People for the West -Tucson
Newsletter, October, 2018
PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868
Real environmentalism can go hand in hand with natural resource production, private property rights, and access to public lands
ENERGY AND POLITICS
By Jonathan DuHamel
The lead story in the September issue of this newsletter urged you to vote NO on Arizona Proposition 127, the renewable energy mandate. I have since written an update which you can read on my Wryheat blog here.
Proposition 127, which would require that 50% of electricity be generated by renewable energy, 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.
Propositon 127 would add another section to Article 15 of the Arizona constitution. That article deals with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The ACC has already imposed a renewable energy mandate of 15% renewables by 2025. (Arizona is at about 7% now.)
Promoters of proposition 127 claim that renewable energy will lower you electricity bill. Indeed, their computer models show a savings of $3 per month by 2030. Wow! Real-world experience, however, shows that renewables greatly increase consumer electric bills. In Germany and Denmark, which currently have about 16% renewables, consumer electric bills are triple the average price in the U.S. My own electricity bill from Tucson Electric Power shows “surcharges” attributed to the existing renewable energy tariff running at an extra $230 per year.
The method of generating electricity should not be determined by one-size-fits-all government mandates, but rather by local market conditions and resources.
If proposition 127 fails, the Arizona legislature should take action to stop the existing renewable energy mandate. The authority for this action is contained within Article 15 of the Arizona constitution. Section 6 says: The law-making power [the legislature] may enlarge the powers and extend the duties of the corporation commission, and may prescribe rules and regulations to govern proceedings instituted by and before it; but, until such rules and regulations are provided by law, the commission may make rules and regulations to govern such proceedings.
Please urge your legislators to pass a law to rid us of the renewable energy mandate. Such a law could be simple. For instance, it could say “The ACC shall not mandate how electricity is generated in Arizona. Any and all existing mandates are hereby rescinded and declared null and void.” ☼
Analysis: California’s Solar Panel Mandate Lowers CO2 Emissions by 0.32%
By Elizabeth Harrington
California will mandate solar panels on new homes out of concern for climate change, a policy that will raise prices in the most expensive home market in the country and does little to decrease the state’s carbon footprint. MIT reports: “California estimates that the new rule will cut emissions by 1.4 million metric tons over three years, which is a small fraction of the 440 million tons the state generated in 2015.” Emissions would be reduced by 0.32 percent. Read more ☼
One in three U.S. households faces a challenge in meeting energy needs
Nearly one-third of U.S. households (31%) reported facing a challenge in paying energy bills or sustaining adequate heating and cooling in their homes in 2015. According to the most recent results from EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), about one in five households reported reducing or forgoing necessities such as food and medicine to pay an energy bill, and 14% reported receiving a disconnection notice for energy service. Households may also use less energy than they would prefer; 11% of households surveyed reported keeping their home at an unhealthy or unsafe temperature. Renewables are partly to blame for rising energy costs. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration ☼
FIXING THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
Interior Department Proposes Endangered Species Reforms
By Duggan Flanakin, The Heartland Institute (read full article)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWSP) announced a series of policy reforms altering how it fosters species recovery under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, to reduce conflict between species and people while enhancing species recovery.
One reform revises regulations on designating critical habitat for species recovery, reinstating a requirement that areas currently occupied by a species will be reviewed and considered for restrictions before, and separate from, unoccupied areas.
A second change reverses a policy going back decades, under which threatened species were automatically given the same protections against being harmed or threatened by development as endangered species. Under the ESA, restrictions on actions which resulted in taking a threatened species or altering its habitat were allowed to be made on a case-by-case basis, but previous administrations placed the same blanket prohibitions on the taking of threatened species as those regarding endangered species, eliminating, from a regulatory perspective, the different status of the two categories of species.
FWS offered an additional regulatory revision, withdrawing the Obama-era “compensatory mitigation policy” requiring any natural resource extraction on federal land to provide a “net benefit” to endangered species by mandating industry pay the government a fee to mitigate potential habitat damage.
