A Free-Market Energy Blog

“Cap-and-Trade” Is Dead–Will the “Federal Renewables Mandate” Be Next? (An “environmental tea party” may be brewing against industrial windpower)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 20, 2010

Temperature trends, Climategate, Copenhagen, IPCC falsification, and now the Massachusetts Revolution–cap-and-trade is dead, the political pundits say. So much for the  inevitability argument that I heard from my colleagues during the Enron years (“come on Rob, get out in front of it and shape it!”), as well as the science-is-settled that had been the Word.

But what about a scaled back energy/climate bill with the key provision of a federal renewables mandate? Has the ‘Massachusetts Revolution’ killed that too?

We will soon find out. But one thing can be certain: Americans from coast-to-coast and border-to-border are going to look more closely at wind power, and I do not believe they are going to like what they see. (Enron, anyone?) Witness the growing complaints from the grass roots–including in-the-trenches real environmentalists–that industrial wind is intrusive, costly, and unreliable.

As an indication of the grass roots revolution against wind, consider the summary I received today from Glenn Schleede on the activities of a group call the Industrial Wind Action. Schleede, a longtime voice in the wilderness on the problems of wind, said this in his note.

Ladies & Gentlemen:

Here’s a recent newsletter-summary of recent articles on wind energy.

Perhaps you, too, have noticed that the negative environmental, energy and economic impacts of wind energy are totally ignored by the people on the payroll of the US DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE-EERE), the DOE’s National “Laboratories” (particularly, NREL and LBNL), EPA, and Interior.

Since these folks are totally dependent on taxpayer dollars for their jobs, one might think they would be somewhat objective and responsive to the public interest — but perhaps they think that they have a higher calling.

Thank God for the tea party movement!!  May it grow and grow!!

Glenn Schleede

Here is the snapshot of action and analysis on the wind front from WindAction.

Is the Obama Administration watching and listening to this “Environmental Tea Party”? They had better. Energy is the master resource and second only to health care as a percentage of the national economy. The masses want and expect affordable, reliable energy for their homes, businesses, and vehicles.


News and Information from Industrial Wind Action Group www.windaction.org
facts, analysis, exposure of wind energy’s real impacts

WindAction Editorial

Noise contaminated home assessed at 50 percent

Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.1 (‘CHD’) and Ontario have a problem, or at least they should.

Prior to CHD’s 67.5 MW Melancthon I Wind Plant coming online in March 2006, concerns about turbine noise and property value impacts were raised by residents in Melancthon Township two-hours northwest of Toronto. CHD assured officials the concerns were unfounded but almost immediately after the project went online complaints were filed. Nonetheless, CHD was back before both Melancthon Township and neighboring Amaranth that same month with a proposal for its Melancthon II project to include an additional 132 MW, 88 turbines.

With complaints coming in on Melancthon I, CHD conceded in July 2006 that it would delay Phase II for up to 12 months to accommodate community requests for a higher-level scrutiny of the proposal. Toronto Sun’s environmental reporter Tyler Hamilton bemoaned CHD’s decision citing NIMBY and arguing: “Given the dramatic environmental benefits of wind when compared to fossil fuel or nuclear plants, it seems unreasonable to submit these projects to the same level of scrutiny”.

The Melancthon II project was ultimately approved and online by November 2008, but the proceedings were contentious particularly on the subject of noise.

Paul Thompson’s front porch is located just 360 meters from the Melancthon transformer substation that services both projects. Prior to the second transformer being constructed for Phase II, Thompson complained the constant hum emanating from the substation was audible both outside and inside his dwelling even with the windows closed. He made it clear at public hearings on Melancthon II that the noise was intolerable. With both transformers in place, Mr. Thompson told Windaction.org the noise has required he move out of his house at night and rent other accommodations.

CHD responded insisting that “…all noise level measurements taken near the transformer and on neighbouring properties have been compliant with noise guidelines issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment” and that if there are damages from the transformer, which it denied, those damages are the result of Thompson’s ‘abnormal sensitivity’.

But not everyone agreed with CHD.

