Trumping Hydrocarbon Fuels and Consumers by Paul Driessen

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump loves to tout his poll numbers. But if he’s doing so well, why does he pander to Iowa’s ethanol interests?

The gambit might garner a few caucus votes among corn growers and ethanol producers. It certainly brings plaudits from renewable energy lobbyists and their political enablers. But it could (and should) cost him votes in many other quarters – beyond the Corn Ethanol Belt and even in Iowa.

The fact is, the 14.5-billion-gallon-per-year ethanol mandate prolongs policies that are bad for consumers and the environment. And yet many presidential candidates and other politicians support it.

The ethanol mandate forces refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline. It’s the epitome of feel-good government programs run amok. Congress enacted the steadily expanding ethanol blending requirement to stave off the “imminent” depletion of crude oil worldwide, decrease US imports of oil whose price was “only going to increase,” reduce gasoline costs for motorists, and prevent manmade climate change.

We now know all these concerns were misplaced. In fact, the ethanol mandate fails every economic and environmental test.

The “fracking revolution” (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) has unleashed a gusher of US oil and gas production. Domestic oil production in 2014 reached its highest level in 114 years, and the United States is now the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. Global crude and American gasoline prices have plummeted. Fracking technology can be applied to shale deposits anywhere in the world, and even to conventional oil fields, ensuring that the world has at least another century of oil and natural gas supplies – and ample time to develop new energy technologies that we cannot even conceive of today.

Since ethanol gets a third less mileage than pure gasoline, adding ethanol to fuel actually increases fuel costs per tank, especially when crude oil fetches less than $30 per barrel and regular gasoline is under $2 per gallon in most states. For motorists driving 15,000 miles a year, $1.85-per-gallon gas means $1,200 in savings, compared to April 2012 prices. Ending the ethanol mandate would save them even more.

As to climate change, numerous studies demonstrate that there is no credible evidence that manmade carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming. Moreover, rising CO2 emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing nations overwhelm any imaginable US reductions.

The ethanol mandate has devolved into a black hole that sucks hard-earned cash from consumers’ wallets, while padding the pockets of special interests and their political patrons. Poor, minority, middle class and blue-collar families are especially hard hit.

Devoting 40% of America’s corn crop to ethanol production has significantly increased corn prices and thus the price of all foods that utilize the grain: beef, milk, pork, chicken, eggs, farm-raised fish, and countless products that include corn syrup. The corn converted into biofuel each year could feed more than 400,000,000 malnourished people in impoverished and war-torn countries.

Ethanol is corrosive and mixes easily with water, resulting in serious damage to gaskets and engines. Consumers have spent billions “degunking” and repairing cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, chain saws and other small engine equipment, to prevent (or in the aftermath of) fuel leaks, engine failures and even fires. Vehicle, outdoor equipment and marine engine manufacturers warn against using gasoline blends containing more than 10% ethanol.

The mandate raised fuel costs nationwide by an estimated $83 billion between 2007 and 2014. In New England it is expected to cost the economy $20 billion, reduce labor income by $7.3 billion, and eliminate more than 7,000 jobs annually between 2005 and 2024. It has cost Californians $13.1 billion in higher fuel costs since 2005, and could inflict $28.8 billion in additional costs there by 2025.

Corn ethanol’s ecological impacts have convinced the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations to oppose further extensions of the mandate. More than 35,000,000 acres (an area larger than Iowa) are now devoted to growing corn for ethanol, and the EWG says the mandate encourages farmers to convert extensive wetlands and grasslands into cornfields.

Growing corn, turning it into ethanol and trucking it to refineries (since it attracts water, it cannot be carried by pipeline) also requires vast amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, diesel fuel and natural gas. Only a tiny fraction of that acreage, water and fuel is required to produce far more energy via fracking.

Contrary to Environmental Protection Agency claims that ethanol helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, those lands released an additional 27,000,000 tons of CO2 in 2014, the EWG calculates. In fact, the group says, corn ethanol results in more carbon dioxide emissions than estimated for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The United States also imports sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. The American Energy Alliance says the EPA does not account for the associated greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, EPA calls sugarcane ethanol an “advanced” fuel, even though it has been around since the 1920s.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) set expectations for biofuel development based on aspirations, not reality. It assumed switch-grass and wood waste could be converted into advanced cellulosic fuels, but the process has proven very costly and difficult. In an effort to hide this inconvenient truth, EPA now defines even some kinds of liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and electricity as derived from cellulosic fuels, in an effort to meet the mandate – even though none of these fuels can be blended into gasoline.