Ranchers and oil and gas operators are hopeful the changes FWS is making will allow them to better plan their operations. Under the Obama mitigation policy, companies would have to create habitat for habitat they had not destroyed, requiring ranchers to undertake species habitat activities that hurt their bottom line and made many activities unprofitable. Under FWS’s new policy, operators on federal land should have some regulatory certainty allowing them to better understand any regulatory risks they are exposed to.
To advance species protections, Congress must fundamentally reform the ESA to provide incentives for landowners to protect species. ☼
Comments on ESA reform by the Pima Natural Resource Conservation District
Note: the PNRCD is an Arizona state agency of which I am a supervisor. The goal of the PNRCD is to provide for restoration and conservation of lands, water and soil resources and thereby conserve natural resources, conserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect private, state and federal lands, and protect and restore the State’s rivers, streams and associated riparian habitats. PNRCD is one of 32 such agencies within Arizona.
1. Geographical area occupied by the species
The 2016 definition is so broad that it includes extreme statistical outliers to justify designation of critical habitat in areas where the species is highly unlikely to occur, much less reproduce. The present definition thereby casts the widest possible net of unnecessary regulation and maximizes unnecessary costs, without measurably contributing to the conservation or recovery of the species.
We propose the USFWS return to the more realistic pre-2014 definition of “geographical area occupied by the species” to mean a home range where a minimum of two naturally occurring, breeding pairs have produced young for two consecutive years.
2. Physical or biological features
The ESA says: The features that support the life-history needs of the species, including but not limited to, water characteristics, soil type, geological features, sites, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species, or other features. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic, or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. Features may include habitat characteristics that support ephemeral or dynamic habitat conditions. Features may also be expressed in terms relating to principles of conservation biology, such as patch size, distribution distances, and connectivity.
In 2014, the USFWS designated more than 700,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico as six areas of critical habitat for the jaguar in the United States, based on a finding that such areas contain just one of the many physical and biological features essential to the species- a minimum sized area of open space.
However, open spaces much larger than the required minimum size could be found on Mars or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but they could not possibly support the jaguar, nor be considered essential to its conservation. Neither can the areas of New Mexico and Arizona that were designated as critical habitat, because those areas lack at least one essential biological feature—the presence of female jaguars. In fact, no naturally occurring female jaguar was ever recorded in New Mexico, and no evidence whatsoever of naturally occurring, breeding Panthera onca exists in the historical, archaeological or fossil records of Arizona or New Mexico.
Therefore, the presence of lone, essential physical or biological habitat features, in the absence of all other essential habitat features, offers no guarantee that an area can even support a species more than temporarily, much less is it likely to be essential to the conservation of a species. The result of ignoring all but just one or two physical or biological features is unnecessary and burdensome regulations with no conservation of the species in question.
The ESA refers to “physical or biological features” in plural, not singular form. It is a safe assumption that intent of Congress was that critical habitat would be designated only where it truly provides for all the essential needs of the species, meaning it contains all those (plural) physical and biological elements essential to the conservation of the species.
We recommend the wording of the first sentence be changed to, “All those physical and biological features that support the life-history needs of the species, including but not limited to, water characteristics, soil type, geological features, sites, prey, vegetation, symbiotic species, or other features.
3. The Delphi method [which relies on opinion rather than physical data] must be prohibited as a basis for any habitat modeling, population modeling, or any other analysis that forms the basis of a species listing or critical habitat designation. The Delphi method violates the clearly stated ESA mandate that listing and critical habitat decisions rely “solely on the best available commercial and scientific data.” Neither expert opinions nor citations to papers that rely on expert opinions qualify as scientific or commercial data; and both therefore fail to satisfy the minimum standard of the ESA.
4. The ESA should follow the intent of Congress. Congress clearly indicated that critical habitat should be limited to specific areas that are essential to the species’ survival and should not include areas for future population expansion.
PNRCD also proposed several other changes in language. See full statement☼
Study – Global Tree cover on the rise – possibly due to CO2/global warming
by Anthony Watts
Global tree canopy cover increased by 2.24 million square kilometers (865,000 square miles) between 1982 and 2016, reports a new study in Nature. These new findings contradict earlier studies that reported a continuing net loss of forest cover.
