High Noon on Energy – Three new articles

Posted on 17. Jul, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Article I – Green energy’s exorbitant financial cost to the public: cut or “invest?”

On Wednesday, July 10, the House passed H.R. 2609—which Bloomberg News called a “$30.4 Billion Energy-Water Spending Measure.” The 2014 Energy-Water Development appropriations bill will cut spending on renewables and other green energy programs in half and was passed mostly along party lines—with 4 Republicans voting against and 7 Democrats for it.

Democrats offered amendments to the bill aimed at restoring funding to renewable energy programs, which failed. Republicans’ amendments focused on cuts: Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan sponsored an amendment that would eliminate spending for a national media campaign promoting alternative energy, and Rep. John Fleming, M.D. of Louisiana sponsored an amendment to stop a $3.25 billion green energy loan program—both were approved.

While several of the different taxpayer funded green energy programs—which have produced more than 50 bankrupt, or near bankrupt, projects—have now expired, the Fleming amendment draws attention to a pot of money that is, currently, largely unspent.

Fleming describes this remaining boondoggle: “The Obama 2009 stimulus bill cost taxpayers about $830 billion, and much of it was wasted on growing government and administration giveaways, like a $3.25 billion loan program that put taxpayers on the hook for failed green energy projects. A company could take a government loan and walk away from a project without paying taxpayers back, even if the company remained in business. In a free market economy companies may turn to banks and investors to borrow money, but the government should not force taxpayers to be lenders, even as it gives borrowers a pass on paying back their loans.”

While Republicans realize the embarrassing failure of the green energy programs, Democrats want to keep spending—often in the face of opposition from their usual supporters. One of the most controversial commercial green energy projects, Cape Wind, provides a case in point.

Proposed in 2001 for Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, the Cape Wind project will span a highly-congested 25-mile area known for frequent fog and storms that is surrounded by shipping routes used by shipping operators, ferry lines, commercial fishermen, and recreational mariners. The Cape Wind industrial offshore wind energy project consists of 130 440-foot high, wind turbines (made in Germany) and nearly 100 miles of cable.

In 2010, the National Park Service deemed Nantucket Sound to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) because of its cultural significance to the local Wampanoag tribes. (Note: a TCP designation successfully blocked uranium mining in New Mexico.) The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on Cape Cod and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gayhead/Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard believe that Cape Wind would not only desecrate sacred land, but also harm their traditional religious and cultural practices. In opposition to Cape Wind, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gayhead/Aquinnah currently has a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court in DC.

Nantucket Sound is home to several species of endangered and protected birds and marine mammals and has been designated an Essential Fish Habitat. Cape Wind’s construction and operations would threaten this rich and fragile environment. Numerous environmental organizations, led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, have a lawsuit pending for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Opposition to Cape Wind also comes from groups who side with jobs and economic development.

Commercial fishermen, who earn the majority of their income in the area of the proposed site, believe this project would displace commercial fishing and permanently threaten their livelihoods. They vehemently oppose Cape Wind.

A decline in tourism, according to the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, would lead to the loss of up to 2,500 jobs and property values would decline by $1.35 billion. Located in an area with more than 200 days of fog per year and quickly changing weather, Cape Wind would create significant navigational hazards for thousands of commercial and recreational vessels and pose an unacceptable risk to aviation safety. The local ferry lines, which transport more than three million passengers every year, have called the project “an accident waiting to happen.” All three local airports strongly oppose the project and have expressed safety concerns for the millions of passengers flying over the Sound each year.

The project would impose billions of dollars in additional electricity costs for businesses, households, and municipalities throughout Massachusetts. Dr. Jonathan Lesser, President of Continental Economics, calls Cape Wind a “poster child for green energy excess.” In a 2010 peer-reviewed paper, he stated: “the billions of dollars Massachusetts ratepayers will be forced to pay for the electricity it generates will not provide economic salvation but will simply hasten the exodus of business, industry, and jobs from the state.”

Despite widespread opposition, President Obama and Governor Patrick are closely allied and working together to push Cape Wind forward for political advantage. Audra Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound (APNS), says Cape Wind is “a project that is controversial, extremely expensive, and one that has been propelled forward by shortcuts, bending of rules, and political favoritism.”

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and House Oversight Committee research found significant coordination between the Patrick and Obama administrations through the Department of Interior to push Cape Wind forward and gain financial assistance for Cape Wind through the loan guarantee program.

For example, a June 24, 2011, email (acquired through APNS FOIA requests) describes a request by the White House to include Cape Wind in an economic briefing for the President on the loan guarantee program: “The WH was very direct about what should be included in the slides so we don’t have much flexibility.” The email specifically stated that the White House wanted: “1 slide on status of Cape Wind (because he [the President] has heard from Gov. Patrick a few times – they are close friends).”

In the months prior and after Cape Wind was notified that its application for section 1705 assistance was put on hold, there were numerous meetings and calls between MA state officials, including Governor Patrick, with senior officials at Department of Energy (DOE)and the Loan Guarantee Program, including the usual players: Jonathan Silver and Secretary Chu.

In April, US News addressed a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that points to federal subsidies for wind energy that are rife with wasteful spending: “The GAO report finds substantial overlap in federal wind initiatives. This duplication allows some applicants to receive multiple sources of financial support for deployment of a single project.”

Once again, the $2.6 billion Cape Wind construction is illustrative of how the overlaps can give the developer more in taxpayer-funded benefits than the project’s actual cost. Federal incentives, including a $780 million energy investment credit, a DOE loan guarantee, and accelerated depreciation could be more than $1.3 billion—or more than 50% of the project’s cost. But, this just represents the federal package. Add in state incentives and the combined total could be $4.3 billion—exceeding the projected cost by 167%. Cape Wind claims to create only 50 permanent jobs—which would equal a staggering $86 million per job.

But, it is not just the money—though in the current constrained fiscal environment, money is a huge consideration. Government agency recommendations and/or policy—including the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service—had to be overridden or overlooked to prevent “undue burden on the developer” that “could possibly bankrupt them.”

For example, a May 3, 2010, FAA PowerPoint presentation to Eastern Service Area Directors includes a slide titled “Political Implications” which states: “The Secretary of the Interior has approved this project. The Administration is under pressure to promote green energy production. It would be very difficult politically to refuse approval of this project.”

While this quick overview of the Cape Wind project barely touches the surface issues, it highlights the folly of allocating billions of dollars of state and federal money for green energy projects at the expense of the taxpayers. Any stimulus funds designated for green energy, but not yet “invested,” should be withdrawn; taxpayers should be taken off the hook—which is the goal of the Fleming amendment passed on July 10.

Too bad these specifics in the 2014 Energy-Water Development appropriations bill are little more than a representation of the different approaches of the parties: one wants to fund more green energy projects and the other wants to cut—which also reflects the division throughout America. Because our government is operating on one continuing resolution after another, the appropriations bill is a mere formality. As pointed out on June 25, at Georgetown University, President Obama intends to “invest in the clean-energy companies”—despite the exorbitant financial cost of the projects and economic damages they will cause the public.

Article II - The battle for economic and energy freedom

During the Fourth of July celebrations, you probably thought about the freedoms we enjoy in the USA. Perhaps you even pondered how those freedoms are slipping away right before your eyes. But, did you think about economic freedom? Did you think about energy freedom? They are all connected and are all important to America.

Economic freedom is described as “the key to greater opportunity and an improved quality of life. It’s the freedom to choose how to produce, sell, and use your own resources … While a simple concept, economic freedom is an engine that drives prosperity in the world and is the difference between why some societies thrive while others do not.”

America’s forests and the management, or mismanagement, of them provides an important example of “economic freedom”—especially the part about using resources. And, the spotted owl saga offers a case study of such mismanagement.

“It is hard to imagine a bigger failure—or a greater success—depending on which side of the issue you stand,” is how I start the “spotted owl” chapter in my book Energy Freedom. “If you strive for open and honest government policy that is straight-forward about its goals, this twenty-year experiment has failed. If you believe the end justifies the means, regardless of the cost in life or livelihood, then the spotted owl represents a great success.”

Twenty-three years ago, nearly to the day, the spotted owl was listed as an endangered species. Since then, environmental groups have used the designation to block logging—and other economic activity on federal lands. In 1989, logging on federal lands accounted for more than half of Oregon’s timber harvest. Since 2008, it has fallen to less than ten percent. The listing has shut down a substantial part of federal timber harvest and threatens logging on private lands.

In 1994, the Clinton Administration introduced the Northwest Forest Plan that was supposed to guarantee specific amounts of logging, but according to Jim Geisinger, executive vice president of the Associated Oregon Loggers, those numbers never materialized. The federal forests were left more vulnerable to catastrophic fires—which hurt the very trees that were supposed to be protected.

Last week, in his Climate Action Plan speech, President Obama wanted the American public to believe that the extreme fires we are facing—that just killed 19 firefighters in Arizona—are as a result of climate change. He stated: “Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons, and states and federal governments have to figure out how to budget for that. I had to sit in on a meeting with the Department of Interior and Agriculture and some of the rest of my team just to figure out how we’re going to pay for more and more expensive fire seasons.”

In fact, as Ann Forest Burns, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, explains: “For every dollar invested in forest management—harvesting timber to put the forest on a sustainable basis for current and future generations—we save $1.46 in firefighting.” She told me that the American people would be appalled if they understood how the forests are managed. Instead of allowing the forests to make money through timber harvests, we are taking money away from forest management to fight fires.

The forest overgrowth exacerbates the problems of the naturally dry climate in the Southwest, which in turn adds to the fire dangers like a self-perpetuating cycle. The natural process is that rain falls on the forest. The water not used by the trees soaks into the underlying aquifer. Each tree soaks up hundreds of gallons of water a week. In arid climates, nature does not support many more than 50 trees per acre. In many parts of New Mexico, where several fires are currently burning, the forest now has up to 2,500 trees per acre—using up all the water resources. Because logging was stopped decades ago, the forest is packed with fuel, wildfires are sparked, and they quickly burn out of control.

The US Forest Service (USFS) needs to change its policy and start selectively harvesting trees—not clear cutting, but harvesting the way it’s been applied on New Mexico’s Mescalero Indian Reservation. The forest on the Mescalero land is a healthy forest. When a recent fire was raging across the Lincoln National Forest, it stopped completely and dropped down from the trees to become a very natural, and manageable, grass fire when it got to the forest the Mescalero tribe had treated.

A study from the USFS supports the Mescalero’s approach. Published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, the study found that thinning to 50-100 trees per acre—depending on the species, terrain and other factors—reduces the impact of catastrophic wildfires, helps protect communities, provides jobs, and promotes overall forest health. According to Burns, every million board feet harvested supports eleven direct forest industry jobs. Yet, environmentalists continue to block logging and the economic freedom it represents.

However, economic freedom was just handed a win from the courts.

On June 26, a federal district court in Washington, DC, smacked down the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for failing to comply with timber harvest requirements. Under the BLM’s own resource management plan, the timber harvest for Oregon’s Medford and Roseburg districts should have been 57 and 45 million board feet, respectively. Instead, current harvest has been 19 million and 29 million. The court’s decision requires the BLM to increase the harvest by 38 million board feet in the Medford District and 16 million board feet for Roseburg—which equals the creation of 594 jobs.

A press release from the American Forest Resource Council says: “These harvest levels are just a small percentage of the annual growth volume of timber on these lands. The BLM lands in Western Oregon have 73 billion board feet of standing volume. These timberlands are capable of growing 1.2 billion board feet per year”—with the potential of creating more than 13,000 jobs.

These job growth numbers don’t really represent new jobs, as these are jobs that have been killed over the past 23 years as a result of forest management—presumably enacted to protect the spotted owl. Unfortunately, the court decision came too late to save the 85 jobs at Rough and Ready Lumber Company—one of the plaintiffs in the case. Rough and Ready closed its doors in May due to a lack of available timber from federal lands.

Environmental groups expect an appeal of the decision.

The USFS plan to manage for the spotted owl has threatened property rights, killed jobs, and increased the severity of wildfires—all while the spotted owl population has declined thanks to a bully: the barred owl.

Congressman Steve Pearce (NM-R) offers this summary: “Decades after hasty decisions on the Spotted Owl led to thousands of lost jobs, the Fish and Wildlife Service has admitted that they were wrong all along, and local governments and communities have slowly begun working to find ways to bring back jobs and restore devastated economies. Today, it is important to learn from this painful lesson, and not continue to make the same mistakes—decisions that affect our jobs, our communities, and the management of our land must be made carefully and with the voice of the people, not through rushed decisions handed down from bureaucrats in Washington.”

Had the freedom to choose how to produce, sell, and use resources been in play in the spotted owl story, it would have driven economic prosperity and the economic devastation wouldn’t have taken place—economic freedom.

But what about “energy freedom?”

History highlights energy’s importance in the role of freedom. In his book, The Color of Oil, international energy consultant, Michael Economides, states: “The search for natural resources and the coveting, or defending, of wealth is the clear connection that has most often precipitated war.”

Two examples of wars fought over access to energy supplies are found in World War II: Germany’s quest for Russia’s oil and gas and Japan’s for resources in Indochina. While the war is over, due to a lack of their own resources, both are still in a battle to supply their energy needs—which has also encouraged alternatives such as nuclear power and renewables.

During WWII, two days before Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, he proclaimed: “What one does not have, but needs, one must conquer.” Hitler’s prize was to be Russian oil and gas. He obviously knew what Henry Kissinger later stated: “Who controls the energy can control whole continents.”

Hitler was denied his prize and Russia still controls much of Europe’s energy: 36% of the EU’s total gas imports, 31% of the EU’s total crude oil imports, and 30% of the EU’s coal imports originate from Russia. More specifically, Germany is the EU’s second biggest natural gas consumer and Russia’s largest market—with almost 40% of its natural gas imports coming from Russia in 2011.

The Russian natural gas industry is one of the most important players in the global energy market and revenues generated by natural gas are vital to the ruling Russian elite. To date, Europe’s energy security is largely under Russian control—a situation the EU wants to change as dependence on Russian natural gas presents political risks. Russia has shown a willingness to cut off natural gas supplies as a tool to achieve its political objectives.

Remember, in January 2009, without warning, Russia cut off gas supplies to the EU and much of Eastern Europe suffered over the course of three weeks during a cold snap. European officials have become increasingly concerned about the potential for cutoffs or curtailments of Russian natural gas supplies to Europe.

Fears of Russian dominance have lead the EU to search for other options to break Putin’s grip on energy supplies: develop its own potential shale gas reserves through hydraulic fracturing, build pipelines to bypass Russia and bring in natural gas from Central Asia, and look to Liquefied Natural Gas from the US.

Unfortunately for Europe, before any drilling has taken place, public opinion has turned against hydraulic fracturing and several countries have moratoriums in place to prevent shale gas drilling. Russia has demonstrated a willingness to go to great lengths to maintain its hold on European market share of natural gas, including attempts to stymie European-backed alternatives. Many believe that Russia is funding Europe’s anti-fracking fomenting.

It is within this context that last week’s story about the “centerpiece of the European Union’s push to limit its reliance on Russian natural gas” that “came to an unsuccessful conclusion” should be of interest to Americans. The now-defeated Nabucco pipeline would have shipped gas from Azerbaijan (the target of Hitler’s efforts) to Europe and provided much needed diversification of energy sources. Europe lives with a vulnerability to Russian energy supply manipulation.

Why is this important to those of us in the USA? Because we don’t have to live with energy fears and vulnerabilities. We have the ability to produce, sell, and use our own resources, which could drive prosperity and allow the economy to thrive—energy freedom. Even President Obama, in his book, the Audacity of Hope, says: “A nation that can’t control its energy sources can’t control its future.”

