A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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US Supreme Court puts unelected Deep State Kingmakers back in their box

Winning: The new Supreme Court decision is much bigger than the climate wars

US Flag, Flying.Over the last 50 years the Deep State Bureaucrats had become Rulers-defacto and finally the Supreme Court has put the hand-brake on. Instead of unelected agencies deciding national policy, the Supreme Court said, rather radically, that Congress should make decisions of great political significance. Sounds awfully like “Democracy”.

But as far as the Environmental Protection Agency sees it, if the voters are too stupid to elect the correct people, then Congress can’t make the right laws, so it’s up to the EPA to save the people anyway.

It’s what you do when you are Omniscient.

Or as another Ian says: they are only doing “what God would have done if he had truly understood the situation”.

The Supreme Court Restores a Constitutional Climate

The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

This has been an historic Supreme Court term, and the Justices kept it going to the end with a major 6-3 decision Thursday (West Virginia v. EPA) reining in the administrative state. The subject was climate regulation but the message should echo across the federal bureaucracy.

The question was whether the Environmental Protection Agency could invoke an obscure statutory provision to re-engineer the nation’s electric grid. Prior to the 2015 Obama rule, the EPA had used the provision only a handful of times to regulate pollutants from discrete sources. The rule would have effectively required coal and gas-fired generators to subsidize renewables.

The Major Questions doctrine sounds like “the big picture”:

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts relies on the Court’s “major questions” doctrine. This requires courts to look with skepticism when agencies claim “‘in a long-extant statute an unheralded power’ representing a ‘transformative expansion” in its power. That’s what the Obama EPA did.

Apparently it’s not OK to play legal word games with old subclauses in order to make your agency more powerful, rich, and likely to get grants and Nobel Prizes.

The Court is now placing guardrails on Chevron to prevent lower courts from going off the constitutional road. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s concurrence, joined by Samuel Alito, is especially helpful in lighting the way for lower courts grappling with when and how to apply the major questions doctrine.

First, he writes, the doctrine applies when “an agency claims the power to resolve a matter of great ‘political significance.’” Second, an agency “must point to clear congressional authorization when it seeks to regulate ‘“a significant portion of the American economy.”’” Third, it may apply when an agency seeks to intrude “into an area that is the particular domain of state law.”

Contrary to their critics, the Justices aren’t blocking climate regulation. They are merely saying that the decision on whether and how to do it rests with Congress.

The EPA Gods are very annoyed

Everything about this response shows that Michael S. Regan, EPA chief, *knows* what is best, and democracy be damned — he will save those voters whether they like it or not.

Today, in response to the Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan issued the following statement:

“As a public health agency, EPA’s number one responsibility is to protect people’s health, especially those who are on the front lines of environmental pollution. Make no mistake: we will never waver from that responsibility.

While I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision, we are committed to using the full scope of EPA’s authorities to protect communities and reduce the pollution that is driving climate change.

True believers:

At this moment, when the impacts of the climate crisis are becoming ever more disruptive, costing billions of dollars every year from floods, wildfires, droughts and sea level rise, and jeopardizing the safety of millions of Americans, the Court’s ruling is disheartening.

For tens of thousands of years, rain-dancing shamen said similar things. It was along the lines of Give me women and goats or there will be terrible storms. Now we have to chop down 120 million trees, or kill 200,000 bats, give up roast beef and then the WeatherMasters will give us nice weather.

The EPA just wants power over the national economy, energy systems, land, air and water. They already sound like they are a political party:

Ambitious climate action presents a singular opportunity to ensure U.S. global competitiveness, create jobs, lower costs for families, and protect people’s health and wellbeing, especially those who’ve long suffered the burden of inaction. EPA will move forward with lawfully setting and implementing environmental standards that meet our obligation to protect all people and all communities from environmental harm.”

Since when was the Environmental Protection Agency meant to create jobs, lower costs, and ensure US competitiveness, and if they can do that, who needs Congress?

Judging by the reactions this looks like a big win for voters. The Guardian, Nancy Pelosi, and Ginger Cassady of the Rainforest Action Network really don’t like it. Nancy Pelosi says the Court has “bowed to polluters who seek to poison the air our children breathe…“.

Meanwhile the Rainforest lady said it “condemns everyone alive today and generations to come”. 

And Rolling Stone said everyone will go to hell, or something a lot like that….

h/t Lance, Dave B, Timo Soren, El Gordo, Robert Rosicka, Mark, Ross, Beth the Serf.

