The Green New Deal (read it for yourself; its not long), floating around Congress on a cloud of cow farts, is quite a grand and far-reaching manifesto.  Here are differing views from the media, think tanks, and other interested parties. They describe it better than I.

Even though the GND is “impossible”, reliably left Slate opines that‘s why some people like it. Impossible plans are good for thinking and thinking leads to dreaming, and dreaming is the only way that change occurs.

But the journey from dreams to reality is perilous.  According to Big Think, the GND is a “catalyst to radically restructure the US economy and social structure”. Speaking of peril, among the goals the sponsors want to achieve through government action are:

  • Universal health care
  • Universal basic income
  • Right to affordable housing
  • Restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act
  • Revoking corporate personhood
  • Abolishing the Electoral College
  • Repealing the Patriot Act
  • Re-establishing strong labor unions
  • Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks
  • Relieving debt for students and homeowners
  • Reducing military funding
  • Overhauling the military-industrial complex.

According to Big Think, proponents see the government as the driving force for this rapid re-industrialization because the scale is too large for the private sector and incentivizing companies won’t produce necessary results within the mandatory 10-year time frame.

That expansive wish list of goals is not a good thing, according to the reliably right Daily Signal, who says the GND won’t affect global warming because other countries aren’t going to cooperate. Rather, “… it’s about creating massive new government programs that will increase the power of government and move the country closer than ever to socialism.”

Ditto from National Review.

The Yale Program on Climate Change says the GND has a broad and strong bipartisan support. There are several caveats: At the time of the poll, 82 percent of respondents had heard nothing about it.  The wording of the poll leaves a lot to be desired if one is looking for an accurate gauge of public support: The premise is that it would produce jobs and strengthen the economy, but there is no mention of increased taxes, affordability, or increasing the power of government.

Politico refers to a massive climate investment as “a tentpole of Democratic politics.” and classifies backers of the GND  as “left of Obama activists” who want to graft their economic agenda onto a response to the climate emergency like the 2009 stimulus, which passed the House as a reaction to an economic emergency without a single Republican vote and the Senate with three Republicans who were promised many goodies in order to get the 60 votes necessary to pass.  For their part, the current Democratic-majority House intends to inject the climate issue into everything Congress does this term: transportation, infrastructure, military spending, tax legislation, and disaster aid.

Left of center The Brookings Institution believes climate change “ … may represent a fundamental transformational opportunity, one where we can transform our economic and energy systems and build a sustainable planet.” No mention of cost.

In fact, I’ve looked far and wide but can’t find any legitimate assertion that the GND is affordable. Bloomberg comes the closest by downplaying the environmental efforts and detailing the astronomical cost of the non-environmental policies.

Says reliably right The Heartland Institute, the GND is so fanciful and politically and economically impossible as to be not very dangerous compared to say, a carbon tax, which they don’t like either.

And a musical interlude most appropriate for this venture. Note to trolls: Its about the GND, not the sponsors.

Co-author Nikki Niloufar Hafizi

From the state of Washington to the streets of Paris, proposed taxes on carbon have been making headlines. Why a carbon tax, and what are the arguments for and against it?

Pricing carbon

A progressive carbon tax is a climate-change mitigation policy preferred by many economists. Their reasoning goes like this: Carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions contribute to collective problems such as air pollution and climate change, but the entities emitting the GHGs don’t pay for the damage to the “atmospheric commons”. The price of GHG-emitting activities is lower than its theoretical market price should be, and humans consume more than they otherwise would of these GHG-intensive products and services (think gasoline). A tax on carbon content would correct this market failure and incentivize market participants (consumers and producers … such as yourself?) to emit less carbon by changing their behavior and using different technologies. Continue Reading Carbon Taxes: Wrong Price, Wrong Time?

In Frederick v. Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board, et al, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed a local zoning ordinance allowing oil and gas operations in all zoning districts in the Township as long as they satisfied enumerated standards that were designed to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizenry.

Facts and Findings

CNX received a permit to drill a well. The ordinance imposes a 1,000 foot setback and prescribes notice requirements and operational limitations. Citizens owning neighboring tracts complained that the well was not compatible with agricultural and residential use, complaining about noise from pad site preparation and drilling activities.

The objectors did not challenge the Zoning Board’s fact findings. That was either a tactical mistake or a lost cause. One can’t tell from the opinion. The court noted these findings, among others:

  • This is an area that has historically had gas production. There are 242 conventional gas wells in the Township, some of which employ hydraulic fracturing.
  • One farm already has three gas wells plainly visible to persons driving by the property.
  • Nothing will be visible to the neighbors after the well has been drilled and completed.
  • The Zoning Board rejected as not credible the testimony of several experts sponsored by the objectors.

