Tesla Plugs Into $35,000 In Tax Loopholes For Super-Wealthy Customers

Elon MuskTesla CEO Elon MuskTesla Motors, which is already heavily dependent on tax subsidies to sell its luxury electric cars, has managed to hit another lucrative taxpayer vein with its Model X electric SUV.

That car, which will retail at more than $100,000, is eligible for a $25,000 tax deduction, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, you read that right.

The tax break, offered to small-business owners, comes from President Obama’s stimulus program. It was supposed to encourage small companies to spend more on equipment like tractors and trucks, or other vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds. Which, conveniently enough, the Model X does.

So let’s say you’re eligible for the $25,000 tax deduction and you’re in the 39.6% tax bracket. You’d save $9,900 in taxes. Combine that with the $7,500 federal tax credit for buying an electric car, plus state-level credits (the one in California is $2,500), and your total tax break hits $19,900.

That $100,000 car ends up costing you only $80,100, with taxpayers picking up the rest.

This is not a far fetched scenario. As the Times explains, Tesla buyers are overwhelmingly wealthy, with median incomes of $280,000 — which is more than five times the national median.

Tesla isn’t the only car maker benefitting from these lavish tax breaks. Overall, the federal government handed out nearly $1 billion in tax credits to plug-in electric and hybrid car buyers from 2006 to 2012, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012 alone, these credits added up to $159 million.

And, as with Tesla, the credits overwhelmingly benefit the well-to-do. The Berkeley researchers found that 89% of the plug-in tax credits were claimed by people making $75,000 or more; those with incomes above $200,000 got more than a third — which makes this one of the most regressive tax credits on the books.

When he was running for office in 2008, President Obama talked about how he wanted to “spread the wealth around.”

It’s unlikely anyone could have imagined that what he meant was taking hard-earned tax dollars from the middle class and handing it over to rich luxury-car buyers.

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Joe Bast assesses the battlefield on climate/warming/global environmental political war

Joe BastJoe BastBelow I post an essay on the present state of affairs written by Joe Bast, president of the Heartland Institute of Chicago, one of the leading organizations dedicated to opposing warmer/climate change/environmentalism nonsense science and policy making. We are all committed to protecting the environment but opposed to socialist, leftist, statist hijacking the cause for their malignant political purposes.

I have been working with Joe Bast now for more than 10 years and find him to be a good editor and writer, excellent organizer and political strategist. I have benefited from my association with Heartland Institute and the many people associated with Heartland.

Today Joe sent me an essay (pasted below) that states his assessment of the current political state of affairs related to the climate change/warming crusade and environmental policy battles.

I have never had a paid position with Heartland and usually I sent my honoraria back for times when I was invited to speak. Sometimes I even paid my own travel expenses. I was and am a volunteer in the army that was gathered by Heartland and others to challenge junk science and bad policy making promoted by socialist, fanatic and misanthropic environmentalists. I had a day job so I could be a part of the effort.

Joe’s essay:

Friends,

I sent this last night to Heartland’s extended global warming team, and figured this morning it’s good enough to share more widely. I hope I’m not being overly optimistic… real-world data will reveal that soon enough.

Joe

Earlier this evening I had a long conversation with a donor. As he often does, he asked where the global warming debate stands: Are we winning? While it’s fresh on mind, I want to share some of things we talked about. We all have our own views and insights into the global warming debate, here are mine.

My usual answer to the donor is “the battle field is large, we’re winning some battles and losing others, we’re no longer retreating, but the war is too close to call.” But today, after more than 20 years in the global warming debate (I first wrote about it in 1993), and surrounded by books and reports on climate change as I work on Climate Change II: Benefits and Costs of Fossil Fuels, I think I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe I’m just really tired.

In the early years, we debunked AGW myths the same way we would debunk myths about recycling, dioxin, acid rain, and the rest of the memes tossed out by left environmentalists to justify their anti-humanism. As AGW gained momentum, we struggled to keep from being swept aside as a popular delusion gripped the nation and the world. We tried economics – the high cost of reducing emissions, the small and improbable benefits – and got no traction. Who cares what the fire extinguisher costs if the building is on fire? So we resurrected the science debate, and in 2008, thanks to Climate Change Reconsidered, played a major role in the rejection of Lieberman-Warner by the Senate. (We put copies of that tome on the desk of every member of the U.S. Senate and met with most their senior staff.)

