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Category — States

Virginia Renewables: Taxpayer Santa

Bridging the gap between the insightful analyses at MasterResource and what emanates from the halls of government remains a challenge. No matter how clear the issue might be to those who follow this and similar logic-based web sites, the formulation of public policy seems to rely on overt political calculation and tailored science in the service of a political objective.

Free market logic needs to reach beyond our own “choir of believers.” And this means improving our penetration with the general media, a challenge indeed.

In Hoodwinking the Nation, Julian Simon noted that even after he had so convincingly debunked the “vanishing farm land” scam, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture reversed its original position, the press largely ignored the correction. Simon ruefully noted “false bad news” sells.

In the case of the official position of Virginia, as documented in the 2010 Virginia Energy Plan, one sees the 2007 plan scripted under a Democratic Governor carried forward under a proclaimed conservative Republican governorship. The tax carve outs for renewable energy interests continue under the guise of the “all of the above” energy sourcing mantra of Governor McDonnell.

Special interests find favor no matter the administration. The 2007 “Virginia Re-regulation” of utilities legislation illustrates the success of the regulated to shape legislation on their terms. Now the same core of Virginia utility producers have been given “enhanced rates of return” in the renewables market, and other taxpayer funded incentives. Wind farms are promoted as job building enterprises.

The VA Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE) has sought to have the Commonwealth identify the source of their science data, if any, used to formulate public policy. The vast majority of ranking state officials are lawyers by training.

My letter published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, on Christmas Day, is an attempt to educate the public, and call the Commonwealth to task on the use ( or misuse) of taxpayer funds to the benefit of corporate interests. It is perhaps a quixotic effort confined to the publication limit of 350 words or so. However, as the Tea Party movement has demonstrated, it is only by direct public involvement and engagement that the political class will take notice, no matter what the topic, be it energy, climate, or health care. [Read more →]

December 29, 2010   2 Comments

Fraser Institute Survey: Where Is the Best Oil and Gas Investment Climate? (South Dakota #1; New York State #102)

South Dakota is the No. 1 place in the world for oil and gas investment, according to the Global Petroleum Survey 2010, an annual survey of international petroleum executives and managers conducted by the Fraser Institute, one of the world’s leading free-market think-tanks.

Results of the survey include:

· South Dakota, which was ranked seventh out of 143 jurisdictions in 2009, vaulted into the No. 1 spot out of 133 jurisdictions included in this year’s survey results.

· Along with South Dakota, American states claimed eight of the top 10 spots this year: Texas (second), Illinois (third), Wyoming (fourth), Mississippi (sixth), Utah (seventh), Oklahoma (ninth), and Alabama (10th).

· New York is the lowest ranked state at 102nd.

· Austria, ranked fifth, is the only jurisdiction outside North America to make the top 10.

· Manitoba is the highest ranked Canadian jurisdiction, placing eighth after ranking 21st in 2009.

· Among the remaining Canadian provinces, Saskatchewan is ranked 17th overall, Ontario ranked 28th, Newfoundland and Labrador ranked 50th, British Columbia 52nd, Nova Scotia 53rd and Alberta, considered the home of Canada’s energy sector, 60th. Quebec was the lowest ranked province at 77th.

· Globally, three Australian jurisdictions (South Australia, Northern Territory, and Victoria) ranked in the top 20, along with New Zealand.  

· The lowest ranked jurisdictions are: Bolivia, Venezuela, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Turkmenistan, Ecuador, Nigeria, Iraq, and Kazakhstan.

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July 2, 2010   No Comments