Biden to Execute Keystone Pipeline via E.O.

The Biden campaign's strategy was to hide their candidate in the basement while letting a fawning press make the case for him as president. This case was short on substance and long on impression, particularly the impression that the former V.P. is a moderate, working-class guy and a statesman who would restore America's reputation in the world and restrain the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/AOC wing of the party.

Well, with the election over Biden's priorities are starting to become clear. They are anything but moderate and, insofar as they unnecessarily antagonizing one of our closest allies, neither are they statesmanlike.

This past weekend a memo written by incoming chief of staff Ron Klain was released which outlines the executive orders Biden plans to implement immediately upon taking over the White House. Highlights on this list -- which the Associated Press calls "a 10-day blitz of executive actions... to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress" -- include immigration reform; a national face mask mandate (mandating that they be worn on all federal property and "during interstate travel," whatever that means in practice); and an extension of the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and the "pause" on student loan payments.

Among the memo's most consequential items is the bullet point which reads "Roll back Trump enviro actions via EO (including rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit)." That is, on his first day in office tomorrow Biden plans to employ the "pen and phone" tactic to kill a multimillion dollar international project that employs tens of thousands of people (in two countries!) in the midst of a pandemic-created recession. This is madness.

Canada vs. the Democrats.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the Trudeau government are scrambling to make the case that this move is unnecessary from an environmentalist perspective. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kiersten Hillman, released a statement on Sunday saying "The government of Canada continues to support the Keystone XL project and the benefits that it will bring to both Canada and the United States.” She went on to stress that the Keystone project was more environmentally friendly than the one the Obama administration rejected in 2015:

Not only has the project itself changed significantly since it was first proposed, but Canada’s oilsands production has also changed significantly. Per-barrel oilsands (greenhouse gas) emissions have dropped 31 per cent since 2000, and innovation will continue to drive progress... Keystone XL fits within Canada’s climate plan at a time when our economic recovery is a top priority... there is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took a slightly more aggressive tone, saying: "Should the incoming U.S. administration abrogate the Keystone XL permit, Alberta will work with [pipeline owners] TC Energy to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project."

These appeals are unlikely to sway Team Biden, who are riding a wave of anti-Republican sentiment in the wake of the recent disturbance at the Capitol. They believe they have a window of opportunity to make some big, cost-free moves which will garner them goodwill with activists but will be forgotten by voters still focused on the Trump show.

This could well be a miscalculation on their part. The issues which gave rise to Trump in 2016 won't go away when he does. And the most important of those, the alienation of America's working class since the end of the Cold War, will be aggravated by virtue signaling environmentalist moves like the cancelation of Keystone.

What's that Carbon Tax Gonna Cost?

Last week the Trudeau Government announced their brand new anti-climate change initiative, which included a significant hike in the carbon tax. As we discussed at the time, the plan is to increase the current tax of $30 per ton by $15 per year until settling (for now) at $170 per ton.

This is a big increase, but to most people those numbers seem entirely theoretical. A ton of carbon emitted sounds like a lot, and the average Canadian probably sees those numbers and figures that, since his car and furnace together don't emit that much, this doesn't affect him. Of course, this is exactly how Trudeau wants people to approach the issue.

But to set the record straight, Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has helpfully scaled those numbers down to the individual level. Here's what she came up with:

Right now, the federal carbon tax is at $30 per tonne, resulting in a tax of 6.6 cents per litre for gasoline and 8 cents per litre for diesel.... At those rates, filling up a minivan costs nearly $5 extra in the carbon tax, filling a light duty pickup truck costs $8 more and a super duty diesel pickup costs $14 more.... So, now that the feds are going to increase the carbon tax to $170 per tonne, what happens to these everyday costs?

This hike will put the carbon tax up to more than 37.5 cents per litre for gasoline, 45 cents per litre for diesel and 32.8 cents per cubic metre for natural gas. That means that very soon it will cost you $27 extra to fill up a minivan, $45 extra for a light duty pickup truck and $204 extra to fill just one diesel fuel cylinder on those big rig trucks that deliver everything from furniture to food across the country. Remember: this is just for the carbon tax. This doesn’t include the cost of the fuel, other taxes, the GST or the incoming second carbon tax that Trudeau’s government is creating. How many people have an easy extra $45 to fill up their trucks to go to work?

What, me worry?

And that's just for your vehicle. What about keeping your house warm? Sims lays that out as well:

When it comes to heating a home with natural gas, the carbon tax often costs more than the actual fuel being used. Homeowners in British Columbia sent the Canadian Taxpayers Federation their natural gas bills to show the costs. One of the bills showed an average-sized home in Gibsons using 466 cubic metres for one winter month last year, resulting in a carbon tax bill of $35. The homeowners had only used $27 worth of natural gas....

With a carbon tax of 32.8 cents per cubic metre of natural gas, it would cost that homeowner in Gibsons $150 extra in the carbon tax for just one winter month’s worth of natural gas. Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.

Canada is, of course, one of the most northerly nations in the world, but Gibsons, B. C., the town she uses as an example, is hardly one of the coldest areas in the country. In places like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Arnprior, Ontario, those numbers are going to look at lot worse.

Is It Me That's Mad, or the World's Leaders?

Yes, I know that the headline should really read “Is it I who am mad—or the world’s leaders?” but the dubious grammatical form used above is better suited to the populist sentiments of this article. And though populism and populist are words routinely used to mean “insane,” “dangerous,” or worse “problematic,” some kinds of populism are in fact social truths that experience has shown to be accurate and valuable, i.e.,  commonsense.

