By Alan Caruba
Archive for the ‘Green Energy’ Category
Three years before Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki would be forced out of his job because of the veterans who had died under him, he visited the Massachusetts National Cemetery. He wasn’t there to see the men and women who had died because of him.
The Massachusetts National Cemetery was getting a wind turbine so that the dead veterans would have all the sustainable energy they needed.
A VA press release about the cemetery turbine boasted that “under the leadership of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki… VA is transitioning into a 21st century organization that better serves America’s Veterans.”
Shinseki arrived in person at the dedication ceremony to flip the switch on the cemetery wind turbine.
“Nationally, VA continues to expand its investment in renewable sources of energy to promote our Nation’s energy independence, save taxpayer dollars, and improve care for our Veterans and their families,” he said.
The cemetery turbine had cost $533,000. Veterans were dying to save the VA a few hundred dollars. Shinseki had made his order of priorities clear. Green energy boondoggles came first. Improving veteran care came last.
Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Steve Muro told the crowd, “With one of VA’s first wind turbine projects, the Massachusetts National Cemetery is leading the way in the use of renewable energy while providing the burial benefits that New England Veterans and their families have earned.”
Muro had made the entire macabre spectacle worthy of a Joseph Heller novel. Obama’s people had not only killed veterans, they had killed satire.
When the VA wasn’t installing a wind turbine at a cemetery, it was installing solar panels at cemeteries to better serve the dead veterans that it was killing.
The Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery’s solar panels cost $787,308. According to the press release, the solar panels in the cemetery would “reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.
$742,034 worth of solar panels was put in at the Calverton National Cemetery. The San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery got an $800,000 solar panel setup. The Riverside National Cemetery got a $1.3 million solar system.
“We are investing in clean energy and renewable energy projects at our national cemeteries to reduce our environmental footprint,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki declared. ”The transition toward these renewable energy sources helps VA continue to be a leading example of going green in the federal government.”
Vets might be dying at VA facilities, but they would have solar panels and wind turbines over their graves so that Shineski could provide Obama with a leading example of “greenness”.
The cemeteries may have been where the VA’s scandal of shorting care for vets ended, under the shade of solar panels and wind turbines, but it was not where it began.
The VA scandal began at the Phoenix VA Health Care System where administrators earned promotions and bonuses by shunting patients who needed treatment into fake waiting lists.
As many as 40 veterans had died while waiting for care and 1,715 veterans in the Phoenix VA Health Care System had waited more than 90 days for an appointment.
Listening to President Obama respond on May 21 to the latest scandal regarding something about which he knew and did nothing—the mess at the Veterans Administration—was such a familiar event that I have reached a point of exhaustion trying to keep up with everything that has been so wrong about his six years in office. As he always does, he said was really angry about it.
Writing in the May 20 Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin said, “Forget ideology for a moment. Whether you are liberal or conservative, the Obama presidency’s parade of miscues is jaw-dropping.”
Stacked against the list of Obama scandals and failures, Rubin could only cite the Bush administration’s 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh most intense ever, and, as anyone familiar with that event will tell you, the failure of FEMA’s response was matched by the failures of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had declared a national emergency two days before it hit the Gulf coast.
Rubin concluded that the Obama administration scandals “reflect the most widespread failure of executive leadership since the Harding administration”, adding “The presidency is an executive job. We hire neophytes at our peril. When there is an atmosphere in which accountability is not stressed you get more scandals and fiascos.”
Obama spent his entire first term blaming all such things on his predecessor, George W. Bush, until it became a joke.
One has to wonder about the effect of the endless succession of scandals and fiascos have had on Americans as individuals and the nation as a whole.
While it is easier to lay all the blame on Obama, the fact is that much of the blame is the result of a federal government that is so big no President could possibly know about the countless programs being undertaken within its departments and agencies, and all the Presidents dating back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive initiatives have played a role in growing the government.
It is, however, the President who selects the cabinet members responsible to manage the departments as well as those appointed to manage the various agencies. Kathleen Sebelius, the recently resigned former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the implementation of Obamacare, comes to mind. She had solicited donations—against the law—from the companies HHS regulates to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and signed off on the millions spent on HealthCare.gov and other expenses leading up to its start.
There are lists of the Obama scandals you can Google. One that continues to fester is the attack on September 11, 2012—the anniversary of 9/11—that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya. It has been and continues to be investigated, mostly because of the lies told by Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “What difference at this point does it make?” fame. Clinton was asked what she had accomplished in her four years as Secretary and was unable to name anything.
California loves to be seen as the trendsetter on energy and environmental policies. But can we really afford to adopt their laws and regulations in the rest of America? Heck, can the once Golden State afford them itself? The path to hell is paved with good intentions, counter-productive policies – and hypocrisy.
