Archive for the ‘Environmental Protection’ Category
This post first appeared in the October 2012 edition of Commons Magazine, a gateway to the latest thinking and action in the commons movement.
If this election is a referendum on the benefit of government then superstorm Sandy should be Exhibit A for the affirmative. The government weather service, using data from government weather satellites delivered a remarkably accurate and sobering long range forecast that both catalyzed action and gave communities sufficient time to prepare. Those visually stunning maps you saw on the web or TV were largely based on public data made publicly available from local, state and federal agencies.
As the storm neared, governors and mayors ordered the evacuation of low lying areas. Police and firefighters ensured these orders were carried out and helped those needing assistance. As the storm hit, mayors imposed curfews.
Government 911 and 311 telephone operators quickly and effectively responded to hundreds of thousands of individual calls for assistance and information. Indeed, the volume of those calls may lead us to propose a different answer to the question asked by those famous lines from the movie Ghostbusters. “If there’s something weird and it don’t look good who ya gonna call?” Government.
Public schools and other public buildings were quickly converted into temporary shelters. Transit systems and bridges were closed when public safety might be compromised.
Tens of thousands National Guard troops were mobilized to assist at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies. The military’s USNORTHCOM placed its forces on 24-hour alert to provide medium and heavy lift helicopters and rescue teams, and activated local military bases for possible use by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Before the storm hit state agencies required emergency preparedness plans from publicly regulated utilities and after the storm hit monitored their responses.
For day 36 of our carbon fast we were thrown way outside MY comfort zone!
The suggestion read “Consider giving up your car. The General Manager of Boston’s MBTA just gave up his and now uses a ZipCar when he needs an automobile.”
Well good for him, I commend him, I really do, but this is NOT for me.
A Zipcar is not an easy thing to find in the villages of England and the bus service isn’t exactly brilliant. It’s a scary thought though, to realise how dependent I am on this old lump of steel.
I can’t shop without it. How totally NON independent is that?
Sure I grow some food, but not enough to eat 365 days a year. it’s a sobering thought to realise just how reliant I am on my vehicle and now I’m going to direct you to an excellent post which says it all.
Over on Eco Crap, Argentum Vulgaris sold his car 19 years ago and he hasn’t looked back.
He tells me that my reliance on my car is all in my head and that I don’t need one. He then goes on to say that this challenge isn’t a challenge to be green, it’s a challenge in survival. This terrifies me, I have to admit.
Representative Doc Hastings, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, is introducing a long-overdue bill designed to increase domestic oil production by overturning the Obama administration’s de-facto moratorium on new offshore oil and gas exploration and production that has been in place since the Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.
Hastings is introducing a packet of three bills and the House plans on taking up the bills perhaps as early as 5/5/11. The bills would, in short, reopen the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, open lease sales off the coast of Virginia and expedite the permitting of new drilling. These bills, in my opinion, do not go far enough, but they are a great start.
Claims that increasing domestic supply would not affect world price are simply wrong. Increased domestic supply would help reduce prices in two ways. First – and this the first day of first year economics – increasing supply of a good in short demand tends to reduce prices. Second, new oil supplies, particularly from the U.S., would have an inordinate impact on the world market. Uncertainty due to the ongoing unrest in the Middle East is a significant factor in the current high prices. Though an additional 2 million barrels a day from ANWR and the OCS would only be a drop in the bucket of world oil demand, because it is coming from the stable U.S. it would reduce the uncertainty that impacts global oil prices. Just holding the lease sales and granting the permits to drill, long before any oil flows, would tell the market that medium and long-term help is on the way. This would have an outsized moderating influence on high prices and the volatility in the market – beyond that the simple addition of the oil would have. As I’ve stated before, in commodities markets, where oil comes from counts.
Aside from its affect on prices, new oil production would also help reduce the federal budget deficit and, perhaps, moderate some of the budget cuts facing coastal states. A recent paper by my friend and colleague Rob Bluey explores the fiscal impact of the current offshore oil moratorium.
Bluey points out, based on Obama administration actions and statements, that 2011 could be the first year since 1965 that the federal government did not sell any leases in the Gulf. And this at a time of declining production from existing wells — the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a decline of 240,000 barrels per day in oil production from existing production in the Gulf of Mexico this year.
The result: the government will collect less less in rent, royalties, lease payments and taxes. How much takes one’s breath away. Offshore leases currently generate more than $200 million in rent payments per year. In addition to lease payments, oil companies pay an 18.75 percent royalty to the federal government on the oil produced. With oil currently trading above $100 a barrel, that equals $4.7 million in lost revenue each day. If the government’s own projections are accurate, that would amount to $1.7 billion this year. Royalties, leases and rent make up a sizable amount of revenue each year. In 2008, the offshore industry paid $237 million in rent, $8.3 billion in royalties and $9.4 billion for bids on new leases. By comparison, last year those numbers dropped, while rent increased modestly to $245 million, royalties fell by more than half, to $4 billion, and lease bids fell by approximately 90 percent to just $979 million. This year, if no leases are offered, lease bids will fall to zero – from 9.4 billion to zero in just three years.