That applies especially to truths about spending, saving, investment, and borrowing. Copybook maxims on that score go from Thomas Jefferson’s “Never spend your money before you have it,” to Shakespeare’s “Neither a borrower nor a lender be/For loan oft loses both itself and friend/And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

With that prudent advice ringing in our minds, let’s look at how prudently our political masters are handling our collective expenditures, revenues, borrowings, and investments. The first thing to notice (though few do) is just how massive the sums involved are.

Estimates differ but in the U.S., apparent president-elect Joe Biden is proposing a budget of $5.4 trillion equal to 24 percent of America’s GDP. He’s also proposing a smaller (but still massive) tax increase that would leave a gap of $2 trillion dollars for the U.S. Treasury to borrow. But cheer up—it’s bipartisan. President Trump’s budget estimates for 2021 weren’t much lower at 4.8 trillion equal to 21 percent of GDP and a deficit of $966 billion.

Now, expenditures to cope with the pandemic and lockdowns are emergency spending that almost everyone agrees is justified or, to be more precise, inevitable. That’s why the Trump budget rose to an annualized rate of 30 percent of GDP at the height of the pandemic this year. But a cool $700 billion is accounted for by Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda that would increase spending on infrastructure, the environment, and the Green New Deal. That's equal to one-eighth of Biden's projected total spending for 2021 and one-third of the likely deficit.

The picture is the same in Britain where Boris Johnson’s government, as well as spending vast sums to ameliorate the pandemic and concomitant recession, is embarking on a green industrial revolution and unrelated (even contradictory) infrastructure spending. There too the Labour, Lib-Dem, and Green opposition parties attack these plans as too little, too late. In both countries the general attitude has been Spend! Spend! Spend!

Well, it is -- right?

After all, everyone knows that Tomorrow Is Another Day!

Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With The Wind’s heroine, may be out of fashion in racial politics, but financially she’s never been so enchanting to so many powerful people.

That may be because we simply can’t get our minds or even our imaginations around the figures when they rise from million to billions to trillions. To help us do that, here’s David Schwartz, the science writer and a brilliant popularizer, explaining them to NPR listeners:

The difference between a million, a billion and a trillion is like the difference between eleven and a half days, 32 years and 32,000 years.” Do the sums: a $2 trillion dollar deficit the equivalent of 64,000 years in time measurements.

And an $5.4 trillion dollar total annual budget... or a $23 trillion accumulated national debt... is equal to... but I see the audience’s eyes glazing over... No -- they’re crying.

Now, it’s certainly true that borrowing is economically justifiable and potentially profitable if it’s likely to produce a stream of income or equivalent benefit that over time more than equals the cost of the capital borrowed. A home mortgage is a humble example.

It’s also the case that government investment can be economically worthwhile if it creates an economic environment that hikes productivity, spurs general economic growth, and thereby increases tax revenue for the Treasury. Some state investment meets those criteria, but by no means all. So we should apply certain tests to proposals such as the green industrial revolution and the Green New Deal?

The test that governments seem to like most at the moment is the question:

Can we borrow at a low interest rate?

It’s a fair question but it should be a secondary one. A low interest rate means it’s cheaper to borrow, but that’s a modest benefit at the best of times and no benefit at all if the investment produces less wealth than the cost of borrowing. And if interest rates rise as they tend to in periods of inflation produced by government over-spending, then the modest benefit becomes a horrendous cost, especially when your accumulated borrowing has reached $23 trillion. So the next—or rather, prior—question becomes:

Can we make sure the investment pays off?

To which the honest answer is, No. As the distinguished political theorist, James Burnham, author of The Managerial Revolution, used to say in his rules on life: You can’t invest in retrospect. Some of the visionary Green schemes proposed by Joe and Boris, such as electric airplanes and cheap hydrogen cars, can’t be  invented simply because we establish a state fund to invent them, any more than the flying cars and personal jetpacks of Matt Ridley’s youthful imagination exist today because we wanted them, as he noted in a column on the ten big things wrong with the green industrial revolution.

I quoted the column last week, but it can’t be quoted too often because to judge from government policy no one in Whitehall or the Beltway has read it. It should be especially worrying that many of the schemes for transitioning from fossil fuels to “renewables” all cost more than the cheap fuels they are meant to replace and need state subsidies for longer than their advocates claim in advance. Demands for extended government subsidies should be a warning. Innovations will occur, of course, because a free economy is an innovation machine. We simply don’t know what they’ll be, and if we concentrate state funding on bright ideas too early, we risk being unable to fund the good ones that survive the sorting out process.

But they lift productivity and economic growth, surely?

Again, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but the signs don’t look that good. What economic benefit is likely to arise from the total electrification of Britain electric cars require that would match both its cost and the cost of forcing motorists to give up petrol-driven cars from 2030 onwards? If the answer is that we will benefit from the technological innovations that British and American auto manufacturers make in the course of developing cheaper and more efficient EV’S, we could have those benefits anyway by allowing them to make the cars that the motorists want at a price they can afford and at a pace that would allow government and industry to transition in line with market demand changes. Then we might get technical innovations in both EVs and petrol-driven cars.

But, Miss Scarlett, do you really need an electric car?

