Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #266

By Ken Haapala, President – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Bounding the Fear: Last week’s TWTW discussed a presentation by Hal Doiron of The Right Climate Stuff Team (TRCS). TRCS is a group of retired and highly experienced engineers and scientists from the Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station eras who have volunteered their time and effort to conduct an objective, independent assessment of the carbon dioxide (CO2)-caused global warming to assess the reality of the actual threat, and separate that from unnecessary alarm. They have applied the techniques they learned for space missions to this task. A rough engineering analogy is: How can they be confident that an astronaut will not cook or freeze in a space station or a space suit?

As a young engineer, Doiron approached the modeling of the lunar lander by bounding the risks. Similarly, he approached the problem of what would happen, in the worst case, with a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) by establishing an upper bound. The team created a simple, rigorous earth surface model using principles established in Conservation of Energy. He shows how the model is validated using 165 years of atmospheric greenhouse gas data and HadCRUT surface temperature data.

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Coal’s Unexpected Ally: Natural Gas

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

I concluded my previous coal post, The Resurgence of the American Coal Industry, with the following:

The U.S. coal industry is doing exactly what the oil & gas industry did from 2014-2016.  In the face of oversupply relative to demand and a collapsing commodity price, the industry is making itself “leaner and meaner.”  Mr. Denning referred to natural gas as the “enemy” of coal.  That’s funny, I find oil & gas for a living and have never thought of coal or nuclear power as enemies.  Fair competition is good for business… And as an electricity consumer, I don’t like paying more than 10¢ per kWh for electricity.

Natural gas prices are unlikely to remain this low for very long.  $2.50/mmbtu is uneconomic in most of the shale plays and very uneconomic in the Gulf of Mexico, except on a cost-forward basis.   When natural gas production and consumption come back into balance, it will probably be at a price of $3.50 to $5.00/mmbtu.  Coal is very competitive with natural gas above $3.50/mmbtu.

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Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #265

By Ken Haapala, President – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Upper Bound for 21st Century Warming: The Right Climate Stuff Team (TRCS) is a group of retired and highly experienced engineers and scientists from the Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station eras. They have volunteered their time and effort to conduct an objective, independent assessment of the carbon dioxide (CO2)-caused global warming to assess the reality of the actual threat, and separate that from unnecessary alarm. They have applied the techniques they learned for space missions to this task. A rough engineering analogy is how can they be confident that an astronaut will not cook or freeze in a space station or a space suit.

To do this, the TRCS created an energy flow model (energy balance or energy conservation model) that accurately correlates with empirical global surface temperature data, using HadCRUT surface temperature data since 1850. HadCRUT is a dataset of monthly instrumental temperature records formed by combining the sea surface temperature records compiled by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the land surface air temperature records compiled by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia. (Note: atmospheric temperature data from satellites only dates to 1979.)

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Resurgence of the American Coal Industry

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

America’s Biggest Coal Miner Is Joining the Comeback Under Trump

by Tim Loh
April 3, 2017, 4:28 PM CDT April 4, 2017, 1:14 PM CDT

  • Peabody is following rival Arch Coal out of bankruptcy
  • The coal miner has for decades served as industry’s bellwether

Peabody Energy Corp., America’s largest coal miner, is back.

After almost a year in bankruptcy, the St. Louis-based giant began trading again on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Its return to Wall Street comes as the entire U.S. coal sector is staging a comeback amid growing interest from investors.

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The Climate Yawns

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

While many people seemingly have forgotten that Clean Power Plan was a legalistic nightmare, I think it is important to remember the CPP was opposed by 31 states (out of 50) in court. – Steve Heins

Donald Trump is no more a planet wrecker than Barack Obama (as measured to the third decimal).

Then why, if you’re a Democrat, put yourself in that position in the first place to take blame for killing coal jobs? Why enact a costly regulation to do what the market was doing for free? When everybody else wanted to blame the Florida recount for his 2000 defeat, Al Gore was smart enough privately to blame gun control. When you lose your home state as presidential candidate, something is wrong. The same blundering ineptitude explains  the Obama alliance with the Greens.

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What NPR Misses About Energy Jobs In America

[There seem to be a difference of opinion on the purpose of energy production. – Bob]

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

NPR_Energy

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama ran an ad with this opening line: “The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind.”

And then it showed men working on roofs: “The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels.”

The ad was directed at a group Obama was acutely aware he had to win over — white, working-class men. A quarter of those same men deserted Democrats in 2016, according to a New York Times analysis, and voted either for Donald Trump or a third-party candidate.

