to move forward.

Opponents of Line 3, who argue building new fossil fuel infrastructure would further contribute to climate change, have protested the Walz administration at many public events and have taken steps to disrupt Enbridge’s existing infrastructure. Will wide-scale protests follow if Line 3 does get approved for construction?

3. Will the Legislature pass any climate change policy?

The 2019 session ended with very little new climate and energy policy, despite a Democratic push to make Minnesota’s power grid carbon-free by 2050 and GOP support for a measure to make it tougher to build new fossil fuel projects.

While 2019 was ultimately focused on writing a two-year budget, such debates could find new life at the Legislature in 2020. Especially since lawmakers will have a healthy pot of unused money from Xcel Energy, from the funds the energy company pays to store nuclear waste in Minnesota.

4. Will there be a showdown over the study of mining near the Boundary Waters?

Ever since the Trump administration canceled a study that could have led to a 20-year ban on copper-nickel mining in the Rainy River watershed, some Democrats have tried to finish the research or at least get the federal government to disclose what it found.

While U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and others have not been successful in Congress, the state Department of Natural Resources has asked for the information to include in its environmental review of a mine Twin Metals Minnesota wants to build just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The DNR won’t say if it will proceed with its review if the federal government stonewalls the agency. But the state has left open the possibility of a showdown with the pro-mining Trump administration. “We will request the information, we expect to get it,” Barb Naramore, an assistant DNR commissioner, told reporters. “If for some reason it’s not forthcoming we’ll need to evaluate the implications of that at that point in time.”

5. How will environmental issues play in the 2020 elections?

The 2020 elections carry massive stakes for local environmental issues. If Trump is re-elected, his administration is likely to continue support for Twin Metals. Many of the Democratic frontrunners have said they oppose mining in the Rainy River watershed, including Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden has not, although the Obama-Biden administration launched the study on a 20-year mining ban in the Rainy River watershed and took other steps to stymie Twin Metals.

Trump has generally supported pipelines, while Warren and Sanders have also opposed Line 3.

At the Legislature, Republicans would likely need to keep a majority in the state Senate to head off the most aggressive parts of Gov. Tim Walz’s climate change agenda in 2021. While not all DFLers support the governor’s measures, minority Democrats in the Senate recently launched a “Clean Energy and Climate Caucus” with an eye on passing some form of Walz’s legislation.

Leaf Blowers Banned (Take that, Greta)

Greta keeps repeating that nothing is being done to reduce emissions, blind to all the imposed policies and regulations.  So today good news out of California, the leader in fighting climate change.  From NBC San Diego Encinitas Leaf Blower Ban Goes Into Effect.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Businesses in Encinitas are no longer allowed to use gas powered leaf blowers as of Friday, Dec. 20.

The Encinitas City Council approved the leaf blower ordinance back in August. Then in September, the ordinance went into effect for city operations.

The goal of the city’s Climate Action Plan is to eventually ban all gas powered leaf blowers by January 20, 2020 in order to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. The next goal is to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030. The city estimates that this leaf blower ban will reduce local green house gas emissions by 128 metric tons of CO2 emissions by the end of 2020, and 142 metric tons by 2030.

Then on January 20, 2020, the ban will go into effect for residents as well.

But, the ordinance also states that electric or battery powered leaf blowers are allowed. So the city is now offering a city-funded rebate program, so that residents and business owners can buy a new electric or battery-powered leaf blower.

The ordinance also lays out a list of rules about the time of day people are allowed to use their leaf blowers.

Now, people in Encinitas are only permitted to use their electric or batter powered leaf blowers between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and between 12 noon and 5 p.m. on Sundays.

So calm down Greta and show some respect for all the nanny-state rules coming on.

Choose Life over Climate Despair

I have often written that prudent policymakers recognize the future will include periods both warmer and cooler than the present, and cold is the greater threat to human life and prosperity. Thus, government priorities should be to invest in affordable reliable energy and robust infrastructure. A recent article gets the importance of energy abundance, and makes many lucid points about climate policy failures, even while accepting uncritically some mistaken suppositions about the issue and what can be done about it.

Matt Frost published an article at The New Atlantis After Climate Despair. Excerpts in italics with my bolds, some images and comments.

The dream of a global conversion to austerity has failed to stop climate change. Energy abundance is our best hope for living well with warming — and reversing it.

Overview

Each of us constitutes a link between the past and the future, and we share a human need to participate in the life of something that perdures beyond our own years. This is the conservationist — and arguably the conservative — argument for combating climate change: Our descendants, who will have a great deal in common with us, ought to be able to enjoy conditions similar to those that permitted us and our forebears to thrive.

But the dominant narrative of climate change, though it claims to be aimed at protecting future generations, in fact leaves little room for continuity. Preventing more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above the nineteenth-century baseline, the latest aim of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will, as they put it, require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

Only a vanishingly unlikely set of coordinated global actions — an extraordinary political breakthrough — can save us from what the most pessimistic media portrayals describe as “catastrophe,” “apocalypse,” and the “end of civilization.”

Only by changing our entire energy system and social order can we preserve the continuity of our biosphere. And so climate politics has become the art of the impossible: a cycle of increasingly desperate exhortations to impracticable action, presumably in hopes of inspiring at least some half-measures. Understandably, many despair, while others deny that there is a problem, or at least that any solution is possible.

But we are not condemned to a choice between despair and denial. Instead, we must prepare for a future in which we have temporarily failed to arrest climate change — while ensuring that human civilization stubbornly persists, and thrives. Rather than prescribing global austerity, reducing our energy usage and thereby limiting our options for adaptation, we should pursue energy abundance. Only in a high-energy future can we hope eventually to reduce the atmosphere’s carbon, through sequestration and by gradually replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon alternatives.