Opinion polls can be misleading, but we’ve convinced around 70% of the American people that global warming is mostly man-made, that it’s unlikely to be a problem in our lifetimes, and that it isn’t worth more than about $25 to stop. We convinced Republicans to make the issue a litmus test, at least for primary elections at the national level. We got Tea Party leaders to agree to put it in their top five issues where compromise isn’t accepted. We’ve educated thousands of state legislators and members of congress, sending every one of them a publication on the issue (Environment & Climate News) every four weeks for eighteen consecutive years.

In the coming two years, the three legs of the global warming scam’s stool will be kicked out. The other side’s most powerful player, the United Nations, will be kneecapped in Paris in December. EPA will be gutted and hung out to dry by the next Republican President of the USA. And temperatures will start to noticeably cool in 2017, exposing NOAA’s, EPA’s, UCS’s, and EDF’s deceptions and forever discrediting the global warming movement. None of these events are inevitable, of course. We need to make sure Congress demands a vote on any commitments made by the Obama delegation to Paris and then votes to kill them. We need to nominate and vet candidates to populate the next cabinet. And we need to be in a position to say “we told you so and here’s what it means” when temperatures dip.

The failure in Paris is explained beautifully in this essay by a senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations:

http://blogs.cfr.org/levi/2015/06/10/what-matters-and-what-doesnt-in-the-g7-climate-declaration/

Note the source and check out his bio… he’s one of those whiz-kid Ruling Class types that Codevilla talked about:

http://www.cfr.org/experts/energy-geoeconomics/michael-a-levi/b11890

His points in brief: (1) The developed countries are no longer pushing for binding emissions reduction commitments; (2) the emphasis has shifted from mitigation to adaptation; (3) the goals declared in Paris will be too far in the future to matter to anyone; and (4) the widely discussed pledge of giving developing countries $100 billion a year is going to consist largely of relabeling foreign aid and private funding already going to those countries.

It’s hard to emphasize too strongly how major all four of these victories for “our side” are. There will be no treaty because every world leader knows the U.S. Senate will kill it. The “work around” that allows Obama to act without Congressional approval will be closed by Congress. The shift from mitigation to adaptation (as Bob Carter will tell us) reduces the cost of “taking action against global warming” by an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE (that’s by a “factor of ten” to those of you of a certain age, and “90%” for those of another certain age). Politicians have never and will never give up tax dollars and power today to do something that doesn’t produce benefits for decades or longer. Any goal more than four years out is meaningless, empty rhetoric. Redefining the $100 billion pledge to include current and planned aid and private funds cuts that number in half. Giving the money to private entities (businesses and NGOs) for adaptation projects instead of “reparations” to corrupt third world governments cuts the amount that would be wasted (or diverted to arms) by another order of magnitude. We’re getting close to that $25 that the average taxpayer is willing to spend. The wisdom of crowds…

If a Republican ‚Äì any Republican (well, maybe not Jeb Bush) ‚Äì gets elected president in 2016, EPA takes a major hit. Gone will be billions of dollars a year funneled to environmental advocacy groups and the renewable energy industry. The beast will starve. Unlike activists on our side, the other side is mostly in it for careers and power. Take away the trough and they get real jobs (or find some other fake crisis to hype). The environmental movement is like the Soviet Union in 1991: it looked big and powerful on the outside, but it’s rotten inside and about to collapse.

And then there’s the climate itself. September was the hottest month on record, in case you didn’t hear. Utter B.S. This winter is going to long and bitterly cold, again. NOAA, EPA, and the MSM will claim it’s a mild winter while people curse their televisions, cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and shovel the driveway again. Each year it gets worse, and the lies become more obvious. More and more scientists agree: we’re entering a cooling period. Only question is how soon and how deep.

Victory is not inevitable. We might still screw it up. Lots of mischief can be done while a movement collapses and retreats. The MSM and environmentalists will never admit they were wrong. Prophets (and victims) are often not recognized or respected after a popular delusion dissipates, so we may not benefit directly from victory. But it will be a victory for consumers, producers, and taxpayers nonetheless.

And for that, we will pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate. And then go to work on the very real entitlement crisis.

Joe

Joseph Bast
President, Heartland Institute of Chicago

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Jim Webb Is Basically A Republican When It Comes To Global Warming

webbNot a lot of people had heard of former Sen. Jim Webb before Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, but based on his response to a question on global warming voters can assume he’s much farther to the right than his fellow Democrats on the issue.