America is fortunate. We have economic freedom. We have the ability to thrive due to energy freedom. But like so many of our other freedoms, these, too, are slipping away. Anti-fracking fomenting is threatening access to our abundant resources and Middle Eastern countries have demonstrated a willingness to go to great lengths to maintain control of the world’s oil supplies.

As our brave soldiers show us every day, freedom isn’t free—it is something that must be fought for. It is something worth fighting for. The battle includes economic freedom and energy freedom.

Article III – Obama’s Climate Action Plan: emphasizing what doesn’t work while ignoring what does

For months President Obama has been in the uncomfortable position of straddling a barbed-wire fence—does he appease his ardent environmental supporters or advocate for economic growth that will help all of America? In his speech outlining his Climate Action Plan, he made his choice clear. He’s abandoning what is best for America and has bowed to the political pressure from environmental lobbyists like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

White House Climate Advisor, Daniel P. Schrag told the New York Times: “Everybody is waiting for action, the one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” However, the American public is not clamoring for the closure of cost-effective coal-fueled power plants. What they want is cheap energy, but Obama is, as the Washington Post states: “a president bizarrely antagonistic toward domestic energy production and low energy prices.”

In the Pew Research Center’s annual policy priorities survey, just 28% say dealing with global warming is a top priority for the president and Congress this year. In fact, the president’s own research shows that his favorability rating “plummeted” with focus groups when he vowed to attack climate change—yet, promising to use executive action, he’s pushed forward with plans he knows couldn’t get through Congress.

Addressing the executive order emphasis, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue says: “It is unfortunate that on a matter of such importance to all Americans that the administration has chosen to bypass our elected representatives in favor of unilateral actions and go-it-alone tactics.”

The Washington Post explains why Obama is now seeking to go around Congress to enact anti-coal regulations by fiat: “When Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, Obama could not get climate control legislation passed.”

In his hit-and-run speech, delivered hours before leaving the country, President Obama issued a directive for the EPA, instructing them to begin drafting new rules governing emissions from power plants. Current EPA regulations are already closing coal-fueled power plants at an alarming rate—which New Mexico Public Regulations Commissioner Pat Lyons calls “the real energy crisis that no one is talking about.” He told me: “The biggest issue facing utilities is the closure of 300 coal-fueled power plants.

This represents tens of thousands of jobs in the coal mining industry and billions of dollars of revenues for local, state and federal government.” There are no plans to effectively replace the comparatively cheap electricity. Progressive thought leaders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhous state: “energy poverty causes more harm to the poor than global warming” and cheap energy “makes the poor vastly less vulnerable to climate impacts.”

Europe has already tried this experiment and found it to be economically devastating. In April, the European Parliament voted against saving the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)—Europe’s flagship environmental program. Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament explained that propping up the ETS would “make energy more expensive; undermine European competitiveness even further; drive even more businesses and jobs and investments offshore (known in the jargon as ‘carbon leakage’); and force more households and pensioners into fuel poverty.”

Regarding the April 16 vote, The Financial Times reported: “Complaints from business groups that the carbon market and other climate policies are contributing to higher energy prices at a time when they are already grappling with a weak economy appeared to be decisive in Tuesday’s vote.” To meet its energy needs, Europe is now importing US Coal and North American wood.

Speaking of fuel poverty, nowhere are people living in more substandard conditions than Africa— plagued by malaria and inadequate medical care, most don’t have indoor plumbing and even fewer have electricity. Shellenberger and Nordhous accuse the environmental movement of offering “the global poor not what they want—cheap electricity—but more of what they don’t want, namely intermittent and expensive power” which “offers the poor no path to the kinds of high-energy lifestyles Western environmentalists take for granted.”

In response to the president’s Climate Action Plan, Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK-R) was talking about Obama’s African tour when she quipped: “I encourage him to note what life looks like in parts of the continent where people do not have—or cannot afford—access to energy.”

While shuttering coal-fueled power plants, the Climate Action Plan calls for more “clean energy” which will “cut our dependence on foreign oil.” He’s directing the Department of Interior to “green light” wind and solar projects on public lands and wants Congress to “invest in the clean-energy companies.” We’ve got two problems here.

First, wind and solar don’t cut our dependence of foreign oil. The two have no connection to one another. The wind and the sun can be harnessed and, as a result, do produce electricity—albeit inefficient, ineffective, and uneconomical electricity. Foreign oil that we import is for our transportation fleet. It does not, with very few exceptions, produce electricity.

Second, in Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill, he allocated nearly $100 billion for green energy projects that have produced an embarrassing number, more than 50, of bankruptcies and near bankruptcies—while lining the pockets of his friends and donors. He is obviously a slow learner. Dr. Phil might ask, “How’s that working for ya?”

In Tuesday’s speech, Obama did point to one success: “Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America.” The United States is the only industrialized country to actually lower carbon emissions. We’ve done it, not through extreme policies—but through private enterprise embracing our abundant natural gas. Encouraging extraction in the US and approving Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals would reduce global carbon emissions and help our economy.

“Rather than new federal regulations, he should be encouraging more natural gas development and approving Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export licenses,” states Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government & Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance. “By exporting LNG, not only would America benefit from huge job growth, but we would be providing a low-carbon solution to other nations and helping them to likewise reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Germany and Japan have increased their use of coal because they lack access to affordable natural gas, and their carbon emissions have risen. By stubbornly repressing exports, the President is standing in the way of a global solution to a global problem.”

The fact that natural gas is only given cursory mention, rather than being an integral part of Obama’s National Climate Action Plan, exposes his true motives—which, I believe, are not really about carbon emission reductions, but rather furthering America’s declining international status. Why else would he emphasize what has proven to not to work and eschew what we know to be effective?

These articles were submitted by Marita Noon, the author of Energy Freedom. Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

High Noon on Energy: Five Energy Stories

Posted on 31. May, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Article 1: Fisker: a free ride to make flashy cars in Finland

With nearly a year’s worth of exclusive reporting on Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal, you might think we’ve covered them all—but the hits just keep on coming. This week Fisker is in the news due to its failure to meet a Monday payment on their Department of Energy (DOE) loan with $10 million due, and Wednesday’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing: “Green Energy Oversight: Examining the Department of Energy’s Bad Bet on Fisker Automotive.”

Along with researcher Christine Lakatos who writes The Green Corruption Files, I’ve addressed Fisker before. In last week’s column I harkened back to an October 2012 report we did on 2009 Obama’s green-energy projects that were in trouble. We highlighted two companies on that list: Suntech and SoloPower. Suntech was recently put into bankruptcy and, about SoloPower, we said: “SoloPower’s power is waning.” On April 22, the Oregonian’s headline read: “SoloPower moves to power down Portland factory, gut remaining workforce.”

Fisker, the taxpayer-funded company making $100,000+ electric cars in Finland, was also on that October 2012 list. At the time, I wrote: “Though the company has balked at Solyndra comparisons, Fisker may well be on ‘death’s door.’”

Despite defaulting “on loans or investment conditions at least four separate times” and squandering more than $1.3 billion in investment capital and government loan money, the company’s founder and former CEO, Henrik Fisker (Fisker left the company in March over  “disagreements with management”), in testimony before the House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, argued that the company was still viable. In both the opening and closing of his testimony, Fisker used the following statement regarding the company that bears his name: “Fisker still has the potential to build on these achievements if the company can secure financial and strategic resources.”

While Fisker’s testimony indicates that he is proud of the company’s “many notable achievements,” Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), declared in his opening statements: “Fisker should have never received taxpayer money; it was rated CCC+…it was a junk grade investment.”  So why did Fisker get the loan in the first place and continue to receive funding even after it “missed a crucial production target?”

While Wednesday’s hearing didn’t reveal any smoking gun, and Fisker claimed: “I am not aware and do not believe that any improper political influence was used in connection with the company’s loan application or subsequent negotiations with the Department of Energy,” experience in reporting on the various stimulus-funded loan guarantee programs, grants and tax credits indicates otherwise.

True, unlike many of the other stories, no one from the Fisker organization itself served on Obama’s (now-disbanded) Jobs Council, nor is there an obvious connection such as a former DOE staffer sitting on the board. But, surprise, there are political connections nonetheless.

In the case of Fisker, the cronyism comes first in the form of the venture capital firm with private investments that needed government funds to make their 2008 investment good. The company in question? Kliener Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB)—which, according to New York magazine, “has both former Vice-President Al Gore and John Doerr, a very big-ticket Obama donor, on its board of directors.” Doerr has had roles inside the Obama White House since early 2009, from jobs, to economics, to crafting the energy sector of the 2009-Recovery Act, from which his firm, KPCB, has been rewarded handsomely. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), in 2008, reported that the Fisker deal was “one of the first deals in which former Vice President Al Gore provided advice for Kleiner.” KPCB’s Managing Partner, Ray Lane, told the WSJ that their investment was more than $10 million and was “one of our bigger investments.”

In an earlier report, I said: “Doerr jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon in 2005 and credits Al Gore for his ‘environmental awakening’—though his conversion may have been more financial than spiritual, as he saw green-energy as the ‘mother of all markets’ and ‘the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.’”

Despite a green-energy push from the White House, these funds haven’t “delivered the returns expected on the timeline expected for most venture capitalists.” In fact, Doerr admitted in a November 2009 speech that the government funding saved them: “If we’d been able to foresee the crash of the market, we wouldn’t probably have launched a green initiative, because these ventures really need capital. The only way in which we were lucky, I think, is that the government stepped in, particularly the Department of Energy. Led by this great administration that put in place these loan guarantees.”

Clearly the Fisker “investment” wasn’t going as well as KCBP expected. In Wednesday’s hearing, a 2009 email from Bernhard Koehler, Fisker cofounder and COO was addressed. In it, he pressured someone inside the DOE, regarding the need for the taxpayer-funded loan, because they couldn’t meet payroll.

The Fisker loan had three specific strikes against it: it had a dismal credit rating—a “junk bond” CCC+; it was initially rejected by the credit review board; and the loan was twice the value of the collateral. While the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program received 150 applications, only 5 were awarded loans—and all had some political connections or ramifications: Fisker—$529 million; Ford—$5.907 billion, Nissan—$1.448 billion; Tesla—$465 million; and The Vehicle Production Group, LLC—$50 million.

Companies without connections didn’t get approved. In November, I reported on XP Technologies, one of those companies whose loan application was rejected. Alleging that “criminal activities did take place by DOE staff and affiliates,” XP Technologies has filed a lawsuit concerning the DOE’s denial. Following the publication of my column on XP Technologies, another applicant, who also didn’t have any political connections, contacted me.

This applicant acknowledged that he really didn’t know the system and, therefore, looking back, wasn’t surprised that his application was denied. However, he told me that he received no help or encouragement from the DOE; they did nothing to make it easier for him. It was like they weren’t really interested in anyone but the favored few. Accepting applications was, perhaps, just for cover.

Fisker’s $529 million loan was approved in September 2009, and the first tranche was funded May 2010. But it took a lot of finagling to get there.

Vice President Biden stepped in to move the loan along—we don’t know why, but we know he did. (We also know more about other green-energy projects in which Biden was involved.) In August 2009, Fisker visited a Delaware GM factory, which was scheduled to be shut down. According to a 2009 WSJ report, once politicians in the state got wind of Fisker’s possible interest, they ratcheted up the pressure. Saving the plant, according to officials involved in the decision, “gave fresh urgency to the DOE’s quest for Fisker.” However, by August, the December 2008 application still wasn’t approved. “Delaware’s governor and congressional delegation began peppering U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu with calls on Fisker’s behalf.

They also had repeated discussions with Vice President Biden and his staff.” Five days after Governor Merkell had a September meeting with Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, “Chu announced the government had signed a provisional agreement” for Fisker’s loan. Part of the deal included, not just the $529 million DOE loan, but also $21 million in grants and loans from the State of Delaware.

On October 27, 2009, Biden toured Fisker’s Delaware plant to tout the DOE’s Loan Program. ABC News reported: “Standing in a shuttered General Motors plant in Wilmington, DE, Vice President Biden proclaimed that a half-billion-dollar Department of Energy loan would transform the idled site into a production line for electric cars.”

“Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright, new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs,” and stated: “This is seed money that will return back to the American consumer in billions and billions and billions of dollars in good, new jobs.”

Referencing Delaware’s involvement, the state’s chief of economic development, Alan Levin said: “We had in the vice president a secret weapon.”

In addition to Doerr and Gore championing the Fisker Project, and the Biden “secret weapon,” Fisker had a few other friends in high places. The National Legal and Policy Center reports that Fisker was receiving advice regarding their loan application from Debevoise & Plimpton LLC, a law firm with a history of donating to President Obama and other Democrats—which taxpayers also funded. Too bad XP technologies, and other applicants without connections, didn’t know to hire Debevoise & Plimpton.

Now, we all know that Fisker never made one car in Delaware—or anywhere in the US. The Delaware plant is “absolutely empty.” We know that Fisker lost $557,000 on each flashy sports car it sold and has laid off most of its employees. And we know that Fisker will likely be the next taxpayer-funded green-energy project to go bankrupt.

While we do not know all the political connections that got Fisker a free ride to make flashy cars in Finland, we do know there is crony-corruption. As the WSJ reports: “The Obama Energy Department is keeping tight rein on documents, so we don’t know.” We just don’t know the full story.

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Article 2: A vote for permanent poverty

Late last month, the elected officials of a small, rural New Mexico county became the first in the nation to vote for permanent poverty. Mora County’s unemployment is double that of most of the country and nearly 500% greater than that of some other parts of the state where oil and gas development is taking place, and 23.8% of Mora County’s residents live in poverty.

With that in mind, you’d think that the Mora County Commissioners would welcome the jobs that are boosting the economy in the southeastern part of the state. Instead, they voted, 2-1—in a session that may violate the Open Meetings Act as the notice did not contain the date, time, and place of the meeting—to pass an ordinance that permanently bans oil and gas drilling.

Defending his vote, Chairman John Olivas, an employee of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance with no political experience, explained: “We need to create other jobs. First, sustainable agriculture; second, business development; and third, eco-tourism to keep people on the land.”

Frank Trambley, the Mora County GOP chairman, disagrees: “In our economic climate, we simply cannot afford to needlessly throw the possibility for jobs down the drain.”

Currently, Mora County has no oil and gas activity—and now it looks like it never will (though the outcome of potential lawsuits could change that). But there is reason to believe that the potential for development and jobs is there. Shell Oil has 100,000 acres leased for development—not to mention private interest—in Mora County, and there are more than 120 leases on state lands within the county.

In adjacent Colfax County, there are 950 natural gas wells. There the Commissioners don’t seem too troubled by the activity. The Colfax Country Commissioners are looking at drafting an ordinance that would “allow oil and gas drilling to continue while setting standards and regulations to give county officials control over aspects of the industry’s work that affect landowners and other citizens.”

But this story is bigger than the sparsely populated—less than 5000 and declining—northeastern New Mexico County. Following the passage of their “ban” ordinance, the two “yes” vote commissioners sent a letter to all the county commissioners in the state: “We’re sending you this letter to urge you to consider adopting a similar law.

In Mora, we decided that ‘fracking,’ along with other forms of oil and gas drilling are not compatible with Mora farming, forestry, and our quality of life.” Apparently unemployment and poverty are “compatible” with the Mora “quality of life.”

How did Mora come to believe that it might become the little county that could “force” change aimed at “restoring democratic control of our communities”? They had the help of an out-of-state environmental group: the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)—which helped draft Mora’s “Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance.” Thomas Linzey, executive director of CELDF explained: “This is the fight that people have been too chicken to pick over the last 10 years.” The CELDF press release on the ban states: “Mora is joining a growing people’s movement for community and nature’s rights” and brags about CELDF’s involvement in other communities across the country.

