Two years ago, I wrote a piece for NRO about a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that NextEra Energy, America’s biggest wind-energy producer, had filed against Esther Wrightman, an anti-wind-project activist from the tiny village (pop.: 120) of Kerwood, Ontario. It’s now time for an update.
NextEra overcame Wrightman’s opposition to the Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, a 60-megawatt project that began producing electricity last year. The 38-turbine wind project was erected right next to Wrightman’s home. In June 2014, she left not only Kerwood but Ontario and, along with her two children, her husband (who is disabled), and her parents, moved to the larger village (pop.: 1,889) of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The Wrightmans also relocated their family business, Wrightman Alpines, a nursery that specializes in alpine plants.
When it comes to energy supplies — and therefore carbon dioxide emissions and climate change — who are you going to believe? Pope Francis, or BP?
Whether you love the pope and hate BP, or vice versa, doesn’t matter. What matters when discussing energy availability, climate change, and poverty are hard numbers and simple math. And the latest edition of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, which was released eight days before Pope Francis issued his encyclical on climate change, is chockfull of numbers that expose the pope’s failed climate math. Indeed, an analysis of the two documents reveals the deep, and perhaps unbridgeable, chasm between the religiosity that pervades discussions about climate change and the hard truths about the energy sector.
Last Friday, the EPA decreed the amount of ethanol that retailers must blend into their gasoline. For 2015, it will be about 14 billion gallons. That decree provides an opportunity to ask a simple question: How have ethanol producers been able to garner a federal mandate that requires motorists to buy their low-heat-content, hydrophilic, motor-fuel moonshine?
For years, environmental activists have opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that development of Canada’s oil sands will be “game over for the climate.” But if those same activists are sincere about climate change, why aren’t they getting arrested outside the White House to protest the use of corn ethanol?
The Clean Power Plan is among the most controversial mandates ever attempted by the federal bureaucracy. The Environmental Protection Agency has received over 1.6 million comments on the proposed regulation, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity-generation sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
It’s a manifesto smackdown, a fight among the members of the green Left for the intellectual and moral high ground. It’s also a fight that reflects the growing schism within American environmentalism.
On one side are the pro-energy, pro-density humanists. They call themselves ecomodernists and are led by the Breakthrough Institute, a centrist, Oakland-based environmental group.On Wednesday, it released what it describes as an “ecomodernist manifesto,” a document that, at root, states the obvious: Economic development is essential for environmental protection.
Now that Hillary Clinton has launched her second bid for the White House, we will see even more scrutiny of her on everything from her time at State to the Clinton Foundation’s funders. But the issue that best exposes Clinton’s enormous ambition — and her readiness to sacrifice the interests of consumers to that ambition — is her flip-flop on the corn ethanol tax.
Among the preachers of climate apocalypse, Roger Pielke Jr. is a heretic. Pielke’s sin: refusing to fall in line and accept the claims that climate chaos is upon us and that the only solution to the pending catastrophe is to implement immediate and drastic cuts to carbon dioxide emissions in every country in the world, including the impoverished ones.
With the collapse in global oil prices, members of Congress are once again pushing to raise the federal gasoline tax, with the proceeds going to new roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. While some in Congress might be averse to a tax increase of any kind, they might find it more palatable if it came packaged with a tax cut.
Fortunately, there is a perfect option, a hidden levy that has benefited a small group of farmers and manufacturers in a handful of states: the corn ethanol tax.
Of the myriad claims being made about energy, the one most in need of debunking is this: The U.S. is losing out to countries such as China and Germany when it comes to “clean energy.”
The notional cure for America’s lagging performance, of course, is more governmental intervention in the energy markets. That intervention, and the need for more clean energy — which, of course, largely means more subsidies for wind and solar power — are inextricably tied to discussions about climate change, carbon-dioxide emissions, and the supposed need for America to lead the way to a new energy future.
Nuclear energy is suddenly fashionable -- as new companies are looking to supplant the world's large, uranium-fueled nuclear reactors with kinds that use different fuels and coolants or perhaps even replace fission with fusion.
Two weeks ago, Martingale Inc. unveiled its plans for a molten-salt reactor. Last summer, LPP Fusion raised $180,000 on IndieGoGo to finance some of its research. And these two companies are competing with half a dozen other innovators -- some with deep-pocketed backers.
While making a list of my personal goals for 2015, I began thinking about the major energy stories of 2014 as well as the issues that are likely to dominate the headlines this year. There’s no doubt that the plunging price of oil was the biggest energy story of last year. And oil prices — as always — will dominate the economic and political news in 2015. Herewith, my list of three big stories from last year as well as four issues to watch for over the next 12 months.
Oil prices are falling, OPEC is in shambles, and the latest round of climate-change talks (the ones in Lima) once again failed to achieve much of anything.