“You’re pro-coal, you’re pro-offshore drilling, you’re pro-Keystone pipeline. Are — again, are you — the question is, are you out of step with the Democratic party?” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked the former Virginia senator during the debate.

Webb responded that he was an “all-of-the-above energy voter” while in the U.S. Senate, adding that he supported nuclear power. Most importantly, however, Webb stressed the point that global warming would not be solved by the U.S. alone — a point most Democrats seem to ignore in the climate debate.

“And really, we are not going to solve climate change simply with the laws here,” Webb said. “If you look at China and India, they’re the greatest polluters in the world. Fifteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in one of those two countries. We need to solve this in a global way.”

Webb also took a swipe at the “illusory” agreements between the U.S. and China that have been announced in the last year. Webb argued that the Chinese have been vague on what they would do right away to fight global warming.

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Cuomo paid state workers to fill seats at climate change event

cuomo and goreGov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t taking any chances that there might be empty seats at a speech he delivered last week on climate change — so state workers were summoned on the taxpayer dime to fill the audience, The Post has learned.

The workers said they left their jobs in the middle of the day Thursday and were paid their full salaries to hear Cuomo at Columbia University announce the state was joining a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’d rather be at the park,” said one of the workers, who is employed by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and who has no connection to climate issues.

He explained that he went because his boss “asked me to make some time available in my schedule.”

The worker confessed that he didn’t know what the event was about before he agreed to go.

He said attendance is not required, but is viewed favorably, and that the practice is common throughout state government to support Cuomo.

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Flashback 2014: ‘Why Climate Change Had No Impact on the Syrian Uprising’

syriaSerious people speculated that climate change had ravaged Syria and was behind the drought that preceded the uprising. No matter that the reality is that those who attribute any one disaster to climate change are on ground no firmer than Councillor David Silvester in meteorological terms. But in Syria to speculate about climate change was to create a mystery where none existed.

Despite an abundance of water, between 2006 and 2010 there was a serious drought, which displaced more than 1.5 million subsistence farmers, depriving them of ninety percent of their income. The major cause was a depletion of groundwater. In the new “open” economy after Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father, the regime’s retainers were freed of restraint; they drilled more water than was sustainable to enhance their short-term gain. This happens in partially transformed economies where the monopolised corruption of the State becomes decentralised.

In short, as in Sudan, a focus on climate change exculpates the regime.

The “frequency of droughts had not increased over the last 20 years,” Ms. Chatel notes, and it was “not the drought per se, but rather the government’s failure to respond to the ensuing humanitarian crisis” that led to trouble. The regime had also in part causing the drought by over-drawing water:

[T]he desert naturally adapts to droughts and wet periods. … Experiments carried out over a period of ten years … in the eastern desert conclusively showed that the mismanagement and overexploitation of resources lay at the root of desertification, not drought or climate change.
To blame overpopulation or water-scarcity, as the regime does, is to actively mislead.

In January, a paper published by Francesca de Chatel, a Dutch specialist on water issues in the Arab world, vindicated this view. “[T]here is very little solid evidence” that climate change “will lead to more frequent and harsher droughts, [or] higher temperatures and lower and more unpredictable precipitation levels.” Indeed,

The only available evidence that global warming will lead to more extreme weather events relies on modeling. Data do not really sustain this hypothesis so far.

Moreover, where there are so many other evident causes of the current conflict, it seems unproductive to focus on the possible role of climate change.

As Ms. Chatel so pithily concludes:

“The possible role of climate change in this chain of events is not only irrelevant; it is also an unhelpful distraction.”

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U.K. Telegraph: Judges Planning to Prohibit ‘Climate Skepticism’

CarnwathCarnwathA report in the U.K. daily The Telegraph indicates that an international panel of judges is planning to prohibit talk of “climate skepticism.” The article by Christopher Booker said the legal change was endorsed by Prince Charles of the U.K., and would revolutionize the concept of free speech once and for all. 

“Including senior judges and lawyers from across the world, the three-day conference on ‘Climate Change and the Law’ was staged in London’s Supreme Court. It was funded, inter alia, by the Supreme Court itself, the UK government and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),” Booker reported. 

“As one of the two UN sponsors of its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UNEP has been one of the main drivers of alarm over global warming for 40 years. The organiser and chairman of the conference was the Supreme Court judge Lord Carnwath, a fervent believer in man-made climate change, who has worked with the Prince of Wales for more than 20 years, and with UNEP since 2002.”