Researchers using satellite data tracked the changes in various land covers to find that gains in forest area in the temperate, subtropical, and boreal climatic zones are offsetting declines in the tropics. In addition, forest area is expanding even as areas of bare ground and short vegetation are shrinking. Furthermore, forests in montane regions are expanding as climate warming enables trees to grow higher up on mountains. Read more ☼
Apaches stave off wildfires with timber industry, active forest management
By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times
The catastrophic blazes that thrive in eastern Arizona’s thickly forested yet arid landscape have a way of fizzling once they jump from the dense national forests to the Apache reservations, and that’s not by chance.
On a scorching summer day with fire danger at the extreme level, forestry superintendent Michael Gutierrez and his crew spent the morning chain-sawing the overgrown junipers surrounding Seneca Lake on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
Soil conservationist Paul Buck discussed his experiments in fighting tough alligator juniper using the terrestrial version of the herbicide Round-Up, and forest manager Dee Randall explained how the scrubby trees could be converted into slabs and sold for furniture as part the tribal timber business.
Such wildfire prevention techniques might alarm environmentalists, but the San Carlos Apache have their own agenda: Keep the forests healthy, protect their sacred sites, and bring back the plants and grasslands that flourished before the reservation was established in 1934. Read more ☼
CFACT unveiled a new billboard that lays out more hard facts that expose the foolishness of banning plastic straws.
Only 0.03% of plastic in the ocean comes from straws and 98.6% of ocean plastic does not come from the U.S.!
Put that together with the fact that 80% of mismanaged plastic waste in the ocean comes from ten rivers in Asia and Africa, as made clear by the first billboard in CFACT’s campaign, and the conclusion is clear — Banning straws in America is a complete waste.
Here are a few straight facts:
The oft-cited figure that Americans use 500 million straws a day comes from the unvetted guess of a nine-year-old for a school project;
Over 80% of unmanaged ocean plastic comes from just 10 rivers in Africa and Asia;
Forty-six percent of total ocean plastic is discarded fishing gear;
America contributes less than 1.4% of ocean plastic;
Just 0.03% of ocean plastic comes from straws;
American straws contribute an insignificant amount to ocean plastic;
Banning American straws is a waste.
Why ban straws in America if it accomplishes nothing?
Because the Green-Left can’t control the developing world’s pollution, but they can control you — and that’s all they really care about. (Source) ☼
The Economic Effects of Unlocking Federal Lands
Institute for Energy Research
The Institute for Energy Research released a study titled, “The Economic Effects of Immediately Opening Federal Lands to Oil, Gas, and Coal Leasing,” by Dr. Joseph Mason, a professor at Louisiana State University and a Senior Fellow at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In the study, Dr. Mason assesses the economic benefits of expanding development of oil, gas, and coal resources on federal lands.
Key findings from the study include:
GDP would increase by $127 billion annually in the next seven years, and $663 billion annually in the next thirty years.
$20.7 trillion cumulative increase in economic activity over the next thirty-seven years, simply by allowing Americans to go to work producing energy.
552,000 jobs would be created annually over the next seven years, with 2.7 million jobs annually over the next thirty years.
$32 billion increase in annual wages over the next seven years, with a cumulative increase of $5.1 trillion over thirty-seven years..
The federal government would receive an additional $3.9 trillion in federal tax revenues over thirty-seven years, while state and local tax revenues would rise by $1.9 trillion over the same time period. Read full report ☼
Sanders’ ‘Medicare for all’ plan would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years.
Bob Moffit, a senior fellow in Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies, says the bill is the quintessential prescription for comprehensive government-controlled health care. “The Sanders bill would create a national health insurance program; prohibit all Americans from having a private or employer-based health insurance plan; and abolish Medicare and Medicaid, absorbing their functions into the new national health insurance scheme.” Read more about the details and breathtaking cost of Sanders’ health care plan. ☼
MIT: Climate tipping point busted – globe needs to reach 152°F before runaway greenhouse effect kicks in
by Anthony Watts
Current trend of “global warming” isn’t enough to get there, says MIT scientist.
New insights into the role of water vapor may help researchers predict how the planet will respond to warming.
Just as an oven gives off more heat to the surrounding kitchen as its internal temperature rises, the Earth sheds more heat into space as its surface warms up. Since the 1950s, scientists have observed a surprisingly straightforward, linear relationship between the Earth’s surface temperature and its outgoing heat.