Continue Reading Man Bites Dog – Local Zoning Board Okays Drilling-Friendly Ordinance

In his Hardcore History podcasts, Dan Carlin presents himself, not as a historian, but as a journalist who likes history. Herein is my attempt to present yours truly, not as an environmental lawyer, but as a trial lawyer with an interest in energy policy. Therefore, here are differing assessments of the Trump EPA’s rollback of the Obama EPA’s methane regulations.

Executive summary 

Producers: “Regs bad, industry good; we’re saving the planet.”

Enviros: “Regs good, industry bad; you’re poisoning the planet.”

Read more and decide for yourself Continue Reading What They’re Saying About the EPA’s Methane Rule

Co-author Chance Decker

Gloria’s Ranch v. Tauren et al – the Louisiana lenders’ bad dream

Anyone seeking stability in the law governing E&P activities in Louisiana will view the lower court decision as a grave error that must be corrected. Virtually every mortgage provides safeguards to protect collateral and manage lenders’ risk. The court of appeal reasoned that because of those provisions, the lender controlled the ability of the borrower to execute a release of a mineral lease, resulting in solidary liability when the borrower-lessee failed to release its lease. Continue Reading An Oil and Gas Case to Expect From Louisiana, and Another From Texas

man bites dogSierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC et al is news more shocking than “Man Bites Dog”! A federal court has acknowledged that others are better equipped to address certain issues than the judiciary!

Sierra Club alleged that that deep injection of liquid waste from operations by Chesapeake, Devon and New Dominion has contributed to earthquakes throughout Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Sierra asserted that waste disposal activities present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or environment. This was a citizen suit under the Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

There is reason to be concerned

Sierra Club alleged:

  • Earthquakes in Oklahoma increased more than 300-fold from before 2009 to 2015, from 167 to 5,838.
  • The severity has increased.
  • Seismologists say a magnitude 7 quake is possible in the Nehama fault.
  • Earthquake risks in Oklahoma are now the highest in the nation.

What the parties wanted

Sierra Club wanted an order requiring defendants to:

  • Reduce “immediately and substantially” the amount of wastes injected into the ground,
  • Reinforce vulnerable structures that would be impacted by a large magnitude earthquakes, and
  • Establish independent earthquake monitoring and prediction.

The defendants urged the court to:

  • Allow the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to take action in response to increased seismicity in the state.
  • Dismiss, because Sierra did not join every company that disposes of liquid wastes, and
  • Dismiss, because the claims fall outside the “zone of interests” Congress intended to protect under RCRA.

The court sided with the defendants, concluding that dismissal is appropriate under the Burford abstention and primary jurisdiction doctrines. Here’s why:

  • In 1981 the EPA gave primary enforcement responsibility for underground injection control to the state of Oklahoma.
  • Oklahoma vests that authority in the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
  • The OCC exercises exclusive jurisdiction over injections wells.
  • The OCC has an extensive regulatory structure in place for injection well control.

Abstention doctrines explained

The Burford abstention doctrine says that where timely and adequate state court review is available a federal court must decline to interfere with the state agencies where there are difficult questions of state law whose importance transcends the results in the case at bar and where exercise of federal review of the question would be disruptive of state efforts to establish a coherent policy with respect to a matter of substantial public concern.

Oklahoma has established and is operating its own program to regulate wells, OCC oversight encompasses more wells than just those operated by these defendants, the issue is one of substantial public concern, and timely and adequate state court review is available to the plaintiff.

The primary jurisdiction doctrine protects the administrative process from judicial interference, and it applies here. The court should refer issues not within its conventional experience to the administrative agency having more specialized experience, expertise and insight.

Why is this a big deal?

Essentially, the court recognized that highly complex and technical issues should not be regulated by the courts. This presents fundamental differences between courts and regulatory agencies: The OCC is equipped as a regulatory body to apply continuous, persistent and flexible regulatory power, which the court can’t do. Immediate and substantial reduction in wastewater requires specific scientific and technical expertise, which the OCC has and the court doesn’t.

You don’t need to bite your dog.

 

godzillaWe begin with a Rorschach test. As the big election day approaches, which candidate do you see in the photograph? Discuss among yourselves.

Get ready for lots of musical interludes. The nation’s despair runs deep and wide, so profound that it cannot be expressed in mere words.

What do they promise?

Let’s look at what we might expect from our next president, based on campaign promises:

Mr. Trump:  Make oil and gas great again,

Ms. Clinton:  Wind on every hilltop, solar on every rooftop; renewables good, fossil fuels bad,

From Scott Gaille’s energy blog,

From Forbes.

And again from Forbes.

This is a way to evaluate the promises (a/k/a, don’t get your hopes up).

Your choices

You know what they are. It’s been said that one is reptilian, and the other venal (that’s Hillary in the middle; Nancy Pelosi on the “left”; Harry Reid, in drag and a wig, on the other side).

Here is P. J. O’Rourke’s choice.

Speaking of choices, here is how to survive election day:

  • Remain in the fetal position where you’ve been since the primaries, and continue to weep.
  • Surrender your belt and shoelaces to someone you trust.
  • Still undecided? Here is some advice.