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Weekend Unthreaded

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Just throw money: AEMO demands $12b gift to build 10,000 km of new transmission lines for Renewables

Effectively — the AEMO (the Australian Energy Market Operator) is the taxpayer funded advertising agency for the Renewables Industry. The point of the latest AEMO super-report, apparently, is to get Australian taxpayers or consumers to foot the bill for the high voltage lines that the unreliable industry desperately needs but can’t pay for itself.

The AEMO has declared we need to rush to cough up $12.7 billion to build new interconnectors in Australia. That’s $500 from every man woman and child and let’s call it what it is, a Gift Card for the Renewables Industry. The net benefit of all that money will be to allow wind and solar industrial plants to connect their unreliable product to the grid we already have, and to the storage products that we still have to pay for, and all so that their green electrons will make the weather 0.0 degrees cooler in a hundred years. Australians alive today will pay now and basically get nothing but views of more criss-crossy-steel-wires and spires, and more wind towers too. Sing Hallelujah.

The 104 page Blueprint imagines all kinds of scenarios except for an actual free market, true competition, consumer choice, or whether it makes any sense to use our national grid as a global climatic weather controller. It’s a fantasy document which includes four flavours of future electrical icecream: “Slow”, “Progressive”, “Step” or “Hydrogen Superpower”. Will that be a double-scoop with Spiderman topping? Yes indeedy — and with $28 billion dollars of imaginary savings to go. The word blackout appears no times. Nor is there a scenario for a “Cost effective” electrical grid. (Remember them?)

The Hydrogen Superpower fantasy comes straight out of Marvel comic. Wait til you see Figure 12 — the Hulk Strikes the Australian grid, or at least scrawls wild lines on a graph. Is that a 500 gigawatt 100% renewable grid by 2050 or just Hopium I see…

Hydrogen Superpower

It’s rare to see this much abject nonsense in a single story.  Perry Williams at The Australian just took the junk prospectus and ran it:

Put renewables on fast track, says AEMO

Australia must accelerate a move away from coal to renewables and storage and urgently sanction more than $10bn of transmission projects to escape the ongoing threat of blackouts and high power prices amid a national ­energy crisis.

Follow the logic: if having a bit less coal causes a crisis, then how exactly, will having no coal solve it?

The Australian Energy Market Operator, which runs the ­national electricity network, said the country was undergoing a “complex, rapid and irreversible” change to its energy system…

Is this the same “irreversible change” that is currently reversing all over Europe? The one where Germany, France, the UK, Austria and Poland are all using more coal.

And isn’t the follow up just a tiny scary?

an irreversible …  that would need a nine-fold increase in wind and solar capacity by 2050 to meet the nation’s net-zero emissions targets.

Apparently this kind of “rapid” irreversible transition is only 11% of the way out of the starting gate, but already falling over, costing a bomb, and we have to do this nine times more.

But wait. Renewables will not only make floods nicer, and fish happier, it make us safer from enemies?

“One source of energy that no geopolitical situation can interrupt in relation to our supply chains and that’s the sun to our land-mass and the wind on and off our shores. That’s good energy security and storing that is a matter of national security,” Mr Bowen told the National Press Club.

What if the enemy just attacks at night and when there is no wind? Except probably they won’t have to attack at all. As we go broke, they can just buy the nation out from under us.

There they go again: The AEMO calls coal and gas volatile, and renewables cheap

The energy supply crunch that forced the suspension of the country’s power market for the first time this month underscored the need for the Australian electricity grid to curb its exposure to the volatile commodities of coal and gas and fast-track cheap renewables backed up by storage, the AEMO said.

The price of coal and gas isn’t volatile, it’s not going up and down, it’s gone up and stayed up —  because it’s so essential, everyone has to have it and they want more than they can get. And the true price of renewables isn’t cheap, it’s just hidden — like this giant report pretends to hide that twelve billion dollars worth of interconnectors are entirely frivolous parts of a good grid powered by centralized reliable power. We don’t need them: the Renewables Industry does.

It’s like a grab-bag of energy-platitudes

“I think recent events in Australia and overseas have really just underscored the need for ­urgent investment in renewables, firming and transmission so that we can de-link ourselves from these international factors and provide Australian homes and businesses with the most affordable, secure and reliable energy,” AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman told The Australian.

Since when was coal and gas an “international factor” for a nation which is the worlds largest exporter of coal and third largest for gas?

