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Remarkable Air Quality Improvements

August 28, 2015

The administration’s promotion of its Clean Power Plan (CPP) relies heavily, in addition to an over emphasis on disasters supposedly attributable to CO2 emissions, on the possible health benefits of the plan.

This is to be expected since the CPP is being implemented, probably illegally, under the auspices of the clean air act.

From EPA Website

From EPA Website

This chart from the EPA shows the progress in air quality made since 1980, but the real measure of progress should be the improvements made since the 1950s when the air quality was at its worst.

Even so, the progress in air quality improvement since 1980 has been remarkable: The population has increased by 92 million people, with the concomitant increase in automobile usage, and the GDP has increased by 145%.

But these measurements are for after 1980.

Other data, such as from the AEI Air Quality in America report, shows that air quality in general had already been improved by about 50% between 1960 and 1980. Taking this into consideration, air pollution has been cut by roughly 90% since its peak.

And that is remarkable.

Every engineer and scientist is aware of the law of diminishing returns.

There reaches a point where spending additional money achieves smaller and smaller benefits.

  • The cost-benefit curve is asymptotic, where benefits never achieve perfection while costs increase.

It’s very possible we have reached that point with air quality, where its senseless to spend more money to make infinitesimal improvements.

The bureaucracy will never admit to this, as it means they are out of a job.

The claims made by the EPA of massive health benefits from the CPP are clearly bogus. They are bogus for two reasons.

  1. Air quality improvements have probably reached the point of diminishing returns. Any future benefits don’t warrant the investment.
  2. Some of the medical health claims are not valid. For example: Particulates, PM 2.5, and ozone do not kill people. See, Ozone and 2.5 Particulates are Not Killing People.

Reported increases in asthma cases are not related to air quality, but are the result of more intense reporting and other factors, such as its possible linkage to cockroaches and over sanitization.

There is no reason to believe that the CPP will result in improved health benefits.

The idea that future generations won’t be able to breathe clean air if fossil fuels are used is bogus. People reiterating this claim are ignoring the facts, and it is hoped they will do more research and accept that the air we breathe is clean and safe.

The improvements in air quality since the 1960s proves that fossil fuels can be used without fear.

The CPP does not improve the health of Americans, and will, instead, make living conditions for most Americans worse. See, Dictatorial Powers.

 

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Obama’s Escalating War on Fossil Fuels

August 25, 2015

The administration’s war on coal has been well documented.

To a certain extent, it was thwarted by the remarkable advances in fracking and the extraordinary increase in natural gas production.

The shift from coal-fired power generation to natural gas has cut CO2 emissions, but only the naive would fail to realize that natural gas is also a so-called greenhouse gas. And supposedly, it is many times worse than CO2 in the atmosphere … 28 to 36 times more potent than CO2, according to the EPA.

It was clear that the environmental movement, represented by zealots in this administration, would have to curtail natural gas, as well as CO2, if it was to achieve its objective of saving the world from climate change.

The administration has now targeted natural gas with its program to cut methane leakage from natural gas production and transmission.

Natural gas is methane, but methane sounds more ominous.

For all the years that Americans heated their homes and cooked their meals using natural gas, they were unwittingly using the dreaded, climate altering methane.

The real objective of these new regulations by the EPA is to shut down fracking. The real beneficiaries will be political donors who have invested in so-called clean energy, because wind and solar can’t compete with cheap natural gas.

The fact is, methane emissions are more than ten percent lower today than they were seven years ago.

Methane trend baed on EIA data, courtesy of IBD

Methane trend baed on EIA data, courtesy of IBD

As with all the other regulations from this administration, the real victims will be Americans.

Natural gas is now very inexpensive, and produced here in the United States by American workers.

Before fracking, there was a dearth of domestically produced natural gas, and large investments were being made to import natural gas from the Mideast.

Fracking has made natural gas produced in the United States abundant and cheap, which has benefitted all ordinary Americans. It has also helped our balance of payments and reduced our dependence on Mideast countries.

Imagine how Americans would feel if they were paying 4 to 5 times more to heat their homes and cook their food if natural gas, i.e., methane, had to be imported from countries in the volatile Mideast. It’s the poor who really pay the penalty for this administrations regulations.

Before fracking, natural gas cost around $11 per million cubic feet. Today it costs less than $3 per million cubic feet. If it had to be imported it would probably cost more than $11.

Interestingly, cows probably emit more natural gas, i.e., methane, than is emitted by producing and transporting natural gas. How soon will the administration put a limit on eating meat and drinking milk?