It is time to acknowledge that catastrophism has failed to bring about the global political breakthrough the climate establishment dreams of, and will not succeed in time to avert serious warming. Instead of despairing over a forever-deferred dream of austerity, our resources would be better spent now on investing in potential technological breakthroughs to reduce atmospheric carbon, and our political imagination better put toward preparing for a future of ever more abundant energy.

[Frost could have added that human flourishing has always occured in warmer, rather than colder times. Our Modern Warm Period was preceded by Medieval Warming, before that by Roman Warming, and earlier Minoan Warming. Each period was cooler than the previous, so the overall trend in our interglacial is downward. Ensuring favorable conditions for future generations means protecting against the ravages of frosty times. (pun intended)]

The Futility of Dread

The bleak poll results may reflect a broad, if perhaps tacit, agreement that we have reached diminishing returns on dread. Even now that most Americans accept the dire predictions of scientists and journalists, their assent does not change the fact that we currently lack the institutional, technological, and moral resources to prevent further climate change in the near term. The lay public has been taught to regard stabilizing the climate as an all-or-nothing struggle against the encroachment of a dismal future.

The bar for success is set high enough that failure is now the rational expectation.

A common reaction to “there is no solution” is “then there is no problem.” No matter how persuasive the evidence of impending danger, most people find ways to dismiss or evade problems that appear insoluble. Attempting to build political support for impossible interventions by making ever more pessimistic predictions will not work; it will only leave us mired in gloom and impotence. This polarized fatalism will grow more extreme as opposing partisans, recognizing our dearth of practicable options, choose either glib denial or morbid brooding.

Entirely predictable Time Magazine declares Greta Person of the Year. Just like Big Brother she is watching.

Missing the Target

We will not stop global warming, at least in our lifetimes. This realization forces us to ask instead what would count as limiting warming enough to sustain our lives and our civilization through the disruption. There can be no single global answer to this question: Our ability to predict climate effects will always be limited, and what will count as acceptable warming to a Norwegian farmer enjoying a longer growing season will always be irreconcilable with that of a Miami resident fighting the sea to save his home. But because our leadership has approached climate change as a problem of coordinated global action, they have constructed quantitative waypoints around which to organize the debate.

Some news sources portrayed 2030 as an official deadline for avoiding climate catastrophe. It is worth noting that the report’s lead author, Myles Allen, has warned against this interpretation: “Please stop saying something globally bad is going to happen in 2030. Bad stuff is already happening and every half a degree of warming matters, but the IPCC does not draw a ‘planetary boundary’ at 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond which lie climate dragons.”

The extreme unlikelihood that we will meet the target of 1.5 degrees becomes even clearer when we notice that doing so requires that we not only cut emissions radically, but at the same time remove enormous volumes of carbon dioxide already emitted. The report estimates that a total of 100 billion tons must be removed by 2050. For comparison, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted globally from fossil fuels last year was around 37 billion tons.

Even were it possible to scale bioenergy and capture that quickly, doing so would have a major drawback: It would take up an immense amount of farmland. By one 2016 estimate, capturing enough carbon to meet even the 2-degree target by the end of the century could require devoting up to three million square miles of farmland to bioenergy crops — nearly the size of the contiguous United States.

[Frost seems not to realize the the 2C target, and more recently 1.5C are both rabbits pulled out of a magical activist hat. Economists have projected that future generations will be far wealthier than us, and only slightly less so should there be all the warming predicted from burning known carbon fuel reserves. Many dangers are based upon scenario RCP8.5 which is so unrealistic that some analysts say that models using it should be revised. Principled inaction is appropriate when threats are claimed without solid evidence.]

The Age of Overshoot

Expanding the climate options we allow ourselves to consider is easier said than done. The political and moral challenges are daunting. We will need to adapt to a warmer climate for perhaps decades to come, while at the same time preparing technological and policy solutions for a more distant future where we can finally claw our way back to lower levels of carbon and warming. At the same time, the stressors that a warmer climate will bring will be unequally felt across the globe, likely making our politics more divided and only dimming hopes for international coordination.

We must finally abandon the empty hope of imposing equitable austerity via globally coordinated government fiat.

Furthermore, as we adapt to a warmer climate, complacency will be tempting, since we will likely not experience a sudden decline in global quality of life or biodiversity, and may be able to avoid the most dire disruptions. Changes will be slow, with many unfolding on a generational time scale, and with dramatically different impacts among populations. The misery that climate change is likely to cause, or is already causing, will be difficult to distinguish from deprivation as we already know it — the people most harmed, that is, will be the poor, who are already most vulnerable to natural forces. Even if there is a distinct moment of irrecoverable failure, or a tipping point that triggers the worst feedback effects, most people might not notice until it has passed.

[His belief that CO2 is some kind of temperature control knob is touching, but naive and dangerous. H2O is actually earth’s thermostat, and we don’t have a dial for that either. Fortunately the climate system includes complex negative feedbacks which throughout history have kept both ice house and hot house eras from being permanent. Otherwise we would not be here to talk about it.]

The global failure to control emissions is not just a failure of political will or technological progress. Rather, it reflects the problem’s inherent resistance to unambiguous characterization. Different observers can all adopt different conceptions of the problem, many of which are not mutually exclusive but remain practically or politically irreconcilable.

For this reason, we will no more agree on some single new ethics than we will on the “correct” amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Addressing the problem, then, must not mean the coordinated pursuit of a single solution but a perpetual process of decentralized negotiation and risk reduction. Our varied conceptions of climate change will never fully converge, and so the “correctness” of any approach is best evaluated not by whether it meets the latest IPCC target but by how well it affords broad political buy-in. Identifying alternatives to our current, failed approach to climate change requires identifying a more constructive set of ideas — practical, political, and sentimental. We will then be able to focus our resources on those interventions most likely to succeed.