The keynote speech for the event was given  by Philippe Sands, a lawyer who works with former U.K. First Lady Cherie Blair  and a professor of law at University College, London. “Since it is now unlikely that the world will agree in Paris to a legally binding treaty to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C from pre-industrial levels, his theme was that it is now time for the courts to step in, to enforce this as worldwide law,” Booker reported.

Sands’ idea certainly elevates the concept of “judge-made law” to a new level. Now judges apparently don’t even need to have a case before them to rule on interpretations of law; they can choose to act like legislators, and make up their own laws, as they see fit. The due process implications are astounding here as are questions of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.

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FNC’s Chris Stirewalt Pans Obama for Poor 60 Minutes Performance with ‘Obama-Nuzzler’ Steve Kroft

interviewIn a humorous and pithy takedown of President Obama for his performance on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday, Fox News Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt appeared on Monday’s edition of The Kelly File to express his astonishment with how Obama’s reached “the point of utter incredulity, even with people who were once very admiring” like 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft.

Speaking with fill-in host Shannon Bream, Stirewalt kicked off his critique by pointing out that Obama’s poor performance was “made more awkward by the fact that the sort of number one Obama-nuzzler in the whole stable of Obama-nuzzlers” in Kroft was the very person who seemed to give him a hard time.

Since he was the junior Senator from Illinois running for president in 2007, Stirewalt summarized how Obama frequently turned to Kroft whenever he needed an interview with an extra sympathetic member of the liberal media:

[A]t the beginning, Steve Kroft was one of the guys who framed the Obama methos at the beginning, back in 2007, the rise of this guy and he was one of Obama’s favorite interviews. He would go back to him when there were things he needed to lay out and that’s why Kroft had this access[.]

With the latest failures of the President and his ISIS policy, Stirewalt observed that perhaps Kroft’s willingness to cover for Obama had soured:

[A]nd the fact that you get to the point where Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes says, “holy crokinole, dude, you can’t just ‚Äì you can’t just say, ‘I had a plan, I never really liked it, we did it anyway. What can you do? The community of nations, whatever that is, they’re going to go for it’ and then say ‘oh, yeah, but I am leading because of I’m having a conference in Paris on global warming’ and you get to the point of utter incredulity, even with people who were once very admiring.

Bream offered her own thoughts on Obama’s comments later in the segment in telling Stirewalt that it seemed as though Obama was “almost analyzing himself, almost as an outside spectator looking at some of these decisions like he’s not the one who made these decisions.”

Stirewalt agreed with that sentiment and added that the current global scene fits the President’s goals for how he views the role of the United States

Underneath that, underneath these sort of vapor gusts, as he talks about himself, underneath that is reality. This is what he wants. This is by his design that the United States should not be playing a more advanced role there. That what we saw in Libya was, that’s what he ‚Äì I’m sure no one wanted the outcome that we’ve had in Libya, but he doesn’t want the United States to be playing the lead dog role. 

Going forward into 2016, Stirewalt opined that Obama’s diminished role for the U.S. could spell good news for Bernie Sanders at the expense 2016 Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton has to go to a debate with people who agree with the President, people like Bernie Sanders who wholeheartedly agree with the President that a Paris climate change summit is more important than who is bombing Syria right now because that will just have to take care of itself and in time. This puts pressure on Hillary Clinton, who is more hawkish than Obama, who doesn’t align with her party on this, but his party absolutely agrees with him. 

The relevant portions of the transcript from FNC’s The Kelly File on October 12 can be found below.

FNC’s The Kelly File
October 12, 2015
9:03 p.m. Eastern

SHANNON BREAM: Chris, awkward! 

CHRIS STIREWALT: Well, look, it made more awkward by the fact that the sort of number one Obama-nuzzler in the whole stable of Obama-nuzzlers at the beginning, Steve Kroft was one of the guys who framed the Obama methos at the beginning, back in 2007, the rise of this guy and he was one of Obama’s favorite interviews. He would go back to him when there were things he needed to lay out and that’s why Kroft had this access and the fact that you get to the point where Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes says, “holy crokinole, dude, you can’t just ‚Äì you can’t just say, ‘I had a plan, I never really liked it, we did it anyway. What can you do? The community of nations, whatever that is, they’re going to go for it’ and then say ‘oh, yeah, but I am leading because of I’m having a conference in Paris on global warming’ and you get to the point of utter incredulity, even with people who were once very admiring.