Thompson approached the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (‘MPAC’) to request a reduction in his property assessment. His home was assessed at $255,000, a figure he would not have disputed but for the substation noise. The MPAC acknowledged his property was negatively affected but made no adjustment to his home’s value. In fact, MPAC testified that “the noise was loud enough to cause significant interference with a telephone conversation he [their representative] had with Mr. Thompson”.

Thompson appealed to the Assessment Review Board (‘ARB’) and in September 2008 the ARB ordered his property valuation be reduced to $127,000, 50% below market value. The decision was not released until the end of 2009. In their deliberations, the ARB stated “There is evidence that noise contamination exists without any apparent cure.”

Tyler Hamilton weighed in on the ARB decision, as well. This time he chastised Canadian Hydro Developers for not doing a better job siting the substation and warned all other developers they “can’t afford to make mistakes.” It’s doubtful Hamilton will ever consider the concerns raised by residents as anything more than NIMBY cries. But one fact cannot be denied. When Ontario passed its Green Energy Act in 2009, the Provincial Government sided with Hamilton and others that higher-level scrutiny of wind siting was unreasonable — the fallout from that Act has only just begun.

[1] Now TransAlta Corporation


Sickness claims prompt study of wind turbines
January 19, 2010 by Aya Ito and Tsuyoshi Takeda in The Asahi Shimbun

Filed under | Noise| Impact on People| Asia

Turbines used for wind power generation, pushed as a promising renewable energy source, will come under government scrutiny because of the possible impact on the health of residents. The Environment Ministry will conduct its first field survey of possible health hazards of wind turbines, covering all of more than 1,500 units in operation across the country. more…

Block wind development? Scaled-back moratorium proposal goes before Converse planners
January 18, 2010 by Dustin Bleizeffer in Casper Star-Tribune

Filed under | Wyoming| General

A landowners group continues its push for a moratorium on large industrial development …The alliance previously persuaded the planning and zoning commission to recommend to the Converse County Commission an immediate 30-day moratorium, but the commission declined. Alliance organizers now say they’ve refined their request to apply the moratorium to a certain elevation threshold limited only to the mountainous area south and west of Interstate 25 in Converse County. more…

State regulators say no to wind turbine in Santa Cruz County’s Pleasure Point
January 18, 2010 by Kurtis Alexander in Mercury News

Filed under | Impact on Wildlife| Impact on Views| California

In a case that tested the bounds of wind power’s expansion, the California Coastal Commission last week denied a bid by a Santa Cruz County couple to install a wind turbine in a residential neighborhood. Voting 8 to 3 against the proposal, commissioners expressed concern that energy won from a 35-foot-high windmill might not be worth the visual jolt the project would have on the quaint Pleasure Point area as well as harm the spinning blades could have on seabirds. more…

Residents pack Shelby meeting to voice opposition to offshore wind farm proposal
January 18, 2010 by Dave Alexander in Muskegon Chronicle

Filed under | Impact on People| Michigan| Impact on Landscape

MATL could unleash torrent of wind projects
January 17, 2010 by Karl Puckett in Great Falls Tribune

Filed under | Montana| Transmission

A biting wind whipped across the snow-covered Montana prairie as Clayton Larsen and John Mattheis took soil samples from 30 feet below the surface north of Conrad late last week. The men, who work for SK Geotechnical in Billings, are helping to build the $215 million, 230-kilovolt Montana Alberta Tie Line – a transmission line that could be the key to the future of wind development in the region. more…

Noise annoys: Expert says people are suffering health problems from being too close to structures
January 16, 2010 by Paul Schliesmann in The Whig-Standard

Filed under | Noise| Impact on People| Canada

Some might accuse John Harrison of tilting at wind turbines, but the retired Queen’s University physics professor says he’s got the science to prove that wind farms are bad for people’s health. Harrison became an expert critic of wind technology — and an ally of those who oppose it — after learning that his retirement community of Amherst Island could become the site of a wind farm like the one on nearby Wolfe Island. more…

Usual suspects persist in New York development
January 16, 2010 by Mark Del Franco in North American Windpower

With 1,274 MW of generating capacity, wind development in New York ranks in the top 10 U.S. states, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). However, while the state has experienced many of the same issues plaguing other parts of the country – namely, a lack of transmission, a sour financing environment and depressed energy prices – New York’s complex regulatory structure and cramped population are also affecting the pace of development. more…

