[Editor note: Part I yesterday described Ken Green’s current responsibilities at the Fraser Institute and Canadian energy/environmental issues. Today’s post covers Green’s early interest, education, and career in environmentalism.]
MR: When did you first become interested in environmental science?
KG: I was always interested in nature as a kid. I remember catching frogs at a nearby golf course when I was 5, and I grew up in California camping in the various state parks, where I was always interested in catching critters and playing with them. Lizards, horned toads, snakes, small rodents, whatever I could catch. I also loved science, and remember the name of my 6th grade science teacher, Mr. Jahn, who made studying science fun.
I used to go out to the Mojave Desert a lot with my mother, who was a real character. She was an amateur “treasure hunter,” and loved prospecting for gold in the rivers and streams of California, as well as out on a placer mining claim we had in the Mojave. I’d tool around on a motorcycle, and do the shoveling for the sluices boxes and dry-washers, she’d pan out the gold, and spend time chatting with friends around the motor home. For a short time, she had a shop that sold prospecting equipment in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
Prospecting with my mother would turn out to be influential on the way I came to view environmental policy. My mother was a member of the Prospectors Club of Southern California and hauled me along to meetings with her when I was in my early teens. It was there that I was first exposed to the tension that was growing with environmentalists, who were laboring to ban things like prospecting in state parks, or in areas they viewed as fragile, such as the Mojave.
They were also beginning to push for bans on motor vehicles in parks, and things like that. It was seen as a huge threat in the mining community, and my mother, who absolutely adored the desert (where her asthma eased up and she felt healthier) invited people to the club to speak about the threats that environmentalists posed to prospecting, and to encourage people to write their representatives.
MR: So you were a ‘naturalist’ before the term ‘environmentalist’ began to be used?
KG: I suppose that’s a fair characterization – I was always somewhat fascinated with nature, and I enjoyed watching insects and animals, and speculating about why they did the things they did, wondering how water-striders could walk on water, wondering how desert iguanas could run so fast, that sort of thing. But I did develop some strong environmental beliefs as well – growing up as a kid with asthma in the smoggy San Fernando Valley in California did sensitize me (literally) to the reality of pollution.
MR: And was your mother a naturalist…as well? [Read more →]
March 7, 2014 No Comments
[Editor's note: From time to time MasterResource will interview leading scholars in the free-market energy and environmental tradition. This is our first interview.]
MR: Ken, describe your current position at the Fraser Institute in Canada.
KG: I am Senior Director of Fraser’s Centre for Natural Resources, which studies public policy involving natural resource management. Primarily, we study mining and energy policy, but there are elements of environmental and even agricultural policy that fall under the aegis of my Center.
MR: What is the mission of Fraser?
KG: The informal way I describe our mission is that we study public policy and educate Canadians (and global audiences as well) about the impact that public policy choices have on people’s lives.
Those impacts might be at the level of the individual, where people want to see how schools rank in order to pick a school for their children; the impacts might be at the household level where we show people what a proposed or existing public policy might cost their household on an annual basis; they might be the effects a policy will have on their provincial competitiveness or fiscal stability; and it might be at the global level where we rank the countries of the world on economic freedom, or the hospitality of global jurisdictions to mining investment.
MR. How do you do that?
KG: By writing and commissioning policy studies and then writing derivative articles; opinion columns; blog posts (I blog for the Huffington Post Canada and have been known to do so for Master Resource and elsewhere as well). We also disseminate by giving presentations to the general public; speaking at conferences; testifying to legislative and regulatory bodies; and giving seminars to students all across Canada.
MR. So you work with students?
KG: Yes. We just had a spectacular student seminar in Vancouver attended by 350 students from British Columbia and across Canada for an all-day seminar and discussion of public policy issues including the legalization of prostitution, the legalization of drugs, public finances, demographic issues in China, and energy policy in Canada. That the students gave up a beautiful Saturday in British Columbia for an exploration of public policy was very gratifying. [Read more →]
March 6, 2014 1 Comment
“It is simply dishonest to state that very high levels of renewables can be accommodated with little problem, while NERC states that until we figure out who pays for all the substantial operational and reliability challenges those VERs bring to the system, higher penetrations (above 20%) become problematic.”