(….)

BREAM: Well, Chris, what do you make of sort of what we get from the President almost analyzing himself, almost as an outside spectator looking at some of these decisions like he’s not the one who made these decisions. 

STIREWALT: Right, like “whoever’s doing this, not doing that great. I’ve seen better.” “It’s you, boss. You’re the guy” and that has been his tendency all along, but I would also say this. Underneath that, underneath these sort of vapor gusts, as he talks about himself, underneath that is reality. This is what he wants. This is by his design that the United States should not be playing a more advanced role there. That what we saw in Libya was, that’s what he ‚Äì I’m sure no one wanted the outcome that we’ve had in Libya, but he doesn’t want the United States to be playing the lead dog role. The problem it creates, though, is for his party. Hillary Clinton has to go to a debate with people who agree with the President, people like Bernie Sanders who wholeheartedly agree with the President that a Paris climate change summit is more important than who is bombing Syria right now because that will just have to take care of itself and in time. This puts pressure on Hillary Clinton, who is more hawkish than Obama, who doesn’t align with her party on this, but his party absolutely agrees with him. 

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Armed EPA Agents? The Truth Is Way Out There

Fox Mulder and Dana ScullyFox Mulder and Dana Scully, the FBI agents on Fox’s The X-Files, have been known to draw weapons on aliens, poltergeists, and phantoms. But they have an excuse — they’re fictional characters in a network TV drama, coming back on-the-air soon after a long hiatus. Not so the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) own, real-life agents. They are packing pistols and even heavier firepower to catch the nation’s contributors to global warming and other, mythical phenomena. Truth is stranger than science fiction in today’s Washington, D.C., and the truth is way out there.

According to a report released last week by a watchdog group called Open the Books, the EPA has spent millions of dollars recently on guns, ammo, body armor, camouflage equipment, and even night-vision goggles to arm its agents in the war on polluters.

The Illinois-based investigative group examined thousands of checks totaling more than $93 billion from 2000 to 2014 by the EPA, and its auditors indicate that about $75 million is authorized each year for “criminal enforcement” of America’s clean air and water laws. This includes cash for a cadre of 200 “special agents” that engage in SWAT-style ops.

“We were shocked ourselves to find these kinds of pervasive expenditures at an agency that is supposed to be involved in clean air and clean water,” said Open the Books’ founder, Adam Andrzejewski, a former candidate for governor of Illinois. “Some of these weapons are for full-scale military operations.”

Some of these military operations have been reported in the media. Two years ago, the EPA was involved in an armed raid at a small town in Alaska where miners were accused of polluting local waters, as Fox News reported that EPA “armed agents in full body armor participated.”

The EPA’s own website describes the activities and mission of the criminal enforcement division as “investigating cases, collecting evidence, conducting forensic analyses and providing legal guidance to assist in the prosecution of criminal conduct that threatens people’s health and the environment.”

Don’t blame President Obama for this alone. The EPA was first given police powers in 1988 during the Reagan era. These days, EPA also conducts joint projects with the Department of Homeland Security as it engages in what a media report calls “environmental crime-fighting.”

“For more than 30 years,” according to the EPA website, “there has been broad, bipartisan agreement about the importance of an armed, fully-equipped team of EPA agents working with state and federal partners to uphold the law and protect Americans.”

But that’s not all that the Open the Books investigators found. Backing up these armed environmental crusaders are scores of highly paid lawyers and other professionals.

The report showed that seven of 10 EPA workers earn more than $100,000 a year, and EPA’s $8 billion budget also finances the salaries of 1,000 attorneys, making the agency one of the biggest law firms in the U.S.

The EPA is hardly going solo in this armed adventure against America, however. The agency has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and a recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that more than 40 federal agencies, with 100,000 officers, carry guns and make arrests.

How far will EPA agents go to enforce the law as they interpret it? The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday issued a temporary stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Water Rule that regulates “waters of the U.S.” The court decided the EPA”s Rule that originally became effective on August 28, 2015 requires “further judicial analysis.” The new Clean Water Rule defined navigable waters to include tributaries and wetlands, and even puddles caused by rainstorms. The rule defines which waterways would be protected by the Clean Water Act of 1972. A total of 18 states are challenging the new rule. Perhaps the new water rules will be enforced at gunpoint by armed agents if President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy decide that “environmental justice” requires it.

