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Some of you may be aware of Benny Peiser, one of the UK's leading global warming denialists. Here is the latest from him for those interested in what the other side has to say. He has shifted the goalposts somewhat over the years I have been on his list, but never fails to return to outright denialism whenever possible. No endorsement of his views from me is implied, of course.

MB

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Benny Peiser <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM
Subject: CCNet: America's New Coal Boom
To: Michael <[log in to unmask]>


newsletter-head-2010

CCNet - 18 August 2010

The Climate Policy Network

 

America’s New Coal Boom

 

Utilities across the USA are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come. The expansion, the industry's largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail.  --Matthew Brown, Associated Press, 17 August 2010

 

For all the talk of electricity produced by windmills and solar arrays, the U.S. Department of Energy has seen the future of electric power generation and it's coal. More than half of the U.S.'s electricity comes from coal and, says the DOE, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That's because of two reasons: There's a lot of it and it's relatively cheap. Nor is the supply prone to interruption like oil, wind and solar. --Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service, 17 August 2010

 

Electricity is the energy commodity that separates the developed countries from the rest. Countries that can provide cheap and reliable electric power to their citizens can grow their economies and create wealth. Those that can’t, can’t. The essentiality of electricity takes us back to coal. --Robert Bryce. Energy Tribune, 17 August 2010

 

 

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.  --Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 18 August 2010

 

UK Energy prices are set to surge by as much as 10% in the New Year – bringing fresh pain to millions of families. Experts warned households to brace themselves for a rise of up to £115 – taking the typical gas and electricity bill to more than £1,300 a year. Meanwhile “green” levies, that account for around half the average bill, are expected to increase to fund Government energy efficiency schemes and a new wave of “clean” power stations. --Graham Hiscott, Daily Mirror, 17 August 2010

 

1) America’s New Coal Boom - Matthew Brown, Associated Press, 17 August 2010

2) U.S. Elections: Republican Candidates Knock Global Warming - Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 18 August 2010

3) Opinion: Coal Is The Fuel Of Today -- And Tomorrow - Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service, 17 August 2010

4) Wood to Coal to Oil to Natural Gas and Nuclear: The Slow Pace of Energy Transitions -Robert Bryce. Energy Tribune, 17 August 2010

5) Britain's Green Madness: UK Energy Prices To Surge - Graham Hiscott, Daily Mirror, 17 August 2010

6) Climate Taxes May Treble By 2020, Costing Taxpayers More Than £16 Billion A Year -Gary Peev, Daily Mail, 17 August 2010

7) And Finally: More Than Half Of Britain's Wind Farms Have Been Built Where There Is Not Enough Wind - Fiona Macrae, Daily Mail, 17 August 2010

 

1) America’s New Coal Boom

Matthew Brown, Associated Press, 17 August 2010

Utilities across the USA are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come. An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

The construction wave stretches from Arizona to Illinois and South Carolina to Washington, and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.

The expansion, the industry's largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted "clean coal" technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.

"Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide," said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. "That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that's pretty bad public policy."

Federal officials have long struggled to balance coal's hidden costs against its more conspicuous role in providing half the nation's electricity.

Hoping for a technological solution, the Obama administration devoted $3.4 billion in stimulus spending to foster "clean-coal" plants that can capture and store greenhouse gases. Yet new investments in traditional coal plants total at least 10 times that amount — more than $35 billion.

Utilities say they are clinging to coal because its abundance makes it cheaper than natural gas or nuclear power and more reliable than intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Still, the price of coal plants is rising and consumers in some areas served by the new facilities will see their electricity bill rise by up to 30 percent.

Industry representatives say those increases would be even steeper if utilities switched to more expensive fuels or were forced to adopt emission-reduction measures.

Approval of the plants has come from state and federal agencies that do not factor in emissions of carbon dioxide, considered the leading culprit behind global warming. Scientists and environmentalists have tried to stop the coal rush with some success, turning back dozens of plants through lawsuits and other legal challenges.

As a result, current construction is far more modest than projected a few years ago when 151 new plants were forecast by federal regulators. But analysts say the projects that prevailed are more than enough to ensure coal's continued dominance in the power industry for years to come.

Sixteen large plants have fired up since 2008 and 16 more are under construction, according to records examined by the AP.

Combined, they will produce an estimated 17,900 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to power up to 15.6 million homes — roughly the number of homes in California and Arizona combined.

Full story

 

2) U.S. Elections: Republican Candidates Knock Global Warming

Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 18 August 2010

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

GOP climate skeptics have held powerful positions on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the chairmanship of the House Energy and Senate Environment panels. But they’ve typically been among the minority. Now, they could form a key voting bloc, adding insult to injury for climate advocates who failed to pass an energy bill this year.

