Marita: Writes about the Pope

Greetins!

 

Even though I don’t like to write on the same topics other pundits are addressing, I assumed, that for this week, I’d write on the Pope. Some topics are just too big to ignore.

 

In this week’s column: The Pope, climate change and VW (attached and pasted-in-below), I, both, wrote on something most others aren’t and included the Pope’s visit.

 

I conducted an unofficial poll on my Facebook page in which I asked if people were following the VW scandal. Some were. Many were not. A few knew about it, but weren’t following it. Several indicated that they had no idea what I was talking about. The responses validated my premise: with all of the news coverage on the Pope’s visit, the VW scandal was under the radar for most—but, as I demonstrate in The Pope, climate change and VW, they are connected. Pope Francis is pushing for policies that promote emission reductions based on the belief that CO2 emissions are driving climate change and Volkswagen, I believe, engaged in the approach they did because of the impossible requirements to cut emissions.

 

In The Pope, climate change and VW I offer a quick overview of the VW story for those who haven’t followed it and then make the connection to the unattainable regulations and the carbon reduction policies driving them. Those who reviewed it prior to publication were very positive about the approach. One said: “Great article and exactly on point.”

 

Please post, pass on and/or personally enjoy The Pope, climate change and VW.

 

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

For immediate release: September 28, 2015

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Marita Noon 2015 Turquiose

 

 

The Pope, climate change and VW

While Pope Francis was shuttled around during his historic visit to the U.S. in a Fiat, he shared the news cycle with Volkswagen.

 

The pope made headlines with his calls for action on climate change. USA Today touted: “Obama, Pope Francis praise each other on climate change.” In his September 23 speech from the White House lawn, the Pope addressed President Obama saying: “I find it encouraging that you are introducing an initiative for reducing air pollution.” Addressing that comment, Business Insider added: “He praised President Barack Obama for his proposals, which aim for the US to cut emissions by up to 28% over the next decade.”

 

The core of the entire climate change agenda is the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions which proponents like to call “air pollution.” It comes from sources we can’t control: volcanoes; sources we can kind-of control: forest fires (better forest management would result in fewer fires) and human beings exhaling (reduce the population, reduce CO2 emissions); and sources we can control: the use of fossil fuels (we can virtually outlaw them as several countries, including the U.S., are trying to do).

 

The drive to cut CO2 emissions is at the root of Volkswagen’s unprecedented scandal that broke last week, resulting in the CEO’s abrupt ouster on September 23—the day that Pope Francis’ U.S. visit went into full swing.

 

With nonstop coverage of the papal activities—including his Fiat Popemobile—the Volkswagen story was likely lost on most Americans. But it is not going away.

 

On September 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed the scandal: Europe’s biggest auto maker, with 600,000 employees world-wide and 300,000 in Germany, utilized software on some VW and Audi diesel-powered cars to manipulate the results of routine emissions tests—allowing them pass strict emissions standards in Europe and the U.S. The “defeat devices” have reportedly been fitted to more than 11 million vehicles since 2008 and may cost Volkswagen up to $18 billion in fines in the U.S. alone. Owners of the impacted vehicles will need to have a heretofore unavailable “fix” installed and may have to provide a “proof of correction certificate” in order to renew their registration and will suffer “loss due to the diminished value of the cars.” As a result of the scandal, Volkswagen’s stock price and reputation have both fallen precipitously, and class-action lawsuits are already taking shape. Fund managers have been banned from buying VW’s stocks and bonds. Tens of thousands of new cars may remain unsold. USNews stated: “Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges in Germany.”

 

The question no one seems to be asking is: what would drive Europe’s biggest auto maker to make such a costly decision, to take a risk, from which it may be impossible to recover, and tarnish the “made-in-Germany brand”?

 

While the question isn’t asked, Reuters coverage of the story offers the answer: “Diesel engines use less fuel and emit less carbon—blamed for global warming—than standard gasoline engines. But they emit higher levels of toxic gases known as nitrogen oxides.”

 

In short, the answer is the drive to lower CO2 emissions and the policies that encourage reduction.

 

In BloombergView, Clive Crook offers this excellent explanation:

Beginning in the mid-1990s, mindful of their commitments to cut carbon emissions, Europe’s governments embarked on a prolonged drive to convert their car fleets from gasoline to diesel. With generous use of tax preferences, they succeeded. In the European Union as a whole, diesel vehicles now account for more than half of the market. In France, the first country to cross that threshold, diesel now accounts for roughly 80 percent of motor-fuel consumption.

 

What was the reasoning? Diesel contains more carbon than gasoline, but diesel engines burn less fuel: Net, switching to diesel ought to give you lower emissions of greenhouse gases. However, there’s a penalty in higher emissions of other pollutants, including particulates and nitrogen oxides, or NOx. Curbing those emissions requires expensive modifications to cars’ exhaust systems. To facilitate the switch, Europe made its emission standards for these other pollutants less stringent for diesel engines than for gasoline engines. The priority, after all, was to cut greenhouse gases.

 

If anyone could solve the dilemma, one would expect it to be the Germans, who excel in engineering feats. It is Germany that is touted as the world leader in all things green. The reality of achieving the goals, however, is far more difficult than passing the legislation calling for the energy transformation.

 

Addressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s push for de-carbonization, BloombergBusiness Points out: “Merkel has built a reputation as a climate crusader during a decade as Chancellor.” She “has straddled between pushing to reduce global warming while protecting her country’s auto industry.”

 

Merkel is, apparently, bumping up against reality. After shutting down its nuclear power plants, Germany has had to rely more on coal. BloombergBusiness continues: “She successfully helped block tighter EU carbon emissions standards two years ago.” Those tighter emissions standards would have hurt Germany’s auto industry, which accounts for 1 in 7 jobs in the country and 20 percent of its exports. At last week’s Frankfurt Auto Show Merkel said: “We have to ensure politically that what’s doable can indeed be translated into law, but what’s not doable mustn’t become European law.”

 

Evidence suggests the issue “could be industry-wide.” CNBC reports: “several major companies having exposure to the same diesel technology.” BMW’s stock price plunged, according to BloombergBusiness: “after a report that a diesel version of the X3 sport utility vehicle emitted more than 11 times the European limit for air pollution in a road test.” The Financial Times quotes Stuart Pearson, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, as saying: VW was “unlikely to have been the only company to game the system globally.” And an October 2014 study, cited in BloombergBusiness, claims that “road tests of 15 new diesel cars were an average of seven times higher than European limits.”

 

The VW emissions scandal is more than just a “‘bad episode’ for the car industry,” as Germany’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, called it. It provides a lesson in the collision of economic and environmental policies that strive to reach goals, which are presently technologically unachievable—a lesson that regulators and policy makers have yet to learn.

 

The Los Angeles Times (LAT) reports: “Regulators have ordered Volkswagen to come up with a fix that allows vehicles to meet environmental regulations.” If it were that easy, even economically possible, the much-vaunted German engineering could have solved the problem instead of developing technology that found a way around the rules. LAT concludes: “automotive experts believe any repair will diminish the driving dynamics of the vehicles and slash fuel economy—the two major characteristics that attracted buyers.”

 

The fact that, while waving the flag of environmental virtue advocated by Pope Francis, those, with the world’s best engineering at their fingertips, had to use the expertise to develop a work-around should serve as a lesson to policymakers who pass legislation and regulation on ideology rather than reality.

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marita might say, Ethanol is never what it’s cracked-up to be

Marita explains why sensible people and environmentalists agree on ethanol.  And, it’s about time, envios.

You will find valuable link information at the very bottom of Marita’s piece.  Incidentally, she has gained another prominent spot in conservative publication.  Check out Breitbart.com

Now here is Marita’s latest:

Ethanol policy reform–the rare place where environmentalists and energy advocates agree

We all expect to pay a price for missing deadlines—fail to pay a parking ticket on time, and you may find a warrant out for your arrest. People have lost their jobs when they can’t get the work done on schedule. Students, who turn in papers late, get lower grades—maybe even fail the class.