The Mora Commissioners’ letter—on County letterhead—encourages all other New Mexico Commissioners to join them and invites participation in a gathering “hosted by a new group, the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights (NMCCR) which was formed this past year to begin to change how our system here in New Mexico functions.” Kathleen Dudley, a “community organizer” and CELDF staffer, is the “contact person for that event.”

Wayne Johnson, a Bernalillo County Commissioner, alerted me to the Mora letter that may be in violation of state’s code of conduct—to which every elected official is subject. Johnson told me: “I believe I would at least be violating the spirit of the law if I sent out a letter on Bernalillo County letterhead that directly promotes the political activities of a specific group.

Imagine the uproar that would be caused if I sent out—at taxpayers’ expense—a letter promoting an NRA conference or a Right to Life meeting. The First Amendment guarantees the right to express their political opinion. However using government resources to do so is inappropriate.”

The letter also includes this: “You may be unaffected by fracking and oil and gas drilling in your county.” Wrong. There is no county in New Mexico that is “unaffected.” In response to the letter, Greg Nibert, Chairman of the Chaves County Commission, shot back: “The oil and gas producing counties bear more than 40% of the entire state budget.

We send money to Santa Fe that pays for educating the children of New Mexico. It is difficult to swallow that a county who may be blessed with such rich resources would enact such an ordinance.” Along with the other counties in the region, the Chaves County Commissioners plan to send a “strong letter in opposition to the Mora County Commission letter.” In a recent radio interview Mora’s Olivas said that he had no problem accepting state revenue from energy development in other counties, but is unwilling to allow any production and contribution from his own.

If the other counties followed Mora’s lead and banned fracking and/or oil and gas development, the state would lose 33,000 jobs—that’s 33,000 people who would be unable to put food on their families’ tables, pay their bills without worry, and even save for retirement. The states’ budget would be short a combined $5.73 billion dollars of investment. The majority of New Mexico’s 50,000+ wells use hydraulic fracturing for decades.

Nibert hopes some brave citizens of Mora County will step forward and bring a law suit against Mora County and at least its two commissioners who enacted the ordinance, as it takes the real property of its citizens without compensation, which is guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Constitution of New Mexico. To date, no one has come forward. “I know some lawyers who would love to take the case!”

Nibert may get his wish. Several groups are looking at a legal challenge.

The one dissenting vote was from Commissioner Paula Garcia, who believes the ordinance goes too far. Federal and state law typically overrides local county legislation, but in regards to oil and gas extraction, the Mora ordinance puts the county above state and US government. Garcia says: “It is trying to reclaim local decision making that isn’t recognized in the law currently, and, in essence, it is challenging existing laws.” She “worries the ordinance won’t hold up in court and that Mora County can’t afford a pricey lawsuit.”

The state says its Oil Conservation Division can still issue permits to drill in Mora County, but permit holders will now likely have to go to court to fight the county ordinance. Likewise, officials at the Bureau of Land Management say that they are not bound by local ordinances. Yet, the little county’s ordinance has the gall to demand an amendment to the state Constitution “to explicitly secure a community right to local self-government that cannot be preempted by the State”—even threatening secession.

Olivas believes Mora County is prepared: “What we’re doing to prepare ourselves is signing with a legal firm to represent us. At the next County Commissioner meeting, we will sign a retainer with the firm.” It is reported that CELDF is the firm—charging $1 for representation, and that Mora County is working to establish a fund to help pay for the living and travel expenses involved in representation.

Trambley told me: “The County is split on the drilling issue, but people are afraid to speak out against the ban—afraid that if they do, they’ll lose their job. It’s maddening to see sweeping bans being made without accurate information about the economic and environmental effects of drilling.”

A recent poll from the Western Energy Alliance supports Trambley’s position. Responses showed that “prior to any presentation of the facts, almost a majority (49%) of voters support” the use of fracking. However, “if and when the public understands what industry is doing to protect their safety and the environment, their support for hydraulic fracturing increases up to 71%.”

I firmly believe that government closest to the people is the best. I’ve rallied with hundreds of people from other New Mexico counties who are fighting federal overreach that denies them their economic freedoms. But, when an out-of-state entity is driving an issue by spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and when the Commission has to hide the time and location of the meeting to get the vote through—that is not the true voice of the locals.

Commissioner Olivas defends his actions by claiming that his vote followed through on a campaign promise. Sources tell me that his campaign was heavily funded by a single source that doesn’t primarily live in the county and whose money comes from the Progressive Insurance fortune.

While this is a New Mexico story, beware. CELDF has its sights set on a national movement. Emboldened by its success in Mora County, they may be coming to a community near you. You may find that your local leadership voted for permanent poverty.

A tweet from Occupy New Mexico following the Mora announcement: “After the victory in Mora, the #communityrights movement is spreading across New Mexico. Next up, #SantaFe #NM! @OccupyWallStNYC @350 #NMPOL” You can be sure they are not just “spreading across New Mexico.”

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Article 3: A six-pack of scandals could define and destroy the Obama presidency

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week at the White House—and it isn’t looking like next week will be any better. You probably know about Obama’s trifecta of troubles: the Benghazi story about the attack that killed four Americans and the aftermath that falsely blamed a YouTube video that “continues to smolder on the far-right side of the dial,” the IRS targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny while giving liberals a pass, and, the one that got the mainstream media engaged: the “broad and potentially chilling probe” conducted by the Justice Department on journalists’ phone calls at the Associated Press (AP).

The place in which the President finds himself has been compared to that of Nixon on May 17, 1973, about which US News and World Report states: “The scandal and cover-up came to define and destroy Richard Nixon’s presidency. It’s too early to tell if the scandals plaguing President Barack Obama … rise to a similar level.”

It may be too early to tell whether the three scandals will “define and destroy” Barack Obama’s presidency—but they do reveal a propensity to massage the message and reward their friends while destroying their enemies. And, there are more than the trifecta of troubles that make this point, there’s a six-pack of scandals.

In addition to the three-widely covered stories, there are three more with the same characteristics.

EPA Favors Friendlies

We see favoritism in the EPAs treatment of friendly groups vs. a “concerted campaign to make life more difficult for those deemed unfriendly.” A few days ago, the Washington Examiner reported on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) review of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy. The results are shocking.

Chris Horner, Senior Fellow at CEI, told me: “The IRS and EPA revelations are near-identical uses of the state to enable allies and disadvantage opponents. Granting or denying tax-exempt status can make or break a group. The same is true with FOIA fee waivers being tossed like Mardi Gras beads at greens, and denied to opponents of a bigger regulatory state. Fees for FOIA document productions can run into the six-figures.”

We’ll be hearing more about the EPA friendlies scandal. On Friday, May 17, Senator Vitter’s office sent a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe requesting “your prompt attention to this matter as we investigate EPA’s process for granting FOIA fee waivers.” The letter was signed by David Vitter, Ranking Member, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate; Darrel Isa, Chairman, Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, U.S. House of Representatives; James Inhofe, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Oversight Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate; and Charles E. Grassley, Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate.

The May 17 letter states: “According to documents obtained by the Committees, EPA readily granted FOIA fee waivers for liberal environmental groups–effectively subsidizing them–while denying fee waivers and making the FOIA process more difficult for states and conservative groups. This disparate treatment is unacceptable, especially in light of the recent controversy over abusive tactics at the Internal Revenue Service, which singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny.”

It reveals that the “EPA manipulated the FOIA fee waiver process.” Fee waiver requests sent by environmental groups were granted for 92% of the requests while EPA denied a fee waiver for 93% of requests from CEI and overall only granted fee waivers for other think tanks 27% of the time. “The startling disparity in treatment strongly suggests EPA’s actions are possibly part of a broader effort to collude with groups that share the agency’s political agenda and discriminate against states and conservative organizations. This is a clear abuse of discretion.”

The Washington Examiner reports: “all requests from Franklin Center and the Institute for Energy Research were denied.”

Wind farms get a pass

We see the same “startling disparity in treatment” in the way the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is applied. Under both acts, the death of a single bird—without a permit—is illegal. On May 14, the AP reported on an investigation that showed that nearly 600,000 birds are killed each year by wind farms, including an average of about one golden eagle a month in Converse County, WY—which the AP calls: “one of the deadliest places in the country of its kind.” California’s Altamont Pass wind farms “kill more than 60 per year”—making it the “industry’s deadliest location.”

Yet, “so far, the companies operating industrial-sized turbines here and elsewhere that are killing eagles and other protected birds have yet to be fined or prosecuted—even though every death is a criminal violation. The Obama administration has charged oil companies for drowning birds in their waste pits, and power companies for electrocuting birds on power lines. But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly.”

Back in August 2011, oil company executives were hauled into court, by Timothy Purdon, the US Attorney for North Dakota, over the death of 28 migratory birds—including ducks. Businessweek reported: “The maximum penalty for each charge under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is six months in prison and a $15,000 fine.”

The case was thrown out of federal court in January of 2012 by district Judge Daniel Hovland, who rejected US Attorney Purdon’s “expansive interpretation of the law” because it “would yield absurd results.” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called the ruling “withering” and said: the “selective prosecution was probably an expression of its political hostility to oil and gas companies.” The report concludes with: “Mr. Purdon takes the prize for dodo prosecutor of the year.”

The WSJ didn’t point out Purdon’s resume. The LA Times reports: “Purdon is a prominent Democratic donor and fundraiser,” who served on the Democratic National Committee and who “has no experience as a prosecutor.” Purdon was chosen over several, apparently, more qualified candidates, who probably didn’t have Purdon’s pedigree. He was selected because he’s a loyalist who’d do what the White House wanted—and that included prosecuting oil companies for duck deaths.

Similarly, the AP reports that ExxonMobil paid $600,000 for killing 85 birds and BP was fined “$100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.”

“Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed a rule that would give wind-energy companies potentially decades of shelter from prosecution for killing eagles.” The wind-energy industry has been part of the committee that drafted and edited the guidelines that the Interior Department updated last year that “provided more cover for wind companies that violate the law.” The AP states: “In the end, the wind-energy industry … got almost everything it wanted.”

Former US Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent Tom Eicher aptly sums up the scandal: “What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK.” Yet, in an interview with the AP before his departure, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “denied any preferential treatment for wind.”

Expect more coverage of the preferential application of regulatory enforcement. Rep. Doc Hasting, Chairman of the House Natural Resources committee, made the following statement through spokeswoman Jill Strait: “There are serious concerns that the Obama administration is not implementing this law fairly and equally.” The Committee is in “the beginning stages of an investigation.”

Propping up green energy

We see similar favoritism across the bigger energy spectrum. Despite President Obama’s frequent touting of increased domestic oil and gas production, “federal government policies are suppressing development,” says Kathleen Sgamma, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance (WEA). “Unfortunately, the federal government is standing in the way of increasing production of valuable energy resources that could spur further job creation, economic growth, and energy security.”

To support her comments, the WEA press release offers the following numbers: “From FY2008 to FY2011 the Bureau of Land Management offered 81% less acreage, which has resulted in a 44% drop in leasing revenue, down from $356 million to $201 million. Nationwide, royalty and leasing revenue have declined 12% from $4.2 billion to $3.7 billion.” Meanwhile production and revenue on private lands increased.

Additionally, despite numerous reports regarding the positive economic impacts and environmental safety of the Keystone pipeline it has been continuously delayed—now for more than 1700 days. On Thursday, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed a bill that, according to the WSJ, “effectively pushes through approval of the 875-mile pipeline by eliminating the need for Mr. Obama to issue a special permit for it.” Transportation committee chair Rep. Bill Shuster said: “After more than four years of bureaucratic delays, this bill will finally allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This project has been studied more than any other project of its kind.”

While federal policies are suppressing traditional energy that is effective, efficient and economical, they are propping up projects that have been repeatedly found to be failures—but that benefit Democratic donors.

Through Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill—which Democratic donors such as John Doerr, and George Soros (personally and through the Soros-funded Apollo Alliance) helped craft—nearly $100 billion dollars have been made available for green energy projects. With the help of researcher Christine Lakatos who’s been working on it since 2009, I’ve been extensively covering the green-energy crony-corruption scandal for the past 12 months. We’ve found that nearly all of the Department of Energy-funded projects had meaningful political connections and many got special treatment—such as fast-tracked approvals with little scrutiny over environmental damages that would have taken any other energy company months, if not years, to get—from the Department of Interior. The policies benefitted insiders such as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry—just to name a few. To date, 25 have gone bankrupt and four are about to go under—though 29 others have various issues. Denying the dismal record, Obama’s 2014 budget calls for more taxpayer dollars for green energy projects. It’s scandalous.

Now that The Hill is holding hearings and investigations on Benghazi, the IRS, the AP, the EPA, and the green energy industry’s not-so-green slaughter of protected species, it is time to look at the financial and regulatory favors extended to friendlies while erecting obstacles to anything or anyone they oppose—and that includes the green-energy crony-corruption scandal that could be the biggest of them all.

These six scandalous stories illustrate the standard operating procedure of the Obama White House—and, as such, there’s likely to be even more. It may be too early to tell whether these scandals will “define and destroy” Barack Obama’s presidency, but they are certainly a distraction to his second-term agenda and display a side the administration didn’t want made public.

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Article 4: Americans fighting their own government for economic survival

No wonder the national debt is at nearly $17 trillion—and ticking higher every day. Polls repeatedly show most Americans believe that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority, yet policy gets in the way of democracy and prevents practical solutions.

I’ve previously participated in, and reported on, various public meetings and hearings where the local citizens rally to draw media attention to their plight and plead with the government agencies that control their economic future.

Some of these stories include the Otero County Tree Party where hundreds of residents of a small mountain community, who live in fear of fires fed by overgrown forests—due to management designed to save the habitat of an endangered species—gathered to force the Forest Service to stop fighting them and start cooperating. I was honored to play a part in the Tree Party.

They’ve had success! County Commissioner Ronny Rardin told me it would have never happened without the public outcry. Using a newly created County Compliance Program, non-violent people charged with a misdemeanor avoid jail time and do community service by cutting down selected trees and thinning the forest—saving money for both the county and the Forest Service, while saving the community from a wildfire’s devastation.

Hundreds of people gathered in an airplane hangar to protest the endangered-species listing of the sand dune lizard that could have severely hampered oil and gas extraction and ranching in the region and killed the economic base of local communities. I was one of the speakers at the rally. At the post-rally hearing, people waited into the night for the opportunity to express their opinion to the bureaucrats from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

After an 18-month battle, the answer came back from Washington, DC. The sand dune lizard escaped listing, oil and gas development and ranching activities continue in the Permian Basin region of Texas and New Mexico.

Now, the people in the Permian Basin are joined by those in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma to fight the proposed listing of the lesser prairie chicken—which would wreak similar economic havoc as the sand dune lizard listing (this time to a larger region). In February, I emceed the hangar-held rally and attended the public comment session manned by FWS staff.

The comment period was cut off before everyone who wanted to could voice their opinion—leaving angry, unheard, citizens. Pressure has been put on Senators, as their constituents inundated their offices with calls asking them to use their weight to stop the lesser prairie chicken listing. As a result of the effort, on May 9, Senator Tom Udall’s (D-NM) office released a statement supporting the plan to prevent the listing of the lesser prairie chicken: Senator Udall “believes that the Five State Plan, if done correctly, can be a win-win solution resulting in habitat protection and regulatory certainty for the farmers, ranchers, and the oil and gas industry. Senator Udall continues to be engaged with the Administration to ensure the Five State Plan receives proper consideration and has every opportunity to succeed in its goal.”