The costs of these renewable-interconnectors are staggering

Just throw money:

AEMO's Transmission Wishlist

The Marinus Link across the Bass Strait will cost at least $3.8 billion and generate zero watts of electricity. Theoretically it will allow 1.5 GW of electricity to  slip through, but for the same price, we could build a whole new advanced coal plant instead. Various iterations of governments here have already spent $200 million just on the feasibility study. Ten years ago they could nearly build a whole gas plant for that, one that wouldn’t be essentially useless for five months in a row if a shark chewed on it.

The VNI link will cost $2 – $3 billion and make it possible for  groups of renewable investors to make profits they otherwise couldn’t have.  Humelink will be some kind of nightmare of $3b – $5 billion.

The unreliables are dead without these new transmission lines:

To put it in perspective a very annoyed high honcho at Snowy Hydro was not happy with the draft version of this document a few months ago and complained that the AEMO wasn’t pushing hard enough for faster “investment” in the VNI line which, ahem, just happens to be nearer to the Snowy Scheme, and which they wanted a lot more than the link to their competitors in Tasmania.  In that complaint he quietly gave away that these transmission lines are essential in a life and death kind of way for renewables.

[Snowy Hydro] has previously warned the lack of transmission could kill the transition to ­renewables – with a string of major players weighing into the debate – and singled out concerns over infrastructure as a major issue that needs to be confronted to ensure supplies can flow to users.

Renewable developers and network operators are worried a pipeline of power generation and clean energy supplies faces delays or gridlock unless major electricity transmission projects are delivered across the national power system.

–The Australian Feb 9th 2022


AEMO  2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) Press release

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Thursday Open Thread

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Wind Industry insider laments 15 years waiting for the bright “future that never seems to come”

The people making wonder wind turbines are having a tough time. They thought they were picking the hottest new industry, saving the world, and expecting to make great money.  Instead supply chains are in crisis, competition is fierce, and profit margins are razor tight. They know that the solar panel industry has largely gone to China, and worry that wind turbine manufacturing will do the same.

What they don’t seem to realize is that the reason the factories went to China is that the country isn’t powered by wind turbines. No country powered by unreliable power is also a growing manufacturing base. And as well as having cheap coal power, China also has the advantage of cheap slave labor, few environmental rules, no ethics and hardly any red tape. It’s a red-light flasher. About now, a wise investor might be wondering about the the odd disconnect in the idea of building devices to save the world while imprisoning people and polluting lakes. What if the environmental movement is a hollow geostrategic trojan fantasy serving Russians, Chicomms, socialists and investment banker cartels?

For Ben Hunt, the light-bulb moment isn’t there yet. These are the guys trying to make ends meet with real products for real consumers. But they haven’t done quite enough homework.  Ben Hunt thinks carbon dioxide controls the climate and the world needs wind towers.   He thinks “the message isn’t hitting home hard enough” as if showing people more climate-porn-storms will make their industry grow when they’re already at 130% saturation and have been for decades.

Opinion: Distribution of value in the wind industry is broken – it’s time for a new settlement |

Windpower Monthly

27 June 2022
by Ben Hunt

Former Siemens Gamesa insider says turbine manufacturers are in dire need of the bright future they were promised

Ben Hunt wrote to colleagues to say “it will get worse before it gets better”

One of the first responses I received was very instructive: “When I joined more than 15 years ago, I was told that I was joining the sector with the brightest and most promising future. The problem is that it is a future that seems never to come.”

The Wind Turbine OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) are struggling to turn a profit, and worry that they can’t compete with China:

It is fair to say that that sums up much of the prevailing mood in the wind turbine OEM sector right now with all the major western OEMs struggling to turn a profit. It is not unusual to hear senior industry figures raising the spectre of the fate of the European solar manufacturing industry, long ago lost to the east.

While everything should be going gangbusters for the highly fashionable, saintly industry, reality is no fun:

Instead the news is full of stories of lay-offs, factory closures and eye-watering financial losses. And the resources required for the necessary investments are in jeopardy.

The fantasy is alive and well even if the wheels are falling off:

Wind is a cost effective, inexhaustible and clean provider of secure energy that isn’t going to further poison the planet.

Somehow, however, that message isn’t hitting home anything like hard enough. At Davos late last month, the discourse turned back towards nuclear, shale and more large-scale fossil to overcome the energy crunch.

Many in the industry believed these arguments long since won, but the fight is ongoing, and I’m really not sure we are winning.

After 30 years of the media doing nothing but glowing soft agitprop for the wind industry, blaming fossil fuels just doesn’t cut it. is time to take the gloves off in the lobbying area. The fossil industry is more established, better resourced and more aggressive. The case for wind and renewables needs to be more forceful and more focused. We have been guilty of being too polite and too naïve, perhaps believing the overwhelming weight of argument is enough. It clearly isn’t.

