On Keystone, Trudeau Folds While Kenney Fights

In the wake of President Joe Biden's executive order killing the Keystone XL pipeline extension, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau issue a statement saying that he was "disappointed but acknowledge[s] the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” Which is to say, he folded.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, meanwhile, is going on offense, and he's trying to provoke the Prime Minister into following his lead. Kenney has been making the rounds on American television, pointing out that the U.S. and Canada have "the biggest bi-lateral trade relationship in world history," and that "the biggest part of that trade is Canadian energy exports." He continues,

We ship about, nearly $100 billion worth of energy to the U.S. every year. Keystone XL would have been a significant safe, modern increase in that shipment. It is very frustrating that one of the first acts of the new President was, I think, to disrespect America’s closest friend and ally, Canada. And to kill good-paying union jobs on both sides of the border and ultimately to make the United States more dependent on foreign oil imports from OPEC dictatorships. We don't understand it.

Kenney's been hammering away at the official account of this cancelation so that the shapers of Canadian opinion like the CBC can't just settle on a win some/lost some narrative, and then go back to cheering on Biden for not being Trump. For instance, here's Kenney at a press conference after Biden's E. O. was signed:

Let's be clear about what happened today: The leader of our closest ally retroactively vetoed approval for a pipeline that already exists, and which is co-owned by a Canadian government [the province of Alberta], directly attacking by far the largest part of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, which is our energy industry and exports. The portion of the Keystone XL pipeline that crosses the Canada-U.S. border between Montana and Saskatchewan was installed last summer. It was built following a decade of rigorous environmental analysis and approval.... This decision was made without even giving Canada the opportunity respectfully to make the case for how Keystone XL would strengthen U.S. nation and energy security, how it would bolster both economies, and how our two countries could find a path together on climate and environmental policy.... That's not how you treat a friend and an ally.

Most pointedly, he's called out Trudeau's handling of the whole affair, and couching it not in the language of lazy partisanship we're so familiar with, but in the language of patriotism and duty. He's challenged the PM to do his job and fight for Canada. For an example. this letter Kenney wrote to Trudeau:

By retroactively revoking the permit for this project without taking the time to discuss it with their longest standing ally, the United States is setting a deeply disturbing precedent for any future projects and collaboration between our two nations. The fact that it was a campaign promise makes it no less offensive. Our country has never surrendered our vital economic interests because a foreign government campaigned against them....

We must find a path to a reconsideration of Keystone XL within the context of a broader North American energy and climate agreement.... Should that not happen, the federal government must do more than express disappointment with the decision.... I strongly urge you to ensure that there are proportionate economic consequences in response to these unfair U.S. actions.

Kenney's appeals to Trudeau's patriotism are admirable, but unlikely to hit home. Justin is, ultimately, a post-national man, and so loath to come to blows with the new, respectable Leader of the Free world. He would, no doubt, prefer the economic boost of the pipeline as a boon to his own reputation but not having to make a tough decision which could alienate either Canadian voters or the environmentalist left might be good enough for him. It's certainly in character.

A Wake-Up Call for Canada's Energy Sector

At the outset of the pandemic I was inclined to think that the tough economic realities of our post-prosperity world would diminish the environmentalist movement, as people increasingly recognized the importance of pro-work policies over and above green utopianism. Well, that hasn't happened, in part because the economic disaster hasn't been as catastrophic as it initially seemed it might be, and in part because massive increases in debt financed government spending -- most particularly on unemployment benefit top-ups and direct-to-taxpayer stimulus checks -- have obscured the rough shape the economy is actually in.

Consequently, environmentalist fantasies have continued unabated, with their most recent victory being Joe Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project via executive order on day one of his presidency, a move which has already eliminated one thousand Canadian jobs and will shortly do the same to tens of thousands stateside. I've spent this past week hammering both Biden's decision and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's supine indolence in standing against it on behalf of Canadian workers.

Along those same lines, Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, has written a sobering blogpost which really is Must Read. McTeague, a longtime Canadian M. P. (he was elected as a Liberal, but don't hold that against him), knows more than anyone about Canada's resource industry and the effects burdensome regulations on it has on regular people.