Globally, agriculture is the largest emitter of methane.

This administration ignores the average American as it creates regulations that will harm all Americans. Higher costs for heating and cooking will now be added to more expensive and less reliable electricity as the penalty Americans will pay for Obama’s war on climate change.

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Unvarnished Truth About Wind and Solar

August 21, 2015

When dyed-in-the-wool supporters of so-called clean energy say it’s time to stop wasting money on wind and solar, it’s time to stop tax payer funded subsidies.

Two Google scientists, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, were put to work by Google in 2007 to establish how renewables, such as wind and solar, could replace fossil fuels.

They were enthusiastic supporters of Google’s move, known as RE<C, which was to develop renewable energy that would generate electricity more cheaply than coal-fired power plants.

Koningstein and Fork admitted in an IEEE Spectrum article last November that it couldn’t be done.

They finally admit what thousands of engineers and scientists already knew: It’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions enough, using wind and solar, to prevent a climate catastrophe, assuming CO2 is the culprit.

And, these Google scientists also admit there is no currently available technology that can cut CO2 emissions by the amount needed to bring atmospheric CO2 levels down to below 350 ppm.

Now, Bill Gates, a huge financial backer of wind and solar projects, has changed his mind and admitted that wind and solar can’t stop climate change.

Bill Gates 2015 Meeting with UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening. Photo by Russell Watkins/DFID

Bill Gates 2015 Meeting with UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening. Photo by Russell Watkins/DFID

In a recent Financial Times (FT) interview, he said, “Today’s renewable-energy technologies aren’t a viable solution for reducing CO2 levels, and governments should divert their green subsidies into R&D aimed at better answers.”

He went on to say, quoting from the FT, “The cost of using current renewables such as solar panels and wind farms to produce all or most power would be beyond astronomical.”

While Gates intends to invest in R&D, he lambasted the prospects of battery technology, as it stands today.

He said, “There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables.” (Emphasis added.)

We now have important former supporters of wind and solar saying that wind and solar can’t replace fossil fuels, and that subsidies for wind and solar should be stopped.

While Musk and his acolytes, and the wind and solar lobbies (such as AWEA and SEIA) press for more subsidies for new wind and solar installations, and for more storage, those who have studied the issues are saying these subsidies should be stopped.

It appears as though we now have American tax payers footing the bill to support a political agenda that can’t stop climate change, even if CO2 is the cause.

When Google engineers and Bill Gates say that wind and solar can’t stop climate change, it’s time to side with the thousands of engineers and scientists who have already reached that conclusion, and stop the subsidies for wind, solar, battery and storage installations.

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Dictatorial Powers

August 14, 2015

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is dictatorial in nature, and worthy of the CCCP.

The Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Bill, HR 2454, was rejected by the Senate, and it contained many of the same proposals that are in the administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Proposals rejected by Americans are being implemented over their objections, assuming Congress is still the representative of the people.

The purpose of HR 2454 was to establish Cap & Trade and to implement draconian rules to restrict the use of energy by Americans.

The Clean Power Plan incorporates Cap & Trade and many of the same draconian rules as HR 2454 with the intent of cutting CO2 emissions 32% below 1995 levels by 2030.

What does a 32% cut in CO2 emissions really mean for Americans?

The CPP will cut CO2 emissions to the same level as in 1975, while the population will have increased by 143 million since then.

The accompanying table shows the data. These facts are incontrovertible.

Year

CO2 Emissions MMT

Population Millions

2005

6,134

318

1975

4,450

216

2030

4,171

359

In other words, while CO2 emissions will be cut to below the levels of 1975, the population will have increased by 143 million people.

This is draconian, and a disaster for millions of Americans.

It’s difficult to assign values to how these cuts will hurt Americans, but a few observations may make the picture clear.

Coal Miner

Those who are employed in coal mines, the coal transport industry, the utility industry, and those who support each of those jobs in the service sector will see approximately 500,000 jobs lost.

This means that 2 million Americans will be directly affected, when families are taken into consideration.

Removing a half million Americans from the work force will have a very negative effect on the economy.

While some new jobs may be created by building wind mills and solar installations, the people in the coal industry won’t be qualified for those jobs, and are likely to become part of the permanent ranks of the unemployed.

But this is only a small part of the picture, because the cost of electricity for all Americans will likely increase by at least 300%, triple that of today’s residential price.

For those who may disagree with this estimate, California’s experience may be a good way to measure reality as California has been the most aggressive state in implementing so-called clean energy programs.