Green jobs’ growth potential is limited, economist cautions
January 16, 2010 by Philip Brasher in Des Moines Register

Filed under | Iowa| Impact on Economy

A Ethanol production and wind-turbine manufacturing have been two of the biggest sources of new green jobs in Iowa, but the state’s biggest growth opportunity may be in research and development, an economist said. David Swenson, an economic development specialist at Iowa State University, said that ethanol production is leveling off and that there is stiff competition among states for manufacturing of wind turbine parts. more…

District judge rules in favor of Texas ratepayers
January 15, 2010 by Brad Neighbor in Enhanced Online News

Filed under | Texas| Transmission

In a big win for Texas ratepayers, state District Judge Stephen Yelenosky today has reversed an order of the PUC awarding billions of dollars of transmission projects. The City of Garland had alleged that the Public Utility Commission failed to properly consider the needs of electric customers when it awarded the wind-related projects last year and failed to realistically consider low-cost public power entities like Garland. more…

Island tribe, Cape Wind resist plan to relocate turbines to Tuckernuck
January 15, 2010 by Mike Seccomb in Martha’s Vineyard Gazette

Filed under | USA| Massachusetts| General

After more than eight years of controversy, a final decision on the Cape Wind development planned for Nantucket Sound will be made by the end of April, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar promised this week. Mr. Salazar made the commitment after an exhaustive round of meetings in Washington on Wednesday involving all the major parties supporting and opposing the development. more…

Opposition growing to Norwegian company’s proposed offshore wind farm
January 15, 2010 by Brian McVicar in The Muskegon Chronicle

Filed under | Michigan| General

Along with a growing group of lakeshore residents, he’s vowing to fight the development, saying it takes a swipe at the city’s quality of life. Others say it puts one of the region’s most precious resources – tourism dollars – at risk. Through social networking Web sites, such as Facebook, and the help of deep-pocketed donors, they hope to defeat the proposal brought forth last month by Norwegian-based, Havgul Clean Energy AS, and Minnesota-based Scandia Wind LLC. more…

Wind co. abandons Suzie’s Peak
January 15, 2010 by Gordon Dritschilo in Rutland Herald

Filed under | Vermont| General

A developer has abandoned plans to put wind turbines on Suzie’s Peak. Vermont Community Wind Farm spokesman Jeffrey Wennberg said Friday that the location was “too controversial and too problematic.” He said the company is still looking at 34 potential sites in Ira, West Rutland and Poultney. more…

Broadwind sags as Pickens slashes wind turbine order; Will stock deal price tonight?
January 14, 2010 by Eric Savitz in Barrons

Filed under | USA| General

Broadwind (BWEN) shares are sagging badly today as the company, which sells high-precision gears used in wind turbines, attempts to price an offering of 15 million shares. The company announced a week ago that it has “commenced” the offering …But the company’s own disclosures – and this week’s new from Pickens – suggest the wind market is not going to be growing any time soon. more…

A damaging blow; Wind farm making inspections, repairs after storm
January 13, 2010 by Onell R. Soto in Union-Tribune

Filed under | Structural Failure| Safety| California

Workers are inspecting and repairing 75 wind turbine blades at a wind farm some 60 miles east of San Diego after a storm a month ago caused catastrophic damage to some of them. …”The turbines were actually stopped,” he said. “There were extremely high winds on the site – that contributed to the blade cracking.” more…

Wind farm gets initial go-ahead, but PSC puts conditions on We Energies project
January 12, 2010 by Lyn Jerde in Daily Register

Filed under | Wisconsin| General

The Glacier Hills Wind Park, which could be the largest in the state, will rise from the farm fields of eastern Columbia County, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin decided Monday. But the three-member commission called for We Energies to meet several conditions in building the 90-turbine wind farm, including a minimum of 1,250 feet of distance between the turbines and the buildings on nonparticipating property; limits on the noise generated by the turbines; and the possibility that people whose property is surrounded by the turbines might have their property bought out. more…

Wind power takes a blow around Minnesota
January 12, 2010 by Tom Meersman in Star Tribune