After pointing out that Keystone XL was "one of the most sophisticated, innovative, job-creating, economy-stimulating, aboriginal-engaging, infrastructure projects in North America," McTeague rakes the Trudeau government over the coals for its totally inadequate management of the issue:

The response from Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, to Biden’s decision was appalling. Minister Wilkinson said that he wasn’t going to dwell on this particular decision about a pipeline, but instead would focus on the new climate ally we have. Incredibly, he took the view that the new U.S. administration “offered a welcome dose of climate optimism.”

Climate optimism? Think about this, fellow Canadians. Climate optimism for Jonathan Wilkinson means having someone in charge of the biggest economy in the world ranting about a “climate crisis” just like Justin Trudeau does, while ignoring the real crisis. And what is the real crisis? It is the disaster of ideologically-driven environmental policy that raises the cost of living and kills jobs.

He goes on to warn Canada's oil and gas companies that they had better wake up.

Your customers are watching you trip over yourselves to show your green credentials and as you boast about your commitment to meet globally-imposed emission reduction targets such as the Paris Accord’s 30% reductions by 2030 target, or Canada’s “net-zero emissions by 2050” commitment.

Instead, those companies have to accept the fact that "the Trudeau government and their friends simply do not want your sector to exist," adding "Stop pretending that you do not know this!"

So, assuming that Canada's oil and gas industry takes McTeague's advice, what should they do in practice? He has several concrete proposals, including doing a better job of promoting the good work they do, both with the public and with politicians; and refusing to adopt the environmentalist language of the left, which has the effect of conceding their points (which are wrong).

Most important, he advises them to stand up for their customers, and "be a voice for their interests instead of the interests of environmental activists, their government friends, and the investment community sharks who feast off the green largesse of the taxpayer."

This should be a wake up call to all Canadians, McTeague says, demonstrating as it does "that Canada doesn’t matter to the U.S., and Justin Trudeau and his minions like Jonathan Wilkinson aren’t capable of changing that current reality." Canadians should respond accordingly.

Trudeau's Pipeline 'Weak Sauce'

Well, it looks like the Trudeau Government is throwing in the towel on the Keystone pipeline. On Wednesday evening the Prime Minister released a statement saying “We are disappointed but acknowledge the President’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” Ben Woodfinden is exactly right:

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Trudeau's initial approach was to argue that Biden's anti-climate change instincts were admirable but misguided, since the project had addressed the issues which most troubled environmentalists at the outset. It seemed as though Trudeau was attempting to employ his own green bona fides to give Biden cover to back down on Keystone, but to no avail. So, as in the case of Pfizer's failing to deliver Canada's contracted vaccine doses, Justin has decided to just put up his well-manicured hands and say, in essence, 'We're a small country, what can I do?'

Never mind that Canada's unemployment and labor participation rates are down, and the jobs Keystone XL generates for the resource sector are desperately needed.

Source: Statistics Canada

Trudeau would do well to remember the old saying, '[W]hen America sneezes, Canada gets a cold.' Both countries have weathered the lockdowns better than one would have thought back in March. That's why they are still going on (even if some of their most ardent apologists have started to back away from them).

But they've only done so well by taking on enormous amounts of new debt, the bill for which will begin to come due sooner than anyone thinks. This will no doubt cause serious problems for the U. S., but America's sheer size and its extremely diverse economy will provide a cushion that the smaller and resource-dependent Canada just won't have.

So what should Trudeau do? Well, some of the aggressiveness he showed when America's last president put a ten percent tariff on Canadian aluminum (part of a push which led Trump to drop the duty a month later) would be welcome. Of course, Trump was not a CBC-approved American the way Joe Biden is, and consequently Trudeau would have to expend real political capital -- perhaps more than he has -- to similarly fight for his nation's interests.

A more realistic hope might be for his making a sustained case for Keystone XL as beneficial for both of our countries at a time of real economic distress. The Heartland Institute's Steven Milloy has a good brief against Biden's Keystone cancellation which lays out many of the points that Trudeau could make. After establishing that the environmental effects of Keystone XL would be negligible, Milloy explains that,

According to the U. S . Chamber of Commerce, the Keystone XL will:

Consequently, for Milloy, "the revocation of the Keystone XL permit will be the exaltation of imaginary global climate benefits over real ones to U. S. workers and communities." Needless to say, the same could be said on the Canadian side.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Trudeau has officially folded. TC Energy -- which owns the pipeline -- have already announced a halt on construction and thousands of layoffs. More's the pity.