In 2015, the average residential price of electricity in California was 17.5 cents per kWh, which was nearly twice the price of electricity in the half dozen states using the lowest cost methods for generating electricity, primarily coal.

This is worth repeating:

Californians, with their focus on using renewable to cut CO2 emissions, pay twice as much for electricity as do people living where electricity is generated using the lowest cost methods.

And this was before California began to spend aggressively on expensive storage.

More importantly, California has only reduced its CO2 emissions by 12% (2004 – 2012) … A far cry from the 32% reduction demanded by the CPP.

Another way to gauge electricity costs when so-called clean energy is forced on the public, is Germany.

Germany, in 2014, had reduced its CO2 emissions by only 25%, from 1990, while German citizens pay 3 to 4 times what Americans pays for electricity.

Germany’s electric utilities are on the brink of bankruptcy, because renewables eviscerate a large portion of their business. See The Duck Speaks, Part 2, for an explanation of why Germany’s electric utilities are facing bankruptcy or a government takeover.

Suggesting that Americans will pay three times more for their electricity because of the CPP is not extreme … it’s conservative.

The administration’s CPP will affect all Americans, but the poorest will be hurt the most.

Middle-class Americans will also be badly hurt by the increase in the cost of electricity.

The average American will see their cost of electricity increase by over $2,500 per year. This is money they can’t spend on food and clothing.

The poorest Americans may see their cost increase by somewhat less, but they can’t afford to spend any more than they already do on electricity, because, for them, it really does mean less food, less heating and air-conditioning and less of everything else they need to merely survive.

The 46 million Americans on food stamps will be devastated when their cost of electricity represents 10 to 15% of their total income.

The 200 to 250 million Americans in the middle class will find it more difficult to meet their daily needs.

Electricity is part of nearly everything that’s produced or manufactured, so the cost of nearly every product will increase as the result of the CPP.

Meanwhile, the rich and famous will still drive their Tesla’s, because their cost of electricity will represent less than 1% of their total income.

It’s important to remember that these regulations are being implemented by unelected bureaucrats whose only mission is to implement programs to eventually cut CO2 emissions 80%, the previously stated goal of the EPA. The devastating 32% cut by 2030 is merely their initial effort.

Cutting CO2 emissions to below 1975 levels while the population increases by 143 million, and at the same time increasing the cost of electricity by at least 300%, will destroy the average American’s standard of living, while forcing many poorer American families into a devastating living hell.

One way to describe these efforts by president Obama and the EPA has been to say they have declared war on coal.

In effect, they have really declared war on the American people.

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President Obama’s CO2 Plan Hurts Americans

August 11, 2015

The University of New Hampshire may request an apology from me for using the politically incorrect word “American.”

Perhaps I should say Comrade, but I’m hopeful we haven’t reached that point yet.

The new final Clean Power Plan, issued by the EPA, requiring the cutting of CO2 emissions, relies heavily on Americans reducing their use of electricity: Supposedly, by improving energy efficiency.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan say,

“Increased energy efficiency and falling costs for renewable generation would allow consumers to cut their bills.”

At best, this is grossly misleading. At worst it’s a blatant falsehood.

Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears

Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears

Renewables currently cost two to four times more than electricity generated from natural gas. Even if the cost of renewables are dramatically reduced, renewables will still increase the cost of electricity as a result of the new Clean Power Plan.

Proof that renewables will increase the cost of electricity is found in data published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA is biased toward wind and solar, yet their Leveled Cost of Electricity (LCOE) estimates for 2019, four years from now, are:

  • Natural Gas Combined Cycle 6 cents/kWh
  • Wind, onshore 8 cents/kWh
  • Wind, offshore 20 cents/kWh
  • PV solar 13 cents/kWh
  • Concentrating solar 24 cents/kWh

Currently, wind and solar cost much more than these future estimated costs, so the EIA data reflects major cost reductions for wind and solar over the next four years.

But even with these cost reductions, the cost of wind and solar generated electricity remains higher than electricity generated using natural gas.

The administration repeatedly claims that renewables are becoming less costly, and some people claim they are reaching grid parity. The EIA data proves these claims to be bogus.

Every claim such as these is misleading, if not completely false.

The new Clean Power Plan will increase the cost of electricity, not reduce it.

The idea that Americans can reduce their total bill for electricity by reducing their usage of electricity through improved energy efficiency is also grossly misleading.

There are very few applications in the typical American home that could be cut significantly as the result of improved energy efficiency. Without these cuts, monthly electricity bills of Americans will increase.

