Good Freaking Grief! The Pit of Leftist Insanity gets deeper and………….
Good Freaking Grief! The Pit of Leftist Insanity gets deeper and………….
The Left has been screaming that President-Elect Trump is picking people to lead federal agencies they are critical of. Of course picking people who are critical is a positive, or could be anyway. These people might actually bring some positive changes, like, less regulations, lower budgets, and yes, common sense! Take the EPA for example
But alas, now comes the federal government to tell the inhabitants of Alaska’s interior that, really, they should not be building fires to keep themselves warm during the winter. The New York Timesreports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.
Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.
That prompted state and local authorities to look for ways to cut down on pollution from wood-burning stoves, including the possibility of fining residents who burn wood. After all, a declaration of noncompliance from the EPA would have enormous economic implications for the region, like the loss of federal transportation funding.
The problem is, there’s no replacement for wood-burning stoves in Alaska’s interior. Heating oil is too expensive for a lot of people, and natural gas isn’t available. So they’ve got to burn something. The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove—and you keep that fire lit around the clock.
Of course the reality is that heat is as valuable as food or water. Extreme cold will kill you, but that is reality. central planners do not deal in reality. They deal in idealsim, and idealism is winless when pitted against reality, but that will never dissuade the central planning morons. The EPA, of course, is not alone in its well intended idiocy, pojt put any federal agency, or department, and you can find waste, over regulation, and policies that hurt real people and often make issues the agency is supposed to help worse rather than better.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now the leading candidate to be tapped by Donald Trump as his running mate, a close confidante of Trump tells Newsmax.
On Tuesday, Trump told the AP that he has whittled down his choices to 5 or 6 names.
“I have a list of people that I would like,” Trump revealed in his interview Tuesday.
But the name that keeps cropping up as his favorite is Gingrich, a Trump confidante tells Newsmax…
Chelsea’s Husband’s Hedge Fund A Total Disaster, Closes After Losing 90% Of Its Value – TruthFeed
Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky is finally shutting down the Greece-focused fund, after losing nearly 90% of its value. Investors were told last month that Eaglevale Hellenic Opportunity would finally be put out of its misery and would shutter.
The closure comes as the worst possible time: we are confident that Donald Trump will be quick to work it into his political attack routine.
Mr. Chelsea Clinton and his partners began raising money in 2011 from investors for the firm’s flagship fund. Since then, that portfolio has posted uneven performance. A Stanford University graduate, Mr. Mezvinsky worked at Goldman for eight years before leaving to join a private equity firm. He left that job to form Eaglevale with two longtime Goldman partners, Bennett Grau and Mark Mallon. The hedge fund firm is named after a bridge in Central Park.
As noted above, some of the firm’s earliest investors were Goldman partners, including Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive officer, who let Eaglevale use his name in marketing the flagship fund. Ironically this is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Goldman paid to Marc’s mother-in-law…
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Doubles Down On Trump Criticism, Calls Him ‘Hated Gringo’ – Fox News
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox doubled down on his criticism of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a recent interview, comparing him to Latin American dictators and calling him a “hated gringo” while also giving him the middle finger.
Fox made the obscene gesture to Trump after appearing on the Kickass Politics podcast with host Ben Mathis. The interview was pre-recorded and released Tuesday.
“He is the ugly American,” he told Mathis. “He is the hated gringo because he’s attacking all of us. He’s offending all of us.”…
When Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson decided to create a stock pond for horses and cattle on his 8-acre property, he did what any conscientious landowner would do. He got permits from both the state and local government before moving any dirt.
What he didn’t count on was a power-mad Environmental Protection Agency, which in January 2014 said Johnson’s pond violated the Clean Water Act – even though the CWA exempts stock ponds – told him to get rid of it, and threatened him with a $37,500 fine for every day he delayed.
Rather than cave to federal thuggery, Johnson refused the order, and then sued the EPA with the help of the invaluable Pacific Legal Foundation. Environmental experts he commissioned said the pond was exempt, and served as a habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife.
More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while…
The UK’s Home Office admitted defeat in a 10-year legal battle to deport six al-Qaeda linked terrorism suspects to Algeria.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled in April that to deport the terror suspects would violate their human rights. This week the Home Office decided not to appeal, giving up on the case and effectively granting the men the right to stay in the UK.