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Climate Negotiators Give Up On Enforceable Paris Deal

cartoonFor all their efforts to get 200 governments to commit to the toughest possible cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, climate negotiators have all but given up on creating a way to penalise those who fall short. The overwhelming view of member states, says Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, is that any agreement “has to be much more collaborative than punitive” ‚Äì if it is to happen at all. To critics, the absence of a legal stick to enforce compliance is a deep – if not fatal – flaw in the Paris process, especially after all countries agreed in 2011 that an agreement would have some form of “legal force”. —EurActiv, 12 October 2015

The UN climate negotiations are heading for failure and need a major redesign if they are to succeed, scientists say. The pledges that individual countries are offering ahead of the Paris climate summit in December are too entrenched in self interest instead of being focussed on a common goal. –Rebecca Morelle, BBC News, 12 October 2015

Ahead of the crucial climate summit in Paris, India on Friday said developed nations are “historically responsible” for global warming and must do “justice” to the developing countries by delivering on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) promised by them to deal with climate change. “Green Climate Fund is only talked about (and) not materialised. (The) Developed world has committed itself $100 billion per year by 2020. It has to be paid by the developed world to developing nations,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar told PTI here. “Therefore, we are saying that unless there is credible action … and even French Francois Hollande has said if there is no clear progress on Finance, Paris (talks) may fail,” Javadekar said. —Press Trust of India, 9 October 2015

With just a little over a month and a half left to go until the world’s next big climate summit kicks off in Paris, every indication is that we won’t be getting a binding international treaty, much to the chagrin of the green movement. That leaves us with a treaty focused more on “good vibes” than lasting policy changes, and, while that approach may be familiar to many greens, it has to be seen as a setback for a modern environmental movement that has invested so much in this quixotic GCT endeavor. The best-case scenario for Paris is the production of a kind of eco-version of the Kellogg-Briand Pact—a fact that’s long been evident but is just now starting to feel real for greens. —The American Interest, 12 October 2015

The energy landscape in Southeast Asia continues to shift as rising demand, constrained domestic production and energy security concerns lead to a greater role for coal, a sharp rise in the region’s dependence on oil imports and the reversal of its role as a major gas supplier to international markets.  The  International Energy Agency’s Special Report on Southeast Asia presents a central scenario in which Southeast Asia’s energy demand increases by 80% in the period to 2040, though the region’s per-capita energy use remains well below the global average. Despite policies aimed at scaling up the deployment of renewable resources, the share of fossil fuels in the region’s energy mix increases to around 80% by 2040, in stark contrast to the declining trend seen in many parts of the world. —International Energy Agency, 8 October 2015

Germany has long led the way in global green energy innovation. But ahead of UN climate talks this December, some say the country’s new reliance on coal means it has lost the moral high ground on emissions. Germany generated 44 per cent of its electricity from coal last year, more than any other EU member state. That compares with 26 per cent from renewables and 16 per cent from its eight remaining nuclear plants. This coal renaissance is undermining the government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and casting doubt on Germany’s green credentials. In 2013, German emissions rose by 1.2 per cent, defying a decade-long downward trend. Germany now looks set to miss its voluntary target of a 40 per cent reduction in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020. –Josie Le Blond, Financial Times, 13 October 2015

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EPA unleashes health-hammering ozone rules

gina hillA federal worker named Bob recently called our local talk-radio station, outraged that a failed budget deal could cause a government shutdown that leaves him unable to pay his bills. He blamed Republicans, failed to mention that compromise also involves Obama and Democrats – and left out another important detail: if there is a shutdown, when it ends he will get paid retroactively.

But when he and his fellow bureaucrats impose mountains of regulations, they cost businesses billions of dollars a year, kill millions of jobs, and leave thousands of families and hundreds of communities worse off, struggling to make ends meet. Those folks never get retroactive pay.

The Obama/EPA war on coal has shuttered power plants and mines across dozens of states, leaving thousands unemployed. That’s left truck and equipment makers, tool shops, steel mills and other suppliers ‚Äì from Kentucky to Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin and beyond ‚Äì struggling to find customers. That impacts restaurants, grocery and clothing stores, schools, hospitals and other businesses: every lost mining or power plant job affects four jobs in other sectors of our far-flung economy.

Reduced drilling, due to low oil and gas prices and the emerging EPA and Big Green war on natural gas, compound these problems. So does the Pandora’s Box of other federal regulations: ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and FATCA financial rules, and seemingly endless EPA dictates on soot and dust, puddles and creeks, carbon dioxide and other alleged problems, often for minuscule or imaginary benefits.