There are essentially only two items that can improve efficiency while lowering costs: They are automatic thermostats and LED lighting.

Thermostats can result in more efficient use of air-conditioning and heating by maintaining temperatures closer to desired levels, especially when the home isn’t occupied.

The initial cost of LED lighting is higher than for incandescent bulbs, but savings can offset the initial cost if lamps are used more than 4 hours each day. Replacing any incandescent bulb used less than 1 hour per day with an LED lamp would be a bad investment and increase homeowners’ out-of-pocket costs.

Virtually, all other proposals for economically improving energy efficiency are bogus, or are really attempts to force people to use less electricity.

For example, doing the dishes or laundry at nighttime may reduce the evening peak, but doesn’t save electricity. Replacing furnaces and refrigerators can improve efficiency, but the cost of the new furnace or refrigerator won’t be recovered by savings from using less electricity, so the total out-of-pocket cost for American homeowners is greater.

Hanging the clothes outside to dry saves electricity, but has nothing do with improving efficiency.

The new Clean Power Plan (CPP) increases costs further by requiring greater use of renewables, wind and solar, rather than allowing natural gas to replace coal for power generation. More renewables means more costly electricity.

There is little, if anything, about Obama’s CPP that will reduce the cost of electricity.

It’s an indisputable fact that the CPP will increase what Americans pay for electricity.

The next article will explain why the CPP is a disaster for the average American, why electricity will cost much, much more, and why it circumvents Congress, the representatives of all Americans, and undermines the American form of representative government.

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Arctic and Antarctic Ice Growing

August 4, 2015

Vice-President Al Gore, in his 2007 Noble Prize acceptance speech, said,

“The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff … It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.”

However, the apocalypse didn’t happen.

Antarctic ice is also growing.

As a result, both the North and South poles are seeing more ice.

These NASA satellite pictures of Arctic ice cover for 2012 and 2013, show the one-third increase in ice cover during that year. And, it has grown more since then.

Picture from Daily Mail 7/22/2015

Picture from Daily Mail 7/22/2015

Satellite pictures of the ice caps only go back about thirty years, so it’s impossible to know how the ice caps behaved in earlier years.

Making wild claims about the melting of the ice caps is irresponsible, as recent data has shown.

For example, the Canadian research ship Amundsen had to be diverted from its carefully planned summer research program, because it was needed to break ice in Hudson Bay for resupply vessels.

“Johnny Leclair, assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard, said conditions in the area are the worst he’s seen in 20 years.”

Graph from Watts Up With That

Graph from Watts Up With That

 

This graph shows that Arctic sea ice is only slightly below the average from 1981 – 2010.

As can be seen in the following graph, ice in Antarctica is greater than the average over the same time period.

Graph from Watts Up With That

Graph from Watts Up With That

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is an area that needs to be monitored because ocean currents under the ice may be able to loosen the ice sheet and cause it to break away.

Global warming alarmists have claimed global warming, caused by CO2 emissions, would increase the likelihood that the ice sheet would break away and result in dramatic sea level rise.

But, it has long been believed, and recently confirmed, that geothermal activity on the ocean floor or beneath the ice sheet is the actual source of warming.

The latest study, led by UC Santa Cruz researchers, with results published July 10 in Science Advances, shows very high geothermal heating from the ground beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The geothermal heating confirms there could be a future problem with the ice sheet melting, but it won’t be because of global warming from CO2 emissions.

The recent rapid recovery of Arctic ice cover and the continuing buildup of Antarctic ice in the face of higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, demonstrates that climate change doesn’t represent a threat to the ice cap at either pole.

Global warming alarmists can no longer claim CO2 emissions are a threat to polar ice caps.

If there is an eventual threat to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, it’s from geothermal heating, not global warming.

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Want to Fly? Bring Garbage

July 31, 2015

The number of airline passengers is projected to more than double by 2035.

Simultaneously, airlines could be prohibited from using jet fuel made from oil if the UNFCCC and EPA have their way.

Jet fuel made from oil emits CO2, and, according to the UNFCCC, IPCC and EPA, CO2 emissions cause climate change.

For this reason, airlines, plane manufacturers and the government are spending millions in an effort to develop jet biofuels made from garbage and non-food crops.

The FAA has said it will award $7.7 million in contracts to eight companies to help develop biofuels from sources such as alcohols, sugars, biomass and organic materials known as pyrolysis oils.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its German counterpart, the BMVBS, signed an agreement in 2014 to promote, develop and use jet biofuels.

