The Week That Was: August 8, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
The New Plan: On August 3, the Obama Administration announced its plan to control the production of electricity in the US in the name of protecting the planet from human-caused climate change, even though climate change has been occurring long before humanity existed. The administration’s plan is embodied in a 1560-page regulation released by the EPA titled the Final Rule, “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), to be published in the Federal Register sometime in the future. It is not until the rule is published in the Federal Register that activities such as litigation against it can begin, without the courts considering the litigation premature. The most important rules are on power plants operating today rather than those to be built or those which have to be modified or re-built.
The Final Rule contains major changes to the draft CPP including increasing the time given to the several states to comply with the rules by 2 years. Overall, the plan mandates that the states, together, reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, a more stringent mandate than 30% in the earlier version. However, mandates to the states changed in what appears to be clear political bias, with states controlled by democrats seeing their mandates reduced while those controlled by republicans seeing their mandates increased.
The CPP promotes the development of solar and wind, far more expensive and unreliable forms of electricity generation than coal, which the plan seeks to curtail. Also, the plan appears to favor wind and solar over natural gas for electricity generation, although previously government agencies bragged that under Obama carbon dioxide emissions were falling by the use of natural-gas-fired power plants. The New Plan raises the percentage of power to be generated by solar and wind from 22% to 28%. The natural gas power industry seems to be somewhat taken back, but should realize that opponents of fossil fuels will try to regulate use of all such fuels.
Also missing from the Final Rule that was in the prior draft are credits for energy efficiency. The EPA had assumed that consumers would actually save on their energy bills by reducing electricity consumption, even more than any increase in energy costs. Statements that consumers will save money appear to be invalid. See links under The Administration’s New Plan and The Administration’s New Plan – Independent Analysis
Quote of the Week: “It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.”— Richard Feynman [H/t Econospeak]
Number of the Week: $40 to $50 per barrel?
The Allies: Overall, leaders of environmental groups seemed pleased with the new plan. For example, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund called it a clean energy breakthrough, which gives the US an advantage in the race to produce “clean” energy rather than “unsafe pollution for the climate.” He, and others, uncritically repeat the Administration’s highly questionable health assertions about carbon dioxide and climate change.
The support of the environmental industry for the plan is not surprising. On August 4 the Majority Staff of U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a report on how the EPA worked hand-in-glove with the National Resources Defense Council, and other environmental groups on the plan to control carbon dioxide emissions. See links under The Administration’s New Plan and The Political Games Continue.
The Benefit-Cost: Using the EPA’s MAGICC* policy-analysis model, Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger of Cato estimated the extent of global temperature reduction under the New Plan as compared with the “business as usual”, giving an approximation of the New Plan’s impact on climate. [All this is highly speculative.] They estimated that the New Plan will result in temperature reduction of 0.019°C (0.034ºF) by the year 2100. The New Plan is hardly the great breakthrough the environmental proponents assert.
EPA veteran Alan Carlin estimates that, based on analysis of costs experienced in Western Europe, the New Plan may increase electricity prices to consumers in the US by up to four times. Such an increase is drastically different from pronouncements by supporters of the New Plan about consumer savings.
Paul Homewood presents an excellent summary on electricity costs occurring in Western Europe from increased wind and solar (non-hydro renewables). Writing in WUWT, Ed Hoskins uses 2014 data from EurObservER to estimate the megawatts, by nameplate, of renewable installations by country per million people. German and Denmark have, by far, the greatest. Homewood compares these with 2014 electricity prices from Eurostat, the official EU statistical entity. The subsequent graph of EU Electricity Prices & Renewable Energy is revealing. As the installed renewable capacity per capita increases, the electricity cost increases. The increase in prices range from a low in Hungary of about 12 cent/kWhour (lowest renewables per capita) to a high in Denmark and Germany of about 30 cent/kWh (greatest renewables).
There is no reason why the EPA, or the Department of Energy, or the US Climate Change Research Program could not perform such analysis. But if they did, it is hidden from the public. Reliance on renewable energy (non-hydro) is very costly, and that is what the New Plan entails. See links under The Administration’s New Plan – Independent Analysis and Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Solar and Wind.