“It is not inconceivable that these Appellants, if returned to Algeria, would be subject to ill-treatment infringing Article 3 [prohibition of torture under the European Convention on Human Rights],” the court ruled in April. “There is a real risk of such a breach.”…
Jason Riley has now joined the long and distinguished list of people invited – and then disinvited – to give a talk on a college campus, in this case Virginia Tech.
Mr. Riley is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and, perhaps most relevantly, author of a very insightful book titled Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.
In short, Jason Riley’s views on race are different from the views that prevail on most college campuses. At one time, 50 years ago or earlier, exposing students to a different viewpoint was considered to be a valuable part of their education. But that was before academia – and the education system in general – became virtually a monopoly of the political left.
Today one can literally go from kindergarten to becoming a graduate student seeking a Ph.D., without ever hearing a vision of the world that conflicts with the vision of the left.
Conservative critics who object on grounds that the views of the left are wrong miss the point. Regardless of whose views become a monopoly, education suffers. John Stuart Mill understood this back in the middle of the 19th century…
Hillary’s Emails Hacked By Russia, Kremlin Deciding Whether To Release 20,000 Stolen Emails – Gateway Pundit
The Kremlin is debating whether to release the 20,000 emails they have hacked off of Hillary Clinton’s server.
According to a report from four days ago, beginning in 2011, the Russians began monitoring Romanian computer hacker Marcel Lazăr Lehel (aka Guccifer) after he attempted, unsuccessfully, to break into the computer system of the Russian funded RT television network.
After monitoring Guccifer, the Russians were reportedly able to record (both physically and electronically) his actions which allowed the Russian intelligence analysts, in 2013, to not only detect his breaking into the private computer of Secretary Clinton, but also break in and copy all of its contents as well…
Police Chief Apologises After ‘Suicide Bomber’ Shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ During Trafford Centre Training Exercise – Manchester Evening News
Greater Manchester Police came under fire on social media following the staged training exercise with people demanding to know why it had been linked to Islam.
Police chiefs have apologised after a ‘suicide bomber’ shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ just before a fake terrorist attack at the Trafford Centre .
GMP came under fire on social media following the staged training exercise with people demanding to know why it had been linked to Islam.
‘Allahu Akbar’ is Arabic for ‘God is Greater.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan responded personally to the complaints on Twitter, saying the use of the phrase was unacceptable and apologised to anyone who was offended.
He then released a statement repeating the apology and saying it was ‘unacceptable’ to use the phrase…
Astoria Residents Meet De Blasio’s “Foolish” $2.5 Billion Streetcar – Gothamist
Astoria residents packed into the Variety Boys & Girls Club on Monday night to voice their concerns about Mayor de Blasio’s proposed $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX). Many argued that the streetcar, which the mayor has called a “noble experiment” in outer-borough transit, would burden low and middle-income taxpayers while serving real estate interests and high-rise residents along the Queens waterfront.
“If this is going to alleviate some of the subway crowding, that’s good,” said Mary McClary, 70. “If the fare is going to be compatible with subway, that’s even better – provided that the streetcar is not just for the people who live on the waterfront, who can afford to pay $3,000 in rent.”…
Wealthy Ted Cruz Mega-Donor Starts Pouring Millions Into Hillary’s Campaign – BizPac Review
Well-connected donors are doing anything they can to stop Donald Trump.
That includes funding Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, even if you’re a conservative mega-donor. Take for instance, billionaire James Simons who founded the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
Simons, through Renaissance Technologies, donated over $13 million to Sen. Ted Cruz’s failed presidential run and is now pouring in millions to Clinton’s campaign, according to the Observer.
Already, Renaissance Technologies has donated $2 million to Clinton’s campaign. And Simons’ other company, Euclidean Capital, has given Clinton $7 million thus far.
But, Simons is not the only wealthy donor making a switch in order to keep Trump from the White House…
Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons As Food Runs Out – Panam Post
Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.
Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.
People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well.
The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages reaching 70 percent. This to go along with the world’s highest level of inflation…
State Department “Unable To Find” Hillary Emails To IT Aide, Apologizes For Incompetence – Zero Hedge
To say the least, it’s going to be an interesting couple of months for Hillary Clinton. As the FBI probe into Clinton’s handling of classified information makes its way to Clinton herself, the Clinton camp will also need be focused on trying to stave off attacks by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
More on the FBI probe in a moment, but first, one of the key areas that Trump will inevitably be focused on is trying to frame Hillary Clinton as just another typical insider who despite the rhetoric, is as cozy with Wall Street as any other bought and paid for politician. To that end, the Republicans are not letting go of the fact that Hillary has yet to release any transcripts of her speeches given to Wall Street.