The official national unemployment rate is stuck at 6.7% – but with much higher rates for blacks and Hispanics and a labor participation rate that remains the lowest in 35 years. Measured by gross national product, our economy is growing at an abysmal 1.5% or even 1.0% annual rate.
Meanwhile, California’s jobless rate is higher than in all but three other states: 8.1% – and with far worse rates as high as 15% for blacks, Hispanics and inland communities. First the good news, then the insanity.
Citigroup’s Energy 2020: North America report estimates that the United States, Canada and Mexico could make North America almost energy independent in six years, simply by tapping their vast recoverable oil and gas reserves. Doing so would help lower energy and consumer prices, insulate the three nations from volatile or blackmailing foreign suppliers, and spur job creation based on reliable, affordable energy, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Driving this revolution is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. According to Citigroup, IHS Global Insights, the EIA and other analysts, “fracking” technology contributed 2.1 million jobs and $285 billion to the US economy in 2013, while adding $62 billion to local, state and federal treasuries! Compare that to mandates and subsidies required for expensive, unreliable, job-killing wind, solar and biofuel energy.
Fracking also slashed America’s oil imports from 60% of its total petroleum needs in 2005 to just 28% in 2013. It slashed our import bill by some $100 billion annually.
By 2020 the government share of this boom is expected to rise to $111 billion. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while contributing $300 billion a year to GDP and generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.
A Yale University study calculates that the drop in natural gas prices (from $8 per thousand cubic feet or million Btu in 2008, and much more on the spot market, to $4.00 or so now) is saving businesses and families over $125 billion a year in the cost of heating, electricity and raw material feed stocks.
The only thing standing in the way of a US employment boom and economic and industrial renaissance, says Citigroup, is politics: continued or even more oppressive anti-hydrocarbon policies and regulations.
Here’s the insanity. Fully 96% of this nation’s oil and gas production increase took place on state and private lands. Production fell significantly on federal lands under President Obama’s watch, with the Interior Department leasing only 2% of federal offshore lands and 6% of its onshore domain for petroleum, then slow-walking drilling permits, according to the Institute for Energy Research.
Early in the morning, while most are still sleeping, groups of elderly Chinese women spread out across city streets. They tear open trash bags, pick through the litter and sort out bottles and cans that come with a deposit. And then they bring them to the local supermarket to a machine that scans and evaluates each can, accepting and rejecting them one by one, and finally printing out a receipt.
The interaction between the elderly immigrant who speaks broken English or the homeless man who is barely holding it together… and the machine is a stark contrast between what the new smart clean green economy pretends to be and what it actually is.
The machine, like so much else that we design, is impressive, but its existence depends on someone digging through the trash with their hands for much less than minimum wage to extract a generally useless item.
The entire bottle economy, which has more than a passing resemblance to the trash sorting operations in the Third World carried out by despised and persecuted minorities, like the Zabbaleen in Egypt, is artificial. The United States is not so poor that it actually needs to recycle. It recycles not under the impulse of economic imperatives, but of government mandates.
The elderly Chinese women dig through the trash because politicians decided to impose a tax on us and an incentive for them in the form of a deposit. All those useless 1980s laws created a strange underground economy of marginalized people digging through the trash.
Every time politicians celebrate a recycling target met and show off some shiny new machine, hiding behind the curtain are the dirty weary people dragging through the streets at the crack of dawn, donning rubber gloves and tearing apart trash bags. They are the unglamorous low-tech reality of environmentalism.
These are the Green Jobs that aren’t much talked about. They pay below minimum wage and have no workplace safety regulations. They are the Third World reality behind the First World ecology tripe. It’s not that the people who plan and run the system don’t know about them. But they don’t like to talk about them because they come too close to revealing the unsavory truth about where environmentalism is really going.
Environmentalism, like every liberal notion, is sold to the masses as modern and progressive. It’s the exact opposite. It’s every bit as modern and progressive as those sacks of cans being hauled by hand through the streets to the machine.
Prince Charles, that avid idiot and environmentalist, visited a Mumbai slum a few years ago and said that it had some lessons to teach the West.
“When you enter what looks from the outside like an immense mound of plastic and rubbish, you immediately come upon an intricate network of streets with miniature shops, houses and workshops, each one made out of any material that comes to hand,” Prince Charles wrote in his book, Harmony.
The Prince of Wales is quite the author. In addition to Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, he has written Shelter: Human Habitats from Around the World, The Prince’s Speech: On the Future of Food and The Illustrated Guide to Chickens: How to Choose Them, How to Keep Them.