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.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Shooting Stars

I love when life just works out as it should. I’m meeting Daddy in Copenhagen where he’s chairing a big (and important) meeting on best practices for oil exploration and extraction in the region.  It seems Denmark's issued a moratorium on new permits for fracking but is still honoring the ones they’ve already issued, and which I assume includes his company. 

This trip should be so much fun, it reminds me of when I was a little girl—Judith and I would tag along and I’d go to the lobby and drink cocoa on my own.  Mummy never joins these days, but the reason I got to join is Daddy’s aide is afraid to travel under “the dreaded Covid”. 

We (of course) had to arrive three days in advance and receive special dispensation which we were able to do as he’s conducting necessary business. And of course we flew private… Daddy from London City Centre and I caught a ride with my friend Anna, whom I know from dressage, when she represented the Danish national team and I from Britain of course.

All this and Covid-19 tests too!

Along with Anna… I got a CV test three days prior to leaving Lyford in the Bahamas, and one on the day we left, and just for fun (not!) we did them again on the plane as a courtesy to her purser or something, and then filled out forms upon forms. I felt as though I’d already completed a project when I arrived… prepared to impress even the sternest immigration official only to find no one had the least interest.

We simply stepped off the plane, cars pulled up, and in minutes... each of us going in different directions. Gosh. Anna was craving something called a shooting star sandwich—something “divine” she said, with fish and shrimp and caviar— kissed me on the cheek,  and away she went. I was the last to find my driver who held a sign “Mrs. Kennedy”. Somewhat flustered I answered, “Yes.” Did he think my father was in possession of a rather young new wife? Apparently. 

In a few minutes I arrived at the Hotel D’Angleterre, not because we're English but because it’s the place where Daddy's conference is, and well… where else would one stay in Copenhagen? I mean, for Copenhagen it’s basically Annabels and The Connaught and The Ledbury all in one. I found Daddy in the bar and not up in his room under quarantine at all. 

The testing did release us from quarantine, as did the special dispensation but that didn’t stop the hotel from reading us guidelines which apparently state… if we were to quarantine we were expected to stay within the hotel -- meaning in the heart of all the action.  I couldn’t believe I’d had my nose probed three times for nothing.  Daddy suggested I not look so shocked and order some lunch. 

Oui, oui, messieurs.

I overheard a conversation in French. Clearly they recognized my father and clearly didn’t imagine I could understand them. I motioned with my eyes and said,

“That table over there is talking about you.”

“Just when we think we can underestimate the French” he replied.

“I’m serious.” I insisted, “they seem to oppose all future drilling in Denmark.” 

“Ah well, they are in the majority. So very un-French of them.” Typical Daddy. 

“Should I try to listen?” I continued. 

“I don’t think so. We’ve already concluded they are French.” he said.

I started into my yellow lentil soup and asked if he was familiar with a shooting star sandwich. 

“Delicious, but a damned waste of good caviar” was all he had to say. 

I looked through his papers for the schedule, and so that I could figure out when to meet Anna.  “I have to ask…” I said. "Denmark seems to be on track to being free from using fossil fuels by 2050 and hopes to make Copenhagen a carbon-neutral city…why promote exploration here?” 

 “Well I hope I’m not in the business of promotion as you put it, but there is drilling and fracking and not everyone wishes to put all of their eggs in one basket. Even if the DEA does.” 

“Meaning?”

“Meaning…there is still money to be made, contracts to be honoured, and it’s a fantasy to believe they can eliminate fossil fuel consumption in such a short time. AND…you are meant to be here to help me!” 

Yes, of course, Daddy” I said, “I just want to understand if you are working against my beloved planet and if so…how much—it’s just for me to know.”

“Yes of course.” he said. "And how was your trip to the modest Cay in the Bahamas anyway?”

“Air-conditioned” I said knowing I’d been beaten and changed the subject. “So…on some future day… if I take my vitamins and live long enough… what must we overcome to achieve a carbon-neutral Copenhagen in my lifetime?”

“Well, for starters, offshore wind is lagging well behind the oil and gas industry in safety. They had several hundred high-potential incidents—only luck prevented a fatality and risks are growing as this ‘independence’ madness pushes the boundaries.”

“I see. That can’t be good. And what if they run out of wind?”