As The Hill reports, Republican operatives are scouring the country for transcripts, notes, or secret recordings of those Wall Street speeches that the Clinton camp refuses to discuss in any great detail – probably because Goldman Sachs alone paid Clinton $675,000 to speak. We’re going to go out on a limb here, but Clinton probably was not brought in to speak multiple times by Wall Street firms just so they could hear how bad they were, which is precisely why the GOP wants to get its hands on anything they can related to those speeches (recall: The Real Reason Hillary Clinton Refuses To Release Her Wall Street Transcripts)…
Bill Nye “the science guy” says in a video interview released Thursday that he is open to the idea of jailing those who deviate from the climate change consensus.
Asked about the heated rhetoric surrounding the climate change debate, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s previous comments that some climate skeptics should be prosecuted as war criminals, Mr. Nye replied, “We’ll see what happens.”
“Was it appropriate to jail the guys from Enron?” Mr. Nye asked in a video interview with Climate Depot’s Marc Morano. “We’ll see what happens. Was it appropriate to jail people from the cigarette industry who insisted that this addictive product was not addictive, and so on?”
“In these cases, for me, as a taxpayer and voter, the introduction of this extreme doubt about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen,” Mr. Nye said. “So I can see where people are very concerned about this, and they’re pursuing criminal investigations as well as engaging in discussions like this.”
Mr. Nye’s comments come with a coalition of liberal attorneys general pursuing companies that challenge the consensus of catastrophic climate change. Critics fear the campaign could chill research and free speech.
Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker raised concerns about a government crackdown on dissent when he issued a subpoena last week to the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute for its climate-related research and documents.
About about the potential for a “chilling effect,” Mr. Nye said, “That there is a chilling effect on scientists who are in extreme doubt about climate change, I think that is good.”
“The extreme doubt about climate change people – without going too far afield here – are leaving the world worse than they found it because they are keeping us from getting to work. They are holding us back,” Mr. Nye said in a post on Climate Depot, a project of the free market, nonprofit Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.
Mr. Morano interviewed the star of the 1993-98 PBS television show “Bill Nye the Science Guy” in New York in advance of the May 2 theatrical release of “Climate Hustle,” which takes a skeptical look at predictions of climate change disasters.
The film, along with a panel discussion, was scheduled for a screening Thursday in the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
H/T Weasel Zippers
President Obama arrives Sunday in Paris to finalize a global climate-change pact that if completed would be a legacy-defining part of his presidency. But he awaits challenges at home and abroad, including questions about who will pay for the changes and whether terrorism is a more imminent concern.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans suggested last week that the GOP-led chamber must approve the Paris deal, or it will withhold billions that the U.S. has pledged, as part of the pact, to help poor countries reduces their carbon output.
“Congress will not be forthcoming with these funds in the future without a vote in the Senate on any final agreement as required in the U.S. Constitution,” Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and 36 other GOP senators said in a letter to Obama.
They also made clear that any deal including taxpayer money and a binding timetable on emissions must have Senate approval. And they argue that Obama has already pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund “without the consent of Congress.”
The United Nations talks will take place on the outskirts of Paris, where 130 people were killed roughly two weeks ago in terror attacks, which has also sparked concerns about whether world leaders should now be more focused on stopping terror groups.
Obama said Tuesday at a White House press conference with French President Francois Hollande that the summit will be a “powerful rebuke” to terrorists, including the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.
“The world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children,” Obama also said.
Still, Paris and the surrounding area will essentially be locked down for the 12-day summit. And climate-change activists have reportedly agreed to cancel a march Sunday, after an appeal from French leaders.
“I have to salute the responsibility of the organizations who would have liked to demonstrate but who understand that if they demonstrate in a public place there is a security risk, or even a risk of panic,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told The Guardian.
About 150 heads of state are set to join Obama for talks on Monday and Tuesday as the deal nears the finish line. The goal is to secure worldwide cuts to emissions of heat-trapping gases to limit the rise of global temperatures to about another 2 degrees from now.
The concept behind a Paris pact is that the 170 or so nations already have filed their plans. They would then promise to fulfill their commitments in a separate arrangement to avoid the need for ratification by the U.S. Senate.
Such dual-level agreement could be considered part of a 1992 treaty already approved by the Senate, said Nigel Purvis, an environmental negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
But it’s not just about whether or not to ratify.
Latin America countries attending the negotiations reportedly will demand that the wealthiest countries and those that pollute the most pay for the reduction of carbon emissions.
