government

Scientific misconduct at USGS lab affects Arizona

According to an Inspector General report published June 15, 2016, the inorganic section of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colo. manipulated data on a variety of projects from 1996 to 2014. The manipulation was caught in 2008, but continued another six years.

The Inspector General report “ detailed two instances in which mass spectrometer operators in the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory’s Inorganic Section had violated established laboratory practices without detection for many years. The initial incident involved scientific misconduct that began in 1996 and continued undiscovered until 2008. The second incident began in 2008 and continued undiscovered until late 2014.”

“Once the results of the inquiry became known, USGS closed the Inorganic Section, effective February 25, 2016. Along with the closure, the agency initiated personnel actions, started determining what should be done with the lab equipment, and began notifying end users of potentially suspect data generated in the lab. USGS currently is assessing the full impacts of the incident on affected research and assessment projects, a process that will take some time to complete. USGS accused the chemist of data manipulation by intentionally changing the results produced by the mass spectrometer. The chemist also failed to preserve the data. Further, the Bureau accused the chemist of failing to operate the mass spectrometer according to established practices, which constituted scientific misconduct.”

“Twenty-four research and assessment projects that have national and global interest were potentially affected by erroneous information. These affected projects represented about $108 million in funding from FY 2008 through 2014.” Assessment of uranium in the environment in and around Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona was one of the affected projects.

Arizona State Geologist, Lee Allison, notes on his blog:

“According to the report, the matter was discovered in late 2014, but had been taking place since 2008. This covers the time period when the Secretary of Interior was conducting a review of impacts of potential mineral exploration and development, particularly of uranium, in northern Arizona. As a result of the federal studies, the Secretary placed a 20-year moratorium on exploration and mining on nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the region.”

“The fraudulent data could bring into question the scientific justification of the land withdrawal, and the current political effort to establish a 1.8 million acre national monument in the region specifically to protect the area from impacts on water from uranium mining.”

My report, “Uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon all politics, no science” was on work done by the Arizona Geological Survey which depended, in part, on USGS data. I think, however, that the basis of the Arizona Geological Survey report remains valid.

Read full Inspector General report.

UPDATE from the Daily Caller:

EXCLUSIVE: Congressman Says Fed Lab Closure For Data Manipulation Is ‘Suspicious’

Sally Jewell speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Mis-conduct by two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials led to the “suspicious” shutdown of a federal scientific lab in Lakewood, Colorado, without informing Congress, a skeptical lawmaker and career engineer told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The way they closed the facility without notifying Congress of it until after the fact, that seems a little suspicious,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman, an Arkansas Republican and member of the House Natural Resources Committee, in an interview Monday.

“If it was just some tweaking of the equipment, then something’s wrong. They didn’t close the facility over a piece of equipment being mis-calibrated,” Westerman told TheDCNF. To date, no federal official has publicly explained why the two analysts manipulated the data over such a long period of time.

The unusual closure occurred eight years after a USGS analyst resigned in 2008 while under investigation for manipulating energy-related data from 1996 to 2008. He had worked in the inorganic section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory. Despite the resignation, however, a second analyst almost immediately continued distorting research data until 2014.

USGS consequently closed the lab in March 2016, but Westerman thinks it is odd that an entire lab was shuttered without first telling Congress.

The analysts consistently calibrated equipment beyond what’s typically allowed within the scientific community, which affected test outcomes, often altering data by as much as 20 percent, USGS spokeswoman Anne-Berry Wade previously told TheDCNF.

The manipulated data was “basic scientific research,” said Westerman, who was a professional engineer for 24 years before entering politics, with degrees in agricultural and biological engineering. “You’re talking about the building blocks of research.”

Because the data is so important, Westerman worries that “this stuff has a domino effect. If that data is flawed coming out of that research lab, then all that research downstream is flawed. I would hate to think that any kind of project or any big policy decisions were made by some flawed data.”

Westerman also wonders what happened to the backup data for the research done by the two former USGS employees and he’s not happy with what he’s been told to date by Department of Interior officials.

“Why were all of the notes and calculations and backup data either never produced or destroyed? Why did it go on for so long? Why can’t they just give us a straight answer,” Westerman asked. “It sure smells fishy. There’s just too many things that raise a red flag and I just don’t have a good feeling about it.”

USGS officials knew about the first analyst’s misconduct years before it was stopped but they were oblivious to the second analyst’s actions, even though data issues were widely known outside the lab, TheDCNF previously reported. The agency also procrastinated in notifying scientists who may have depended upon the flawed data.

USGS is unaware of any affected policy decisions, Wade previously told TheDCNF, but the Department of the Interior Inspector General disagreed, saying in a June 2016 report that “the full extent of the impacts are not yet known but … they will be serious and far ranging.”

USGS also continues investigating the effects of the data manipulations, but refuses to reveal what punishments the second analyst or any supervisors faced. No recommendations for prosecution were referred to the Department of Justice because the IG only conducted an inspection, which bears significantly less consequences than a full investigation or audit.