 

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can apparently miss deadlines (many) with impunity. For the past two years, the EPA has failed to meet the statutory deadline under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring the agency to tell refiners how much ethanol to blend into the nation’s motor fuels.

 

In November 2013, the EPA did make an attempt to announce the proposed 2014 blend levels—which by then were already months past the legally mandated deadline. The EPA surprised and pleased the RFS opponents when it utilized its authority to adjust the mandate and took market conditions into consideration. The EPA set the proposed 2014 standard to a level lower than 2013’s, even though the law requires increasing amounts. Ethanol producers, who were expecting the usual uptick, loudly opposed the reduction. They made so much noise, the EPA agreed to reconsider. To date, the 2014 standards have not yet been announced.

 

Then, on November 21, 2014, the EPA announced it would make a decision next year (2015) on how much ethanol refiners had to add to gasoline this year (2014)—yet, if refiners don’t meet the unknown requirement, they get fined. That’s akin to handing out the class syllabus after the students have failed the final exam.

 

With the goal of a reduction in foreign oil imports, Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 and revised it in 2007—which also provided incentives to America’s fledgling ethanol industry. At the time, gasoline demand was rising to an all-time high and oil imports comprised more than 58 percent of U.S. oil consumption. No doubt Congress believed it was saving American consumers from their addiction to oil.

 

Then the world changed. The U.S. economy plunged into its worst recession ever, unemployment soared, and gasoline demand fell sharply. Meanwhile, advanced drilling technologies, including the long-used hydraulic fracturing and newer horizontal drilling, began producing oil and natural gas from U.S. shale formations—which were previously uneconomic to develop—leading to America’s 21st Century energy boom.

 

Today the U.S. is the world’s largest natural-gas producer and is projected to pass Saudi Arabia as the number one oil producer. With crude oil supplies flooding the market, prices have been cut in half. Although fears over foreign-oil dependence have abated, the U.S. remains stuck with an ethanol mandate that is outdated, unworkable, and even harmful to vehicles, engines, and the environment.

 

Consider just some of the RFS’s flaws.

 

The law requires refiners to cap their blending of corn ethanol and use more cellulosic biofuels. Never mind that very little cellulosic biofuel has ever been produced—even according to EPA’s own data. But that fact hasn’t prevented the EPA from levying millions of dollars in fines against refiners for failing to use the phantom fuel, without any assurance that enough cellulosic biofuel will ever be available. It’s kind of like receiving a bill for something you cannot buy because it doesn’t exist, but you’re being charged anyway.

 

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports cellulosic biofuels are: “complex, capital-intensive, and costly.” Given the difficulty of producing them, capacity will “fall far short of what would be necessary to achieve the very rapid growth in the use of cellulosic biofuels required” under the RFS.

 

Then there is the “blend wall” problem. With less gasoline being sold than Congress anticipated, refiners cannot add ever-rising amounts of ethanol to gasoline without exceeding E10—the fuel consisting of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline sold virtually everywhere in the country today. To get around the blend wall issue, the EPA granted a “partial waiver” allowing the sale of E15, a fuel blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol for model-year 2001 and newer vehicles.

 

The EPA’s quick fix made a bad situation much worse, and all at the taxpayers’ and consumers’ expense. Ethanol levels higher than 10 percent can damage or destroy vehicle engines, according to a study conducted by the well-respected Coordinating Research Council. Automakers are voiding warranties and refusing to be held responsible for mechanical problems caused by fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol. And the marine industry warns of potential engine failures on various types of watercraft powered by the industry’s most common engines.

 

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is so concerned about safety hazards that it has launched a campaign telling consumers to “Look Before You Pump.” OPEI says equipment ranging from lawn mowers to “jaws of life” devices could be damaged by ethanol’s corrosive properties if used in concentrations above 10 percent. Do want your expensive new lawn mower to quit the third time you use it? You certainly want life-saving devices to work on demand.

 

And that’s not all. Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often, thereby causing more consumer expenditures. Ethanol production has driven up food prices here and abroad. Additionally, some studies indicate ethanol usage increases greenhouse gas emissions. Politico reports: “Some green groups have vocally abandoned their support for corn ethanol, blaming the crop for polluting water supplies, wiping out conservation land and even increasing carbon emissions.” According to Craig Cox, director of the Ames, Iowa, office of the Environmental Working Group, an environmental group that opposes the mandate as it is now structured: “Corn ethanol’s brand has been seriously dented in the last 18 months. …it certainly doesn’t occupy the same pedestal that it occupied two years ago.”

 

But then, despite the fact that the EPA says decisions are made on merits, politics entered the scene. Rumors flew that the announcement of the 2014 blend levels was delayed to help Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-D) in his Senate bid. Braley was pushing for an increase in the proposed levels and was hoping that he would be able to influence the White House to raise the targets. Additionally, a Republican-controlled Senate would be more likely to pass legislation to reform or repeal the RFS. Braley was quoted in Politico saying: “Voters in Iowa look at where I stand on this issue and where my opponent stands, who’s supporting me in this campaign and who’s supporting [Ernst].” The Politico story states: “Iowans say wavering on corn ethanol once would have been certain political suicide in a state where 90 percent of the land is farm acreage. So Braley sought to capitalize on Ernst’s expressed qualms about big government, portraying her as someone Iowans can’t trust to fight for them.” Yet, Ernst, a Republican, won the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Tom Harkin by 8.5 percentage points.

 

The EPA’s unwillingness to do its job by setting ethanol volumes—along with ethanol’s loss of “political heft”— should provide the impetus for ending the complex and wasteful RFS program. Ethanol is a rare topic where environmentalists and energy advocates agree. Now is the time to get our elected officials all on board. As soon as the new Congress convenes in January, it should give the RFS an “F” and reform, revise, or even repeal it.

 

(A version of this content was originally published on Breitbart.com)

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

Here are the extra links referred to at the beginning of this page:

Ethanol policy reform
  RFS Timeline.jpg
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Marita Noon

Jim Crawford continues to report on the “revered” green people



Jim Crawford reports on various state and federal agencies intent on causing our rates to rise in the name of Al Gore and other mimicking him.

Al Gore

Cover of Al Gore

Some of you may be aware that PNM has proposed closing down units 2 and 3 of the San Juan Generating Station as part of a “compromise” and “tentative” agreement with EPA to reduce haze. The plan and “tentative” agreement have been approved by the NM Environmental Improvement Board and has been submitted to NM Public Regulation Commission (PRC) for their approval as well. PRC has scheduled hearings on the proposed plan starting October 6 at 0930 at the PRC in Santa Fe. As far as we can find out both written and oral comments will be accepted with oral public comments to be heard on the first day, October 6. The hearing is scheduled to run from October 6 through October 21 if necessary.

The details on how the hearing will be handled have not been worked out for sure. PRC has scheduled a pre-hearing conference for September 30 also at 0930. The pre-hearing conference will also be open to the public and the hearing officer will decide at that time the room and rules for making comments based on the number of people expected. I will try to keep you posted on any new developments.

The radical green group, Conservation Voters of NM, already has over 600 signatures on a petition and have begun a form letter writing campaign in opposition to the plan. New Energy Economy,another rabid green group, also has a petition with several hundred signatures. Other environmental groups are probably following suit. Since the hearing is in Santa Fe there will be a huge crowd I am sure. The enviros want more of the units closed, don’t want nuclear energy from Palo Verde used for replacement, and want the whole San Juan generating station replaced with renewable energy.

Since opposition to the plan is forming a tsunami of comment, we need some help with comments in support of PNM’s plan. I have not finalized my comments yet but have attached a draft which will give you some background. I am sure you all can come up with more and better comments but mine can be used for a spring board.