It’s encouraging that EPA’s Inspector General wants the agency’s pro-ethanol rhetoric investigated.

Many consumers are rejecting ethanol-blended fuels, and sales of straight gasoline have climbed from just over 3% of total US gasoline demand in 2012 to nearly 7% in 2014.

Simply put, the ethanol mandate is a disaster. When the government writes fuel recipes and meddles in the free market system, everyone loses except ethanol special interests. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is right: ethanol mandates and energy subsidies should all be terminated. Let biofuel, wind and solar power compete on their own merits, instead of being force-fed to consumers and taxpayers.

However, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has made support for ethanol a litmus test for the February 1 presidential caucuses. He wants Senator Cruz defeated for opposing the ethanol mandate. The governor’s stance also reflects the fact his son heads up the pro-ethanol America’s Energy Future lobbying group, and ethanol interests have contributed sizable amounts to the six-term Republican governor’s reelection campaigns.

There’s even a pro-ethanol van following Mr. Cruz around Iowa, to change recent polling results that found half of Iowa voters do not care much or at all about preserving the federal corn ethanol mandate.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump still thinks the mandate should be increased from this year’s 14.5 billion gallons to the full 15 billion gallons allowed under the antiquated RFS law. Jeb Bush and Chris Christy also support ethanol coercion. While this position might be politically expedient in Iowa, its affect on voters beyond the Hawkeye State is likely negative.

Mr. Trump and other candidates often say they will surround themselves with experts who know their stuff on important issues. Their pro-ethanol stance makes you wonder which wunderkinds are advising them right now. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, by contrast, share Senator Cruz’s disdain for energy mandates and subsidies.

The issue is a small but important indication of what’s at stake in the 2016 presidential election.

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment, economic development and international affairs. He is the author of “Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2010) and coauthor of “Energy Keepers, Energy Killers” (Merril Press, 2008).

Government’s Gold King whitewash by Paul Driessen

When a private citizen or company violates rules, misrepresents facts or
pollutes a river, government penalties are swift and severe. It’s different
when the government lies or screws up.

Two weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell testified before
Congress on a toxic spill that federal and state agencies unleashed into
western state rivers last August. Supervised by officials from the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Colorado Division of Reclamation,
Mining and Safety (DRMS), an Environmental Restoration (ER) company crew
excavated tons of rock and debris that had blocked the portal (entrance or
adit) to the Gold King Mine above Silverton, Colorado.

The crew kept digging until the remaining blockage burst open, spilling
3,000,000 gallons of acidic water laden with iron, lead, cadmium, mercury
and other heavy metals. The toxic flood contaminated the Animas and San Juan
Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. EPA then waited an entire day
before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, kayakers,
fishermen, farmers and ranchers that the water they were drinking, paddling
in, or using for crops and livestock was contaminated.

Ms. Jewell told Congress she was unaware of anyone being fired, fined or
even demoted. In fact, federal investigations and reports didn’t hold anyone
responsible for the disaster. (Maybe they even got bonuses.) Considering the
spill’s severity, the gross incompetence of government officials, their
advance knowledge of the dangers, and the way they downplayed and
whitewashed their actions, this is intolerable.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy did say she was “absolutely, deeply sorry.”
But then FEMA denied disaster relief to the Navajos, and EPA sent them
emergency water tanks contaminated with oil!

On August 24, EPA issued a preliminary report
that can
only be called a Tom Sawyer whitewash, designed to absolve the perpetrators
of any blame, liability, civil penalty or criminal prosecution.

It says the state and federal personnel at Gold King were “senior mining
experts” and “experienced professionals” who have “extensive experience with
the investigation and closure of mines.” But their names were all redacted
from the summary, and their actions strongly suggest that they had little
training or experience in reopening mines or dealing with possible water
impoundments and toxic spills.