On May 8, I drove 2.5 hours to attend a public meeting about a new management plan for federal lands in three New Mexico counties—it was the last of three such public meetings. The plan was outlined, but attendees were not allowed to ask questions or comment during the presentation. Maps lined the room’s perimeter. In short, myriad acts and laws have to be taken into account in the management of public lands including the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)—just to name a few.

By the time all of these layers of regulation are applied to nominated portions of federal lands, virtually all economic activity is prohibited or severely limited—including ranching/grazing, mining, and oil and gas extraction. Even recreational uses, such as off-highway vehicles (OHV), can be banned or severely restricted.

After the 2-hour session, I felt agitated and frustrated. In the brief public presentation, we were told that they were holding these meetings because NEPA requires public participation. However, unlike the other public meetings I’ve attended, no public comment was allowed at the meeting. Additionally, when attendees were instructed on how provide written comment, we were told that we were to offer only “substantive comments” on the data and/or the science—not to vote in favor of, or opposition to, the Resource Management Plan (RMP).

Following the meeting, I spent time with Bill Childress, the District Manager for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the Las Cruces office and Dave Wallace, the Assistant District Manager. I pointed out that their format discourages public comment, as no average person is ever going to read the 500+ page document—or be able to offer comment on the science or the data. “That’s the way it is,” was the response.

Regarding the BLM’s comment process, Joanne Spivack, an activist fighting the closure of roads and trails to motorized use, told me: “The only thing that matters are comments that specifically challenge how the RMP analysis is being done. That’s what ‘substantive’ means. 99.999% of the public don’t understand what that means.

It takes a firm understanding of the NEPA process to write a comment that can challenge the agency and lead to an appeal (and lawsuit). The only things we can submit that can be used for our appeals, or in a lawsuit, are our formal comments submitted by the deadline. Those comments must be based solely on what is in the written Draft RMP and its associated documents.”

With Childress and Wallace, another meeting attendee and I discussed the known oil and gas resources and the potential presence of rare-earth elements. The TriCounty RMP designates several ACECs (Area of Critical Environmental Concern)—which are essentially managed as “wilderness areas,” though ACECs are not designated by Congress. Childress and Wallace explained that the process of creating ACECs is at the discretion of the Bureau; it is qualitative not quantitative, and subjective. They told us that generally conservation groups nominate the ACECs. Spivack noted: “There is no place or time in the process for the public to oppose the ACECs.”

Surprise! The Wilderness Society’s website offers their “Wish List for the BLM in 2013”—which includes: “Designate Otero Mesa as an ACEC in the TriCounty RMP and initiate an administrative mineral withdrawal for the area to protect its innumerable natural and cultural resources.”

The proposed 198,511-acre ACEC for Otero Mesa includes the following potential resource-use limitations:

  • Exclusion and limitations of new rights-of way,
  • Closure to mineral sales and geothermal leasing,
  • Closure to vegetation sales, and
  • Limitation of vehicle use to designated routes.

Spivack explains it this way: “The RMP doesn’t have specifics about what will be banned, why or where. There are no facts, no analysis and no proof that an ACEC is needed. But the RMP lays the groundwork for future lock-downs, by creating ‘conceptual’ frameworks such as ‘desired conditions’ and by creating new designation areas like ACECs.

The RMPs have vague wording about future restrictions, which could be imposed in order to ‘protect the values’ of the ACEC. The ACEC is a way of creating management ‘goals’ which trump multiple use. The ACEC is a blank check and can be used restrict any activity under any excuse they want to cook up.”

The Otero Mesa portion of the BLM managed lands has the potential for oil and gas resources, and rare-earth elements. Due to existing land-use restrictions—before the proposed RMP is even implemented—a company interested in developing the rare earths was required to do its minimal-impact exploration with 19th century technology: horses and hand tools.

When the exploration was complete, a hand rake was used to erase the footprints and restore the land. A company executive reported: “The RMP has the potential to adversely impact future mineral development.”

Commissioner Rardin and all his fellow county commissioners in Otero County are excited about the potential economic benefit the rare-earth mining project could bring: $25 million in the first year alone. Rardin believes one of the goals of the RMP is to stop the mining project.

He told me: “The BLM is taking away our ability to make a living. As long as I am commissioner, I will challenge them and look to properly use our lands.” In Otero Country—a county as big as the state of Connecticut with 62,000 residents, only 12% of the land is taxable. The potential for mineral extraction, including oil and gas, is important for the community—and the people want it. Locking up the resources constitutes a government taking.

Ranchers in the region feel the same way. Steve Wilmeth, a rancher from southern New Mexico whose family came to New Mexico beginning in 1880, wrote about these attacks on the culture and customs of the West: “Increasingly, Westerners are governed not by laws, but by policy and regulations. Local governance isn’t planning or crafting solutions for communities. Rather, local governance is defending itself against the latest project being driven by conservation cooperation agreements.”

Regarding the policies to be instituted and policed by the agencies, Wilmeth, in The Westerner, writes: “There is no grassroots land planning in this debacle. This is an end-run legislative proxy. It is being engineered by the environmental brokers.”

Addressing the proposed ACECs, Wilmeth’s comments echo Spivack’s. He told me: “The BLM, by FLPMA authority, can designate ACECs. In the draft, you will notice they are intending to manage the Nutt Grassland ACEC (newly declared) as a Wilderness Study Area, as if it is being prepped for “Wilderness” status. FLPMA does not make that a mandatory action. So, we might not be immediately forced out of an ACEC, but the BLM, in their conservation cooperative action with environmental groups, is shaping and managing toward de facto wilderness without Congressional authority.”

In addition to his dawn-to-dusk ranching responsibilities, Wilmeth, representing the Council of Border Conservation Districts, the New Mexico Coalition of Conservation Districts, and the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District; County Commissioners such as Rardin; oil and gas companies with a stake in the outcome; and OHV organizations are each working through the Draft RMP to address their opposition to this latest federal land grab and will have their comments in by the July 11 deadline. Will you join them?

This may seem like just a New Mexico issue, but the same thing is happening in many locales throughout the West—where most states have a high percentage of federally managed land. I am sure readers could tell me similar stories from the surrounding states.

When the ranchers hate it; the county commissioners oppose it; the OHV folks are fighting it; and the miners and oil and gas companies can’t stand it—but, the environmental organizations in cooperation with the government agencies are for it—you know you’ve got a project that will stop all potential economic input. Once again, policy trumps growth and economic potential.

When Americans have to fight their own government for their economic survival, you know something has to change.

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Article 5: Environmentalists are killing the US economy

Last month, Earth Day came and went. Perhaps you missed hearing about it. For 2013, the theme was “The Face of Climate Change.” Other than a change in the Post Office cancellation mark on your letters from the usual wavy lines, to the four stick-like wind turbines and a sun symbol, there was little note of what was once an event celebrated by 20 million Americans. Tim Wagner, Utah representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign, groused: “Media coverage of global warming has virtually disappeared.”

According to EarthDayCentral.com, one of the goals of Earth Day is to help you “Discover what you can do to save the environment.”

Perhaps, people no longer see the need for planetary salvation.

The Christian Science Monitor offered an Earth Day 2013 report card on global warming. The author starts with: “When Earth Day observances first began in 1970, Cleveland had recently doused a pollutant-fueled fire on a section of the Cuyahoga River. Cities were often shrouded in thick blankets of smog. And large portions of Lake Erie were so fouled by industrial, farm, and sewage runoff that sections of the 241-mile-long lake were pronounced dead.”

And later, he reports: “Since that first Earth Day, the air over major cities is cleaner. Lake Erie is healthier. So is the Cuyahoga River, which groups in Cleveland would like to turn into a centerpiece of urban life. The improvements have come with ‘yes, but…’ as other environmental challenges have elbowed their way to the fore. But for the most part, tools are in place to deal with them.”

As Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, explains, the ‘80s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues, for which he and Greenpeace fought, had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to remain employed, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions.

Moore says: “What happened is environmental extremism. They’ve abandoned science and logic altogether.” Their message today is “anti:” anti-human, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-trade and globalization, anti-business and capitalism, and ultimately, anti-civilization.

Moore’s view helps understand how the environmental movement has gone from trying to save the planet to killing the US economy.

The American economy has some basic problems. We need more well-paid jobs, increased revenue, and our trade balance is out of whack. Each of these issues could be easily addressed, but environmentalists are doing everything they can to kill potential solutions. Three such examples are coal mining and exporting; natural gas extraction and conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG) that can then be exported; and the Keystone pipeline—all of which face extreme opposition from environmentalists.

COAL

The US has the world’s largest economically recoverable coal resources—with more than one-fourth of the world’s reserves. Unfortunately, our policies have stymied growth in the mining industry. Bill Bissett, President of Kentucky Coal Association, told me: “Our industry is accustomed to market fluctuations and competition with other fuel sources, but having a federal government place additional regulations on one geographic region (Eastern KY and WV) and one industry (coal mining) is absolutely unfair.”

Last month, environmental groups (including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace) sent a letter to newly-confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Montana and Wyoming—which accounts for about forty percent of US coal reserves.

The results of a recent lease sale in Wyoming, offers insight regarding the economic importance of leasing these federal lands for coal mining. Peabody Coal paid nearly $800 million to the US Government for the rights to expand an existing coal mine and maintain their current workforce. The $800 million was a “bonus payment” and gives them the right to lease the coal and pay 12.5% of the sales price as a royalty. According to data from the Bureau of Land Management, 13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the PRB alone, employ more than 6800 workers.

While, as Bissett addressed, policy under this administration has harshly singled out coal and the coal miners for punishment, coal’s low cost and abundance continues to make it a highly preferential fuel for power generation in developing countries like China and India. And, as I’ve previously written, even Europe is increasing its use of coal for electricity generation, as they’ve discovered the prohibitively high cost of renewables. In 2011, exports to European and Asian markets represented 76% of total US coal exports—up 31% compared to 2010.

Currently, US coal is easily shipped to Europe from ports on the east coast, but the US is missing out on the important Asian market—now being met by more expensive Australian competitors—due to infrastructure opposition from environmental groups. In the Los Angeles Times (LAT), Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and a legend in the world of climate activism, wrote: “Those exports can’t really take off, however, unless West Coast ports dramatically expand their deepwater loading capacity. … Environmentalists are trying desperately to block the port expansion.”

Addressing the situation, the Wall Street Journal states: “there are now no major coal exporting facilities on the US West Coast. Washington State, with its proximity to coal-rich Wyoming and Montana, is seen as the best place to start.” PRB coal is being shipped to China and India through Vancouver. Additionally, the countries’ needs are being filled by Australian and Indonesian coal—so environmentalists’ fears that shipping US coal will undermine “everything we’ve accomplished,” as Sierra Club spokesman David Graham-Caso says, are wrong.

The coal is being shipped and used—but the US is losing out on the jobs (which would be mostly union jobs), the revenue, and the benefit to the trade deficit. The LAT/McKibben piece cites KC Golden, policy director of Seattle’s Climate Solutions group: “Can you imagine standing at the mouth of the Columbia River, watching ships sail in from Asia carrying solar panels and electric car batteries and plasma TVs, passing ships from America carrying coal?” Worse, can you imagine all those goods coming in—manufactured using Australian coal-fueled electricity, and nothing going out? That’s what we have now.

A report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation states: “US production will merely replace higher cost production. … Neither net world coal combustion nor GHG emissions will change as a result of an expansion of US coal exports.” The report concludes: “The higher net value received is in effect a wealth transfer from foreign consumers to US producers and the national economy.

This net gain to the national economy shows up in higher returns to invested capital, greater employment opportunities from expanded investment, higher revenues to state, local and federal governments, and higher lease values on coal reserves from federal and state lands.”

But environmental groups don’t want this “net economic gain to the national economy.” Apparently, they’d prefer that we continue to borrow from China’s Australian coal-fueled economy.

LNG

LNG faces a similar problem. Natural gas was once the favored choice of environmentalists—until privately funded hydraulic fracturing (or high pressure drilling) advancements made it plentiful and, consequently cheap. The low-cost fuel snatched away the fossil fuel-free dream that seemed to be almost within reach. Now environmentalists oppose natural gas as well. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas site claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy.”

Many countries want US natural gas. Unlike coal, natural gas cannot just be put on a ship and sent to the awaiting customer. It must first be liquefied—hence the term LNG. The liquefaction process requires costly facilities, which, for economic reasons, need a large customer base—many with which the US does not have free trade agreements (though the Energy Department can permit them, provided it determines that such ventures are consistent with the public interest).

The International Business Times, on March 1, 2013, reports that: “As of this date, 17 applications for multibillion-dollar facilities to turn the commodity into liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for export are under review by the Energy Department.” Let’s hope they don’t take as many years and as many reviews as the Keystone pipeline.

LNG exports could have a tremendous positive impact on the US economy. A recent IHS global insight report concluded that LNG exports would “result in the creation of over 100,000 direct, indirect, and economy wide jobs and have an immediate economic impact resulting in $3.6 to $5.2 billion in potential annual revenues.”

And, LNG exporting would not only create jobs and increase revenue, it would also reduce trade deficits. A just-released report from the Rio Grande Foundation states: “The United States currently runs a $6 billion trade deficit with Japan. That nation is particularly eager to import LNG from the US due to the nuclear accident at Fukushima.”

Once again, environmentalists oppose jobs, revenue, and trade-deficit reduction. Earlier this year, more than 40 groups and individuals took out a half page ad in the New York Times that said: “Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to overseas markets will mean more drilling and fracking on US land, which are dirty and dangerous practices.”

KEYSTONE

Like coal mining and export, natural gas extraction, liquefaction, and export, the Keystone pipeline would create thousands of union jobs and increased service employment in supporting communities; benefit local and state economies, and provide additional revenues to the federal coffers; and help balance the trade deficit, as some of the refined product would be exported. But once again, environmental opposition has targeted the pipeline—causing delay after delay that has now postponed the economic benefit of the pipeline.

Last week, Russ Girling, TransCanada, CEO, said: “I believe that those that are fundamentally opposed to our pipeline are getting louder and more shrill as we move towards a decision.” He announced that the potential start date must be moved from the previously planned late 2014 or early 2015 to late 2015.

The Keystone pipeline saga is the same song, another verse.

These are just three current examples of how the influence of environmental organizations is driving policy in the name of planetary salvation that is, in reality, resulting in economic devastation that could lead to humanity’s ultimate starvation. Environmental motivations are less about saving the planet and more about killing the global economy—while enriching themselves at taxpayers’ expense.

The above articles were submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Margaret Thatcher: global warming provides a marvelous excuse

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

In honor of Margaret Thatcher’s memory, favorite quotes from the Iron Lady have popped up everywhere. This one came across my Facebook newsfeed: “Global warming ‘provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.’”

The hundreds of comments the quote received covered a variety of sentiments from hostility to adoration. A couple accused Thatcher of launching the entire global warming hoax to end a coal-miners’ strike. Another cited an earlier Thatcher quote: “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations. Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community.

No one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order. It’s because we know that, that we are here today. But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now.” CFACT, the poster of the comment, responded: “Thatcher evolved. Millions have joined her.”

I do not know if Thatcher started the whole hoax. I do not know the facts behind her “evolution” on the topic. What I do know is the damaging impacts climate change mitigation attempts have had on the economy—a viewpoint the American government still clings to while the Brits (as evidenced by Thatcher’s comments) have “evolved.”

Perhaps, Thatcher did perpetuate the idea that CO2 emissions were warming the planet, but the theory was readily embraced in Europe. Natural-resource rich, the US has historically had lower energy costs than our European allies—which gave us a competitive advantage. Pushing the global warming narrative—which promotes wind and solar power as a curative—attempted to level the playing field by moving all of us to higher-priced energy.