“Maybe they need to take an investigative approach,” Westerman told TheDCNF. “We need to raise the rug up and see what’s under it.”

Additionally, the watchdog knew about the second analyst’s manipulation more than a year before its inspection was published.

The IG was told that a USGS employee had boasted, saying “tell me what you want and I will get it for you. What we do is like magic,” although the exact context of that quote is unclear.

“That’s highly suspect when people talk like that,” Westerman said. “That’s not what you’d expect from a federal research lab.”

The IG, however, has said no further investigations are planned.

Climate Madness 4

The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance. -Michael Crichton
The madness of global warming politics has spawned bad political and economic policy, rent seekers sucking up government money, and some very weird ideas.
This month’s craziest scheme:
The Global Cooling Skyscraper Which Could Save the Planet
by Eric Worrall
Italian architect Paolo Venturella has proposed a gigantic megastructure to prevent global warming, though building it may present a few practical difficulties: a vast horiMegastructurezontal building touching the Earth’s equator, whose size appears to dwarf the diameter of the planet.
There are a few practical difficulties, such as smelting all that construction steel using wind power, finding a way to get a chunk of the Earth’s crust to support trillions of tons of building, handling the centripetal stresses caused by the Earth’s rotation, preventing the building from “seesawing” on its mount, and probably a host of other civic engineering issues. Read more
The second craziest scheme:
Another geoengineering scheme plans to use planes and ships to cool the planet
by Anthony Watts
It is possible to significantly slow down and even temporarily stop the progression of global warming by increasing the atmospheric aerosol concentration, shows a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The study found that aerosol particles injected into the stratosphere proved extremely efficient in cooling down the climate. The proposal is to use global airline traffic and ship traffic for the purposes of atmospheric temperature regulation by increasing the sulfuric concentrations of fuels. This would make it possible to significantly increase stratospheric aerosol concentrations and cloud reflectivity in open sea. However, sulphuric concentrations of fuels would have to be increased beyond the levels defined in international agreements. Read more Comment: Over the years, great pains have been taken to scrub sulfur out of  emissions from burning fossil fuels. Now we have to put it back. Lesson: clean air is bad?
Just plain stupid and a little scary:
Ministry of Truth at work:
Portland (Oregon) school board bans climate change-denying materials
In a move spearheaded by environmentalists, the Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools. “It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.” (Source) It’s not just that Portland banished from its schools any active denial of catastrophic, man-made global warming; it’s that they banished any language that implies the smallest amount of doubt. The school board resolution mandates the adoption of curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and “climate justice” in all Portland Public Schools. “Climate justice is a social justice issue that frames climate change not in physical or environmental terms, but as a social, ethical and political issue. Climate justice is based on the idea that climate change has a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority communities, which will now be taught to students in the Portland Public School system.”   (Source)
Useful Idiots:
Kaiser Permanente Health Consortium Commits an Unspecified Budget to Combat CO2 Emissions
Good news for the 9.6 million clients of Kaiser Permanente Health Consortium; They have just committed to spending an unknown amount of your health premiums to reduce Kaiser CO2 emissions to zero by 2025. They will slash the hospital system’s water use, recycle or compost all of its non-hazardous waste and eliminate or offset its greenhouse gas emissions. Kaiser, based in Oakland, also will buy its food from local sources or farms that follow sustainable practices, most notably avoiding the overuse of antibiotics. Next time the cost of your Kaiser health plan premiums go up, remember not to be selfish about it, because Kaiser plans to spend some of that extra cash on your behalf, to help save the world from CO2. (Source)
Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan
The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces – in a bid to slash the province’s carbon footprint. Ontario will begin phasing out natural gas for heating, provide incentives to retrofit buildings and give rebates to drivers who buy electric vehicles. It will also require that gasoline sold in the province contain less carbon, bring in building code rules requiring all new homes by 2030 to be heated with electricity or geothermal systems, and set a target for 12 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025. (Source)
Prepare for blackouts: San Diego To Run 100 Percent On Renewable Energy By 2035
by Anthony Watts
The city of San Diego has announced a bold new plan to run completely on renewable energy by 2035. While the city already produces the second largest electrical output from solar energy in the U.S., the new plan further details a way to cope with the changing climate. It plans to reduce 50% of the greenhouse gas emission by 2035, as well as create new jobs through the manufacturing and installation of solar panels.
Good luck with that, what could possibly go wrong? Striking a “sensible balance” should also include a backup generation plan for those times when wind doesn’t blow, sunlight is reduced, or private schemes go belly up because the subsidies that make them profitable get yanked. And, with the fragility of the power grid responsible for the Great 2011 Southwest blackout, one wonders how well San Diego will fare if their wind farms don’t produce enough power and load shedding occurs to protect the grid from failure, like it did in 2015, leaving thousands in San Diego without power.
Plus, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is offline, and will be decommissioned, so San Diego is in an even weaker position that they were before, losing 20% of their local power capacity. Renewables just won’t maintain a reliable base load. (Source)
If elected, Hillary plans to install ‘climate situation room’ in the White House
by Anthony Watts
Hillary Clinton plans to focus on smaller legislative actions and use executive action on climate and energy issues if elected, her campaign chairman John Podesta said at a conference. Clinton also intends to install a Roosevelt Map Room-inspired situation room just for climate change. Analysis of her climate strategy reveals that Clinton intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 30 percent below 2005 level by 2025 and support fossil fuel workers through the clean energy transition. She ultimately would lay the groundwork for achieving 80 percent cuts below 2005 by 2050, strengthening President Obama’s current climate pledges. (Source) A situation room? Does the climate change minute to minute? Read also: “Hillary Clinton’s climate and energy policies, explained
EPA on the march:
Rules, Rules and More Rules to Combat Climate Change
Patriot Post
EPA head Gina McCarthy announced first-ever standards to reduce the amount of methane the oil and gas industry releases into the air. The announcement this week was days away from a supposed mid-May deadline to pass rules for the Obama administration, one last-ditch attempt to slow the economy down. The rules are yet another push by the Obama administration to further cement its climate change fighting chops — in other words, expand federal control. In her announcement, McCarthy claimed the rules are supposedly to help make the oil and gas industries safer, but that’s a transparent attempt to make the regs easier to stomach. Kyle Isakower, a vice president of policy at the American Petroleum Institute, said, “The industry is already leading the way on methane reductions, because it is good for the environment and good for business. Imposing a one-size-fits-all scheme on the industry could actually stifle innovation and discourage investments in new technologies that could serve to further reduce emissions.” But Obama is living out the twilight of his time in the White House, so what’s he got to lose? (Source)
Climate Regulations Don’t Limit Warming
by H. Sterling Burnett
Under questioning by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted the Obama administration’s climate efforts will do nothing to prevent climate change, acknowledging they are symbolic attempts to get other countries to make steep carbon dioxide emissions cuts. Read more
EPA to fund study on Irish cow flatulence
Local researchers in Galway plan to measure the impact of gaseous releases from Ireland’s cows on global warming. The School of Physics at NUIG has invited tenders for a research and development service to develop a “combined measurement and modeling system to verify CH4 sources and sinks over Ireland”. Read more
Flashback, to when the scientific consensus said Earth was entering another glacial epoch.
Fears of Global Cooling Very Real In 1970s …Scientists Devised Ways To WARM The Planet!
By P Gosselin
During the 1960s and 1970s, there was widespread concern about a dramatically cooling climate, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. A throng of scientific papers were written about the observed global-scale cooling, a potentially imminent ice age, and how anthropogenic pollution may be contributing to the climate changes. The effects of CO2 were, at the time, thought to be less concerning. Read more
NCAR 1975 : Global Cooling Caused Terrorism – National Security Crisis
by Tony Heller
In 1975, the top climatologist in the US warned that global cooling was going to cause terrorism, nuclear blackmail, malnutrition, and starvation.
In the northern hemisphere, home to most of the world’s people, average annual temperature has fallen 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1955. Though that’s hardly enough to start you shivering, weather scientists warn that even slight cooling on a global scale can have chilling implications for humanity. Read more.
Chicago Tribune headline, June 2, 1975: The Armadillos Are Heading South; Ice Age Coming? Chilling Thought for Humanity. (Source) But now, “The armadillo is moving north into areas never expected by biologists…” (Source)
In the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don’t know any better. That’s not a good future for the human race. That’s our past. So it’s time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that. – Michael Crichton

