Politics

Grijalva’s Proposed Change to Mining Law Would Be Disastrous for America

Congressman Raul Grijalva is at it again with his proposed H.R. 2579 Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 which would probably make future mining in America uneconomic. Among other things, the law would impose a 12.5% royalty on productions and eliminate valid mining claims after 20 years (read full text). The royalty is extremely punitive to an industry that already pays over 45 percent of its earnings to federal, state and local governments, in the form of taxes, fees, royalties and other assessments. Currently, the U.S. is 100% import-reliant for 18 minerals – 14 of which have been deemed “critical” by the departments of defense or interior.

The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) notes that:

The sweeping changes in Rep. Grijalva’s legislation are unnecessary and a disaster in the making for the domestic mining industry and for America.

The fact is, hardrock mining is fundamentally different than oil, gas, and coal because it is much more difficult to find and develop hardrock mineral resources. This bill ignores these differences and seeks to force-fit royalty and leasing programs for coal, oil, and gas on hardrock mining. Without question, the Grijalva bill, if enacted, would substantially chill private-sector investment in exploring for and developing minerals on federal land and dramatically increase our already extensive reliance on foreign sources of minerals.

This bill poses a significant threat to our Nation’s economic security and to our defense, technology, manufacturing, infrastructure, and renewable energy sectors, all of which rely on minerals from mining. The country will suffer as high paying family-wage jobs are exported, and our rural communities will experience disproportionately severe economic hardships.

Geologist Ned Mamula (adjunct scholar in Geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute) opines that:

Mining is a long-term investment process and, although two decades is a long time, some hardrock mines now take 10 years or more just to get approved. What company would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new mine only to see its mining claims suddenly revoked?

Remarkably, the timing of this “reform” is just as bad as the substance. U.S. demand for minerals is climbing steadily: for hundreds of defense, aerospace, electronic, energy, medical, computing, transportation and other applications. Yet, our dependence on China for minerals is at an all-time high and growing, despite increasingly tense diplomatic relations. (Read full article)

Matthew Kandrach, President of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy notes:

The taboo against hard-rock mining in the United States is nonsensical and should be abandoned. Instead, America should embrace a far wiser policy of ensuring greater access to minerals on our public lands, since it’s in our national and economic interest. This would help reduce our heavy dependence on foreign nations for minerals that are needed in the production of advanced weapons systems and a multitude of consumer technologies.

The current problem stems from America adhering to a highly duplicative and inefficient system of regulatory permits and oversight that governs domestic mining. Over all, the mining industry is struggling with a regulatory system that forces them to wait seven to 10 years to obtain a mining permit, in contrast to Canada and Australia where the process takes two to three years.

The permit system was set up during a very different era when the U.S. dominated the production and use of minerals. But those days are long past. China is now the world’s leading producer and exporter of minerals and metals, supplying many that are critical to U.S. manufacturing, our technology and energy sectors, and national defense. Our ongoing dependence is not only a potential vulnerability during a time of increased global tensions, but greatly limits our nation’s ability to capitalize on our mineral wealth. (Read more)

See also:

A Short History of Mining Law 

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Observations on the new Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area

In March, 2019, President Trump signed legislation creating the 3,600 square mile Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in parts of Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, Arizona. This has long been a pet project of Congressman Raul Grijalva. The proposed boundaries of the heritage area encompass major copper mines, sources of construction aggregate, and many ranches.

According to the Arizona Geological Survey, the mines in the area have produced 65 percent of the nation’s copper. (Maps in this article are from AZGS.) It remains to be seen whether establishment of an NHA will impact mining and mineral exploration.

The heritage area will be managed through the National Park Service which will contract management to a “local coordinating entity” which in this case is the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance. The Alliance will receive $1 million per year up to a maximum of $15 million for its services.

According to the House version of the legislation (link 3 below):

The purposes of this Act include:

(1) to establish the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area in the State of Arizona;

(2) to implement the recommendations of the Alternative Concepts for Commemorating Spanish Colonization study completed by the National Park Service in 1991, and the Feasibility Study for the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area prepared by the Center for Desert Archaeology in July 2005;

(3) to provide a management framework to foster a close working relationship with all levels of government, the private sector, and the local communities in the region and to conserve the region’s heritage while continuing to pursue compatible economic opportunities;

(4) to assist communities, organizations, and citizens in the State of Arizona in identifying, preserving, interpreting, and developing the historical, cultural, scenic, and natural resources of the region for the educational and inspirational benefit of current and future generations; and

(5) to provide appropriate linkages between units of the National Park System and communities, governments, and organizations within the National Heritage Area.

The Act also gives these reassurances:

Nothing in this Act:

(1) abridges the rights of any property owner (whether public or private), including the right to refrain from participating in any plan, project, program, or activity conducted within the National Heritage Area;

(2) requires any property owner to permit public access (including access by Federal, State, Tribal, or local agencies) to the property of the property owner, or to modify public access or use of property of the property owner under any other Federal, State, Tribal, or local law;

(3) alters any duly adopted land use regulation, approved land use plan, or other regulatory authority of any Federal, State, Tribal, or local agency, or conveys any land use or other regulatory authority to any local coordinating entity, including but not necessarily limited to development and management of energy, water, or water-related infrastructure;

(4) authorizes or implies the reservation or appropriation of water or water rights;

(5) diminishes the authority of the State to manage fish and wildlife, including the regulation of fishing and hunting within the National Heritage Area; or

(6) creates any liability, or affects any liability under any other law, of any private property owner with respect to any person injured on the private property.

