American Elephants

The Democrats’ Insane Lightbulb Ban Approaches! by The Elephant's Child

The big lightbulb companies, GE, Phillips and Sylvania, are showing off their new LED bulbs. The GE Energy Smart LED Bulb does the best to imitate the features of a conventional incandescent bulb, including brightness and lighting angles.  Since it is based on light-emitting diodes, rather than a heated-up filament, it will use only one-fourth of the typical power  of an incandescent bulb to put out 450 lumens— the brightness equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb.

GE expects its LED bulb to last 17 years—or a 25,000 hour life—if run for four hours a day, every day.  And the GE Energy Smart LED Bulb fits normal incandescent sockets,  which is a nice touch for anyone who is worried about having to rewire their whole house.

There is “one little drawback,” they are expected to cost $50 each. What? I expected this to be bad, but this is unbelievable. The brightness equivalent of a 40-watt bulb? They are replacing a 100 watt incandescent bulb with the brightness equivalent of a 40 watt bulb?  I don’t even use many 60 watt bulbs.  Let’s see,  I need 9 bulbs for my kitchen, 4 for my bedroom, 4 for my bathroom, and that’s $850 without considering the living room, dining room, the study, and the other bedrooms, other bathrooms, the front hall, and the outdoor lighting.  Just last year LED bulbs were being quoted to cost $80—at a minimum.

What do I want with a bulb that lasts for 17 years? You could buy a bulb for a baby gift, and then give the kid another when he graduates from high school.  Sylvania expects that two-thirds of all consumers will consider switching over to a non-incandescent for future lighting purchases. Well, yes, since you fixed it so that we have to buy your product that clearly is not ready for prime time.

U.S.Federal lighting efficiency standards come into effect January, 2012, which mandate a “gradual” phasing out of incandescent bulbs over a two-year span. 100 watt bulbs go first, 75 watt bulbs are scheduled to be banned in 2013 and 60 and 40 watt bulbs in 2014.  In return I get a 40 watt bulb that will last for 17 years (they say) or I can have twisty CFL bulb that takes forever to warm up, gives nasty light, may explode or catch fire, must call the hasmat crew if I drop it, and when it burns out I’m supposed to drive all over town to find a place that will recycle it without charge.

Look at the picture— those baffles or whatever they are on the sides are supposed to imitate the lighting angles of an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs don’t spread their light naturally. The baffles mean they won’t fit a lot of fixtures. Neither kind of bulb—CFL or LED—is a satisfactory replacement for an incandescent bulbs.They have trouble putting out warm color temperatures, the warmer the temperature of an LED bulb, the less efficient the bulb is. Does that mean even less than 40 watt?

No wonder GE Sylvania and Phillips wrote the bill banning incandescent bulbs. Nobody would buy their damn bulbs if they weren’t forced to. We’ve had a lot of claims about energy savings, and I don’t know of any one that has measured up. Claims for insulation do not measure up. Claims for insulated windows don’t measure up. Energy Star appliances don’t measure up. But we’re supposed to believe their claims for lightbulbs enough to spring for $50 a bulb?

Bob Karlicek, the director of the Smart Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks the price can be brought down to $10 eventually. He also said “it’s not necessarily clear to people in the lighting industry that LED chips were ever meant to go into a bulb.” What’s really needed, he said, is a new approach to lighting.  Oh.

You apparently had three separate companies colluding to get a government mandate to help rid them of  their high-cost incandescent factories, undoubtedly union factories, and send their bulb operations to China where they can get bulbs made for pennies.  Were they sure they could come up with a satisfactory substitute in the allotted time? The bulbs on offer do not seem to be satisfactory substitutes in any way.

The governmental idea that people will drive to bulb recycling centers and pay to recycle their CFL bulbs, is nice, but people will just put them in the garbage.  The government has offered a $10 million prize for an energy efficient replacement for the 60-watt bulb— another proof that this all started with “energy saving” which is necessary—not to save you money on your light bill, because it probably won’t—but to keep fossil fuel fired electricity plants from emitting CO2.  I will refrain from my usual rant about how utterly insane (incompetent) this is.

And we will soon need a new federal program to help the poor buy lightbulbs.

Fear of Big Brother? That Was So Yesterday! by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration is slowly learning about terrorism, this time with key provisions of the Patriot Act up for reauthorization before they sunset on Friday. Previous extensions have been political dogfights, but this time everyone, according to the Wall Street Journal is “acting awfully grown-up:”

While the liberal blogosphere is still peddling the Big Brother meme, the Obama Administration is now in full-throated support. Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that it is “absolutely essential” that the provisions be reauthorized and that “we never want to see these acts, these provisions, expire.” Allowing them to sunset regularly is “not helpful” and hurts intelligence gathering, he added. “Our prosecutors or investigators need certainty” and “if they were done on a permanent basis, that is not something we would object to.”The renewal debate involves three sections of the law, known as “business records,” “lone wolf” and “roving wiretap,” which have become key tools of antiterror law enforcement. The first lets investigators gather business records related to international terrorism, the second to track aspiring terrorists acting alone, and the third to stay on top of subjects who try to evade surveillance.