Last fall I entered into a debate in the comment section of a post on The Energy Collective with AWEA’s Michael Goggin. As is his style, Mr. Goggin posted a long series of statements about wind energy suggesting that it is neither more difficult to integrate high percentages of wind into the grid than conventional generators nor does it create significant additional expense for grid operators or ratepayers.
I responded with a post stating that a recent paper by NERC entitled “Maintaining Bulk Power System Reliability While Integrating Variable Energy Resources – CAISO Approach” contradicted nearly everything he stated in his post. He then suggested that I needed to explain to him precisely how it did.
A plain reading of the NERC document did not require much interpretation to see that NERC and CAISO both see significant and expensive technical obstacles when it comes to integrating 20% or more of Variable Energy Resources (wind and solar) into California’s grid. So I ignored his pleas for me to show him precisely how the NERC report did exactly that. To me, and I think to most informed readers, it is self-evident. But since Mr. Goggin has persisted in pushing his point that I cannot support my statements, I have drafter this response today. [Read more →]
March 5, 2014 No Comments
“From Ireland to New Zealand and Massachusetts to Wisconsin, there is growing outrage among rural and semi-rural homeowners about the encroachment of massive wind projects. The European Platform Against Windfarms now lists some 600 signatory organizations from 24 countries. In the U.K. — where fights are raging against industrial wind projects in Wales, Scotland, and elsewhere — some 300 anti-wind groups have been formed. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., about 150 anti-wind groups are active.”
- Robert Bryce, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong (Public Affairs, 2014)
The World Council for Nature (WCFN) was founded September 20, 2011, to defend Nature against aggression–and perhaps none more egregious than the dilute energy sprawl of wind turbines enabled by government-qua-man. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” John Muir once said.
And what would Muir think of his Sierra Club today, pitting Washington, DC-alligator-shoed environmentalists against the grassroots who encounter the crony wind turbine industry in the wilds? WCFN recently was informed that Danish taxpayers’ money is being spent to the tune of €2,665,688 ($480,000) to spy on associations and citizens’ groups of windfarm victims (present or potential). The name of the program is “Wind2050 – Multidisciplinary study on local acceptance and development of wind power projects.” [Read more →]
March 4, 2014 No Comments
The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) is an informal coalition of individuals and organizations interested in improving national, state, and local energy & environmental policies. Our basic position is that technical matters like these should be addressed by using Real Science.?? It’s all spelled out at WiseEnergy.org, which is a wealth of energy and environmental resources.
A key element of AWED’s efforts is public education. Towards that end, every 3 weeks we put together a newsletter to balance what is found in the mainstream media about energy and environmental matters. We appreciate MasterResource for their assistance in publishing this information.
Greed Energy Economics:
Turbine Health Matters:
March 3, 2014 No Comments
“The future belongs to the efficient. The future belongs to the best, not the bottom feeders of ‘all of the above’. Let consumers decide, and keep taxpayers out of it.”
“Parents, would you favor your son or daughter dating ‘all of the above’?” This is the question I pose in my talks to the argument for wind power proffered by the renewable-energy advocates and the Obama Administration.
More recently, I have come up with a simple word slide to delve a little more deeply into the AOTA argument for a major presentation I have coming up. First, some background.
University of Houston Debate
I am preparing for a debate next Tuesday night at the University of Houston considering the topic:
Renewable Energy: Need for Government Support?” 2013/2014 Energy Symposium Series, Critical Issues in Energy, University of Houston (Houston, Texas). Sponsored by UH Energy and the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 
I will have two opponents. Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) supports extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and has a long history of voting for special government favors for (qualifying) renewable energy. Rep. Green also supported the failed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill). [Read more →]
February 28, 2014 1 Comment
“We have a long way to go before Chairman Camp’s tax reform bill is final and, no doubt, the debate over tax-extenders will be rigorous. But this is a rare opportunity for American taxpayers to once and for all eliminate the near-permanent temporary tax credits.”
Members of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) descended on Capitol Hill this week for a two-day member-only marathon to educate Congress on why the wind production tax credit (PTC) needs to remain a priority for American taxpayers. The PTC expired at the end of 2013.
Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens’ wind power business in the Americas and a member of AWEA’s Board, touted his expectation of receiving a positive response from D.C. lawmakers. ‘We’re going to ask for as long an extension [of the PTC] as we can get to bridge the gap until we get a comprehensive energy policy,” he said.