The EPA/DRMS determination that there was “no or low mine water
pressurization” at Gold King was supposedly based on actual observations.
However, the EPA review team said it “was not able to identify any
calculations made on the possible volume of water that could be held behind
the portal plug.”

In fact, the “professionals” simply claimed ongoing mine drainage showed
that a pressure buildup was not likely. Wrong. It simply showed that the
compacted overburden was able to hold back an enormous volume of water –
until they destroyed its structural integrity. They also said a similar
excavation at a nearby mine “did not result in a blowout.” But that’s
irrelevant. Every mine is unique and must be treated as if a worst-case
scenario could unfold. The other mine didn’t have serious water backup; Gold
King did.

Perhaps the most blatant example of self-serving excuses is on page 7, which
says in relevant part:

“Mine water pressurization data from behind the blockage potentially could
have been obtained through a drill hole inserted further back into the [Gold
King] Adit from above the mine tunnel. Such a technique was . not used at
the [Gold King] Adit [because it] would have been very difficult and
expensive . and require much more planning and multiple field seasons to
accomplish. Although difficult and therefore expensive and technically
challenging, this procedure may have been able to discover the pressurized
conditions that turned out to cause the blowout.” [emphasis added]

In truth, the crew could easily have drilled a borehole lined with steel
pipe from above the portal into an area behind the blockage, and then used
simple instruments to determine the water pressure and extent of water
backup, before beginning to dig. They had done this elsewhere and at could
have done it at Gold King for less than $75,000, experienced miners told me.
It was not “technically challenging.”

These “experienced professionals” guessed but did not test. They simply
assumed there was limited water in the mine, and charged blindly ahead. And
they did it after bullying their way onto the Gold King premises by
threatening its owner with $35,000 per day in fines if he did not allow them on his property.

Their actions were grossly negligent. In fact, they are criminal offenses
under the Clean Water Act and other laws that the government routinely uses
to fine and jail private citizens and company employees, such as John
Pozsgai , Bill Ellen, and employees of Freedom Industries and the Pacific & Arctic Railway. None of these “convicted felons” intended to cause those accidents, and all were
“absolutely, deeply sorry” for what happened. Why should the state and
federal culprits be treated any differently – get off scot free – after
causing far worse environmental damage?

Before the blowout, the Gold King Mine was leaking 206 gallons of acidic,
metals-laden but mostly clear water per minute in 2010, 140 gpm in 2011, 13
in August 2014 and 112 in September 2014, just before EPA first began
working at the mine portal. On August 5, 2015, it flash-flooded more than
3,000,000 gallons of turmeric-orange, toxic-sludge-laden pollution.

The mine is now leaking 500-900 gallons per minute: 720,000 to 1,300,000
gallons per day – a huge increase in pollution into these important
waterways. Until winter set in, most of it was finally being treated before
entering Cement Creek, the Animas River and downstream waters.

So we must ask, what was the emergency that “forced” the EPA and DRMS to
return to Gold King, demand immediate access to the site – and proceed in
such a hasty, negligent manner? Unfortunately, this incident and the
whitewashing that followed is too typical of government agencies that have
become increasingly dictatorial, unaccountable, and dismissive of other
interests, outside expertise, and people’s needs for jobs, minerals, energy
and quality living standards.

Today, throughout the Rocky Mountain region, waters are still polluted by
metals and minerals that are present in underground mines along with the
gold and silver that have long drawn prospectors, created jobs, and built
state and local economies. Hopefully, effluents from all these abandoned
mines will soon be minimized via practical, efficient, low-maintenance
treatment systems, under legal regimes that do not assign unlimited
liability to private sector entities that try to fix these problems.

That will greatly improve water quality in many streams – while suggestions
presented in EPA’s otherwise shoddy internal review could do much to prevent
a repeat of Gold King, if they are followed.

Meanwhile, Congress and state legislatures should further investigate the
Gold King disaster, and compel witnesses to testify under oath. They should
also improve relevant laws, ensure that agency personnel are truly qualified
to do their tasks, and hold agency incompetents and miscreants accountable.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee
For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism

What Does Global Warming Mean? by Jim B.