[Among the failed solutions is the idea that modern societies can be powered with solar and wind energy.  Not only is bioenergy land intensive (as noted above), so are these other renewables.  Here is the map of UK showing the acreage required to power London without thermal generators.]

The gray area would be covered in wind farms, while the yellow area is needed for solar farms.

Austerity vs. Abundance

What should motivate our response to climate change is what got us into this mess in the first place: our desire for the abundance that energy technology affords. Energy is the commodity that allows us to protect ourselves from the ravages of nature and to live distinctly human lives, and many of the benefits we enjoy today were made possible by the exploitation of fossil energy. Our children should enjoy greater energy abundance than us, not less.

But the mainstream climate establishment — the government officials, researchers, advocates, and journalists who sustain the consensus agenda represented by the IPCC — is bent on austerity. They demand that we ration fossil energy consumption until zero-emission sources like wind and solar replace the fossil share of the global energy budget.

Discussions about climate change are also riddled with population anxiety. Lugubrious climate dread appears both as the idea that we should not inflict any more humans on this dying world and that we should not inflict this dying world on any more humans. For the most part, we no longer suffer from feverish speculation about runaway global population growth, since the population may peak anyway by the end of the century. Yet we still hear the old Malthusian idea that our limited energy resources will only be enough for everyone if there are fewer people to whom they must be handed out. Because the climate establishment views energy consumption as the problem, energy consumers must be on the negative side of the ledger — even if their welfare, or their grandchildren’s welfare, is supposed to be the good being protected.

An alternate framework based on abundance would engage each of us as participants in the flow of human history, as the forebears of unknown successors. It would complement even the doomsayers’ calls for taking expensive measures today, since the benefits of mitigating climate change would apply to more people as the population increases. The number of future occupants of our planet is, or should be, the salient variable in any calculation of the long-term costs and benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. We can’t know the economic return on any dollar we invest today in stabilizing the future climate, but we can model it as a function of, among other things, the number of our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Our climate approach should presuppose that we are the benefactors of a burgeoning future population, not the progenitors of an ascetic cult formed to dole out a dwindling stock of resources. New sources of carbon-free energy would offer more value to more people than whatever new levers of social control we might invent to enforce a worldwide carbon-rationing regime.

A stronger focus on human utility does not discount the non-human biosphere: When we evaluate the natural world for its beauty or its diversity, we are still expressing human values, and those values are part of the civilization we hope to carry forward in time. For instance, the desire to protect coral reefs, one of the first casualties of global warming, can increase as more people gain freedom from poverty, allowing them to see the reefs’ aesthetic and ecological benefits as worth spending resources to preserve.

An abundance framework is also aligned with our persistent human desire for comfort, and would lead us to reformulate our collective problem as one of scarcity, rather than prodigality. Instead of constraining our energy budget, we would look to a future in which a large, decarbonized energy capacity allows more people to enjoy the access to wealth and comfort that many of us take for granted. It would make little sense to leave cheap fossil energy underground in the name of future generations’ well-being, only to also leave those descendants an energy-constrained world full of incentives to drill. To remove those incentives, they will need abundant energy.

Obviously, meeting the energy demand of a high-growth world would require new sources of carbon-free power in amounts beyond the IPCC’s most optimistic scenarios. But we are already stuck hoping for a global political breakthrough. Technological breakthroughs are less far-fetched a solution. And a mass embrace of abundant energy is more realistic than sudden globally coordinated altruistic self-abnegation. Once we embrace abundance as a normative principle, it directs our attention and ambition toward the bets that, however long the odds, might actually pay off.

Embracing abundance means more than just a rhetorical or sentimental overhaul; it should change how we rank our policy and technology options. And gaining new energy sources would actually expand our options beyond the limited ones available to us now. Choosing abundance does not require that we first have all the answers for how to produce carbon-free energy, or how to reduce current levels of carbon dioxide. Rather, shifting our mindset from austerity to abundance will open up the political space necessary for imagining these answers and pursuing them.

In the near term, we must accept that expanding our political capacity to regulate carbon dioxide depends on driving down the cost of carbon-free energy. Penalizing fossil-energy use can encourage research and development of alternatives, but panic alone will not engender a new democratic mandate for costly restrictions on emissions. Cheap, low-carbon energy can be an alternative to bureaucratic rationing or socially enforced austerity. If we are stuck hoping for a breakthrough, let us hope for one that further emancipates us from want rather than one that more efficiently imposes it.

After Despair

We are stuck waiting for a breakthrough. The sort of breakthrough we await says much about who we are and where we hope to go. The consensus austerity view would have us hope for a moral breakthrough of penitential retrenchment. The abundance view would have us hope for a technological breakthrough to enable a flourishing future. One says that we have used too much energy, and our descendants should use less. The other implies that we have not devoted enough energy to capturing and storing carbon dioxide, and that we must leave our children and grandchildren as much energy capacity as possible to clean up our carbon waste.

Our mission must be to provide future generations with better technological alternatives than the ones currently on offer, which range from prohibitively expensive (like BECCS) to wildly reckless (like pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to block sunlight). We owe our descendants progress toward the long-deferred dream of energy “too cheap to meter,” as Lewis Strauss, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, famously said in 1954. We owe them the tools with which to dispose of the waste carbon they will inherit. We owe them a better sentimental investment than morbid despair about the future they will occupy.

Other policy approaches are less applicable to a strategic framework of energy abundance. “Weaning ourselves off nuclear energy,” as Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes, is a fatuous idea even within the austerity framework, if the risks of climate change are as dire as predicted. Replacing already online, zero-carbon generation with wind and solar plants that require carbon-emitting construction and infrastructure overhauls will only dig us deeper into debt. In an abundance framework, the proposal becomes even more misguided.