“NO. The danger is that too high winds can cause turbines to topple, and of course, hurricanes and cable failures are always a problem, but it’s really the fossil independence MADNESS, creating the danger, pushing them to go deeper into the ocean, cut corners, cut costs…” 

“And birds?” I asked.

“Twenty-two million a year. I just didn’t want to mention it since our eavesdropping friends are having… LE POULET!” Daddy did a quick turn of his head and it broke their gaze. So busted. “…but the independence we should be talking about is Greenland. They want independence from Denmark, Lord knows why, but it seems to be a trait of the Inuit wherever they go. When we find the sweet spot in Greenland, and find it we will...there are going to be some very independent Inuit for the first time in history. It's just a matter of how much resource we put into Greenland and how soon. It's easy to make them wait when other areas of the world are currently more profitable."

It's all for the Inuits.

“Aha!” I said, “So partially we are here for Greenland?” 

“Perhaps,” he said, smirking. 

“But, wait -- how much of Greenland is Inuit?” 

“Most.”

“And are these the same Inuit as in Canada?” 

“The very same.”

“So as I understand, the offshore industry has only thrived due to people like me… who want a green planet, not because renewables are more economically viable.”

“That is correct," he said.

“So if an initiative is sufficient grounds to pursue a form of energy...why couldn’t a different initiative...a humanitarian initiative, launched to help the Inuit thrive—be a reason to conduct even more drilling in Greenland?” 

“Well…that’s an excellent question,” he said after some consideration. "And one I’ll ask you not to bring up at my conference, but you may well have earned your lunch my dear.” 

Ha! Bravo me. But since I'm ahead, probably best not to tell him I'm on my way to the Great Reset later this month in Davos...

God Save the Queen

The Environmentalists' Train Wreck

Just days before Christmas, as parcels were being prepared and stockings stuffed, ten rail cars carrying crude oil from North Dakota, destined for a nearby Phillips 66 refinery, derailed along a section of BNSF track. The incident occurred just south of the Canadian border and was considered a low-speed derailment. While a plume of smoke billowed from some of the derailed tanker cars after they ignited, there were ultimately no injuries. The derailment caused some oil to spill and necessitated the evacuation of local residents closest to the incident.

Seattle media reported the incident with finger-wagging smugness directed toward the oil and gas industry although the event remains under investigation. Even U.S Representative, Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) chimed in with a statement, presumably because the incident occurred in his district.

I am concerned about the oil train derailment in Custer, WA. I worked closely with the Obama administration to create strong rules to make the transport of oil by rail safer. Clearly there may be more work to do.

However, insight from recent incidents in Washington State should have tipped off the media and congressman Larson that this event was no more about a failure of rail safety than a jet crash is about the failure of the tray table to stay in an upright position. 

Or a dangerous idiot.

Only a month earlier two women were arrested not far from the same section of track where these ten cars derailed. In that case two young terror suspects, both of whom appeared in Federal Court in Seattle in mid-December, were charged with Terrorist Attacks and Other Violence Against Railroad Carriers.

Two people arrested on the BNSF Railway tracks near Bellingham, Whatcom County, were charged with terrorist attack and other violence against a railroad carrier, and appeared in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  SAMANTHA FRANCES BROOKS, 27, and ELLEN BRENNAN REICHE, 23, both of Bellingham, Washington, were arrested Saturday night in Bellingham as they allegedly placed a ‘shunt’ on the tracks.  A shunt disrupts the low level electrical current on the tracks and can disable various safety features. 

“Since January there have been 41 incidents of shunts placed on the BNSF tracks in Whatcom and Skagit counties—causing crossing guards to malfunction, interfering with automatic braking systems, and, in one case, causing the near-derailment of tanks of hazardous chemicals,” said U.S. Attorney Moran.  “These crimes endanger our community.  I commend the agents from Customs and Border Protection, FBI, BNSF Police, and state and local partners who prioritized stopping this criminal conduct.”

The defendants, two pale-faced, pacific northwest locals, are accused of laying a wire “shunt” on the track. A tool beloved of environmental terrorists, shunts consist of a wire and magnets strung across a railroad track, mimicking the electrical signal of a train. The devices are intended to force trains to automatically brake, causing the train to derail or to otherwise disable railroad crossing guards and various other safety features along a track.