Filed under | Impact on People| Minnesota

Just as they are being touted as a green, economical and job-producing energy source, wind farms in Minnesota are starting to get serious blowback. Across the state, people are opposing projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Opposition is also rising in other states. It’s not likely to blow over quickly in Minnesota, which is the nation’s fourth-largest producer of wind power. …The rising numbers of complaints have taken Minnesota regulators by surprise. more…

After spending $400,000, Holland BPW scraps plan for Upper Peninsula wind farm
January 12, 2010 by Greg Chandler in The Grand Rapids Press

Filed under | Michigan| General

The Holland Board of Public Works has pulled the plug on a proposed wind farm in the eastern Upper Peninsula that would have generated renewable energy for the city-owned utility, saying the project was too costly. After spending about $400,000 and a year collecting wind speed and other climate information, the utility Monday withdrew from the proposed Stone Mountain project …Wind speeds were not adequate to make the project cost-effective. more…

Wind farms produced ‘practically no electricity’ during Britain’s cold snap
January 11, 2010 by Rowena Mason in Telegraph.co.uk

Filed under | General| UK

The cold weather has been accompanied by high pressure and a lack of wind, which meant that only 0.2pc of a possible 5pc of the UK’s energy was generated by wind turbines over the last few days. Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), gave warning that this could turn into a crisis when the UK is reliant on 6,400 turbines accounting for a quarter of all UK electricity demand over the next 10 years. more…

UK power prepares for a cold wind of change
January 10, 2010 by Heather Stewart and Richard Wachman in The Observer

Filed under | Energy Policy| UK

Thursday had already brought an unwelcome reminder of the more mundane reality of Britain’s energy policy today: almost 100 factories were ordered to shut off their gas supplies, to prevent the prolonged cold snap leaving households in the dark …The latest electricity generation data, released on Friday, showed that as the temperatures dropped, 45% of output was being produced from coal, 37% from gas, 15% from nuclear power – and just 0.2% from wind. more…

Group files amended wind farm complaint
January 9, 2010 by Kate Schott in Daily Chronicle

Filed under | Illinois| General

A group of local residents has filed an amended complaint with the state’s 16th Judicial Circuit, again asking a judge to find that the DeKalb County Board wrongfully granted a special-use permit to the energy company that has erected 100-plus wind turbines in the county. “Before, we just made the statements,” said Mel Hass, a spokesman for anti-wind farm group Citizens for Open Government. “This time, we’ve gotten a little more specific.” more…

Aaron: ARB ruling on wind power noise sets precedent
January 9, 2010 by Bob Aaron in Your Home

Filed under | Canada| General

In a precedent setting move, a recently discovered decision of the provincial Assessment Review Board (ARB) has cut a homeowner’s assessment in half because the house is located near a noisy hydro substation. The hydro plant serves a nearby wind farm producing “clean” electricity. The decision of ARB member Ana Cristina Marques was issued following an appeal by Paul Thompson of the assessment on his house. more…

Prattsburgh pulls wind farm deal
January 8, 2010 by Mary Perham in Corning Leader/Bath Courier

Filed under | New York| General

Wind farm issues are back to square one in Prattsburgh. The Town Board on Thursday rescinded a legal settlement with wind farm developer Ecogen approved in mid-December, and took the first step toward enacting a moratorium on any wind farm-related development for six months. The board favored rescinding the December settlement drawn up by former town attorney John Leyden, saying it had not been discussed by all the board members. more…

New issues face wind project; hearing continued to Jan. 20
January 8, 2010 by Nancy White in Wicked Local Cohasset

Filed under | Massachusetts| General

The CCI-Energy wind turbine project blew back into town for official business on Wednesday night. Eight months to the day after the Planning Board denied the two-turbine special permit application they convened to determine if modifications made to the application now make it comply with the town’s zoning bylaws. The application is back for this further consideration on a remand order from Land Court. more…

Offshore wind power loses steam
January 8, 2010 by Katie Farrell in The Daily News

Filed under | Massachusetts| General

The state has decided that the waters off Plum Island and Salisbury Beach aren’t prime areas for renewable energy projects, like offshore wind turbines. The region doesn’t have adequate tidal energy for tide-powered turbines, and it isn’t being seriously considered for an offshore wind turbine farm, according to the final version of an ocean management plan released by the state earlier this week. more…