Regarding the 2011 UN climate change talks in Durban, the Financial Times said the European Union (EU) “is pushing hardest among developed countries for a new global deal” and is “the greenest voice among wealthy countries at the talks.” In a column I wrote in December 2011, I posit that the EU supported the climate change narrative specifically to raise energy prices in the US.

Richard Courtney, a consultant on matters concerning energy and the environment who has served as an expert peer reviewer for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calls the global warming issue “political.” He says: “Each government has its own special interests in global warming but, in all cases, the motives relate to economic policies.

In general, the USA fears loss of economic power to other nations while this is desired by those other nations. Universal adoption of ‘carbon taxes,’ or other universal proportionate reductions in industrial activity, would provide relative benefit to the other nations.”

Whatever the motive, the EU has led the way on renewable energy—especially wind and solar. Germany, home of the Energiewende (energy transformation) has garnered a reputation as the country to follow when it comes to green energy. Having passed the Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz (renewable energy law) in 1991, Germany has poured huge subsidies into wind and solar power.

Twenty-two percent of Germany’s power is now generated with renewables (“solar provides close to a quarter of that”)—which are “guaranteed more-than competitive rates”—despite the fact that “producing electricity from sunlight costs 10 times more than generating power using coal or nuclear energy.” Power companies are passing the costs on to consumers in the form of higher rates.

I frequently hear Germany’s record being held up as a shining example. After all, if Germany can get nearly a quarter of its electricity from renewables, why can’t the US do the same? I’ve had listeners of a radio show where I am a guest call in and tout Germany’s record. If one doesn’t know the whole story, it does sound admirable. I ask: “Have you been following Germany recently?” Silence.

Post-Fukushima, Germany announced the closure of eight of its 17 nuclear power plants, with the remaining 9 to be closed within the next decade. To replace the 17 power plants, it was announced that Germany would build or revamp 84 power plants—more than half would be fossil-fuel-powered, including 17 coal-fueled. This winter, it was reported that energy costs in Germany were so high that its residents were literally cutting down trees in city parks and stripping the forests in order to heat their homes.

The tree thefts are just one of the bizarre consequences of the EU’s adoption of the climate change narrative. One of the newest revelations, reported by The Economist, is: “By far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood”—which it calls “the fuel of the future.”

The Economist reports that nearly half of Europe’s renewable energy comes from “biomass,” while in some countries—like Poland and Finland—“wood meets more than 80% of renewable energy demand.”

Apparently, wood was included as a renewable that would help cut CO2 emissions—the supposed driver of climate change—because if the wood came from “properly managed forests, then the carbon that billows out of the chimney can be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in newly planted trees. Wood can be carbon-neutral.”

As a result of the decision to allow wood to qualify for the “renewable” mandate, its usage has “soared.” In fact, wood has saved coal-fueled power plants that would have been shut down—making it popular with power companies. Unlike expensive forests of wind turbines that require brand new, expensive, transmission lines, the coal-fueled power plants are already connected to the grid.

They can also be “adapted to burn a mixture of 90% coal and 10% wood (called co-firing) with little new investment.” Additionally, wood-fueled electricity generation doesn’t require back-up (redundant) power.

While the EU’s goal of getting twenty percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 is hurting the European economy and individual ratepayers, it is helping Canada.

Europe’s energy policy ends up helping the economies of both Canada and the US—both of which didn’t jump into “renewables,” as the EU did. The US never signed on to the Kyoto Protocol and Canada abandoned it in 2011.

Europe doesn’t have enough wood to meet demand, so a substantial chunk of it will come from imports—which has created a booming new business in Canada and the southeastern US. Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, calls it “an industry invented from nothing.” Who would have thought that not only is the US now a net exporter of gasoline, but now we are fueling Europe with “biomass?”

The EU is seeing the error of their ways. “The European Environment Agency said, in 2011, the assumption “that biomass combustion would be inherently carbon neutral…is not correct…as it ignores the fact that using land to produce plants for energy typically means that this land is not producing plants for other purposes, including carbon otherwise sequestered.”

In fact, using trees for energy production actually, increases “carbon emissions compared with coal” and scientists have now concluded that the idea of using wood as a renewable fuel was an “oversimplification.”

Unlike Margaret Thatcher, the EU is unlikely to “evolve”—giving the US a competitive energy advantage Europe’s global warming encouragement was intended to erase.

While the US didn’t sign on to a binding commitment to CO2 reductions, our energy policies have, like Europe, pushed the more expensive energies and punished the cost-effective. Data from the Energy Information Agency reveals that the average all-in cost for electrical energy to the customer has risen at twice the rate of inflation—with no real identifiable and quantifiable fiscal benefit.

Thatcher was correct. Global warming has provided “a marvelous excuse.” The question is, will the US “evolve” and correct its course like others, or will we allow the climate change hoax to steer us toward full-on socialism?

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Energy Security Trust?

Posted on 03. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

In his first energy speech of his second term, “President Barack Obama tried to move past partisan fights over energy policy on Friday with a modest proposal to fund research into cars that run on anything but gasoline.” The “modest proposal” is what he introduced in the State of the Union Address: an Energy Security Trust (EST)—which is a central part of his economic strategy.

The idea for an EST was developed by a collaboration of high-volume oil consumers and military leaders concerned about US energy security—put forth through a report titled “A National Strategy for Energy Security: Harnessing American Resources and Innovation.”

The unique backgrounds of the advocates garnered attention from both sides of the aisle. However, a key component of the Trust was omitted from the President’s Friday speech: increased domestic energy development—the piece that, according to one of the idea’s developers, was designed to win bipartisan support and “keep both sides engaged.”

In response to Obama’s presentation of an EST—which would set aside royalties from oil and gas extracted on federal lands and direct them toward research and development for transportation technologies that reduce our dependence on oil—House Speaker John Boehner’s office says: “For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed and blocked American energy production.”

Once again, Obama’s speech touted America’s growing “energy future:” “We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less oil than we have in 20 years. …We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before.” This is true, however Boehner is correct. A new report from the Congressional Research Service “confirms what many have known to be true.”

Marc Humphries, the government specialist in energy policy who authored the “U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Non-Federal Areas” report, says: “All of the increase (in oil and natural gas production) from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points. … In general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land.”

Increasing resource development on federal lands is one of the key features of the EST. In fact, the idea is that the funds set aside for the trust would come solely from new development. Yet, Friday’s speech never mentioned that—despite media reports stating: “the new program…would be paid for through royalties generated by offshore drilling of oil and gas development of the outer continental shelf.”

I had a post-speech conversation with Sam Ori, Director of Policy for Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)—the organization responsible for the Energy Security Leadership Council (about which Obama spoke) and the idea for the EST. While SAFE is pleased that its policy proposal has been picked up by the Administration, Ori wouldn’t comment on the President’s cherry-picking approach to the plan.

He did, however, say: “The speech is not the final place. If the EST doesn’t offer new oil and gas development on federal lands, the Republicans won’t sign on.” Ori emphasized that in order for the EST to be a success, it needs to have something that is “attractive to both sides.” The alternative energy research is the carrot for the left and the increased drilling is there for the Republicans. Ori also pointed out—as did Robbie Diamond, Founder, President and CEO of SAFE, during our December conversation—that the EST is for research and development of technologies that will lesson our dependence on oil, not deployment of said technologies.

Somehow, in a time when deficits and government spending are front-page news stories, Obama wants to “divert” revenues already coming into the US treasury into “a dedicated slush fund for alternative energy.” In Friday’s speech, he pointed to SAFE’s proposal when he said: “let’s take some of our oil and gas revenues from public lands and put it towards research that will benefit the public so we can support American ingenuity without adding a dime to our deficit.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski disagrees. Robert Dillon, spokesperson for the Senator told me: “The president hit on a good idea when he called for a trust fund to promote energy innovation. But unlike Sen. Murkowski’s proposal, he would not enable new energy production to pay for it.

The president says he wants to divert a share of the royalties from offshore production that has already been factored into the budget, which could mean either deficit spending or less funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. More likely, the president’s real plan is to raise taxes on oil and gas. There’s a better way that not only funds investment in research, but also addresses our need for affordable and abundant energy. It’s Sen. Murkowski’s plan. We hope the president will embrace it.”

Forbes writer, Christopher Helman, takes it one step further. He believes that “this Energy Security Trust could well serve as the tip of a wedge that could some day lever open a new carbon tax.” According to Helman, Connecticut Congressman John Larson, said “that the very purpose of the Energy Security Trust fund was to serve as a conduit for the collection of carbon taxes.”

True, Larson does have a proposal from 2006 that is all about a carbon tax, and his proposal bears the same name—but the similarity of the plans stops there. SAFE has never advocated a carbon tax. Because Obama favors a carbon tax, connecting the two plans with the same name is a logical leap, but it misrepresents the current plan.

If Obama was truly “seeking to build some common ground on energy,” he should have included both sides of the equation; incorporating both increased drilling and R & D “investment.” Instead, in his “first energy speech of his second term,” he continued to put partisan considerations before the national interest.

The speech included some populist themes:

  • “Our top priority as a nation” should be “reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth.”
  • “Few areas hold more economic promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy.”
  • “What most Americans feel first when it comes to energy prices—or energy issues are prices that they pay at the pump.” And,
  • “We’ve worked with the auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history.”

Yet, he omitted any solutions that would help American’s today. The only mention of a pipeline was this: “as long as the pipeline for research is maintained…” No mention was made of the “good jobs” that could be created if he’d quickly approve the Keystone pipeline—something Dave Mallino of the Laborers’ International Union specifically chastised him about on the air with Neil Cavuto.

Regarding fuel economy standards, as we’ve seen with cellulosic ethanol, just because government mandates it, doesn’t make it so.

Friday’s speech didn’t address expanded access to America’s natural resources. It did, however, threaten that the “so-called sequester” would cut into the “muscle and the bone.” Obama claimed that “because of this sequester, we’re looking at two years where we don’t start new research.”

The speech, which was reportedly about freeing “our families and business from the painful spikes in gas prices,” did suggest “more solar power, more wind power”—neither of which do anything to touch “spikes in gas prices.”

SAFE’s EST, which aims to bring both sides together for “energy security,” is admirable, and Ori hopes “that we can be successful.” If shuttling some of the funds from new development—that the government already collects (not a new tax)—toward R & D will cause this administration to finally “stop being an obstacle,” I am all for it. However, I hate that we have to bribe them to do what they should have been doing all along. If this “first energy speech” is any indication, I can’t say I share Ori’s optimism.

I have to agree with Helman. He says we already have an EST. “It’s this: the hard work and innovation of the tens of thousands of engineers at American oil companies who have unlocked a plentiful supply of energy that will keep the nation moving and growing for decades. And all without taxpayer handouts.”

The article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

Politics and Energy: Two Articles

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

Article 1: New regulations create more wealth for green cronies

On Good Friday, a day fewer people would be paying attention to the headlines than on most other days, the Obama administration released news about its plans to raise the price of gasoline.

Gasoline prices for the first quarter of 2013 are higher than the same time in 2012. Intentionally pushing prices up would seem stupid in the midst of a struggling economy—that is, if your goal is to help those most impacted by higher fuel and food prices, rather than boosting the bottom line for your billionaire donors.

The plans, announced Friday, call for stricter limits for sulfur in gasoline—from the current 30 parts per million to 10. (Sulfur is an important element that is found naturally in crude oil has many industrial uses.) The EPA estimates that the low-sulfur gasoline will raise the price of a gallon of gas by “less than a penny,” while industry sources say it will be closer to ten cents a gallon.

Energy analyst Robert Rapier, told me that the new regulations “will certainly make gasoline more expensive.” He said; “Note that diesel was historically less expensive than gasoline until the ultra-low sulfur diesel standard was passed.

Since then, diesel has often been more expensive than gasoline. I am not saying whether or not those standards were needed, maybe they were. But the impact on cost is undeniable. I worked in a refinery when those standards were passed, and we spent a lot of capital making sure we could comply.”

Though air pollution is a worthy consideration, it is low on the public’s list of priorities, while gas prices are of utmost importance. If the public doesn’t see air pollution as a problem, and the President’s popularity has peaked, why would he put out policy that would hit the middle class the hardest? Because, despite his campaign rhetoric, he’s not “a warrior for the middle class.”

One year ago, Christine Lakatos launched her blog— “The Green Corruption Files”—through which she set out to prove that “green corruption is the largest, most expensive and deceptive case of crony capitalism in American history.

Stay tuned as we expose one piece of this scandal at a time.”  Last summer, Lakatos and I partnered to draw more attention to Obama’s Green-Energy Crony-Corruption Scandal. To date, I’ve written fifteen columns based on her research—this is the sixteenth.

A week ago, she posted her expose on George Soros and his profiting from his, apparent, insider information on green-energy investments. Within her post, Lakatos says: “be prepared for regulations and legislation that will, in some form or another, resemble cap-and-trade and demand additional funds to bank roll Obama’s efforts to save our planet.” Exactly one week later, the new EPA standards on gasoline were released.

The standards will raise the cost of fuel—which has been the underlying goal of the Obama energy agenda: make what works more expensive so people will accept the high cost of “green energy” in the name of saving the planet. (Remember outgoing Energy Secretary Chu’s 2008 statement: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”)

But, as the Soros story shows, it’s not about the planet, it’s about the profit. Soros’ investment portfolio shows he invests where he can make money—both traditional and green energy (though, as you’ll see, through Obama’s green energy emphasis, he has more control over green energy investments). In a 1998, 60 Minutes interview, Soros said: “I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.”

Soros’ relationship with Obama goes back almost as far as his manipulation of money and markets.

It is reported that back before, Obama became a Senator, or announced his presidential bid, and before the founding of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), Morton Halperin, (the director of Soros’ Open Society Institute), John Podesta (the former Clinton White House chief of staff), Jeremy Rosner (a former speech writer for Bill Clinton), Robert Boorstin (a Democrat strategist and also a former speech writer for Clinton) and Carl Pope (a Democrat strategist and environmentalist) met in 2002 at Soros’ Long Island Southampton beach house to draft a plan to defeat President Bush in the presidential election of 2004. Without that meeting, Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson, says: “Barack Obama would be … an unremarkable and unheard of state senator. Instead, Barack Obama is the President of the United States.”

Soros was an early donor to Obama’s senatorial race. “Soros and his family gave Barack Obama $60,000. This does not include money that Soros was able to funnel to so-called 527 groups (Moveon.org, for example) that have also been politically active; nor does it include money that Soros was able to raise from tapping a network of friends, business associates, and employees.”

Once Obama was running for president, Soros was there again with support to the tune of $5 million—which put him on the Forbes’ 2008 list of Obama’s Billionaire Buddies. But the king of contributions wasn’t done there, and in September 2012, Soros pledged $1.5 million in donations to a trio of super PACs backing Obama and congressional Democrats. Soros’ political contributions are widely known, as is his funding of left-leaning organizations such as CAP, The Tides Center and the Apollo Alliance—which all play a part in his ability to cash in on green.

Soros was instrumental at the least, integral at the most, in writing Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill that put nearly $100 billion into various green energy companies and projects. Additionally, there is a little-publicized connection between Soros, green energy advocacy, and the White House.

Since buying access, Soros has been a frequent White House visitor and met with Obama’s, then, top economist Larry Summers—exerting his influence.

The Soros-funded Apollo Alliance brags about its role in writing the 2009 Stimulus Bill. In an interview, the best-selling author of Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer, states: “Billionaire George Soros gave advice and direction on how President Obama should allocate so-called ‘stimulus’ money in a series of regular private meetings and consultations with White House senior advisers even as Soros was making investments in areas affected by the stimulus program.”