Environmental groups fear that adding more voices to the skeptic camp could further polarize the debate and make it more difficult at all levels of government to pass legislation curbing carbon dioxide emissions, especially if coupled with the defeat of standard-bearers such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Ron Johnson, running against Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D), is the latest in a line of Republicans to take a shot at the validity of global warming.

“I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."

Johnson told the newspaper that the climate change theory was “lunacy” and blamed changes in the Earth’s temperature to “sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time."

Similar remarks have been heard from GOP candidates in all parts of the country even as mainstream climate scientists defend their work from a steady line of attack.

Four independent reviews have concluded that the so-called “Climategate” e-mails stolen last fall from a United Kingdom research unit showed nothing more than a frank discussion (sic) among scientists working through large and complicated sets of data. And while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has admitted it erred in its 2007 report by citing a report concluding Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. organization said the mistake didn’t undermine its larger body of work.

Former Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, running for his old seat in southern New Mexico, told POLITICO that climate scientists should be questioned more thoroughly because of the stolen e-mails.

“I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don’t even believe the crap,” Pearce said in Artesia, N.M. “They’re the ones who say in the e-mails we’ve got to worry about this, keep these voices quiet. If they don’t believe it, why should the rest of be penalized in our standard of living for something that can’t be validated?”

Sharron Angle, the GOP opponent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, said on her website in June that she thought legislation to curb greenhouse gases “is based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax.”

Full story

 

3) Opinion: Coal Is The Fuel Of Today -- And Tomorrow

Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service, 17 August 2010

For all the talk of electricity produced by windmills and solar arrays, the U.S. Department of Energy has seen the future of electric power generation and it's coal.

More than half of the U.S.'s electricity comes from coal and, says the DOE, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That's because of two reasons: There's a lot of it and it's relatively cheap. Nor is the supply prone to interruption like oil, wind and solar.

Despite the government's best efforts, coal produces 20 times the electricity of renewable fuels other than hydropower. The power industry is betting that will continue to be the case. According to the Associated Press, since 2008 16 coal-fired plants have been completed and 16 more are under construction.

And if, as DOE predicts, the efficiency of coal-fired plants nearly doubles in the next 10 to 15 years those power sources will be even more attractive. Unhappily, the goal of "clean coal" remains elusive. The ability of the industry to remove pollutants like sulfur, nitrogen and mercury and to capture greenhouse gases still lags behind the nation's demand for power.

The industry seems to doubt that capability will ever catch up. The Obama administration directed $3.4 billion in stimulus money to spur construction of clean-coal plants yet, as the AP points out, "new investments in traditional coal plants total at least 10 times that amount -- more than $35 billion."

The size of that investment represents another calculation as well as legislation to place serious limits on carbon emissions through extensive regulation or by financial penalties like cap and trade or a carbon tax are doomed to fail.

Barring technological breakthroughs or a thoroughly unexpected willingness of the public to pay greatly higher rates for electricity, the nation has little choice to go on generating power by the most convenient means -- coal.

The new generation of coal-fired plants will produce electricity equivalent to that needed to power all the homes in California and Arizona. But it comes at a cost. The AP says those plants opening are the environmental equivalent putting 22 million additional cars on the road.

Scripps Howard News Service, 17 August 2010

 

4) Wood to Coal to Oil to Natural Gas and Nuclear: The Slow Pace of Energy Transitions

Robert Bryce. Energy Tribune, 17 August 2010

In the wake of the Macondo well blowout, we are hearing renewed claims that we must quit using oil, that we must win “the oil end game.” In addition, there are the continuing calls for drastic reductions in carbon-based fuel consumption, and those calls are being amplified thanks to the drought and record-setting heat that has affected parts of the globe in recent weeks.

Those calls may be heartening to some of the true believers that oil is bad, coal is bad, and natural gas is only slightly less bad. But here’s the reality: energy transitions are protracted affairs, occurring over decades, or even centuries. [...]

The transition away from oil, coal, and natural gas will be a decades-long process because the companies that produce those commodities are getting ever-better at finding and exploiting them. The oil and gas industry provides a clear example of this. For about a century, analysts have been forecasting an end to the supply of petroleum. And they have consistently been proven wrong. Why? Because the companies that produce oil and gas continue innovating.

While environmental groups and energy analysts publicize the inventiveness of entrepreneurs working to improve wind, solar, and other alternative sources of energy, they seldom mention the ongoing innovations that are occurring on the hydrocarbon side of the ledger. And in doing so, they frequently forget the sheer size of the industry that is constantly searching for techniques that can get oil and gas out of the ground and do so faster and cheaper. [...]

While the oil and gas industry continues to improve the techniques that allow companies to drill wells deeper, faster, with greater precision, at ever-lower costs, the coal industry continues to show its resilience. Although oil passed coal as the most important source of US energy back in 1950, coal hasn’t gone away. In fact over the past few years, thanks to soaring global demand for electricity, coal has enjoyed a resurgence. Although we now live in the Age of Oil, the Age of Coal hasn’t yet passed. The reason for coal’s enduring popularity is that it provides huge quantities of the essential commodity of modernity: electricity.

