Newspaper column: Reid, Obama playing fast and loose on ‘green’ energy

When President Obama took the stage to close out Harry Reid’s traveling planet salvation show this past week in Las Vegas, he accused opponents of his sweeping clean energy plans of spreading misinformation.

“We refuse to surrender the hope of a clean energy future to those who fear it and fight it, and sometimes provide misinformation about it,” he charged at the National Clean Energy Summit 8.0.

But it was Obama who was spreading the misinformation, including his constant drumbeat about the immediate and devastating threat of climate change. There has been no significant increase in global temperatures in 20 years, despite what the climate change models all predicted. And his own EPA estimates its new rules on carbon emissions will cut global warming 0.018°C by 2100.

Obama also had the audacity — on the same day his administration announced billions of dollars in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects — to claim renewables can compete in the free market against fossil fuel power generation.

“A lot of Americans are going solar and becoming more energy efficient not because they’re tree huggers — although trees, you know, are important — just want you to know — but because they’re cost-cutters. They like saving money,” Obama said. “And I’m all for a consumer saving money, because that means they can spend it on other stuff. Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore — it’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”

Without tax breaks, tax credits, subsidies, renewable portfolio requirements and high sell-back rates, solar and wind do not yet pencil out.

Obama also lashed out at opponents he claimed were “trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.”

Study after study have shown that for every “green” energy job created by taxpayer subsidies and higher power cost at least two jobs in the rest of the economy are lost.

Earlier this year Obama linked an increase in hurricanes to climate change, even though no major hurricane has hit the U.S. in nine years.

In introducing Obama, Reid also repeated the false hurricane narrative, “Protecting the earth’s climate is the greatest challenge of our time. Does everybody agree? (Applause) You see this climate change doesn’t affect a particular people or industry or region or country. Climate change affects everybody, every American, every human being on the face of the earth, no matter where they live. From record break droughts in the Southwest to coastal flooding in the East, we’re seeing the impacts of increasing temperatures and rising sea levels. Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and that’s an understatement. …”

He then claimed that rising temperatures are breeding ticks that have killed 30 percent of the moose population in the Northeast. That nexus is tenuous at best.

“Warm weather is preventing in some places bears from hibernating,” Reid said. rated the hibernation claim a falsehood.

Obama and Reid never let the facts get in the way of their drive to dole out taxpayer money to their cronies and contributors in the green energy industry.

Obama even joined Reid in his attacks on the Koch brothers: “But when you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding — that’s a problem. That’s not the American way. That’s not progress. That’s not innovation. That’s rent seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.”

In the same building where Reid held his clean energy show, a coalition of people countered with a group of speakers at what they called the Affordable Energy Summit 8.0 to point out the highly subsidized clean energy is prohibitively expensive and produces few environmental benefits.

“Forcing Americans to spend increasingly high amounts of money on energy deprives us of the means to purchase health care, education, better nutrition, and a wide array of goods and services that make life happier and healthier,” said Heartland Institute senior fellow for environment and energy policy James Taylor. “It also kills jobs throughout the entire economy when people have less money to spend on these desirable goods and services.”

But Reid and Obama never let the facts get in the way of their transformative schemes.

Barry and Harry (AP photo)

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Shredding the Constitution in order to have ‘peace in our time,’ again

The 34 senators who say they will sustain an Obama veto and thus uphold Iran nuke deal.

The headline on the Investor’s Business Daily editorial headline says these senators have blood on their hands. These are the ones who say they will vote to sustain an Obama veto and thus uphold his Iranian nuke deal that assures the rogue nation will acquire nuclear weapons in a few years or less.

Never mind that the Constitution requires two-thirds of senators to approve a treaty. Congress has conceded it is not a treaty, but merely and executive agreement.

If that weren’t bad enough Harry Reid is consorting with the White House in an effort to filibuster any bill opposing the non-treaty treaty, so no one will have to on the record.

IBD concluded:

Why should SALT II and the ABM Treaty be treaties and not a nuclear accord with a terrorist state? According to a telling answer from Kerry in congressional testimony, it’s “because you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”

In other words, when the Constitution becomes a problem you just dispense with it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner should have demanded that this be presented to Congress as a treaty that would have required a two-thirds vote of senators to pass.

So Republicans, in their passivity, may have blood on their hands too.

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Nevada law assures eventual flap over school gender identity

Coming to a school near you?


On Monday students at Hillsboro High School in Missouri staged a walkout over a 17-year-old boy who pretends to be a girl insisting on being able to use the girls’ locker room instead of a gender-neutral faculty facility.

The district has no policy to cover such things, so a lawyer who has two daughters at the school is working with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group, to draft a “student physical privacy policy.”

This past legislative session Nevada lawmakers passed a sweeping anti-bullying law that specifically protects people who might be discriminated against because of: “Actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability of a person,sex or any other distinguishing characteristic or background of a person …”

It high-mindedly dictates: “Every classroom, hallway, locker room, cafeteria, restroom, gymnasium, playground, athletic field, school bus, parking lot and other areas on the premises of a public school in this State must be maintained as a safe and respectful learning environment, and no form of bullying or cyber-bullying will be tolerated within the system of public education in this State …”

Among the prohibitions in the law is: “Blocking access to any property or facility of a school …”

There you have it. By Nevada law, you can’t bar boys from the girls’ showers.

