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“Killing Wildlife In the Name of Climate Change” (Part I: The Double Standard)

[Editor note: Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, is a leading researcher and disseminator of the problems of ‘green’ energy. His February 25, 2014, testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environmental and Public Works follows today and tomorrow.]

The focus of this hearing is on the economic benefits of ecosystems and wildlife and how they “are valuable to a wide range of industries,” including tourism. The purpose is also to examine “how the Administration is preparing to protect” ecosystems “in a changing climate.” The facts show that federally subsidized efforts that are being undertaken to, in theory, address climate change, are damaging America’s wildlife.

Furthermore, those same efforts have, for years, been allowing an entire industry to avoid federal prosecution under some of America’s oldest wildlife laws. My discussion will focus largely on the wind-energy sector, an industry that has been getting federal subsidies since 1992, and the impact that the wind-energy business is having on wildlife. [1] There are two key questions that must be addressed:

* Are all energy providers getting equal treatment under the law when it comes to wildlife protection? The answer to that question is no. * Is widespread deployment of wind turbines an effective climate-change strategy? The answer, again, is no. [Part II of Bryce post tomorrow]

Part I; Energy companies are not being treated equally when it comes to enforcement of federal wildlife laws. I have been writing about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act since the late 1980s. [2] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service brought hundreds of enforcement cases against the oil and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, for violations of those laws. And rightly so. [Read more →]

March 19, 2014   5 Comments

James Hansen: Still More Good Energy Realism (just ignore his climate alarmism, world fee-and-dividend fix)

“Hansen has distain for all-hat, no-cattle renewables, was the subject of two recent MasterResource posts: Is the Environmental Movement Net CO2 Positive? (James Hansen wants to know) and Energy Realism Amid Climate Alarmism: James Hansen Rides Again. It is nuclear or bust, if it is not already bust, according to Hansen’s energy math.” - Robert Bradley, “Game, Set, Match Fossil Fuels? James Hansen Sleepless in Ningbo,” March 13, 2014.

James Hansen continues to speak energy truth to Environmental Power about the primary of fossil fuels; the need for affordable, plentiful, reliable energy;  and the dead-end, the distraction, of renewable-energy forcing and mandated energy conservation. Here are some contributions to the energy reality debate from his March 13th testimony at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, Keystone XL and the National Interest Determination:

“I am sorry that we scientists have not done an adequate job of communicating energy facts.” (p.3)

“Non-hydro renewables provide only a tiny fraction of global energy and do not appear capable of satisfying the large energy requirements of developing nations such as China and India.” (p. 6)

China’s Turn to Develop

“Fossil fuels are the dominant energy source globally because they are, or appear to be, the cheapest energy.” (p. 3) “It is inappropriate and an insult to go to China and tell them to work harder on renewables and energy efficiency.” (p. 5) [Read more →]

March 18, 2014   No Comments

Curtailed Hydro from Wanapum Dam Crack: An ‘Unpredicted Change in the Wind’?

“Projections show that wind generation will increase rapidly to approximately 6,250 MW by 2013.  This vast amount of wind power interconnected to the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission grid will likely overwhelm the existing federal hydropower system’s ability to provide sufficient integration services in the future….

As the percentage of wind generation grows, the risk of having a major system event from an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases.”

Technical Analysis of Pumped Storage Integration with Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest – Final Report, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (August 2009).

The magnitude and location of the current unfolding story of a large crack in the hydro-rich Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Central Washington became known only a week after the Grant County Public Utility District declared a potential emergency.  Officials reported there is no immediate threat of a catastrophic breach in the dam but called the situation a “serious problem.”  The cause of the crack probably will not be known for some time.  The dam is still producing hydropower, but curtailed production from a water drawdown behind the dam could be felt by California electricity users.

But what did the infrastructure consultants MWH (quoted above) mean when it stated in a technical report for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in 2009 about the problematic integration of hydropower and wind energy: “the risk of having a major system event for an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases”?