Wow this Global warming thing is a big deal! ….Climate change means days are getting longer, scientists find.
Duration of day has lengthened by a millisecond over the past 100 years as water from shrinking glaciers slows Earth’s rotation and shifts position of poles

The impact of climate change may appear to be overwhelmingly negative but there is a bright spot for those who struggle to find enough time in the day: melting glaciers are causing the rotation of the Earth to slow thereby lengthening our days, new research has found.

But wait …. Global warming will make Earth spin faster

Sure glad we have this figured out.

Reprieve! Binding Paris treaty now voluntary mush by PAUL DRIESSEN, ROGER BEZDEK

Paris climate talks this week descended into madcap all-night negotiations, as delegates desperately tried to salvage some kind of agreement beyond empty promises to do something sometime about what President Obama insists is the gravest threat to our planet, national security and future generations.

He gets far more energized about slashing energy use than about Islamist terrorism, even after the Paris and San Bernardino butchery. Determined for once to lead from upfront, he took a 500-person greenhouse gas-spewing entourage to the City of Light, to call for preventing increasing droughts, floods, storms, island-swallowing rising acidic ocean levels and other disasters conjured up by alarmist computer models.

Legally binding carbon dioxide emission targets were too contentious to pursue. So was modifying the concept of “differentiated responsibilities.” It holds that countries that historically caused the recent atmospheric carbon dioxide build-up must lead in cutting their emissions, while helping developing countries eventually do likewise, by pouring trillions of dollars in cash and free technology into the Green Climate Fund for supposed climate change adaptation, mitigation and compensation. Developing countries had insisted on that massive wealth redistribution as their price for signing any binding document.

Although China now emits far more CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) than the USA or EU, it refused to fast-track reducing those emissions. China and wealthy petro-states also opposed paying into the Climate Fund. Other major bones of contention were likewise never resolved.

Thus, in the end, what we apparently got out of Paris is voluntary emission caps, voluntary progress reviews, no international oversight of any voluntary progress, and voluntary contributions to the Fund.

Of course, the entire climate cataclysm mantra is based on the claim that carbon dioxide has replaced the solar and other powerful natural forces that have driven climate change throughout Earth and human history. Now, merely tweaking CO2 emissions will supposedly stabilize climate and weather systems.

President Obama fervently believes this delusion. He will likely use the voluntary Paris gobbledygook to say America somehow has a “moral obligation” to set an example, by de-carbonizing, de-industrializing and de-developing the United States. Thankfully, Congress and the states will have something to say about that, because they know these anti-fossil fuel programs will destroy jobs and living standards, especially for poor, working class and minority families.

The impacts would be far worse than many news stories and White House press releases suggest. Those sources often say the proposed climate treaty and other actions seek GHG reductions of 80% below predicted 2050 emission levels. The real original Paris treaty target is 80% below actual 1990 levels.

That means the world would have to eliminate 96% of the greenhouse gases that all humanity would likely release if we reach world population levels, economic growth and living standards predicted for 2050. The United States would likely have to slash it CO2 and GHG reductions to zero.

Moreover, current 2050 forecasts already assume and incorporate significant energy efficiency, de-carbonization and de-industrialization over the next 35 years. They are not business-as-usual numbers or extrapolations of past trends. Further CO2 reductions beyond those already incorporated into the forecasts would thus be increasingly difficult, expensive, and indeed impossible to achieve.

As we explain in a MasterResource.org analysis, there is a strong positive relationship between GDP and carbon-based energy consumption. Slashing fossil energy use that far would thus require decimating economic growth, job creation and preservation, and average per-person incomes. In fact, average world per capita GDP would plummet from a projected $30,600 in 2050 to a miserable $1,200 per year.

Average per capita GDP in 2050 would be less than what Americans had in 1830! Many futuristic technologies would still exist, but only wealthy families and ruling elites could afford them.

That would be catastrophic for jobs, health and welfare in developed countries – and lethal to millions in poor nations, who would be denied the blessings of electricity and fossil fuels for decades to come. That is indefensible, inhumane and immoral. And for what?

Mr. Obama and the alarmists in Paris insisted that drastic GHG reductions will hold global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 F) and prevent climate and weather disasters. Now some even claim that the upper safety limit is actually 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F), which would require even more draconian energy and emission cutbacks. Otherwise, Earth could become uninhabitable, they assert. Nonsense.