The policy measures we pursue in the near term should express the ethos of abundance and continuity. They should avoid emission cuts today that might limit wealth and technology options tomorrow. And they should set us up to take the best advantage of whatever breakthroughs, technological or political, we might be fortunate enough to see in the coming years.

Key Points

Global conversion to austerity is a lost cause.

Energy abundance is our best hope for the future.

We have always lived well when it warms.

When nature reverses and cools, we had better be ready.

Footnote: Since 1985 the band Opus has celebrated Life and access to energy (I’m sure they were referring to electrical power as well as personal mobility).

 

Not Too Cold for Nuclear Power

James Conca writes at Forbes Bitter Cold Stops Coal, While Nuclear Power Excels. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As I woke up to Thanksgiving yesterday, I realized we in the Pacific Northwest had been cyclone bombed for the holiday.

The Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant just north of Richland, WA puts out maximum … [+]ENERGY NORTHWEST

A Bomb Cyclone is when the barometric pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. The winds were wicked last night and kept us awake a good part of the time.

But looking out over the snow, I was thankful for the comforting plume of pure water vapor rising beyond from our nearby nuclear power plant. Judith and the kitties were, too.

Through thick and thin, extreme hot or extreme cold, the nuclear plant never seems to stop producing over 9 billion kWhs of energy every year, enough to power Seattle. The same with all other nuclear plants in America.

Whether it’s coal, gas or renewables, cold weather seems to hurt them like grandpa with a bum knee. And it doesn’t help that our aging energy infrastructure keeps getting a D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Most generation systems suffer outages during extreme weather, but most of those involved fossil fuel systems. Coal stacks are frozen and diesel generators simply can’t function in such low temperatures. Gas chokes up – its pipelines can’t keep up with demand – and prices skyrocket.

Wind also suffers because the hottest and coldest months are usually the least windy.

This was seen again last week, when record-breaking cold engulfed Illinois. But Exelon Generation’s 10 operating nuclear plants kept putting out their maximum power without a hitch. Coal and gas struggled.

“Even during this unseasonably cold weather, our Illinois fleet’s performance further demonstrates the reliability and resiliency of nuclear power in any kind of weather,” Bryan Hanson, Exelon’s Chief Nuclear Officer, said. “We are dedicated to being online when customers need us most, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us at any time of year.”

The problem with widespread cold or heat starts because there is a spike in electricity and gas demand, since everyone is re-adjusting their thermostats and it takes a lot more energy to keep us at comfortable temperatures during these extremes.

Interestingly, nuclear prices do not go up – the reactors just keep running. They don’t have to worry about fuel supply – they have enough on hand for years – and they don’t have to do anything special to deal with the extreme weather.

In recent years, the cost of electricity from the nearby Columbia Generating Station has fallen to 4.2¢/kWh, regardless of weather. Many gas plants increase their prices during bad weather, as much as ten-fold in New York and New England.

A diverse energy mix is really, really important. Whether it’s massive liquid-gel batteries that would maximize renewable capacity, small modular nuclear reactors, keeping and uprating existing nuclear, better pipeline technology and monitoring, better coordination among renewables – in the coming decades, whatever we can do, we should do.

But nuclear is clearly the big guy you want to walk down the street with on a cold winter’s night.

Beware Deep Electrification Policies

It is becoming fashionable on the left coasts to banish energy supply for equipment running on fossil fuels. For example consider recent laws prohibiting gas line home hookups. Elizabeth Weise published at USA Today No more fire in the kitchen: Cities are banning natural gas in homes to save the planet. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Fix global warming or cook dinner on a gas stove?

That’s the choice for people in 13 cities and one county in California and one town in Massachusetts that have enacted new zoning codes encouraging or requiring all-electric new construction.

The codes, most of them passed since June, are meant to keep builders from running natural gas lines to new homes and apartments, with an eye toward creating fewer legacy gas hookups as the nation shifts to carbon-neutral energy sources.

The most recent came on Wednesday when the town meeting in Brookline, Massachusetts, approved a rule prohibiting installation of gas lines into major new construction and in gut renovations.

For proponents, it’s a change that must be made to fight climate change. For natural gas companies, it’s a threat to their existence. And for some cooks who love to prepare food with flame, it’s an unthinkable loss.

Another Dangerous Idea that Doesn’t Scale

Once again activists seize upon an idea that doesn’t scale up to the challenge they have imagined. Add this to other misguided climate policies devoted to restricting use of fossil fuels. Apart from dictating consumer’s choices for Earth’s sake, the push could well backfire for other reasons. Jude Clemente writes at Forbes ‘Deep Electrification’ Means More Natural Gas. Excerpts in italics with my bolds. It’s a warning to authorities about outlawing traditional cars, cooking and heating equipment thereby putting all their eggs in the electric energy basket.

For environmental reasons, there’s an ongoing push to “electrify everything,” from cars to port operations to heating.

The idea is that a “deep electrification” will help lower greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

The reality, however, is that more electrification will surge the need for electricity, an obvious fact that seems to be getting forgotten.

The majority of this increase occurs in the transportation sector: electric cars can increase home power usage by 50% or more.

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says that “electrification has the potential to significantly increase overall demand for electricity.”

NREL reports that a “high” electrification scenario would up our power demand by around 40% through 2050.

A high electrification scenario would grow our annual power consumption by 80 terawatt hours per year.

For comparison, that is like adding a Colorado and Massachusetts of new demand each year.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) confirms that electrification could boom our power demand by over 50%.

From load shifting to higher peak demand, deep electrification will present major challenges for us.