We don’t do that because the real aim of policy is not technical innovation—that’s a by-product at best—but a reduction in carbon emissions, or net-zero in short. That’s why everyone concedes that electricity prices will rise for industry as well as for consumers, putting the industries in countries with green hairshirt economic policies at a serious disadvantage with their foreign competitors. How will that kind of enforced economic primitivism help us either to raise productivity or to pay back the money we’re now borrowing? It won’t.

Since this is a global problem, though, surely, our competitors like China are making the same sacrifice?

Well, no they’re not, as a matter of fact, and when they say they will, they usually ask “the West” to give them subsidies to do so. In the meantime, the Chinese Communist Party—no idealistic Greens in that Politburo—is bringing new coal-fired power stations on line with emission levels greater than the U.K.’s entire carbon output.

So why are we doing this?

That’s a bigger question to which I’ll return next week. But it certainly requires explanation because unless the laws of economics have been repealed, the policy of spending and borrowing massively in order to make our economies less productive and efficient can only have one result. It was forecast most eloquently by Rudyard Kipling in his once-familiar poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings":

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Something to think about.

Canadian Ecopoets' Dream Is Albertan Nightmare

 Seamus O’Regan, Newfoundland pseudo-nonce-poet, Canada’s natural resources minister and all-round “weightless politician” (as Rex Murphy dubs him), has turned to poetry, offering a homiletic assessment of Canada’s bright Green future once Canada’s oil-and gas giant, the province of Alberta, has been economically destroyed. In a poem, or rather, a piece of anaphoric doggerel, entitled ALBERTA Is, the poet- minister informs us

Obviously, Alberta is, and can be, none of these. Hydrogen, batteries, geothermal, and electric vehicles are all dead letters. They are unworkable. The evidence is incontrovertible. Moreover, in a cramp of logical thinking, if Alberta is everything O’Regan says it is, then capture technology has no place in his catalogue. The Twitter post capping this feeble attempt at poetic afflatus, Alberta is vital to [Canada's] clean energy future, is an emblem of perilous inanity. As Michael Shellenberger has shown in article and book, clean energy is remarkably dirty. A functioning Alberta is vital not to a non-existent “clean energy future” but to Canada’s energy independence, industrial survival and national prosperity. O’Regan’s Alberta is a radical environmentalist’s baleful fantasy.

O’Regan may not be a poet in any meaningful sense of the word, anymore than he is an effective minister, but he has the backing of Canada’s poetic community. Acclaimed Canadian versifiers like Dionne Brand, Michael Ondaatje and George Elliott Clarke have signed on to an ecological movement known as The Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another, which has targeted Alberta for destruction by transitioning Canada away from fossil fuels.

A poetically influential school known as ecopoets or wilderness poets have added their collective voice to the call for deep-sixing the energy sector and replacing it with abortive renewables like wind and solar, which are known to be unaffordable, inadequate and environmentally disastrous.

For example, in “At the Center, A Woman” from Tourist to Ecstasy, voluminously published ecopoet Tim Lilburn revives an indigenous fable enjoining us to return to the feminine source of unspoiled existence and the spirit of nature— 

Her voice is black water under wheat’s erect earth.
Uh.    Uh.
Her teeth are armies.   Uh.
Her throat’s flex, tree, flowing mass. Cottonwood, beech.
She songs the forest. Energy mezzos.
Mmho  Mmho  Mmho  Ho Ho Ho Ho

Apparently, the time for a new understanding has arrived. We have come to “the edge of the known world,” he informs us, “and the beginning of philosophy.” The beginning of philosophy entails the end of the energy sector and the apotheosis of water, wheat and forest. O brave new world that has such poets in it. 

Ecopoetry’s most famous Canadian practitioner, award-winning Don McKay, argues in an essay for Making the Geologic Now, "[T]he intention of culture… has been all too richly realized, that there is little hope for an other that remains other, for wilderness that remains wild.” In order to assure a revivified nature, we must cease “digging up fossilized organisms and burning them, effectively turning earthbound carbon into atmospheric carbon, drastically altering the climate.

Rather we must affirm “the visionary experience of wilderness as undomesticated presence”—though domesticated, it turns out, by much scarred terrain where “rare earths” are mined and featuring landscape-devouring and soil-poisoning solar panels, 285 feet high wind turbines, unrecyclable blades and masts, bird hecatombs and, as Jean-Louis Butré writes in Figarovox/Tribune, lamenting the despoliation of the French countryside, “new concrete blockhouses to maintain these monsters.” The result is “le déversement de tonnes de bétons dans nos campagnes.”

O nature, pleine de grace.

The costs of eventual land reclamation will be, as he says, “pharaminous” and an insupportable burden on municipalities. How this fact consorts with McKay’s environmentally-conscious urging to “amend our lives, to live less exploitatively and consumptively,” and to honor spirit of place remains an open question.

Indifferent poets have also contributed to the wilderness-inspired trashing of reliable energy production. To take one example, in Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry, Mari-Lou Rowley presents us with “Tar Sands, Going down”:

Look up! look way up-
nothing but haze and holes.
Look down!
bitumen bite in the
neck arms thighs of Earth
a boreal blistering,
boiling soil and smoke-slathered sky.

Environmental Catharism is now the name of the game. As Abraham Miller explains, lamenting the deterioration of California’s infrastructure, the Green mandate has shifted state expenditures to providing renewable energy rather than maintaining power lines. Rolling blackouts are the result. In addition, the environmental lobby has prevented prudent clear cutting in order to ensure “nutrients for the soil,” creating forests of highly combustible underbrush and dead trees. The trouble is, Miller warns, “What happens in California never stays in California.”