Over the past two decades, global electricity consumption has grown faster than any other type of energy use. Since 1990, electricity use has increased about three times as fast as oil consumption. In their thoughtful 2005 book, The Bottomless Well, Peter Huber and Mark Mills declare that “Economic growth marches hand in hand with increased consumption of electricity – always, everywhere, without significant exception in the annals of modern industrial history.”(18)

Electricity is the energy commodity that separates the developed countries from the rest. Countries that can provide cheap and reliable electric power to their citizens can grow their economies and create wealth. Those that can’t, can’t. The essentiality of electricity takes us back to coal. Love it or hate it, coal provides the cheapest option for electricity generation in dozens of countries around the world. In heavily populated developing countries like China, India, and Indonesia – all of which have large coal deposits – the need for increased electric generation capacity is acute. And those countries (India and China in particular) will continue using coal until they can ramp up their nuclear power sectors.

So, yes, the calls to move away from carbon-based fuels are loud and frequent. But facts are better than dreams. And a look back at history shows that coal, oil, and natural gas are going to be with us for a long time to come.

Full essay

 

5) Britain's Green Madness: UK Energy Prices To Surge

Graham Hiscott, Daily Mirror, 17 August 2010

Energy prices are set to surge by as much as 10% in the New Year – bringing fresh pain to millions of families.

Experts warned households to brace themselves for a rise of up to £115 – taking the typical gas and electricity bill to more than £1,300 a year.

A sharp rise in wholesale energy costs – up 62% since last December – means it’s almost certain that prices will go up, with the only question being when.

Meanwhile “green” levies, that account for around half the average bill, are expected to increase to fund Government energy efficiency schemes and a new wave of “clean” power stations.

In what could be a danger sign, two of the country’s biggest energy firms have quietly ditched their cheapest deals. EDF Energy replaced its Online Saver 6 product with one that is almost 7% more, while Npower’s latest Go Fix tariff is a whopping 18.5% more expensive than its predecessor. Mark Todd, director of the website Energyhelpline.com, had a stark warning.

He said: “There seems to be an almost unstoppable upward trend in the market with prices creeping up remorselessly.”

Derek Lickorish, chairman of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, warned it could lead to a surge in “fuel poor” households – those spending at least 10% of their income on gas and electricity.

The number already stands at 4.6 million in England alone.

He said: “For every 1% increase in prices, another 40,000 households find themselves in fuel poverty. The Government and suppliers must do more.”

Daily Mirror, 17 August 2010

 

6) Climate Taxes May Treble By 2020, Costing Taxpayers More Than £16 Billion A Year

Gary Peev, Daily Mail, 17 August 2010

Taxes to pay for contentious climate change policies are set to treble over the next decade, soaring to more than £16billion a year.

The hike is the equivalent of 4p on the current rate of income tax, a report from think tank Policy Exchange claimed.

By 2020 the tax take from green levies will be roughly equivalent to total public spending in England on both the police and fire services, the figures show.

Householders will pay £4.3billion in taxes on their energy bills by 2015 – more than double the £2billion they will pay this year. This will soar to £6.4billion by 2020, or around £280 for every household.

Firms will also be hit hard, with energy prices rising from £3.7billion to £9.9billion in the next decade.

The think tank warned that poorer households tended to spend more on energy so would have more of their meagre income swallowed up by taxes levied on household bills.

The policies which are driving up tax are intended to support either carbon emissions reduction or the promotion of renewable energy.

But the report argues many of them do little to curb global warming because they pay householders to produce power uneconomically through technologies such as solar panels.

Full story

 

7) And Finally: More Than Half Of Britain's Wind Farms Have Been Built Where There Is Not Enough Wind

Fiona Macrae, Daily Mail, 17 August 2010

It's not exactly rocket science – when building a wind farm, look for a site that is, well, quite windy. But more than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25 per cent capacity. In England, the figure rises to 70 per cent of onshore developments, research shows. Experts say that over-generous subsidies mean hundreds of turbines are going up on sites that are simply not breezy enough.

Britain’s most feeble wind farm is in Blyth Harbour in Northumberland, where the nine turbines lining the East Pier reach a meagre 4.9 per cent of their capacity.

Another at Chelker reservoir in North Yorkshire operates at only 5.3 per cent of its potential, the analysis of 2009 figures provided by energy regulator Ofgem found.

The ten turbines at Burton Wold in Northamptonshire have been running for just three years, but achieved only 19 per cent capacity.

The revelation that so many wind farms are under-performing will be of interest to those who argue that they are simply expensive eyesores.

Full story

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 1 Carlton House, London SW1Y 5DB

Director: Dr Benny Peiser

http://www.thegwpf.org

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Michael Balter
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Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
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Email:  [log in to unmask]
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"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara