Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Protesting

With very little planning and a last-minute text to my parents, I hopped a flight from London City Airport to Washington D.C. The reason, of course…to save the planet! With no lounges open, and the risk of delayed takeoff, I thought I should at least grab a bottle of water, and so I did. Hello Boots… one Volvic please!  Only to be reminded that London had launched  something they are calling ‘Plastic Free City’.

They sold me the water alright, but it came with stares from all the really good people—each one of them making silent commentary, and staring at the offending bottle. You’d have thought I’d been going round the globe shoving plastic straws into the brains of dolphins.

Meanwhile, they kept flaunting their refillables like they were iced-out Rolexes. Oh knock it off! I wanted to scream. My entire life is dedicated to green pursuits but when it comes to placing the mouth of a bottle that I’m going to drink from, under the spigot of the community trough—I draw the line. Besides I can’t very well save the planet if I am sick.

Every litter bit helps!

The terminal was lined with bright blue water stations, and I walked to my gate with the gurgle-gurgle of people refilling all around me.  Luckily I had only thirty minutes before boarding and so I stuffed the contraband into my bag before choosing a spot in which to loiter. The airport was mobbed and every announcement was getting on my last nerve. Just then a text from my client…

‘Can we fix this?’ Followed by a picture of the detritus from the Glastonbury Climate Festival. It was disgusting—trash and abandoned tents everywhere. It looked worse than a San Francisco public park. 

‘What is it you WANT me to do?’ I texted back.  And before he could respond I texted: ‘Headed to DC…boarding now’.

I could see he was trying to text me something else but I powered down my phone before it came through. Having found my seat I tore off the plastic wrap from my quilt and put my headphones on. I placed the wrap within easy reach of the flight attendant but despite several passes she didn’t pick it up. Why is the whole world plastic-shaming me today?

When we arrived in D.C. our gate wasn’t ready and we had to be towed in. Another delay! I know that towing vs taxiing saves quite a bit of fuel but this delay defeats the purpose of flying from City Airport!

As soon as I powered on my phone the texts started rolling in. Apparently, if you sign up for even one protest they assume it’s your lifeblood and include you in every update. I only wanted the EPA protest. What a mess.

That's telling 'em!

My driver did his best to get me right where I needed to be but it was hopeless. Pride marches, GenX, and half a dozen abortion marches. Finally, I headed toward a group in green bandanas knowing this would be my group, but it was not. This was made readily clear by a “Viva la Vulva” sign. I stepped out of the throng and asked a woman why green for pro-abortion?

‘Marta tells us that the colour of nature was chosen because it signifies life’, she said.

Abortion means  life? I dared not ask. And who was Marta? Turns out Marta is the founder of Catholics for Choice, 'a nonprofit organization that lifts up the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom'. I squinted my eyes and walked away.  So far I had accomplished exactly nothing.

Then my phone rang. It was my father.  ‘OH HEY!’ I said, yelling into my iPhone.

‘Are you at a club?’ he asked.  

‘You bloody well know I am not at a club!’ I responded. I am in Washington, protesting the EPA ruling!'  

‘Well how’s that going?’ he asked.

‘I haven’t found them yet… this is all rather confusing. But I do have a question, I got a text about the Glastonbury Climate Festival… I see electric- car chargers in the middle of… nowhere. So how do they get powered?’ 

Diesel’, Daddy replied.  

Glastonbury '22: nobody tell Greta!

Diesel??’ I shrieked. ‘How does…?’ UGH! I knew he was stifling a laugh. 

‘Yes, as you said, all very confusing. Listen, sweetheart, do you really think protesting is a good use of your time…?'

‘How would I know?  ‘I haven’t even been able to even locate my protest'.’

‘Strange that, Marxists are generally so good at organisation’.

I didn’t have the strength to fight him. It was beginning to rain and I decided to keep quiet in case he had one more zinger in him.  FINALLY I could see my EPA group and I ran to catch up with them, only to ask myself why had I bothered? I was sweating under my trench, my shoes were soaked, we all looked stupid, I felt stupid—this was stupid.

‘You win, Daddy', I said into the phone. 'This was a dumb idea. I will schedule some meetings and ask my clients how I can be useful while I’m here’. 

‘Excellent', he said. 'And you might advocate for the continued operation of Line 5 up in Michigan —it's an essential  pipeline for Eastern Canada and the U.S.’ 

‘And they will listen to me because—why?’ I asked. 

‘Because you’re the voice of reason on this. It’s a win for everyone.  And you’re still advocating for the environment - just without the Marxist slant’.

‘And if it doesn’t work?’

‘Oh, just tell them they’re all going to freeze—they don’t even have enough energy to get through next year…’

‘I don’t think they want to hear that’. 

‘Oh I disagree, Jennifer. Fear-mongering is the only thing you green-niks understand'.

I hung up and looked around. The rain was pelting harder. Everybody looked miserable. And they wonder why I never bring anyone home!

Another Big Win: the Court Clips Regulatory State's Claws

On its last day of the current session the Supreme Court by a 6-3 majority finally clipped the talons of the Environmental Protection Agency, denying the agency power to issue broad regulations regarding "climate change." In the process, the Court sent a warning shot to the administrative state and Congress: legislation on broad matters (“major questions”) must come from the legislative branch (Congress), not from the executive branch via "regulation." The decision upends decades of government rule by D.C. bureaucrats, a practice set in operation by Franklin D. Roosevelt who created and empowered some 70 offices and agencies under presidential control. The EPA was established by Richard Nixon in 1970.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal regulators exceeded their authority in seeking to limit emissions from coal plants in a decision that sharply curtails the executive branch’s authority to make policy actions on a range of issues without congressional direction. In a blockbuster 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped when it devised the Obama-era regulatory scheme, known as the Clean Power Plan. The plan had been challenged by West Virginia and others.