That sounds good in theory, but experience with other National Heritage Areas is not so good.

The Heritage Foundation (link 5 below) opines:

There are three key reasons why Congress should not create any new NHAs and why existing NHAs should become financially independent of the federal government, as their enabling legislation requires.

1) NHAs divert NPS resources from core responsibilities. NPS advocates and staff have long complained about the limited resources that Congress provides in comparison to its extensive responsibilities. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service estimate that the cost of NPS’s maintenance back-log exceeds several billion dollars and is rising despite increased annual appropriations.

2) Federal costs for NHAs are increasing at a rapid rate.

3) NHAs threaten private property rights. On the surface, most of the legislation designating an NHA, and the subsequent management plans that guide them, include explicit provisions prohibiting the NPS or the management entity from using eminent domain to acquire property. They also prohibit the use of federal funds to acquire private property by way of a voluntary transaction with a willing seller.

Nonetheless, NHAs pose a threat to private property rights through the exercise of restrictive zoning that may severely limit the extent to which property owners can develop or use their property. Termed “regulatory takings,” such zoning abuses are the most common form of property rights abuse today. They are also the most pernicious because they do not require any compensation to owners whose property values are reduced by the new zoning. (Read full article for details.)

The American Policy Center (link 4 below) opines:

Specifically, what is a National Heritage Area? To put it bluntly, it is a pork barrel earmark that harms property rights and local governance. Let me explain why that is. Heritage Areas have boundaries. These are very definite boundaries, and they have very definite consequences for folks who reside within them. National historic significance, obviously, is a very arbitrary term; so anyone’s property can end up falling under those guidelines.

The managing entity sets up non-elected boards, councils and regional governments to oversee policy inside the Heritage Area.

In the mix of special interest groups you’re going to find all of the usual suspects: Environmental groups; planning groups; historic preservation groups; all with their own private agendas – all working behind the scenes, creating policy, hovering over the members of the non-elected boards (perhaps even assuring their own people make up the boards), and all collecting the Park Service funds to pressure local governments to install their agenda. In many cases, these groups actually form a compact with the Interior Department to determine the guidelines that make up the land use management plan and the boundaries of the Heritage Area itself.

Now, after the boundaries are drawn and after the management plan has been approved by the Park Service, the management entity and its special interest groups, are given the federal funds, typically a million dollars a year, or more, and told to spend that money getting the management plan enacted at the local level.

Here’s how they operate with those funds. They go to local boards and local legislators and they say, Congress just passed this Heritage Area. “You are within the boundaries. We have identified these properties as those we deem significant. We have identified these businesses that we deem insignificant and a harm to these properties and a harm to the Heritage Area. We don’t have the power to make laws but you do. And here is some federal money. Now use whatever tools, whatever laws, whatever regulatory procedures you already have to make this management plan come into fruition.”

This sweeping mandate ensures that virtually every square inch of land within the boundaries is subject to the scrutiny of Park Service bureaucrats and their managing partners. That is the way it works. It’s done behind the scenes – out of the way of public input.

True private property ownership lies in one’s ability to do with his property as he wishes. Zoning and land-use policies are local decisions that have traditionally been the purview of locally elected officials who are directly accountable to the citizens that they represent.

But National Heritage Areas corrupt this inherently local process by adding federal dollars, federal mandates, and federal oversight to the mix. Along with an army of special interest carpet baggers who call themselves Stake Holders. (See the article for much more.)

References:

1) P.A. Pearthree and F.M. Conway, 2019, Preliminary evaluation of mineral resources

of the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area, Arizona, Arizona Geological Survey, Open-file Report OFR-19-03 (link)

2) Southwestern Minerals Exploration Association (SMEA), 2001, Mineral Potential of Eastern Pima County, Arizona, Arizona Geological Survey Contributed Report 01-B (link) (Note: I am one of the co-authors of this report.)

3) Text of House version of establishing legislation: H.R. 6522 (115th): Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act (link)

4) Tom DeWeese, American Policy Center, 2012, National Heritage Areas: the Land Grabs Continue (link)

5) Cheryl Chumley and Ronald Utt, 2007, National Heritage Areas: Costly Economic Development Schemes that Threaten Property Rights, The Heritage Foundation (link)

The People for the West newsletter for April, 2019

The People for the West newsletter for April, 2019 is now online:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/people-for-the-west/2019-archive/2019-14-April/

Earth Day is recognized in April each year. In view of recent predictions that the world will end in 12 years unless we get rid of fossil fuels and completely revise our economic system, it is well to review the track record of past predictions.

Other subjects include:

Brainwashing children to shill for bad science

Why Fossil Fuels Are Good for U.S. National Security

Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

Green New Deal Would Barely Change Earth’s Temperature. Here Are the Facts.

