American Elephants

Another $2 Billion Wasted On Green Fantasies! by The Elephant's Child

The federal government is handing out nearly $2 billion for new solar plants that President Barack Obama says will create “thousands of jobs” and increase the use of “renewable-energy sources.” He said the money is part of his plan to bring new industries to the United States.  “We’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root  right here in America.”  Uh huh.  Well, that fits right in with the New Radical Ideology or Utopian Dreams.

Where capitalism creates and destroys and is constantly changing — the new order will be ‘sustainable.’ It will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed.  People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that travel lightly on the earth, or even better, ride bicycles.  They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions.  Life will be liberated from carbon emanations.  It will be a permanent, placid way of life, in which economies are integrated into the earth’s ecosystem.

The two companies to receive federal funds are Abendoga Solar, which will build one of the world’s largest solar plants in Arizona, creating 1,600 construction jobs; and Abound Solar Manufacturing, which is building plants in Colorado and Indiana. The administration claims that these projects will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

Obama said that while it may take years to bring back all the jobs lost during the recession, the economy is moving in a positive direction. He placed some of the blame for the slow pace of recovery on Republicans, saying GOP lawmakers, “are playing the same old Washington games and using their power to hold this relief hostage.”

Oh please!  Democrats control the House and the Senate.  Republicans can’t really hold anything hostage.  If you consider explaining that investing taxpayer money in solar plants is a waste of money as a “same old Washington game,” that’s possibly so. Solar is not an infant industry (so why is it perpetually hyped and subsidized?)   It’s hundreds of years old.  Here’s a little history of solar energy.

If you are interested in a thorough technical explanation of why grid-tied photovoltaics not only will not work, but will probably have outcomes directly opposite its intended effects, a fairly long article is here. A delightful essay from David Warren, my oft-extolled journalist from Ottawa, offers  instead sheer common sense.

1,500 “permanent” jobs won’t make much of a dent in the 8 million jobs lost in The Great Obama Depression.  It would help if the administration would consider the consequences of their actions in increasing the numbers of jobs lost.  Recovery Act funds have gone largely to unions and to Democrat constituencies.  Republican states have not fared as well.  Whether Obama actually believes in a renewable-energy economy in spite of  the experiences of European countries is unknown.  Is this just a sop to his green supporters to keep them appeased?  This is why so much is written about Obama and his vow to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.”  Americans fell for the “hope and change” theme, but they’re not going to go for the fundamentally transform part.

High Seas and High Winds in the Gulf; and Very,Very High Frustration! by The Elephant's Child

The fear that Hurricane Alex would add to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was fortunately not fully realized.  Officials began flying over the spill site on Friday to assess the damage.  The storm brought heavy seas and high winds, but the hurricane made landfall in Mexico and did not come in direct contact with the spill.  The rough seas brought containment efforts to a halt, including oil skimming and burning.  Those efforts have not yet been restarted though larger skimming boats were being moved back out on the water on Friday. Some oil booms have become disconnected.

The Coast Guard is in the process of testing the “A Whale” skimmer that is reportedly capable of holding 2 million barrels of oil; a much greater capability than any of the other boats operating.  The vessel will cruise a 25-square-mile test site through Sunday.  The Coast Guard and BP are waiting to see if the vessel lives up to its claims of being able to process up to 21 million gallons of oil-fouled water a day.  The test site is close to the wellhead.  (Reports are confusing, because sometimes they talk barrels, and other times they talk gallons.  There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil)

The ship acts somewhat like a real whale, taking in water through 12 vents, separating the oil and pumping the cleaned water back into the Gulf.  Will the oil be pure and clean enough to satisfy the EPA? Why no one has suspended the EPA’s intrusive nose, is a good question.  Surely water that is less than 10% oil would be an improvement over water that is 90% oil, (the figures are mine and completely arbitrary) and almost any  improvement would be better than no improvement.  But there is no one with the authority to relax or temporarily suspend regulations  who will suspend his golf game long enough to do so.  The bad weather also delayed the hookup of the “Helix Producer” which can collect up to 25,000 barrels a day which would double the amount being processed at the site.

Governor Bobby Jindal remains highly frustrated.  “They’ve used the war rhetoric,” Jindal said from a Louisiana state wildlife boat in the oil-slicked waters near Grand Isle.  “If this is really a war, they need to be using every resource that makes sense to fight this oil before it comes to our coast.”  He said they should be trying to stop the slicks 20 miles out instead of right at the coast.  For those interested in what the vessel “A Whale” looks like, there are pictures at the previous link.  Remember that it is 10 stories tall, and as long as 3 1/2 football fields.

There is, however, progress, red tape and all.  Kevin Costner’s oil centrifuges are being tested, the really big oil skimmers are being tested, Dutch equipment has been put aboard American boats, and French skimmers have been sold to Americans as a way of getting around the Jones Act, which, apparently, no one will suspend.

Jefferson Parish officials were fighting for federal permission to use barges and rocks to keep oil out of two major passes into Barataria Bay.  The commander of the Army corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District, said the plan to barricade the passes would do mare harm than good by speeding water through other passes, and it might possibly hasten the flow of oil into interior marshland.

Bobby Jindal’s press secretary issued a statement saying: “Only a government bureaucrat would say rocks are more harmful to our water and marshes than oil.  The corps took weeks to review the plan only to reject it today — and this denial is another unfortunate example of the federal government’s lack of urgency in this war to protect our coast.”  So you can see that frustration runs high.

BP had set aside $25 million for the effort for the dikes project, but the money cannot be released without federal permission.  Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said “This latest decision is yet another example of a broken bureaucratic process of disconnected talking heads that are far removed from reality.” A mixed metaphor, but expressive of the pain in Louisiana.

Three Reasons Why the Financial Bill Won’t Fix Anything. by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Nick Gillespie from Reason to explain why the New Financial Regulations aren’t going to make anything better, with guest appearances by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.  Why does Congress put so much effort into such pitiful legislation?

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