The court said that when federal agencies issue regulations with sweeping economic and political consequences—in this case, rules to address climate change—the regulations are presumptively invalid unless Congress has specifically authorized the action.

The case, which must certainly be electrifying the D.C. poohbahs, is West Virginia, et al v. EPA et al. It is a clear threat of a continuing unraveling of the administrative state. How big a deal is this? Far bigger than the earlier decision on abortion (Dobbs v. Jackson), which simply returned the power to regulate abortion to the states. This decision, however, does something arguably even more important to our democracy: it forces Congress to start taking its job seriously again.

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The case began six years ago and has continued through a series of shifts occasioned by a change in presidents, traveled upward to the Supreme Court following a number of court proceedings ,and clarified the capacity of affected parties to sue in the face of indefinite suspension of the regulation to which they object.  The issue was first joined when the Obama administration's EPA issued a plan for reducing carbon dioxide from power plants. Under this "Clean Power Plan," plants would get credits for generating more power from lower-emitting sources. A coalition made up of states and coal companies sued on the ground that the Clean Air Act, the purported authorization for these regulations, gave the EPA only authority to restrict pollution at steam-generating coal power plants, not to require power companies to adopt the government's choices of fuel.

Not so tough anymore.

The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of that rule. Then President Trump changed the rules. Under his administration EPA could only regulate emissions from individual coal-fired steam plants (the Affordable Clean Energy Rule). This shift was challenged by a different coalition made up of environmental groups. The new rules were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, leaving the area open for the Biden administration to act.

It was feared the new administration would simply resurrect the earlier Obama approach and require a shift to so-called "renewables." As you might expect, leaving such matters to administrative agencies creates a kind of legal roller coaster, the very sort of thing impossible to contend with in industries that require extensive planning and tremendous capital outlays. Such a fear prompted this case. The West Virginia-led coalition contended that the EPA was seeking to dictate “the big picture of how the nation generates its electricity.” Which was, of course, true.

Like the abortion ruling in Dobbs, this decision is a return to federalism. In Dobbs the power to regulate abortions was returned to the states. In this case the power to regulate power plant fuel is returned to Congress. Imagine congressional debates and action now, in an era when "climate change" polls poorly, and will continue to do so because the costs—the price of gas, home heating, all transported goods—continue to rise as a direct result of  the energy constraints of this fantasy. The responsibility for such nonsense and the pain consumers endure would be squarely on them.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, doesn’t have to imagine.  He knows this is a disaster for his party. With a paper-thin majority in both houses (one currently in jeopardy in the tied Senate as senator Patrick Leahy currently is sidelined with a broken hip), a predicted red wave in November, and the country already in a recession, passage of a law to  curb inexpensive energy in order to meet a posited "climate emergency" is not likely.

Pelosi and Schumer: over a barrel.

Politico reports:" Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that 'just like last week’s dangerously misguided and abhorrent decisions on gun safety and abortion, the extremist MAGA Court’s ruling today in West Virginia v. EPA will cause more needless deaths — in this instance because of more pollution that will exacerbate the climate crisis and make our air and water less clean and safe.'" It's more likely, in my opinion, that the decision will lead to fewer opportunities for graft and the deaths of some Democratic careers. As professor  Jonathan Turley tweets,  

It is a curious sight of a congressional leader denouncing a decision that prevents the circumvention of Congress. It is a virtual statement of self-loathing like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach... This is not the first time that Democrats have called for a president to usurp the authority of their own branch. It undermines the faith held by figures like Madison that ambition would combat ambition in the protection of the separation of powers.

Of course, in reality they are not complaining that they’ve been given more power. They know their side is not in a position to deliver what its green base demands. How far from reality is the Democrat saber rattling on this issue? This far according to Politico:

 Congressional Democrats whose efforts to pass legislation to fight climate change have been blocked for years — both by Republicans and, more recently, by Democrats’ own troubles unifying their razor-thin Senate majority — said their party must take action in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the party has so far failed to garner the 50 votes in the Senate needed to move climate legislation amid resistance from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and supporters see the next few weeks as the last chance to pass a measure.

It's not just the EPA which should be drawing in its belt. This is a significant reduction in the power and grasp of the administrative state. Professor Jonathan Adler notes: "This is also a warning for other federal agencies, including FERC and the SEC. It makes clear that if the federal government is going to take meaningful action to mitigate the threat of climate change (as it should) that action will have to come from Congress."

The Democrats can see the political chessboard as clearly as can I, that’s why you won’t see any debate on "climate change" legislation this year. Instead they’ll be demagoguing about packing the Supreme Court, something even their idol FDR was unable to pull off. Anything to avoid accepting public accountability, and thus scrutiny, for their actions.

California's Long Hot Summer—and Ours

To supply shortages on everything from silicon chips for cars and household appliances to food, including baby food, this summer promises an exceptionally miserable shortage—electricity in California, and other things elsewhere in the country. California energy officials warned that the state lacks sufficient capacity to meet electric demand if other extreme events—perfectly predictable ones by the way—like heatwaves, and wild fires, and drought –occur.

Days later the Wall Street Journal observed that “power-generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, a gap that could lead to rolling blackouts during heat waves and other peak periods as soon as this year.” It's easy to make fun of California for its absurdly unrealistic, aggressive "climate-change" energy policies, but these warnings are now spreading “from California to Texas to Indiana,” but I pick that state because it is the most absurd.