This is done by disrupting the low-level electrical current on the tracks. A camera captured Reiche and Brooks bent down along the track where the shunt was found. They were also carrying a brown paper bag containing rubber gloves, a piece of black insulated copper wire, and a Makita drill.  

Of particular note regarding the case of these environmental terrorists is that their efforts represent only one of 41 similar incidents of shunts having been placed on rail tracks in that part of Washington during 2020, nearly one per week throughout 2020.

Imagine for a moment that instead of having used shunts to damage property and to threaten human life, they had attempted to detonate a suicide vest, or had attempted to fly planes into buildings, or had attempted to blow up a parked truck in a downtown city street. Shunts on rail tracks are intended to have an equally tragic outcome for passenger trains and commercial trains alike. Shunts are non-discriminating after all.

That no one has yet been killed or injured, or that homes have not yet been destroyed by these terrorist tactics is nothing short of luck. Failed attacks make the attempts no less serious. But for the attention and acumen of BNSF workers who monitor the tracks, and the speed with which of law enforcement responded to the call when requested, the outcome could have been tragically different.

No emissions or pipelines here.

According to U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, in another shunting incident in October this year shunts were placed in three locations on tracks in northwest Washington. This prompted emergency brakes to engage on a train hauling flammable gas and hazardous chemicals. The braking caused a bar to fail that connects the train cars. As a result, the cars became separated. The decoupling had the potential to cause the derailment in a residential neighborhood.

Of these 41 incidents, there were at least ten different occasions where shunts were placed on the track near enough to a roadway to potentially cause crossing-signal and crossing-arm malfunctions, including failure to block traffic when a train was oncoming. On at least two occasions, individual shunts have interfered with multiple roadway/railway signals.

The narrative of these environmental zealots is that pipelines are an infringement on land rights; land that they assert belongs to North American Indian ,tribes. According to their narrative, by destroying pipelines, or in this case, transportation infrastructure, all will be right in the world of first nations' politics. These non-first nation terrorists are apparently even willing to kill innocents to make that point. 

According to investigators, shortly after the first shunts were discovered in January, 2020, a claim of responsibility was published on an anarchist website called It's GoingDown.org. The claim read, “the shunting activity was carried out in solidarity with Native American tribes in Canada seeking to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline across British Columbia, and with the express goal of disrupting BNSF operations and supplies for the pipeline.”

While many Americans look west and roll their eyes about the extremism of the environmental zealots in states like Washington, caution is advised. The cancer has already metastasized. Just a day after Christmas, while Canadians were celebrating Boxing Day, three Black Hills Energy gas line sites were vandalized in Colorado; two in Pitkins County and one in Aspen. The FBI has joined local police in the criminal investigation of what they are referring to as an apparent "coordinated attack."

It is clear that these gas line attacks in Colorado, like the shunt attacks on the rail lines in Washington, are part of a larger, anti-energy campaign designed to dismantle and destroy energy infrastructure and to harm life and property in the process. The last time there were terrorists intent on harming our way of life, they flew two planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11. In the face of that reality, the country must be ready to confront the threat directly, root out the financiers of the activity and punish those who choose to participate.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Celebrating

Happy New Year from Lyford Cay! I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here—away from border closures and shuttered shops. We are proving that there is life during Covid. Common sense would tell us that commercial flights and large resorts are a recipe for shutdown. Here… we wisely have none of that.

After big fireworks last night we ended up dancing on the beach, but it was mostly the guests of residents who don’t know the way of things here and stayed out late. That’s the thing with the non-residents… even if they weren’t frightfully easy to spot, one can always sense them nervously tugging at their pockets for vibrating cell phones that are a big no-no in this club and so many others that they obviously haven’t frequented.

The residents are of course mostly all lovely people, who’ve made their mark and can now focus on the things that matter. Speaking of just that sort, I had so wanted to talk to philanthropist Louis Bacon about all things environment. We’ve a strong contact in that one of my clients -- well, my former client -- is a big to-do in the Audubon Society. And Louis has received the actual Audubon Medal.

There's life after Covid.

I haven’t had the chance to talk to him owing to the fact that my hosts are on the Nygard side -- that’s Peter Nygard, who shares a property border with Mr Bacon and for whom a once-peaceful adjacency eventually led to duelling feuds and some sort of federal racketeering suit in Manhattan. I had hoped to at least bump into his wife but she’s a second wife and… well you know how those things go.