For a little more background: Modifications to San Juan were needed because the NOX emissions were .03% above EPA guidelines. NMED and PNM proposed using SNCR ( Selective Non-catalytic Reduction) to get within EPA guidelines for a cost of around $80 million. EPA ruled that Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) was available and a better and more advanced technology making it the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART). According to EPA BART is required to be used which was SCR for a cost of nearly a billion dollars.

The problem is that the proposed “tentative” agreement relies on SNCR which is not BART (SCR). Whether or not PRC approves the plan, it is still vulnerable to environmentalist pressure on EPA to disapprove it because they want all of San Juan shut down and replaced with all wind and solar. It looks like another sue and settle opportunity for the enviros to get EPA to do their bidding.

I have also included some links to recent news articles that also explain some of the background leading up to the hearing.
http://www.abqjournal.com/432516/news/san-juan-battle-lines-drawn.html

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2014/08/29/critics-challenge-costs-pnm-plan-to-shutter-part-coal-fired-power-plan/

http://www.abqjournal.com/455367/news/new-costs-lower-revenue-behind-pnm-rate-hike-bid.html

If anybody has any questions, give me an e-mail.
The PRC case number is 13-00390-UT. The case number has to be included on your comments.
The address for written comments is:
New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
PERA Building
PO Box 1269
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1269

Later Jim

Marita Noon: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

Poster note: There are references in Ms. Noon’s articles about quotes some have made about the mindless fellow who occupies the Oval Office when he is not on Air Force One.  The quotes address his legacy.  Maybe they mean his lack of legacy? Chuck Ring

 

 

This morning, President Obama is scheduled to announce the EPA’s new C02 standards for existing power plants. Last week I attended (via telephone) a press conference the US Chamber of Commerce held announcing its new report regarding the impacts of the new regulations—which are, in essence, cap-and-trade by executive order. That became the launching point for this week’s column: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool (attached and pasted-in-below).

 

As you will discover when you read it, in doing my writing preparation, I’ve read extensively on the topic. In Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool I address some angles and issues not covered elsewhere. (I always figure, if I don’t have something fresh to say on a topic, I don’t need to write on it.)

 

As the announcement is now just a couple hours away, I hope those of you who post my work can get Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool posted ASAP—before the announcement. Please pass it on, too! Thanks!

 

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

For immediate release: June 2, 2014

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

America is poised to become the “no pee” section of the global swimming pool and the useless actions will cost us a bundle—raising energy costs, adding new taxes, and crippling the economy. Even some environmentalists agree. Yet, for President Obama, it’s all about legacy.

 

On Monday, June 2, 2014, the EPA will release its new rules for CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating plants—which the New York Times (NYT) states: “could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants across the country.” (Regulations for new plants: the New Source Performance Standard rule, requiring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) that buries emissions in the ground to meet the emissions limits, were released September 20, 2013. The 2013 regulations virtually ensure that no new coal-fueled power plants will be built. Bloomberg Businessweek reports: “Considering the one carbon-capture plant being built in the U.S. is massively over budget and widely considered not ready for commercial use, it seems likely that the new rules will significantly erode coal’s share of power generation down the road.” Politifact says CCS is: “new and expensive.”)

 

These new rules, reportedly 3000 pages long (300 pages longer than the healthcare bill), are so important, it is believed that the President will make the announcement himself.

 

Supporters seem gleeful. USA Today cites the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress’ Daniel J. Weiss as saying: “No president has ever proposed a climate pollution clean up this big.” In the Washington Post (WP), advocacy group Clean Air Watch’s director, Frank O’Donnell is quoted as saying: “This is a magic moment for the president—a chance to write his name in the record books.” The NYT claims the plans, “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change,” could: “become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.” And, Peter Shattuck, director of market initiatives at ENE, a Boston-based climate advocacy and research organization, believes: “This EPA regulation will breathe life into state-level cap-and-trade programs.”

 

While the actual EPA plan has not been released at the time of this writing, it is widely believed that it will follow a March 2013 regulatory proposal put forth by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which projects 35-40 percent cuts in CO2 emissions over 2012 levels by 2025. Once again, as with endangered species listings and the Keystone pipeline, we see environmental groups driving this administration’s policies.

 

Using the NRDC’s policy framework, on May 28—before the EPA released its new rules—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy released a major study done by the highly respected energy analytics firm IHS: Assessing the Impact of Potential New Carbon Regulations in the United States. It concludes that the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will cost America’s economy over $50 billion a year between now and 2030.

 

A press release about the 71-page report predicts the EPA’s potential new carbon regulations would:

  • Lower U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $51 billion on average every year through 2030,
  • Lead to 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030,
  • Force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030, and
  • Lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030.

 

Addressing the Chamber’s assessment, the Institute’s president and CEO, Karen Harbert, said: “Americans deserve to have an accurate picture of the costs and benefits associated with the Administration’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through unprecedented and aggressive EPA regulations. Our analysis shows that Americans will pay significantly more for electricity, see slower economic growth and fewer jobs, and have less disposable income, while a slight reduction in carbon emissions will be overwhelmed by global increases.”

 

Not surprisingly, the EPA quickly tried to debunk the Chamber’s claims. Tom Reynolds, the EPA’s associate administrator for external affairs, called the report: “Nothing more than irresponsible speculation based on guesses of what our draft proposal will be.” Reynolds continued: “Just to be clear—it’s not out yet. I strongly suggest that folks read the proposal before they cry the sky is falling.”

 

However, the WP states: “While several key aspects of the proposal are still under discussion, according to several people briefed on the matter … the EPA plan resembles proposals made by the Natural Resources Defense Council.” In Grist.com, which calls itself “a source of intelligent, irreverent environmental news and commentary,” Ben Adler, who “covers environmental policy and politics for Grist, with a focus on climate change, energy, and cities,” cites a “video chat” he apparently had with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In his column: “Here’s what to expect from Obama’s big new climate rules,” Adler states: “The agency’s proposed rules will probably roughly follow the model proposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in a March 2013 report.”

 

It is likely that the Chamber’s report is spot on. If, after the regulations are revealed, they are different, the Chamber says it will rerun the models using the new data.

 

Describing the NRDC-based plan, the NYT states: “President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent.” It continues: “People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.” Note: even the NYT calls cap and trade a carbon tax.

 

The NYT story points to cap-and-trade programs in California and the northeast, which have some of the highest electricity rates in the country. It cites officials of the northeastern regional program who claim: “it has proved fairly effective.” Between 2005 and 2012, the program dropped power-plant pollution by 40 percent, “even as the states raised $1.6 billion in new revenue.” Where did that “new revenue” come from? Higher rates paid by consumers—essentially a tax. Realize that power companies don’t really care about how much the new regulations cost, as they simply pass them on to the end users. In the NYT story, John McManus, vice president of environmental services at American Electric Power, is quoted as saying: “We view cap and trade as having a lot of benefits. … There are a lot of advantages.”

 

Adler explains the cap-and-trade aspect of the new regulations this way: “States could set up their own emissions-trading programs, under which solar and wind facilities would receive credits for each megawatt-hour of energy produced with less than the allowable amount of CO2 and sell those credits to coal plants.” He continues: “economically—and therefore politically and legally—such an approach would carry major risks. A dramatic spike in electricity prices could cause a recession and significant hardship for lower-income families. That, in turn, would likely create a political backlash that would spur Congress to try to revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2. It could even splinter the left, pitting unions, consumer groups, and anti-poverty advocates against the environmental movement. The GOP-controlled House has already voted numerous times to revoke the EPA’s authority, and much higher energy prices might cause some Democrats to join the Republicans.”

 

Bloomberg calls the new rule “politically painful” for Democrats from coal-producing regions “as it forces power-plant closures and threatens to increase electricity rates for consumers.”

 

In response to the Daily Kos reporting on the new EPA regulations, a reader, John in Cleveland, commented: “if the regulations are enough to get a good number of coal plants shut down we had better brace for impact because people’s heating/electric bills are going to increase. … People are going to be pissed when their bills go up, and they will go up.”

