Archive for May, 2011
Spring is the perfect time to prepare your garden for the oncoming growing season and tidy up after the winter months. Make your garden as colourful as a flower shop and plant your own summer flowering plants and shrubs in borders and beds so you don’t need to buy flowers online or visit a flower shop for special occasions.
Mulch flowerbeds, dress with top soil and fertilise to nourish plants throughout the coming months. Once you have prepared the soil, add a splash of colour with some early flowering bedding plants. Pansies, violas and primroses are great for brightening up spring pots and borders and violas often last right through the summer as well.
There is still a chance of frost during March, so make sure delicate plants are protected or covered through to April. Don’t transfer bedding plants to the garden until the weather warms up and there is no likelihood of a sudden night time temperature drop.
Bulbs should be starting to appear and that’s an indicator that weeds will also begin to crop up shortly after. Remove moss from driveways and paths before it gets established and pull up weeds as soon as they break through making sure you get the root as well as the leaves.
Cut down perennials that have been left to stand over winter and prune back shrubs, roses and fruit trees before they bud. Harshly cut back shrubs such as hydrangeas for compact growth and dense flowers in the summer. Spray roses to protect from mildew and black spot once a fortnight throughout the spring and summer months.
Laurel, yew and box hedges thrive when planted in the spring so if you are planning a new hedge, this is the best time to make a start on the project. You should also plant out conifers and evergreens in the spring.
Prune and then protect fruit trees and bushes with netting to keep birds and bugs away later in the year. Seed bare patches on lawns but wait until the grass dries out completely after winter before attempting to cut it. Mow your lawn using the highest blade setting for the first cut of the season and cut on a lower setting each week as the weather improves.
Peas, carrots, broad beans and early potatoes can be sown throughout March and April. Sow drifts of summer flowering seeds so that you have a constant supply of flowers to cut from your garden instead of having to buy flowers online or visit a flower shop.
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.
Nissan has been marketing the Leaf as the Green Car for everybody, so it has got to irritate the Nissan Company that the Chevy Volt won the award for the “World Car”. The Nissan Leaf did win the 2011 World Title, but the Chevy Volt won on the “Green” designation. This may cause Nissan to slightly alter their advertising.
Winning the “World Car” award as well as finishing second in for the “Green” award should bring more attention to the Nissan Leaf as well as the Chevy Volt. The more people that begin buying environmentally friendly cars will help to drive the price of this car and auto insurance Ontario down, allowing more people to buy environmentally friendly cars. The more people driving cars like these will help the environment, so events such as the World Car Awards that help bring environmentally friendly cars to the forefront is a great thing for out world.
More importantly than the environmental awards, is simply showing that “green’ cars such the Nissan Leaf can also be fun cars. No longer are all hybrids and electric cars considered underpowered and not feasible in the real world. The Nissan Leaf earned the World Car Award, as well as potentially millions of dollars worth of free press over the event.
The Nissan Leaf was a great pick for the Car of the Year award, but it will be very interesting to see if they can retain the title next year or if another car such as the Chevy Volt is able to surpass the Nissan Leaf.
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.