Will Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson make a back door move to ban lead bullets the day before the November 2 elections?
Environmental Protection Agency Reviewing Petition to Ban Lead Bullets
Several environmentalist groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) are petitioning the EPA to ban lead bullets and shot (as well as lead sinkers for fishing) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Although EPA is barred by statute from controlling ammunition, CBD is seeking to work farther back along the manufacturing chain and have EPA ban the use of lead in bullets and shot because non-lead alternatives are available. But here’s the catch: the alternatives to lead bullets are more expensive. A ban on the sale of lead ammunition would force hunters and sport shooters to buy non-lead ammunition that is often double the cost of traditional lead ammunition. A box of deer hunting bullets in a popular caliber could be upwards of $55.
Throughout the years, the NCPA has chronicled various ways government policies intended to protect the environment have precisely the opposite effect, causing worse environmental problems than the issues they were intended to prevent or correct.
We’ve documented how Federal land management has created a tinderbox on National Forests (wiping out forests and killing people) in the West and harmed wildlife on public lands nationwide. We’ve pointed out how federal fisheries policies are contributing to the near collapse of the Ocean fisheries. In addition, I have written concerning how national energy policies on offshore drilling, wind power and ethanol are, causing a variety of environmental and human harms.
Today, however, I want to focus on policies a little closer to home, your home, my home, everyone’s home. Federal policies aimed and energy and resource efficiency are unfortunately wasting resources and in some instances literally killing people – yet the feds, rather than staying out of our bathrooms and our kitchens want to increase their control over our everyday purchases.
The Department of Energy, in its infinite wisdom, has decided it knows how much energy your refrigerator’s freezer should use in creating ice cubes. It wants to force a decrease in the amount of energy refrigerators use in making ice. What’s the harm you say? First, why should the government tell you how much energy you can use to chill your drinks, if you are willing to pay the power bill, it’s none of their business. Second, in reality, every time the government raises efficiency standards all manner of unintended negative consequences result – including, often, increased energy use. When the government forces conservation, it reduces it makes energy cheaper and when energy is cheaper, people use more of it. Increasing auto fuel economy, years of experience show, hasn’t decreased gasoline use since making driver cheaper has encouraged people to drive more. In addition, corporate average fuel economy standards have resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths on the nation’s highway – fuel efficient cars are, on average, less safe at any speed than larger vehicles.
Increase television and computer energy efficiency and people buy bigger TV’s and computer screens and leave them on or in stand-by mode rather than shutting them off. In addition, these refrigerators will be much more expensive meaning people will keep their older, less efficient units longer – repairing them rather than replacing them. The divide between rich and poor even enters into the realm of appliance purchases.
Remember when government decided to regulate our toilet flushes. At one time, we had water guzzling but effective, long-lasting (no planned obsolescence for good old American made toilets of by-gone years – they last forever) toilets. The Federal government knew better, it mandated toilets that used less water per flush. These toilets proved often to be messy disasters. They stopped up and backed up far too often. Often it took (still takes) multiple flushes to do the job that only took one flush on the old toilets. Multiple flushes and increased complexity often increased the rate at which the new toilets broke and had to be replaced. Multiple flushes also meant far less water was saved than expected. People hated the new toilets so much that a thriving black market arose in good-old five-gallon toilets scavenged from trailers and mobile homes scheduled for destruction. Only government has the hubris to believe they know best how the average American should use the john.
In all the political battles over whether or not Congress would take back its Constitutionally granted exclusive authority to legislate concerning matters of interstate commerce by reining in the Environmental Protection Agency and halting its implementation of economy stifling greenhouse gas emission regulations, questions surrounding the scientific basis for concern about global warming and how research is conducted have faded into the background. It’s time to bring them back front and center. If the researchers show themselves untrustworthy, and the models are flawed, then the whole exercise of strangling fossil fuel use in order to save the world becomes not just counter-productive, but a fool’s errand.
New reasons for questioning the science behind climate change alarmism have come to the fore, yet few have noticed.
First, we have a story of the researchers at the center of the climategate scandal, those who were shown to have twisted data to fit their preconceived conclusions, tried to suppress research that called into question key aspects of global warming theory by undermining the peer review process and who tried to hide their own publicly funded research from public scrutiny by destroying the paper trail, they have now been trying to suppress free speech.
It seems that, a blogger for the Daily Telegraph in London, James Delingpole, got under, Phil Jones’, the climate “researcher” at the University of East Anglia, skin. Delingpole was front and center in bringing the various misdeeds at the heart of climategate to light. He has forthrightly and fiercely publicly excoriated scientists behind the scientific sleight of hand. For that public service, Jones filed a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission attempting to have Delingpole censured and his work, at least on this matter, suppressed. Fortunately, the Commission rejected this attempt to suppress free speech, ruling that,