by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Only in Washington would a congressional committee recommend a one-year extension of the tax credit for electric vehicles (in this case motorcycles) the day after General Motors announces it’s pulling the plug on the all-electric Chevy Volt.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the outgoing chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, generally opposes these kinds of special provisions. They’re bad policy because they distort activities in the marketplace. Nonetheless, it’s right there in the bill he has proposed.
What’s even stranger is that Congress signed off on phasing out this credit in its entirety in the 2018 tax bill. It’s an expensive write-off that mostly benefits the uber-wealthy, who buy electric cars as status symbols and tokens of environmental consciousness. Continue reading
By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily
This has been a colder-than-usual winter in the Midwest and Northeast, so many Americans are facing high home heating and electric bills. In some areas, these bills can reach $1,000 a month.
Liberals, of course, charge that Donald Trump is the culprit. An AP story last week screamed: “Trump Once Again Wants to Cut Energy Assistance to the Poor.” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders charged that if Trump has his way and eliminates the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, people might “freeze to death.”
But wait. Donald Trump is pro-American energy development. He isn’t the one who is making energy bills more expensive in the Northeast and the mountain states. It’s the liberal green groups and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, who accede to their anti-fossil fuel demands.
In my book Fueling Freedom, my co-author Kathleen Hartnett White and I discovered that the shale gas revolution lowered the price of natural gas by about Continue reading
by Julie Kelly • National Review
A new study by Environmental Progress (EP) warns that toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat. The Berkeley-based group found that solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. Discarded solar panels, which contain dangerous elements such as lead, chromium, and cadmium, are piling up around the world, and there’s been little done to mitigate their potential danger to the environment.
“We talk a lot about the dangers of nuclear waste, but that waste is carefully monitored, regulated, and disposed of,” says Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress, a nonprofit that advocates for the use of nuclear energy. “But we had no idea there would be so many panels — an enormous amount — that could cause this much ecological damage.”
Solar panels are considered a form of toxic, hazardous electronic or “e-waste,” and according to EP researchers Jemin Desai and Mark Nelson, scavengers in developing countries like India and China often “burn the e-waste in order to salvage the valuable copper wires for resale. Since this process requires burning off plastic, the resulting smoke contains toxic fumes that are carcinogenic and teratogenic (birth defect-causing) when inhaled.” Continue reading
The EPA announced that it will disregard the current law and rush new mandates into place before Obama leaves office.
In 2012, the Obama Administration pushed through a dramatic increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards — jumping the fleet average mileage mandates to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2015. At the time, it was agreed there would be a mid-term review before 2018 to determine if the new CAFE standards were feasibly possibly in the time frame required. However, now the Obama Administration and the EPA just announced that there will be no midterm review and that intends to impose the 54.5 miles per gallon mandate regardless of the feasibility or impact. Continue reading
By Jennifer G. Hickey • Fox News
Democratic officials’ campaign against fossil fuel companies is entering a new phase as state attorneys general launch investigations that mirror the Justice Department’s landmark case against “Big Tobacco,” probing claims that oil companies misled the public about the risks of global warming — a charge industry representatives adamantly reject.
Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the latest to announce probes, specifically into whether ExxonMobil was up-front regarding what it knew about climate change.
“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be held accountable. That’s why we have joined in investigating ExxonMobil,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in announcing the inquiry. Continue reading
Add “Green Energy” Pork Barrel Tax Extenders to Unrelated FAA Bill
Millions of Americans are deeply disappointed that Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) worked to insert sweetheart tax benefits for special interests in the so-called renewable energy industry. Simply stated, hard working Americans who are struggling to make ends meet may now end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars to well-healed “green energy” companies — like wind and geothermal energy — who can afford the best lobbyists money can buy. Continue reading
How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.”
Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says. Continue reading
San Francisco’s Solazyme also received millions in stimulus funds from DOE
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The CEO and Board of Directors of Solazyme, a company the military paid $149 per gallon for “alternative” fuel, have donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.
Recipients of significant donations included the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solazyme donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the Department of Defense (DOD) paid Solazyme $149 per gallon for fuel made of algal oil, costing taxpayers a total of $223,500 in 2009. The group also received a $21 million stimulus grant from Department of Energy in 2009.
“Based in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s mission is to improve our lives and our planet by producing sustainable, high-performance oils and ingredients derived from microalgae,” the company states. Solazyme claims that their process serves as a better alternative to limited resources such as petroleum, vegetable oils, and animal fats. Continue reading
by Nicolas Loris • Daily Signal
It may be the most “important” from a top-down, regulatory mandate for high energy prices, but it won’t accomplish much, if anything, in terms of combating climate change.
Even though electricity generation accounts for the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the estimated reduction is minuscule compared to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Climatologists estimate that the administration’s climate regulations will avert less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2100. Continue reading
Support is growing to repeal a Nixon-era ban that Iran and Russia love.
The Washington news isn’t all bad these days: Republicans and some Democrats are working hard to gather enough votes to repeal the 40-year ban on exporting crude oil. With gasoline prices hitting new lows, now is the right political moment to do something right for the economy and national security.
The ban is a relic from the Nixon era when oil prices spiked and OPEC began. America’s unconventional oil boom has changed everything. U.S. crude production bottomed in 2008 at about seven million barrels per day and is now more than 11 million. The Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. output could hit 18 million barrels a day by 2040. Crude inventories are at an 80-year high, and imports declined nearly 30% between 2005 and 2013.
The export ban is, paradoxically, one of the biggest threats to this U.S. production boom. The decline in oil prices over the past year has forced U.S. producers to slash investment and cancel projects. The U.S. rig count has dropped 50% since last autumn, and the industry has cut more than 125,000 jobs. Lifting the ban would offer new markets for U.S. oil and mean fewer layoffs. Continue reading
By William Tucker • RealClearEnergy
When the Green Mountain power company, Vermont’s largest utility, announced earlier this year it will be buying nuclear power from New Hampshire’s Seabrook reactor, many environmentalists felt betrayed.