The unintended consequences of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s global warming crusade are hitting close to home—literally.

 

Enjoy,

Jonathan

A Petition From Southern Arizona Ranchers on Border Security

A group of Southern Arizona ranchers are exercising their First Amendment rights in seeking a redress of grievances from their senators and congressman.

The following is a petition to the federal government written by several ranchers on the Arizona-Mexican border. These ranchers have to deal everyday with illegal crossings and lack of proper infrastructure that would make our southern border more secure. Unlike politicians spouting talking points, these ranchers have first hand knowledge of what is really going on along our southern border. The federal government is failing to adequately protect the private property rights of these ranchers.

One of the ranchers, Jim Chilton, is a friend of mine and I have been on his ranch which lies south of Arivaca, AZ, and extends to the Mexican border. On the ranch, the Mexican border is marked by a four-strand barbed wire fence. That’s all. There are many trails from the border through the ranch. Two years ago Jim set up cameras on two of the trails. During that time the cameras captured approximately 500 trespassers going both north and south. Jim suspects he has recorded drug smugglers. The ranch headquarters has been burglarized twice and often water supply pipes to stock tanks have been broken. The smugglers have free run of the ranch because there is no real barrier.

The Petition:

Whereas, one of the most active drug smuggling and human trafficking corridors in the Nation is the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona;

Whereas, 25 miles along the border area south of Arivaca is marked by only an old four-strand barbed wire cattle fence;

Whereas, the Sinaloa Cartel has control of this 25-mile international boundary and of the thousands of square miles of minimally patrolled ranchland adjacent to it inside the United States, due to lack of adequate border infrastructure, the Border Patrol has been largely restricted to a “Defense in Depth” strategy which is inefficient due to rough terrain and inadequate access and allows the presence of well- equipped cartel scouts on top of our mountains to successfully direct drug and human trafficking;

Whereas, although the Tucson Station Patrol Agent-in-Charge and Border Patrol agents try their best to do their job, the lack of access and infrastructure, cartel scout presence, and rough terrain and inefficient “Defense in Depth” strategy creates a de facto “no man’s land” in which border ranchers live and work;

Whereas, the national Border Patrol Council Vice President, Art del Cueto, has asserted on national television that under the present situation, no more than 50% of illegal crossers are apprehended;

Whereas, Border Patrol agents are headquartered in Tucson, eighty miles and three hours from the border on our ranches and there are no roads paralleling the border and no efficient north-south access for the Border Patrol to respond to incursions; and

Whereas, current “defense in depth” strategy means the Tucson Station Border Patrol agents are dispersed across the 4,000 square miles of area of responsibility and are operating in the “backfield” instead of operating on the 25 linear miles of the actual border;

Therefore be it resolved, Border ranchers petition our government to construct an adequate security barrier such as a Bollard-style fence at the border, good all-weather, well-maintained roads leading to the border and along it, adequate, modern flood gates at water crossings, appropriate surveillance technology to monitor Border Patrol personnel and border status, air mobile support, and reliable communications for Border Patrol agents to call for back-up, and forward operations bases near the border barrier to effectively secure the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona.

The petition is signed by these ranchers: Jim Chilton, Chilton Ranch; Tom Kay, Jarillas Ranch; John R. Smith, Arivaca Ranch; Ted Noon, Oro Blanco Ranch; and Lowell Robinson, Tres Bellotas Ranch.

 

This post was first published in the Arizona Daily Independent where it received more than 100 comments.

The Dangerous Ignorance of the Green New Deal

The energy portion of the utopian “Green New Deal” would require the U.S. to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2035. Such a proposal shows a profound and dangerous ignorance of how things work. Let’s examine just one aspect of this. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts is quoted as saying: “Our energy future will not be found in the dark of a mine but in the light of the sun.”

Some simple questions for you Ed: Where will we get all the materials needed to construct the solar panels and wind turbines? Might they have to be mined? Might the metals and other materials used to build the equipment to manufacture the solar panels and wind turbines have to be mined? Might the copper for distribution lines have to be mined? By the way, electric cars use five times more copper than traditional fossil-fuel powered cars.

Manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines require mining minerals that currently are unavailable in the quantities required for this transition to 100% renewable energy. The U.S. is 100% dependent on imports from China, Russia and other countries of rare-earth elements used in the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines. (Note: many of these elements do occur in the western states of the U.S. on federal land, but environmentalists and federal regulations prevent mining.)

Solar and wind are not as “green” as advertized. For instance:

Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants. (Source) PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels. Nitrogen trifluoride, used in the manufacturing of solar panels, is a powerful greenhouse gas with a “global warming potential” of 17,200 times that of carbon dioxide. (Source)

Wind turbines chop up birds and bats and also affect human health due to the low frequency vibration.

Both utility-scale solar and wind installations use much more land than do similar capacity fossil-fuel generation stations, and thereby degrade the local environment.

The utopian “Green New Deal” if implemented, may become the dystopian green deal.