It’s not the variations in weather we should blame. It’s weather—we have always had variations due to La Nina, wildfires, and drought. It’s why energy producers have always built in excess capacity. It’s idiotic policies, not least of which is retiring power plants before they can be replaced by "renewables" or conventional energy. Of course, the most idiotic of all policies is the notion that depriving people of needed energy will make it possible to control the climate which in their fantasy world is heating up at an unprecedented and terrifying rate because of CO2 emissions.

I did that?

National economies are intricate webs of interrelationships in which monomaniacal planners lack the sophistication of natural supply/demand operations of millions of actors—us, the consumers. Take one small example: as the electrical-generating capacity in California increasingly fails to meet demand, California has encouraged the purchase of electrical vehicles, instead of gas or diesel-fueled vehicles, and has mandated electrical home ranges instead of gas. When predicable electricity shortages again occur this summer, millions of Californians will be unable to store food, or cook it, or drive to get some from somewhere. And they’ll be hard pressed to find water to drink, wash in, or grow food with because of similarly nonsensical water policies which are diminishing hydro electrical generation.

Reliability of supply of something as critical to health and welfare as electricity should never be dependent on intermittent sources like wind and solar. Maybe some day someone (Elon Musk, for example) will invent large batteries to store their output so it will be available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining, but we aren’t there yet, and until we are we simply cannot replace conventional electrical generating power plants with them.

As for hydro, for years now La Nina’s hot winds have reduced available hydropower, not just in California, but in surrounding states on the Western grid as well, including parts of Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming and Mexico and all of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. If that grid goes down because of shortfalls in hydro power it could take days or weeks to restart it.

Lake Oroville, Calif.

Two of the largest reservoirs which supply hydro power to the state are at such low levels it will not take much for California to go dark. The water level in Lake Mead in Nevada is so low in fact, they are recovering bodies from what once were its depths. The man-made lake provides hydro electricity via  the Hoover Dam, and that electricity goes to Nevada and Arizona on a western grid connecting to California. Last year the warnings were made clear—doubtless it’s worse now.

Of course, California could fix things but its Coastal Commission will not allow desalination plants to be built along its very long coast, which would make more water available for hydro power production, nor will it store reserve water. It just empties that water into the sea, choosing instead to drain the reservoirs and in the process weakening their possible contribution to generating power. This year two of its largest reservoirs are already noticeably depleted before the heat of summer. Lake Oroville is another hydro site that California relies heavily on and it’s already low:

This week, Shasta Lake is only at 40 percent of its total capacity, the lowest it has ever been at the start of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Meanwhile, further south, Lake Oroville is at 55 percent of its capacity, which is 70 percent of where it should be around this time on average.... Last year, Oroville took a major hit after water levels plunged to just 24 percent of total capacity, forcing a crucial California hydroelectric power plant to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967. The lake's water level sat well below boat ramps, and exposed intake pipes which usually sent water to power the dam.

California's Air Resource Board just passed a regulation banning gas-powered generators by 2028. If this survives legal challenge and becomes effective, it will be hardest on those in remote rural areas and make self-help when the grid goes down impossible. If you live in California, I strongly recommend you buy a generator now or spend the rest of your summers in the dark without food or air conditioning.

The best climate change for California would be a sharp shift in the political winds. But given the state's headlong plunge into self-destruction, that's not likely to happen any time soon.

Drinking, Drowning From the Regulatory Firehose

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a friend who works for the E.P.A. He commented on the changes in his job under the current Administration using this phrase: “we’re being asked to drink from a firehose.” Within the context of the conversation, the meaning of his message was clear. It wasn’t a complaint as much as it was a compliment. Whereas the Trump administration had chocked down hard on the plumbing of environmental regulation, the Biden administration has opened the stopcocks as fully as possible. “Drinking from a firehose,” from my friend’s point of view, was a metaphorical way of saying that my friend would never lack for something to do under the Biden administration.

I do not begrudge my friend his choice of making a living, Nor do I begrudge him a particular world-view that may – in a particular opinion – place unintended and unearned weight on propositions I believe to be at least somewhat faulty. My friend may be right in part or in whole, just as I may be. My personal obligation as a member of the human community is to constantly and objectively re-assess what I believe to be the truth and to relate the truth as I understand it to be as clearly and concisely as possible, without resorting to personal animus, unless of course resorting to animus elicits a cheap laugh or two.

Broadly-speaking, Donald Trump’s political opponents in both politics and the press defined Trumpism’s attitude toward the entrenched bureaucratic class as both assault and battery. In the case of the government’s role in environmental protection, Democrats and their mainstream media allies essentially painted Trumpism in colors that were certainly not reliable shades of green, but were decidedly smears of a soiled, brownish hue. According to them, President Trump did not really want to restore some balance to the entirely worthy propositions of environmental protection and economic equity, which is essentially how he and his supporters defined their mission in these areas. Instead, the President’s opponents insisted that he was determined to sabotage the supposedly fragile purity of the environment in order to supposedly protect sordid, favored economic interests.

Trumpism, as seen by the Left.

When dealing with this and virtually any other part of what has become known as “the swamp” of the entrenched ruling class, the ultimate message of Trumpism is to say: “bureaucrats, know thy proper place!” Biden, or more likely Biden’s handlers, have replied with an angry, more defiant message: “Bureaucrats, assume Thy Rightful Place!”