 

The Kos reports: “Obama has said he wants the existing plant rule in place by the time a new president takes the oath of office in January 2017”—though many in Congress, including coal-state Democrats, are asking that the 60-day comment period be extended to 120 and, as the WP points out, lawsuits are likely.

 

The Kos reader rightly points out: “As long as China and India are allowed to spew as much carbon as they want into the air it is going to be near impossible to rally this country behind anything that means higher prices that doesn’t do anything to solve the problem.”

 

The Chamber reports that global emissions are expected to rise by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030, yet, all the pain—economic and political—the new regulations will inflict “would only reduce overall emissions levels by just 1.8 percentage points.”

 

Defending the NRDC plan, David Hawkins, director of climate programs, is quoted in Grist: “Power plants don’t operate in a vacuum. The energy they produce is fungible.” The same is true for the emissions. The U.S. can adopt these draconian regulations, but the U.S. doesn’t operate in a vacuum. The emissions are fungible.

 

Bloomberg states: “The administration and its Democratic allies are bracing for a political fight over the rule, which is critical to Obama’s legacy on climate and his efforts to coax other nations to agree.” USA Today cites David Doniger, NRDC’s policy director and senior attorney for NRDC’s climate and clean air program in Washington, DC: “the EPA rules will show the United States is ‘in the game’ and will help nudge other countries to make reductions.”

 

Should we be “in the game” when the other major developed countries have quit playing? Australia has already walked away from its previous administration’s stringent climate policies due to economic pain and public backlash. Germany is becoming more dependent on coal-fueled electricity. Wood is the number one renewable fuel in Europe. Following what has already taken place in England and much of Europe, on May 31, it was announced that Spain is cutting back on its green energy programs. China and India have repeatedly refused to cripple their growing economies by cutting back on their fossil fuel-based energy usage.

 

The U.S. may be “in the game” alone. All the regulations the administration may impose will not “nudge” the rest of the world to follow. Just because we declare that we won’t pee in the pool, won’t stop the others. And, just like the water in the pool, CO2 emissions are fungible.

 

We’ll be stuck in our little no-pee section with a crippled economy while the rest of the world will be frolicking in unfettered growth. As chlorine, filters and other processes make public pools safe for swimming, scrubbers and other pollution controls have already dramatically cleaned up the air in America. But Obama needs his legacy—and that will be, as House Speaker John Boehner said: “every proposal that comes out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs.”

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Marita Noon Wonders Why Fracking Is Still An Explosive Issue

For immediate release: December 30, 2013

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1608

Defusing the explosive conversation on fracking 

Hydraulic fracturing started out as an “exploding torpedo” back in 1865. Today, nearly 150 years later, the actual process has made giant technological strides, but now, it’s the topic that’s explosive. 

While the White House has been encouraging Christmas dinner table conversation to center around Obamacare, in my experience, it is fracking that came into the conversation—and when it did, the results had the potential to be as explosive as the early practice.

Over the holidays two young adults came home for Christmas. Somehow hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” came into the conversation. Dad, a reader of my column whose employment is also peripherally connected to the oil-and-gas industry, spoke up in support of the practice that has unleashed America’s natural resources and made us the world leader in energy production. His children, and their friends who had gathered in his home, were shocked and spouted the usual claims of water contamination, harsh chemicals, and flaming faucets. The topic became so explosive that his kids packed up and left before the festivities even began.

I was in California for Christmas. I visited a cousin in Napa Valley whose adult son is in the wine business. He was at her home when I arrived. She told him what I do and stated that he had many friends in the oil-and-gas business. I smiled and said: “I can talk oil, gas, coal, nuclear, fracking, whatever…” My cousin quickly interrupted and stated: “We probably don’t want to talk fracking.” I took the hint, and we moved on to another topic. Driving back to my brother’s house, I wondered: “When did fracking become an explosive topic.”

With the Christmas prime rib consumed, my family and friends were still gathered around the table. Once again fracking came up. I shared the previous two recent stories. One woman asserted that if her sister, who was arriving in a few days from Boulder, Colorado, was there and we talked fracking, the results would be explosive, too.

Because they are not in the industry, I found that the group gathered around our table had misconceptions about the process that they’d been fed by the media.

While I don’t have an exact date when the topic of fracking became explosive, I do know, from my speaking and writing on the topic, from radio interviews with listener call-ins, and private conversations, that the explosive reactions are due to a lack of understanding about the process—with the biggest concerns being about water, chemicals, and flaming faucets.

Water

As I’ve written previously, there are accusations that fracking is taking billions of gallons of water out of the hydrologic cycle. Especially in the southwest where water is scarce and drought conditions persist, this poses a problem.

The process of hydraulic fracturing has advanced from the first nitroglycerin “torpedo” that was shot down a well hole on April 25, 1865, and well acidizing that was used in the 1930s to enhance productivity, to the modern mix of high pressure, water, and chemicals began in 1947 in Grant County Kansas—and it continues to evolve and become more economical.

In a piece addressing water used in fracking, The Economist describes the process this way: “Water injected at high pressure into rock deep underground during the process of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ often returns to the surface as brine, having picked up a lot of salt on its journey. It is also contaminated with chemicals from the fracking process itself.”

Today, less and less freshwater is being used—especially in the arid southwest where water for drinking and agriculture is at a premium. A typical frack job can use as much as 5 million gallons of water and lasts about 3 days. The procedure can result in decades of oil or gas production.

With the development of new technologies, the fracking process can be done with brackish water that may be as much as ten times as salty as seawater. A recent report from Reuters, titled “Fracking without freshwater at a west Texas oil field,” documents some of the advancements. Billions of gallons of brackish water are located far below the fresh water aquifers. Producers in west Texas are fracking with the brackish water from the Santa Rosa aquifer. They are then recycling the produced water—a byproduct of oil and natural gas drilling, and the flowback water—the fluid pushed back out of the well during fracking. Both forms of wastewater have historically been trucked to underground disposal wells.

A couple of months ago, I participated in the Executive Oil Conference in Midland, Texas where a panel of water experts addressed the crowd of more than 800 attendees and discussed the new technologies.

Now, instead of trucking wastewater to a remote location, mobile systems can treat the water onsite and condition it to meet almost any specification the driller wants—resulting in a reduction of expensive truck traffic. The portable systems can treat 20,000-30,000 barrels of water per day. For bigger frack jobs, additional units can be added—making the system totally flexible.

These new water solutions can reduce the total dissolved solids in the water from as high as 200,000 to below 200. For reference, the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for drinking water is 500. The same water can be recycled and used over and over again. Addressing the new technologies, James Welch, Global Business Development Manager, Water Solutions, with Halliburton, told the crowd: “Produced water is not a waste. It is an opportunity. It is an offset to freshwater usage.” Halliburton is able to fracture with water that’s 280,000 TDS.

The result of these new procedures is, according to The Economist: “Clean water …pure enough to be used for irrigation, or even drinking water. …Alternatively, it can be re-injected into the ground during the next frack.”

Rather than taking water out of the hydrologic cycle, the oil-and-gas industry is actually often taking formerly unusable water, using it in fracking and then cleaning it up to a level where it can be introduced into the cycle as either irrigation or drinking water.

Stan Weiner, Chairman and CEO at STW Resources, was one of the panelists. He summed up the new water solutions by saying: “Now we’ve figured out a way to clean it up economically. There’s no reason not to use it. Companies nationwide, worldwide, all want to do this. We get no resistance from them. They want to see it work. It’s a go.”

GE (as addressed in The Economist), Apache Corp. (as covered by Reuters), Halliburton, and STW Resources are just a handful of the many companies, which are developing revolutionary water treatment processes that neuter one of the biggest arguments against fracking.

Chemicals

In our Christmas conversation, someone asked: “Why do they need chemicals? Why don’t they just frack with water?” She’d heard stories.