 

Related articles:

The “Green New Deal” Will Send US Back to the Dark Ages

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Why Replacing Fossil-fuel Generation of Electricity with Solar or Wind Is Dangerous

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

 

Note to readers:

The “Green New Deal” Will Send US Back to the Dark Ages

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” -Bertrand Russell

The “Green New Deal” promotes an energy policy and tried-and-failed social programs that will, by some estimates, cost $49 trillion during the first 10 years. (Cost estimate source) The National Review estimates that 5.8 million jobs would be eliminated under the Green New Deal. (Source)

The energy portion of the deal is based upon a profound ignorance and misunderstanding of how the climate system works. For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims: “The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change…” Promoters of utility-scale renewable energy, which probably would not exist without government mandates and subsidies, take advantage of that ignorance. (See Renewable Energy Subsidies Costly to Taxpayers, Benefit Big Companies)

Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute gives us the “highlights” of energy policy under the Green New Deal:

First, keep it in the ground by halting all fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and offshore areas; halting all permitting of fossil-fuel power plants, pipelines, and other infrastructure projects; banning fossil-fuel exports; and ending “massive, irrational subsidies” for fossil fuels and nuclear energy, waste incineration, and biomass energy.

Second, “the United States must shift to 100% renewable power by 2035 or earlier.” Large-scale hydro-electric power, biomass, and waste-to-energy do not qualify.

Third, public transport using renewable power only must be vastly expanded; sales of vehicles powered by gas and diesel engines must be banned as quickly as possible; and all such vehicles must be off the roads by 2040 at the latest. Of course, “federal credits for electric vehicles must be expanded.”

Fourth, Congress should “harness the full power of the Clean Air Act.” I’m not sure what more can be done to turn the economy upside down, but I may be missing something.

 Fifth, this must be a “just transition.” This will require “support for communities who (sic) have historically been harmed first and most by the dirty energy economy,” as well as “retrofitting millions of buildings to conserve energy” and “actively restoring natural ecosystems.”

 Sixth, the rights of indigenous peoples must be fully protected, although it’s not clear whether Native Americans will be allowed to develop coal, oil, and natural gas resources on their lands. My guess is they’ll be able to apply for compensation.

 Finally, the Green New Deal must not protect fossil fuel producers from legal liability and cannot include “market-based mechanisms and technology options such as carbon and emissions trading and offsets, [or] carbon capture and storage.”

 It should be called the Back to the Dark Ages Manifesto. (link to original article)

All aspects of living require energy, and hydrocarbons provide 80% of America’s energy, more for the rest of the world. A government-mandated transition to 100% renewable energy would completely destroy the U.S. industrial base and cause lights to go out in millions of households across the country. This energy transition alone could cost $5.2 trillion, while greatly increasing your energy costs.(Source)

Read these articles to see why the energy portion of the Green New Deal is so stupid:

The Broken Greenhouse – Why CO2 is a minor player in global climate

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

Why Replacing Fossil-fuel Generation of Electricity with Solar or Wind Is Dangerous

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

 

The Green New Deal is not just about energy, it contains most of the old (and failed) socialist utopian policies such as free education through college, guaranteed jobs, free medical care. Read the list as complied by the Green Party.

All this free stuff will put the government in full control of your life, and cost only $49 trillion for the first 10 years. (Source)

According to Justin Haskins, Fox News:

The Green New Deal would dramatically reshape the U.S. economy and add tens of trillions of dollars to the national debt.

The radical plan would force families to pay more to heat, cool and provide electricity to their homes. It would raise the same costs for businesses, farmers, government and organizations, driving up their operating costs – and raising the prices for just about all the good and services Americans buy.

Under the Green New Deal, Americans would have to power their homes with renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Every home and business in the United States would have to be “upgraded” for “state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.” And a slew of massive government social programs and mandates would be created.

In addition to the energy provisions of the Green New Deal that have received the most attention from left-wing pundits and radical environmentalists, there is a lot of important information related to this proposal that proponents have deliberately kept out of the spotlight.

Here are five of the most important things you need to know about the Green New Deal.

1. It includes many radical programs that have nothing to do with so-called “green” energy.

2. It would do nothing to curb global warming.

3. Renewable energy costs significantly more than fossil fuels.

4. The Green New Deal would empower and give handouts to left-wing special interest groups and industries.

5. It would run up the national debt by tens of trillions of dollars. Read more

 

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.” —Thomas Jefferson (1808)

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” —Thomas Jefferson (1802)

A Cautionary Tale from Great Britain

Green Deal fiasco:

By Tom Kelly, Investigations Editor for the Daily Mail

Thousands of homeowners face rip-off energy bills for decades after being ‘scammed’ into joining a state-backed £400million eco-energy scheme that ‘utterly failed’.

The Green Deal – which ministers trumpeted as the ‘biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War’ – was abandoned after two years as MPs admitted it had been a ‘complete fiasco’ that brought almost no environmental benefits.

But more than three years after its collapse, families remain trapped repaying loans of up to £21,000 which they unwittingly took out for solar panels, replacement boilers and insulation. The repayments are added to monthly utility bills which in some cases have quadrupled once the loans were added to the cost of their usual fuel and will take more than 20 years to pay back.