At around 4,050 terawatt hours, U.S. power demand has been flat over the past decade since The Great Recession.

Ultimately, much higher electricity demand favors all sources of electricity, a “rising tide lifts all boats” sort of thing.

But in particular, it favors gas because gas supplies almost 40% of U.S. electricity generation, up from 20% a decade ago.

Gas is cheap, reliable, flexible, and backups intermittent wind and solar.

In fact, even over the past decade with flat electricity demand, U.S. gas used for electricity has still managed to balloon 60% to 30 Bcf/d.

At 235,000 MW, the U.S. Department of Energy has gas easily adding the most power capacity in the decades ago.

Electrification and more electricity needs show how we demand realistic energy policies.

As the heart of our electric power system, natural gas will surely remain essential.

Indeed, EPRI models that U.S. gas usage increases under “all” electrification scenarios even if gas prices more than double to $6.00 per MMBtu.

Some are forgetting that the clear growth sectors for the U.S. gas industry are a triad, in order: LNG exports, electricity, manufacturing.

The industry obviously knows, for instance, that the residential sector hasn’t seen any gains in gas demand in 50 years.

Flat for a decade, U.S. power demand is set to boom as environmental goals push us to “electrify … [+]DATA SOURCE: NREL; JTC

Footnote:  There is the further unreality of replacing thermal or nuclear power plants with renewables.

The late David MacKay showed that the land areas needed to produce 225 MW of power were very different: 15 acres for a small modular nuclear reactor, 2400 acres for average solar cell arrays, and 60,000 acres for an average wind farm.

Gray area required for wind farms, yellow area for solar farms, to power London UK.

Michael Kelly also estmated the load increase from electifying transportation and heating.

Note that if such a conversion of transport fuel to electricity were to take place, the grid capacity would have to treble from what we have today.

But in fact it is the heating that is the real problem. Today that is provided by gas, with gas flows varying by a factor of eight between highs in winter and lows in summer. If heat were to be electrified along with transport, the grid capacity would have to be expanded by a factor between five and six from today.

See also Kelly’s Climate Clarity

Kelly’s Climate Clarity

Michael Kelly was the inaugural Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge. His interest in the topic of this lecture was roused during 2006–9 when he was a part time Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Communities and Local Government. On his return full-time to Cambridge he was asked by his engineering colleagues to lead the teaching of final-year and graduate engineers on present and future energy systems, which he did until he retired in 2016. Michael Kelly recently spoke on the topic Energy Utopias and Engineering Reality. The text of his remarks is published by GWPF. This post provides a synopsis consisting of excerpts in italics with associated images and my bolds.

Overview

Just so that there can be no doubt whatsoever, the real-world data shows me that the climate is changing, as indeed it has always changed. It would appear by correlation that mankind’s activity, by way of greenhouse gas emissions, is now a significant contributory factor to that change, but the precise percentage quantification of that factor is far from certain. The global climate models seem to show heating at least twice as fast as the observed data over the last three decades. I am unconvinced that climate change represents a proximate catastrophe, and I suggest that a mega-volcano in Iceland that takes out European airspace for six months would eclipse the climate concerns in short order.

The detailed science is not my concern here. The arguments in this lecture would still apply if the actual warming were twice as fast as model predictions.

Project engineering has rules of procedure and performance that cannot be circumvented, no matter how much one would wish it. Much of what is proposed by way of climate change mitigation is simply pie-in-the-sky, and I am particularly pleased to have so many parliamentarians here tonight, as I make the case for engineering reality to underpin the public debate.

I plan to describe:

(i) the global energy sector,
(ii) the current drivers of energy demand,
(iii) progress to date on decarbonisation, and the treble challenges represented by
(iv)factors of thousands in the figures of merit between various forms of energy,
(v) the energy return on energy invested for various energy sources, and
(vi) the energising of future megacities.

I make some miscellaneous points and then sum up. The main message is that our present energy infrastructure is vast and has evolved over 200 years. So the chances of revolutionising it in short order on the scale envisaged by the net-zero target of Parliament is pretty close to zero; zero being exactly the chance of the meeting Extinction Rebellion’s demands.

The energy sector – its scale and pervasiveness

As society evolves and civilisation advances, energy demands increase. As well as increasing
demand for energy, the Industrial Revolution led to an increase in global population, which had been rather static until about 1700. Since then, both the number of people and the energy consumption per person have increased, and from Figure 2 we can see the steady growth of gross domestic product per person and energy consumption through the 19th and 20th centuries until now.
Energy is the essential driver of modern civilisation. World GDP this year is estimated at $88 trillion, growing to $108 trillion by 2023, with the energy sector then being of order $10 trillion. But renewables have played, and will continue to play, a peripheral role in this growth. Industrialisation was accompanied by a steady and almost complete reduction in the use of renewables (Figure 4).

In recent years, there has been an uptick in renewables use, but this has been entirely the result of the pressure to decarbonise the global economy in the context of mitigating climate change, and the impact has again been nugatory. Modern renewables remain an insignificant share of the energy supply. Indeed MIT analysts suggest the transition away from fossil fuel energies will take 400 years at the current rate of progress.

Figure 6 shows the scale of what has been proposed. Even reaching the old target of an
80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions would be miraculous; this is a level of emissions
not seen since 1880. I assert that a herd of unicorns will be needed to deliver this target,
let alone full decarbonisation. I also point out the utter nonsense of Extinction Rebellion’s
demands to complete the task by 2025.

Figure 6 Source: After Glen Peters,

Contemporary drivers of energy needs 1995–2035

I wish to focus on the drivers of global energy demands today by looking back and forward
twenty years. Figure 7 shows data from BP covering the period 1965–2035 on the demand
for global energy by fuel type. The data to 2015 is historic and not for challenge.