Very true. Once Alberta is decommissioned, California Dreamin’ is Canada’s future. So much for wilderness, the virgin bride of Canada’s poetic suitors. Unfortunately, Mmho  Mmho will not take us very far.

Just ask a real poet.

In his celebrated essay, A Defence of Poetry, Percy Bysshe Shelley, among the great Romantic poets of the early 19th century, claimed that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Shelley was determined to refute the thesis of his friend Thomas Love Peacock, who in The Four Ages of Poetry had argued that poetry had become useless in the era of the Enlightenment. Rather, Shelley asserted, poets are innovators, revolutionaries, visionaries of the “highest order,” and the source of “those social sympathies [and] elementary laws from which society develops.” The true poet runs counter to the shibboleths of the time, rejecting the modish fancies and social trends that imbue the culture. His mandate is skepticism and critique.

Regrettably, our poets no longer challenge the fads and superstitions of the day. Like the politicians, journalists, and academics who have plunged headlong into Green, they have become supine followers of the climate mandarins, lobbying for renewable energy and the abolition of the oil and gas industry. Alberta bad. Energy disaster good. They have become Seamus O’Regan.

There may yet be hope. W.H. Auden, one of the best and most intelligent poets of the modern era, wrote that “Poetry makes nothing happen.” Alberta has a mighty struggle on its hands but, if Peacock and Auden are right, it need not worry about its poetic adversaries—except when, like O’Regan, they happen to be politicians.

BoJo's Bizarre Climate Scheme

Boris Johnson's Tories won the 2019 British election in a landslide on the strength of their promise to "Get Brexit Done," but for most of the time since they've been distracted by Covid-19 and by Boris's odd dalliance with climate hysteria. On the latter point, he seems to believe that expending political capital on building wind farms and mandating electric cars will help him maintain his hold on those working class, traditional Labour voters whose support he promised not to take for granted on election night.

This seems a bizarre play, as polling suggests that climate issues are fairly low priority to Brits in those former "Red Wall" seats in the North and the Midlands. Throughout Britain healthcare, the economy, and Brexit remain people's top concerns. A recent survey has what is referred to as the "climate emergency" prioritized by just 23 percent of the populace, and less than that (unsurprisingly) in those working class outposts which the P.M. is targeting.

Nevertheless, Johnson is determined to go full speed ahead with what he's calling Britain's "green industrial revolution." He recently released a 10-point plan, which includes pledges to ban the sale of combustion engine automobiles by 2030, quadruple offshore wind farms by the same year, invest heavily in the development of various "green" technologies, and to transform London into “the global centre of green finance.” This plan, BoJo assures us, will generate "up to 250,000 jobs," and all for the low, low cost of £12 billion!

In response, Matt Ridley has put forward a 10-point demolition in the Telegraph. First off, he points out, that jobs-for-pounds ratio isn't actually that impressive.

£48,000 per job is a lot. Cheaper... to create the same employment erecting a statue of Boris in every town. Anyway, it’s backwards: it’s not jobs in the generating of energy that count, but jobs that use it. Providing cheap, reliable energy enables the private sector to create jobs for free as far as the taxpayer is concerned.

Then there's the fact that Johnson is "hugely underestimating the cost." Among other things, he's relying on the wind industry's own claim that their costs are coming down, when the actual "accounts of wind energy companies show that both capital and operating expenditures of offshore wind farms continue to rise." Should wind energy be mandated, Britain's already high electricity prices will actually increase, which "will kill a lot more than 250,000 jobs."

Ridley makes several more important points, including that the prime minister "misreads how innovation works," and thus foolishly assumes that pumping money into the problem will necessarily generate new technology required to make his plan work. It won't. He concludes,

My fear is that we will carry out Boris’s promised 10-point plan, cripple our economy, ruin our seascapes and landscapes, and then half way through the 2030s along will come cheap, small, safe fusion reactors. The offshore wind industry, by then so stuffed with subsidies they can afford to lobby politicians and journalists even more than they do to today, will suck their teeth and say: “no, no, no – ignore the fusion crowd. We’re on the brink of solving the reliability issue, and don’t worry, the cost will come down eventually. Promise!”

Fingers crossed, no doubt.

Apparatchik John Kerry, Climate Czar

Suppose you are a man with a long history of personal mediocrity in important positions. You aren’t quite as publicly toxic as, say, Hillary Clinton. But no one really respects you either. You’re old, 76. You’re definitely a “me too” lothario. You have said nothing notable in 35 years in the public eye, first as a U.S. Senator, then failed presidential candidate, and finally Secretary of State.

Your biggest success was in being the face of Obama’s Iran deal, the entire premise of which was to set up an untrustworthy, fundamentalist regime hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, and deeply hated by its own people, as a dominant regional power.

So which job do you get in a Joe Biden Administration?

Somewhere a Soviet architect weeps: the DoE.

Climate Czar!  Nice touch, that "Czar." Commissar would have been a bit heavy handed. Who knows what the Mandarin translation is.

Actually, John Kerry’s official new title is “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate,” and he will report directly to apparent president-elect Biden. The post is housed within the National Security Council, because, apparently, climate is a now national security issue, which is not quite the same thing as a matter of science, or even weather (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, anybody?).