On Tuesday, President Trump is trying to start making good on his promises to many of those same white men — coal workers. The Trump administration is doing an about-face on President Obama’s climate and environmental policies. The president signed an executive order with a goal of taking restraints off businesses and boosting the coal industry.

“He made a pledge to the coal industry, and he’s going to do whatever he can to help those workers,” a senior administrative official said Monday ahead of the executive order’s signing.

Speaking at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, Trump said a “new era” in energy production is starting Tuesday.

Surrounded by about a dozen coal miners, he said, per NPR’s Jennifer Ludden, “You’re going back to work.” He pledged to “end the war on coal and have clean coal, really clean coal.”

But there are problems with both Trump’s nostalgic Make America Great Again coal promises and Obama’s radical vision for a reshaped economy.

Trump’s ignores the reality of a changing energy industry. Solar jobs, for example, have taken off over the past decade. The Obama administration tried hard to incentivize clean energy (so much so that it got caught up in the Solyndra scandal. The head of Solyndra was an Obama campaign bundler. Obama visited the company and touted it. His administration incentivized companies like it. In 2011, the government helped Solyndra refinance, but just months later, the company failed).

But solar now accounts for some 260,000 energy jobs in the country, the majority of which are held by installers. That’s almost four times the number of coal industry jobs, about 70,000, as of May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that industry has been on a steady and steep decline over the past 30 years…

[…]

In the energy industry, solar is outpaced only by the oil industry, according to a major report by the Solar Foundation. And solar’s gotten cheaper to produce (despite Trump’s proclamations during the campaign that he loves solar except that it’s expensive).

[…]

NPR

Why do journalists, environmentalists and liberals (redundant, I know) confuse energy production with jobs programs?  The only way an economy can successfully grow in a healthy, robust manner is through increasing productivity.

What is ‘Productivity’

Productivity is an economic measure of output per unit of input. Inputs include labor and capital, while output is typically measured in revenues and other gross domestic product (GDP) components such as business inventories. Productivity measures may be examined collectively (across the whole economy) or viewed industry by industry to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Productivity’

Productivity gains are vital to the economy, as they mean that more is being accomplished with less. Capital and labor are both scarce resources, so maximizing their impact is a core concern of modern business. Productivity enhancements come from technology advances, such as computers and the internet, supply chain and logistics improvements, and increased skill levels within the workforce.

Read more: Productivity Definition | Investopediahttp://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/productivity.asp#ixzz4cooRyEry
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Putting coal miners back to work will be a byproduct of increased coal production, not the purpose of it.

Here is a plot of U.S. energy production from oil & gas, coal, wind and solar power in million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).

MTOE

Source: BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy

I used the production numbers for oil & gas and coal rather than the consumption numbers because U.S. fossil fuel employees don’t produce imported fossil fuels.  I used the consumption numbers for wind and solar because those were the only numbers (we don’t import or store wind and solar power).  I added oil and gas together because its the same group of employees who produce the oil and the gas.

Here is a plot of Mtoe per thousand employees:

MTOEperEmployee

Sources: BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (via FRED), The Solar Foundation and American Wind Energy Association.

Which energy employees are the most productive?

Even if I added in midstream and downstream fossil fuel-related employees, they would still be an order of magnitude more productive than wind energy employees and two orders of magnitude more productive than solar energy employees.

References

American Wind Energy Association

BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016

The Solar Foundation

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, All Employees: Mining and Logging: Coal Mining [CEU1021210001], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CEU1021210001, March 29, 2017.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, All Employees: Mining and Logging: Oil and Gas Extraction [CES1021100001], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CES1021100001, March 29, 2017.

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Heartland Climate Change Conference

This was my first climate change conference and I had a great time. To hear the full talk by any of the speakers go to the Heartland.Org site here.

The most memorable statement is from Myron Ebell. Three U.S. elections “have turned on climate issues.” These are 2000, 2010, and 2016. In 2000 Al Gore lost because he lost West Virginia. This “was due entirely because someone named Buck Harless put,” in every voter’s mailbox a study he commissioned showing the effect on West Virginia’s coal industry and economy of Al Gore’s proposed policies. The 2010 election was turned by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which caused the House Democrats to lose 20 seats and making the House of Representatives Republican. Finally, in 2016, climate change and the fossil fuel industry were explicit issues and Clinton and Trump were on opposite sides. The pro-fossil fuel side won the key fossil fuel states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

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