An Analogy? Many veterans of the Vietnam era have asked what went wrong. Why did President Johnson commit massive resources, including extensive ground troops, without a clear strategic plan and an understanding of the enemy? Part of the answer can be found in the Pentagon Papers. Ordered in secret by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who was soon to leave the administration, this collection of documents reveal views of many members of the administration and in the Pentagon. Strangely, rather than using it for political advantage, Richard Nixon tried to suppress it. The Pentagon Papers reveal a lack of critical thinking coupled with ignorance and arrogance. These characteristics that can be found in this Administration’s war on climate change.
Ignorance can be seen in the changing of the terminology from global warming to climate change, which has been occurring for hundreds of millions of years, long before humanity existed. Arrogance can be seen in the belief that humans are the primary cause, especially in the climate models, which ignore a multitude of natural influences. The Neglected Sun discusses six types of solar cycles influencing the earth’s climate, which are largely dismissed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CO2 Science presents the poor correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature changes, yet CO2 is the primary area of concern expressed by the administration. The British Antarctic Survey presents a 10ºC (18ºF) jump in temperatures within 40 years shown in the Greenland Ice Cores about 38,000 years ago; yet, modest, late 20th century warming is called unprecedented.
There is no measure of victory with such an undefined, nebulous enemy. Unless, those who manipulated historic data by lowering earlier data, giving a warming trend where there was none, reverse course. Then, victory can be declared.
See links under Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?, Review of Recent Scientific Articles by CO2 Science, Measurement Issues, and Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice.
April Fools Award: Presented on August 2, at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Doctors for Defensive Preparedness.
Each year SEPP conducts its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson. Readers of The Week That Was are asked to nominate and vote for whom they thinks is most deserving under these criteria:
· The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.
· The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.
· The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.
· The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.
There were 16 nominations representing 5 countries. Their locations range from a state in Australia to Vermont. The votes have been tabulated.
The vote was very close, but the victor emerged based on the strength of his nomination (below).
“I would like to nominate Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. In brief, when the Secretary of Energy is more interested in developing energy policy that supports CO2 emission targets than producing reliable energy, we have a problem. With Kerry, Obama or Lisa Jackson [previous recipients] you can sum it up to ignorance — they are not educated in science and they surround themselves with supposed experts, whom they choose to trust. With Moniz, you cannot — he has a renowned academic pedigree. Yet in spite of his obvious intelligence and education, he believes that despite the fact that computer simulations cannot predict the drag on a golf ball based on first principles, they can solve the vastly more complex problem of the earth’s climate, which includes inter-related thermodynamic, heat transfer and chemistry in a multi-phase domain set in a non-inertial reference frame, which is over 10^5 times the size of the golf ball.
“He spoke at a graduation at [my university], where I was the Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. It was a painful experience for me. Rather than giving the students useful words of advice, he spent his entire speech expounding on the dangers of climate change:
“Based on his willful ignorance and in a position of great importance, I can think of no better candidate for this prestigious award.”
DOD: The US Department of Defense issued another National Security bulletin on climate change. “DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to U.S. interests globally. The National Security Strategy, issued in February 2015, is clear that climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.” See comments on ignorance and arrogance, above, and links under Expanding the Orthodoxy.
Number of the Week: $40 to $50 per barrel. The CEO of Whiting Petroleum, which is operating in North Dakota, said: “We are tooling Whiting to run and grow at $40 to $50 oil.” See Article # 3.
Please note that articles not linked easily or summarized here are reproduced in the Articles Section of the full TWTW that can be found on the web site under the date of the TWTW.
1. Peer Review Is Not What It’s Cracked Up To Be
By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Aug 5, 2015
SUMMARY: Much is made of the peer-review of scientific papers; it is frequently held up as the gold standard that assures the quality of scientific publishing. People often ask whether some work has undergone peer-review and are then ready to accept it — confident this makes it kosher. I wish this were really true.
2. Climate-Change Putsch
States should refuse to comply with Obama’s lawless power rule.