Takeaways

  • This will pass. We survived Millard Fillmore and Warren G. Harding.
  • Special shout-out to you Trump primary voters! You vanquished those liberals and insiders like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee. You owe the party faithful.

 

steam engineWhich of these statements makes sense to you:

A. “Never before have the rulers of a society intentionally driven it backwards to scarcer, more expensive, and less efficient energy.”

B. “Communism is the optimal system for avoiding dangerous global warming”.

C. “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

D. “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”

E .“Global warming, like Marxism, is a political theory of actions, demanding compliance with its rules.”

What the quiz says about you

B, C and D? Comrade, you took a wrong turn at “fueling” and failed to yield to “freedom”.

A and E? Then you should read Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy by Kathleen Hartnett White and Stephen Moore.

If you want a real book review, go to the National Review. This post is more of a polemic, a defense of an honorable industry that is vital to the security and prosperity of the world (excluding Venezuela, of course).

Ms. White, Distinguished Fellow-in-Residence at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, spoke last week at TIPRO’s summer conference. See this PowerPoint for the high points of her presentation. It’s no substitute for the presentation itself, but if you want to know more you should read the book.

Facts that will impress your friends 

Here are compelling facts from the book that reveal the importance of fossil fuels to our modern way of life:

  • Human misery remained at about the same level for 100,000 years until the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800’s. Since then, misery has declined and millions have been lifted out of poverty and into the middle class. This progress is a result of human ingenuity and fossil fuels.
  • America produced three times as much food as it did a century ago, with one-third fewer man-hours, on one third fewer acres, and on and at one-third the cost. (Think, natural-gas based fertilizers, tractors, and other fruits of petroleum.)
  • In 1875 the average American family spent 74% of its income on food, clothing and shelter. In 1995 the same family spent 13% of its income on these fundamental necessities.
  • In cost per megawatt hour, oil and natural gas receive 64 cents, wind $56.29 and solar $775.64 in federal subsidies.

Some points might be overstated:

  • Haynesville and non-core Bakken operators might not agree that, “In many places fracking is profitable at $40 per barrel and in most places it is profitable at $50 per barrel.”

Now, for our musical interlude.

Sources for the quiz

A. Fueling Freedom, p. xv (no link, you gotta read the book).

B. IPCC chief Christina Figueres, Daily Caller, January 15, 2014.

C. Figueres, U N Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, February 3, 2015.

D. Paul Ehrlich.

E. Paul Johnson, The Nonsense of Global Warming, Forbes, September 8, 2008.

truthinessTruthiness: A quality characterizing a “truth” that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively, “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts.

Today we explore truthiness in action. Let’s start with the loftiest bully pulpit in the land. The Washington Post gave President Obama four pinocchios  for his justification for cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline.

  • The Prez: Keystone oil “will bypass the United States and its products will end up in foreign markets”.
  • The Post: Most of the products to be refined at Gulf Coast refineries will be consumed the United States.
  • The Prez: Keystone was just for Canadian oil and we should be focusing on American infrastructure, American jobs and American producers.
  • The Post: 65,000 BOD will be moved from the Bakken; U.S. energy companies control 30% of Canadian oil sands production.

Propaganda disguised as truthiness

According to Energy in Depth, anti-fracking activists use lies to scare us, such as:

  • Fracking causes widespread water contamination,
  • Fracking causes earthquakes (specifically, all injection wells induce earthquakes),
  • Fracking causes climate change and increases air pollution (Really? See the Sierra Club article below),
  • Fracking negatively impacts health (especially in babies),
  • Fracking chemicals are not disclosed,
  • Fracking is not regulated,
  • The industry does not provide safety measures for workers.

See the article for details explaining why they are wrong.

Facts  

Michael Lynch in Forbes runs through 11 of what he calls myths about the economics of petroleum and labels them either wrong, misinterpreted, or irrelevant.

An Energy In Depth report quantifies the threat of earthquakes from injection wells. To summarize:

  • Percentage of U.S. disposal wells potentially linked to seismicity – 0.55%
  • Percentage of disposal wells operating without seismicity – 99.45%
  • Percentage of Class II injection wells potentially linked to seismicity – 0.15%
  • Percentage of Class II injection wells operating without seismicity – 99.85%

The numbers are similarly low in Texas.

Could go either way?

This could be truth or truthiness. Energy In Depth reports that the Sierra Club admits but downplays the contribution of cheap natural gas to the reduction in carbon emissions in the United States. Read the article itself and all the links and decide for yourself who is more correct. This one could be a matter of your point of view.

Why this blog uses cute pictures

A study examining truthiness was carried out by Eryn Newman of Victoria University of Wellington. Experiments showed that people are more likely to believe that a claim is true regardless of evidence when a decorative photograph appears alongside.

An interlude

Today we have a movie interlude. You will want to view this if college is in the present or future for you or someone for whom you are responsible.