Thursday, January 19, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: The Trump Administration’s New Climate Consensus: ‘The Science Isn’t Settled’








Green Energy Scandal Brings Down Northern Ireland’s Government

In this newsletter:

1) The Trump Administration’s New Climate Consensus: ‘The Science Isn’t Settled’
U.S. News, 17 January 2017
 
2) Trump's EPA Nominee: We Will Change EPA So That It No Longer Ignores Congress
Washington Examiner, 18 January 2017
 
3) Pruitt On Climate Change And Climate Policy
Politico, 18 January 2017
 
4) Ash For Cash: Green Energy Scandal Brings Down Northern Ireland’s Government
International Business Times, 16 January 2017
 
5) US Shale’s Great Awakening: Trump’s Trump Card
Bloomberg, 15 January 2017
 
6) Caleb Rossiter: Trump And International Energy Poverty: Five Steps
Watts Up With That, 17 January 2017

Full details:

1) The Trump Administration’s New Climate Consensus: ‘The Science Isn’t Settled’
U.S. News, 17 January 2017

Alan Neuhauser

Humans are influencing climate change, but the extent of their role is still up for “debate,” Rep. Ryan Zinke told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday during a confirmation hearing on his nomination to lead the Interior Department, a role in which he’d oversee energy development and conservation across 2.2 billion acres of federal lands.
 
Zinke

U.S. Secretary of Interior nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), testifies during his confirmation hearing before Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Jan. 17, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

“Man has had an influence,” Zinke testified. “I think that’s undisputable as well. So climate is changing, man is an influence. I think where there’s debate is where that influence is and what can we do about it.”

His remarks represented a departure of a kind from President-elect Donald Trump, who tweeted in November 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” and on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016 repeatedly declared that climate change was a “hoax.”

In October 2014, Zinke insisted during a debate that climate change is “not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either.”

Asked Tuesday whether he agreed with Trump’s portrayal of climate change, Zinke reiterated, “I don’t believe it’s a hoax.” But, he added, “I believe we should be prudent to be prudent. That means I don’t know definitively, there’s a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle.”

That prompted an interjection from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who had asked Zinke about his climate views.

“Actually there’s not a lot debate,” Sanders said. “The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems.

There is the debate on this committee but not within the scientific community.”

Full story

2) Trump's EPA Nominee: We Will Change EPA So That It No Longer Ignores Congress
Washington Examiner, 18 January 2017
John Siciliano

President-elect Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is vowing to change the agency from one that strong arms states and ignores Congress into one that is more collaborative and listens to lawmakers, according to a copy of prepared remarks issued before his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday morning.


Image result for Pruitt climate change

"If given the opportunity to serve as administrator, I will work to ensure that EPA has a cooperative and collaborative relationship with Congress in fulfilling its intent," Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will say in prepared remarks he will deliver to the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee.

The remarks paint a picture of an EPA under the Obama administration that has strayed from the original intent of Congress. He said it will be his goal to return the agency to its proper place under the law.

"As attorney general of Oklahoma, I saw examples where the agency became dissatisfied with the tools Congress has given it to address certain issues, and bootstrapped its own powers and tools through rulemaking," Pruitt will say.

"This, unfortunately, has resulted only in protracted litigation, where the courts suspended most of these rules after years of delay," he will add. "In the meantime, we lost the opportunity for true environmental protection as a nation. This is not the right approach."

Pruitt will face intense opposition from the environment committee's Democrats, led by ranking member Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Protests have been underway in Washington since last week opposing Pruitt's nomination. Security is expected to be intense to keep protesters from interrupting or delaying the confirmation hearing.

Carper had tried to stall the hearing until all Democrats' questions about Pruitt's intent as EPA administrator were answered. Carper and others fear Pruitt's opposition to the Obama administration's climate rules will mean the EPA will roll back all action on addressing the issue despite the scientific record that shows manmade emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are contributing to a rise in the Earth's temperature.

Pruitt does not mention climate change once in his prepared testimony. But he alludes to the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which he and 28 other state attorneys general opposed in litigation being reviewed in federal appeals court.

The state attorneys general argue that the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to implement the plan, which directs states to cut their carbon emissions a third by 2030. They also say it is unconstitutional.

Full story

3) Pruitt On Climate Change And Climate Policy
Politico, 18 January 2017
Alex Guillén, Annie Snider and Eric Wolff

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has a long history of fighting federal pollution rules.


Image result for Pruitt climate change

If confirmed, he's expected to sharply alter the agency that President Barack Obama used to implement some of his most aggressive executive actions — moves that enraged conservatives who have accused the administration of dramatic overreach that trampled upon states' rights.