For Earth, a runaway effect wouldn’t kick in until global average temperatures reach about 340 K, or 152 F.
Global warming alone is insufficient to cause such warming, but other climatic changes, such as Earth’s warming over billions of years due to the sun’s natural evolution, could push Earth towards this limit, “at which point, we would turn into Venus.” Read more ☼
Termites produce more CO2 each year than all living things combined
Scientists have calculated that termites alone produce ten times as much carbon dioxide as all the fossil fuels burned in the whole world in a year.
Pound for pound, the weight of all the termites in the world is greater than the total weight of humans.
Scientists estimate that, worldwide, termites may release over 150 million tons of methane gas into the atmosphere annually. In our lower atmosphere this methane then reacts to form carbon dioxide and ozone.
It is estimated that for every human on Earth there may be 1000 pounds of termites.
On the average Termites expel gas composed of about 59% nitrogen, 21% hydrogen, 9% carbon dioxide, 7% methane, and 4% oxygen.
It is thought “There are 2,600 different species of termites, and it is estimated that there are at least a million billion individual termites on Earth, that they emit two and four percent of the global carbon dioxide and methane budget, respectively-both mediated directly or indirectly by their microbes. (Source) ☼
New York Times, 1982: Now researchers report that termites, digesting vegetable matter on a global basis, produce more than twice as much carbon dioxide as all the world’s smokestacks. ☼
NOAA on hurricanes (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
In summary, neither our model projections for the 21st century nor our analyses of trends in Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm counts over the past 120+ yr support the notion that greenhouse gas-induced warming leads to large increases in either tropical storm or overall hurricane numbers in the Atlantic. (See also)
Paper review by CO2Science.org
A study of proxy atmospheric CO2 and temperature records from the warm Cretaceous period reveal consistently low CO2 values, as well as frequent decoupling with temperature, signaling that atmospheric carbon dioxide is not the control knob of planetary temperature that climate alarmists make it out to be. (See summary of other papers and this page for individual papers) Bottom line: real physical evidence shows that CO2 is but a bit player among the many factors influencing climate change.
How the war on climate change slams the world’s poor
By Bjorn Lomborg, New York Post
When a “solution” to a problem causes more damage than the problem, policymaking has gone awry. That’s where we often find ourselves with global warming today.
Activist organizations like Worldwatch argue that higher temperatures will make more people hungry, so drastic carbon cuts are needed. But a comprehensive new study published in Nature Climate Change led by researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis has found that strong global climate action would cause far more hunger and food insecurity than climate change itself. Read more
‘Settled Science’ On Obama School Lunch Program Turns Out To Be Junk — What’s Next?
Investor’s Business Daily
Eight years ago, the Obama administration spent millions of dollars pushing schools to get kids to eat healthier. The science behind the effort was rock solid. Or so everyone thought. Sound familiar?
The Journal of the American Medical Association announced that it was retracting six articles it had published over the past 13 years. All of them authored by Cornell University nutrition expert and director of the school’s Food and Brand Lab, Brian Wansink. The reason? It no longer could be sure the findings in those studies were valid.
Last year, the USDA declared that the program had proven effective “in a variety of schools across the nation.” It said kids were eating significantly more fruits and vegetables.
But last fall, researchers who examined Wansink’s work started to point out inconsistencies, errors, misuse of data, and exaggerated claims in his work. One found about 150 inconsistencies in statistics from four papers. Read more ☼
“The closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government program.” – Ronald Reagan
“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 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)
“Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.” -Will Durant
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1) Support private property rights.
2) Support multiple use management of federal lands for agriculture, livestock grazing, mining, oil and gas production, recreation, timber harvesting and water development activities.
3) Support a balance of environmental responsibility and economic benefit for all Americans by urging that environmental policy be based on good science and sound economic principles.
Newsletters can be viewed online on Jonathan’s Wryheat Blog:
See my essay on climate change:
The Constitution is the real contract with America.
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People for the West – Tucson, Inc.
PO Box 86868
Tucson, AZ 85754-6868
Jonathan DuHamel, President & Editor
Dr. John Forrester, Vice President
Lonni Lees, Associate Editor
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