Schweizer, then, reveals, “In the first quarter of 2009, Mr. Soros went on a stock-buying spree in companies that ultimately benefited from the federal stimulus.” He continues: “It is not necessarily the case that Soros had specific insider tips about any government grants,” nevertheless, Soros’ “investment decisions aligned remarkably closely with government grants and transfers.” The majority of those investments were in green energy ventures that gained from the stimulus and/or government regulation such as BioFuel Energy that benefitted when the EPA announced a regulation on ethanol.

Shortly after the 2009 Stimulus, more to secure his investments than because of any core belief, Soros launched several new groups to help propagate the manmade climate change narrative that is the foundation for green energy investments—without belief in manmade climate change, we don’t need renewables as there is no energy shortage.

Some of the little-publicized connections include Cathy Zoi, former CEO of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, and who, while at the Department of Energy, oversaw the disbursement of more than $30 billion in green-energy stimulus funds. In early 2011, she resigned to work for a Soros fund: Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Another is Denis McDonough who has replaced Jack Lew as Obama’s Chief of Staff. McDonough was a Senior Fellow at Soros-funded CAP, which Bloomberg News called: “an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals.” Other CAP/Obama advisors central to the green-energy scheme include Carol Browner, Van Jones, and Steve Spinner.

So, what return has Soros gotten on his stimulus-inspired stock buying spree plus investments in companies like First Solar and Solar City? Lakatos’ thorough research discovered that Soros’ green tab exceeds $11 billion of stimulus money (dwarfing Citibank’s) –– and we, the taxpayers, footed the bill. Keep in mind, this tally doesn’t factor in any profit Soros has made off these investments—or will continue to make as a result of Obama’s climate change agenda being pushed by EPA regulation.

As save-the-planet regulations and legislation come out of the Obama administration, which raise costs for the middle class and hurt America’s struggling economy, remember the Soros story. It illustrates that Obama is not the “warrior for the middle class” he campaigned as, but he’s most concerned about creating wealth for his “green cronies”—of which Soros is just one. This new EPA low-sulfur gasoline proposal is just the latest in a series of green regulations. We don’t know for whom it creates wealth, but we know it isn’t the middle class.

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Article 2: Winning the battle for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy

Following the Conservative Political Action Conference—known as CPAC—it has been reported that the faithful feel discouraged, dispirited, and defeated. Dr. Ben Carson, who emerged from the Conference as the new conservative darling, has stated that America is heading for failure. Generally, I agree. However, I see a chink in the armor.

The alliance of the environmental lobby and big government advocates have been winning—Obama is back in the White House, the new cabinet members seem worse than the last, and the Keystone pipeline has become a battle line. With the victory, however, they’ve perhaps gotten over confident and pushed too hard. They’ve had a series of losses that have put them on the defense—and everyone knows, you win on the offense.

Their losses haven’t made headline news—making them easy to miss, and the alliance is not likely to beat a hasty retreat, but looking at them added together, I see an opening for a breakthrough.

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent reversals they’ve received:

  • On March 20, the Supreme Court shot down “overzealous greens” that hoped to “hobble the logging industry by reclassifying rural storm water runoff under the Clean Water Act’s ‘point source’ standards, which require costly federal permits.” The Court ruled: “more effective regulation could be done by states and state foresters.”
  • On March 19, the Obama Administration scrapped “a series of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages that were blocked by a federal appeals court”—a win for the “tobacco industry’s free-speech rights under the First Amendment.” Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, says the FDA won’t be deterred from implementing stronger warning labels.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun-ban bill became a victim of friendly fire when, in a March 18 meeting, Majority Leader Harry Reid notified a “frustrated Feinstein” that her assault-weapon ban “wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill.” The exclusion means “almost certain defeat” but, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Ladd Everitt, it has “fired up gun violence prevention advocates.”
  • On March 15, hyper-liberal Bill Maher had an epiphany on his HBO show Real Time. In a conversation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, regarding Paul Ryan’s budget, Maher announced that rich people “actually do pay the freight in this country.” He continued, calling the taxes the rich pay: “outrageous” and “ridiculous.” He warned his liberal friends: “you could actually lose me.”
  • Facing the reality of a nuclear attack, on March 15 the Obama administration announced a reversal on missile defense. In 2009, Obama killed the Bush administration’s plans for 14 US ground-based long-range missile interceptors—which are now, in opposition to the “Democratic Party’s long aversion to any kind of missile defense,” playing catch up. Missile Defense advocates are now vindicated.
  • Government overreach received a setback on March 11, when “a judge threw out New York City’s ban on supersized sugary drinks.” Judge Milton Tingling said the soda ban “would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it.” And, that has the “potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

The list could continue to include NBC’s ratings fall and Obama’s sudden shift in relations with Republicans, but you get the idea.

“Marita,” you might say, “this is an interesting list, and I get your point, but you write on energy, and none of this has anything to do with energy.”

Here are some similar setbacks to the left’s energy agenda:

  • Going back a couple of months, on January 25, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous decision, found that the EPA was projecting far too much production of cellulosic ethanol and mandated the exaggerated fuel standards—confirming that “EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.” The nonexistent-fuel requirement is costing refiners $8 million dollars in fines paid to the federal government—which are passed on to consumer—due to the unreasonable 2012 mandate.
  • Last month, regulators met in California “hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state’s network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy.” The state is “running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas” and now “it doesn’t have the right mix.” Utility executives are predicting rolling brown outs as early as this summer. Other states with high dependence on wind and solar resources face similar problems.
  • “In a preemptive move to protect against possible court challenges,” “an early step toward President Barack Obama’s second-term goal of cutting emissions linked to climate change has hit a snag.” Reported on March 19: “The Obama administration is weighing changes to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions at new power plants.” The EPA’s rule would “essentially ban new coal-fired power plants”—which “may not withstand legal scrutiny.”
  • On March 20, another Solyndra-esque, government-funded solar panel manufacturer embarrassment came to light. SoloPower began the first round of layoffs just months after opening with a high-profile ribbon cutting and is now “selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee.” The story shows that “politicians are proving to be lousy venture capitalists with this and other green energy subsidies.”

Again, this sampling of stories illustrates the cause for my optimism.

In war, and we are in a war, when one side sees signs of weakness, it is time to act and exploit the vulnerabilities; go on the offensive. The weapons we have are social media, email, and our telephones. Here are some of the battles we could win if we join in the fight for American jobs, economic growth, and affordable energy.

  • The Keystone pipeline is in the news again due to the recently released State Department report that concludes that it is environmentally safe. The pipeline, alone, has the unique ability to create jobs without taxpayer monies, spur economic growth in the states it will cross and other states that will participate in construction support, and lower the cost of gasoline through increased supply. We all need to add our “comments.” Tell the State department to end the four-year delay and approve the Keystone pipeline.
  • Anti-surface mining ads running in Tennessee on March 19 are just the latest in the war on coal. The war is raging against coal mining—which provides good paying jobs for thousands of Americans—and against coal-fueled power plants with 300+ scheduled for closure in the next few years and no possible replacement.

We need an energy policy that works for each locale rather than one-size-fits-all requirements. For example, in New Mexico, we have coal-fueled power plants built right next to a coal mine, yet EPA regulations are shutting down five of the nine units. Likewise, West Virginia has an abundance of coal, and they, too, are closing plants.

In the Pacific Northwest, hydropower is efficient, effective, and economical, but environmental groups are forcing their removal. Call or email the White House and tell the Obama administration to make good on the “all of the above” promise and not limit or mandate specific electricity sources.

  • Due to the combination of new technology and new applications of sixty-year-old technology, America now has an abundance of natural gas. Many markets across the globe need our natural gas—which could be liquefied and shipped worldwide and help the US trade deficit.

In a free market, companies should be allowed to sell their products to the highest bidder, but due to trade agreements and the slow approval process of applications to build new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, this boost to the economy is being stifled. LNG exports are one of the few issues that truly have bipartisan support—yet, environmentalists oppose them and the Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on LNG export applications. Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose legislation that would limit LNG exports.

There is more we could do, but together these simple steps—passed on to everyone you know through Facebook, Twitter, and your personal email list, and acted upon—can serve as our forlorn hope (the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in defenses). Let’s band together with a common strategy, a surge, that can turnaround the current direction and make America great again.

These articles were submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


The Keystone pipeline – delay is the name of the game

Posted on 30. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The four-year saga of the Keystone XL pipeline is a textbook case of the game Washington politicians play. To avoid making decisions that might anger one constituency or another, they appoint a committee or commission a study and then sit back, hoping the report never comes in.  If they don’t like the results, they commission another study.

The application to permit construction on the Keystone pipeline was filed in September 2008. Since then, four reports have been produced on the potential environmental impact of the pipeline—each coming in with essentially the same conclusion.

Earlier this month, the US Department of State issued a 2,000-page draft report on the potential environmental impact of the pipeline. As Business Week concluded: “Overall, the report does not raise any huge environmental red flags.” Yet, the Obama Administration has blocked construction of the 875 mile segment of the pipeline which would carry crude oil produced from Canada’s oil sands to US refineries in the Gulf Coast.

Despite the widespread public approval for the pipeline and the report’s conclusion that “other options to get the oil from Canada to US Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change,” the State Department made no recommendation for or against the project moving ahead. Instead, Kerri-Ann Jones, State’s as­sistant secretary for Oceans and Inter­national Environmental and Scientific Affairs, told reporters, “We’re looking for feedback now from the public to help us shape this going forward” and “We’re very anxious to have a lot of public comment.” Interestingly, the government has already received millions of comments on the pipeline.

It is a complicated matter.

Environmental activists—who are major Obama backers—have been roaring opposition to the pipeline and development of the oil sands resource for years and just last month staged a rally and engaged in civil disobedience in Washington.

They aren’t happy that the latest report didn’t predict a host of environmental catastrophes.  One outspoken opponent is actress Daryl Hannah, who, along with Robert Kennedy Jr., Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, and dozens of others, was arrested for attaching herself to the White House gates. Hannah dismisses the new report saying it is: “bogus” and “totally wrong, flat out totally wrong.” These environmental activists think President Obama, who has the last say in the matter, should have slammed the door closed long ago.

On the other hand there are several major labor unions, also big supporters of Obama, who favor proceeding with the project, which promises to create tens of thousands of jobs. Then there are the Canadians to think of, they badly want a friendly, nearby market for their oil (already Canada is the leading supplier of foreign crude to the United States).

And, of course, there are the people. Here’s what the Heritage Foundation says about Keystone: “The project will accommodate up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day, create some 179,000 jobs on American soil, and continue good trade relations with a close ally. The benefits won’t stop with the oil sector, though—the Keystone project will have a positive ripple effect even in areas without the pipeline that will provide goods and services to support the pipeline.”

Environmental activists have pegged their opposition to climate change alarmism. But even the State Department report dismisses such concerns, essentially because blocking the pipeline would not prevent the production of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands. The truth is, environmental groups oppose any use or expansion of fossil fuels in our economy. In a recent debate broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, Sierra Club’s Brune advocated keeping two-thirds of all the world’s oil, coal, and gas reserves “in the ground.”

Factions in Canada have already made it known that the market for oil in China is growing by leaps and bounds, so if production from the oil sands doesn’t flow south to their US neighbors, it can move west to the coast and go by tanker to China—where China’s environmental laws and oil refining industry is not nearly as advanced as the US. Increased emissions would undoubtedly be significant.

Such a development should be of great concern to environmental activists, who know that China is already the number one emitter of so-called greenhouse gases and currently accounts for 70 percent of new emissions each year—and expanding. Acknowledging that the world will continue its reliance on fossil fuels, Brune says: “The fossil fuels that are produced have to be produced according to the highest standard in terms of protecting our air, our water, our wildlands, and our climate.” If that is really his position, Brune should be campaigning for the pipeline, not blocking it and thereby sending it to China.

A decision on the Keystone XL pipeline should be an easy one for the Administration. Charles Krauthammer calls the decision “the most open and shut case I have ever seen” and says that if Obama refuses the pipeline, “it will really show how partisan considerations way outweigh the national interest.” With high unemployment still dogging the US labor force, the quick creation of jobs to construct the pipeline and the long-term ripple effects throughout the economy should be welcome. So, too, should be the significant economic effects that will ultimately produce billions of dollars in tax revenues for local, state, and federal coffers.

The other significant benefit of the XL pipeline would be increased energy security and reduced imports that come by tanker from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela (Venezuelan crude is even “dirtier” than what we get from Canada’s oil sands). Can anyone doubt that getting a larger percentage of our oil supplies from a friendly neighbor would be better than continued reliance on less secure foreign sources?

Combined with the growing production of US oil—and the reduction in demand due to the poor economy and increased efficiency of motor vehicles—the addition of Canadian crude would move us closer to the goal of energy self-sufficiency.

Instead of signaling support, the Administration has delayed and delayed—wanting “addition information.” The additional information is in, now a decision is delayed by a 45-day comment period, before a 90-day review process begins. Some reports project a September decision. Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, says “If a decision is pushed past September, the company faces choosing between spending more or delaying startup until mid-2015.” And delay seems to be the name of the game because, according to NASA scientist James Hansen, “fully exploiting the tar sands would effectively mean ‘game over’ for the climate.”

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


“Three-fer” from Marita Noon on Energy

Posted on 14. Mar, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment

Article 1: Imagine tax revenues that exceed the cost of running the government

The sequester happened. Nothing happened—though we all understand there will be impacts down the road. But, it didn’t have to happen.

Sequester,” a word foreign to most of us, “is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.” In short, it is what happens when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenue.

Washington only talks about two choices when the cost of running the government exceeds the revenues: raising taxes and cutting spending. Taxes were raised as a part of the fiscal cliff deal. Sequester fills out the other half of the equation by cutting spending.

But there is an overlooked option: creating new wealth—which is different from printing new money.

Creating new wealth involves producing something of value which didn’t exist before, but that someone will pay for, bringing new money into the system. Our personal budget generally works this way: we have a job that we get paid for. We use that money to pay bills and buy stuff.

That same money cycles through the system and ultimately comes back to us in the form of a paycheck. And the cycle continues. But if, one day, you were digging in your backyard and you found a pot of gold—that puts new wealth into your personal system. You can sell the gold, creating new wealth for yourself.

As a country, our bills and the stuff we buy—the cost of running the government— has exceeded the revenue for some time. The same is true for many states, counties, and cities—often resulting in bankruptcy. Not every city, county, or state has a pot of gold, but in the form of natural resources—many do.

Some choose to dig up the pot of gold, creating wealth resulting in a healthy community and government. Some choose not to and instead are back to the same two choices: raising taxes and cutting spending.

On January 10, I was at a county commission hearing in New Mexico’s San Miguel County. This poor, rural county in northeastern New Mexico has geology that leads the experts to believe that there might be oil or natural gas under their feet. Several surrounding counties do have known resources and people who own the land and production companies are eager to explore to see if there is, in fact, a “pot of gold.” As is to be expected these days, there is plenty of opposition, scaring folks with talk of supposed water contamination and other calamities.

The hearing opened with a Skype presentation from the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. He clearly stated that the group’s goal were to stop or block production or to create so many regulations that exploration and development was cost-prohibitive. Next a parade of naysayers, with a sprinkling of supporters, addressed the county commissioners.

The commissioners asked questions throughout the day-long process. However, they really perked up at the testimony of two county officials from the oil-producing corner of the state: Greg Niebert—County Commissioner for Chaves County; and Mike Gallagher—County Manager for Lea County.

Both talked about the decades, during which fracking has been used in their counties, with only positive impacts: their schools are fully funded, unemployment is virtually nonexistent (one proclaimed that anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job), and their economies are thriving. I could almost see the dollar signs rolling through the eyes of San Miguel County Commissioners like a slot machine spinning.

Niebert produced some papers containing a resolution that the Chaves County Commission had just passed that morning. The gist of the document said that the oil and gas counties of the state were tired of supporting all the other counties—especially those that had resources, but elected not to use them.