One notes that we have not had an ‘energy transition’: fossil fuels have continued to grow steadily at a rate about 7–8 times that of renewable technologies over the last 20 years. The energy demand of the major developed countries has been static or in small decline over that period. Most of the increase has come from growth in the global middle class, which increased by 1.5 billion people in the 20 years to 2015.

The whole of Figure 7 can be explained quantitatively if one assumes that a middle class person (living in a high rise building with running water and electricity, without any mention of personal mobility – the World Bank definition of middle class existence – uses between three and four times the amount of energy per day as a poor person in a rural hovel or urban slum.

You should be under no illusions: this is a humanitarian triumph. It is the delivery of the top Sustainable Development Goals – the elimination of poverty and hunger – that has been and will remain the main driver of energy demand for the foreseeable future.

Decarbonisation progress to date

In the UK, the Climate Change Committee has, on the face of it, overseen a steady fall in UK emissions of carbon dioxide since its formation in 2008. However, the fall started in 1990 and has continued at a very steady rate since (Figure 8a).
However, UK decreases are dwarfed by global increases. After no-growth years in 2016 and 2017, global carbon dioxide emissions grew by 3% in 2018 (Figure 8b). European emissions fell but the growth in all the other parts of the world was 17 times greater. The emissions reductions in the UK have also come at a considerable cost. The deficit of the UK balance of payments with respect to manufactures has been increasing since then. In other words, a significant proportion of our emissions have been exported to China and elsewhere. Indeed, over the period 1991– 2007, the emissions associated with rising imports almost exactly cancelled the UK emissions reduction!

There was much publicity in late summer this year when 50% of the UK’s electricity was (briefly) generated from renewables. Few people realised that electricity is only 16% of our total energy usage, and it is a common error, even in Parliament, to think that we are making enormous progress on the whole energy front. The real challenge is shown in Figure 10, where the energy used in fuels, heating and electricity are directly compared over a three year period. Several striking points emerge from this one figure.
First, we use twice as much energy in the UK for transport as we do for electricity. Little progress has been made in converting the fuel energy to electricity, as there are few electric vehicles and no ships or aircraft that are battery powered.

Note that if such a conversion of transport fuel to electricity were to take place, the grid capacity would have to treble from what we have today.

Second, most of the electricity use today is baseload, with small daily and seasonal variations (one can see the effect of the Christmas holidays). The more intermittent wind and solar energy is used, the more back-up has to be ready for nights and times of anticyclones or both: the back-up capacity could have been used all along to produce higher levels of baseload electricity, and because it is being used less efficiently, the resulting back-up generation costs more as it pays off the same total capital costs.

But in fact it is the heating that is the real problem. Today that is provided by gas, with gas flows varying by a factor of eight between highs in winter and lows in summer. If heat were to be electrified along with transport, the grid capacity would have to be expanded by a factor between five and six from today. How many more wind and solar farms would we need?

Initial conclusions

So far, I have described the scale of the global energy sector, how it has come to be the size it is, the current drivers for more energy and the current status of attempts to decarbonise the global economy. I can draw some initial conclusions at this point.

• Energy equals quality of life and we intervene there only with the most convincing of
cases.
• Renewables do not come close to constituting a solution to the climate change problem for an industrialised world.
• China is not the beacon of hope it is portrayed to be.
• There is no ground shift in energy sources despite claims to contrary.

The engineering challenges implied by factors of hundreds and thousands

Many people do not realise the very different natures of the forms of energy we use today.  But energy generation technologies can differ by factors of hundreds or thousands on key measures, such as the efficiency of materials use, the land area needed, the whole-life costs of ownership, and matters associated with energy storage.

Here are four statements about the efficiency with which energy generation systems use
high-value advanced materials:

• A Siemens gas turbine weighs 312 tonnes and delivers 600 MW. That translates to 1920 W/kg of firm power over a 40-year design life.

• The Finnish PWR reactors weigh 500 tonnes and produces 860 MW of power, equivalent to 1700 W/kg of firm supply over 40 years. When combined with a steam turbine, the figure is 1000 W/kg.

• A 1.8-MW wind turbine weighs 164 tonnes, made up of a 56-tonne nacelle, 36 tonnes
for the blades, and a 71-tonne tower. That is equivalent to 10 W/kg for the nameplate
capacity, but at a typical load factor of 30%, this corresponds to 3 W/kg of firm power.
A 3.6-MW offshore turbine, with its 400-tonne above-water assembly, and with a 40%
load factor, comes out at 3.6 W/kg over a 20-year life.

Solar panels for roof-top installation weigh about 16 kg/m2, and with about 40 W/m2
firm power provided over a year, that translates to about 2.5 W/kg energy per mass
over a 20-year life.

The figures are shown in Figure 12, although the wind and solar bars are all but invisible.
You’d need 360 5-MW wind turbines (of 33% efficiency) to produce the same output as a gas turbine, each with concrete foundations of comparable volume.

The late David MacKay showed that the land areas needed to produce 225 MW of power were very different: 15 acres for a small modular nuclear reactor, 2400 acres for average solar cell arrays, and 60,000 acres for an average wind farm.

Approximate area required for all of
London’s electricity to come from wind farms

Gray area required for wind farms, yellow area for solar farms, to power London UK.

The challenge of megacities

In 2050 over half the world’s population will be living in megacities with populations of more
than 5 million people. The energising of such cities at present is achieved with fossil and
nuclear fuels, as can the cities of the future. The impact of renewable energies will be very
small, as the vast areas of land needed, often taken away from local areas devoted to food
production as in London or Beijing, will limit their contribution. The extreme examples are
Hong Kong and Singapore, neither of which have any available hinterland.