I've heard whispers that he's not really as committed to the environment as he seems to be,  and he did sue Wikimedia for publishing some bits he considered libelous, and there was even some suggestion of foul play when his estate manager was found floating naked in a hot tub, but I refuse to believe that someone who gives millions of dollars and thousands of acres for easements and wildlife could be in it for the wrong reasons.

I have to assume such a beef was bound to happen as their houses (the Bacons and the Nygards) are on the beachfront where the homes get quite close to each other, and in that area, one man’s dining room is only 200 feet from the other’s revolving acrylic discotheque.

As for Mr Nygard, my hosts maintain there is mostly nothing to the FBI raid and arrest at his fashion empire on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering. Here in Lyford he’s mostly disliked for his efforts to dredge the sea floor around his estate that eventually caused his cay to be seized by the Bahamian government. And then something caused a puddle that caused a feud between neighbours and here we are. As I’ve heard daddy say, one man’s cocktail party is another man’s sleepless night. Whatever the ruckus—he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Happy New Year to you too, Ma'am.

Which got me to thinking… I should just go and chat up Her Majesty’s newly remarried (and newly gay) cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten. He and daddy are quite chummy, and I met him with his daughter Ella at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Surely he’ll make the introductions—landowners tend to be big environmentalists.

This year, rather than silly resolutions I’ll be making significant intentions that support, empower, and manifest a joy-filled existence. I think it’s so important.

I made my way down to the New Year’s brunch in the pink tented dining pavilion. I was seated with some Austrians and I got excited that they might know Mr Bacon. Yes I know he’s an American but he obtained Austrian citizenship due to a special treatment for celebrities who have provided notable achievements for Austria. No one seems to know what the notable achievement was, but I hoped they were his guests. Sadly they were not, and didn’t know the least thing about him despite his celeb-status. 

Once they heard I lived in Los Angeles they wanted to talk election stuffs and rant about Trump. I wasn’t sure what he’d done to them specifically but they seemed in favour of the Paris Climate Agreement. Well, so am I! Very much so, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think anyone could slip it past the Americans and hope they wouldn’t realise they had to comply more and pay more than anyone else.

I was quiet for a bit. Where were the Austrians who stood on principle so very many times? Not to mention they were the first to say there was “no path back” when one of their stupid teens ran off to be a brood mare for ISIS. This was a puzzlement. And so I began:

“Is it Americans you dislike? Or do you simply share an all-consuming love of our planet?” I asked in the queen’s English. What followed was such nonsense I wondered how they could claim to stand for anything. I changed the subject so deftly I’d have made even Judith (mummy) proud. I just don’t get the blanket hatred for America thing… all things considered-they really are good caretakers of our earth.

Top this, Europe.

I asked them where they stood on Austria’s drastic move away from coal? They had no informed opinion. On their very own MAGA (Make Austria Great Again) rockstar Sebastian Kurz? Didn’t know. Nygard vs Bacon? (OK that was totally unfair but these two were getting on my nerves). But they somehow knew they were right to hate America for pulling out of the Agreement and didn’t have to be the informed sort of haters.

I lied about how much I’d enjoyed talking to them and excused myself. These two were such boors and were hardly going to help me manifest my higher purpose to save the planet. And no sooner had I focused on my destiny than I found a handsome hedge fund billionaire to chat up. Happy New Year Everyone!

Meditating Upon the Black Stuff

Call me a cockeyed optimist. I’m not convinced that the end is nigh. True a giant asteroid might come hurtling our way. However, I still regard dire warnings of the imminent end of times as the stuff of outlandish cults. Or, more entertainingly, humourists.

I might be missing something. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Prince Charles, and too many other notables to mention, think differently. They’re sure we are on our last legs; with only, what is it now, something like nine or ten years left to save the planet? Don’t hold me to this number. I get confused when threatened with extinction.

If those who do think the end is nigh were asked, I feel confident they would nominate coal as the biggest culprit. It spews out CO2 like nobody’s business. According to the U.S. Energy Department, per unit of energy produced, coal emits around twice as much CO2 as does natural gas. And, to boot, it has been the predominate source of power for industry and households for a very considerable time.