In the United States, the talks are entangled in the debate about whether humans really are contributing to climate change, and what, if anything, policymakers should do about it. Almost all Republicans, along with some Democrats, oppose the steps Obama has taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions, arguing they will hurt the economy, shutter coal plants and eliminate jobs in power-producing states.
Half the states are suing the administration to try to block Obama’s unprecedented regulations to cut power plant emissions by roughly one-third by 2030. The states say Obama has exceeded his authority and is misusing the decades-old Clean Air Act. If their lawsuit succeeds, Obama would be hard-pressed to deliver the 26 percent to 28 percent cut in overall U.S. emissions by 2030 that he has promised as America’s contribution.
Opponents also are trying to gut the power plant rules through a rarely used legislative maneuver that already has passed the Senate. A House vote is expected while international negotiators are in Paris.
And Republicans running for president are unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s power plant rules; many say that if elected, they immediately would rip up the rules.
The administration mostly has acted through executive power: proposing the carbon dioxide limits on power plants, which mostly affect coal-fired plants; putting limits on methane emissions; and ratcheting up fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, which also cuts down on carbon pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the recipients of nearly $1.2 million in grants to non-profit and tribal organizations “to address environmental justice issues nationwide.”
“The grants enable these organizations to conduct research, provide education, and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in minority and low-income communities overburdened by harmful pollution,” the Oct. 8 press release stated.
“EPA’s environmental justice grants help communities across the country understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks at the local level,” Matthew Tejada, director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, said in the press release.”
“Addressing the impacts of climate change is a priority for EPA and the projects supported by this year’s grants will help communities prepare for and build resilience to localized climate impacts,” Tejada said.
“Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” thedocument announcing the recipients of the grant funding stated.
“Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal state, local, and tribal programs and policies,” the documents stated.
One of the recipients is the Green Jobs Corps in New Haven Connecticut for “Creating a New Generation of New Haven Environmental Justice Leaders.”
The Greater Northeast Development Corporation in Virginia will use a “community-based participatory approach for southeast community resilience and adaptation to address lung health impacts exacerbated by climate change.”
In certain neighborhoods in Baltimore, Md., the grant funding will “mitigate the impacts of climate change on these communities by increasing the area of ‘green’ spaces…”
The Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago will help make the Chatham neighborhood “rain ready” to prepare for an increase of “rain events” from climate change.
Some other projects being funded include:
• A program will install solar panels in the homes of low-income residents in Colorado.
• Teaching Washington state residents about producing “locally grown food with a low-carbon footprint.”
• Educate residents of the Chickaloon Native Village in Alaska about “the connection between coal surface strip mining, transporting, exporting, and consumption in relation to climate impacts, how climate impacts are being experienced locally, statewide, nationally, and globally. “
• Ground Water New Orleans will be “teaching students to design, build, and install solar powered charging benches on or near bus stops in underserved communities.”
This grant funding dates back to 1994, according to the recipient document.
“In 1994, the Office of Environmental Justice established the Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants Program whose purpose is to assist communitybased/grassroots organizations and tribal governments that are working on local solutions to local environmental problems. Funding specifically supports affected local communitybased efforts to examine issues related to a community’s exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks.”
The document stated that the funds are divided equally between organizations in 10 regions across the country designated by EPA.
The plan by climate alarmists to have other scientists imprisoned for their ‘global warming’ skepticism is backfiring horribly, and the chief alarmist is now facing a House investigation into what has been called “the largest science scandal in US history.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, has written to Professor Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University, in Virginia, requesting that he release all relevant documents pertaining to his activities as head of a non-profit organization called the Institute of Global Environment And Society.
Smith has two main areas of concern.
First, the apparent engagement by the institute in “partisan political activity” – which, as a non-profit, it is forbidden by law from doing.
Second, what precisely has the IGES institute done with the $63 million in taxpayer grants which it has received since 2001 and which appears to have resulted in remarkably little published research?
For example, as Watts Up With That? notes, a $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to one of the institute’s offshoots appears to have resulted in just one published paper.
But the amount which has gone into the pockets of Shukla and his cronies runs into the many hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2013 and 2014, for example, Shukla and his wife enjoyed a combined income in excess of $800,000 a year.
Steve McIntyre, the investigator who shattered Michael Mann’s global-warming ‘Hockey Stick’ claim, has done a detailed breakdown of the sums involved. He calls it Shukla’s Gold.