PSB orders wind tower removed
January 8, 2010 by Sandi Switzer in Rutland Herald

Filed under | Vermont| General

The state has ordered Vermont Community Wind Farm to remove its meteorological tower on Susie’s Peak and levied a $6,000 fine for permit violations. The Public Service Board issued its order on Wednesday after determining VCWF’s decision to relocate the tower 381 feet south of the permitted site was a “material deviation from the project as approved.” more…

Clean energy sources: Sun, wind and subsidies
January 8, 2010 by Jeffrey Ball in Wall Street Journal

Filed under | Tax Breaks & Subsidies| Energy Policy

Wind farms “have a better return on investment than coal plants,” says Anders Eldrup, chief executive of Dong Energy, a company based in Denmark that is shutting down coal-fired power plants and building wind farms …But that is true only in places with hefty subsidies, he says. “Without that, they wouldn’t work.” Critics say subsidies of any kind waste taxpayer dollars. But even fans of renewable energy worry this public largesse is costing too much. more…

Citizens threaten board over wind project again
January 7, 2010 by Anne Adams in The Recorder Online

Filed under | Virginia| General

Highland citizens, bolstered by the recent wind energy injunction in West Virginia, sent county officials their third, and perhaps final, warning. In a letter sent Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009, attorney James Jennings Jr. told Highland’s board of supervisors it must require Highland New Wind Development LLC to obtain a federal incidental take permit to avoid legal action. more…

Advice from angry residents after years of noise and light disturbance
January 7, 2010 by Joe Willis in Northern Echo

Filed under | Impact on People| Impact on Landscape| UK

In the latest of a series about wind farms, Joe Willis talks to people about their experiences of living in the shadow of the giant turbines. FIGHT wind farm developments to the bitter end – that is the advice from angry residents who say they have suffered years of noise and light disturbance from two turbines. more…

Wind-power moratorium passes
January 7, 2010 by Mary Standard in Sun Journal

Filed under | Maine| General

In an almost unanimous vote, over 100 residents passed a six-month moratorium on wind-power development at a special town meeting Wednesday night. A petition signed by 118 people was filed by James Parker, who lives on Streaked Mountain and is an abutter to the site for three proposed wind turbines. Parker said there are 20 homes within 1 mile of the site. more…

Michigan’s wind energy industry sputters
January 7, 2010 by Christina Rogers in The Detroit News

Filed under | Michigan| General

Michigan’s once fast-growing wind energy industry has begun to lose speed, despite state leaders offering millions of dollars in tax credits to spur growth in this renewable energy sector. Last year, demand for wind turbines and parts plummeted due to the global financial collapse. And because many wind farm developers lack access to credit, they have put their plans on hold, curtailing orders for Michigan manufacturers making parts for these towering electricity generators. more…

Cape Wind’s big secret; Power will cost millions extra
January 7, 2010 by Jay Fitzgerald in Boston Herald

Filed under | Massachusetts| Impact on Economy

National Grid customers will experience sticker shock after the giant utility negotiates a long-term electric contract with Cape Wind developers, energy experts warn. Business groups worry that a National Grid contract with Cape Wind, which needs a long-term deal to secure funds to build a giant wind farm off Cape Cod, could add tens of millions of dollars per year to electric bills. more…

Wind farm projects raise environmental concerns
January 7, 2010 by Joe Nelson in The Sun

Filed under | Impact on Wildlife| California

Two wind farms proposed near Barstow and Apple Valley would help the state meet its renewable energy goals, but at least one poses a significant threat to desert tortoises and other wildlife and plant habitats, officials say. …Environmentalists and wildlife biologists are closely monitoring the Daggett project, which they say poses a significant threat to the desert tortoise and other plant and animal species. more…

Wind farm PILOT plan suspended
January 6, 2010 by Nancy Madsen in Watertown Daily News

Filed under | Tax Breaks & Subsidies| New York

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators did not vote on the agreement Tuesday night as planned. Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency surprised the legislators by asking that the resolutions dealing with the PILOT be deleted from the agenda. more…

Maple Ridge withholds payment
January 3, 2010 by Steve Virkler in Watertown Daily News