What might appear at first blush to be roughly equivalent themes are, upon closer examination, not even closely related. The attempt to limit bureaucracy  to its most advantageous mode of behavior and no farther is simply about understanding the proper role of bureaucrats in an increasingly complex world. The attempt to make bureaucracy immune from censure is about surrendering the rights of the governed to the frozen, unemotional “wisdom” of a governing class. It's about further empowering power, not about monitoring the equitable and therefore wise distribution of power.

Truly representative government thrives from – nay, demands – challenge from within. This is common ground that bitterly-opposed political theorists like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were willing to cede to the other. Each was a towering figure who influenced and continues to influence the direction of this marvelous experiment of a nation in proportions that go far beyond the number of years they were citizens of it.

Adams foresaw a nation that relied upon centralized principles and authority. He believed that federalism (as then defined) was necessary to maintain a consistence of purpose that would in turn ensure its continued success. Jefferson foresaw a nation that relied upon decentralized thought and discovery. He believed that democratic-republicanism (as then defined) was a necessary perquisite to the survival of the Republic. What we now know as America remains essentially an amalgam of these contrary, yet complimentary, points of view.

What united Adams and Jefferson – until what was literally their mutual dying day: July 4, 1826 – was the revolutionary idea that it might be possible to create a system of governance that would allow the governed to retain some degree of power over those engaged in governing.

Adams tended toward the republican ideal of representative government, which demanded a certain standard of care among those privileged to represent its citizens. Jefferson tended toward the more purely democratic ideal of representative government that demanded no more of a representative than assurance that he or she continued to breathe. In hindsight, neither Adams nor Jefferson was wholly right, nor was wholly wrong. One can reach the peak of Everest via the Southern Col or the Northeast Ridge. Each has its perils. What really matters is getting to the summit, not how you got there. Though they chose different paths, Adams and Jefferson were united in their vision of their summit of representative government.

Ah, heaven on earth...

Our goal, as both the supervisors of our republic and those who are supervised by it, ought not to be so concerned whether the vision of Adams or Jefferson prevails almost two centuries after they've passed on. We should rather concern ourselves with the proposition that the intellectual heirs of both Adams and Jefferson have abdicated their responsibilities, turning over more and more power to faceless minions accountable to no one but themselves.

President Trump showed it was possible to drain at least some of the swamp, despite the fierce response that doing so elicited among many of the fierce creatures dwelling there. Sadly, the current administration seems to determined to refill it until we drown. We can, and we must, resist these denizens of the deep.

The 'Putin Price Hike' Show Flops in D.C.

The House Committee on Energy & Commerce has held hearings on high gas prices, known as downstream prices, to which they invited upstream oil and gas industry executives to testify.  While certainly not worthy of any Broadway accolades, the theatrics were nonetheless on full display. Missing only a marquee, the hearings were even given a name: "Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump." The dramatic title and alliterations aside, the event was a bust.

Led by Chairman, Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the upstream oil executives were one by one peppered with disingenuously framed questions regarding the industry and questions steeped in innuendo intended to buttress the most recent White House narrative about high retail gas prices. Instead of the administration unwinding what has proven to be an expensive and dangerous energy policy, the White House and congressional members have doubled down on their assertion that upstream oil and gas producers are gouging consumers. But there’s a problem. It simply isn't true.

Oil and gas producers have no control over the prices for which gasoline is sold at the downstream consumer level. It’s like blaming the owner of a gold mine for the price of jewelry. It’s a fundamentally flawed assertion, and something that Pallone certainly understands because there are refineries, part of the down stream segment of the industry, currently operating in New Jersey, the state he represents. As Chevron CEO Mike Wirth noted: “We do not control the market price for crude oil or natural gas or refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel.” 

The Honorable Frank Pallone.

Had congressional representatives even a modicum of intellectual honesty, they would’ve described the energy industry, like most industries, as multi-faceted. The upstream segment, made up of exploration, drilling and production, focuses on finding and extracting oil and gas from out of the ground. The midstream segment encompasses facilities and processes--think processing, storage and transportation via pipelines, rail, tankers and trucks. Finally, the current bane of the White House's existence is the downstream segment. This includes refining, marketing, transporting, and selling refined products made from crude oil. Downstream products are used globally and include gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, and asphalt, among many other products.

The administration is attempting to conflate the activities and prices downstream with the activities of upstream companies and the executives that lead them. While related, neither segment controls the other, and all are needed in order for consumers to enjoy full access to the products and services that make up the U.S. economy.

Since Russia’s advance into Ukraine, the administration has floated a series of narratives attempting to explain away the high prices of oil and gas, including gasoline. While White House and congressional surrogates have offered tips ranging from, "buy electric vehicles" to "it’s the Putin’s price hike," they have failed to make headway with adult Americans. They tried spoon-feeding the Putin narrative to TikTok teenage influencers who, not unsurprisingly, ended up being more interested in Ukrainian-themed emojis than energy policy.

The American people, it turns out, have refused to swallow any of these explanations, fully understanding that downstream gas prices aren’t set by upstream executives, and that  prices began rising for all sectors of the economy shortly after Biden took office, not merely six weeks ago when Russians entered Ukraine. The "gouging" narrative is merely the latest effort to deflect from the costly reality the administration’s own energy policy have created for Americans.

When Biden took office, he began manipulating the supply of domestic energy through regulatory overreach, including most recently via the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). Using the dubious, "environment, social and governance" standard known as "ESG," and with assistance from investment bank Goliaths who are divesting from the industry, domestic energy production has been impeded by the Biden administration directly. Its efforts have resulted in supply scarcity driving up the cost of energy for business and consumers alike. The average national retail (downstream) price of a gallon of gas on April 9, stood at $4.12 per gallon. Because of the changes Biden has made to domestic energy policy since taking office, prices are approximately 45.32 percent higher than a year ago.