Official Washington is gleeful at the appointment. A typical Washington Post headline joyfully trumpeted, “Biden Brings Back the Establishment.”  It is deeply ironic that Kerry, who first came to prominence as a decorated Vietnam war veteran leveling allegations of war crimes against fellow soldiers, is now ‘the Establishment.”

In addition to the Iran deal, from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. early on because Iran’s compliance was unverifiable, Kerry also oversaw negotiations for the multilateral Paris climate Accords, from which President Trump also withdrew the U.S. Trump’s blunt contention was that, since the Paris accords failed to hold China responsible for the pollution it generates, which comprises the largest share of global pollution leading to warming and environmental destruction, and since the U.S. generally outperforms the standards the accord require in terms of emissions and carbon use, there was precisely no point in being party to, or bound by, its strictures.

The Paris accords, Trump claimed, harmed U.S. energy and manufacturing jobs, and were simply another way of transferring money to China, while absolving that nation of responsibility. Both Biden and Kerry, whose sons have been partners in some of their financial ventures, have ties to China that may render that consideration moot.

Didn't end well for this czar.

Not only did Biden campaign on an immediate return to the Paris accords, but he  has repeatedly placed “climate change” at the top of his “Day One” agenda for action, second only to Covid-19. Indeed, Biden has been eager to persuade other nations to adopt even higher standards. He has mentioned “zero carbon emissions” by 2030, and 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, which even some lefties privately agree is unrealistic.

How, precisely, climate change affects American national security is undefined. In a statement released on Monday the transition team remained committed to vagueness, noting that Kerry, “will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.”  “This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue.” Kerry himself tweeted:

As a political matter, it is worth considering the possibility that Kerry is there to rein in staffers who are far more radical than he or Biden. According to the Washington Post, the Biden administration has a plan to spend upwards of “$2 trillion over four years to boost renewables and create incentives for energy-efficient cars, homes, and commercial buildings.”

Environmentalist contrarian Michael Shellenberger noted on Nov. 24, on the Tucker Carlson show that all of this adds up to nothing more than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. That plan was explicitly formulated by the “Justice Democrats” as a way to take over the economy. According to Shellenberger, “we are way past the point of stopping climate change. If we gave up all carbon use, temperatures would rise for the next 400 years, anyway. But we are doing a fine job adapting."

Biden has framed his climate plan as a jobs program, making clear that he is prepared to pour unprecedented resources into transitioning the United States away from fossil fuels as part of the effort to boost an economy battered by the pandemic.

And "climate change" is now a matter of social justice. The Washington Post reported that the Biden plan includes a commitment to invest 40 percent of the clean energy money in historically disadvantaged communities, on the flimsy justification that there is some connection between climate change and systemic racism. A local California politician called it “the most innovative and bold plan in a presidential campaign that we’ve seen from an environmental justice standpoint.”

Detroit: blame racism and climate change.

Biden’s team already has plans on how it will restrict oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters; ratchet up federal mileage standards for cars and SUVs; block pipelines that transport fossil fuels across the country; provide federal incentives to develop renewable power; and mobilize other nations to make deeper cuts in their own carbon emissions.

Remember that second debate between Trump and Biden, in which Biden denied that he would end fracking, or destroy the oil and natural gas industries, with their millions of jobs, in the U.S.? That was not true. Look for steeply rising gas prices early in a Biden Administration, something it might take the populace some time to notice, due to state mandated lockdown orders.

It is clear that when Biden warned the nation, in the first debate, that we were heading into a "dark winter," that was a promise, not just a threat. He and Czar Kerry will ensure it happens with higher energy costs that will keep us in the dark and shivering far into the winters of the future as well.

One Age, Two Zeitgeists

Joe Biden making a “pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but to unify,” seems rich coming from someone representing a political party which has been unremittingly intent on undermining the 45th president since before day one. But there it is. On the left, hypocrisy never flags.

I am not, of course, an American but I do make claim to being an irredeemably deplorable conservative chump. As such, I have beliefs. Here is a short selective account.

The way we were.

What else do I or don’t I believe? Lots actually. But you get the picture. And I’d like to think, and do think, that my beliefs are shared, to a very great extent, by people on the conservative side of the political spectrum. But many people don’t share them. In fact, it is safe to say, those belonging to the modern left share none of them. The two sets of beliefs are non-intersecting.

In the west, there is no longer one defining spirit and mood of the times. There are two. Truly, we are a house (acrimoniously) divided. Thus, calls for the U.S. population or the population of any western nation to come together in unity is pie-in-the-sky.

Let me put it this way. Will those on the political left ever be happy to go along with conservative government? It’s a silly question. They have an agenda and it doesn’t include kumbaya get-togethers with their political opponents.

The way we are.

How about those who collectively might be called right of centre? Okay, there are many milquetoasts-cum-pantywaists in this eclectic category of people. They are easily peeled off to become useful idiots on behalf of the left; e.g., John Kasich, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney, among political notables in the US. However, stalwart conservatives simply can’t buy any of the left’s bill of goods.

Consider the antithesis of each of the beliefs which I set out above. Put them together and what do you get? A destructive empire of lies; undermining the values which have served us so well for so long. Hard to swallow. How can anyone swallow them? Many evidently can.

Give or take, half the United States votes left. And this isn’t the left of such a little way back as the time of Bill Clinton. This is the modern loony version, exemplified by the Squad and the 110-page Biden - Sanders manifesto.

