The pay roll tax cut package managed to escape the grasp of renewable energy stage-5-clingers as President Obama signed it into law on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, wind farm hopefuls still remain committed to making this relationship work. Proponents of the government-funded windustry are now frantically searching for an extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC) which is set to expire at the end of the year. After twenty years of government dependency, wind energy still cannot compete without the taxpayer crutch; it’s time to throw in the towel.
Government has been playing matchmaker with its insistence that wind energy is a complete catch: it’s clean, comes from an elite family (the Renewables) and will be good for you (i.e. the environment) “in the long-term.” But from the get-go, there are several reasons why taxpayers wouldn’t want to take this industry to the prom. Modern wind turbines are very large, expensive, visually unappealing permanent structures that inhibit land use and create a loud drone when in operation. When the wind is actually blowing, the spinning wind turbines end up accumulating a massive death count of thousands of birds and bats.
Beauty isn’t everything, you say? Well, even if wind farms were a total fox, wind energy is inseparable from its inherent baggage. For instance, if you’re looking for that long-term special some-energy to see you through the good times and bad, wind energy is risky. It only can only sustain itself when there is—wait for it—wind! Consequentially, it must have the constant back-up connection with the grid, depending on generators or batteries (that use fossil fuels) to keep you satisfied. Wind turbines (produced with the aid of fossil fuels) can be quite the intermittent diva too: when the wind current isn’t strong enough, it is unpractical to operate them; if the wind is blowing too fast, it completely shuts down to avoid damage. Wind farms can only thrive in specific geographic settings, usually in remote areas that require the expensive construction of transmission lines. In the end, with its absolute dependence on alternatives, wind farms are not taxpayer-healthy to pursue at all.
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Pythagoras would have been proud of the math muscles The League of Conservation Voters flexed in the calculations for their annual National Environmental Scorecard, which was released last week. For the House of Representatives, more than 20 environmentalist organizations chose 35 votes that were scored for 435 Members. This week, the Cooler Heads Coalition issued our first ever scorecard, albeit with a relatively simple methodology: 100 – LCV score. So cue the graduation music as the Cooler Heads Coalition recognizes the members of the House who earned a perfect score as honorary Defenders of Economic Liberty:
Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia,
Rep. Mark Amodei and Rep. Dean Heller of Nevada, and
Rep. Bob Turner of New York
The ideal of responsibility has endured a severe loosening under the current administration’s incessant touting it as something to be “shared.” We heard this rhetoric echoed throughout Obama’s speech introducing his 2013 budget: “We’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility. The budget that we’re releasing today is a reflection of shared responsibility.” This “shared responsibility” (i.e. socialism) has never been a traditional American value. Individual responsibility is the ancestral principle that has strengthened America into prosperous world power she is today. It is this concept that sets the stage for fair play. However, the Obama administration’s refusal to “walk away from the promise of clean energy” will require the continuous life-support of the American peoples’ shared tax dollars that it has never survived without. This is patently unfair.
One of the most irrational responsibilities Obama envisions to be shared for is manufacturing of electric vehicles. On the supply side, the President wants “America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high tech batteries”; on the demand side, he aims to have million Americans driving electric vehicles by 2015. The problem is that he wants all 138 million taxpayers to pay for these goals. If consumers actually had a choice into which pork-piggy bank their taxes were allocated, their homework into the electric car industry would encounter several speed-bumps:
- Fisker Automotive, the California company that scored a $529 million government subsidy to produce the plug-in Karma, recently had to shut down operations due to their delivery quota failure.
- A123, Fisker’s lithium-ion battery supplier and winner of a $249 million DOE loan, is on pins and needles with their investment of at least $20.5 million into Fisker, their #1 client.
- Ener1 Inc., the parent company of EnerDel that received a $118 million DOE grant to make batteries for electric cars, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
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Mega Star Brad Pitt made a guest appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show this past Wednesday where he made a point to condemn the traditional gas-guzzler with an analogy of his new Academy Award-nominated Moneyball.
Brad explains: “It (Moneyball) was the story of this small market team that found the game unfair, they could not compete. They couldn’t buy the talent and if they developed the talent it was poached by the rich team, so what are they going to do to level the playing field? And these guys started questioning 150 years of baseball knowledge and they started with the question, ‘Just because we’ve been doing it this way for so long, does that mean it’s right?’ I equate it to the automobile, like if we invented the automobile today, would we invent a car, would we say, ‘I know! We’ll run it on a finite fossil fuel. We’ll export a half a trillion dollars of our GDP. We’ll spend hundreds of billions of dollars on our military to protect that interest, and it will pollute the environment!’ You know, it just doesn’t make sense!”
I give Brad two thumbs, way down, for this elitist tripe. What celebrities seem to miss is that historically, the introduction of the fossil-fueled automobile has been one of the greatest emancipators, leveling the playing field by lifting many out of poverty through the access of affordable mobility. In The Best-Laid Plans, Randal O’Toole writes:
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Both industry and environmentalists were paying close attention to yesterday’s House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on the “fractured science” behind the groundwater (not drinking water) contamination research in Pavillion, Wyoming conducted by US Environmental Protection Agency. On December 8, 2011, the EPA released a draft report recapitulating the findings of their investigation. “Investigation” is too strong a word, because the point of the hearing was to find out why EPA released the draft report before key results were reproduced, or before the study was even peer reviewed. EPA’s draft report has been exploited by environmentalist zealots, so it is strange that the Agency failed to vet the document before it was released. This is especially true in light of the many methodology problems alleged by state and industry officials.