Filed under | Tax Breaks & Subsidies| New York

Flat Rock Windpower, the company under which the 195-turbine wind farm was developed, also is seeking court approval of a proposed escrow agreement that local taxing jurisdictions recently rejected – and the possible repayment of millions of dollars already sent to the county, towns and school districts. Based on a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan, the county billed Flat Rock for $8.99 million but received a payment of only $2.29 million. more…


Study of wind project may blow you away
January 17, 2010 in The Republican Eagle

Filed under | Minnesota| General

I found out by pure accident my home is in the Goodhue Wind Project area by looking at the map published Dec. 9 Zumbro Shopper. What a surprise. Why wasn’t I notified? I received a packet in the mail sometime around Dec. 15 from a Twin Cities attorney; let’s just call it “notification.” I decided I better read the information to find out what it means to be in the Goodhue Wind Project. more…

There’s trouble blowing in the wind
January 16, 2010 in Chronicle Herald

Filed under | Canada| General

Big wind farms in financial or deadline trouble, sometimes being bailed out by Nova Scotia Power, are almost daily fare on the business pages these days. Like much of the rest of the world, we’ve cast wind as the saviour in our quest for green energy. Here’s stuff we should know while we still have time to reset our options. In Spain, Italy, the U.S. and elsewhere, big wind power scams have erupted, the result of hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies being pumped into wind with little control. Some politicians and entrepreneurs are already in jail. more…

Cape Wind: Fit to spin or money pit?
January 14, 2010 in Cape Cod Times

Filed under | Energy Policy| USA| Massachusetts

As Cape Wind gets closer and closer to receiving permit approval and securing a power contract, I think Mas­sachusetts residents deserve an open and honest accounting about the true impact this project …At a time when American taxpayers just bailed out Wall Street and now one in 10 people are without a job, we must make sure that our policy decisions to make this energy transition minimize the finan­cial burden we place on those who can least afford it. more…

Problems with wind power
January 8, 2010 in Chicago Tribune

Filed under | Energy Policy| Illinois

As a former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, I am astonished at the commission’s decision Dec. 28 to allow the state agency that buys electricity on behalf of utility customers to sign long-term supply contracts from wind farms at rates far more expensive than prevailing market rates. As an electricity consumer, I’m outraged that the commission endorsed this boondoggle that will use rate-payer money to subsidize an economically inefficient and high-cost scheme in the name of environmental correctness. more…

The dependence of renewables on government
January 7, 2010 in Energy Outlook

Filed under | Tax Breaks & Subsidies| Energy Policy

As I was catching up on a large backlog of articles from December, I ran across one from the New York Times that dovetailed with my thoughts about trends to watch this year. It concerned the difficulties being experienced by US green energy companies, particularly relative to competitors operating in countries with more generous subsidies for renewable energy manufacturing and deployment. Instead of becoming progressively less dependent on help from the government, many of these firms are even more reliant on aid. more…


An analysis of the American/Canadian Wind Energy Association report regarding effects of turbine sound on human health
January 11, 2010 by The Society for Wind Vigilance

Filed under | Noise| Impact on People| Canada| USA

Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review (A/CanWEA Panel Review) was prepared for and sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). In response, an analysis was conducted by The Society for Wind Vigilance of the A/CanWEA Panel Review. Details of the… more

Emission cuts realities – electricity generation
January 9, 2010 by Peter Lang

Filed under | General

Five options for cutting CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia are compared with a “Business as Usual” option over the period 2010 to 2050. The six options comprise combinations of coal, gas, nuclear, wind and solar thermal technologies. The conclusions: The nuclear option reduces CO2 emissions the most, is the… more



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  1. Lynne  

    One can only hope that sanity will once again prevail in enery policy, however, the deal announced today between Ontario and Samsung indicates that we will be paying for these mistakes for quite some time into the future.


  2. Bruce Stram  


    I think the political equation is more complicated than you suggest. You’re being too optimistic (or pessimistic depending on your point of view.)

    Notwithstanding last night’s win, it is a fact that the Dems are in charge of the Senate and House for at least another year. And Obama is going to be President for another 3 years at least. (It’s in the Constitution, you can look it up.)

