James Taylor debates new preferences for solar power in Florida. Taylor’s rebuttal begins at 25-minute mark – video appears here.
Two of the Colorado legislature’s most aggressive advocates of renewable power mandates lost their Senate seats last night in a historic recall election. Gun control legislation took center stage in the national media coverage of the recall election, but Sens. John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) strongly alienated voters earlier this year championing costly renewable power mandates.
Legislators’ Activist Credentials
Morse, the sitting Senate President, sponsored Senate Bill 252, which doubled the percentage of costly power rural electric customers are required to purchase. The bill, which the Senate passed on a party-line vote, pleased environmental activist groups and liberal elites in Denver and Boulder while alienating Democratic, Republican, and independent voters in the rest of the state. Even the very liberal Denver Post urged the Colorado legislature to reject the bill.
Giron took Morse’s bill and ran with it, frequently championing the electricity restrictions and related global warming claims in public events. For example, Giron spoke in favor of electricity restrictions and posed for photographs last month at a rally held by the environmental activist group I Will Act on Climate.
Strong Message Delivered
The recall of Morse and Giron sends a particularly strong message given the strong Democratic majorities in their respective districts. In Morse’s Senate district, registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republican voters by a 56-to-44 percent margin. In Giron’s Senate district, registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republican voters by a greater than 2-to-1 margin. Blue collar Democrats in large numbers joined independent and Republican voters to defeat Morse and Giron.
Morse and Giron benefited from a massive advantage in campaign funds, outspending recall supporters by a 6-to-1 margin. Wealthy out-of-state liberal activsts such as Michael Bloomberg donated heavily in support of Morse and Giron, but the Democrats’ wealth disparity over recall supporters did them little good at the polls.
With the defeat of Morse and Giron, Democrats now hold a razor-thin 18-to-17 majority in the Colorado Senate. Prior to the recall elections, the Democratic 20-to-15 edge gave the party a substantial cushion to ram through controversial legislation such as stringent gun control laws and costly renewable power mandates.
Heritage Foundation senior fellow David Kreutzer and I debated the issue of a carbon tax against former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis and R Street senior fellow Andrew Moylan.
No matter how a carbon tax is presented, it would be a nightmare for consumer living standards and the American economy. Importantly, I backed Inglis and Moylan into a corner where they conceded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must repeal all carbon-related regulations and Congress must repeal all “green” subsidies before they would support any carbon tax.
John Stossel has posted full video of my May 23, 2013 appearance on Fox Business News’ Stossel show. In first segment of the show I discuss energy myths. In the third segment of the show I debate Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, on the topic of ethanol. In the fifth segment of the show I answer audience questions.
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.
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.
Earlier this month I testified in a Joint Committee hearing in the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives regarding renewable power mandates. A renewable power activist apparently filmed my testimony, which is fine by me! In this video I explain why renewable power punishes our economy and harms our environment.
Before these hearings, the Joint Committee appeared evenly split on the issue, with a very real chance that Arkansas would enact renewable power mandates. After my testimony, the bill’s sponsor could not get a single Joint Committee member to second a motion to bring the bill up for a vote. Ah, the power of truth!
Check this testimony out, and share it with your friends and neighbors. Watch the video here.
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.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on global climate, the U.S. Department of State concluded in a 2,000-page draft review issued March 1. In addition to having no substantial impact on global climate, the pipeline will have no substantial impact on U.S. aquifers or Canadian oil sands production, the State Department reported.
The State Department report throws cold water on environmental activist assertions that the Keystone XL pipeline will create substantial environmental harm. Notably, the State Department is an executive agency overseen by John Kerry and, ultimately, President Obama.
My full article on the State Department report is available here at the Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News.
Environmental economist Bjorn Lomborg may foolishly agree with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regarding many speculative and discredited global warming claims, but he does understand the compelling economic reasons not to buy into the alarmists proposed solutions. In a compelling article published in Slate, Lomborg explains how natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is doing more to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions than all of the nation’s wind farms and solar panels put together.
It is still more expensive to generate electricity from natural gas rather than coal, but natural gas dramatically reduces carbon dioxide and pollutants much more affordably than wind power and solar power.
“Carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are at their lowest level in 20 years. It’s not because of wind or solar power,” writes Lomborg.
Slate published the article in September, but it is available here and is well worth reading today.