Fracking, the gas extraction process in which several tons of pressurized water laced with sand and a small amount of chemicals are injected through the drill hole to break up apart shale rock so trapped gas can flow more freely, has been improved by the new technology of horizontal drilling. The ability to drill horizontally is valuable because it can reach and recover more gas that is inaccessible by vertical drilling alone. This is a new and valuable practice that involves environmental precaution, so it’s only natural for environmentalists to jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, so is EPA.
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Today’s House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on “Fractured Science” was overshadowed by an obvious publicity stunt. This is a shame, because the media’s attention should have been focused on the substance of the hearing, which cast suspicion on the timing of EPA’s recent bombshell press release about aquifer contamination allegedly produced by hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion, Wyoming. I attended the hearing, and I will report on it tomorrow. Today’s post bemoans Fox’s agitprop tactics.
After settling into my seat, eager to hear testimony, I noticed a swarm of security guards surrounding a young man in baseball cap and thick-rimmed glasses attempting to set up film equipment. It was Josh Fox, director of the fear mongering documentary “Gasland,” who was escorted in hand-cuffs out of the hearing squealing, “I’m being denied my First Amendment rights!” Apparently, Fox is working on a sequel to “Gasland,” a debunked film predicated on the attempts to brand the entire natural gas industry with an infamous scene of a man lighting his tap water on fire.
Fox was precluded from filming the hearing because he did not have the necessary press credentials. Reportedly, an ABC news camera crew was also blocked from filming. In the wake of Fox’s removal, ranking member Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina requested a vote for Fox to film. Ranking Member Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) recessed the hearing for nearly an hour because there was not a quorum. As more Congressman filed in, the vote finally took place. On a 7-6 party-line vote, the majority denied the Ranking Member’s request.
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While Republican Party candidates face a political drilling in the Florida primaries, Florida prepares for the offshore drilling by a Spanish company just miles away from its coastline, courtesy of our embargoed neighbor to the South. Cuba has signed lease agreements for offshore drilling blocks with six nations in the North Cuba Basin, a body of water within the Cuban Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is believed to harbor at least 4.6 billion barrels of crude oil. Five of the six companies are owned by foreign countries: India, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam and Angola. Spanish-based Repsol, the single private company, will drill one exploratory well in the North Cuba Basin, called the Jaguey Prospect, lying about 55 to 60 miles south of Key West, FL. It owns a 40% share in the newest exploratory well, while India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Norway’s Statoil each hold a 30% stake. Repsol has contracted the Italian-owned Scarabeo-9, a mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU), to drill the Jaguey well.
In March 2010, President Obama introduced a plan for drilling to take place 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf coastline. Only weeks later, the President’s offshore drilling proposal was shelved due to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Since then, the administration has been largely hostile to existing deep water drilling offshore in American waters—first, it imposed a de jure moratorium, and, after that, it imposed a de facto moratorium via bureaucratic foot dragging.
In a surprise move, the President seemed to pivot on offshore drilling policy in last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. Specifically, he announced a plan to open 75 % of potential offshore oil and gas reserves. Details of the plan are still scarce, so we still don’t know what it entails exactly. One must wonder if the President’s wind of change was prompted by the fact that companies from five nations are drilling for oil and gas in such close proximity to Florida.
President Obama’s record proves that he understands how to use time effectively, solely to his advantage. His craft of circumventing issues of critical national interest is an art form, and his State of the Union address is no exception. “This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy, a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs.” His hypocritical declaration was salt to the fresh wound inflicted by his dismissal of the $7 billion privately funded TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline just prior to the SOTU.
The following day, it became clear at the Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing on Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-NE) The North American Energy Access Act (H.R. 3548), that political “timing” was the basis for Obama’s pipeline rejection. Kerri-Ann Jones, the Bureau of Oceans and International Environment Assistant Secretary of the State Department, was the witness who vouched for the State Dept’s recommendation that Obama kill the pipeline. She said that the merit of the project did not cause the second rejection; it was the lack of time given to finish the reviewing process of a new route. According to Jones, it normally takes 18-24 months to vet a project of this size; the KXL Pipeline, however, has now been under review for a total 40 months.
Solyndra, which disposed of $535 million of tax payer money, is the poster child of Obama’s hypocritical devotion to due diligence. Before rushing Solyndra’s subsidy out the door, Obama’s DOE blatantly ignored countless red flags regarding the viability of their first green energy flagship of government funding. When Solyndra went belly-up, laying off more than 1,100 workers, the Obama administration wanted to get the timing right. Emails from the Argonaut Private Equity, an investment firm owned by Solyndra’s largest investor and Obama campaign donor George Kaiser, indicate that the DOE asked Solyndra to postpone the announcement of job layoffs until after the 2010 midterm elections. How convenient.
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Earlier today, a woman from South California found her Toyota Prius vandalized. A classic case of ‘who done it’? – more like what done it. Heather Patron claims that the energy efficient window installed in a neighbor’s condominium is melting the plastic parts of her car and other cars in her carport.
“I just don’t feel like it’s fair,” says Patron. “I feel like it needs to be known that this is happening. And a lot of people probably have damage out there, that they aren’t aware that it’s the windows that are causing this.”
What brought her to this cathartic conclusion? After Toyota assured her that there was nothing wrong with her Prius, Patron apparently observed a “powerful beam of light” that was reflecting off of the said window, emitting a beam on her carport.
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The Empire State Divide is now available for viewing on the Foundation for Land and Liberty website. It is a documentary film about the harm to human well-being wrought by an environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing in New York. This film was inspired by my mother, Karen Bulich Moreau, President of The Foundation for Land and Liberty. It was funded exclusively by her mother and siblings in memory of my grandfather, Frank Bulich.
The documentary can be found here. In a previous post, I wrote about the film in detail.