Stop chasing the renewable energy snipe

Dear Warren Buffett:

Now that you own NV Energy  and are trying to figure out how to comply with the law that replaces coal-fired plants with renewable and gas-fired plants, perhaps you should look to Germany a hint at what works.

The Wall Street Journal reports that average electricity prices for companies there have jumped 60 percent in the past five years because of government subsidies for renewable energy plants. German  power now costs more than double the U.S. price.

“German industry is going to gradually lose its competitiveness if this course isn’t reversed soon,” said Kurt Bock, chief executive of BASF, the world’s largest chemical maker, the WSJ relates.

If companies can’t afford power, they won’t buy any. Then where will your profits come from?

And for what?

Despite this cost, German carbon out has actually increased in each of the past three years, according to The Daily Caller.

The newspaper that should be called the no-news paper

Remember the promises Brian Greenspun made when he took over the ownership of the Las Vegas Sun from his siblings and prevented a dissolution of the joint operating agreement that would have stopped the paper from appearing as a section in the daily Review-Journal?

He wrote:

We’re committed to continuous innovation. In the next few months we’re going to unveil bold new plans for high impact and enterprise reporting that could create a model for the rest of the nation. And we’ve got new approaches to other publications as well. I’ve been in media for nearly my whole life and I’ve never been more excited. The doom and gloom come only from people who have run out of ideas. And we have a talented team with a deep pool of ideas.

That was on July 2. It is now nearly September.

Today’s front page of the innovative Sun has two wire feature stories and a thumb-sucker about smoking in casinos by a freelancer who doesn’t even live in Las Vegas any more. Inside there is a Mike Smith cartoon and two entertainment columns, both on the opening of the SLS several days ago. The rest is wires and syndicated columns.

The next few months are obviously not two months.

Today's Las Vegas Sun no-news paper

Today’s Las Vegas Sun no-news paper

Somehow this minor Reid gaffe makes the front page … why?

As far as gaffes go, these were certainly well down the list for gaffe master Harry Reid.

In fact the local newspaper didn’t even notice them until someone pointed them out.

Harry Reid at Asian Chamber of Commerce, as depicted in Thursday’s newspaper. (R-J photo)

The story about Harry appearing at the Asian Chamber of Commerce was posted on the newspaper’s website Thursday afternoon. His crack about how smart Asians are was the last paragraph on the jump in the B section in Friday’s paper: “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.”

His ad lib crack about not being able to keep his Wongs straight, whatever that means, did not make the paper at all.

Yet, as if Harry making offensive remarks were somehow now newsworthy — ask the Koch brothers and the owner of the Washington Redskins — the Las Vegas newspaper put Harry’s apology on the front page.

Apparently nobody realized they were offended until some group called America Rising posted a video of Reid’s remarks on YouTube.

The newspaper today helpfully recounted Reid’s 2008 racially insensitive remark:

“Over the years, Reid has gained a reputation for verbal gaffes, including once saying of Barack Obama that his chances of winning the presidency were good because he was ‘light-skinned’ and had ‘no Negro dialect — unless he wanted to have one.’ The remarks were reported in the book ‘Game Change,’ and Reid apologized in 2010 after it came out.”

Apparently there wasn’t enough room to recount how he called the majority in the Hobby Lobby case “five white men,” including Clarence Thomas, or how he said he did not know how any Hispanic could be a Republican, much less him calling the Southern border secure or all people with ObamaCare horror stories are liars.

Also rich people are willing to pay more in taxes, except Mitt Romney who hadn’t paid any income taxes in 10 years.

No mention of him saying, when asked if he would put forward for a vote a bill to fund children’s cancer research, “Why, why, why would we want to do that?”

But everybody knows tea party members are anarchists, Republicans are fanatics, Ted Cruz is a schoolyard bully, Obama did not lie when he said you could keep your doctor and Washington tourists smell bad.

But, hey, Harry can handout compliments, too, like when he called New York’s junior senator, Kirsten  Gillibrand, “the hottest member” of the Senate while she sat nearby.

Never mind the Redskins. Harry should be red-faced, but he isn’t.


Newspaper column: Doling out tax favors doesn’t improve state’s economy

Largely overlooked at first during all the congratulatory back slapping — which came with the news that Tesla Motors had built an earthen pad in an industrial park east of Sparks for its new $5 billion lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” that would employ as many as 6,500 workers — was a statement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk about what he expects the state getting the plant to shell out.

Musk insisted that the company is still evaluating sites in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, as well as Nevada, as reported in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times, the Elko Daily Free Press and the Mesquite Local News.