In some of the worst cases, the scheme was allowed to be ruthlessly exploited by Government-approved ‘gangster companies’ who conned the elderly and vulnerable, including those with dementia, MPs told the Commons. Read more

‘Green New Deal’ Relies on Minerals Environmentalists Won’t Allow Us to Mine
By Ann Bridges, The Heartland Institute
The Green New Deal proposes a massive expansion in the use of renewable energy technologies that rely on critical minerals we are not allowed to mine in the United States.

FACTS: Green renewable energy requires literally tons of minerals that currently are unavailable in the quantities required for this transition. Of course, the GND includes no plan for additional mining to supply this broad initiative.

FACTS: The Green New Deal’s website also says one of its goals is ending wars, which will supposedly “become obsolete” when fossil fuels are no longer used. If the advocates of the GND wish to limit the threat of war, then the United States needs to become mineral-independent in the same fashion it is now energy-independent.

FACTS: Another goal of the Green New Deal is to electrify U.S. transportation. Electric vehicles (EVs) use up to five times more copper than traditional, fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. California’s new edict to have five million EVs on the road by 2030 will require 750 million pounds of copper. Read more

Another Thing: 

Green New Deal Strengthens Russia and China

By hitting the U.S. military with deep cuts, “saving the planet” could have a dangerous result. Read article

The Supreme Court can fix a major mistake and deal a blow to federal corruption

The following is an opinion piece from the Falen Law Offices in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Read the original here.)

For any American who is tired of a faceless bureaucrat controlling your life, the United States Supreme Court gave you an early Christmas present when they announced that they will hear a case that could drastically scale back the power of federal agencies.

The case deals with Mr. Kisor, a Marine veteran, who sought disability benefits for his service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although this case is a compelling story of a Marine veteran trying to receive benefits he was entitled to, this case has far reaching implications that affect every American, especially businesses and property owners. The reason this case is so important is that it is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to eliminate Auer Deference. Auer Deference is a rule the Supreme Court made in the 90s that federal agencies use to create a cocoon of unlimited and unsupervised power for themselves. These agencies can then use that power to control the lives of every American without any real oversight from the court systems or elected officials.

Auer Deference essentially requires a court to enforce an agency’s interpretation of its own rules, unless that interpretation is “plainly erroneous.” To understand how Auer Deference works it is important to understand how regulations are made.

Essentially regulations are made when Congress decides in a law that they want an agency to be in charge of a certain issue. For example, Congress in the 70s knew that it wanted to take steps to protect the environment, but it did not want the political ramifications of sometimes choosing to protect the environment by harming landowners and businesses. So instead of passing laws that clearly laid out how it wanted to protect the environment, Congress passed laws like the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act, that were intentionally vague, and gave agencies like the EPA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service the power to interpret and create regulations to protect the environment.

When Congress gives an agency the power to regulate something, they then have the authority to draft regulations laying out the rules and standards for the particular issue. Auer Deference incentivizes those agencies to draft obscure regulations which they will then be able to interpret. Then, if someone challenges the agency’s interpretation of a regulation, the court will automatically rule in the agency’s favor, unless the person can prove that the rule is “plainly erroneous.” Having to prove that a rule is “plainly erroneous” is nearly impossible. So an agency could create an absurd interpretation of a regulation it intentionally left vague, and there would be no recourse or protection against the agency enforcing that interpretation. Essentially, Auer Deference allows the people writing the rules to also interpret the rule (or in other words, the patients are running the rulemaking asylum).

Although there are numerous examples of how Auer Deference harms the rights of Americans daily, a practical example of an agency using Auer Deference can be found in the Endangered Species Act. When deciding what areas should be designated as critical habitat, the US Fish and Wildlife Service created a regulation stating, “the Secretary shall focus on the principal biological or physical constituent elements within the defined area that are essential to the conservation of the species.” The regulations however do not define “essential to the conservation of the species.” Due to the ambiguity as to what is actually “essential to the conservation of the species,” the Fish and Wildlife Service has used the ambiguity to unilaterally designate critical habitat wherever they want, even stating that critical habitat did not have to actually be habitable by the endangered species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s liberal use of “critical habitat” was the primary issue in the Dusky Gopher Frog case. In that case the agency interpreted its own rules as to what can be designated as critical habitat and determined that certain land in Louisiana, that the dusky gopher frog could not viably live on, was listed as critical habitat for the species. Since the Fish and Wildlife Service were the “experts” the district court and the Fifth Circuit both used Auer Deference to rule in favor of the Fish and Wildlife Service that critical habitat did not have to be habitable. Although the Supreme Court luckily reversed the Fifth Circuit and ruled that critical habitat had to actually be habitable, the decision was sent back to the Fifth Circuit. Due to Auer Deference, the Fifth Circuit could conceivably rule in favor the Fish and Wildlife Service and designate uninhabitable land as critical habitat.

In the end, Justice Scalia best described the problem with Auer Deference when he wrote, “Auer deference… contravenes one of the great rules of separation of powers: He who writes a law must not adjudge its violation.” Or in other words, the greatest harm that Auer Deference creates is that it gives the power of interpreting the law to the very same people who write the law. Such power naturally can create corruption. This corruption manifests in federal agencies creating intentionally vague regulations that nobody can follow in order to allow government bureaucrats to write the laws themselves on a case-by-case basis. Thankfully, it appears that the US Supreme Court recognizes the dangers of Auer Deference and will hopefully eliminate it.

Main temperature database used by IPCC found to contain multiple errors

An audit of the HadCRUT4 dataset, the primary global temperature database used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found multiple errors.

HadCRUT4 is also the dataset at the center of “ClimateGate” from 2009, managed by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University.

The paper, An Audit of the Creation and Content of the HadCRUT4 Temperature Dataset by John McLean (PhD), was first published as a PhD thesis and now as a book. Get the book for $8 here. Read the original thesis here (free download).

The audit found more than 70 areas of concern about data quality and accuracy.

Australian researcher John McLean says that HadCRUT4 is far too sloppy to be taken seriously even by climate scientists, let alone a body as influential as the IPCC or by the governments of the world.

Main points:

The Hadley data is one of the most cited, most important databases for climate modeling, and thus for policies involving billions of dollars.

McLean found freakishly improbable data, and systematic adjustment errors, large gaps where there is no data, location errors, Fahrenheit temperatures reported as Celsius, and spelling errors.

[The improper transposition of Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius is serious. Fahrenheit 40 is a cool temperature but Celsius 40 is equivalent to 104 Fahrenheit. This erroneous transposition is real “man-made global warming.”]

Almost no quality control checks have been done: outliers that are obvious mistakes have not been corrected. For instance, one town in Columbia spent three months in 1978 at an average daily temperature of over 80 degrees C (176 F). One town in Romania stepped out from summer in 1953 straight into a month of Spring at minus 46°C. These are supposedly “average” temperatures for a full month at a time. St Kitts, a Caribbean island, was recorded at 0°C for a whole month, and twice!

Temperatures for the entire Southern Hemisphere in 1850 and for the next three years are calculated from just one site in Indonesia and some random ships.

Sea surface temperatures represent 70% of the Earth’s surface, but some measurements come from ships which are logged at locations 100km inland. Others are in harbors which are hardly representative of the open ocean.

When a thermometer is relocated to a new site, the adjustment assumes that the old site was always built up and “heated” by concrete and buildings. In reality, the artificial warming probably crept in slowly. By correcting for buildings that likely didn’t exist in 1880, old records are artificially cooled. Adjustments for a few site changes can create a whole century of artificial warming trends.

Details of the worst outliers:

For April, June and July of 1978 Apto Uto, Colombia had an average monthly temperature of 81.5°C, 83.4°C and 83.4°C respectively. (178 to 182 Fahrenheit)

The monthly mean temperature in September 1953 at Paltinis, Romania is reported as -46.4 °C (in other years the September average was about 11.5°C).

At Golden Rock Airport, on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean, mean monthly temperatures for December in 1981 and 1984 are reported as 0.0°C. But from 1971 to 1990 the average in all the other years was 26.0°C.

Bad data and bad modeling assumptions make IPCC temperature simulations diverge widely from really. That’s why we should not believe the IPCC when they cry “wolf” and say it’s the end of the world unless we give them billions of dollars and get rid of fossil fuels.

The primary conclusion of the audit (as noted by Anthony Watts) is that the dataset shows exaggerated warming and that global averages are far less certain than have been claimed.

One implication of the audit is that climate models have been tuned to match incorrect data, which would render incorrect their predictions of future temperatures and estimates of the human influence of temperatures.

Another implication is that the proposal that the Paris Climate Agreement adopt 1850-1899 averages as “indicative” of pre-industrial temperatures is fatally flawed. During that period global coverage is low – it averages 30% across that time – and many land-based temperatures are very likely to be excessively adjusted and therefore incorrect.

 

Why is it that a PhD student working from home can find mistakes that the British Met Office, a £226 million institute with 2,100 employees, could not. Significantly, the Met Office, in a statement, said they do not disagree with any of his claims.

Maybe, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his farewell address:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The fake two degree political limit on global warming

Climate change in perspective – a tutorial for policy makers

Why You Should Vote NO on Arizona Proposition 127, the renewable energy mandate (Update)

Proposition 127 is very bad policy because: 1) wind and solar generation of electricity are both expensive and unreliable; 2) wind and solar generation can be dangerous to wildlife, human health, and the environment; and 3) the perceived need for more wind and solar generation is based on the false assumption that carbon dioxide emissions are a major cause of global warming.

The method of generating electricity should not be determined by one-size-fits-all government mandates, but rather by local market conditions and resources.

In the following summary I explain the problems with renewable energy. More background is available in the references at the end of this post.

Arizona proposition 127, dubbed “The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” will amend the Arizona Constitution to require affected electric utilities generate at least 50% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030. The Amendment allows electric utilities to earn and trade credits to meet these requirements. (Read full text)

Arizona currently produces half of its renewable energy from hydropower generated at the large dams on the Colorado River, but, according to the proposed amendment, this electricity is not to be counted toward the 50% mandated goal. According to the Energy Information Administration, power plants in Arizona generate more electricity than the state consumes, and Arizona generating stations supply electricity to consumers throughout the southwest.

