In the News
Micro Solar: Eyesore NIMBYism and the Curse of Dilute Energy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 27 January 2012
Three Green Energy Stimulus Recipients Hit the Skids This Week
William Yeatman, GlobalWarming.org, 27 January 2012
Energy Efficient Windows: Guilty of First Degree Melting
Jackie Moreau, GlobalWarming.org, 25 January 2012
News You Can Use
Poll: Global Warming Dead Last among Americans' Priorities
Global warming ranks dead last among Americans’ priorities, according to a public opinion poll released this week by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Inside the Beltway
President Obama Wants to Help the Little Guys—Especially If They’re Named Boone Pickens and George Soros
President Barack Obama spoke up for the economic interests of the little guy in his State of the Union speech to Congress on January 24th. On January 26th, the President spoke in Las Vegas about using taxpayer dollars to improve the economic well-being on one of those little guys in particular—Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. He urged voters to support the Pickens Payoff Plan (officially titled the NAT GAS Act), a bipartisan bill sponsored in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and in the House by Representative John Sullivan (R-Okla.).
The bill, H. R. 1380 in the House and S. 1863 in the Senate, would provide huge new subsidies to buyers and users of heavy duty trucks that use natural gas. Pickens owns Clean Energy Fuels, which builds and runs natural gas service stations. He also has major investments in a number of companies in the natural gas industry. The value of these investments would probably increase by several billion dollars if the bill were enacted.
However, Pickens has been clear that he has spent $100 million “of his own money” to promote the Pickens Your Pocket legislation only out of love for his country. “I’m sure not doing this for the money,” he told the New York Times last May.
Another little guy who would do well if this Boonedoggle becomes law is billionaire George Soros, who has recently invested heavily in a company that builds natural gas-powered trucks, according to a story in the Daily Caller. This makes President Obama’s concern for the little guy truly bipartisan. Pickens is one of the biggest donors to Republican candidates, while Soros is the biggest donor to left-wing groups.
One heartwarming aspect of this story has just come to light. It seems that the White House doors are always wide open for visits by the little guys. Politico reports that Pickens has visited the White House seven times since Obama became president. He was also a frequent visitor during the Bush years.
The Boonedoggle bill was introduced in the House last April and quickly gained 186 co-sponsors, including around 80 Republicans. A number of free market and conservative groups sent a joint letter to Congress opposing the bill, which has convinced 19 Republicans to withdraw as co-sponsors. This means that the Pickens Payoff Plan has very little chance of passing the House as a separate bill. However, President Obama’s support could improve the chances that Senator Reid will be able to include it as a provision in a larger bill. The most likely candidate is the bill extending a wide variety of other business tax breaks that will probably be taken up in the next month or two.
The Pickens Payoff Plan is just one of many brazen attempts to pick the pockets of American taxpayers. Many similar schemes have been enacted that benefit corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind power, solar power, electric and hybrid vehicles, and a number of agricultural commodities. What’s odd about President Obama signing on to this particular Boonedoggle now is that natural gas prices are now so low that no taxpayer subsidies are needed to encourage the switch from diesel to natural gas trucks. Big companies are investing billions of dollars of their own money to build natural gas trucks and the infrastructure needed to fuel them. Natural gas cars are probably only a few years away, as well. It already makes economic sense, and therefore it is already starting to happen.
Across the States
EPA’s Absurd Mercury Rule Already Hurting Economy
Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. yesterday announced that it would retire six coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. According to the company, 530 employees will be affected. EPA promulgated the mercury rule last month. It is one of the most expensive regulations, ever, and its purpose is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen who eat more than 300 pounds of self-caught fish annually.
Around the World
Cuba to Begin Drilling off Florida’s Coast
Earlier this week Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum answered a question indicating that he would support drilling off the coast of Florida. It appears that Floridians won’t have much of a choice, as Cuba will begin drilling its first deepwater well in the next week or two, roughly 50 miles south of Key West.
While support for offshore drilling in Florida tends to correlate closely with gasoline prices, offshore drilling in state waters has been banned since the early ‘90s, while Florida also opposes offshore drilling in federal waters. The rig is being leased by Repsol, a Spanish oil company, which appears to have a good safety record. Nonetheless, it seems obvious that Floridians would prefer that drilling off their coast be done by the U.S. rather than Cuba.
Spain Eliminates Subsidies for New Renewable Projects
The Spanish government announced today that it would end subsidies for future renewable energy projects. Spain subsidizes renewable energy through feed-in-tariffs, whereby utilities are required to purchase energy from renewable sources at above market rates, with the difference subsidized by government.
Though Spain has had “success” in building out renewable energy capacity (it receives about 13% of its electricity from wind and solar), it does not appear that support for renewable energy is sustainable in a country where debt reduction is a necessity. Spain’s incredibly high unemployment rate, currently at 23%, isn’t helping. Though Spain has previously cut subsidies for renewable energy, the need to drastically lower public debt has Spain’s eye back on energy subsidies.
Recall that our President used to hail Spain’s energy policy as a model for the United States to follow.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.