In a telephone conference call on July 31 about company plans, Musk, 43, said of the $5 billion plant: “Of that number, we see Tesla probably providing 40 to 50 percent of the total; Panasonic probably about 30 to 40 percent; the state maybe 10 percent; and other industrial partners maybe 10 to 15 percent, depending on how vertical we go with the factory.”

That 10 percent from “the state” could be $500 million or more.

Security guards stop a car at the gate to the site Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks, where Tesla Motors has built a pad that could be for a battery factory. (AP Photo)

But the name Elon Musk is known to make Nevada politicians swoon. Perhaps you recall how the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) this past year doled out $1.2 million of your money to another Musk-headed business. That tax money from a $10 million Catalyst Fund went to attract SolarCity to open an office in Las Vegas and create 100 jobs. SolarCity erects solar panels on rooftops, something nearly a dozen or so taxpaying Nevada companies already do.

GOED board member Secretary of State Ross Miller fawned, “You had me at Elon Musk,” while voting to award the handout, despite the fact Article 8, Section 9 of the Nevada Constitution states: “The State shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the Stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.”

That little Mexican hat dance on the state constitution prompted the legal arm of conservative think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute to file suit in state district court in Carson City.

The suit was filed by the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation.

As a part of its ongoing litigation in that case involving a Musk handout, CJCL retained an expert witness, Dr. Randall G. Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University.

In written testimony filed in the court case, Holcombe said, “Government subsidies to businesses are a drain on the economy, and do not provide any net benefit to the state or its citizens. If the business would be profitable without the subsidy, there is no public purpose served by paying it. If the business would not be profitable without the subsidy, then the subsidy supports a business that takes more out of the economy than it puts back in.”

Or perhaps the state could offer a tax abatement as it did with the Apple facility in Reno. Never mind that the state constitution also calls for a “uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation,” well, except for mining.

Read the entire column at Ely, Elko or Mesquite.

Think tank reaches conclusion about land grab by ignoring its own evidence

Fire burns across the Spring Mountains west of Las Vegas.

A group calling themselves the Western Center for Priorities have come up with the most nonsensical argument yet for why the Western states should not take control of the huge swaths of land now under the control of the federal government.

In a report released today, they say the states can’t afford the cost of fighting wildfires on those lands and point out the cost of fighting wildfires on Forest Service land in New Mexico, Idaho and Montana exceeded those states entire annual budget for law enforcement.

WCP’s conclusion:

“The costs of fighting wildfires are significant and they are on the rise. Land seizure proponents across the West need to carefully explain how they plan to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to protect communities from wildfire – not to mention all of the other land management costs – without the federal government and without burdening state taxpayers. Until this critical question is answered, state land seizure proposals should not be considered by any serious politician.”

They conveniently ignore the evidence in their own report, which is that wildfires have sharply increased across the West precisely because the federal land managers have failed to properly manage the land and reduce the dry fuels that cause the fires in the first place. “Since 1960, the eight largest fire years by acres burned have all occurred since 2000,” the report says.

Graphic by Western Center for Priorities showing wildfire cost increases.

Graphic by Western Center for Priorities showing wildfire cost increases.

Another problem is that WCP only looked at costs for the Forest Service, but in Nevada the Forest Service controls only 8 percent of state land, while the Bureau of Land Management controls 68 percent.

Money spent on firefighting, according to WCP.

Money spent on firefighting, according to WCP.

An article in The New American flatly accused: “Wildfires occur naturally and have always been a part of the seasonal cycle in the West, but the size and intensity of the fires have dramatically increased in recent years due, in large measure, to the gross mismanagement of the national forests by the U.S. Forest Service and the incessant lawsuits of radical environmentalists that have thwarted all reasonable attempts at proper forest management.”

The federal government would not have to spend so much on fire suppression if it properly managed the land in the first place, allowing grazing, logging, cutting fire breaks and letting small fires burn and reduce the fuel that causes the huge blazes. States and private land owners would be more likely to protect the forests and prairies and the wildlife there.



You haven’t seen ‘seething’ until you’ve seen Harry seethe

Harry Reid seethed. (NYT photo)

It was the seethe that launched 37,000 seethes, so far. That’s the number of hits you get when you do an online search for “harry reid seethed.”

The New York Times started the seethe eruption with a little item about Obama meeting with four top members of Congress to discuss the unraveling situation in Iraq.