 

Expensive:

Promoters of proposition 127 claim that (based on computer modeling) more renewable energy generation will decrease the price of electricity. The computer model claims that “average electricity bills in 2030 would be three dollars a month lower if Arizona pursues a high-renewables future, and five dollars a month lower in 2040.”

Contrary to claims of proposition promoters, real-world experience shows that the price of electricity can triple as the percentage of wind and solar generation increases. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Arizona’s existing 7 percent renewable power mandate (on its way up to 15%) cost the average Arizona household $304 in higher electricity charges in 2017. At 50 percent renewables, as required by prop. 127, that could rise to an additional $2,179 per year compared to present electricity costs. (Source: The Heartland Institute) Higher electricity rates disproportionally impact the poor. (See this story)

My own electric bill from Tucson Electric Power is running at the rate of an extra charge of $230 per year due to the renewable energy mandate. A curious thing: These charges used to be listed on the bill as “Green Energy Charges” but since March, 2017, they are listed merely as “Surcharges.”

Electricity produced by wind and solar turns out to be much more expensive than electricity produced from coal and natural gas. That is mainly because wind and solar are unreliable, they can’t respond to demand. Therefore they need nuclear or fossil fuel generated electricity as backup which causes the fossil fuel plants to run inefficiently which is more expensive (and produces more carbon dioxide).

Europe has been a world leader in using wind and solar energy. The price, however, is high. Real operational data show that the more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. (Source) In some European countries electricity prices are triple the average cost in the U.S. Ironically, carbon dioxide emissions in those countries are rising while in the U.S. emissions are decreasing. Also ironically, according to the New York Times, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-emissions electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy.

Australia has been flirting with replacing coal generation with renewables. Australian engineers warn 55% renewables will add $1400 to electricity bills, an 84% increase in electricity rates. (Source) The state of South Australian generates about 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power. South Australia’s consumer electricity prices are the highest in the world and electric reliability is one of the worst in the developed world. (Source)

California: According to Environmental Progress, a pro-nuclear advocacy group:

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally. Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for residential, commercial, and industrial electricity. California’s high penetration of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind are likely a key factor in higher prices. (LinkHad California spent an estimated $100 billion on nuclear instead of on wind and solar, it would already have had enough energy to replace all fossil fuels in its in-state electricity mix according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

study by the left-of-center Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices 50 percent, and replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs.

From the Brookings report:

Costs are much higher for three reasons. First, the cost per MW [megawatt] of capacity to build a wind or solar plant is quite high (and much greater than that of a gas-fired plant). The cost per MW of solar capacity is especially high. Reductions in the cost of solar-voltaic panels have reduced the cost of building a solar plant by 22 percent between 2010 and 2012, but further reductions are likely to have a lesser effect because the cost of solar panels is only a fraction of the total cost of a utility-scale solar plant.

Second, a wind or solar plant operates at full capacity only a fraction of the time, when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. For example, a typical solar plant in the United States operates at only about 15 percent of full capacity and a wind plant only about 25 percent of full capacity, while a coal plant can operate 90 percent of full capacity on a year-round basis.

Third, the output of wind and solar plants is highly variable—year by year, month by month, day by day and hour by hour—compared to a coal-fired plant… Thus more than six solar plants and four wind plants are required to produce the same output with the same degree of reliability as a coal-fired plant of the same capacity.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. They conclude: “As a means of producing useful electrical power, wind and solar are very expensive generating technologies because of their low capacity factors and because of their non-dispatchability and intermittency.” (Source)

It has been proposed that the intermittency problem with wind and solar can be solved by battery storage. But an MIT Technology Review article says that would be too expensive: “The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid: Fluctuating solar and wind power require lots of energy storage, and lithium-ion batteries seem like the obvious choice—but they are far too expensive to play a major role.” The $2.5 trillion battery system would provide just 12 hours of storage for the entire U.S. (Link)

Dangerous:

Utility scale wind and solar installations require vast expanses of land that affect local habitats. Wind turbines chop up birds and bats, including endangered species. Solar installations burn up birds and other flying animals. Low frequency sound from wind turbines causes a variety of human ailments. The manufacturing and disposal of solar panels put dangerous chemicals into the environment. For example, many PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels. Does that sound like “clean energy”?

recent study shows that solar modules cause more greenhouse gas emissions than modern coal power plants. It turns out that because of the emissions of extraordinarily potent greenhouse gases nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride and energy requirements of manufacturing solar modules, solar energy ends up being worse for the climate than burning coal.

(See references 5 & 6)

Another danger is that proposition 127 is intended to be an amendment to the Arizona Constitution rather than a statute. It will therefore be much harder to repeal once its utter folly is realized.

The false assumption:

The push for renewable energy, especially wind and solar generation, is based on the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are a significant cause of global warming.