Complying just with federal regulations already costs American businesses and families over $1.9 trillion a year, and EPA alone is tacking on an additional $100 billion in new costs this year.

EPA refuses to calculate how many private sector jobs all this has killed or kept from being created, or how many people’s financial, physical and psychological health has been bludgeoned when they are rendered unemployed and unable to pay their bills. Nor have any bureaucrats been held accountable for regulations that are based on ideological agendas, junk science or even outright fraud, or for abusing their powers to go after conservative groups (the IRS) or even members of Congress (the Secret Service).

And now, EPA has slapped us with yet another hugely expensive final rule – on ozone.

Just 18 years ago, the agency reduced allowable ambient ozone levels to 84 parts per billion (equivalent to 84 cents out of $10,000,000). In 2008, the Bush EPA lowered the standard again, to 75 ppb. But the Obama EPA wasn’t satisfied. In 2009, it said it would slash the standard to 70 or even 60 ppb.

However, this action would have been a political atomic bomb, so the White House postponed the decision until after the 2012 elections. Then, under yet another collusive sue-and-settle lawsuit between EPA and rabid environmentalists, EPA promised to finalize a new rule by October 1, 2015.

Now the agency has “compromised” at 70 ppb. A Business Roundtable study found that almost every US county met the 84 ppb ozone standard, and 90% met the 75 ppb standard. A 60 ppb rule would have put 96% of those counties out of compliance, but even the 70 ppb rule will send many into noncompliance. It will hammer power generation, manufacturing and shale gas production, and raise electricity prices.

To understand how draconian it is, Grand Canyon National Park is now out-of-attainment, at 72 ppb. So are Mammoth Cave National Park at 75 ppb, Rocky Mountain National Park at 77, and Great Smokey Mountain National Park at 79. Yellowstone NP barely slips under the new EPA limbo bar at 66 ppb.

That’s because volatile organic compounds that are ozone precursors don’t come just from refineries, power plants, factories, automobiles and other hydrocarbon use. They come from volcanoes, hot springs and trees: deciduous trees emit VOCs on hot, sunny days; conifers emit them day and night. They also come from “clean, green” ethanol. A new NOAA study found that ethanol refineries emit up to 30 times more VOCs than originally assumed ‚Äì and 170 times more than when ethanol is burned in cars.

EPA doesn’t mention those inconvenient truths. It says its new standard will cost “only” $3.9 billion a year. That deliberately low-balled, out-of-thin-air number doesn’t even pass the laugh test. It is leagues removed from National Association of Manufacturers and other analyses that calculated a 65 ppb ozone standard would reduce America’s economic output by $140 billion annually and cost 1.4 million jobs lost or not created per year, for 25 years. Reality for 70 ppb is far closer to NAM than to EPA.

The simple fact is, the 70 ppb ozone rule is yet another rock shoved in the pocket of a drowning man. A measly 142,000 new jobs were created last month. Over 40 million Americans are unemployed, under-employed or have given up on finding a job. Over 47 million are on food stamps. The labor participation rate plunged to 62.4% in September, its lowest since October 1977, on a mere 34.5-hour work week.

So now EPA trumpets alleged health benefits. The new rule will reduce result in fewer asthma attacks among children and save lives, the agency insists. Hogwash. As physician Charles Battig explains, the new standard will only save theoretical lives. The supposedly fewer ozone-related deaths will occur “in a computer-generated fantasy world, where epidemiological data-torturing takes place by bits and bytes, not in the hospital admission records for real-life patients.”

In that EPA world, lives theoretically saved are concocted using higher pollution levels from decades ago, when ozone and other air contaminants really did affect human health. The faulty data are fed into a series of computer models, to generate garbage in-garbage out calculations used to justify regulatory edicts.

But in the real world, aggregate emissions of ozone, particulate matter (soot), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead plummeted 63% since 1980. Refinery emissions of volatile organic compounds were slashed 69% between 1990 and 2013, ozone-forming emissions are projected to decline another 36% over the next decade, and ground-level ozone levels have already fallen by a national average of 18% since 2000. Meanwhile, reported asthma rates have risen – but not because of pollution.