According to the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the U.S.: “Spring and summer are the seasons of maximum wind power” for the Columbia River Corridor.  Spring is also when snowmelt fills the reservoirs behind dams. [Read more →]

March 17, 2014   No Comments

‘The Road to Serfdom’ at 70: Hayek’s Relevance in the Age of Obama

“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation …. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” (President Obama, January 14, 2014)

“The Road to Serfdom showed that government planning was not only an economic disaster, but also more tellingly a step-by-step, process-oriented political system of control and management that threatened to bring about the end of human freedom.”

Seventy years ago this month (March 1944), The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek was published in Great Britain. Today, this slim book continues to challenge and influence the political-economic landscape of the world.

Hayek delivered an ominous warning that political trends in the Western democracies, including America, were all in the direction of a new form of servitude that threatened the personal and economic liberty of the citizens of these countries.

Hayek (1899–1992) was already famous as the leading free-market opponent of the emerging Keynesian Revolution in the 1930s. He also was one of the most prominent critics of socialist central planning, having helped demonstrate why government management of an entire economy was inherently unworkable, and could never “deliver the goods” as efficiently and effectively as competitive capitalism.

Published During Global War, Socialist Dangers

The Road to Serfdom showed that government planning was not only an economic disaster, but also more tellingly a step-by-step, process-oriented political system of control and management that threatened to bring about the end of human freedom.

When the book was published, Great Britain and the United States were engulfed in a global war with Nazi Germany as the primary enemy and Soviet Russia as the primary ally. In 1944 the British had a wartime coalition government of both Conservative and Labor Party members, with Winston Churchill as its head. [Read more →]

March 14, 2014   1 Comment

Game, Set, Match Fossil Fuels? James Hansen Sleepless in Ningbo

“Recent events have been spiraling down so rapidly that I find it hard to sleep. Ex-President Clinton campaigns for a huge pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands…. Dogged insistence by environmental groups that intermittent renewable energies are the only alternative to fossil fuels.…”

Writing from China earlier this week, and no doubt preparing his testimony for Thursday’s “Keystone XL and the National Interest Determination” hearing in Washington before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, climate scientist/policy activist James Hansen has once again laid bare the internal contradictions of Big Green’s codependency on dilute ‘green’.

In his missive Sleepless in Ningbo, Dr. Hansen described how the Chinese authorities during a tour of the country’s renewable projects gave him some sobering news. China’s energy pie is divided into 78% coal, 12% gas, 7% oil, and 3% renewables. “They [are] making a major effort to increase the portion from renewables, striving for a goal of 6% within a few more years.” However, with demand growth of nearly 9%, net emissions are rising, not falling Hansen pointedly notes.

Hansen has distain for all-hat, no-cattle renewables, was the subject of two recent MasterResource posts: Is the Environmental Movement Net CO2 Positive? (James Hansen wants to know) and Energy Realism Amid Climate Alarmism: James Hansen Rides Again. It is nuclear or bust, if it is not already bust, according to Hansen’s energy math.

Just two weeks later, Hansen continues to rev up the reality-versus-imaging conflict within the mainstream environmental movement. Added to the grassroots rebellion against wind turbines, particularly in the Northeast and in southeastern Canada, a civil war of sorts is underway among anti-fossil-fuel environmentalists.

Dr. Hansen’s most recent quotations speak for themselves: [Read more →]

March 13, 2014   No Comments

Obama’s 2015 Budget: Wish List Climate Spending ($10.8 billion for what?)

The federal government is $17.5 trillion in debt with this amount increasing at more than a half-trillion per year. Yet the Obama Administration has just proposed a budget that increases spending. It’s business as usual in D.C.!

President Obama Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, released last week, is a wish-list for the Administration’s pet programs. It has already been derided by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but that does not make it irrelevant. It signals the goals of the Obama Administration going forward.

Included in the $3.9 trillion budget is $10.8 billion earmarked for climate change-related initiatives in addition to the $7.9 billion EPA budget. That makes a total of $18.7 billion of your money.

Where would this money go?

Climate Resilience Fund: $1 Billion

The Climate Resilience Fund, created to aid Americans preparing for a changing climate. What does that mean exactly? Among other things, research into anthropogenic global warming-induced natural disasters such as sea level rise, wildfires, and drought.