Conclusions

It is clear to me that, for the sake of the whole of mankind, we must stay with business as usual, which has always had a focus on the efficient use of energy and materials. Climate change mitigation projects are inappropriate while large-scale increases in energy demand continue. If renewables prove insufficiently productive, research should be diverted to focus on genuinely new technologies. It is notable that within a few decades of Watt’s steam engine becoming available, the windmills of Europe ceased turning. We should not be reversing that process if the relative efficiencies have not changed.  We must de-risk major infrastructure projects, such as mass decarbonisation. They are too serious to get wrong. Human lifestyle changes can have a greater and quicker impact:they could deliver a 10% drop in our energy consumption from tomorrow. This approach would not be without consequences, however. For example, airlines might well collapse if holidaymakers stayed, or were made to stay, at home.

Who owns the integrity of engineering in the climate debate in the United Kingdom? Globally? The Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Institutions should all be holding the fort for engineering integrity, and not letting the engineering myths of a Swedish teenager go unchallenged.

Footnote:  See also a previous 2015 article by Kelly in Standpoint Magazine: For Climate Alarmism, The Poor Pay The Price  Some excerpts in italics with my bolds.

During a period as a scientific adviser in Whitehall, I quickly learned the elements of sound advice given to politicians — a process that is quite distinct from lobbying. A well-briefed minister knows about the general area in which a decision is sought, and is given four scenarios before any recommendation. Those scenarios are the upsides and the downsides both of doing nothing and of doing something. Those who give only the upside of doing something and the downside of doing nothing are in fact lobbying.

In his introduction he (Stern) makes it clear that he has consulted many scientists, businessmen, philosophers and economists, but in his book I find not a single infrastructure project engineer asked about the engineering reality of any of his propositions, nor a historian of technology about the elementary fact that technological breakthroughs are not pre-programmable. Lord Stern’s description of the climate science is an uncritical acceptance of the worst case put by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one from which many in the climate science community are now distancing themselves.

Those building the biblical Tower of Babel, intending to reach heaven, did not know where heaven was and hence when the project would be finished, or at what cost. Those setting out to solve the climate change problem now are in the same position. If we were to spend 10 or even 100 trillion dollars mitigating carbon dioxide emissions, what would happen to the climate? If we can’t evaluate whether reversing climate change would be value for money, why should we bother, when we can clearly identify many and better investments for such huge resources?

The Paris meeting on climate change will be setting out to build a modern Tower of Babel.

NY Gov. Cuomo Energy Saboteur

The NY Post Editorial Board takes Cuomo to task for trying to have it both ways:  Climate Hero without being the Energy Villain.  Their article Cuomo’s latest bid to dodge blame for Long Island’s natural-gas crisis.   Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo upped his histrionics on the Long Island natural gas crisis Tuesday, formally threatening to revoke the license of National Grid, the utility that has stopped taking new gas customers.

The company says it can’t take on new commitments because Cuomo (followed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy) blocked construction of a new pipeline.

That new-hookups moratorium, the gov insists, “is either a falsified device or a lack of competence.” That is, National Grid either doesn’t need the pipeline — or is still at fault because it didn’t find some other way to assure supply.

Yet it never should have needed a Plan B: The proposed pipeline is obviously safe; it’s to run right next to an existing pipeline that’s done zero harm. The supposed environmental fears blocking it are nothing but a pretext, allowing Cuomo to pander to green extremists who oppose all carbon-based fuels.

To be clear: The pipeline is the safest, cheapest and even greenest way to get new energy supplies to the area (which includes parts of the city). But the greens don’t care — they’d rather consumers just do without.

Cuomo says gas can be “trucked, shipped, or barged” instead. But that, says Manhattan Institute energy specialist Jonathan Lesser, would require fleets of trucks supplying a huge processing facility that doesn’t exist. And the trucks (or ships) would themselves burn more carbon fuel.

The gov won’t get out of this by following through on his threat — because whoever took over for National Grid would face the exact same problems.

Maybe the company should just call his bluff.

Background on East Cost Pipeline Politics:  Payback Upon Climate Grasshoppers

World Energy Wishful Thinking from EIA

An article at World Oil reports Renewables are growing, but greenhouse emissions will continue to rise, says IEA  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

LONDON (Bloomberg) – The International Energy Agency’s annual report into fuel supply and demand shows a pickup in the rate of growth for wind and solar power.

But that’s not enough to curtail greenhouse gas pollution, which is on track to grow through 2040. The findings are a blow to the international effort to rein in climate change and contrast with expanding awareness of the impact humans are having on the environment.

The IEA’s report tracks the different paths the world can take, with government policies shaping the energy industry. While clean energy leaves some reason for optimism, the gap is widening between what scientists say is necessary to protect the environment and how industry’s energy needs are evolving.

1. Offshore wind is booming …

The global market for offshore wind turbines grew 30% from 2010 to 2018, driven primarily by northern Europe. Now, the technology is entering new regions. China added more capacity last year than anyone else. By 2040 the offshore wind market will become a $1 trillion business, the IEA says. Wind and solar power will push renewables past coal in terms of share of the power market by the middle of the next decade. By 2040, those clean energy sources will provide more than half of the world’s total electricity.  [Comment:  Mostly wishful thinking considering what is said below]

2. … but emissions continue to rise

Global carbon dioxide emissions rose for a second year, and the outlook is for continued increase to 2040 unless governments take radical action to hit targets set out in the Paris Agreement. The report shows that efforts to shift the world away from the most polluting fuels are moving too slowly. The developing world’s thirst for energy is also lifting consumption of coal and other fossil fuels, pushing more pollution into the atmosphere. [Comment: See at bottom previous post on a Kenyan POV regarding energy development]

