Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency oversees state energy policy, told Rep. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) today he does not have the resources to perform an economic analysis to determine whether a proposed nuclear power plant would end up costing electricity customers more than a new natural gas facility. Putnam’s refusal to conduct the requested economic analysis stands in stark contrast to his commissioning of an economic analysis of renewable energy last spring when his proposal for $100 million in subsidies to renewable energy companies faced a gubernatorial veto.
Fasano requested Putnam perform the economic analysis after a Tampa Bay Times analysis concluded construction of a proposed Duke Energy nuclear power plant in Levy County, west of Ocala, would force electricity customers to pay twice as much for electricity than would be the case if a natural gas power plant were built.
Taking Duke Energy’s projected construction, fuel and operations costs at face value, the Times found the nuclear power plant would be substantially more expensive than a natural gas power plant. The Times estimated electricity customers would pay at least twice as much for nuclear power than natural gas power.
“What building a new nuclear power plant does really well, the analysis showed, is fatten a utility’s bottom line. Duke Energy would pocket as much as 10 times the profit from the Levy project as it would from a natural gas facility,” Times reporter Ivan Penn noted.
Putnam’s Department of Agriculture oversees state energy policy, while the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has authority to approve or decline particular electricity projects. Consumer groups frequently assert the PSC is in the pocket of utilities and simply rubber-stamps utility proposals without subjecting them to rigorous, objective economic analyses. Expressing a lack of trust in the PSC’s inclination to conduct a balanced economic analysis regarding the proposed Levy County nuclear power plant, Fasano asked Putnam to perform an economic analysis.
In a letter issued earlier today, Putnam told Fasano he does not have the resources to study the issue. He also claimed developing more nuclear power benefits Florida consumers.
“Your loss of confidence in the PSC’s ability to do their statutorily mandated job is a larger issue that only you and your colleagues in the Florida legislature are equipped to address,” Putnam wrote.
“As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, I have consistently made clear that I believe increasing diversity in Florida’s energy sources is critical to securing a stable, reliable and affordable supply of energy for Florida consumers.”
Putnam has repeatedly asserted Florida’s electricity mix has too much inexpensive natural gas and should include a larger share of electricity from other, more expensive electricity sources. Putnam claims electricity diversity trumps electricity affordability.
Although Putnam told Fasano he does not have the resources to perform Fasano’s requested economic study, he found the resources to conduct a similar study regarding renewable energy last spring. In April 2012, Gov. Rick Scott indicated he was planning to veto legislation handing over $100 million in taxpayer subsidies to renewable energy companies.
On the morning Scott planned to issue his veto, Putnam presented a study he commissioned from a renewable energy activist on the payroll of renewable energy associations claiming the $100 million renewable energy subsidies would actually save taxpayers money. Relying on the assertions contained in the last-minute analysis, Scott withheld his veto pen and allowed the legislation to become law.
To secure Scott’s tacit approval of the renewable power subsidies, Putnam agreed to produce an annual report documenting the economic costs and benefits of the subsidies. Putnam promised to produce the first report by March of 2013, but has yet to produce it. As Media Trackers Florida reported last fall, a study by objective, university-affiliated energy economists determined the subsidies will cause substantial net economic harm in the state. Media Trackers Florida also discovered that Putnam refused to disclose that the author of his study was on the payroll of the renewable energy industry and had irrefutable conflicts of interest.
Global warming alarmists are breathlessly filling the media with sensationalist reports of carbon dioxide levels approaching 400 parts per million (that’s 4 parts per 10,000, or a 0.0004 share of the atmosphere, versus just under 300 parts per million, or a 0.0003 share of the atmosphere, prior to the Industrial Revolution). The central message of alarmist global warming theory is that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will cause catastrophic global warming. A real-world look at how global temperatures are responding to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide increase tells a different story.
Although atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were much higher for much of the earth’s history, 400 ppm is arguably the highest level in at least several hundred years and perhaps thousands of years. Global warming alarmists assert atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were approximately 280 ppm prior to the Industrial Revolution and up until the year 1900 or so, meaning atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose a little more than 40 percent during the past hundred-plus years.
Assuming for the sake of argument the alarmists’ dubious claim that global temperatures rose by as much as 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900, and also assuming for the sake of argument the dubious assertion that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are entirely responsible for the gradual warming since 1900, this reveals that a 40 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels created merely 0.8 degrees Celsius of warming since 1900. This shows much lower climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than claimed by global warming alarmists.
Nor is there any sign of a recent increase in the pace of temperature rise. Global temperatures have been flat for approximately 15 years now, even though atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose more than 40 ppm (or more than 10 percent) during that time.
Rather than being a harbinger of doom and gloom, the approaching 400 ppm carbon dioxide threshold presents still more evidence that humans are not creating a global warming crisis.
Islands in Tuvalu and other Pacific regions that served as poster children for global warming and sea level rise are actually growing, scientists acknowledge. Scientists report 80 percent of South Pacific islands are either growing or remaining the same size.
“Some of those islands have gotten dramatically larger, by 20 or 30 percent,” according to Australian climate scientist Paul Kench, as reported in Australia’s ABC News.