But by the end of the day yesterday, the future of the PTC dimmed.
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-anticipated proposal to reform the U.S. tax code which offered no consideration for reinstating the PTC. But that’s not all. According to the bill, the uncapped, 20+-year tax credit, which currently stands at 2.3¢/kWh, would no longer be adjusted annually for inflation which means that projects now receiving the PTC would see their subsidy reset back to 1.5¢/kWh. [Read more →]
February 27, 2014 1 Comment
Wind Turbine Bird Killings, Disinformation Continue in California (Golden eagles, bald eagles, and more)
“The grim reality is that fewer than 500 golden eagles remain in California. When will authorities wake up to windpower?”
The golden eagle is a vital species in rapid decline, and most of this demise has been relatively recent. Although it has never been publically acknowledged, the primary reason has been the development of wind energy in the middle of the eagle’s foraging habitats.
Ironically, during this golden eagle population crash, bald eagle populations have increased dramatically because, up to now, their habitats have been spared the ravages of wind development. This too will soon change, however, as wind energy installations are built in their wetland habitats across America.
Proper studies would easily document and explain the decline of golden eagles. But the studies are not being conducted – deliberately, so as to hide and obfuscate what is happening. The clear history of eagle nesting failures and habitat abandonments near wind projects has been hidden from public view, as wind projects have expanded across California and our western states.
Among the undisclosed impacts are those that occur when adult eagles are killed by a turbine during the egg and downy stages of a nesting cycle. During this critical 8-9 week period, there is a 100% probability of a complete nest failure if one adult eagle is lost. A single parent cannot possibly hunt, incubate eggs, and protect its young from the elements.
This history of golden eagle nesting failures near California wind turbines is never clearly stated, but the evidence is there for anyone who wishes to observe or read about it. Some of this impact is revealed in the last environmental impact documents submitted to support expanding the Shiloh wind project in California’s Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area, although those documents also suggest that a turbine-related nesting failure recently occurred in this area.
Bald Eagles at Risk
The same fate is coming to our bald eagles. This great bird’s population has been expanding in the wetland habitats of California, and the Sacramento River delta provides good foraging and nesting opportunities for them. Adult bald eagles have been seen near the Montezuma Hills WRA turbines, and a possible (never verified) bald eagle nest site was reported nearby on Grizzly Island. [Read more →]
February 26, 2014 No Comments
“Indeed, a case could be made that politicians have been pushed into a situation such that they have no choice but to approve continued coal-burning, hydro-fracking for increased gas and oil production, and pursuit of oil and gas in extreme and pristine environments.” (James Hansen)
“I am saying that the global energy discussion should be based on facts, not on myths.” (James Hansen)
Yesterday’s post on James Hansen’s new analysis, “Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power and Galileo: Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?, discussed how the anti-nuclear, pro-wind strategy of mainstream environmentalism works to increase, not decrease, greenhouse-gas emissions. Such an incredible irony can only be blamed on philosophical fraud, of believing in imaging and emotions rather than reality. 
Hansen’s article also speaks energy/political truth to Big Environmentalism in other ways that help steer the energy debate towards realism and away from postmodernism. Now, if we can only get the author to open the door to climate realism (global lukewarming) to join his energy realism!
Here are a series of Hansen quotations that can only add to the civil war within a movement that can only be described, in its present form, as not pro-renewables as much as anti-energy. [Read more →]
February 25, 2014 3 Comments
“Has Big Environmentalism increased net CO2 emissions by retiring existing or discouraging new nuclear (and hydro) capacity that would have produced more kilowatt hours than that being generated by new wind and solar capacity? It is time to do the hard math. Let the games begin!”
James Hansen is an energy realist amid his climate alarmism. And fortunately, we can use the analysis of the former to debunk the politics of the latter. And even more fortunately, the physical science of man-made climate change is moving away from Hansen’s high-sensitivity estimates to “global lukewarming” (the analysis of Chip Knappenberger, Roy Spencer, John Christy, and others—seconded by the very influential Judith Curry in numerous blogs for the mainstream.
In his just released analysis, “Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power and Galileo: Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?, Hansen once again speaks energy/political truth to Big Environmentalism. This is at least the fourth time he has done so.
Inconvenient Truths: 2009, 2011, 2012
February 24, 2014 3 Comments