Book review – Chilton Vs. The Center For Biological Diversity

Chilton cover

Jim & Sue Chilton are friends of mine. They own and operate a cattle ranch south of Arivaca, Arizona. The ranch’s southern boundary is the U.S. – Mexican border. They have had trouble will illegal border-crossings, with the U.S. government, and with radical environmental groups.

Their story is told by J.P.S. Brown in his new book Chilton Vs. The Center For Biological Diversity: Truth Rides A Cowhorse

This book exposes the betrayal of trust of federal agencies and the skullduggery of a radical environmental group. I enjoyed reading this story. And remember, as Jim Chilton says, “Every day is Earth Day to a rancher.” This is because his economic well-being depends upon keeping the range productive and in good shape.

Amazon Synopsis: Truth Rides a Cowhorse is the story of a cowboy’s fight to defend his livestock against activist environmentalists who spend millions of dollars in a campaign to rid the world of the cow while it spends more millions on a campaign to save the whale. Which of these two great animals has done more for mankind?

Reviews:

“This is the true story of the legal battle and the VICTORY of the Chilton Ranch in Arizona. Jim and Sue Chilton took on the legal battle to fight against the environmentalists and prove that the Chilton Ranch is the best example of a well run organization that cares not only about it’s cattle, but the ranch and the Chilton name and in doing so they honor all three.”

“Amazing story by one of the great story tellers of our time. Not a unique situation involving manipulation of endangered species and grazing laws to feed the appetite of an ever inflated bureaucracy. Joe Brown is worth checking out. This is how the ‘west was won.’”

The book is available from Amazon in both print and electronic versions.