That means a cool billion dollars is going to prevent a problem that doesn’t exist. The earth has not appreciably warmed in 17 years, and since 2002 it has been cooling. The fear is that glaciers will melt and the sea will rise—but glaciers aren’t melting, and in fact are growing.

Droughts can be expensive and cause wildfires and higher food costs. Droughts happen, but currently they’re not nearing the severity or length of past droughts. However, they can be prevented by storing appropriate amounts of water for the local population. [Read more →]

March 12, 2014   1 Comment

Ad Hominem against MasterResource: Climate Alarmism at Wit’s End?

 “The Master Resource people are whores of the fossil fuel industry. (Yes, that certainly includes you.)”

- David Appell (@davidappell) | March 5, 2014 at 10:33 pm |

Judith Curry at Climate, Etc. posted about a new analysis by Nic Lewis and Marcel Crok, “A sensitive matter:  How the IPCC buried evidence showing good news about global warming” (Global Warming Policy Foundation: press release here; short version here), for which she wrote an introduction (see Appendix B below).

Several hundred comments followed. A critical, emotive thread of comments toward Lewis/Crok, and by implication Curry, was coming from David Appell, a highly credentialed journalist with a widely read blog, Quark Soup, that focuses on climate issues from an alarmist perspective.

I noticed this comment from Dr. Appell in response to pokerguy (aka al neipris) | March 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm who argued that at lower climate sensitivity, the external effects would “more likely … be overwhelmingly positive in its effect.”

I commented: Rob Bradley | March 5, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Reply

David Appell: There is mainstream climate economics that concludes that CO2 emissions are a positive externality on net to about a break-even point of 2C (world). See here.  Robert Mendelsohn of Yale is probably the most respected single person in his field of cost/benefit analysis with all aspects of CO2 (agriculture, recreation, etc.). One of his findings is that freer, wealthier countries adapt better to climate change, which warns against government carbon rationing programs.

Appell immediately responded: | March 5, 2014 at 10:33 pm |

Rob: The Master Resource people are whores of the fossil fuel industry. (Yes, that certainly includes you.) Are there no legitimate papers you can cite?

and (David Appell (@davidappell) | March 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm | )

How about a full list of IER’s funders, Rob, with amounts for each. Let’s start there, OK?

and David Appell (@davidappell) | March 6, 2014 at 12:27 am |

Let’s be sure to note how Rob Bradley will decline to even discuss who funds him, because that’s the one big bad topic they can’t dare be honest about. And we all know why.

To which I responded: Rob Bradley | March 6, 2014 at 10:41 am | [Read more →]

March 11, 2014   3 Comments

Charles Koch on Cronyism

Today, many governments give special treatment to a favored few businesses that eagerly accept those favors. This is the essence of cronyism…. One obvious example of this involves wind farms. Most cannot turn a profit without the costly subsidies the government provides.”

- Charles G. Koch, “The Importance of Economic Freedom.” August 17, 2012.

William Simon, the top energy regulator in the Nixon’s Federal Energy Administration, was surprised. Oil company head after head was visiting his office to demand this or that to alleviate their shortages of oil or get more entitlements credit for their refineries. But Koch Industries had come by to just ask the federal government to leave them alone—to allow price signals to allocate crude oil and petroleum products. It was a meeting that Simon would not forget. [1]

For Charles Koch, it was lonely. Just about every fellow CEO talked about capitalism and freedom but did not practice it when the bottom line was affected. Instead of capitalism in principle, he wrote in 1980, they practiced capitalism a la carte. [2]

Fast forward to today. Business-government and government-business cronyism is rampant.  Yet reducing and eliminating such political capitalism is a cause for both ends of the political spectrum as indicated in the graphic below. [Read more →]

March 10, 2014   1 Comment

Kenneth P. Green: 20 Years in the Energy/Environmental Movement (Part II)

[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

Kenneth P. Green: 20 Years in the Energy/Environmental Movement (Part I)

[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