The next time you see an assertion by global warming alarmists or the leftist media that global warming is causing more extreme weather events, consider the following.
Fewer tornadoes have struck the United States during the past 12 months than in any other 12-month period in U.S. history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.
The past 12 months not only broke the previous record, it blew the old record away. During the past 12 months, merely 197 tornadoes struck the United States. Prior to this past year, the fewest tornadoes striking the United States during a 12-month period occurred from June 1991 through July 1992, when 247 tornadoes occurred.
The new tornado record is particularly noteworthy because of recent advances in tornado detection technology. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is able to detect more tornadoes in recent years than in prior decades due to technological advances. Even with such enhanced tornado detection capability, the past 12 months shattered all prior records for recorded tornadoes.
NOAA posted a list of the five “lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present.” Notably, each of these low-tornado periods occur since 1986, precisely during the time period global warming alarmists claim global warming is causing more extreme weather events such as tornadoes. According to NOAA, the lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present, with the starting month, are:
197 tornadoes – starting in May 2012
The liberal Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald blasted Florida lawmakers for passing a funding bill excluding ineffective teachers from receiving generous pay raises.
Earlier this year, the Florida Education Association, a statewide union of Florida teachers, applauded Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a $2,500 across-the-board pay increase for all Florida teachers. The Florida legislature passed compromise legislation this week tying teacher raises to performance standards.
Under the legislation, all teachers who receive an “effective” evaluation will receive at least a $2,500 pay increase. Teachers who receive a “highly effective” evaluation will receive a $3,500 pay increase. The vast majority of Florida teachers receive either an “effective” or “highly effective” evaluation. Teachers who grade out as ineffective will not receive a pay increase.
Blasting the legislation for excluding pay raises for ineffective teachers, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet urged Scott to veto the entire education budget, including the $3,500 raises for highly effective teachers.
Acknowledging the legislature’s 2013 budget provides $480 million for teacher pay raises, Bousquet nevertheless wrote, “The pay raise is tied to pay-for-performance plans not yet in effect in most school districts. That’s not the across-the-board increase Scott has sought for months.”
“What he should do is congratulate his fellow Republicans who wrote the budget on a good first try, then veto the entire education budget and tell lawmakers that he’s dead serious about an across-the-board raise for teachers,” wrote Bousquet.
“Republican lawmakers would be appalled by a Scott veto of the education budget, which is all the more reason why Scott should do it,” Bouquet argued.
Scott should “then invite hundreds of teachers to a rally on the steps of the Capitol,” Bousquet asserted.
The Florida Education Association (FEA), a statewide union of Florida teachers, criticized Florida lawmakers for passing an education budget providing $480 million in school employee raises but requiring teachers to share the raises with non-teaching school employees.
If signed by Gov. Rick Scott, the 2013 Florida education budget will be the largest in state history. School employees will receive $480 million in pay raises, which would set teacher and school employee salaries at their highest levels in state history. Nevertheless, the FEA issued a press release criticizing the plan for making teachers share the $480 million in pay raises with non-teaching school employees, such as guidance counselors, media resources specialists, and teachers’ assistants.
“We are also disappointed that the Legislature, without making additional funds available, has required that the money allocated must be distributed to school administrators in addition to the instructional personnel who actually deliver education to our students,” FEA argued in a press statement sent to Media Trackers Florida.
The education budget also includes $300 million in additional funding for retirement benefits for teachers and other education employees.
The website Teacher Salary Info reports Florida teachers make an average of more than $50,000 per year in salary, with benefits worth an additional $15,000 per year. The average salary for all jobs in Florida is $40,000, the South Florida Business Journal reports, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Al Gore and his trained global warming presenters almost never agree to participate in public debates on global warming. Nevertheless, one of Al Gore’s trained presenters, Florida State University instructor Ray Bellamy, was apparently feeling his oats earlier this year when he accepted a Tallahassee group’s invitation to debate me on global warming.
What happens Al Gore’s trained presenters step up to the stage to debate me in a public forum? You be the judge!
The Colorado House Transportation and Energy Committee advanced a bill Wednesday to expand the state’s renewable power mandates after renewable power advocates presented deceptive arguments to hide the mandate’s costs to consumers. In an article I wrote for Media Trackers Colorado this week, I explain how the activists hid the truth about rising electricity prices. Unfortunately, renewable power activists employ similarly deceitful tactics in Florida and elsewhere.
Read my full article shedding light on these deceitful arguments here at Media Trackers Colorado.
My colleague at Media Trackers Florida, Alyssa Carducci, wrote a fantastic article about millions of state and local taxpayer dollars being wasted on a rowing facility that is costing more money and delivering fewer returns than promised. Here is the full article, from Media Trackers Florida:
Advocates for a Sarasota-Manatee County rowing facility want $2.5 million in state taxpayer subsidies, just a year after they secured $5 million in Florida taxpayer subsidies by promising state legislators the facility would generate $25 million per year in economic benefits.