Today’s kids likely have more asthma attacks because they spend more time indoors, enjoy less time outside in the dirt, and don’t get exposed to enough allergens during childhood to reduce their immune hyperactivity and allergic hypersensitivity. They respond more readily to allergen exposures that would have caused few reactions in previous generations. Cold air can also trigger asthma attacks, as can higher pollen and fungi spore levels, and perhaps low-fat diets that reduce surfactant layers on lung tissues. 

In short, national-park-level ozone is not the bogeyman that EPA claims. However, the new rules will affect numerous states, counties, cities, industries – and highway safety projects that lose federal funding because natural sources, local emissions or even VOCs from China raise ozone levels above 70 ppb.

EPA claims “only” 358 counties around the US will be pushed into nonattainment status by the arbitrary new standard. But even that is too many, and another 1,500 counties could be at risk if EPA begins monitoring their ozone levels. That will affect job creation and preservation, especially in metro areas.

The National Association of Manufacturers, National Black Chamber of Commerce, American Association of Blacks in Energy, business owners and leaders, mayors, governors, state legislators, members of Congress, and health and traffic experts asked EPA to retain the 2008 standard.

As Small Business and Entrepreneurship president Karen Kerrigan has noted, they pointed out that areas like Chicago, Gary and Denver, with large poor and minority populations, would lose tens of thousands of jobs, see average household incomes decline by hundreds of dollars a year, and be forced to spend billions of dollars to comply with the new standard. People’s health and well-being would decline, they emphasized, instead of improve. Kerrigan’s Center for Regulatory Solutions provided many more facts.

EPA ignored them all, reiterated its false health benefit claims, and imposed the costly new standards.

Affected parties should file lawsuits to prevent EPA from enforcing the new rule, courts should block the regulation, and Congress should delete EPA funding to implement this health-impairing program.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

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Carbon Dioxide: The Good News

CO2 good newsIn an important new report published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, former IPCC delegate Dr Indur Goklany calls for a reassessment of carbon dioxide, which he says has many benefits for the natural world and for humankind. —Global Warming Policy Foundation, 12 October 2015

Carbon dioxide fertilises plants, and emissions from fossil fuels have already had a hugely beneficial effect on crops, increasing yields by at least 10-15%. This has not only been good for humankind but for the natural world too, because an acre of land that is not used for crops is an acre of land that is left for nature. Unlike the claims of future global warming disasters these benefits are firmly established and are being felt now. Yet despite this the media overlook the good news and the public remain in the dark. My report should begin to restore a little balance. ‚ÄìIndur Goklany, —Global Warming Policy Foundation, 12 October 2015

Carbon dioxide is “hugely beneficial” for humankind, boosting global crop production to the tune of $140bn (¬£91.4bn) per year, according to a radical new report out today. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which analyses the financial implications of responses to climate change, is calling for a reasses­sment of carbon dioxide, which he believes has been given too much bad press ‚Äì its new report says. –Ravender Sembhy, City A.M., 12 October 2015

I am suggesting that the thinking of politicians and scientists about controversial issues today is still tribal. Science and politics are not essentially different from other aspects of human culture. Science and politics are products of cultural evolution. Thinking about scientific questions is still presented to the public as a competitive sport with winners and losers. For players of the sport with public reputations to defend, it is more important to belong to a winning team than to examine the evidence… To enable a tribe to prevail in the harsh world of predators and prey, it was helpful to have brains with strong emotional bonding to shared songs and stories. It was not helpful to have brains questioning whether the stories were true. Our scientists and politicians of the modern age evolved recently from the cave-children. They still, as Charles Darwin remarked about human beings in general, bear the indelible stamp of their lowly origin. –Freeman Dyson, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 12 October 2015

The life of physicist Freeman Dyson spans advising bomber command in World War II, working at Princeton University in the States as a contemporary of Einstein, and providing advice to the US government on a wide range of scientific and technical issues. He is a rare public intellectual who writes prolifically for a wide audience. An Obama supporter who describes himself as “100 per cent Democrat,” Dyson says he is disappointed that the President “chose the wrong side.” Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, but it is not an insurmountable crisis. Climate change, he tells us, “is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?” –Andrew Orlowski, The Register, 12 October 2015

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NOAA says coral reefs are in a global warming death spiral

coral_reefWhen NOAA announced today that a global bleaching event is occurring, scientists took notice. When they wrote that it was the third-worst global coral bleaching event, headlines started blaring “devastating” and “dramatic.” But the facts about coral bleaching are usually set aside in the rush to make headlines, and when it comes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), you really do have to pay attention to what they are declaring. Especially under this current administration.

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