These special powers are important to law enforcement because they provide greater latitude than so-called Title III wiretaps, which require disclosure to the target. The lone wolf designation likewise allows intelligence agencies to stay on offense against terrorists who may not have previously shown any sympathy for al Qaeda or jihadist causes.

The seething left has always presumed that anything connected with something called “The Patriot Act” must be a law designed to let the government spy on you and your neighbors. I’m sure you heard that at some point. The liberal conspiracy theory was that “Republicans were engaged in an unlawful crusade to turn the U.S. into a police state. The Patriot Act can now join Guantanamo, military commissions, unlimited detention, drone strikes, the state secrets doctrine and Middle Eastern democracy as Bush policies that Obama has embraced one way or another.”

There are careful legal guards in each of the three provisions specifically designed to protect civil liberties. Requests to look at business records must be authorized by the special FISA court. In order to get permission for a roving wiretap, an FBI agent has to apply to the ISA court and show probable cause to believe that the target is a terrorist, a foreign terrorist organization or a spy.  The government really isn’t interested in the dalliances, licit or illicit, of ordinary folk.

Senate leaders have agreed to extend all three provisions for four years. Will wonders never cease.

The White House is Deliberately Trying to Make Energy Cost More!! by The Elephant's Child

The situation in the Gulf of Mexico has not improved. The actions of the administration continue to drive despair throughout the Gulf region. One excuse follows another.

A new report from the House Oversight Committee says that if President Obama is suffering politically from the backlash about high energy prices, he has only himself to blame. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a blistering report on Monday, accusing the White House of deliberately pursuing policies designed to make energy more expensive, manipulating costs to favor his own energy choices.

The report—”Rising Energy Costs: An Intentional Result of Government Action”— accuses the administration of restricting access to domestic energy sources, hindering “fracking” technology and hampering the economic recovery by proposing new taxes on the energy industry.

The report also says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinated with environmental groups to target energy producers with environmental concerns. The Oversight Committee obtained an email between the EPA Texas regional director and an environmental advocate congratulating each other on progress in creating barriers to energy production from fossil fuel sources.

Obama has a history of pushing alternative energy sources.  In quotes from the president’s 2008 campaign, he said “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Coal-powered plants, you know natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money.”

Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy, said “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” In his fiscal year 2012 budget, Obama requested that the tax breaks for the oil industry be repealed, totaling $60 billion over 10 years. Jack Lew, director of the OMB, defended the repeals by tying them to the goal of producing more electric cars.

Enormous costs have been imposed on the American economy in the name of fraudulent ideas about ‘global warming.’ The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare.  Alan Carlin, PhD, a senior research analyst at the EPA did the reasonable thing, and applied the scientific method used in the EPA’s technical support document.  He found computerized guesswork, editing by advocates. Carlin was told to not communicate with anyone, and no meetings, no emails, no written statements, no phone calls. That was two years ago.

Carlin’s report has been updated, expanded, peer-reviewed and published in the respected International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The report scorns computer modelling, false comparisons between hypotheses and observed data, and efforts to manipulate climate measurements. The main points are that the economic benefits of reducing CO2 emissions are vastly lower than EPA estimates, and the costs are vastly higher. His conclusion: the risk of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming appears to be so low that it is not worth doing anything to attempt to control it.

It’s not just high gas prices, nor unemployment and despair in the Gulf region, but  huge subsidies for unreliable and inefficient wind energy and solar energy. The government is choosing private businesses to support with taxpayer money that make expensive and unreliable electric cars; spending vast amounts of taxpayer money to support wind farms.; forcing car companies to make the kind of vehicles that the administration wants in spite of a complete lack of demand in the free market.

They are pushing high-speed rail on states that don’t want it; giving taxpayer money to a company that makes hugely expensive (but cute) electric sports cars. The president has ordered the federal vehicle fleet to be made up entirely of alternative-fuel automobiles by 2015. The cost of this policy will be astronomical compared to any environmental benefit, if there is any. He has ordered the government to buy more than 100 plug-in electric vehicles and will install charging stations in government buildings in five cities, including Detroit.  These are luxury $40,000 sedans, plus $2,500 charging stations bought for government employees. I could go on, and on.

All these billions of dollars are being wasted in an effort to prevent any increase in CO2, a benign colorless, odorless gas that is one of the building blocks of life. It is not only not a pollutant, but it is absolutely necessary for life on earth.  It is not a cause of global warming, for increases in CO2 in the atmosphere come after increases in temperature by as much as 300 years, and cannot be causative.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was created to bring about, in the words of Jacques Chirac, authentic global governance.  Preferably under the auspices of the United Nations, and the NGOs, the aspiring Non-Governmental Organizations. If that’s what all this chaos is about, it’s a flop on that accord.  The IPCC has been thoroughly discredited, and is turning their attention to biological diversity or something like that.

Do read the brief executive summary in the Oversight Committee Report.  The United States has the world’s greatest supply of energy. The President of the United States wants to keep us from using it.

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