In New Mexico, revenues generated from resources extracted from state lands fill the Land Grant Permanent Fund—which is the largest contributor to the state’s schools and hospitals. Overall, the industry is responsible for nearly half of the state’s budget—which generally has a surplus. The resolution proposed that the schools and hospitals in the counties with resources that chose not to extract them should not get the benefit of the counties that do.

That is New Mexico’s story. But the theme runs through other states that are creating new wealth: Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania—with a welcome increase in jobs and tax revenues. Each has very low unemployment and a thriving economy. Contrast those states to two of the states hardest hit in this time of economic demise: California and Nevada.

Like New Mexico’s San Miguel Country, both have natural resources, but unlike the poor, rural county, the states’ resources are known. While San Miguel is considering a drilling ban, the troubled states have an effective ban and a big part of their pot of gold is on federally owned land. Policies and regulations could prevent the states from accessing their individual pots of gold (Nevada has the Chainman Shale and California the Monterey Shale), which would create new wealth for local communities as well as state and federal governments. David Pratt, president of Santa Maria Energy, says: “the Monterey is California’s way out of the ‘fiscal toilet.’”

California’s Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff, agrees. He told me: “California sits on two-thirds of America’s shale oil reserves, which is an economic gold mine just waiting to be safely extracted. Tapping into this reserve could cause an oil boom that would dwarf North Dakota’s oil riches that have given the state a $3.2 billion budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.2%.”

“I am committed to new job and business creation for all Californians. We should not ignore recent technological innovations that have released a bounty of wealth in other oil-producing states and put people back to work. It makes absolutely no sense to create these new jobs and wealth in countries who are not friendly to the United States, when we can put our own citizens to work and gain energy independence at the same time.”

“But alas,” Matt Insley, a specialist on commodities and natural resources, says, “this is California. The political and environmental red tape in the state have brought energy development to a virtual halt.”

The New York Times reports: “The oil companies’ plans for the Monterey Shale are already drawing increasing scrutiny from environmental groups.” Despite the fact that “oil companies have engaged in fracking in California for decades,” Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), calls it “one of the most, if not the most, important environmental issue in California.”

Meanwhile, people are leaving the state, houses are being foreclosed, and unemployment levels are the highest in the country.

Though less-widely reported, Nevada faces a similar opportunity and opposition.

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. has leases for 350,000 acres in Elko County. They plan to spend $130 million over four years to ramp up operations. However, the Las Vegas Review Journal cites the federally owned land as “the greatest limitation Nevada faces in getting its resources to market. … Much of Noble’s plan requires Washington’s blessing. Midwestern states, which are composed almost entirely of private land, have no such problem, hence their prosperity.”

As we’ve seen with the Keystone pipeline, it is expected that the greens will “put on a full-court press to block the project.” Regardless of the science or history, the greens stake their position. Actress Daryl Hannah dismisses the State Department’s recent report that all but endorses the pipeline as “bogus” and “totally wrong, flat out totally wrong.” Likewise, despite decades of safe fracking, Rob Mrowka, who heads the Nevada CBD office, says: “Fracking is not a good thing. We don’t feel there is a safe way to do it.”

California and Nevada—along with New York—have known resources, yet they depend on other locales for much of their energy. What if the states that sell their resources to California, decided to follow Chaves County’s lead and told California they are on their own? California is using the resources, but sending their money out of state—which helps the other states and hurts California.

Gabe Garcia, an assistant field officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Bakersfield, CA, reports: “the government receives 12.5 percent of revenues from the oil retrieved. … Last year we brought in $190 million.” Half of that goes to the state of California; the other half goes to the federal government. And the $190 million figure is before the Monterey Shale takes off.

Insley believes “A change in tone from the political side” could fuel a turnaround. It is the politics that is holding back a boom in new wealth creation and as California Senator Huff said: “It makes absolutely no sense.”

Sequester didn’t have to happen. Allowing, even encouraging, development of our natural resources would bring welcome new tax revenues that might even exceed the cost of running the government.

– end article 1 –

Article 2:  Can Global Warmists Get Their Story Straight?

Two of catastrophic climate change’s staunchest supporters have been out on the stump promoting their cause—with conflicting statements.

On February 20, Secretary of State John Kerry gave his first speech, as Secretary, at the University of Virginia where he offered a glimpse of how he sees tackling climate change as part of his job—as is “reducing nuclear threat,” “fighting corruption in Nigeria,” and breaking “the cycle of poverty, poor nutrition and hunger,”

On the same day, February 20, NASA’s James Hansen was speaking in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Lensic Theater, with a follow-up presentation the next day at the Santa Fe Institute where he proposed “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.”

In Kerry’s introductory comments he says: “So our challenge is to … offer even the most remote place on earth the same choices that have made us strong and free.” Later, he launches into his climate change litany, and talks about developing and deploying “the clean technologies that will power a new world”—yet the inefficient, intermittent, and uneconomical “clean technologies” are not what made America “strong and free.” America became a superpower on the basis of energy that was abundant, available, and affordable. Now, in the cause of climate change, we want to deny developing countries the same benefits we’ve had?

Additionally, Kerry acknowledges: “We are all in this one together. No nation can stand alone.” After 15 years of supporters’ best efforts, the global community has rejected the Kyoto Protocol—which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries on the theory that it would stop global warming. It expired December 31, 2012. The world’s biggest emitters refused to sign on, the US never ratified it, and Canada has since completely backed out. The UK is likely not far behind.

Last week, London’s Daily Express featured a story titled: “Blackout Britain: EU environmental directive puts millions at risk of power cuts”—which concluded with the following: “We are facing disaster on energy prices. The dynamic has changed, but the thinking hasn’t.”

A few days earlier, February 20, another Daily Express headline addressed the panic the UK is facing: “Cheaper energy is more important than going green.” The “cheaper energy” article cites “rising energy prices” that have “gone up 159 per cent since 2004” and quotes Energy Secretary Ed Davey as saying: “energy prices are now out of control.” The author states: “Our energy policy is no longer dictated by the need to keep supply plentiful and cheap which for decades was the basis of all planning.

Today energy policy is framed with only one factor in mind: satisfying the green lobby.” He concludes: “in the UK we let the green lobby sneer at fracking and barely even pay lip-service to its possibilities, at the same time as we close down productive power plants and stand back watching while prices go through the stratosphere.”

It is true, Secretary Kerry, that “no one nation can stand alone.” But he has promised we will rise to meet the challenge of tackling climate change—rising energy prices, that is.

Even Dr. Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges a “17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office.” At Melbourne’s Deakin University, Dr. Pachauri said: “People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning.” He continued: “no doubt about it,” it is good for controversial issues to be “thrashed out in the public arena.”

Which takes us to Dr. Hansen’s presentations in Santa Fe—primarily attended by sycophants carrying copies of his book: Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. However, four scientists also attended—a meteorologist, a physicist, a biologist, and a geologist.

No transcript of the speech is available, however the Santa Fe New Mexican covered Hansen’s presentation at the Institute, during which he predicted catastrophes, such as rising seas and species extinctions “if carbon-based fuels continue to be used at the same rate as today.”

He believes “efforts to stem climate change will be ineffectual as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest form of energy,” and therefore he “proposed a new tax for carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal.” Yet, he stated: “Government shouldn’t be making decisions as to what the next energy sources are. Let the marketplace make the decision.” He wants a tax to make fossil fuels unattractive, but the government should let the marketplace decide?

“That wasn’t the only nonsensical idea he presented,” the scientists told me.

Robert Endlich, the meteorologist, reported: “One item after another struck me as being completely at odds with measurements. For instance, Hansen claimed Earth’s energy balance is out of balance, and we are warming rapidly, but recent global surface temperatures of land and water have not increased and, in fact, many measures show cooling over the past 17-19 years.

In the US, there has not been a new state maximum temperature record set since 1995, and, in spite of the claims to the contrary, July,1936, is still the warmest month on record, set when CO2 was less than 300 parts per million. CO2 is now 395 PPM.”

Bernie McCune holds degrees in both engineering and biology and has worked with both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Hansen admitted there is still some question,” McCune said. “But, his presentation was mostly political and didn’t prove that CO2 is the problem; it didn’t show that humans had anything to do with it.”

Jerry Clark, the physicist, who has spent 30 years tracking data from the relay satellite system, talked to one of the organizers before the meeting. The young man was surprised to learn that not all scientists agreed with Hansen. Clark feels frustrated because “the opportunity for opposing views to receive equal time and billing with Dr. Hansen does not exist; nor will the apologists engage in data comparisons.”

Instead of the short-term charts Hansen presented, Clark wants to see the data and the real records. Drawing from his experiences on his college debate team, Clark was surprised that “Hansen didn’t even try to justify his thesis of man-made global warming.”

John Clema looks at the geologic history when he says: “Hansen’s claim of ‘extinction of 30 percent to 50 percent of animal species’ is nothing more than shameless spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. More than 98% of all the plants and animals that we currently know of are from the fossil record.

There is no evidence that connects CO2 to these extinctions other than the strong possibility of linking huge volcanic activity to some timeframes where extinctions have occurred. In the geologic record, there are times when we’ve had much higher CO2 than at present—yet there are few recognizable extinctions. Nor is there any link between CO2 from fossil fuels and global warming. We are still in an interglacial period were warming could be expected—but Hansen can’t prove any part of this is due to human activity. Warm and wet is good for our species, cold and dry is not.”

At the end of Hansen’s presentation, there was a brief question and answer time. Only four questioners got answers. In response to Endlich’s question: “Observations show 10 years of warming from 1988 to 1998, but steady and by many measures, even falling temperatures since—a period over 17 years where the temperature has not risen at all.

The total rise since 1988 has been only 0.2-0.3C. To what do you attribute the poor performance of that prediction?” Hansen first acknowledged the sun’s involvement, then he denied that the globe had not warmed—despite Pachauri’s admission that the warming had stalled.

Pachauri’s February 24 speech invited traditional scientific give and take, yet Hansen refused additional discussion with the scientists. When Endlich showed data from the Vostok and the Greenland ice cores, Hansen blew him off, saying: “you are wrong!” End of discussion.

The Santa Fe New Mexican’s headline for Hansen’s visit was: “a steep energy tax to curb global warming.” Perhaps Hansen was tipping his hand, confirming the rumor that Obama will approve the long-delayed, but much-needed Keystone pipeline if Congress will approve a carbon tax. Tit for tat.

Just what our teetering economy needs: higher energy prices. What planet do these guys come from?

– end article 2 –

Article 3: Wall Street walks all over the White House

The nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary has uncovered a lot of dirt about the man, but it also has a lot of dust swirling, regarding the incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and Wall Street that the White House would probably prefer to have kept buried. The story surely tarnishes the President’s image as “a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street.”

In Lew we find much of what President Obama publicly derides—but, as Forbes reports, is “prepared to accept from his closest associates.”

In 2009, Obama said it was the “height of irresponsibility” and “shameful” for “executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses.” And added: “For top executives to award themselves these kinds of compensation packages in the midst of this economic crisis isn’t just bad taste—it’s bad strategy—and I will not tolerate it as President.” Yet, Lew, during a short stint at Citi received an “obscene” bonus of $950,000—after we, the taxpayers, bailed out Citi to the tune of $476.2 billion.

In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Obama railed against investments in the Caymans. In 2008, during a Democrat primary debate, he talked about “closing tax loopholes and tax havens” and specifically addressed a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 corporations.

“That’s either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.” In 2012, the Obama campaign vilified Mitt Romney for investments in Cayman accounts. Yet, Lew was invested in a Citigroup venture capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands.

Despite these, and other disconcerting discoveries—such as Lew’s executive vice president for operations position with New York University at the time NYU was receiving kickbacks from Citibank for steering student loans to the bank (Lew then left NYU for his job at Citigroup)—a Senate vote is expected to be held this week where it is believed that Lew will be confirmed as Treasury Secretary.

But, a bigger story is exposed through the litany of Lew’s lavish embarrassments—and that is the “commingling of Wall Street interests and the public trust,” as exemplified by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Rubin left Treasury in 1999 and moved to Citigroup—where, it is reported, that he “advocated ratcheting up the risk-taking.” Rubin’s responsibilities at Citi were to craft the “management and strategic decisions.” As part of the enticement Citi offered, he received $15 million a year and unlimited use of the corporate jets.

“On his watch, the federal government was forced to inject $45 billion of taxpayer money into the company and guarantee some $300 billion of illiquid assets”—yet he was still paid “around $126 million in cash and stock.” Rubin’s bank-friendly policies, implemented during his time at Treasury, are believed to be what weakened the financial system and ultimately brought about the collapse.

Rubin is important to the story because Lew was hired on at Citi due to a recommendation from Rubin. Lew was with Citi from 2006 to 2009—during the financial disaster. His last position was as COO of Citi’s Alternative Investment Group—which according to Forbes, “lay at the epicenter of the financial crisis.” In the first quarter of 2008, Lew’s group lost $509 million while he was “paid $1.1 million for less than a year’s work.”

Obviously Lew learned well from Rubin.

Lew left Citi for a “full-time high level position,” as deputy secretary of state under Hillary Clinton. In 2010, he became head of the Office of Management and Budget replacing Rubin-protégé Peter Orszag, who went to Citi. (Note: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also a Rubin protégé.)

If you are reading carefully, you’ve noted that “Citi” comes up over and over. This is no mistake. Citi and the Obama Administration appear to breathe as one.

In 2008, Citigroup was one of the Obama campaign’s biggest donors and several Citi executives served as campaign bundlers. The majority of Citigroup’s 61 lobbyists previously held government positions. Michael Froman was one such Citi executive—also serving as COO of Citi’s Alternative Investment Group—who raised campaign cash and then went to work for the Obama Administration, where he was responsible for coordinating policy on issues such as energy and climate. Froman had previously served as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. (Other Citi/Obama connections include Richard Parsons and Luis Susman as shown in Christine Lakatos’ newest expose: Citi’s Massive “Green” Money Machine.)

In his second term, Obama has pledged to make climate change a priority. Since 2007, Citi has been committed to “climate change activities.” In fact, they brag about being “a leader in alternative energy transactions across sectors, geographies and products.” In its 2011 Global Citizenship Report, Citi crows about having the “largest market share” of US Department of Energy financings for alternative energy.

If you’ve followed the work Lakatos and I have done exposing Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal, you know Citi’s claims mean that they are making big bucks from the green energy sector of the 2009 stimulus-spending spree. Lakatos has found that that 58 percent of Citi’s “clients,” listed in the documents from the “Renewable Energy Seminar” Michael Eckhart held in March 2012, have received government subsidies, the majority from the 2009 Stimulus bill, totaling approximately $16 billion of taxpayer money—and there could well be more.

Michael Eckhart joined Citigroup in February 2011, after spending the last decade as the founding President and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). Not surprisingly, within ACORE we find many of government’s green-grant “winners.” According to Chris Horner, Eckhart “helped design the Department of Energy grant programs.”

This is just a sampling of the Citigroup swamp from which Treasury Secretary nominee Lew comes. As Lew’s employment agreement with Citi—that allowed him to keep his pay perks if he left Citi for “full-time high level position with the United States government or regulatory body”—and Rubin’s enticements show: Citi likes to keep their friends close.

According to the Washington Post as Treasury Secretary Lew will be “charged with implementing new rules regulating Wall Street.” Breitbart describes the job this way: “Secretary of the Treasury is the government’s chief operating officer for the private economy. It is also the government’s chief spokesman to the world markets. The office … is meant to assure markets and the business community that America’s fiscal policy is under adult supervision.”