What part of BP being Beyond Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell lobbying the World Bank against coal doesn’t make sense? The gas industry has been trying to demonize coal and CO2 just as much as the renewables industries have.  And so have the bankers — the Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley –they’re all fans of wind farms. But in the end, the world is paying $400 a ton for coal.

h/t Rafe Champion

Wind turbine photo




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Remember when The West could afford electricity 24 hours a day?

UK FlagLast month UK Ministers were warned that six million households could enjoy blackouts for dinner this winter. To try to stave off disaster, the UK Business Secretary has already written to the owners of the last three remaining coal fired power plants to ask them to stay running through winter. This is despite them being set to close in September.

Given the dire shortage of cheap energy, another plan is to pay British households up to  £6 for each kilowatt-hour they don’t use at peak time. While a normal kilowatt-hour would cost 28p, the blistering premium price shows how desperate the National Grid planners must be. The last thing they want is everyone to come home, turn on the oven and washing machine and plug in their scooters and EV’s at 6pm.

So now possibly in a grand experiment, as well as trying to control the weather with windmills, millions of families may try to reschedule body clocks somehow, eating later, doing laundry later, watching the melatonin-destroying blue-screens-of-insomnia after 10pm and running the drier while they sleep. Maybe it won’t be so bad, or maybe people will be more sleep deprived and less productive, fatter, or crash their cars on the A6 as they drive right over 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in Lancashire that could have easily kept the lights on. Hopefully the drier won’t catch fire at night.

Sometime 20 years from now, people at Oxford will get a nice grant to study what happened to the lifespan and health of the working class and the poor during the winter of the Energy Crisis. They may not find a conclusive link with house fires, car accidents, falls or school performance, but that’s OK, there’s always another grant for that.

How families could be PAID up to £6 to ‘ration’ electricity at peak times

Daily Mail

Families are struggling with energy bills that have jumped by 54 per cent (an average of £693) this year.

It [National Grid ESO] is believed to have written to suppliers last week asking them to assess how much less energy their customers could be persuaded to use at peak times.

Ultimately everyone who uses electricity at dinnertime will pay more so other people can have less.

The cost of the scheme would be added onto energy bills but the National Grid is said to believe the additional charge would be less than the cost of paying power plants to increase supply.

TonyFromOz on dinner time electricity pain in Australia

More renewables is not the answer

…Click to enlarge   |

Look at that evening Peak of maximum power consumption, and last night that was at 6.05PM. Incidentally, it’s at that same time year round day in day out, 365 days a year, and has been at that same time forever. In Summer it might be somewhat hidden by HVAC (air conditioning) power consumption, which is so much higher, but the evening Peak has always been at that time, you know the time the power retailers charge the most for, telling the gullible gulls people that they can avoid the peak cost by moving their power consumption to cheaper times, you know come home from school and work some other time. Have your main evening family meal at some other time, watch TV etc at some other time. Live without lighting till some other time. Tell you children to do their homework some other time. Charge your phones at some other time. Move the habits of everyone of many many many lifetimes to ….. some other time.

So let’s utilise that known for Centuries time of day and change the cost to a higher rate, eh!

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Tuesday Open Thread

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Energy is Power but the West’s starving itself

Tell the children: Energy is Power

And show them this graph. For twenty years the West has been giving up power.

Primary Energy Consumption

OWID Click to enlarge

A warning from John Constable and Debra Lieberman,  Special to Financial Post

The energy of nations and the creation of wealth

 Countries where energy consumption is plummeting don’t feel much pain … yet. And there is a good reason for that. One country is increasing its energy use, propping up Western consumption with exports and giving us a false sense of well-being. That country is, of course, China.

Since the West began its energy starvation diet, Chinese energy consumption has increased by over 50 per cent and its electricity consumption has increased by 200 per cent, overtaking the U.S. by a large margin. China, unlike the EU, U.K. and U.S., is still 90 per cent reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear. What’s more, only some of the immense wealth these fuels are generating is being exported. What is China doing with the rest? Time will tell.

But right now, as a matter of urgency, we must reverse the decline in Western energy quality and consumption by ending impoverishing renewable subsidies and clearing the path for fossil fuels and nuclear. Toying with low-density, thermodynamically incompetent renewables is an indulgence we cannot afford. With the Chinese economy on an energetically sound footing and those in the West not, the world has turned upside down. The economic consequences of this reversal are serious, the security implications terrifying. Our energy blindness is both costly and dangerous.

