American Elephants

Obama’s Climate Action Plan to Kill Jobs, Impoverish America. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama made a dramatic speech about climate, about which he apparently knows nothing whatsoever, and headed off on his very expensive African vacation. He told students at Georgetown University that he doesn’t have “much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.” The “challenge” is climate change, which nobody denies. The climate is always changing. He is concerned about “carbon pollution” —except that carbon is not “pollution” but one of the building blocks of life.

Obama actually said that “ninety-seven percent of scientists” “acknowledged that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.” Well, no, that’s not true either. Scientists do question the degree to which human activity causes changes in climate, if any. It doesn’t matter if one hundred percent of all scientists acknowledge anything. Science isn’t determined by a show of hands, but by observable evidence.

It’s hard to know just what motivates Mr. Obama. If climate change is a matter of ideology, it demonstrates that Obama is not open to changing his mind when the information has changed. Richard Epstein who knows him from the University of Chicago and through his own next-door neighbor, has said that Obama does not change his mind. If he once believed something, he believes it today and tomorrow. That would indicate that at some point he received knowledge and sees no reason to change. Another possibility is the need to pay back his supporters in the Big Green non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for their support and financial backing in his elections. What is most interesting is his lack of interest in the 12 million people who are out-of-work and cannot find employment.

Mr. Obama’s “climate action plan” would be an extensive and intrusive reorganization of the entire economy. The most consequential parts of the plan would attack the U.S. electric industry, whose coal-fired plants account for at least 37% of America’s electricity. The idea that you can just shut off a whole sector and replace it with wind and solar energy is ludicrous. Wind energy may be “clean” but it isn’t constant. Promoters talk about “capacity’ which means what a turbine could produce if you had steady wind blowing at just the right speed. Doesn’t happen. Wind comes in gusts, gales, wafts, and may not blow at all for days or weeks at a time. When it does not blow, it requires backup from a conventional coal or gas-fired power plant, which must stand ready all the time to produce electricity when the wind does not blow. Ditto solar. You have noticed that the sun slides beneath the horizon each night (when you need lights) and is not visible on cloudy or stormy days.

After he ran for reelection, Obama vowed to make jobs and economic growth his number one priority. In May, a Gallup poll  and a Pew Research poll found similar priorities 86-90% said creating more jobs should be the top priority in Washington.  “Dealing with global warming” came in dead last at 28%. Gun control and immigration were only slightly more interesting.  Almost everything Obama has done this year will put an additional drag on growth.

In general, every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion, and the EPA is squirreling away writing new rules. Last month the administration quietly raised the “social cost’ of carbon by 60% in a regulatory finding about microwave  ovens.

Me. Obama also declared that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Carbon is not a pollutant.The Keystone XL pipeline represents about 13,000 union construction jobs, 7,000 manufacturing jobs and an estimated 250,000 jobs over the life of the pipeline. Apparently Big Green trumps Big Labor. Labor badly wants the pipeline.

The most stunning revelation from the big climate speech is the utter contempt that Obama has for the American people. He talks concern for the economy and jobs, but his actions are devoted to killing even more.  He talks about helping the poor, but aside from welfare, there’s no there there. No jobs, don’t talk about the rise in electricity rates, talk about health (?). It would be a disaster for the American worker, but there’s always unemployment and food stamps.

Obama’s Stuck on Solar, or Just Plain Stuck. by The Elephant's Child

Another day and another solar company disaster. First Solar, a solar energy company that received a $1.46 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy announced Monday that it will lay off 2.000 workers worldwide. In December, they laid off 100 employees at a Santa Clara, California plant. The DOE has committed the loan to a project in Riverside County in California that is expected to create 15 permanent jobs and 550 temporary construction jobs.

Now the Department of Energy is preparing to issue another bunch of loans,”subject to a robust monitoring effort to ensure that taxpayers investments are protected” loan program chief David Frantz said. He also said that the Energy Department loan program has “helped the United States keep pace in the fierce global race for clean energy technologies.” Race? What race? Everybody else if getting out.  Franz added that those loans support American clean energy projects expected to provide power to nearly 3 million households and are creating tens of thousands of jobs. Construction jobs? Any permanent jobs? Or just till the outfit goes bankrupt?

The money, it seems, has already been appropriated, and you certainly can’t put it back once it has been appropriated.  After all there is “intense global competition” and the nation “cannot afford to stop moving forward.” Why ever not?

For whatever reason, Obama has  put a lot of faith in clean green energy. He spoke early on about halting the rise of the seas, and he really believed that there would be lots of ‘green’ jobs. He has worked very hard at shutting down fossil fuels: stalling permits in the Gulf using the excuse of safety of offshore rigs; putting the coasts out of reach for drilling; refusing to sign on to the Keystone XL pipeline; pushing electric cars and solar arrays, wind farms and high speed rail; and demanding that in just 8 more years that 30% of our energy come from renewable energy.

The evidence has been very clear that these were pipe dreams — that there was a vast gap between ‘capacity’ as the promoters described it and real power. Wind is intermittent. It doesn’t blow steadily— ever.  A wind turbine needs backup 24/7 from a conventional power plant because the wind doesn’t blow steadily.  The sun goes down at night, and there is no solar energy on cloudy days nor in the winter when days are short and storms are frequent and people need power more. They require backup power from a conventional power plant as well.  And electric cars get their charge from a conventional power plant.

Even now, Spain has dumped their renewable energy. They can’t afford it. Germany has cut way back on subsidies and their world’s leading solar manufacturer has gone bankrupt (as did their subsidiary in this country). Germany is a northern country that gets very little sun in the winter, and solar energy isn’t practical— but the Germans do love the sun.  The Chinese, who put everyone else in trouble with their cheap solar panels, have lost interest in solar energy and are going to rely on nuclear energy instead.

It’s hard to know what Mr. Obama believes about green energy? Did he see himself as the hero of the world’s move to a 21st Century  clean green world?  Betsy’s Page quotes a passage from the new book The Escape Artists; How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery:

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

There never were those green jobs promised. There were in some cases a number of jobs constructing the facilities, but running them took very few; not hundreds but ten or fifteen.Where does this notion of a world competition to power our world with solar energy come from? Don’t they read the papers? What do all those intelligence agencies do? Spain is a very sunny country, as is Portugal, as is Italy. If they can’t make it work, and they can’t, doesn’t anybody notice?

Polls from Gallup, Pew and Rasmussen show that radical environmentalism has been seriously losing influence in America for  a couple of decades. Last August, a Rasmussen poll showed that 69% ;of Americans believe that scientists have falsified global warming research. Forty years ago Americans were concerned about smog and air quality, but the country has made changes to factories, and developed catalytic converters for cars.

Real life and living in the real world requires common sense and an understanding of market forces. America is a world powerhouse of cheap abundant energy from coal, natural gas and oil. One man is demanding that we shut down those sources and spend our precious wealth on trying to make the sun light our homes at night, dependably power our hospitals, keep our people warm in the winter— all things that it cannot do. Maybe if we just come up with some new and better panel, or figure out some way to store the energy from the sun, or make the clouds go away,  If we just invest enough money we can make that little turquoise wedge grow to 30% in just 8 more years, can’t we?

If we just shut down all the nasty, dirty coal plants that the big environmental outfits hate so much, then everybody will have to depend on ….?

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