You voted for it, sister.

So where does that leave "gouging"? Enter federal and state gas taxes. The federal government charges an 18.4-cent tax on every gallon of gas Americans buy. The federal diesel fuel tax is similar, representing 14 percent of the price of every gallon of diesel purchased. A suspension of these federal taxes would represent an immediate and substantial tax cut for all Americans, helping to invigorate economic activity across the country.

So popular an idea is the federal gas tax suspension, that six democrats have even suggested that it’s time for Biden to lead the effort. Last month a bill proposing a federal gas tax suspension was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Michigan Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Dan Kildee. They were hoping the administration would realize how negatively Biden’s high fuel prices are affecting the health of the larger economy.

The gas taxes at the state level offer even more potential relief. States levy gas taxes in a variety of ways, including per-gallon excise taxes collected at the pump, excise taxes imposed on wholesalers (which are necessarily passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices), and sales taxes that apply to the purchase of gas. According to the American Petroleum Institute, as of January, 2022 California has the highest tax rate at $0.6815 per gallon, followed closely by Illinois at $0.591, Pennsylvania at $0.5870 per gallon, and Washington and New Jersey around $0.50 per gallon. Alaska, by contrast, has the lowest rate at $0.1513 per gallon.

Since entering office Joe Biden has sought to fundamentally change America through manipulation of the economic, social, and political constructs essential to a thriving economy and a free society. Key to their effort is increasing the price of oil and gas for everyone. Charades like those on display last week on Capitol Hill seek to demonize the energy industry. Americans, however, are now fully aware of the depth of deception to which this administration will go, are keen to remind it that oil and gas aren’t the only things that are expensive. Miscalculations are too.

'Green Energy'? Let's Do the Math

Rather than argue climate politics and ideology, let’s look at math, the language of the universe. Americans own approximately 270 million private gasoline vehicles (GVs) and drive 3.2 trillion miles per year, consuming 123 billion gallons of gasoline.  Why? Because we want to. Because we (still) are free to do what and go as and where we want. Democrats don’t like this. They prefer that we little people live in little boxes wedged-in with a hundred other little boxes, next to the (subsidized) light rail and the (un-air-conditioned) workplace and the (un-air-conditioned) grocery store selling bugs instead of food.

President Brandon read from his teleprompter that he wants to build 500,000 EV charging stations. By comparison, our 279 million GVs require only 115,000 “charging” (gas) stations. “Charging” a GV for the next 400 miles takes about 10 minutes. Absent fast chargers, charging an EV for the next 400 miles can take up to eight hours.  Spending less time per person charging requires having more stations – about four times more. How much CO2 will be expelled into the atmosphere to build this costly infrastructure? As with windmills, arguably more than using them will reduce.

America generates annually, using 99 percent traditional power sources (hydro, coal, oil, natural gas, uranium) about four trillion kilowatt hours (Kwh) of electricity to power our grid and run our homes, offices, stores, internet, etc. NOT in charging 270 million EVs. The additional one percent of electricity generation comes from small-scale solar. The EPA has created a metric, “MPGe,” for EVs. An EV will use 33.7 Kwh of electricity to travel as far as a GV on one gallon of gasoline. Replacing 123 billion gallons of gasoline will require four trillion Kwh, or double what the nation generates and uses today. See the problem? California can’t even keep the lights on today.

Not as easy as it looks.

Let’s add physics to math. How does the electricity we use get to a charging station, whether commercial or at our home? Electrons – electricity – travel in the vacuum of free space at the speed of light, which is the speed of electromagnetic radiation, of which light is a frequency. This speed is three million meters, or about 186,272 miles, per second. Through wire here on earth the electrons travel more slowly, but the speed of the electrical charge moving through a wire is nearly the same as in free space.

The transmission wires from a power plant to an outlet are not batteries; no charge is “held” in them to be used when turning on a light switch or plugging in an EV. The instant the switch is flipped to charge an EV and apply that load to the circuit, that electrical charge is created by releasing water at the dam, burning coal, natural gas or oil, or using the heat of fission at a nuclear plant.

What’s the point? If 270 million cars are sitting at home plugged-in overnight for their change, how much sun is shining? How much wind is blowing? None, and not much. As noted previously, the planet lacks the elements and minerals, and certainly the mining capacity, to create the amount of battery storage required to store all the energy hitting the earth daily from the sun to charge our vehicles overnight.

[A] rough conclusion is that getting all of our electricity from wind, solar and batteries would consume around 70 percent of all of the copper currently mined in the world, 337 percent of global nickel production, 3,053 percent of the world’s total cobalt production, 355 percent of the U.S.’s iron output, and 284 percent of U.S. steel production. Along with unfathomable quantities of concrete–which, by the way, off-gases CO2.

Plugging in the car, closing that circuit, requires that the electricity is created at that instant. Simply – this cannot happen with “sustainable” electricity generation and storage. It is mathematically impossible to replace America’s GVs with EVs and retain anything close to our rate of progress or standard of living. It also is culturally impossible; why do you think the elites have been attacking Western Culture?

Been around for thousands of years.

Economists talk about removing friction from the economy. Removing economic friction ostensibly is why we are going to (be forced to) go cashless, though the reality for that forcing may be entirely different. Moving to EVs will add friction to our everyday lives, to food and material consumption, to transportation, to the entire supply chain and the variety and quantities of goods and services we have come to expect and which all our jobs are designed to extract, produce, move, sell and dispose of. Removing friction aids progress; adding friction reduces progress.