Energy Starvation costs a lot

Energy demand is falling because of environmental policies, including subsidies to modern renewables such as wind and solar. As distasteful as this might sound, it is nonetheless true. So far, both the U.S. and Canada are relatively minor players, the U.S. having spent a mere US$125 billion between 2008-2018, and while Canadian national totals are lower, the province of Ontario alone is reported to have spent about US$30 billion in the period 2006 to 2014. But the EU, where the biggest energy collapse is observed, has spent a staggering US$800 billion since 2008, a total that has been increasing at $US70 billion a year. And the U.K., a country of 65 million people, is shelling out well over US$10 billion every year.

The intention of these subsidies was to reduce costs, but the gamble has not paid off — nor will it so long as Mother Nature and her laws of physics are at the table. Wind and solar remain stubbornly expensive for consumers in spite of a blizzard of misinformation and propaganda claiming otherwise.

Some sources of energy are disordered from the start — doomed by entropy

Moreover, energy varies in quality, not just quantity. To support complex society a fuel must be of high quality, that is, structured so that it has the potential to do a lot of work. In thermodynamics, this is referred to as a fuel’s degree of “disorder” or “entropy.” Greater disorder equals greater entropy equals less work. But our “energy-blindness,” the inability to easily grasp thermodynamic principles, means that we must rely on physics to see — and what it reveals is that fossil fuels and uranium are highly ordered and rich in their potential to do work, making them cheap, while wind and solar are the reverse.

Read it all at the Financial Post

John Constable is energy director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London and author of its forthcoming study Europe’s Green Experiment: A costly failure in unilateral climate policy. Debra Lieberman is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami and author of Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law (OUP, 2018).

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Monday Open Thread

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Climate pledges vanish in Europe

h/t GWPF  NetZeroWatch

The Greens must be having apoplexy.  In Glasgow last year everyone was signing climate agreements with no idea that by June they would be signing 15 year new deals for gas with the U.S., the Middle East and Africa. Germany is pouring $3b into floating LNG import platforms. The Germans are also suggesting that the G7 now allow funding for fossil fuel projects, presumably to allow new gas or even coal projects to solve the energy crisis. Meanwhile Boris Johnson is cutting net-zero targets and  suggests maybe in the face of food shortages we should feed food to people instead of cars. Starving people to save the world was never going to sell well. Especially when the UK was getting 20% of the ethanol for the biofuel program from Ukraine.

The squeeze is everywhere. Hydrogen targets are being reconsidered or adjusted down, while still other commitments may become “voluntary”, and some start dates are being pushed back by a year. It was only March when Germany agreed to phase out the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2035. Now in June, Germany has rejected the EU ban because suddenly there are niches where combustion engines are useful.

Some of these changes, like the gas contracts and national security issues, are going to leave a mark for years, but back-flipping again on things like biofuels and combustion engines will be done in a flash if they can get away with it. The pushback is coming.

Germany pushes for G7 reversal on fossil fuel funding 
Bloomberg, 25 June 2022 

Germany is pushing for Group of Seven nations to walk back a commitment that would halt the financing of overseas fossil fuel projects by the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. That would be a major reversal on tackling climate change as Russia’s war in Ukraine upends access to energy supplies.

A draft text shared with Bloomberg would see the G-7 “acknowledge that publicly supported investment in the gas sector is necessary as a temporary response to the current energy crisis.”

The whole world wants coal now but there is no spare capacity anymore, so coal shortages are not going away

The price is record high for coal but investors don’t have faith that there will still be a market in five years time, so there is little investment. Meanwhile in South Africa people have stolen and vandalized the rail lines so it’s hard to move coal. Australia has had flooding which has slowed production, Colombia has elected an anti fossil fuel leader, and India and China are both digging as much out of the ground as they can already.

Climate pledges abandoned as Putin sparks global coal crunch
The Daily Telegraph, 25 June 2022

The long-term pressure to move away from coal also means there is limited spare capacity, and investors are unlikely to try and pump cash into alleviating what may only be a short-term demand surge.

“Coal markets have been burned so many times [..] and you’ve still got a very drastic retirement schedule in Europe,” says Natalie Biggs, global head of thermal coal markets research at Wood Mackenzie. “What’s the purpose of opening new mines and rushing out into the market when that market disappears in the next five years?

Europe is scrambling to set up gas infrastructure to replace the Russia piped supplies, but these new capital project come with long term contracts that are making the greens very nervous:

Keep reading  →

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