This is another example of CO2 global warming hysteria affecting everyone who flies, whether for business or for pleasure.

It begs the question: Is developing biofuels either feasible or necessary?

Based on daily consumption, as shown in the accompanying chart, nearly 2 billion barrels of jet fuel are used each year.

Based on a doubling of miles flown, and assuming that the efficiency of jet engines is improved by 30%, nearly 110 billion gallons of jet biofuel will be needed annually by 2030.

World Jet Fuel Consumption

World Jet Fuel Consumption

 

Is it feasible to produce 110 billion gallons of jet biofuel each year?

Two companies in the news are Red Rock Biofuels and Fulcrum Bioenergy.

Red Rock uses wood pulp to make biofuel while Fulcrum Bioenergy uses municipal solid waste (MSW).

Both say they use the Fischer-Tropsch process that was developed in Germany in the 1920s. It’s been used successfully with hydrocarbons by SASOL to produce oil from coal in South Africa. It’s also been used to produce diesel fuel from natural gas.

The technology has been proven for use with hydrocarbons, but both companies will need to demonstrate that the Fisher-Tropsch process works with cellulosic or other materials. They will also need to provide cost information which is not currently available on their web sites.

The fundamental feasibility of producing jet biofuel from any process can be determined by calculating the amount of feedstock required to produce 110 billion gallons of jet biofuel each year.

The following analysis of available feedstock provides an insight into whether these companies can produce the required quantities of jet biofuel to replace Jet fuel made from oil.

Red Rock Biofuels

Red Rock’s website states it can produce 16 million gallons of jet biofuel from 175,000 tons of woody pulp annually. The Clemson Extension provides information on tons per acre for various ages and heights of pine trees. For example, one acre of 70 ft tall, 30-year-old loblolly pine trees produces 140 tons of pulp.

As a result, 8.7 million acres of 30-year-old pine trees are required each year as feedstock for Red Rock’s process. This is larger than the area of New Hampshire.

In other words, an area over thirty times the size of New Hampshire is required by Red Rock to grow enough trees to meet the annual requirement for jet biofuel where trees are harvested annually.

Fulcrum Bioenergy

Fulcrum Bioenergy’s website says it can produce 10 million gallons of jet biofuel annually with a 200,000 ton supply of municipal solid waste (MSW). To supply 110 billion gallons of jet biofuel, Fulcrum Bioenergy will require 2.2 billion tons of MSW.

The average American produces approximately 2.3 pounds of residential MSW daily, which, for 350 million Americans, amounts to 143 million tons annually.

In other words, Fulcrum Bioenergy will need 16 times as much residential MSW as is generated annually in the United States.

(It should be noted that the Fulcrum website provides alternative data indicating that, using 1.3 billion tons of MSW generated worldwide, a smaller amount of biofuel will be produced than indicated by the data from the proposed Sierra Biofuels plant, and that the output will include both diesel and jet biofuel.)

A similar analysis was done two years ago for algae, which arrived at similar conclusions for gasoline. See, Latest on Algae.

The cost of these jet biofuels is probably going to be greater than jet fuel made from oil.

The US Navy recently paid four times the cost of traditional jet fuel for the jet biofuel it purchased for a demonstration project.

But, is cutting CO2 emissions from jet engines even necessary?

Aviation CO2 emissions are only 2% of total worldwide CO2 emissions, while China currently accounts for approximately 30% of worldwide CO2 emissions.

China’s emissions are forecast to increase approximately 170% by 2030 as the result of the recent Obama – China agreement. This increase will far outweigh any possible reduction in CO2 emissions from forcing the aviation industry to switch to biofuels.

China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord

China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord

It would seem that eliminating CO2 emissions from jet engines should have a relatively low priority, given the large increase in CO2 emissions from China.

But, this assumes CO2 emissions are the cause of global warming, which science is rapidly disproving.

It would appear that it may be technically possible, if 262 million acres of trees are planted around the world, and if municipal solid waste is collected in the US, Europe, Russia, South America and Asia, to produce enough jet biofuel to meet the requirements of the aviation industry in 2030, but at a cost that’s probably greater than the cost of jet fuel today.

Only three feedstocks, trees, garbage and algae, were discussed in this article as potential feedstocks for producing jet biofuel, but, other than food crops, there are not many additional feedstocks capable of producing a jet biofuel having the required energy content.

Using a food crop has been called a crime against humanity, and should be avoided for that reason.

Maybe, when you buy your plane ticket in the future, you will be asked to bring garbage with you.

You can decide whether pursuing jet biofuel is a fools errand.

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