Here is where Pruitt stands on the major issues that will be on his plate for the next four years. [...]

Climate change

Pruitt has questioned mainstream climate science, and said in an op-ed last May that the "debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."

He's expected to take steps to undercut the Clean Power Plan, Obama's landmark climate change regulation that set out curbs for carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's power sector. That rule is currently awaiting a decision from an appellate court, and regardless of whether it is ruled legal, it's almost certain to end up at the Supreme Court this year.

Trump has suggested that his administration would also review EPA's 2009 endangerment finding, the scientific conclusion that climate change poses a threat to human health and welfare, a finding that has been the basis for much of the agency's work on greenhouse gases. Pruitt will have to decide whether to try to force a course change on the issue, a move that would surely be fought tooth and nail by greens.

Even past GOP EPA administrators such as Christine Todd Whitman and William K. Reilly say revoking the finding would be a major mistake and could drive unrest or resignations from EPA’s rank-and-file who would see it as political tampering on a well-established scientific issue. Such a move would be challenged in court, and given the judiciary’s past broad acceptance of the underlying science, greens are confident they would prevail.

Full story

4) Ash For Cash: Green Energy Scandal Brings Down Northern Ireland’s Government
International Business Times, 16 January 2017
Brendan Cole

Fresh elections in Northern Ireland will be called after its power-sharing Assembly collapsed over the fallout of a botched renewable energy scheme.


Burn_a_Billion_scr

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness quit as deputy first minister on 9 January and, in a motion in the devolved parliament on Monday (16 January), his party refused to replace him.

Under the terms of the power-sharing agreement, the Northern Ireland Secretary will now call for new elections and dissolve the 108-member Assembly, which was to govern until the scheduled next election in May 2021.

The toppling of the Assembly at Stormont follows the controversy surrounding a scandal-hit policy called the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

It was to encourage businesses to use renewable heat sources, but instead paid businesses to burn fuel, and could cost the taxpayer half a billion pounds in a farrago known as “ash for cash”.

Full story

5) US Shale’s Great Awakening: Trump’s Trump Card
Bloomberg, 15 January 2017
Julian Lee

OPEC and its friends have just received some uncomfortable reading. U.S. shale oil production is beginning to boom again.

The latest forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that their agreements to boost prices and hasten the rebalancing of oil supply and demand by cutting output may bring the U.S. shale industry out of hibernation faster than they might like.

The EIA’s monthly report published on Tuesday raised its forecast of global oil demand growth for 2017 to 1.63 million barrels a day from last month’s 1.56 million, its third successive increase — that should be good news for producers. At the same time, though, the EIA boosted its outlook for U.S. oil production.

The EIA has been getting more bullish in its forecasts of global oil demand growth for 2017



Source: Department of Energy
NOTE: X-axis shows date of forecast for year-on-year global oil demand growth in 2017 versus 2016

This is where the news gets bad for OPEC. Separate weekly EIA data published on Wednesday showed a 176,000 barrel-a-day jump in U.S. production from the previous week, the biggest increase since May 2015. A large part of that increase came from a revision of fourth-quarter output figures, with U.S. production raised by 100,000 barrels a day from the previous estimate — this isn’t an example of shale responding quickly to higher prices.

Steps to Recovery

The recovery in U.S. oil production began to accelerate in the final quarter of 2016



Source: Department of Energy

Why is this important? Because it means that U.S. oil production was already growing more strongly (due to increased drilling rates) than thought at a time when the consensus view was that OPEC would fail to agree to cuts and that oil prices would struggle to rise above $50 per barrel this year. These suppositions were undermined on Nov. 30, when the group agreed to cut output by around 1.2 million barrels a day, followed in early December by pledges from 11 non-OPEC countries to contribute a further 560,000 barrels of cuts.

The EIA now sees U.S. production reaching 9.22 million barrels a day by December, an increase of 320,000 barrels over the year. But this could quickly start to look like a conservative forecast.The incoming U.S. president and Congress may turn out to be more supportive of oil extraction than the outgoing ones, after Donald Trump said in September that he would “lift the restrictions on American energy and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” This could give the shale sector a further boost.

Shale’s Reawakening

U.S. oil production is growing again as shale comes out of hibernation faster than OPEC may have hoped



 Source: Department of Energy

Given that we now know that U.S. output was rising at a rate of 50,000 barrels a day each month in the last quarter of 2016, the warming price environment created by the OPEC deal and the benign impact of reduced regulation have set the stage for signs of life in shale to gather pace.

Full post

6) Caleb Rossiter: Trump And International Energy Poverty: Five Steps
Watts Up With That, 17 January 2017

By Caleb Stewart Rossiter, School of International Service and Department of Mathematics and Statistics, American University.