According to the Resources and Energy Quarterly published by the Australian government, thermal coal still accounted for 45 percent of global electricity production in 2018. Hence, coal is still doing its darndest to queer the planet and, shiver in trepidation, there’s 133 years of proven reserves of the black stuff still to dig up. But it’s not all bad.

To coal or not to coal? That is the question.

It’s good for Australia. Thermal coal is the fifth biggest exporter earner behind (in order) iron ore, metallurgical coal (there’s that coal again), natural gas and gold. The prime minister is torn. Electorates in coal country in Queensland gave him victory in May 2019. Careless of dire predictions of doom, they selfishly voted their wallets ahead of the planet. Yet, from royal progeny to billionaires to zealots to inner-city elites to banks to boardrooms to the media, the anti-coal clamour is deafening. Politicians wilt.

In 2017, to the chagrin of the great and good, Scott Morrison -- before he became prime minister -- theatrically brought a lump of coal into parliament to make a powerful case for coal. And now, only a few short years later, is contemplating zero net emissions “as quickly as possible.” Trying to mix coal and zero emissions is a species of double-think. He’s a politician, he won’t notice.

Coal is enigmatic. Cheap energy to some, demonic to others; and with a future which is hard to pin down. Here is a trick question. How many coal-power plants are under construction? Answer: it depends upon which newspapers or fact-check websites you read or TV channels you watch. Greens and their allies want to convince everyone that coal is uneconomic, and on the way out. Coal lobbies present a bullish outlook for coal. Different interests, different schticks, different facts.

That said, whatever source of information takes your fancy, a large number of new coal-power plants are on the way. This is simply because coal provides cheap and reliable power and the Chinese and Indians, e.g., aren’t stupid. No need to guess who is.

The Chinese know how to make electricity.

When I say new coal-power plants are on the way; not so much in Australia, where they are on the way out. An irony you might think in a country with rich coal reserves, which for so long underpinned the competitive advantage of Australian manufacturing. Not so to those who believe Australia has to do its bit by closing down all of its installed coal-power of around 23 GW capacity in order, wait for it, to offset the up to 250 GW or so (depending on what you read) of new capacity China is intent on building. Do the sum.

Here is something else: on December 2, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) claimed that coal dust blowing from coal-loading ports 100 to 1,000 kilometres away threatened, the perpetually threatened, Great Barrier Reef. Peter Ridd, cancelled by James Cook University In Queensland for daring to suggest that the Reef was not under threat, described the claim as “ridiculous.” Ridiculous? How about “crackpot.”

On much surer footing than the tendentious apparatchiks at the IUCN, Michael Shellenberger (Apocalypse Never) goes into bat for coal. Coal, he says, with twice the energy of timber, saved the forests, while fuelling the industrial revolution. But for coal there might have been few trees left. Excluding those conservationists who bizarrely favour making them into biomass, everyone likes trees. Ergo, coal’s role in preserving them must be good.

Then again coal must be bad. The Economist (3 December) told us that, “unlike natural gas and oil, it is concentrated carbon, and thus [in America and Europe] it accounts for a staggering 39% of annual emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.”

That might be true, who knows, but this isn’t: “Solar farms and onshore wind are now the cheapest source of new electricity for at least two-thirds of the world’s population.” Here the poor sods at the lower end of the prosperity scale in Asia and Africa are invited to “consign coal to museums and the history books.” “Much work lies ahead,” avers editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes.

I just wonder how much work has to be done to persuade developing regions of the world to use the cheapest source of electricity? They must all be dim-witted, if Ms Beddoes is to be taken at her word. Of course, Ms Beddoes is spouting agitprop. To be kind, she can do no other as a dedicated follower of the party line.

The case against coal is not based on economics. It is the cheapest source of 24x7 power. The case stands or falls on the danger CO2 presents to the planet.

If the alarmist predictions are wrong then the trillions of dollars spent on wind and solar farms has been the gravest waste of resources in the history of mankind. As the size of the effect of man-made CO2 on global warming is matter of conjecture, a contested hypothesis at best, it is inexplicable that is has taken such an iron grip on the minds of so many in positions of influence and power.

The overwrought reaction to Covid is similarly puzzling. Perhaps when religion wanes, collective belief is more susceptible to superstition and mass suggestion. If that is so; what, I wonder, will be the next hobgoblin to scare us into submission?

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.