I explained that the so-called chemicals are needed to provide lubrication for the tiny particles of sand that hold open microscopic cracks in the “fractured” rock that allow the oil or gas to escape. “As a woman, I am sure you’ve had your fingers swell. That makes it hard to get your rings off.” She nodded. “What do you do then?” I queried. “Soap my hands up,” she replied.

Bingo!

That is the role the chemicals play in the fracking process. But those chemicals are now mostly food-based and can be consumed with no ill effects—both Governor Hickenlooper (D-CO) and CNBC’s Jim Cramer have had a drink.

So, even if the chemicals did somehow defy geology and migrate several miles from the fracked well through the layers of sedimentary rock to the aquifer, they are not harmful.

To illustrate the point, I am in the process of organizing what I am calling “the great New Mexico fracktail party.” I have several state legislators lined up—and am looking for more. I need to find an operator who is willing to invite us onsite when a frack job is being done. The legislators, industry folks, and anyone else who wants to participate, will be invited to the location with cocktail glass in hand (umbrella, fruit, olive—whatever—included). With media cameras rolling we’ll pour the fracfluid from the tank to our glasses and toast to American energy freedom.

Flaming Faucets 

My sister-in-law asked: “What about the flaming faucets?” “Those are real,” I explained. “But they have nothing to do with fracking.” Natural gas, or methane, was found in water wells long before any fracking was done in the area. In fact, it was the gassy smell that often alerted explorers to the potential oil and gas in the region. Oil-and-gas drilling didn’t cause the flaming faucet phenomenon. Quite the contrary. The presence of gas near the surface brought about the “don’t smoke in the shower” adage. While the water is harmless to consume, a gas build up in the house could cause an explosion.

Lies about hydraulic fracturing are rampant. If fossil fuel opponents can spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about fracking—with the goal of causing a federal fracking ban, they can virtually stop oil-and-gas development in America, as it is estimated that 90 percent of producing wells have been fracked. Without American ingenuity and increasing production, gasoline prices and utility bills will skyrocket. Economic ruin will reign. America will, once again be beholden to increasingly hostile foreign sources.

A fracking conversation shouldn’t be explosive. Today’s hydraulic fracturing is really benign, American technology that is ecologically sound and economically advantageous. Keep these facts in mind. As my stories illustrate, not everyone will listen—but if more people, such as my brother and sister-in-law, know the truth they can help de-fuse the explosive conversation. 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

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Marita Noon: Obamacare & Ethanol

Here’s Marita and she is chasing Obamacare & Ethanol.  Each share in the cruelest hoaxes foisted on the American citizen.  Some know the scam nature of the two mandates, while other are still awakening from their deep slumber of the last six year.

As usual Marita does a great job with this commentary.  I have taken the liberty of dropping an image or two along with links to related articles.

The EPA was directed to set standards for radi...

The EPA was directed to set standards for radioactive materials under Reorganization Plan No. 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greetings!

I am sitting on a runway in Las Vegas, heading to Midland for the Executive Oil and Gas conference where I expect to pick up a lot of material and make connections that will be important for future columns. Bad weather in Denver has caused a “ground-stop” and nothing is going in or out of Denver. Found time! Sitting next to me is a man who works for ExxonMobil. I told him about this week’s column: Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand (attached and pasted in below). He didn’t know most of what I told him. I trust that you probably don’t either, nor will your readers.

I chose to write on ethanol this week because on October 8, the American Petroleum Institute filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the ethanol mandates. There is a lot of movement in DC right now on ethanol and the RFS Reform Act has strong bipartisan support.

I had fun writing Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand. I hope you enjoy reading the parallels I present. Please post, pass on, and or personally enjoy this week’s offering.

Marita Noon, Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1657

Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand

Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. If it were front and center of the newscycle, as Obamacare is, most would also have the same repeal-or-revise attitude regarding ethanol mandates as the two are marching hand-in-hand. In addition to the odd collection of opponents—conservatives and unions in opposition to Obamacare; and environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups oppose ethanol—there are numerous other similarities.

Sounds good at the start

Healthcare for all sounds like a good idea, after all who wants to tell a mother holding a sick child that she can’t get care? Likewise, homegrown fuel that will increase America’s energy independence, sounds good—especially when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS mandates a minimum volume of biofuels (generally corn-based ethanol) is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. Two years later, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly expanded the biofuel mandate volumes and extended the date through 2022. The expanded RFS required the annual use of 9 billion gallons of biofuels in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with at least 16 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels, and a cap of 15 billion gallons for corn-starch ethanol.

At the time, US oil imports were growing, fears of shortages due to so-called peak oil were rampant, and the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing weren’t yet widely used and had not unleashed the current abundance of US resource. Growing our gasoline—converting corn from the heartland into ethanol—sounded good. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association claims that the RFS has reduced America’s foreign oil dependence. Perhaps that is true, but unlocking federal lands, expediting permitting for drilling, and approving the Keystone pipeline could totally remove our reliance on Middle Eastern oil in as few as three years.

Have had their day on court

Virginia Attorney General, and gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli was the first to file a lawsuit against Obamacare—which the Supreme Court ultimately declared a tax. On October 8, the American Petroleum Institute (API), once again, filed a lawsuit in the DC Circuit Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the RFS volume requirements for 2013. A similar suit was filed in 2012. On January 25, 2013, the US Court of Appeals rejected EPA’s 2012 mandate for refiners to use cellulosic biofuel, which was not commercially available. In response to the court’s decision, Bob Greco, API Group Downstream Director, said: “This absurd mandate acts as a stealth tax on gasoline with no environmental benefit that could have ultimately burdened consumers.”

Non-elected bureaucrats setting policy

While both Obamacare and the RFS were passed by Congress, the particulars are left to government agencies to regulate. With the RFS, the EPA has missed statutory deadlines for issuing RFS volume requirements and then released rules mandating that refiners use 4 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2013. Yet, according to the EPA, only 142,000 gallons have been available for refiners to blend so far. Reports indicate that for 2014, the target for cellulosic biofuel would be 23 million gallons—despite the fact that the fuel is virtually nonexistent. The EPA has ignored the 2012 Court of Appeals smack down in which Judge Stephen Williams said the law was not intended to allow the EPA to “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology” and has again set advanced biofuel targets that are out of touch with reality.

Fines for noncompliance

While the Obamacare exchanges have not been working as expected—with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina reporting only one person enrolled after 24 hours, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart that if someone doesn’t participate “they pay a fine.” Guess what? Even though there isn’t enough cellulosic ethanol to meet the EPA mandates, refiners are required to blend it into gasoline—and, if they don’t, they pay a fine.

Creates new problems

Obamacare has created a whole new set of problems such as doctor shortages, reduced work hours, and sticker shock. The RPS, also, brings a host of unintended consequences:

  • Ethanol reduces miles per gallon (MPG)—At a time when the White House has upped the MPG a vehicle gets (known as the CAFE standards) it is also mandating the use of ethanol, which lowers MPG. Edmunds did an apples-to-apples comparison of gasoline vs. ethanol (using a flex-fuel vehicle and E85). They conclude: “The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas”—and cost about $30 more. Plus, Edmunds found that the carbon emissions savings was negligible. (Note: less than 7 percent of the US vehicular fleet is flex-fuel.)
  • Ethanol mandates have devastated the dairy industry (and turkey growers are none too happy, either)—In rural California, dairy farmers have been deeply affected by the rising cost of feed (which has jumped as much as 240 percent since 2005) brought on by mandated ethanol blending by the RFS. John Taylor, who owns and operates Bivalve Dairy with his family, says: “If there’s a requirement to have ‘X’ amount of tons of corn go into renewable energy, that’s just going to reduce the supply…that’s only going to make the price go up for [dairy farmers]…I’m not sure we should be taking our food and putting it into energy.”

California Assemblywoman, Kristin Olsen, reports: “The competition between the corn market and the government corn ethanol mandate is creating grave challenges for our California farmers, and their ability to feed their livestock and, ultimately, the nation.”

About the turkeys, Damon Wells, vice president of government affairs, National Turkey Federation, adds to the discussion. “Too often they’ve tried to say this was a petroleum vs. ethanol fight. I take great exception to that. I think those in the animal agriculture industry take great exception to that because all of the benefits that have come from this Renewable Fuel Standard have transferred off the backs of small farmers all across this country that are feeding livestock and poultry and ultimately it’s a transfer of cost from one agricultural sector to another.”

  •  Ethanol damages small engines and outdoor power equipment—In my book Energy Freedom, I have an entire chapter on ethanol. For it, I interviewed Abe at K & S Services Center in Albuquerque, NM—which specializes in small engine service and repair. He told me that 85 percent of the repairs they do are caused by fuel problems. Because of the increased ethanol in the fuel available at gas stations, Abe’s had to change his warranty policy and the center no longer warranties fuel-related damages. For his customers, many of whom are in the lawn-care business, the ten-percent ethanol in gasoline doubled their repair costs until they learned about its hazards and quit using it—converting to more expensive (but cheaper in the long run) pure gasoline.

Kris Kiser, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, affirms Abe’s observations: “Our small-engine industry and products … is sort of where the RFS meets reality. … you’re introducing fuel to the marketplace for which all of this stuff is not designed or warranted to run on. … You have product failure. Failure can mean economic failure or it can mean safety failure. … There’s a half-billion engine products in the marketplace today not built or warranted to run on E15.”

Hard to remove once policy is in place

Whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz’s tactics regarding stopping Obamacare, you likely agree with this statement he made about it: “In modern times no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound.” Surprise! The same can be said about the RPS. My friend and colleague, Paul Driessen has penned an excellent column on ethanol in which he addresses “how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.”

We surely see what Driessen is talking about in an October 11, letter from Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA), published in the Wall Street Journal. In Ethanol Promotes Consumer Choice, Branstad defended the benefits of his state’s leading crop: “It is the ethanol industry, which makes a cheaper, cleaner and higher-octane product, that is ready, willing and able to face free-market competition.” To which a reader, Charles Pierce, responds: “I do not know what planet the Governor is living on but when the Federal Government forces the adding of ethanol to motor fuels there is no choice. It is just like the PPACA [Obamacare] it is a tax that is paid by each consumer being forced to buy a product that the government set up or likes. Want free choice; want cheaper motor fuels? Make it an option, not a mandate.”

When Republicans who generally oppose mandates and subsidies, like Gov. Branstad, Sen. Grassely, and Rep. King, support continuing the RPS, we can surely see the influence of “special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors,” as a result of federal involvement in what should be a market-based solution.

“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” a report released in September revealed.

It is time to repeal—or at least revise—the costly RPS boondoggle. Fortunately such a plan is on the table. The RFS Reform Act, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, proposes to eliminate the conventional biofuels mandate and cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the fuel supply. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to end this eight-year-old policy failure.

We may not be able to repeal Obamacare, but with your help, reforming the RPS can be a reality.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Obama’s So-Called Environmental Plans

Jim Crawford sent the link posted below.  It involves Obama’s wish list of environmental regulations he will push if he is reelected.  There is a cost to all of us should his agenda come to fruition,

As an example, he will set out to regulate farm dust in such a manner as to severely curtail farming operations which will bring added expense to our dinner table and effect the livelihood enjoyed by the farmers and their families.

Please take the time to access the link below and read any related articles found below:

Obama’s Delayed  Wish List

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Marita Noon: The EPA Arrogance & Incompetence Keeps America Dependent On Foriegn Oil

 

articleThe EPAs arrogance and incompetence keeps America dependent on foreign oil

Marita Noon

The riots, rage, and ruin that have spread throughout the Middle East over the past few days emphasize the urgency of opening up and bringing online America’s vast resources–yet, as Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) states: “The EPA is the biggest obstacle to energy independence.”

Olson’s comment specifically addressed the Hydraulic Fracturing Study requested by Congress as a part of the FY 2010 appropriations bill, which states:

“The conferees urge the Agency to carry out a study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, using a credible approach that relies on the best available science, as well as independent sources of information. The conferees expect the study to be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data. The Agency shall consult with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies in carrying out the study, which should be prepared in accordance with the Agency’s quality assurance principles.”

A study “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” sounds like a great idea. No one wants their drinking water filled with toxic elements, and, if the EPA followed the mandate, a work of global importance could result. American private enterprise and initiative has lead the world in developing and implementing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that are safe and are uniquely responsible for totally transforming the energy landscape–making previously unrecoverable resources, recoverable. Therefore, the final study from the EPA has worldwide implications for oil and natural gas supplies. It must be done right.

Instead of moving forward with a “Hydraulic Fracturing Study” as requested by Congress, the EPA has done what is characteristic of this administration; they’ve blown it out of proportion–making it something bigger, requiring additional personnel, and creating more management, at greater expense. Final results are not due until 2014–four years after Congress requested a simple study. Lisa Jackson’s EPA has expanded the study’s scope to encompass numerous peripheral elements related to oil and gas exploration and production activities; a full lifecycle analysis of everything remotely associated with unconventional recovery.

Congress requested a report based on “best available science,” not opinion, yet the EPA has included items such as “environmental justice”–which has nothing to do with science, and “discharges to publicly owned water treatment plants”–which are no longer a part of the hydraulic fracturing process.

The additional elements exponentially exacerbate the study’s potential complications.

Meanwhile, America could be undergoing a robust development of our resources. Instead, as Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) explained, “Industry is holding back because it is not sure what the regulatory future holds.” He called the study’s evolution beyond the scope of what was requested: “mission creep.” Until a definitive answer on “the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” is produced, a constant cloud of legal threat hangs over possible development, and potential jobs, such as in New York’s Marcellus Shale, are deferred.

These concerns, plus many others, prompted industry to independently engage, at their own expense, Battelle Memorial Institute to conduct a collaborative, side-by-side study with the EPA. Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, says that Battelle is “a highly respected independent science and technology organization.” (It is important to note that Battelle’s business is heavily dependent on government contracts, so accepting the responsibility of doing a collaborative study held risks for the company–coming out with a different result from that of the EPA could mean the loss of future contracts. Additionally, they do a lot of work with the EPA, so their opinions should be trusted by the EPA.) Despite the EPA’s rejection of industry’s offer, Battelle moved forward with a scientific review of the EPA’s study plan to ensure that the EPA is taking a rigorous and adequate approach, as quality cannot be built into the back end of a science-based project.

Battelle’s report is complete. On Thursday, Battelle’s team provided a briefing on Capitol Hill that was attended by more than 30 Representatives and/or staffers from the Natural Gas and Marcellus Shale Caucuses. Numerous concerns were presented. The EPA’s study plan reflects a deadly combination of arrogance and incompetence.

Arrogance

Hydraulic Fracturing is a highly technical process that has evolved since its initial use more than 60 years ago–continuously undergoing improvements. Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled. The expertise and experience lies within the industry, yet the EPA has specially rejected industry’s attempts to collaborate–despite the fact that the original mandate requires: “a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data.” In a letter to the EPA, Marty Durbin, Executive Vice President, American Petroleum Institute (API), says: “We have repeatedly offered the expertise of our members to both the agency and the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) peer review process and, unfortunately, have been disappointed by the lack of follow through and acceptance.” Battelle’s report states: “Industry collaboration is not envisioned.”

Additionally, the requirements, published in the Federal Register calling for nominations, for the SAB, are set so that they specifically exclude experts from industry. “Selection criteria” includes “absence of financial conflicts of interest.” The call for SAB nominations continues: “government officials” will “determine whether there is a statutory conflict between a person’s public responsibilities and private interests and activities, or the appearance of a lack of impartiality.” Presumably those from academia and NGO’s would be acceptable. However, as the API letter points out, the “EPA should recognize that most individuals nominating themselves for potential SAB membership have some financial stake in the business–academics seek grants, NGOs seek donations, regulators seek programmatic funding, consultants seek contracts from government, as well as industry.”

Industry representatives with direct history of working in the modern oil and gas industry have a long record of valuable, unbiased participation in many other SAB committees and panels, yet for this watershed study, they have been excluded.

Additionally, the Congressional study request calls for consultation “with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies.” To date, there is no evidence of working with Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado–or any other state with extensive hydraulic fracturing experience. Numerous studies have been done, but the EPA doesn’t appear to be incorporating their discoveries. For example, in August 2011, the Groundwater Protection Council published its own study of “state determinations regarding causes of groundwater contamination resulting from oil and gas industry E&P activities,” examining nearly 400 contamination incidents over 25 years in Ohio and Texas, and concluding that “[n]either state has documented a single occurrence of groundwater pollution during site preparation or well stimulation.”

Obviously, the arrogance of the EPA believes they know best and they don’t want input from anyone who might disagree with their preconceived bias.

Incompetence

According to Battelle’s report, the EPA has a rigorous Data Quality Assessment process established for internal studies, but is not using it when setting up this study–which can impact the data quality and scientific rigor. If strict standards are not met, the entire report can be brought into question, as was the case with the Pavillion, Wyoming, study released a year ago. The results must be defensible to achieve the study’s goals.

The sites selected for study show a bias with the potential to skew the data and therefore the study. Instead of using a representative sampling of well sites from the hundreds of thousands of wells that have been drilled, the EPA has chosen to focus on only seven sites–a statistically insignificant number. Of the seven, five have known contamination problems, but no baseline data. Therefore, there is no way to tell whether the complaints are in any way related to hydraulic fracturing or to any specific thing. There are known examples of naturally occurring drinking water contamination–as was found with the widely publicized Dimock, Pennsylvania, case. The five retrospective sites are the subject of complaints by individuals who may now be stakeholders in potentially lucrative litigation against operators. The concern is that the “it has problems, so let’s study it to see if it has problems” approach will limit the scientific validity and usefulness of case study findings. At Thursday’s briefing, the limited sampling was likened to using five traffic accidents in some parts of America to draw conclusions about how to construct and regulate traffic and road safety in all of the country to avoid future accidents.

Instead, the study should focus more heavily on prospective sites where baseline data is gathered before drilling and before the use of hydraulic fracturing. The Battelle report states: “Two prospective sites cannot deliver the range of data required for scientifically rigorous treatment of all the research questions asked.”

Focusing primarily on sites with known issues also ignores the current state of the technology. Chemicals used now are very different from what was used five years ago. Analysis from these sites will be virtually useless in making a meaningful recommendation regarding current or future hydraulic fracturing activities. Battelle’s report points out that “the site data collected from the companies are from 2006-2010, and the final report will be in 2014. The changes occurring at these sites in the intervening years will likely render the data obsolete for purposes of the study.”

All of this may seem of little relevance to the person struggling to fill up their tank at today’s high gasoline prices. However, it is of utmost importance.

All sides benefit from a study that can withstand intense scrutiny. If there are foundational problems and the overall study results prove that hydraulic fracturing is safe and doesn’t contaminate drinking water, as the industry believes they will, the environmentalists, who oppose hydraulic fracturing, will appeal it. If the reverse is proven, industry will seek an appeal. In either case, appeals will delay the much-needed robust development of American resources–not to mention the waste of time and taxpayer dollars spent on the study.

If the events that have erupted in the Middle East over the past few days show us anything, it is that the US dependence on Middle Eastern oil must come to an expeditious end. With America’s new-found oil and gas reserves, recovered through hydraulic fracturing, we now know that energy independence is possible, if, as Congressman Olson told me, “We reign in the EPA.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Pay Attention Or Reap The Consequences

By the end of an Obama second term, 40% of our natural resources will be imported

Marita Noon

 During a recent trip to Washington DC, I heard that “by the end of his second term, President Obama wants 40% of our natural resources to be imported.” Like Harry Reid’s “Bain Capital investor,” my source is reliable: a Capitol Hill staffer. While I do not have a secret White House memo to validate the premise, it explains a lot.

Oil

During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama made it clear that he doesn’t have a problem with $4-a-gallon gas. His Energy Secretary is on record as having said that he thinks our gasoline prices should be more in line with those of Europe–which are typically more than double ours in the US. We know that supply issues are one of the leading drivers of higher gasoline prices, yet Obama’s policy decisions–such as Keystone–lead to reducing the resource.

In his first campaign ad of the season, President Obama touted his record on oil, claiming that we have more domestic production in America than at any time in recent history. While this is true, it is not thanks to his policies. The majority of the oil extraction is on private land, mostly thanks to North Dakota’s Bakken Field. The development that is being done on federal lands is thanks to leases made and wells permitted during the Bush administration.

New oil and gas leases and permits on federal land are down 50% under the Obama administration compared to the Clinton administration. Because of the time it takes to bring a federal lease into production (5-10 years)–especially with the Obama Department of Interior policies, he is likely setting the US up for an oil shortage (even without Middle Eastern unrest) by the end of a potential second term that will send gasoline prices past his acceptable $4 a gallon, toward Secretary Chu’s “European levels.” With a dearth of new American oil development, we’ll need to import more from places like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Coal

Candidate Obama’s comment about bankrupting anyone wanting to build a coal-fueled power plant is now widely known. His EPA’s actions surely support the statement as we are seeing record power plant closures. But it is not just power generation that is under attack, it is the extraction of the source fuel: coal, as well. Earlier this year, the EPA’s decision to pull a legally issued coal-mining permit that had been through years of environmental impact studies and analysis was overturned by the US District Court. Last week, his EPA was shot down once again. On July 31, the DC district court sided with coal miners. The decision declared that the EPA’s insistence that water discharged from a coal mine be clearer than bottled water was an overreach and should not hold up new mining permits.

While blocking new coal mining will probably not cause the US to import coal, it will prevent us from exporting it. Currently coal is a major export–one of our few exports–that helps bring a balancing element to our trade deficit.

Rare Earth Elements

On March 13, President Obama announced that the US was joining with Japan and the European Union to file a trade complaint before the World Trade Organization in Brussels to insure that China keeps exporting rare-earth elements. These unique elements, with names like neodymium, europium and dysprosium are what the Japanese call the “seeds of technology” due to their astounding electrical, magnetic, phosphorescent, catalytic, and chemical capabilities. While most Americans are unaware of their existence, rare earths enable everything high-tech we use today–from MRIs, cellphones and iPods to hybrid automobiles and wind turbines–and are extremely important to today’s high-tech defense capabilities.

President Obama is going after China because the Chinese produce more than 95% of all rare earths used in the world by high-tech industry, while sitting on only 23% of the world’s resources. Obama insists that the Chinese continue to ship rare earths to the rest of the world’s economies despite the fact that the Chinese require the use of essentially all of their rare-earth production in Chinese industries.

The Chinese had announced, in 2011, they could become net importers of some of the most critical rare earths by 2015. But in July, they said they would be importers a year sooner–in 2014. And on top of that, the Chinese are creating a national rare-earths stockpile, shutting down production from the worst polluters, and tacking on higher tariffs for those rare earths they will export.

We don’t need a protracted legal hassle in Brussels that won’t produce a single American job or a pound of rare earth produced from America. The solution is streamlined and accelerated permitting, recognizing that American miners and manufacturers employ the world’s best environmental scientists and engineers and geologists. Instead of paying lawyers to push paper in Brussels, we need to be creating jobs from mining and the upgrading of rare earths in America, providing a secure domestic source of these vital “seeds of technology.”

Land Access

Early in President Obama’s first term, he announced his intention to increase the quantity of national monuments and introduced a new “wild lands” designation–both of which serve to limit the extraction of natural resources. Two such cases I’ve repeatedly addressed are the proposed tungsten mine in Montana and the swath of land that extends from the Mexican border up into rich farming/ranching land that also includes potential oil, gas, and rare-earth extraction in New Mexico.