“This is exactly why we closed Vermont Yankee, because we didn’t want any nuclear power,” they complained. But consumer demands left Green Mountain with no other choice. Nuclear is the ultimate reliable source of power – reactors operate more than 90 percent of the time – and Green Mountain needs back-up in case other sources stop working or if demand exceeds supply on a hot summer day. Vermont is struggling with its desire to be clean and green. The state closed down Vermont Yankee, which provided 600 megawatts of power, when public opinion against it became overwhelming. The state only consumers 1100 megawatts on the hottest day.
Along with the shuttering of the state’s largest generating station came dreams of windmills, solar collectors, and other “clean and green” options that would soon be taking its place. Like many other states and nations, Vermont has assumed that passing laws mandating renewable energy quotas will solve the problem. The state has set a goal for itself of 55 percent renewables by 2017, 75 percent by 2032 and 90 percent by 2050. The figure now is 17 percent. Continue reading
by Michael Bastasch • Daily Caller
Data from America’s most advanced climate monitoring system shows the U.S. has undergone a cooling trend over the last decade, despite recent claims by government scientists that warming has accelerated worldwide during that time.
The U.S. Climate Reference Network was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide “high-quality” climate data. The network consists of 114 stations across the U.S. in areas NOAA expects no development for the next 50 to 100 years.
The climate stations use three independent measurements of temperature and precipitation to provide “continuity of record and maintenance of well-calibrated and highly accurate observations,” NOAA states on its website. “The stations are placed in pristine environments expected to be free of development for many decades.” In essence, NOAA chose locations so they don’t need to be adjusted for “biases” in the temperature record. Continue reading
By My Way News•
Oregon is about to embark on a first-in-the-nation program that aims to charge car owners not for the fuel they use, but for the miles they drive.
The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.
Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.
Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.
“This program targets hybrid and electric vehicles, so it’s discriminatory,” said Patrick Connor, a Beaverton resident who has been driving an electric car since 2007.
State officials say it is only fair for owners of green vehicles to be charged for maintaining roads, just as owners of gasoline-powered vehicles do.
“We know in the future, our ability to pay for maintenance and repair… will be severely impacted if we continue to rely on the gas tax,” said Shelley Snow with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Other states are also looking at pay-per-mile as an alternative to dwindling fuel tax revenues.
Last year, California created a committee to study alternatives to the gas tax and design a pilot program; Washington state set money aside to further develop a similar program; and an Indiana bill directs the state to study alternatives and a test project.
While growing in popularity, electric vehicles and hybrids are still in the minority on American roads, even in a state as green-minded as Oregon. Of 3.3 million passenger cars registered in Oregon at the end of 2014, about 68,000 were hybrid, 3,500 electric and 620 plug-in hybrid. A decade ago, only 8,000 hybrids were registered.
However, fuel-economy for gas-powered vehicles has been increasing as technology is developed that addresses public concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.
Oregon is the only state to actually test-drive the pay-per-mile idea.
The gas tax provides just under half of the money in Oregon’s highway fund, and the majority of the money in the federal Highway Trust Fund, of which Oregon receives a portion.
Oregon’s share of the fuel tax over the past two decades has been mostly flat and in some years declined, state data show. In 2009, the Legislature raised the tax from 24 cents to 30 cents per gallon, but that’s not enough to avert shortfalls, state officials said, because construction costs increase with inflation.
Oregon previously held two rounds of small-scale tests involving GPS devices to track mileage.
The current program, called OreGo, will be the largest yet and will be open to all car types. Of these, no more than 1,500 participating vehicles can get less than 17 miles per gallon, and no more than 1,500 must get at least 17 miles per gallon and less than 22 miles per gallon.
Volunteers will still be paying the fuel tax if they stop for gas. But at the end of the month, depending on the type of car they drive, they will receive either a credit or a bill for the difference in gas taxes paid at the pump.
Private vendors will provide drivers with small digital devices to track miles; other services will also be offered. Volunteers can opt out of the program at any time, and they’ll get a refund for miles driven on private property and out of state.
After the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon raised concerns about privacy and government surveillance, the state built protections into the program, said ACLU’s interim executive director Jann Carson.
Drivers will be able to install an odometer device without GPS tracking.
For those who use the GPS, the state and private vendors will destroy records of location and daily metered use after 30 days. The program also limits how the data can be aggregated and shared. Law enforcement, for example, won’t be able to access the information unless a judge says it’s needed.
“This is the government collecting massive amounts of data and we want to ensure the government doesn’t keep and use that data for other purposes,” Carson said.
The OreGo program is projected to cost $8.4 million to implement and is aimed to gauge public acceptance of the idea of charging motorists per mile of road they travel. It will be up to the Legislature to decide whether to adopt a mandatory road usage charge.
One of the biggest concerns will be whether a program like OreGo could actually discourage people from buying electric or hybrid vehicles.
Drive Oregon, an advocacy group for the electric-vehicle industry, supports the program because every driver should pay for road repairs, executive director Jeff Allen said. Still, he said, “The last thing we need to do right now is to make buying electric cars more expensive or inconvenient.”
by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Everyone remembers former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised comment that the Affordable Care Act would have to pass so that the American people could find out what was in it. Unfortunately, what should have been a cautionary tale has instead been an object lesson in rulemaking for President Obama’s bureaucracy.
Take, for example, the pending Clean Power Plan, an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency. If fully implemented, it could lead to the mass shuttering of existing power generation facilities, rolling brownouts, blackouts and a significant increase in electrical rates. Continue reading