Progress is the more productive use of natural and human resources, including energy. If we want to consume fewer resources, to use less energy, we need more progress...  and more electricity.

This seems to be a conundrum. Do we use less energy shopping online than going to a dozen stores around town on a Saturday? Sure. But do you know how much electricity the data centers hosting our online shopping used over a decade ago…?

In 2010, over 10 percent of electricity in the U.S. was due to computer and IT equipment usage…  assorted US data centers use a collective 7000 megawatts… ; this is more power than is used by the State of Mississippi.

We need electricity to create and maintain our standard of living, to continue to progress. “Sustainable” energy cannot replace hydro, fossil and nuclear, let alone double it. We can neither sustain our current standard of living nor advance it without more energy. This doesn’t factor-in the developing world’s need for more energy to achieve equity in living standards with the first world.

Can we generate the additional electricity we need to continue our current, and future-desired, standard of living? Of course. Can we do so and reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere (which may not be necessary at all, given that the CO2 levels have increased for years without warming)? Yes. How? Nuclear. No other generation capability can do so. Nuclear is such a good idea that even the founder of Greenpeace is all for it. It’s pretty hard to refer to him as an “anti-environmentalist.” But the left won’t allow nuclear, and our rulers don’t want us to have the freedom it provides.

Only way this works, greenies.

Friction – the Green Dream – is anti-progress. Which makes it anti-employment, anti-prosperity, anti-humanity, anti-liberty, anti-freedom, anti-natural resource and anti-future. The only people supporting adding this friction are those not understanding the ramifications, and those not having children so who do not care about the future. The former need to be educated and the latter ignored. The Green Dream is cultural and civilizational suicide. Because math.

Our elites know this. They aren’t stupid. The also aren’t replacing their motorcades with EVs, their seaside homes with inland apartments, and their steaks with bugs. Because they aren’t stupid. The Klimate Kult isn’t about the environment, the planet, the climate. It’s about control.

The Green Dream is about getting us in on the plot to destroy liberty and enable tyranny by brainwashing us to vote for our own demise. To destroy prosperity and spread poverty. To destroy the educated, productive middle class on which civilization depends.

Bernie Sanders may remark that we don’t need one thousand different kinds of deodorant that capitalism can provide and Marxism can’t, but I’m not at all sure I want a government that can’t win a war, can’t keep the homeless off the streets, can’t stop Capitol Cops from rioting against and murdering peaceful citizens, can’t stop BLM from burning down our cities and assassinating law enforcement officials, can’t stop meth and heroin junkies from shooting-up in the streets, can’t stop “teachers” from “teaching” 6-yr-olds how to masturbate, can’t stop pedophiles from attacking our children, can’t police our own border, can’t stop printing money to repair the damage from their last money-printing… telling me I can’t drive my GV to Yosemite or to a steak house.

Do you?

Biden, Big Banks Declare War on Energy Sector

After more than a month of Russian bombs destroying swathes of the Ukraine, and high-minded pronouncements from the American government officials concerning everything from missile payloads to misinformation, Americans have been awakened in an unprecedented way. Revelations about our dependence on foreign sources of energy have caused many to realize the importance of the U.S. energy sector to economic vitality and national security.

While Americans were locked down and their movements constrained by Covid-19-related policies, the Biden administration has been working in the shadows, making a slew of regulatory changes fundamentally harmful to America. Because this administration lacks the necessary majorities in Congress, it has been circumventing the legislative process by using administrative rules to create oil and gas supply scarcity that almost immediately has caused the price of everything to begin to rise.

The administration’s objective is simple—create scarcity via a series of unilateral regulatory changes at various government agencies that will predictably push the prices of oil and gas toward greater parity with alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Fully understanding that alternative energy sources fall short of meeting the current and future energy needs of the American economy, the Biden administration has persisted with its “make it hurt” strategy that necessarily ignores the impact such a strategy is having and will continue to have on the larger economy. Threatening economic security, food security and national security, this circumvention strategy is a blatant overreach by the executive branch that began when Biden took office last year.

They hate, they really hate you.

Sidestepping Congress entirely, their strategy includes using government agencies to dismantle oil and gas distribution systems, tightening regulations, and suspending leases and permits meant to impede future drilling activity. Where the administration could not sufficiently hamstring the energy sector through unilateral regulatory overreach, it sought allies to lend weight to the effort.

Enter investment bank giants like BlackRock and JP Morgan. Perhaps the most insidious element of the Biden administration’s anti-energy strategy has been its collaboration with investment banks to coerce and if necessary, force divestment in the energy sector. Like all industries, energy producers require capital in order to drill and produce oil and gas assets. By using the pseudo-sophisticated set of investments standards known as "environment, social and governance" (ESG) as the predicate, major investment banks are assisting the administration to destroy domestic energy independence by limiting available capital that would otherwise enable American energy producers to maximize oil and gas production.

The CEOs from these investment banks pronounced the death of fossil fuels in defiance of economic reality before the Biden administration even took office, with complete disregard for national security. They declared climate change an "existential threat" while boldly disregarding the actual threat their banks’ own relationships with China represent to the U.S.—and to the climate for that matter. Trying to sound socially and environmentally "woke" while being totally compromised by their own strategic decisions, these banks have helped beat back any competing views about the dangers of heedless divestment. Their self-interested efforts have unequivocally contributed to the difficult economic conditions Americans are now experiencing and the growing threat China represents to U.S. national security.