In the Montana case, the Forest Service continually throws obstacles to extraction in the way of potential mining activity. Because the tungsten–needed for the manufacture of steel–is located in an inventoried roadless area, the Forest Service has mandated that, among other things, the site must be cleared and, later reclaimed, with hand tools. The drilling equipment must be hauled to the site with a team of pack mules which must be fed certified weed-free hay–all this to move equipment less than 1000 feet from a Forest Service road. If the case were not so tragic, so representative of similar stories being played out all over America, it would be comical.

In the New Mexico case, ranchers and farmers fear being thrown off of land that has been in their family for generations. With a simple stroke of President Obama’s executive-order pen he could remove 2.5 million acres–though 600,000 is the number generally bandied about–from any economic development or useful purpose by creating a new national monument.

Natural Gas

The current verbiage coming out of the White House favors natural gas extraction–but actions speak louder than words. America’s new found natural gas abundance is made possible through the use of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing–which Obama’s EPA has, unsuccessfully, been trying to link to the contamination of drinking water. Plus, we know that much of Obama’s energy policy is driven by an environmentalist agenda–with the Keystone pipeline being the most obvious example.

A few weeks ago, the Sierra Club announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign attacking natural gas, saying “The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok,” and “the closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be.” With this in mind, by the end of an Obama second term, we can expect the availability of natural gas to be diminished–and what we will have will be far more expensive, driving up the price of what is currently low-cost electricity generation.

Nuclear

We may not think of electricity as a natural resource, but effective, efficient, economical electricity generation requires natural resources: coal, natural gas, uranium, and, occasionally, oil. Uranium is the source fuel for nuclear power and we have an abundance of it in America–yet we import more than 90% of what we use. A couple of days ago, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “would stop issuing licenses for nuclear plants until it addresses problems with its nuclear-waste policy.” The “problems with nuclear-waste” are a direct result of White House policy. The Obama administration effectively shut down Yucca Mountain with a 2009 decision to reduce Yucca Mountain’s budget. This new problem for nuclear power has the potential to impact many US reactors.

In Germany, they used to export their nuclear-generated electricity. Since they shut down nearly half of their reactors, they are importing electricity from other countries.

Export or Import

Former Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee has been out talking about getting the economy “revved up.” Part of his solution? “More exports.” The goal should be to have 100% of our natural resources to come from within our shores. Yet, as you can see, the Obama plan seems to call for more natural resource imports. 40% by 2016 adds up.

The countries with the best human health and the most material wealth are the countries with the highest energy consumption. So, why is it that Obama’s policies push us to use less energy, while paying more for it?

As we head toward the November 6 Election Day, keep in mind the stark contrast the satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night points out–the country without freedom, North Korea, is dark. With nothing separating them but an invisible line and a vastly different style of government, South Korea, the free-market, democratic, and developed country is bright.

Which do you want?

Do you want a bright future badly enough to step out of your comfort zone and talk to friends, family and neighbors; to talk to them about energy and its importance? Take the points made here and share them in good, old-fashioned conversations, and through new media like Facebook and Twitter.

We are down to 8 weeks to save America. Can we do it? With your engagement, “yes, we can!”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands w...

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. White House Photo, 3/30/09 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marita Noon Reveals: EPA Throws Water On Fracktivists

Even the EPA is right now and then

Marita Noon

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day” is an adage we’ve all heard dozens of times. Today, it applies to the EPAas even it gets things right now and then.The EPA is well known for its attacks on virtually every kind of industry that might result in economic development–hitting the energy sector particularly hard. Despite the agency’s best efforts, it has not been able to match up the science with its desired claims of water contamination from natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing–which has been in use in America for more than 60 years.

In early December 2011, the New York Times ran a story declaring: “Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies.” Environmental groups jumped all over the announcement. Amy Mall, a fracking opponent with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report “underscores the urgent need to get federal rules and safeguards on the books to help protect all Americans from the dangers of fracking.” An NPR story on the EPA’s draft study released on December 8, 2011, stated: “The gas industry and other experts have long contended that fracking doesn’t contaminate drinking water. The EPA’s findings provide the first official confirmation to the contrary.”

However, just three months later, on March 8, it was announced that the EPA had to backtrack as frequent attacks forced the agency to acknowledge that it had rushed to judgment. The chemicals supposedly found in the drinking water of Pavilion, Wyoming, were chemicals that could have come from a variety of sources–including the plastic piping. The EPA released the data and findings outside of the purview of two “working groups” made up of state and EPA officials, which had been examining the Pavillion pollution for the better part of a year. Following accusations that the EPA rushed the release of the report without peer review, the EPA backed down and agreed to retest. Now, the EPA and Wyoming, as well as U.S. Geological Survey and two American Indian tribes, are working together on further study of the Pavillion groundwater.

On April 1, a lawsuit the EPA had filed earlier this year against a Texas energy company, Range Resources, accusing it of contaminating water through hydraulic fracturing, was quietly dropped. Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas development, responded: “By dropping their court case and enforcement actions, EPA now acknowledges what we at the Railroad Commission have known for more than a year: Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater. This announcement is a vindication of the science-based processes at the Railroad Commission.”

On April 7, 2011, the EPA released test results for Dimock, Pennsylvania, that “did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action.” Despite the EPA’s test results, Water Defense executive director Claire Sandberg claimed that the “EPA’s test results continue to show what Dimock residents have claimed for years: the water is contaminated.”

Dimock became the “symbol of possible threats to water from hydraulic fracturing” through the anti-fracking movie Gasland. While testing was being done, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the company drilling in the area, had, beginning in 2009, been providing families with fresh water, installed water filters, and offered to pay each affected family twice the value of their home. According to Bloomberg, “The Houston-based company set aside $4.1 million to pay claims stemming from residents’ complaints.” After its testing found the water to be safe and state regulators agreed, Cabot discontinued the fresh water deliveries late last year. However, the EPA stepped in and continued delivering water.

A few days ago, “after months of back-and-forth wrangling,” the EPA finally cleared Dimock’s water and announced it would discontinue the water deliveries saying that it has “no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.” The EPA acknowledged that the substances found in the water were “naturally occurring.”

Thursday’s announcement was a victory for proponents of oil and gas drilling, the economic development that comes with it, and the energy independence it gives to America.

Cabot company spokesman George Stark emphasized: “Cabot’s operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community.”

One oil and gas official heralded the decision, but called the EPA’s approach part of a “pattern of overreaching, aimed at undercutting job-creating American energy development.”

While the decision, as Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber stated, provides “closure to the situation,” self-described “fracktivists” gathered on Saturday in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Frack Attack” rally–billed as the first-ever national protest to stop hydraulic fracturing. Despite their claim that thousands of people would descend on the west lawn of the Capitol building, live video of the event showed that, perhaps, the EPA’s decision took some of the wind out of their sails as a sparse crowd listened to speakers spread fear over “dirty water” and rising global temperatures.

The EPA has had to retreat in these three widely-publicized cases: Wyoming/Encana, Texas/Range Resources, and now, Pennsylvania/Cabot Oil and Gas. What remains to be seen is how the decisions will impact America’s job-creating domestic energy development. Will our energy policy be dominated by the emotion and ideology of “fracktivists” carrying signs such as those seen at the “Stop the Frack Attack” rally: “Stop feeding us bull**** and making us drink gas” or will it be determined by facts and sound science?

Thousands of jobs and billions in economic development are waiting in states such as New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky–and others with new resource discovery. Supporters of America’s job-creating domestic energy development don’t want to eliminate all regulations, but they need to be reasonable–encouraging responsible resource extraction, not so strident that they stifle progress and kill jobs.

The Dimock decision proves that the efforts of the “fracktivists” are more about a political anti-energy agenda than doing what is best for America.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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