Editorial, WSJ, Aug 3, 2015
SUMMARY: The editorial begins: “Rarely do American Presidents display the raw willfulness that President Obama did Monday in rolling out his plan to reorganize the economy in the name of climate change. Without a vote in Congress or even much public debate, Mr. Obama is using his last 18 months to dictate U.S. energy choices for the next 20 or 30 years. This abuse of power is regulation without representation.”
It continues with: “States have regulated their power systems since the early days of electrification, but the EPA is now usurping this role to nationalize power generation and consumption. To meet the EPA’s targets, states must pass new laws or regulations to shift their energy mix from fossil fuels, subsidize alternative energy, improve efficiency, impose a cap-and-trade program, or all of the above.”
“The rule is the first step in a crescendo of climate-change politics that Mr. Obama is planning for his final days. In September he will commune with Pope Francis on the subject, and then jet to Paris in hopes that his new rule shows enough U.S. progress that the climate treaty conference in December will reach some grand accord.”
“When the EPA rule does arrive before the Justices, maybe they’ll rethink their doctrine of “Chevron deference,” in which the judiciary hands the bureaucracy broad leeway to interpret ambiguous laws. An agency using a 38-year-old provision as pretext for the cap-and-tax plan that a Democratic Congress rejected in 2010 and couldn’t get 50 Senate votes now is the all-time nadir of administrative ‘interpretation.’”
“This plan is essentially a tax on the livelihood of every American, which makes it all the more extraordinary that it is essentially one man’s order. Mr. Obama’s argument is that climate change is too important to abide by relics like the rule of law or self-government. It is an important test of the American political system to prove that he is wrong.”
3. Despite Glut of Oil, Energy Firms Struggle to Turn Off the Tap
Companies keep finding ways to drill wells faster in an effort to deal with declining crude prices
By Erin Ailworth, WSJ, Aug 6, 2015
SUMMARY: The headline is a bit misleading. Some firms find that even at lower prices they can develop oil production profitably. “Amid a refrain about keeping growth in check, executives at Anadarko, a Texas-based oil and gas producer, told analysts last week that the company has doubled its rig efficiency. Anadarko can now drill 70 wells with one rig in Colorado’s Wattenberg field, compared with 35 wells per rig a year ago.” Profits and revenues are down but the firm is still operating and drilling.
The CEO of Whiting Petroleum Corp stated “We are tooling Whiting to run and grow at $40 to $50 oil.” Some producers are cutting back, some lost money on hedging, but massive losses many observers were predicting are not occurring.
Time after time in the past week, energy companies revealed swelling oil-production figures. Devon, based in Oklahoma City, said it pumped more than 30% more crude in the second quarter compared with the prior-year period, and said it is on track to produce up to 35% more oil this year compared with last. The company reported a $2.8 billion loss on revenue of $3.4 billion. [The cause of the loss was not reported.]
[SEPP Comment: Petro-states that depend on high prices for government budgets must be getting uneasy.]
4. The Unsettling, Anti-Science Certitude on Global Warming
Climate-change ‘deniers’ are accused of heresy by true believers. That doesn’t sound like science to me.
By John Steelle Gordon, WSJ, Jul 30, 2015
SUMMARY: “Are there any phrases in today’s political lexicon more obnoxious than “the science is settled” and “climate-change deniers”?
“The first is an oxymoron. By definition, science is never settled. It is always subject to change in the light of new evidence. The second phrase is nothing but an ad hominem attack, meant to evoke “Holocaust deniers,” those people who maintain that the Nazi Holocaust is a fiction, ignoring the overwhelming, incontestable evidence that it is a historical fact.”
The author debunks the claim “the science is settled” with a brief history of the improvements in planetary motion with the improvements in instruments and theoretical understanding such as the contributions of Einstein. He states: “If anthropogenic climate change is a reality, then that would be a huge problem only government could deal with. It would be a heaven-sent opportunity for the left to vastly increase government control over the economy and the personal lives of citizens.” But goes on to say: “The [Climategate] communications showed that whatever the emailers were engaged in, it was not the disinterested pursuit of science.”