As the negative impact of the administration’s strategy has begun to be apparent to everyone, press secretary Jen Psaki has tried to lean in on the “Putin price hike” narrative, blaming Russia for the rising prices the administration’s own domestic policies have created. So desperate is the administration to convince Americans to look the other way, they have even employed never-before-used Tik Tok diplomacy to convince teenagers of their “Russia did it” narrative.

Meanwhile, serious people are beginning to understand what’s been happening since Biden took office 14 months ago. In anticipation of course correction after the mid-terms later this year, consider what the administration has done.

Last week the SEC proposed rule changes that would “standardize climate-related disclosures for investors”. The changes would require registrants to include certain climate-related disclosures in their registration statements and periodic reports, including information about climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition, among other reporting requirements. The required information about climate-related risks also would include disclosure of a registrant’s greenhouse gas emissions. With the window still open for public comment until May, corporate leaders should be concerned about the bold overreach. After all, this kind of intervention doesn’t ever stop with one industry.

President Biden abandoned U.S. energy independence immediately upon taking office. The administration then employed un-elected bureaucrats and private investment banks to decide on behalf of all Americans what is good for America, resulting in a fundamental threat to the economy and national security.

Congressional leaders must earnestly begin the work of regaining control of the legislative branch. They should begin by introducing legislation that would require Congressional ratification of all regulations annually. Regulations must be able to withstand normal congressional scrutiny and their impact considered in the light of day. Meanwhile, ESG standards must be relegated to the marketing departments of corporate America and the influence of investment banks constrained from horse-trading America’s global dominance in exchange for their own financial gain. Only then can America take back its destiny.

Alberta to Trudeau: Don't Get Cocky

Alberta premier Jason Kenney has a good response to Justin Trudeau's recently announced Don't-Call-It-a-Coalition coalition government. After predicting that the New Democratic Party will “push Trudeau to attack oil and gas even harder and faster,” Kenney offered some reassuring words to Albertans, saying "Alberta’s got its economic mojo back and, whatever they do down east, we are on the economic rebound." He continued,

“If they get cocky about this and they attack our largest industry even harder they’ll hurt from it, too. You can’t pay for socialism without a growing economy and you don’t have a Canadian economy without oil and gas,” says Kenney. “If they want to pay for socialism, they’ve got to find the money somewhere and that somewhere is Alberta, that somewhere is the oil and gas industry. “If they kill the goose that lays the golden egg in Canada’s economy, they can’t pay for all their socialist schemes. “They need Alberta more than we need them.”

He's not wrong. The resource sector makes up a significant percentage of GDP, up to 10 percent by some measures. The agreement between the Liberals and the NDP includes some serious and expensive deliverables, such as a taxpayer-funded dental care plan that is projected to cost more than $4.3 billion in its first year alone. Their anti-oil and gas rhetoric notwithstanding, Trudeau and Singh are going to have to accept at some point that they can only take so many bites from the hand that feeds them before it strikes back.

Securities and Exchange Commission Tackles 'Climate Change'

On March 21, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), by a 3-1 majority (the lone Republican Hester Pierce voting against the proposal), drafted rules that will further burden all American energy production and thus hamper economic growth. The proposal would require listed companies to disclose to investors how their future value might be impacted by climate impacts or reduced demand for fossil fuels. Specifically, they must disclose:

  1. The "carbon footprint" of its operations.
  2. How much energy the company uses.
  3. If the company is a large one, the emissions from its supply chain and customers.

Of course, for fossil fuel companies customers account for the majority of the emissions it must disclose. The whole point of a SEC-mandated disclosure is to give investors relevant information about the company in order to make wiser investment choices. Not specified in this category is how much of these emissions are “material” to its investors, which you can be certain will be a topic of substantial litigation.

The draft rules provide a backdoor for climate activists “to use a ‘layer of bureaucracy to enact their radical agenda that failed to get approved by Congress.”  The rules would increase job opportunities and benefits for anti-corporate, anti-energy non-governmental agencies, a plethora of “climate certification consultants," accountants, auditing firms, and lawyers. The remoras attached to the bureaucracy—parasites who constitute no small part of the present administration’s remaining backers—are the winners if this goes into affect.

Your tax dollars at work.

The proposal is not self-enforcing. There’s, of course, an opportunity for comment and the proposed rule will not be finalized until sometime this summer. Likely objections include that it exceeds the SEC’s legal mission; and that it requires companies to disclose information that's immaterial to investors and therefore violates the Supreme Court’s rulings that the SEC cannot require disclosures that are not material to investors.

Certainly, the objections will also include a claim of impossibility—that is, without an agreed method for calculating the emissions from its supply chain and customers, compliance would be costly and subject the companies to litigation from claimants arguing the disclosure was inaccurate. The requirement that businesses must disclose even those "greenhouse gas" emissions that are produced indirectly by their operations illustrates how burdensome and preposterous this is—how to document company transportation, the vehicles used to transport what they produce and even employee business travel?

In the face of galloping inflation and rapidly rising energy costs, this proposal should be a non-starter in a rational world. It’s flatly ridiculous. Add to the mix of considerations, the fact that the suicidal energy policies of the Europeans and the Biden administration have impoverished their citizens, created supply shortages of everything including medicines and food, and increased the political power of Russia, and you are hard-pressed to justify this intrusive, costly bureaucratic overreach.

Unless of course, you are an environmental activist whose litigation teams are hell bent on slaying the sky dragon presently known as  “climate change," or a  partner in an auditing firm that that will be in high demand to fact-check these disclosures lest companies run afoul of fraud laws. When companies prepare disclosures to comply with SEC regulations, third parties must be engaged to check it, and the Big Four accounting firms may not be in the best position to audit these climate audits, so voila! A new industry—climate consultants—will be in the money.