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It’s an amazing document. I was struck by a comparison of Australia’s scheme in 2009 to help the economy out of recession and increase the energy efficiency of houses, by providing the installation of free insulating ceiling batts, with a much grander U.S. scheme, of “upgrades to up to two million low-income households [and to] incentivize tens of billions of dollars in private-sector investment to retrofit four million buildings.” What could possibly go wrong?

In Australia a lot went wrong in a short space of time. Four deaths and ninety-four house fires later the so-called “pink-batts scheme” was quickly canned. There’s electrical wire in those roof spaces and, overnight, lots of ill-trained wannabes became batt installers.

Of course, I have barely touched on the madness in the manifesto. And before you say no-one reads this kind of thing, the universities are churning out people who don’t have to. They live and breathe its destructive dystopian drivel and go on to occupy every nook and cranny of influence.

The political battle is no longer between adversaries who have broad objectives in common. And, make no mistake, the battle is uneven. Among the political class, stalwart conservatives are a declining breed. A potential saving is that their values and policies are still broadly in sync with the instincts of blue-collar and agricultural workers and, more generally, with that body of the population which through religious faith or through life experiences has managed to retain their common sense despite the onslaught of absurd wokeness. Does this offer a chance to hold back the leftist tide? Can the tide ever be turned?

The way we're headed.

I used to think Trump was the last best hope, as slim as it was. Without at all counting him out at this stage, I can’t afford to think that now. The fight has to be fought however slim the chances of victory. Covid exposes the leftist creed for what it is: cowardly, mean, miserable and godless. Evidently, those on the left can never get enough of masking, social distancing, hand-sanitizing, lockdowns, curfews, any and all rules restricting freedom; including, notably, the freedom to worship. Compliant and dependent, searching for safety in a government womb.

Idolatry had many forms in the past. Golden idols loomed large. Money is a more modern manifestation. Both seem less foul than genuflecting to government. Whining to be kept safe by the nanny state is not edifying.

Beware the 'Green Energy' Narrative

In the face of the most historic collusion between political activists, mainstream media, and big tech, it has never been . clearer that not every narrative being foisted upon America is actually true. Narratives are curated and shaped to achieve alternative objectives ranging from things like confiscatory tax and regulatory policies for business to increased environmental constraints on the public to political advantage in all its many forms.

With the complete collapse of the media’s credibility and big tech’s manipulation and censorship of what one sees on their social media feeds, we must now be even more vigilant when scrutinizing the merits of the assertions made in the name of “green energy.” We must constantly seek actual truth, not accept fabricated facts describing a future envisioned for us by others.

Consider the climate change narrative around renewable energy like wind farms or the destructive forces of wildfires allegedly caused by climate change. Wind, considered the least expensive clean energy, is commonly referred to as the future of energy production. The storyline is that fossil fuel is evil, renewables like wind and solar are good. Good people obviously embrace the wind and solar vision while those that support the fossil fuel industry or related by-products are bad. It is considered blasphemous for meteorologists, scientists, engineers or other professionals to assert alternative perspectives about the voracity or plausibility of the green narrative. If experts reject the narrative they are labeled anti-science, or are professionally harassed or altogether canceled. Agreement is the goal, not truth. Facts matter not.

Ah, the promise of Utopia...

But on the stage of the "green revolution," right next to the dehydrated fruit and composting toilets, there are a couple irritating little facts that make the utopian green dream a little less… green or utopian. First, according to the U.S. Department of Interior, as many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans.

That’s right, humans, not climate change. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava. Do any of those causes sound like climate change?

The 2020 fire season in Washington, Oregon and California was no different. One of the larger California fires this season was started by electronic equipment that malfunctioned at a gender-reveal party. That particular fire was repeatedly reported in the media as being the result of climate change. Other fires throughout the state were started by lightening. In fact, it was California’s poor forest management practices that allowed all of the fires to grow out of control. None were because of so-called climate change.

Thanks to California’s failed man-made forest management strategies, there were no controlled burns and too much fuel vis-s vis downed trees, branches and undergrowth that California state officials had failed to properly remove, setting up the forest lands for utter destruction. Incompetence by government officials should never be substituted with climate change.

Next, there are the thousands of windfarms and the tens of thousands of blades that spin the turbines of these monster-sized windmills. The green narrative claims wind is the cheapest kind of clean energy. But is it really? Not only do the composite blades wear out, they are doing so at a faster rate than was promised to investors, municipalities and policymakers alike. This means that tens of thousands of these aged-out blades will need to be replaced worldwide.

Further, their massive size is outweighed only by their large carbon footprints from manufacture to disposal. Currently, these blades can be used for nothing else after removal. They will literally lie forever in the landfills in which they are disposed.

There are some 8,000 blades per year for the next four years slated to come down in the U.S. alone. The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, will be the final destination of 870 defunct blades, some of which are longer than the wing of a Boeing 747 jet. The other landfills where these blades are laid to rest are in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Lake Mills, Iowa. The days of these blades generating renewable energy came to an early end and now their only role is to take up large swaths of acreage at a landfill in otherwise beautiful states. Many will agree that an outcome like this requires one reframe the narrative that environmental stewardship is being achieved by using wind to generate electricity.

But the maintenance isn’t the only issue with these metal monsters. There are a slew of problems now evident that make windfarms far less ideal than the green narrative would have us believe. Not only are the old blades not recyclable, maintenance costs for wind farms are also high relative to their output.