But with in the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, sitting nearby, Harry Reid, Nevada’s senior senator and majority leader of the Senate, wanted to talk about how Republicans were blocking confirmation of Obama nominees, “spitefully blocking,” as the Times recounted.

This is what the Times said happened next:

Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter.

“You and Mitch work it out,” Mr. Obama said coolly, cutting off any discussion.

Mr. Reid seethed quietly for the rest of the meeting, according to four separate accounts provided by people who spoke with him about it. After his return to the Capitol that afternoon, Mr. Reid told other senators and his staff members that he was astonished by how disengaged the president seemed.

Las Vegas newspaper columnist John L. Smith concluded that without Reid acting as Obama’s “Luca Brasi to guard his back, Obama’s presidency sleeps with the fishes.” Yes, I had to look it up, too. Luca Brasi was the Godfather’s enforcer in the Mario Puzo novels.

In the Sun section insert, cartoonist Mike Smith got into the act:

Mike Smith cartoon today.

Frankly, if you’ve never seen Reid seethe, you’ve not see championship-level seething.

It has been said often that, while former Sen. Richard Bryan woke up in the morning wondering if he’d shaken everybody’s hand, Reid wakes up in the morning wondering if he’s gotten back at all his enemies.

Reid truly has been Obama’s enforcer. He passed ObamaCare with the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase. He nuked the filibuster so Obama could stack the courts that will hear cases about ObamaCare. He has mocked the House suit over Obama’s unconstitutional waivers of law. He has attacked the Koch brothers at every turn. He has 350 House-passed bills sitting on his desk untouched. He “fills the amendment tree” to block GOP amendments to bills.

And, of course, Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years and Reid doesn’t know how any Hispanic could be a Republican.

After being snubbed will Reid be as willing act as Obama’s enforcer?

After November it may not matter, if he is no longer the majority leader?



EPA intends to overlay ozone pea with very expensive regulatory mattresses

Just think of the Environmental Protection Agency as the princess and ozone as the pea, and you will get some idea of the scope of the problem.

In 2008, the EPA set the ozone standard for air quality at 75 parts per billion (ppb). That’s parts per billion. Think of 1 ppb as the equivalent of one drop of ink in the tanker of the largest gasoline tanker truck.

But now the EPA signaling that it intends to cut the standard to 70 or 60 ppb — five or 15 drops fewer — even though the states have not yet fully implemented the 2008 standard.

The agency claims researchers estimate that this would reduce annual ozone-related premature deaths by 8,000 — a highly debatable conclusion.

One of the most frequently cited benefits of reducing ozone is to children with asthma.

But a Heartland report several years noted that the incidence of asthma had doubled over the previous 25 years while ozone levels were being sharply reduced. “A government-funded study of thousands of children in California reported that children who grew up in the highest-ozone areas had a 30 percent lower risk of developing asthma, when compared with children in low-ozone areas,” the report noted, adding, “While ozone can trigger asthma attacks, the effect is small. According to estimates by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), eliminating virtually all human-caused ozone in California — where millions of people live in areas with by far the highest ozone levels in the country — would reduce asthma-related emergency room (ER) visits by only 1.8 percent.”

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this proposed regulation is what those nine mattresses for the princess will cost.

A study by NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, estimates the lower ozone standard would cost the economy $270 billion a year — the most expensive regulation ever imposed on American businesses — and eliminate the equivalent of 2.9 million jobs a year through 2040.

The price of residential electricity would increase 15 percent on average across the nation, while the price of natural gas would jump 32 percent.

The study said that manufacturers in nonattainment areas will not be able to expand operations unless another businesses in the area reduces emissions or closes its doors. Economic growth in these regions would nearly come to a standstill.

Nevada, which has been largely unaffected by the ozone standard, would be impacted even in rural counties.

The study says the Silver State’s gross state product would be reduced by $19 billion 2017 to 2040, costing 11,224 jobs a year.

And that is assuming the standard is even achievable. NERA Economic Consulting notes the EPA has identified only 39 percent of the controls needed to meet the standard. The remaining 61 percent has yet to be identified, which leaves the firm to suggest this would likely result in early scrapping of plants, equipment and vehicles, huge capital cost.

Compliance will mean shutting down or modifying power plants, factories, heavy-duty vehicles, farm equipment, off-road vehicles and passenger cars. For Nevadans it will cost $23 million more to own and operate vehicles.


That was then.


This could be the future.


“Now is not the time to sacrifice millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in pursuit of dubious benefits and unreachable targets. The EPA should put on the brakes and allow the existing ozone standards to be implemented,” argues Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal recently.