I question whether Lew’s motivation will be “a desire to serve the people, or an opportunity to serve himself and his friends”—as was said about Rubin. Will he assure the markets that America’s fiscal policy is under adult supervision?

This may be the one time I agree with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who, said the following when Obama nominated Lew: “I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a Treasury Secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person.”

Obviously Obama will “tolerate” Wall Street walking all over the White House.

– end article 3 –

These articles were submitted by Marita Noon, author of Energy Freedom. Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s energy plans—triumph or tragedy

Posted on 18. Feb, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The State of the Union Address (SOTUA) is now last week’s history. Nearly every aspect of it has been fully dissected. For example, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has done a line-by-line analysis of what they call the “most expensive and widest ranging State of the Union Address yet.” They found that the “quantifiable agenda items” in the President’s proposals “weighed in at $83.4 billion.”

The NTU called the efforts to combat climate change the “most costly single agenda item”—citing a “version of the ‘cap-and-trade’ bill to which Obama referred in his speech was priced at $282.4 billion total, or $56.5 billion per year.” The SOTUA specifically calls for “a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.”

I’ve listened to and watched the coverage. I’ve not heard anyone address this one line from the speech—maybe it’s been covered and I just missed it. If so, maybe you missed it, too.

“I’m also issuing a new goal for America: Let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years.”

On the surface, it sounds innocent enough. No one wants “waste”—especially not wasted energy. To fully understand the impact of the simple statement, you have to read the supporting document released coincidentally with the SOTUA: The President’s Plan for A Strong Middle Class & A Strong America.

Within the plan, we find the following: “doubling American energy productivity by 2030, starting with a new Energy Efficiency Race to the Top for states: The President is laying out a bold but achievable goal to slash energy waste through increased efficiency.”

This whole energy efficiency idea came from the Energy 2030 report recently released by the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy. The idea is that “energy productivity, or the amount of economic output possible at a given level of energy supply, increases as does efficiency, thereby allowing us to do more with less energy.”

Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, which spearheaded Energy 2030, said the following in response to Obama’s inclusion of their ideas: “We very much welcome that the administration embraced some of the recommendations.”

Addressing the line in question, energy writer Elisa Wood said: “It will take some serious work to achieve the goal. We must upgrade energy infrastructure, adopt advanced technologies, educate and motivate consumers, and institute a favorable regulatory climate, the commission said. These steps will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but the potential exists to capture a trillion dollars in energy savings.”

Again, efficiency, on its own, is a laudable goal. The inclusion of this comment in the SOTUA—which most agree the “laundry list” of dreams will never happen—does represent Obama’s ideology of pushing less energy usage.

This is troubling because it is widely accepted that energy consumption and economic growth go hand-in-hand. A successful country uses more energy. For example, one of the reasons the US is using less gasoline is that so many people are unemployed. They are not driving to and from work every day. They are not taking long driving vacations. They are hunkered down. Heavy manufacturing requires abundant, available, and affordable energy.

Energy is one of manufacturing’s biggest expenses. But because of closed factories, we are actually using less electricity in the industrial sector than we did in 2000.

If the President truly wants to bring manufacturing back to America, as he claims, instead of pushing for less energy use, he should be working to make available as much low-cost energy as possible. But he is pushing for more “clean energy”—which is also many times more expensive, as Americans are beginning to see on their utility bills.

The problem with the whole “efficiency” argument can be found, in part, in Wood’s comment:  it will “cost hundreds of billions of dollars.”

News flash! We are in the worst economic crisis of most of our lifetimes. We have a spending problem. We do not have an energy problem—especially not an electricity problem (and the Energy 2030 report focuses primarily on electricity).

Within our borders, we have enough coal, natural gas, and uranium (to fuel nuclear power plants) to power a strong, growing American economy for 300 years. Instead of promoting our abundant fuels, our president is ideologically bound to promoting energy that is inefficient, ineffective and uneconomical—while threatening our best competitive advantage in the global marketplace: low-cost energy.

If what I am positing here is incorrect, the Keystone pipeline would be approved (I do not think it will be—but I hope I am wrong); the EPA would be directed to dial back on the threat of a fracking ban—allowing the states to manage their own regulations, as they currently do; liquefied natural gas export terminals would be approved; modern super critical coal-fueled power plants would be built and older plants, that are burning so much cleaner today than they were 40 years ago, would be allowed to live out their productive lives instead of being shut down prematurely; Nuclear power plants would be built where they are the best choice; new refineries would be permitted—replacing the Rube Goldberg contraptions that need frequent maintenance that we are currently limping by on; federal lands would be opened up for access to our oil and natural gas resources that can be extracted with precision; the endangered species act wouldn’t be used to block energy development, including copper mining; and so-called “investments” in expensive green energy—that line the pockets of the President’s friends—would be curtailed (after all, we do already know how to make electricity from the wind and the sun, if we ever really need it, and we can take the technology off the shelf and implement it); and the economy would be booming—à la North Dakota.

Sadly, America is heading the other direction—pushing for reduced energy usage. What would the United States look like in a reduced energy environment?

At best, check out Europe. At worst, just ask the passengers of the cruise ship Triumph who had to sleep outdoors in a makeshift tent city because there wasn’t electricity for air conditioning, who ate raw food because there was no way to cook it, and who had to use plastic bags as toilets because there was no way to process the waste. A life without energy is no triumph—it is a tragedy.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

 

 

 

The government gives, the government has taken away

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

Or, do they take and then give? It appears to be a vicious cycle with no beginning or end.

For the last four years, President Obama and his EPA have waged a war on coal. Though they deny it, their regulations have cost thousands of miners their jobs, and hundreds of coal-fueled power plants are scheduled to be closed within the next few years.

On January 7, Georgia Power announced that it will “shut down 15 coal and oil-fired units, cutting nearly one-sixth of its power grid capacity to comply with federal rules aimed at reducing air pollution.” This, the latest in a string of plant-closure announcements, will take away nearly 500 jobs. Over the next five years, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation forecasts closures of plants that currently produce 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fueled generation.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution report cites the closures come “after the utility and parent Southern Co. spent years unsuccessfully fighting the regulations.” The regulatory hit to the coal industry is tough to deny: “Currently, the amount of coal that Georgia Power uses to produce electricity stands at 47 percent, down from 70 percent five years ago.”

The government has taken away.

Despite the assault on coal that has decimated the economy of entire regions, lawmakers voted to subsidize coal through Section 406 of the American Taxpayer Relief Act—known as the “Fiscal Cliff Deal.” The 400 Section of the 157-page bill is for “Energy Tax Extenders” and includes “provisions of the Bill that are relevant to ongoing and future projects in the renewable energy space.”

Within the package, various tax credits are extended—including the Production Tax Credit for wind energy that I’ve fought to end. Other extensions include those for “closed and open-loop biomass facilities, geothermal facilities, landfill gas facilities, trash facilities, qualified hydropower facilities, and qualified marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities.” And then, there are a few lines in Section 406, buried in a group of renewable energy provisions, which extend a tax credit for coal produced on American Indian land.

American coal is bad, but apparently coal from Indian lands is good?

Section 406 “extends,” by one year, an accommodation in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that allows a credit for “Indian coal”—which the bill defines as coal produced from reserves which were owned by an Indian tribe on June 14 2005.

Compared to the amount for renewables, the actual dollar amount going to Indian coal is miniscule in the grand scheme of the Fiscal Cliff Deal—estimated to be about $1 million, The Missoula Independent states that Section 406 currently applies to only three mines in the country, but it is the hypocrisy; the incongruity of it that is so troubling.

One mine that benefits from the tax credit is the Absaloka mine, a 10,427-acre, single-pit surface mine on the Crow Indian reservation in southeastern Montana, operated by Westmoreland Coal Company. The mine employs about 100 tribal members and provides royalties for the Crow Indians.

According to the Independent, “The section 406 tax credit pays Westmoreland an estimated $2.26 per ton of coal extracted at Absaloka. In 2007, the mine produced 7,704,556 tons of coal. In 2010, it produced 5,467,670 tons.” So, in 2010, the US taxpayers gave Westmoreland nearly $12.5 million to mine coal on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The government gives.

Native Americans have long been given some special accommodations—though it does seem that their coal contributes to CO2 as well. While the tax code gives, the EPA has taken away.

The Navajo Nation occupies land in what is known as the Four Corners region—where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado meet. Coal is important to the everyday life of the Navajo. A report on coal’s uncertain future, says the following about coal’s place in the life of the Navajo: “It warms their homes, and provides them with jobs. Recent events threaten both winter warmth and job security for the future.”

Navajo lands include coal mines and coal-fueled power plants that are facing decommissioning and closure due to the EPA’s expensive emission controls. The coal mines support the power plants—if the power plants shut down, quick closure of the mines is expected. All three coal-fueled power plants in the area are facing closure of some or all of their units.

The Navajo Mine has one customer: the Four Corners Power Plant—which has five coal-fueled units—and provides electricity to 300,000 households in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The three older units are scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year, and the plant’s partial shutdown will reduce demand for the mine’s coal by about 30 percent. On January 8, jobs cuts at the mine were announced: “BHP Billiton plans to cut about 100 jobs at Navajo Mine.”

The government has taken away.

Sources tell me, BHP Billiton, the Australian company that operates the mine, has been trying to sell it for several years. Tightening environmental regulations decrease the mine’s potential profitability. With the mine’s sole customer’s partial shutdown, it hasn’t attracted any buyers.

Enter Section 406.

Back in December, BHP Billiton reached an agreement with the Navajo Nation that provided for a 100 percent stock sale of the mine’s assets to a tribally chartered corporation by mid-2013. The regional newspaper reported: “A tribal corporation would have certain tax advantages.” The sale of the Navajo Mine to the Navajo Nation could preserve 800 high-paying jobs at the plant and mine. BHP will continue to run the mine through 2016.

The government gives.

Encouraging resource development and the economic prosperity that comes with it is good for the Navajo Nation, the Crow Tribe, and all Native Americans—but that can happen through an inviting, rather than hostile, regulatory environment.

And, if coal is OK for them, it should be OK for the American Nation. Coal warms our homes and provides good paying jobs for all Americans —whether in the coal mines, coal-fueled power plants, manufacturing that depends on cost-effective energy, energy-intensive high-tech industries, or other fields. Instead of taking away our resources, we should all benefit from the bounty—which includes “winter warmth and job security for the future.”

The government shouldn’t be in the business of giving and taking. That role should be reserved for “the Lord” alone.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


Virginia: Energy Capitol of the East Coast?

Posted on 21. Jan, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

With a flood of new federal regulations hitting everything from healthcare, energy, food safety, and bird protection, it is encouraging to know that some states can still think for themselves.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell, while campaigning, declared that he was going to make Virginia the Energy Capitol of the East Coast—after all Virginia is blessed with abundant energy resources such as coal, offshore oil and gas, and one of the largest uranium deposits in the world. His plans have been thwarted by the federal government.

The EPA is trying to regulate coal mining out of existence. Federal restrictions have prevented Virginia from being able to access its offshore oil and gas resources—despite bipartisan support within the state for drilling. However, on Monday, January 7, McDonnell was handed an opportunity to differentiate himself from President Obama—something all upwardly mobile Republicans are going to have to do following the disappointing fiscal cliff deal.

With just one year left in his term, the rising-star Republican governor can still make good on his campaign promise. Under his control is uranium mining in Virginia.

Virginia has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining for more than 30 years. It has never happened in the state—as a result, there are no guidelines or regulations for how to do it. The environmental lobby, that opposes extraction of anything, has been able to keep the moratorium in place by maximizing the fear of the unknown.

While McDonnell didn’t initially come out in favor of uranium mining—instead dodging a decision by having studies done and commissions appointed, he has come to realize that the environmentalists just don’t want any extraction. During at 2012 radio interview he sounded frustrated when he said: “These people don’t want us to even study it.

They’ve made their decision. They’ve made up their mind that they don’t want us to look at it. They don’t want us to study it. They don’t want us to have any mining going on. That’s just ridiculous. What I want to do is just get the facts. I don’t have a decision made. They do. Our job—at the direction of the General Assembly—is to get the facts and to determine ‘can we mine it safely?’”

Well, the facts are in.

The Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Study Subcommittee (made up of legislators and citizens) commissioned two studies—one “quantitative” that reviewed the technical issues which was conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; and the other “qualitative” that evaluated questions of probable social and economic consequences that was conducted by a private firm: Chmura Associates of Richmond.

With the study results in, public hearings held, and field trips to the Coles Hill uranium deposit and to safe and successful mining operations in Canada, the Commission, on January 7, voted 11-2 to lift the 31-year old moratorium—subject to approval by the General Assembly.

Others such as the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute have weighed in in favor of the Coles Hill project. Jay Lehr, who holds a Ph.D. in groundwater hydrology from the University of Arizona and is editor of the Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia, said the following regarding the January 7 decision:

“It is a great day indeed when a government body listens to science in making decisions that impact a state’s economy in a positive way. That is what occurred today when Virginia officials recommended lifting a long-held moratorium on uranium mining within its boundaries.

Virginia is home to what will likely prove to be one of the world’s largest uranium ore finds and certainly among the largest in the United States. Concern for the environment and public health has held up the development of this resource for many years.

Reports were written, data was acquired, and the clear conclusion was that this resource can be mined to the benefit of the state and the nation with absolutely no hazard to the state’s environment or the health of either the citizens of the state or the mine and mill workers. Strict regulatory programs will be in place on the part of both the federal and state governments to ensure this very positive outcome.

At a time when our nation’s 104 nuclear power plants have been dependent on foreign sources for nuclear fuel, this is an important and positive development for our nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The January 7 hearing included speakers for and against uranium mining in Pittsylvania County—an area formerly known for Tobacco farming. Buddy Mayhew, a retired tobacco farmer and teacher who is a life-long resident of the region where the mining would take place was one of the “pro-mining” presenters.

He said: “Those of us who recall more prosperous days in Southside worry about the lack of economic opportunities in the area. As a former school teacher, I know what that means for our schools and our ability to invest in our future.

Our region continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth as both manufacturing and tobacco abandoned Southside. This is a condition that we cannot simply accept; we must continue to look for opportunities to change it. That is why the prospect of uranium mining deserves every consideration.

The Coles Hill project would mean good paying jobs for many in my community and new business opportunities for businesses already in the region. In addition, the project would attract companies that would come to support the mine and hire even more of our residents.”

(Mayhew spoke on behalf of the People for Economic Prosperity, a grassroots group of more than 1200 farmers and small business owners in southern Virginia who support the mining project.)

Uranium mining in Pittsylvania County could create 1,000 jobs, $5 billion in new revenue for Virginia companies, and $110 million in local and state tax revenue. With the global uranium market surging—430 nuclear power plants worldwide and 65 new reactors under construction (with more planned)—more uranium is being consumed than is being mined. Uranium mining in Virginia will not only help the state, it will also help the U.S. trade deficit.

State Senator John Watkins has already drafted legislation based on suggestions in a report from the Governor’s Work Study Group that would lift the moratorium. Passage of the legislation is the next step.

Because the Commission has moved to lift the moratorium, and the Commission is made up of the legislators many of whom are the key players, the most knowledgeable on energy issues, the commission’s vote is a positive step. Hopefully McDonnell is paying close attention. He said he wanted the commission to speak before he made up his mind. Now that they have spoken, the ball will be in his court.

Watkin’s bill will not allow mining to begin, but it will allow the process of allowing mining to begin. The appropriate agencies would begin to develop regulations that would, ultimately, open the door for companies to apply for mining permits.

At a time when leadership in government is sadly lacking, Governor McDonnell can set himself apart and secure his legacy as a job creator by signing the bill when it comes to his desk. Perhaps Virginia can become the Energy Capitol of the East Coast after all.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

 

 

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