In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496 in compensation from IGES (Shukla – $128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700). Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.
Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014. (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013. Combined with Shukla’s university salary, the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014. In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.
The story began last month when, as we reported at Breitbart, twenty alarmist scientists – led by Shukla – wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to use RICO laws to crush climate skeptics.
Shukla’s second big mistake was to send the letter not from his university address but from his non-profit, the IGES.
But his first, far bigger mistake, was his hubris in organizing the letter in the first place. It drew the attention of Shukla’s critics to something which, presumably, he would have preferred to keep secret: that for nearly 14 years, he, his family and his friends have been gorging themselves on taxpayers’ money at IGES; and that this money comes on top of the very generous salary he receives for doing much the same work at George Mason University (GMU).
It’s the latter detail which has led former Virginia State Climatologist Pat Michaels – one of the skeptics who might have been affected by Shukla’s proposed RICO prosecutions – to describe this as “the largest science scandal in US history.”
Under federal law, state employees may not be remunerated for doing work which falls under their state employee remit. As a Professor at GMU, Shukla is definitely an employee of the state. And the work for which he has most lavishly been rewarding himself at IGES appears to be remarkably similar to the work he does at GMU as professor of climate dynamics.
If GMU was aware of these extra-curricular payments, then it was in breach of its own policy on “financial conflicts of interest in federally funded research.”
If it wasn’t aware of them, then, Shukla legally may be required to send half of that $63 million in federal grants to his employer, GMU.
For many readers, though, perhaps the biggest take-home message of this extraordinary story is: Who do these climate alarmists think they are?
Perhaps $63 million in federal grants is just peanuts if you’re gorging on the climate-change smorgasbord, but for most of the rest of us, that constitutes a serious sum of money. Especially when we know it is being taken from us in the form of taxes.
Do they really feel under no obligation to spend it well?
Do they actually feel so sanctified by the rightness of their cause that they deserve to be immune from scrutiny or criticism?
A federal judge Wednesday blocked the Obama administration from implementing new regulations on hydraulic fracturing, saying that the administration does not appear to have the statutory authority to do so.
The rule, finalized in March by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is the federal government’s first major attempt to regulate the innovative oil and gas extraction technique commonly known as fracking.
Fracking is generally regulated at the state level. BLM sought to impose additional restrictions on the practice for oil and gas wells on federal land.
Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming said that the agency appears to lack the statutory authority to do so and issued a preliminary injunction blocking BLM from implementing the rule.
“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking,” Skavdahl wrote in his opinion.
In fact, BLM “previously disavowed authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” the judge noted.
The Environmental Protection Agency previously had the authority to regulate the fracking-related practices that the rule targets, but the 2005 Energy Policy Act stripped the agency of that authority.
“It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that, having expressly removed the regulatory authority from the EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM, particularly where the BLM had not previously been regulating the practice,” Skavdahl wrote.
The ruling marks a major setback for Obama administration efforts to crack down on fracking, which has spurred unprecedented increases in U.S. oil and gas production since 2009.
The ruling does not scuttle the regulations, but rather prevents their implementation while a lawsuit brought by Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian tribe makes its way though the federal courts.
Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, have also sued to block the rule.
“Today’s decision essentially shows BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are – and have for 60 years been – in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing,” said IPAA spokesman Jeff Eshelman on the ruling.
I was walking through downtown Sacramento recently when raindrops started falling. People on the street stopped dead in their tracks, looked up at the sky, and began acting giddy. “What’s that?” I asked a man. “I think it’s something called rain,” he responded. Such is the gallows humor in a state that hasn’t seen substantial rainfall in years.
The obvious lack of rain is the seemingly obvious reason for the state’s lack of sufficient water. Water levels in state reservoirs are falling, officials are cracking down on “excess” water use (lawn-watering, etc.), and voters passed a water bond on the 2014 ballot to help fund more storage. The Capitol crowd is obsessed with the water issue, while local planners use the crisis to clamp down on building permits.
State officials say California’s drought is “one of the most severe droughts on record,” and they warn that even an El Niño rainy season is unlikely to fix the situation. In fact, nothing seems to fix the situation. Californians have slashed their water use by 31 percent during July – well above the 25-percent reduction targeted by the governor. And there’s still not enough water.
But as this series will show, California’s drought is largely a man-made crisis. It is caused by a series of policies – some from the past, many ongoing – which has prioritized environmental demands above the basic provision of water resources to the public. More than half of the state’s water resources simply flow out the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
Even now, in the Sierra foothills, state officials empty reservoirs to protect “unimpeded” river flows to benefit small numbers of non-endangered hatchery fish. The California Coastal Commission, the powerful agency with control of development along the shoreline, is holding up a privately planned desalination plant over concerns about its impact on plankton. The environment-friendly commission want to force the developers to build a pumping system that destroys the economics of the plant.
Meanwhile, slow-growth activists see opportunity in the drought. Their goal is to stop new developments despite California’s growing population, so a lack of water is a useful tool in their arsenal. A state law forces developers to prove sufficient water resources for decades into the future – before being able to get a permit to build developments. This slow-growth lobby sees no reason to come up with water-storage solutions.
Even the federal government is in on the action. In the far northern part of the state, along the Klamath River, federal environment officials want to remove four dams that provide water storage near the Oregon border. Their goal is to help preserve the habitat of non-native salmon. The “destroy the dams” movement had gained so much steam in recent years that San Franciscans were asked in a 2012 advisory vote to destroy the O’Shaughnessy dam in Yosemite National Park and drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir – the main source of water for the state’s third-largest city. Even that city’s notoriously lefty voters said “no” to shutting their main water spigot.
If one takes a map of the state of California and turns it on its side, with the Pacific boundary at the bottom, it’s easy to better understand the state’s water geology. Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through rivers that head toward San Francisco Bay. It all ends up in a place called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary. That’s near the lowest point in your sideways map. Then it heads to the bay and, then, the ocean.
When you hear Californians argue about the Delta, that’s what they are talking about. It’s a 1,100-square-mile area with 1,000 miles of rivers filled with historic towns, orchards, swamps, islands, and marinas. That estuary serves as a giant water filter. Primarily, the mighty Sacramento River meanders through the delta, kept within its banks by a series of aged dirt levees. A pumping station at the south end near Tracy sends water along a system of canals to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley – and also to the Southern metropolises.
During wet years, the estuary is filled with fresh water. During droughts, the salinity levels are high as water from the Pacific migrates eastward. That region remains Ground Zero for the state’s water fights. The fate of a tiny baitfish called the Delta Smelt is central here. Occasionally, a few dead smelt are found at the fish screens in Tracy, which causes administrators to shut down water supplies from the Delta toward the south. Water supplies are also stopped during drought years.
In 1982, our past and current governor, Jerry Brown, wanted to build a peripheral canal that would bypass the crumbling levees and take Sacramento River water around the Delta – before heading to the farm and urban water users. The state’s voters rejected that measure. Southern Californians were mostly indifferent to the idea, but Northern Californians resented having more of “their” water sent away.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest plan is to build twin tunnels under the Delta to provide a more consistent water supply southward. The planned cost: $25 billion for the total project, with a separate portion geared toward environmental restoration. Northern Californians are still mostly against it, as they claim it’s a water grab by Los Angeles-based users. (To understand the emotions, watch “Chinatown,” the 1974 movie about the deceptive way Owens Valley water was diverted to the Southland to spur the growth of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley).
Looking deeply into the plan, this much is clear: The newly renamed “California Water Fix” doesn’t even promise more water to southern cities. It simply promises a more consistent water supply. The twin tunnels are designed to change the flow of the rivers and protect the Delta Smelt. With the smelt protected, there will be fewer reasons to shut the pumps. In other words, this is a costly engineering solution to a political problem.
And therein lies California’s main water problem. No one here denies the importance of the environment or that some portion of the state’s scarce water resources needs to be used to protect wetlands and river habitats. But the balance of power has shifted from those who believe that people come first to those who seem to view the population as a scourge.
In April, I reported on a contentious meeting at the Oakdale Irrigation District east of Modesto. Farmers and local residents were aghast. The state and federal officials insisted on releasing massive amounts of water from the large New Melones Reservoir and Lake Tulloch, a small lake downstream from New Melones surrounded by homes. As the governor was threatening fines for people who take long showers, his State Water Resources Control Board was going to empty reservoirs to save about a dozen fish.
The local farmers and residents were asking for a temporary reprieve. I remember the words of one of the district officials, who was calling for “off ramps” during times of severe drought. That’s jargon for temporarily putting aside some of the more aggressive environmental demands at a time when farms and people are out of water. Bad publicity delayed the “pulse flows,” but by September water officials began insisting on new releases.
Recent reports showed that farmers use 80 percent of California’s water resources. It’s true that farmers are an important interest group. And because of the state’s old and quirky system of water rights, we see infuriating misuses of resources – e.g., farmers growing water-intensive hay in one of the driest regions on Earth, the southern Imperial Valley.
But that 80 percent number was deceptive because it completely omitted environmental uses of water, which constitute more than 50 percent of the state’s flows. Farmers, businesses, and residents fight over what remains. What we’re seeing – water releases to benefit a small number of common fish, removing dams along major rivers, delays of desalination plants, failure to build adequate water storage – is not an anomaly. It is the cumulative effect of water policies dominated by environmental interests.
It wasn’t always this way. In earlier days, California’s water policies had more in common (and with some admittedly ill environmental effect) with the ideas of capitalist defender Ayn Rand than John Muir, the famed naturalist whose environmental legacy dominates California discussions. California leaders were proud of taming the wilderness and building massive infrastructure projects – especially water projects – that allowed the state’s phenomenal growth.
In 1961, when Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown, was governor, the State Water Project was begun. “The project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; four pumping-generating plants; five hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines,” according to a state description. “The project provides supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.”
I’ve toured a lot of the facilities and even was on an official tour of the Colorado River project, following the water as it flowed from reservoirs behind New Deal-era dams at the Arizona border down to the treatment facility in the Los Angeles. It was quite a feat to build these projects. As I argued in my Orange County Register column at the time, it could never be replicated today in a world of Environmental Impact Statements, greenmail lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, and a political system dominated by officials more interested in quashing human development than providing the means for humans to thrive in this arid climate.
Sure, it would help if it rained – but the lack of rain is the least of California’s drought problems.
We have written many times about the fact that the temperature data used in the alarmists’ global warming models are not original data as measured by thermometers. Rather, they are “adjusted” numbers, consistently changed to make the past look cooler and the present warmer, so that more billions of dollars will flow from the world’s governments to the climate alarmists who serve government’s cause. This is, in my opinion, the greatest scandal in the history of science.
This article at Watts Up With That? adds incrementally to that picture. John Goetz analyzes the U.S. temperature data that finds its way into “official” tabulations. This is particularly important because, while the U.S. represents only 6.6% of the total land area of Earth, we account for close to half of the data relied on by the Global Historical Climatology Network. This is a big topic, and you should study the Goetz article in its entirety if you have time. I am still digesting it.
But a few highlights are obvious. First, Goetz finds that approximately 92% (or even more, depending on how you calculate it) of US surface temperature data consists of estimated or altered values. Very little raw data finds its way into the warmists’ climate models – which, of course, is the way they want it. Second, the adjustments that are made to the U.S. data consistently skew the numbers as we have described many times before – they try to make the present look warmer, compared with the past.
This is the key chart. It shows “the average change to the raw value due to the homogenization model.” In other words, how the actual temperature as recorded by thermometers is being altered before it goes into the alarmists’ models:
As you can see, the temperatures are generally lowered by around .5 degree C until around 1965, when the fake warming trend begins. From that time on, recorded temperatures are reduced less, and then, in recent years, bumped up.
Why do the alarmists, lavishly funded by the world’s governments, persistently alter the data before they feed it into their computer programs? Because the raw data won’t get them where they are trying to go, to keep the money flowing. This is what you see if you just plot the temperatures that were recorded on thermometers here in the U.S. No warming:
No warming means no money. That is what fraud is always about in the end: money. Could someone please explain this to Pope Francis?
The Obama administration announced Wednesday morning a series of efforts worth more than $120 million aimed at boosting solar and other clean energy sources.
The initiatives focus on the Department of Energy, where the bulk of the funding will go to programs to develop solar power technology and get it into homes, businesses and other facilities.
“President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to promoting smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help America transition to cleaner and more distributed energy sources, help households save on their energy bills, and to address climate change,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the efforts.
“All told, this funding will drive the development of affordable clean energy throughout the country,” it said.
The actions aim to help out solar power in 24 states, officials said.
The announcements come the same day Biden, currently considering a bid for president, is scheduled to speak at a major solar industry conference in California and at a climate change summit with U.S. and Chinese leaders later in the afternoon.
Solar power has been a top priority and talking point for the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policy priorities as officials push for an increase in low- or zero-carbon electricity sources.
The industry has expanded greatly under Obama. The White House says approximately 734,000 homes have solar panels, up from 66,000 homes when Obama took office.
But solar still only represents a small sliver of the country’s power generation. Solar produced 0.4 percent of the United States’s electricity last year.
Environmentalist George Monbiot has sparked debate by skinning, butchering, cooking and eating a squirrel on live TV.
The Guardian columnist attracted criticism after revealing that he had eaten a roadkill squirrel, and later wrote a 2,360-word piece in the newspaper justifying his actions.
“There are millions of squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, deer that are killed every year, and a lot of them are landfilled,” Monbiot said on the BBC’s Newsnight as he butchered a squirrel bought from a farm shop.
“It doesn’t have to be. It’s not very nice! But meat production isn’t. But at least there’s no further ethical problem here.”
He continued: “I’m just cutting through the tail vertebrae – the tail bone in other words – but not the skin. It’s quite a delicate operation, that. A super-sharp knife, by the way.
“The cutting along a little bit each leg. This is a rather fat old squirrel – a lot of meat on it, but the older they are the tougher they get, so they do have to be marinated.”
It’s not the first time Monbiot has controversially grabbed the headlines, having had to make a £25,000 charity settlement with the late Lord McAlpine after wrongly implicating him in the North Wales child sex abuse scandal.
Monbiot issued a full and unreserved apology over a tweet sent to his 56,000 followers, which said: “I looked up Lord #McAlpine on t’internet. It says the strangest things. I can confirm that Lord #McAlpine was Conservative Party Treasurer when Mrs Thatcher was prime minister.”
President Barack Obama said in his weekly address today that four villages in Alaska are in “imminent danger” because of climate change and that safety will be his administration’s top consideration in permitting offshore oil and gas drilling “as we push our economy and the world to ultimately transition off of fossil fuels.”
‘America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late’
Here are key excerpts from the president’s address:
Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster too, threatening tourism and adding to rising seas. And if we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century, changing all sorts of industries forever.
This is all real. This is happening to our fellow Americans right now. In fact, Alaska’s governor recently told me that four villages are in “imminent danger” and have to be relocated. Already, rising sea levels are beginning to swallow one island community.
Think about that. If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now…
Since the United States and China worked together to set ambitious climate targets last year, leading by example, many of the world’s biggest emitters have come forward with new climate plans of their own. And that’s a good sign as we approach this December’s global climate negotiations in Paris.
Now, one of the ways America is leading is by transitioning away from dirty energy sources that threaten our health and our environment, and by going all-in on clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar…
The bottom line is, safety has been and will continue to be my administration’s top priority when it comes to oil and gas exploration off America’s precious coasts – even as we push our economy and the world to ultimately transition off of fossil fuels.
So I’m looking forward to talking with Alaskans about how we can work together to make America the global leader on climate change around the globe… Because what’s happening in Alaska is happening to us. It’s our wakeup call. And as long as I’m President, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change before it’s too late.
The EPA may have been trying to hide the identity of the contracting company responsible for causing a major wastewater spill in southern Colorado, but the Wall Street Journal has revealed the company’s identity.
Environmental Restoration (ER) LLC, a Missouri-based firm, was the “contractor whose work caused a mine spill in Colorado that released an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into a major river system,” the WSJ was told by a source familiar with the matter. The paper also found government documents to corroborate what their source told them.
So far, the EPA has refused to publicly name the contracting company used to plug abandoned mines in southern Colorado, despite numerous attempts by The Daily Caller News Foundation and other media outlets to obtain the information. It’s unclear why the agency chose not to reveal the contractor’s name.
What is clear, however, is that ER has gotten $381 million in government contracts since October 2007, according to a WSJ review of data from USAspending.gov. About $364 million of that funding came from the EPA, but only $37 million was given to ER for work they had done in Colorado.
When contacted by phone, TheDCNF had been informed ER’s offices had closed for the day. The EPA did not return a request for comment on the WSJ’s story revealing the identity of the agency’s contractor.
ER contractors reportedly caused a massive wastewater spill from the Gold King Mine in southern Colorado last week. EPA-supervised workers breached a debris dam while using heavy equipment and unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into Cement Creek. The toxic plume eventually reached the Animas River where it’s been able to spread even further, forcing Colorado and New Mexico to declare a state of emergency.
The EPA has taken responsibility for the spill and has officials on the ground working with local officials to remedy the situation. Still, local officials and Native Americans are furious with the EPA over the spill, and have not ruled out legal action to make sure the agency remains accountable.
“No agency could be more upset about the incident happening, and more dedicated in doing our job to get this right,” EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a press conference in Durango, Colorado Wednesday. “We couldn’t be more sorry. Our mission is to protect human health and the environment. We will hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else.”