The push to require Florida taxpayers to subsidize the multi-million dollar rowing facility began in 2011, when then-Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) filed legislation to require state taxpayers to pay $500,000 to $5 million of the costs for the proposed rowing facility. Bennett claimed the subsidies would more than pay for themselves, asserting the rowing facility would generate $25 million each year in economic benefits. The legislature approved the subsidies but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed them.
In 2012, Bennett again shepherded a bill through the Florida legislature, requiring Florida taxpayers to hand over $5 million in subsidies to the rowing facility. This time, Scott withheld his veto pen and the bill became law.
Despite the promises that the facility would pay for itself, rowing facility advocates now seek millions of dollars in additional taxpayer subsidies just a year after securing their generous $5 million subsidy. Legislation championed by Rep. Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) calls for $2.5 million in additional taxpayer subsidies this year.
In a troubling development, advocates for the rowing facility report they are $20 million short of the private donations necessary to complete the facility. If the private donations do not materialize, taxpayers will have paid millions of dollars for an uncompleted facility or will be required to pay millions of dollars in additional subsidies to complete the project.
Rowing facility advocates already squeezed $20 million out of Sarasota County taxpayers for the facility, even before hitting up the legislature for additional funding this year.
While the facility sinks deeper and deeper into subsidies and shortfalls, facility leaders plunge full-speed ahead on new spending projects. Facility leaders recently announced they will submit a bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Donn Patchen, director of communications for Sarasota County, told Media Trackers Florida the cost to submit the preliminary bid, including application fees, was $13,400. Additionally, another bid fee of $56,600 is due when facility leaders submit a final bid in May.
“The May 2013 Final bid submission and payment of submission fee was split between Visit Sarasota County (VSC) and Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB),” Patchen told Media Trackers Florida. Sarasota and Manatee County tax dollars fund Visit Sarasota County and the Bradenton Area CVB.
In addition to the bid fees, which are non-refundable even if rowing officials reject the Sarasota-Manatee bid, it will cost an additional $6 million to host the Championships. Sarasota and Manatee County elected officials already promised facility leaders a combined $2 million in additional subsidies to defray the hosting costs. Facility leaders will likely petition the county officials or the Florida legislature for additional state taxpayer subsidies to cover the rest.
Padden told Media Trackers Florida that international rowing officials will rule on the Sarasota-Manatee bid by the end of the year.
“The FISA [International Rowing Association] Council will make a recommendation to the FISA Congress on August 2, 2013. The FISA Congress will vote on the award of the bid on September 2, 2013 in South Korea. The FISA Congress does not have to accept the recommendation of the FISA Council,” said Patchen.
Padden claimed 130 million people will watch the 2017 Championships, which is the equivalent of more than 40% of the total population in the United States.
The park, Nathan Benderson Park, is a collaboration among Sarasota and Manatee counties and private developer Benderson Development Co.
The park is currently hosting some of the events its proponents promised, but facility leaders say they must undertake further construction to provide the amenities necessary to host events such as the 2017 Championships.
Dow Chemical, Alcoa, and other politically connected companies are engaging in rank hypocrisy as they push for laws to prevent natural gas producers from exporting their product overseas, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) senior fellow Marlo Lewis explains in an outstanding article on CEI’s GlobalWarming.org website.
The companies, together forming a group called America’s Energy Advantage (AEA), claim that their “rationale for restricting gas exports is that when gas is not exported but instead is used to manufacture products, it creates “eight times the value” across the entire economy,” Lewis observes.
After noting that companies relied on a laughably implausible study to support their claims, Lewis argues that even if AEA’s claims were true, the companies’ arguments still fail.
“Even if … gas turned into chemicals generates ‘eight times’ the economic value of gas sold abroad,” Lewis explained, “such third-party assessments should have no bearing on how companies dispose of their own property. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry points out, AEA companies did not invest a dime to develop fracking and horizontal drilling technology, construct the wells, or hire the rig workers, yet they presume to decide what happens to the gas after it’s extracted from miles under the Earth. … AEA’s implicit premise is that central planners have the right, nay the duty, to commandeer private property whenever the resource would add more value in someone else’s hands.”
Just as importantly, Lewis explains, “Dow, Alcoa, Eastman, Huntsman, and Nucor primarily manufacture intermediate goods, not final goods. As natural gas is an input to them, so their products are inputs to still other companies. … So by AEA’s logic, the government should restrict exports of chemicals, aluminum, and steel to hold down domestic prices and make U.S. manufacturers of final goods more competitive. The ‘public interest’ demands it! I’ll bet my salary against [Dow Chemical CEO Andrew] Liveris’s that he will never, ever agree that sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander.”
My good friend and conservative patriot Kerry Brown joined me on Inside Florida Politics March 2, discussing his dual passions portraying Abraham Lincoln and following in Honest Abe’s footsteps practicing law. I hope to have Kerry back on the show often in the future.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott learned this week that his dash to the political left is winning him few friends among liberals and the media. To the contrary, his recent embrace of liberal policies offended and chased away many grassroots conservatives who strongly supported him in 2010.
Read Alyssa Carducci’s full article here at Media Trackers Florida
Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. Nearly two-thirds of the 1,077 respondents believe nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or future global warming will not be a very serious problem. Read the survey results here.