    The Cap and Trade bill as we know it, and as noted by Jim Hansen, has become as freighted with special deals as health care, if not more so. And is not likely to reduce GHG very soon or enough to affect whatever global warming might be caused, even if other countries do as much (or as little).

    But it is a fact that the EPA has been charged with dealing with the GHG issue and that has been approved by the Supreme Court. The EPA must act, and if no federal legislation, then without guidance and on its own. We’re at least three years away from a conservative replacing one of the libs on the court.

    The political dynamic so far has been Congressional activists pushing for cap and trade, and therefore in the position of seeking energy industry support: hence all the special deals. The Dem Congress will pass nothing rather than tell the EPA to do nothing. So with the EPA taking action, the dynamic becomes industry on their knees asking Congress to save them. They’re less in a position to demand special deals and much more willing to agree to even handed legislation.

    Whether Republicans retake Congress in a year or not, the Dems will block any attempt to roll back the EPA just as the Repubs will block any attempt to push cap and trade as we now know it.

    All of this adds up to some compromise legislation which supplants EPA action or provides guidance and this at the behest of industry, not over its objections. (I can cite examples of this happening in fairly recent history.)

    That means back to the drawing board. It’s time to consider new and less grandiose approaches.

    And many Repubs aren’t going to be comfortable doing nothing. The cheapest policy alternatives going are energy RD & D and geoengineering.

    You may recollect that, in the past, I proposed a small carbon tax to get the ball rolling, that could be increased if and as the science more strongly supports the GHG problem. Such a tax doesn’t even need global warming as justification. Clearly the cost of emery greatly exceeds the price being paid. The world, especially the US, is paying a huge premium for energy security. As I further proposed, that tax, hopefully in concert with likeminded nations, could be used to substantially increase and reliably support energy research, development, and encourage deployment of technologies that are lower cost, less polluting, and less prone to Middle East problems.

    As a PS, you may also remember that I pointed out that cap and trade caused huge issues per wealth transfer (unlike a tax) as well as means of hiding costs. And, I have to say, I think it’s cute to see you quoting Jim Hansen positively.


  3. Robert Bradley Jr.  

    Thanks Bruce for your comment.

    I dealt with cap-and-trade and a federal renewables mandate in my post, but EPA proposed regulations are coming down the pike as you say.

    Lawsuits will delay EPA’s rules for some years, and a new Administration, Congress, and regulatory outlook could well be in power to fundamentally revisit the issue. But you are right: it would take 60 votes to legislatively fix the problem of CO2 being declared a pollutant.

    Also, a new Supreme Court might reverse the prior decision on the basis of new science and the simple fact that carbon dioxide is not mentioned once in the Clean Air Act.

    Regulating CO2 is a futile crusade. I expect that ‘cooler heads will prevail’. In the meantime, there is waste, waste, waste on both sides of the issue working to cancel one other out. No good.

    Can we call a truce Bruce?

    P.S. Yes, as a Ph.D. economist (see Stram’s writings such as http://www.reg-markets.org/publications/abstract.php?pid=138), you join the great majority in favoring a tax over cap-and-trade. And yes, I love quoting Hansen on the need to avoid a Wall Street approach to CO2 mitigation.


  4. Jon Boone  

    The utter ubiquity of carbon dioxide dooms cap-and-trade regimes as a means of containing that chemical compound. Any methodology to account for its comings and goings is bound to be, at best, problematic. And who would really do the accounting? In general, the same people with either a financial or ideological stake in the outcome (including the US Government). Cap and trade in Europe has become a labyrinth of cynical exploitation, carrying all the way to China and India, with the upshot that carbon emissions there continue to increase (Germany’s per capita CO2 emissions exceed that of the US).

    The cap-and-trade scheme Bruce argues for is really political legerdemain, not economic or physcial reality. If the marble under the constantly moving shell were truly discreet, such as, say, nitrous oxide or mercury, then, well, maybe such a game might be winnable. With CO2, however, we might as well be trying to contain pixie dust.

    As for industrial wind technology as a means for offsetting CO2 emissions under a cap-and-trade system, the idea is truly preposterous. Wind behaves much like drunken energy. Why not push for more inebriate ambulance drivers as occasional replacements for sober ones, improving their diminished capacity by increasing their numbers more widely? This idea, not at all different in kind or degree from what is proposed for wind with electricity, should reveal even to wind zombies how silly the notion is.