EPA’s own analyses suggest that its fully implemented Clean Power Plan would bring an undetectable, irrelevant reduction of perhaps 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.05 F) in average global temperatures 85 years from now – assuming carbon dioxide actually does drive climate change.

In the Real World, climate changes regularly, and recent climate and weather trends and events are in line with historic experience. In fact, average global temperatures haven’t risen in nearly two decades; no category 3-5 hurricane has struck the USA in a record ten years; Greenland and Antarctic ice are at record levels; and still firmly alkaline sea levels (8.1 pH) are rising at barely seven inches per century.

Many scientists believe the sun and other powerful natural forces may soon usher in a new era of colder temperatures, regardless of whether atmospheric CO2 rises above 0.40% (400 ppm). That would pose much greater threats to human health, agriculture and prosperity (and wildlife) than global warming.

We must never forget: Fossil fuels facilitated successive industrial revolutions and enabled billions to live better than royalty did a century ago, helped average incomes to increase eleven-fold, and helped average global life expectancy to soar from less than 30 in 1870 to 71 today.

Carbon-based energy still provides 81% of world energy, and supports $70 trillion per year in world GDP. It will supply 75-80% of global energy for decades to come, Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency and other studies forecast. Carbon-based energy is essential if we are to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people who still do not have it, and end the rampant poverty and lung, intestinal and other diseases that kill millions of people in poor countries every year.

Furthermore, thousands of coal-fired power plants are built, under construction or in planning around the world. China and India will not consider reducing GHG emissions until 2030, and even then it will be voluntary and dependent on how their economies are doing. That means atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will continue to climb, greening the planet and spurring faster crop, forest and grassland growth.

President Obama and the 40,000 climate alarmists gathered in Paris largely these inconvenient realities, and whitewashed the adverse consequences of anti-hydrocarbon policies. Even binding targets would have had minimal or illusory health, climate and environmental benefits.

Instead, they would have horrendous adverse effects on human health and environmental quality, while doing nothing to prevent climate change or extreme weather events. What alarmists wanted in Paris would have let unelected, unaccountable activists and bureaucrats decide which industries, companies, workers, families, states and countries win the Climate Hustle game, and which ones lose.

And it’s not just President Obama, who wants to slash America’s carbon dioxide emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 – and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050! Every Democrat presidential candidate demands similar actions: Hillary Clinton wants one-third of all US electricity to come from wind and solar by 2027; Bernie Sanders wants 80% by 2050; Martin O’Malley wants 100% by 2050.

Obligating the United States to slash its fossil fuel use, and send billions of taxpayer dollars annually to dictators, bureaucrats and crony industrialists in poor countries would be disastrous. Thank goodness it did not happen. But we are not out of the woods yet.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death

Obama Declares Jihad on Sun! By John W. Lillpop

Hooray and yippee! Breaking news from Paris: Barack Obama and his science-fraud JV team has sent a “powerful rebuke” to Islamic terrorists all across the globe! The rebuke? Barack Hussein Obama and 200 or so world leaders who should know better have reached a historic agreement on a plan to contain that fiery ball of hell otherwise known as the sun; thus, protecting the world from the mental insanity known as climate hysteria. Obama reached his legacy milestone by issuing a fatwa (Executive Order in America speak!) which forbids the sun from further dissemination of the dangerous climate change which has turned a simple country boy like Al Gore into a multi-billionaire. Now THAT is an inconvenient truth! As reported:

“A historic, legally binding climate deal that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming, has been secured. The culmination of more than 20years of fraught UN climate talks has seen all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by later this century.

”Barack Obama was quick to note that the landmark deal is proof positive that ISIL has, in fact, been contained and that it will take more than 130 slaughtered innocents in Paris to stop the Obama legacy run! With just 14 months left in which to destroy America and the world economy, Obama is off and running to his next urgent mission: Prying 300 million guns from the cold hands of stubborn Americans who insist on honoring the 2ndAmendment, the rule of law, and other modern day idiocies which are the result of allowing Nazi-Republicans to hold majorities in both chambers of the US Congress!Barack Obama: The Jihadist messiah who conquered the sun through stupidity and lack of transparency!