The political class is now demonstrating a level of hubris rarely, if ever, seen in the American system.
Within just a few hours, three of the top four most post powerful politicians in the country unabashedly revealed the low opinion they have of liberty and the American people and a willingness to persecute, prosecute and lie to those who advocate and fight for Constitutional government. And by their silence, the rest of the political class nodded their agreement.
First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Bunkerville, Nev., rancher Cliven Bundy and the hundreds of Americans who rallied to Bundy’s defense domestic terrorists. Then, President Barack Obama brazenly lied to the American people in claiming that 8 million people had signed up for Obamacare and that the program was a success, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And early Friday morning, we learned Speaker of the House John Boehner has proclaimed once again to big money donors and crony capitalists that an immigration bill would be passed this year over the wishes of the majority of Americans.
Within hours of reports circulating in alternative media of Reid’s use of the Bureau of Land Management in his land grab on behalf of a Chinese solar energy firm, BLM pulled its goon squad of armed enforcers out of the area. It also scrambled to delete evidence from its own website that the area the Bundy family has used to graze their cattle is needed for “utility-scale solar power generation facilities on public lands” and that need was hindered by “trespass grazing” cattle.
Reid and his son Rory have worked in lockstep with the BLM and transnational green energy firms to wrestle land and use rights from American ranchers for years. Bundy is the last rancher standing in an area that once saw dozens of them.
What few reports on the standoff between Bundy and BLM that have made it into the mainstream media speciously claim the Bundy ranch is some 200 miles from the proposed site of the ENN Energy Group’s solar farm and panel building plant, and that the ENN project was shelved last year. Even the supposedly reliable “right wing” websites Breitbart.com and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze have carried the Federal government’s water on this dispute. The two-faced Beck — who has called for a pitchfork revolution and sells shirts calling for one — even went so far as to call Bundy supporters “frightening” and compared them with Occupy Wall Street, which was a CIA-funded operation designed to foment unrest in America.
Claims have also been made that the Federal government owns the land in question. But the Constitution specifically describes in Article I, Section 8 what land the Federal government can possess, and there are subsequent Supreme Court decisions that lay out the legal framework. (Hint: It does not include protecting tortoises or building solar plants.)
A BLM document discusses the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone and specifically mentions the Gold Butte area (which includes Bunkerville) and “cattle trespass grazing” as being part of critical concern to future utility-scale solar energy development.
A nation without adequate energy production is a nation in decline and that has been the President’s agenda since the day he took office in 2009. He even announced his war on coal during the 2008 campaign even though, at the time, it was providing fifty percent of the electricity being utilized.
It’s useful to know that the U.S. has huge coal reserves, enough to provide energy for hundreds of years and reduce our debt through its export to nations such as Japan. It increased coal-fired power generation by ten percent in 2013 while Germany’s coal use reached the highest level since 1990. Both China and India are increasing the use of coal. So why is coal unwelcome in the U.S.? Because Obama says so.
On April 15, the White House held a “Solar Summit” to continue promoting subsidies for solar panels and the Obama Energy Department has announced another $15 million in “solar market pathways” to fund local government’s use of solar energy. Its “Capital Solar Challenge” is directing federal agencies, military bases, and other federally subsidized buildings to use solar power.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, “solar energy provides two-tenths of one percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. While the amount of solar electricity capacity in the U.S. has increased in recent years…it still only accounts for 0.1% of net electricity generated…the least among the renewable sources of hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar.”
So, in addition to the millions lost in earlier loans to solar companies like Solyndra that failed not long after pocketing our tax dollars, Obama is using the power of the federal government to waste more money on this unpredictable—the Sun only shines in the daytime and clouds can get in the way—source of energy whose “solar farms” take up many acres just to provide a faction of what a coal-fired or natural gas powered plant does.
This isn’t some loony environmental theory at work although the Greens oppose all manner of energy provision and use whether it is coal, oil or natural gas. This is a direct attack on the provision of energy, fueled by any source, that America needs to function and meeting the needs of its population, manufacturing, and all other uses.
The most recent example of this is the further extension of the delay on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. That too is part of Obama’s war on energy for the nation, but it may also have something to do with the fact that the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad owns all of the rail lines in the U.S. connecting to western Canada. They haul 80% or more of the crude oil from Canada to the Midwest and Texas, earning a tidy sum in the process. It is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a major contributor to Democrat causes and candidates. The Keystone XL pipeline could divert more than $2 billion a year and if its delay is not crony capitalism, nothing is.
This is what the Sierra Club is telling its members and supporters as of Monday, April 21: “Keystone XL means cancer. It means wolf blood spilled. And it’s nothing short of a climate disaster.” It is a lie from start to finish.