    Far from being cutting edge and progressive, wind technology is antediluvian and uncivil, neither able to offset meaningful levels of CO2 emissions nor to be a good neighbor. Wind and cap-and-trade are the nip-and-tuck twins of public policy pretension, for both are nurtured at the breasts of delusion and cupidity.


  5. Robert  

    I would be really interested to see a thorough and honest cost-benefit analysis for per unit energy. I expect that total benefits of energy exceed by at least 10%.


  6. Jon Boone  

    Hmmmmm, Robert. It’s not clear what you mean here but I assume it’s an “honest” cost benefit analysis of wind compared to that of other sources of energy, which would be akin to examining the cost of the benefits of a chain saw, say, that doesn’t work when you want it to work with the cost of the benefits of a chain saw that did work when desired. Shouldn’t be a difficult calculus.


  7. Robert  

    Jon, there is a popular argument today, like the one made by Bruce above. Essentially, positing that the cost of “externalities” are massively unrepresented in the market price of energy, regardless of the source.

    I would argue to the extent that hypothesis is accurate, the same must also be true for the beneficial externalities. I think the only intellectually honest way to talk about the “cost of energy” and any associated “security premium” is to include them in the context of the scaled benefits produced by the same unit of energy. Simply, what is the net profit produced by the unit of energy. The math isn’t complex but but subjective values placed by the person doing the analysis is.

    I have not seen anything approaching that level of comprehensiveness. If it exists, I hope someone will point me to it. I would not be surprised if the net benefit approximates the net margin of the global energy value chain. It is also very likely that the net benefit is larger.

    I would hope that it is undisputed that chainsaws which work when desired produce more benefits than chainsaws which do not. But I am sure you know that someone will argue that there are other benefits to reducing the operation of some “polluting” chainsaw and the activities which both anticipate and precipitate from that. To be clear, I do not place my subjective value in that direction but it would be nice to see a study which attempts to quantify the net benefits to the extent they can be known.


  8. Jon Boone  

    Thanks for your comments, Robert. And I agree about reasonable efforts to account for all costs in any energy transaction, including economic, social, and environmental externalities. People have tried to do this. But most of these kind of analyses have been put forward on behalf of political or economic ideologies, and they haven’t been either very complete or, in many cases, they’ve been downright disingenuous.

    In comparing sources of electricity generation, however, I think it’s essential to start with the basics. Energy is the ability to do work and power is the rate work gets down. Both these interrelated concepts meet at the nexus of productivity, wealth creation, and quality of life.

    Huge turbines can convert wind energy into electrical power. But they do so with the same capacity standards that powered sailing craft and water pumps in the early nineteenth century.

    For nearly two hundred years, industry has deployed far more effective ways to produce power. Contrast the ability of sleek clipper ships to deliver small, typically specialized cargo across the Atlantic in three or four weeks with today’s freighters that can make the same trip in days, often on schedule, while carrying many thousands of tons of diverse cargo: the power (the rate work is accomplished) of the latter is many times greater, allowing exponentially more productivity. Although we may applaud the skill of the sailor, we rely for our well being on the performance of highly responsive power.

    The ability to convert prescribed amounts of energy at high rates of power at specified, convenient times is a cornerstone of modern society. Imagine the long lines at filling stations if wind power pumped the gas: your tank might get filled eventually but the wait would be infuriating, costly both to your time and that of your fellow travelers.

    Although coal power, for example, has a number of costly externalities, it also provides a huge benefits, given the way it anchors (producing 50% of our electricity) our systems for health maintenance and safety, among many others. My own calculus shows a substantial net benefit for coal well over and above its costs. Still, for a number of reasons, I think it wise to hitch up other reliable sources of ” modern power,” not desultory energy, enhancing, even extending, the technology that preserves the energy requirements of modernity.


  9. Cooler Heads Digest 22 January 2010 | GlobalWarming.org  

    […] An Environmental Tea Party Brewing against Wind Power? Robert Bradley, MasterResource.org, 20 January 2010 […]


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