3. Coal is the dominant power generation fuel

Global coal demand rose for a second consecutive year in 2018, with three-quarters of that demand coming from Asia Pacific. If global coal policies remain unchanged, then demand will keep expanding for two decades, the IEA said. However, growth will flatten out in that period if countries implement the promises they have already made. Over the past 20 years, Asia has accounted for 90% of all coal-fired capacity built worldwide and many of those new plants still have three decades of burning the dirtiest fossil fuel. [Comment:  US is exporting increasing amounts of refined coal.  See post US Refined Coal Surging

4. Oil demand slows

Global oil demand will hit a plateau around 2030 as the use of more efficient cars and electric vehicles ends an expansion that dominated the past century. While the IEA won’t call “peak demand” yet, the stagnation points toward major changes in the oil industry ahead. [Comment: According to 2018 McKinsey report electric vehicles did pass 1 million sold, which is less than 1% (0.66%) of world auto sales.  More wishful thinking.]

5. Quicker growth for natural gas

The world’s natural gas will deliver more of the fuel by tanker than pipeline as China’s thirst for it has grown by more than a third in the past two years. Demand for gas is set to grow four times faster than oil through 2040. By then, China will import twice as much LNG as India. The share of gas in China’s energy mix will rise to 13% by 2040 from 7% now.

Previous Post: The West vs. Africa: Energy Hypocrisy as Seen from Kenya

Suleiman Shahbal writes in Kenya at Standard Media Global warming: Why the West preaches water yet drinks wine.. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A few months ago I was with a group of Kenyan politicians in Abu Dhabi. Hosting us for a cup of coffee was my good friend Abdalla Nassir. Abdalla is a serial entrepreneur who owns 94 businesses, including the coffee shop. His 95th business is a steel mill that he was going to open in Djibouti, targeting the Ethiopian market of 80 million people.

I asked him why not in Kenya; the gateway to the Comesa market of 150 million people, to which he replied that the cost of power in Kenya is more than twice that of Djibouti and Ethiopia. One week later, I read that a glass company in Mtwapa had just closed down, with the loss of over 400 jobs. The reason? The high cost of power.

So what do we do? The quickest solution that everyone would like to come up with is solar or wind power. Both, ‘clean energy’. The problem is, what do you do when it doesn’t shine for three days? Or if there is no wind? You cannot run a hospital hoping for the sun to shine. Those baby incubators or that poor patient being operated on cannot depend on the weather being conveniently agreeable.

We are forced to look for dependable energy or, to use the lingo of the industry, ‘base load’. That leaves you with two energy sources – coal or gas. Coal is the cheapest. Gas prices are closely correlated to oil prices, which are very volatile and expensive. Remember that we have fewer industries and jobs because of cost. We have little choice but to go for the cheaper option. But the world doesn’t like coal. Why?

Affecting forests

In 2004, the world met in Copenhagen and came to the conclusion that global warming was a real threat to the planet. The world resolved not to allow global temperatures to rise above another 2 degrees.

Anything more would lead to catastrophic changes affecting forests, air, water and the environment. All true so far. No one doubts the disaster of global warming. The solution was either for the world to stop making any new coal plants or for the developed world to reduce their emissions by 10 per cent.

The developed world categorically refused. Such a drastic drop in emission would lead to loss of livelihoods and jobs, something they were not willing to take. So, let us force the poor Third World to stop starting such plants. Let the poor make the sacrifices. Who cares if they lose jobs or new companies? That’s why we have such a strong opposition to our coal power.

Shiekh Mohamed Al Maktoum is considered one of the most visionary leaders in the world. After all, he took the desert and transformed it into one of the world’s leading cities. He has all the gas and oil in the world, but he chose to build the Hassyn Coal Power Plant of 5,000 Megawatt. That is five times the one proposed in Kenya.

Do you think he is unwise to use coal when he has all the other alternatives? Turkey, one of Europe’s major economies, gets over 70 per cent of its power from coal and it is building a new one called Karabiga plant of over 1,500 megawatts. South Africa gets over 90 per cent of its power from coal. Do you think all these people are unwise?

Acceptable levels

Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel once said: “there comes a time in every nation when they have to make sacrifices with their conscience and to make hard choices’’. Kenya is now at that cross point. Either we make that difficult choice and use the cheaper coal and create those jobs – or spend another 20 years dreaming of industralisation and job creation. Fortunately for Kenya, over 90 per cent of our power is from clean energy, mainly geothermal and hydro so the world can forgive us for trying to create jobs.

Chemicals can be deadly if used in excess. For example, 500mg of paracetamol (Panadol) will cure you, but 5,000 grams will kill you. That is the logic of chemistry. The same logic applies to all emissions from a coal plant, whether it be sulphur, carbon-dioxide or nitrogen. What is acceptable and what is not? The World Bank has set the standards that are acceptable and the proposed coal plant in Lamu meets all the requirements – and the day they don’t meet those standards then shut it down. No point arguing about the chemicals without stating the acceptable levels.

I am writing this in Lamu and I have to admit that I am one of the promoters of the coal plant. I am from Lamu, my family lives here and no one can claim to love this place more than I do. I would never do anything that would harm my people. However, there is no greater pollution than having millions of our youth remaining jobless and having their ambitions crushed through loss of hope. To quote Golda Meir, we need to make sacrifices with our conscience and bring the cheap power. Even if this annoys our rich friends.

Mr Shahbal is Chairman of Gulf Group of Companies

Summary

So wealthy elites in Europe and North America get to take virtuous postures on the imaginary problem of global warming, while Africans pay the price.  Racism anyone?  They are not asking for reparations, just letting them play by the same rules other nations used to build prosperous and healthy societies.