This claim is not based on physical evidence but only upon garbage-in, garbage-out computer models, the results of which diverge widely from observations. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the major promoter of the human-caused global warming scare. Yet, in five major reports, the IPCC does not provide any physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in global warming. I have asked several university climate scientists who support the claim to cite supporting physical evidence. Although they are alleged experts in the field, they could not cite any physical evidence. They devolve to computer modeling. On the other hand, there are several lines of physical evidence that show carbon dioxide emissions do not enhance the dread greenhouse effect. (See references 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9) Many scientific studies present physical evidence showing that carbon dioxide is but a bit player among the many factors influencing climate change. (See these references: link)

A report from the Science and Public Policy Institute estimates the temperature savings theoretically obtained by stopping all carbon dioxide emissions for each state and for the U.S. as a whole. According to SPPI, if Arizona stopped all carbon dioxide emissions, it would theoretically prevent a temperature rise of 0.0014°C by 2050 and 0.0029°C by 2100. If the U.S. stopped all carbon dioxide emissions, it would theoretically prevent a temperature rise of 0.172°C by 2100. (Link to report) Do you think that’s worth the higher electricity prices and disruption of the electric grid?

In the entire geological history of the planet, there has been no known linkage between CO2 and temperatures other than that temperature controls the solubility of CO2 in the oceans. (See reference 8) The war on carbon dioxide tries to cure a problem that does not exist.

Generating more electricity from solar and wind is just a very expensive exercise in political correctness that will have little impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but a big impact on your wallet, and an adverse impact on electric grid stability and the environment. (See reference 7) If you really want low/no emissions generation of electricity, we should invest in more nuclear generation which is always there when you need it.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

Note: This article is based upon my own observations and research. I have had no dealings with any of the several PACs organized for or against the proposition. This article may be reprinted provided credit is given to the author and link back to the original.

References:

1. A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

2. Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

3. Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

4. Health Effects of global warming on humans

5. Avian mortality from solar farms

6. Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

7. The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

8. An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

9. What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

10. Audit of main temperature database used by IPCC finds multiple errors

 

Vote NO on Arizona proposition 127 the renewable energy mandate

Arizona proposition 127, dubbed “The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” has qualified for inclusion on the November ballot although it is still being challenged in court. If this amendment to the Arizona Constitution actually reaches the ballot it would, if passed, require affected electric utilities to provide at least 50% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030. The Amendment allows electric utilities to earn and trade credits to meet these requirements. (Read full text)

Arizona currently produces half of its renewable energy from hydropower created by the large dams on the Colorado River, but, according to the proposed amendment, this electricity is not counted in the 50% mandate. According to the Energy Information Administration, power plants in Arizona generate more electricity than the state consumes, and Arizona generating stations supply electricity to consumers throughout the southwest.

In my opinion, this amendment is very bad policy. It is stupid, dangerous, and expensive. In the following summary I explain. More background is available in the references at the end of this post.

Stupid:

The push toward renewable energy, especially wind and solar generation, is based on a false premise: the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are a significant cause of global warming, and that global warming is dangerous. Utility scale wind and solar installations would not exist were it not based on this false assumption, mandates, and subsidies.

This claim is not based on physical evidence but only upon garbage-in, garbage-out computer models, the results of which diverge widely from observations. I have asked several university climate scientists who support the claim to cite supporting physical evidence. Although they are alleged experts in the field, they could not cite any physical evidence. On the other hand there are several lines of physical evidence that show carbon dioxide emissions do not enhance the dread greenhouse effect. (See references 1, 2, 3 & 4)

Dangerous:

Utility scale wind and solar installations require vast expanses of land that affect local habitats. Wind turbines chop up birds and bats, including endangered species. Solar installations burn up birds and other flying animals. Low frequency sound from wind turbines causes a variety of human ailments. The manufacturing and disposal of solar panels put dangerous chemicals into the environment. For example, many PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels.

new study shows that solar modules cause more greenhouse gas emissions than modern coal power plants. It turns out that because of the emissions of extraordinarily potent greenhouse gases nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride and energy requirements of manufacturing solar modules, solar energy ends up being worse for the climate than burning coal (assuming the greenhouse global warming hypothesis is valid). (See references 5 & 6)

Expensive:

Electricity produce by wind and solar turns out to be much more expensive than electricity produced from coal and natural gas. That is mainly because wind and solar are unreliable, they can’t respond to demand. Therefore they need nuclear or fossil fuel generated electricity as backup which causes the fossil fuel plants to run inefficiently which produces more carbon dioxide.

Europe has been a world leader in using wind and solar energy. The price, however, is high. The more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In some European countries electricity prices are triple the average cost in the U.S. Ironically, carbon dioxide emissions in those countries are rising while in the U.S. emissions are decreasing. Also ironically, according to the New York Times, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy.

 

Generating more electricity from solar and wind is just a very expensive exercise in political correctness that will have little impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but a big impact on your wallet and an adverse impact on electric grid stability and the environment.

 

References:

1. A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

2. Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

3. Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

4. Health Effects of global warming on humans

5. Avian mortality from solar farms

6. Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

7. The high cost of wind and solar generation of electricity