It also turns out that wind is an erratic source of power and as such, according to a recent Harvard study, will require five to 20 times more land to sufficiently scale for the needed power generation into the future. Windfarms are also esthetically glum, quite dreadful against any landscape whether onshore or off-shore. And it turns out, windfarms are dangerous to birds, having created a change in migratory behavior in multiple species. All this while also interfering with weather radar.

Ugh... the reality of Dystopia.

Windfarms also create micro-climates that may be creating conditions in which grass fires are more common and larger in some western states by increasing temperatures and effecting relative humidity.

Perhaps most significant of all, is the issue of infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN). Experts and researchers now confirm that the spinning blades create a constant low frequency noise that engulfs homes and rural areas near where these windfarms are built and can cause an array of health symptoms for those living proximal (within approximately 18 miles) to the windfarms. Symptoms range from sleep disturbances, dizziness and headaches, to panic attacks and depression.

So while the public is constantly beaten about the head with the green narrative that it is saving the planet, it would behoove the oil and gas industry to go on the offense and begin to shape its own narrative about its  positive impact on the global economy, job creation, and U.S. energy independence. If not, thanks to a lack of narrative storytellers, fossil fuel will be written out of its own future. And that future is very bleak indeed. 

Biden's Deadly Plan for American Energy

It’s perfectly understandable for anyone concerned about energy production in the U.S. to be uneasy that Joe Biden appears to be winning this year’s contest for the White House. Whether he makes it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. remains in doubt, but what is not in doubt is that, should that happen, he would have no substantial mandate.

The climate change part of the  platform--like much of his party’s platform--seems to have little purchase among other than the coastal bien pensants and the leftwing corporatists dreaming of yet another boondoggle financed by the taxpayers on the same pie in the sky swindle as was Solyndra and California’s train to nowhere. Of course, my ability to read the future is limited, but let me explain why I think much of what Biden has promised the far left of his party to secure the nomination and their support, is unlikely to take shape.

At the moment the election in six states is still either still being counted, being challenged in court, or subject to recount. Excluding those states, President Trump leads Biden 232 to 227 in the Electoral Vote totals. (270 electoral votes of 538  are needed to win the electoral college vote in January).

It is impossible in this fast changing circumstance to keep track of all the litigation challenging in the various state run elections. So far this compendium by OSU seems the most accurate. I’ve seen some of the complaints filed or about to be in Michigan and Pennsylvania and they include numerous credible affidavits documenting substantial illegality. If the Supreme Court meant it when they said this twenty years ago in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 105 (2000), I have to believe that the counts in both those  states simply to not meet the constitutional standard in Gore.

It must be remembered that "the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen's vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 555 (1964).

If these recounts and challenges are not resolved by the December 14 cut off dat-, the House of Representatives can choose the interim president and the Senate the interim vice president until they results are certified by the states. In the House, the vote is by state and the Republicans hold the majority there, as they do in the Senate. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the state legislatures, they may under the constitution select their own slate of electors. Republicans hold the majority in the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, the three states with the most electoral votes among the still disputed contests.

Given the uncertain outcomes, at this time it is preposterous to call Biden “president-elect.”

I was elected to what?

Nevertheless, there certainly is reason for concern in the Democratic platform Biden ran on. The platform reads like a prose version of the Russian film “Battleship Potemkin” substituting only the film’s motif of all forces of the population joining hands in revolution with everyone joining hands to keep the climate from changing. (It misses only scenes of fracking and gas rigs shooting at wounded veterans and orphans.) Among the specifics are these:

The program specifics are even more sophomoric and fanciful, involving retrofitting buildings, setting even higher emissions standards for cars and trucks, including 500,000 school buses, and more in a program “to ensure racial and socioeconomic equity in federal climate, energy, and infrastructure programs.”

(My guess is this was written somewhere else besides California which the document says should  again be allowed to set its own vehicle emission standards. I say that because rolling blackouts related to a similar set of juvenile energy policies  in that state’s programs would seem to put something of a leash on these overweening goals.)

Biden also has pledged to kill the Keystone pipeline. On that score, Alberta Premier Jason Kennery indicates confidence he can change Biden’s mind, and perhaps he would be successful -- pledges from Biden do seem to have a short life span. He promised during the debates that he would not claim victory until all the state contests were certified. He already has done so  when we are far from that point. 

He’s also promised  to crack down on “climate cheats” whoever they are; push the world on climate change, and invest $1.7 trillion to reduce global warming. At the same time his team is advocating further coronavirus  lockdowns and payouts to those unemployed because of them.

Now I could be wrong. He could have a secret invention to generate trillions of new dollars and is keeping it secret along with a never-revealed way to fuel this economy without fossil fuels, but I’m suspicious of the ability to fund these grandiose plans or carry the platform’s promises  out. 

Even if he were crazy enough to try it, he will do so without a great deal of support. At the moment the Democrats are hanging on to an even thinner majority in the House, having lost a number of seats they expected to win, and jeopardized more who in these weird times are labeled “moderates”.

The party is splintered and recriminations against the left are legion. It seems increasingly likely that the Blue Wave the media promised didn’t materialize and in fact a Red Wave washed a lot of the Democrats out to sea. There will be at least 50 Republican Senators in the Senate with the likely prospect of two more once the Georgia runoffs are complete in January.

Without a majority in the Senate Biden can’t revoke the industry-friendly fuel tax; he can’t restore or expand the federal tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles, he can’t repeal the Halliburton provision permitting fracking in Safe Drinking Water Act  he can’t amend the renewable fuel standard post-2022, he can’t alter the Jones Act, and he can’t change the the carbon price, etc.