But for all the headlines about oil prices and climate change, the most important energy story -- indeed, the energy story of the last four decades – has been the growth in global coal demand. Last Monday, the day after the climate talks in Peru concluded, the International Energy Agency released its annual report on the coal market. Their findings: global coal prices are falling and coal demand is rising.
Amid the many explanations offered by New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his various lieutenants about their reasons for imposing a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state, one of them made me laugh out loud.
“We lack the necessary data,” said New York’s health commissioner, Howard Zucker. I’ll discuss why that claim made me chuckle in just a moment. Before turning to that, let’s be clear: Cuomo’s decision is not surprising, and it’s not very significant either.
If anyone needed proof that subsidy-dependent businesses will always seek more subsidies, look no further than the U.S. wind industry. On Wednesday, the wind sector won a vote in the House on a tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which gives wind companies 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. The companies can collect that subsidy for a decade after they are deemed eligible.
Tomorrow in Vienna, the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet once again to jawbone about oil prices.
But here’s the reality: OPEC is no longer a price maker, it’s a price taker. The price of oil is no longer being set by the cartel, it’s being set by U.S. drilling companies producing oil from shale deposits. And those drillers are thriving largely because of three key advantages, ones that I call the three Rs: rigs, rednecks, and rights.
When viewed as a political grudge match, the ongoing battle over the Keystone XL pipeline remains one of the hottest fights in Washington. Proof of that can be seen by looking at yesterday’s vote in the Senate on the project, which failed to get the 60 votes needed for filibuster-proof passage.
Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian academic who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently declared that we have "the means to limit climate change" and that "all we need is the will to change."
That's a rather glib statement given that just five years ago, Pachauri was lamenting the fact that so many of his fellow Indians were living in dire energy poverty. In July 2009, Pachauri asked reporters "Can you imagine 400 million people who do not have a light bulb in their homes?" He continued, saying "with the resources of coal that India has, we really don't have any choice but to use coal."
Demonize coal. Keep the poor in the dark. And, above all, keep pushing the fantasy that U.S. government action (with or without the approval of Congress) is essential to dealing with climate change.
That — in a nutshell — is the climate-change strategy of the Obama administration and its environmentalist allies.
It has been a curious experience to watch the news about the “largest climate march in history” from Japan. There weren’t any marches here in Tokyo. Indeed, 350.org, the group that was a lead organizer of the march in New York City, doesn’t even appear to have a presence in Japan.
Solar energy appears to finally be coming of age.
In July, Bloomberg New Energy Finance declared that we are in the midst of a "solar revolution" and the firm predicted that solar will be the fastest-growing form of global generation capacity through 2030. A few days after that report was released, Deutsche Bank announced plans to lend $1 billion to support solar deployment in Japan.
Energy policies are faddish. From the energy-independence moonshine of the corn-ethanol scam to the latest 645-page slate of regulations the EPA wants to inflict on the domestic electricity-generation sector, the supposed threats have varied.
Back in the 1970s, the claim was that we were too dependent on Arab oil (a claim that we continue to hear today). These days, in addition to the never-ending blather about “energy independence,” we have the spurious claim from the Obama administration that yet another layer of EPA rules on U.S. industry will make a dramatic difference when it comes to global climate change.
When it comes to the issue of climate change, it’s easy to bash the United States. Yes, the U.S. emits a lot of carbon dioxide — about 5.9 billion tons in 2013 alone, second only to China’s 9.5 billion tons.
But it’s also easy to overlook this fact: The U.S. is leading the world in reducing its carbon dioxide emissions. And those reductions are largely due to the innovation that is happening not in green energy, but in the oil and gas sector’s ability to produce hydrocarbons from shale deposits.
Rasheed Wallace gained notoriety during his 16-season NBA career for being a hot-headed power forward. If called for a foul (or, as was often the case with him, a technical foul) that he thought was undeserved, and the opposing team missed the ensuing free-throw attempts, Wallace would often holler, “ball don’t lie,” as if the basketball itself was pronouncing judgment on the ref’s call.
In April, at a conference in San Antonio, an official from ConocoPhillips made an aggressive prediction: he said that by the end of 2014, oil production in Texas could hit 3.4 million barrels per day. That figure seems inflated given that the latest data from the Texas Railroad Commission shows that in March, oil production was about 2 million barrels per day.
Facebook’s initial public offering was all about superlatives. The May 2012 event was the largest-ever IPO for a US technology company and the third-largest in US history. It marked, or so the hype claimed, the coming of age for social media companies. But amid the hype over the company’s stock price, revenues, and growth potential, the media paid almost no attention to the vast quantities of electricity that Facebook and other tech companies need to operate their business.