Oh, and don’t forget, financial institutions at the trough. Already, Stripe, which is the foundation for most online payment processing, has established a climate research team. It already allows businesses to redirect some revenues to carbon removal technologies. Will it and/or other financial institutions, use the disclosures to deny financial assistance to businesses? Guess.

Once the comment period closes and the SEC issues final regulations, there will be an opportunity for parties with an interest to litigate these rules. I am certain there will be many challenges.

Practical Solutions to Pretend Problems

Let us assume, for the space of at least one column, that your not-so-humble correspondent agrees with the proposition that mankind’s increasing use of fossil fuels has released an unhealthy amount of heat trapping compounds into the atmosphere – primarily in the form of carbon dioxide.

People from Al Gore to Leonardo DiCaprio to Greta Thunberg cry that we are in the midst of a “climate crisis.” A few years ago AOC declared that we had only twelve years left to fix the “crisis” or else mankind was doomed. Just about every Democrat, and a disturbing number of Republicans, accept this point of view.

I don’t agree that we are in the midst of a “climate crisis,” along with millions of fellow scientists and a great many non-scientists. But let’s assume – for the sake of argument – that we’re all wrong. Let’s put aside our personal risk assessment and say that the “climate crisis” is real, that the world is in grave danger and that if we don’t do something to reduce carbon dioxide emissions substantially and immediately, there will be hell to pay. How would we react?

Apocalypse soon. Maybe. Some day.

If this is truly a “crisis”, shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to solve it? If a fire breaks out in your home, you do everything you can to put it out as quickly as possible. You grab a fire extinguisher. You turn on a garden hose. You use a rug to smother the flames. Etc.

You don’t do nothing. Sure, you can call the fire department, but if there are actual things you can do to mitigate the damage before firefighters arrive, without putting your life in danger, you do them. Using the fire extinguisher, or garden hose, or rug might result in some property damage that you will have to clean up later, but so what? Better cleaning up a mess than rebuilding your home once it’s a charred pile of rubble.

Were the climate crisis as bad as Al, Leo, Greta et al. assure us it is, wouldn’t you think they would do anything and everything to combat it? There a lot of actions individuals can take and a lot of programs that politicians can advocate that could have and still can make massive reductions in fossil fuel use. They are easy and unlike most actions that "climate change" alarmists demand of us, they are not costly to average citizens.

You rarely, if ever, hear about these alternatives in the Mainstream Media or among politicians who buy into the “climate crisis” narrative. The universal message on the Left (and all messages on the Left these days are universal – dissenters will be cancelled) is that all energy generation moving forward must be “renewable” and thus “sustainable." Practical and achievable are not features at issue.

Their formula involves a mix of wind power, which is unreliable; solar power, which is spectacularly unreliable outside of a very limited number of locations; and large-scale battery-storage, which has moved from the realm of “insanely impractical and expensive” to “crazily unreasonable and costly” after decades of research.

Not there when you need it.

Maybe there are other things we could do that could meaningfully reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Maybe some of those things are a lot less expensive than the windmill-solar -battery approach? Maybe they’re even practical? Let’s consider a couple of practical actions that alarmists could have and still can advocate if they truly believe that the “climate crisis” is real.

Like most of my fellow boomers, I grew up without air conditioning. Yes, those 100 + degree days in July and August sucked, but we got through them. People can deal with heat. If every member of the Sierra Club, every liberal celebrity and every Democrat pledged never to use air conditioning again, the savings in energy and the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States would be huge. So, why aren’t they taking this hit to save the planet?

In general, most fossil fuel generated power is produced using one of two thermodynamic “cycles”: the Rankine Cycle, which uses the heat generated by combustion of a fossil fuel to turn water into steam, which then spins a turbine to generate power, and the Brayton Cycle, which uses the expansion of gas to directly spin a turbine to generate power.

A boiler uses the Rankine Cycle. Burning a fuel such as coal or natural gas creates heat. That heat is transferred to pipes through which flows liquid water. The liquid water is vaporized to steam, under pressure. The steam then carries enough energy to spin a turbine that produces power.

Gas turbines, like jet engines, use the Brayton Cycle. Burning a fuel such as natural gas or kerosene makes the fuel expand in volume significantly. This expansion produces enough energy to directly spin a turbine that generates energy.

Kids today...

Both the Rankine Cycle and the Brayton Cycle are about 30 -35 percent efficient. That is, for every 100 units of energy you put into the system, you get about 1/3 the energy back in the form of useful power. But, that math changes when you combine the two cycles. There are plants in the U.S. that burn natural gas to generate power through the Brayton Cycle, and then use the heat of the expanded gases to spin a turbine generator. This heat is used to generate steam from liquid water, which spins another turbine, effectively taking advantage of the Rankine Cycle.

A plant that uses a the Brayton Cycle to spin a turbine directly and the Rankine Cycle to spin a steam turbine is called a “combined-cycle plant.” This type of plant is about twice as efficient as any other type of fossil-fueled power plant. An administration that seriously wanted to reduce domestic fossil fuel use would have subsidized and advanced reliable combined-cycle power plants rather than shoving unreliable, expensive, “sustainable” forms of power generation like wind and solar down our throats.

But, we know that the “Climate Crisis” charlatans are not even close to serious about their messaging. If they were, they would have introduced the two simple concepts above into the discussion. If they were, they would have also talked about the roles of Red China and nuclear power in any energy discussion—ideas we’ll discuss in a future column.