Have they called a lid yet? It's past my bed-time.

Some have suggested he can  achieve these goals simply through executive orders, and there are a few things he can achieve via this route, beginning with an area in which he has the freest hand -- rejoining the Paris climate agreement. Some of the others, more troublesome to be sure, are regulatory actions like blocking oil and gas drilling on federal lands, allowing California to set independent standards for auto emissions and fuel economy, restricting access to low-cost capital for the fossil fuel industry, and setting fuel economy standards. For these,  judicial and public resistance are greater checks on his authority. 

Chief Justice Roberts has displayed a penchant for fine-tooth-combing executive orders and rejecting them . The public  -- reeling from the devastation of the lockdowns, pleased with lower gas prices and anticipating a continued v- shaped recovery -- are likely to find Biden's extremism unwanted and make their opposition known.

Biden may squeak out an election victory. If so, it will have been a Pyrrhic one.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Distancing

Oh, Boris, you have got to be kidding me! I thought we went over this… herd immunity only comes if we have exposure. I don’t understand how he thinks it’s OK to shut us down again. The small businesses that managed to survive will surely perish in an additional lockdown.

Now what? No restaurants, no gyms, and no chance I can return to California any time soon. Worse yet, this means daddy is having one of his crusty old MP friends round -- to discuss god knows what… probably the 2008 Climate Change Act,  which apparently never changes. And Judith (mummy) is headed to a friend’s house for a socially-distanced coffee; and to avoid getting the dreaded Covid from daddy’s MP friend.

And that’s the thing Boris doesn’t understand… the behaviours of a virus, and the behaviours of a people. Let alone the fact that he wasn’t elected Prime Socialist. But with daddy’s meeting now moved here, I’ll just stay up in my childhood room and avoid all of it.

I want you... to stay at home and cower in the face of the dreaded Covid!

I don’t know how long daddy’s friend was downstairs but I woke up with my legs over the exercise ball and a crick in my neck. Is this what you wanted Boris? I decided to head downstairs and see what we were doing about dinner. Judith’s coffee must have turned into a gin and tonic. She’s nowhere to be found and daddy reported we have frozen steaks and fish fingers, but he’s sure everyone that was open yesterday is doing delivery today. He clicked off the radio and announced,

“We had to know we couldn’t trust a fat man who bicycled around London to be a true conservative.”

“Daddy!”

“Have you seen his bum on a bike or one rational decision since he caught the dreaded Covid? No, you have not.”

I hadn’t. And I knew the £800m cycling initiatives were mostly Sadiq Khan and not Boris but daddy would make the point that the invading cycle lanes had ruined London, and he would be right.

“Well, we know what we are getting with Biden at least” I beamed, “…and it will be fantastic for the environment.”

“Yes, fantastic”, he scoffed. “He promised to decimate the energy industry and I’m sure he’ll do damage enough. Unlike your boyfriend Trudeau… who promised legalised pot and Canada was too stoned to realise that when Alberta goes, so too goes Canada.”

... to ride a bicycle in the dark and the rain.

I knew on this point he was right. I’d heard he and Patrick discussing the death of so many pipeline projects in Canada compared to the very real gains in the US, better for the economy and the environment.

“Well, be that as it may”, I began, “having a green president in the White House has got to be a good thing at the end of the day.

“Got to be?”

“Yes!” I said emphatically.

“Yes, indeed. Let’s look at… you, shall we? You’re a U.S. taxpayer now, and forgetting that your energy-efficient flat and car were provided by the money your dear father earned as a geophysical engineer and responsible oil executive… what will be the really big gains? Top three…”

I ran through a million things in my head, knowing that they all led to higher taxes, lower profits, and business busting results. But I wasn’t giving up on my beloved planet that quickly.

“ Well… upgrades to infrastructure, and a carbon tax, and jobs guarantees…”

“That’s three taxes actually. But the point is I want you to think about the consequence of your passions. The consequence of a carbon tax will mean higher airline fares and might mean fewer seminars for your clients, fewer clients, less income… you see the result, yes?”

"Yes, of course but what’s the alternative?”

“The alternative to what? Socialism?”

“Daddy, it’s not the planet or socialism -

“No, but everything you suggested is,” he said, with a sad finish.

Forward, into the glorious energy future of a carbon tax!

I can’t talk to him when he’s like this. And also I didn’t have any good argument. I went back up to my childhood room to change for dinner and decided to find some evidence in my favour before I let it rest.

My search just kept taking me to coal vs natural gas, and although I already knew that some radical environmentalists despised natural gas, I also  knew their argument was indefensible.

I had covered all this with my father years ago, lest I continue to go on making unfounded arguments. Truth was, that by every metric natural gas is cleaner than coal, it emits 40X less sulphur dioxide, a fraction of the nitrous oxide, almost no mercury, less water, and it’s why carbon emissions from energy declined. Perhaps I’m not in the mood to be right.

Just then I noticed a text from a client asking how I was, and if it was true that Christmas was cancelled in England? Boy, she had some nerve! I had half a mind to write back and ask if it was true that Thanksgiving was cancelled in New York or only moved outside? But I realised that would be as tough to swallow as dry turkey. And mean.

Lockdown redux was getting to me. But apparently not to Judith who I heard coming in downstairs, and by the sound of it had many bags with her. I scrolled past another article entitled How Greed, not Greenpeace Saved the Whales. OMG enough for tonight. I hope she bought cake.