 
Rossiter
Primum non nocere — above all, do no harm, says the medical maxim. In public policy, where every action has different effects on different people, the maxim becomes “above all, do no net harm.” That means that the benefits of a policy should outweigh its costs. For example, it’s all well and good for the government to start a jobs program, but we also have to estimate how many other jobs would never exist because raising taxes to pay for the program reduces private investment and consumption. What, we properly ask, will be the net effect of the program on employment?

Consider the Obama administration’s efforts to avoid fossil-fueled climate catastrophes. While well-intentioned, these efforts to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gasses did a lot of net harm to the people of the formerly colonized countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Indeed, Obama’s policies were reminiscent of colonialism’s attempt to make these regions producers of raw materials rather than industrial competitors. Obama’s climate alarmists discouraged poor countries from building power plants and modern transmission grids, and instead offered foreign aid to help them stay “off the grid” with small-scale wind and solar projects. The administration also drove up the price of food in poor countries by diverting crops to meet “green” fuels quotas, and stood by while the European Union punished these countries for exporting “carbon-intensive” products. The moral issue here is that the costs of the predicted climate catastrophes are hypothetical, meager, and in the distant future, while the health and economic benefits of fossil-fueled growth for poor countries are real, massive, and available right now.

In terms of health, people need reliable power in their homes, factories, and offices. If they cannot get it from electricity they will get it by burning wood, dung, and charcoal and firing up their personal diesel generators. In Africa, where only 25 percent of homes have reliable electricity and most factories and office suffer from frequent black-outs, the particulate matter emitted by these inefficient energy sources pose a constant crisis in respiratory disease. In terms of economic growth and the increase in life expectancy that it creates, we can simply note that since embracing fossil-fueled capitalism with a vengeance China has nearly eliminated its 20-year gap with the 80-year life expectancy of developed countries, while Africa lags at 59 years.

Here are five steps President Trump can take to stop us from doing harm, and maybe even start us doing some good, in the developing world’s quest for the better and longer life that reliable electric power can bring.

Generate Power: Instruct U.S. representatives at the World Bank and the regional development banks, as well as officials of the Agency for International Development (the State Department’s foreign aid office) to support rather than oppose, as we currently do, loans and grants for power plants that rely on coal, gas, or oil. By helping countries build modern, efficient plants outfitted with “scrubbers” we can dramatically cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and other particulates. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is a beneficial trace gas that increases crop yields as a fertilizer, these are real pollutants, and need to be controlled.

Support the Grid: The Obama administration’s Power Africa campaign is biased in favor of “off-grid” solutions such as small-scale, local wind and solar farms. This is colonialist to the core in a continent that is still “under-developing” by exporting raw materials to its former masters in return for imports of finished goods. Africa needs to have consistent power for factories and offices, or it will never be able to compete in the global economy. The only way to have consistent power is with a modern grid. Period. The grid can develop slowly, so that it can be maintained, but in the long run, as the success of China shows, you can’t get there without it.

Aid only sustainable infrastructure projects: Developing countries, and African ones in particular, are littered with abandoned “White Elephants” – high-technology factories, dams, processing plants, wells, and tractors provided by well-meaning foreign aid donors. They fell into disuse because recipient governments lacked the political will and the economic environment needed to sustain them.

Bringing technology in from a different country that is at a different stage of economic development is tricky in the best of circumstances. It is a waste of money and time if the recipient government is undemocratic, corrupt, or repressive. American diplomats and foreign aid officials need to be rewarded rather than punished, as they inevitably are in the foreign aid game, for properly assessing the likelihood of sustainability and cancelling projects. Most economic development comes when the local conditions permit it. Foreign aid can do little when dictatorship and corruption prevail, as they do in most African countries.

End biofuel requirements: “Biofuel starvation” is what Africans call it when companies from developed countries take over villages’ crop lands so they can make a profit meeting “green” fuel requirements. The Trump administration should drop our own ethanol minimums, and make it a principal point of trade and diplomacy talks with European countries to get them to drop theirs.

Oppose “carbon-content” rules: In their never-ending quest to find phony “carbon off-sets” that allow them to claim reductions in carbon dioxide without closing their own power plants, European countries have made a mess out of the simple act of importing goods from developing countries. Flowers from Kenya, for example, pay a carbon tax because they are transported on airplanes, which use more fossil-fuel per flower than a slower ship. As part of an international consortium on air travel, the United States can object to and reverse such rules, leading to more trade, and jobs, in developing countries. Congress enacted legislation in 2011 that blocked the consortium’s scheme to place a carbon tax on all air travel. As we protect our travel rights we should also look out for those of exporters in developing countries.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.


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