A bill that would have required public schools to provide gender-neutral facilities for boys who think they are girls and girls who think they are boys was scoffed at and went nowhere.

Boy who pretends to be a girl. (AP photo)

Opponents of ESAs want everyone to suffer equally

Apparently the opponents of the state’s new education savings account (ESA) law have a twisted egalitarian view of how our democracy is supposed to work: All people are created equal and, by Jove, they all should stay that way.

In an op-ed piece in today’s newspaper Sylvia Lazos, policy director of something called Educate Nevada Now, first states that Nevada has just about the worst performing public education system in the nation but then argues that no one should be allowed to opt out because this would leave the public schools with a higher percentage of at-risk pupils.

The ESA program would give parents, whose children have been in public school for 100 consecutive days, with about $5,000 per child to leave public schools and pay for private schooling or homeschooling.

Lazos calculates that, if all the 20,000 children currently in private schools choose to use ESAs, it would cut $100 million to public school budgets. That assumes the parents of those 20,000 students would pull them out of private school and put them in those poor-performing public schools for 100 days.

The part of the equation opponents of ESAs neglect to mention is that Nevada currently spends nearly $9,000 per pupil per year, according to National Education Association figures published in May. For every student who opts out, the public schools would have nearly $4,000 to spend on those who remain — in less crowded classrooms. They keep demanding more money, so there it is.

Winston Churchill:

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Sylvia Lazos (R-J file photo by Jerry Henkel)

Is the solar energy bubble about to burst?

SolarCity workers install rooftop panels. (R-J photo)

A week ago Obama came to Las Vegas for Harry Reid’s traveling planet salvation show and choir singing to proclaim, “Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore — it’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”

On the day after his administration announced $11 billion in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, Obama was claiming that renewable energy was competitive in the marketplace. If so, why did he announce all those loan guarantees?

Today The Wall Street Journal has an editorial under the headline “Big Solar’s Subsidy Bubble: Companies cash in on tax credits and ‘net-metering’ schemes.”

It points out that solar panel installers are making a big push partly because panel prices have fallen but mostly because in December 2016 the federal 30 percent tax credit falls to 10 percent and numerous states, including Nevada are rethinking generous net-metering programs, which will make solar difficult to produce a return on investment.

Of particular concern are solar leasing companies, such as SolarCity, which got a $1.2 million taxpayer handout to open an office in Las Vegas and compete with existing taxpaying solar installers.

“Here’s how this dubious business works,” the editorial states. “Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems (which often cost tens of thousands of dollars) at no upfront consumer cost. Homeowners rent the panels for 20 years at rates that typically escalate over time but are initially cheaper than power from the grid. Investors get to pocket the myriad state and federal subsidies while homeowners are promised hundreds of dollars annually in savings on their electric bills.”

The catch, according to WSJ, is that the teaser rates could increase if government subsidies are reduced.

Several members of Congress this past year asked the Federal Trade Commission to keep an eye on solar leasers who might be using “deceptive marketing strategies that overstate the savings” and “understating the risks.” (Never mind that solar leasing companies can put a lien on the house.)

NV Energy currently has a requested pending before the PUC that would cut the amount of credit for solar power uploaded to the grid from rooftop panels from 11.6 cents to 5.5 cents, a rate that could result in solar panel users paying more for electricity — when capital cost is included — than those without solar panels.

The WSJ editorial concludes with this pithy remark: “What does it say that the President is using his bully pulpit to abet an industry that is essentially fleecing the American public?”


Editorial: Judges find in the folds of the law a right to watch predators

You never know what new, previously unheard of rights some federal judges can find tucked in the folds of the law.

Earlier this month a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, of course, rejected a decision by Nevada U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du that let stand an 80-year-old predator control system run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. The circuit court panel remanded the case for further review.

The 21-page opinion written by Judge Michelle T. Friedland basically said a member of the Colorado-based WildEarth Guardians, Don Molde, has a right to expect to go walking in the wild and see coyotes and ravens. Pay no heed to the fact that without adequate control such predators prey on both livestock and other wildlife, such as sage grouse, which are soon to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

A member of the dog family, the coyote resembles its domestic cousins except that its nose is more pointed and its tail is bushier. The coyote is a very vocal mammal, communicating through barks and howls. Its scientific name, Canis latrans, literally means ‘barking dog.” The coyote is now the most widespread mammal in the United States, according to the Department of Interior.

Judge Du had ruled the self-styled Guardians’ suit was not redressable because even if the federal government ended its $100 million a year subsidy for predator control the state could easily step in and take over the program, which bags about 6,000 coyotes a year. The 9th Circuit panel called this “hypothetical rather than actual.”

The damages to Guardians member Molde described in the opinion are at best ludicrous.

“For example, Molde stated that he has curtailed his walks with his dog for fear that the dog would be caught in NWSP’s (Nevada Wildlife Services Program) predator traps,” the opinion states. “Molde further described how NWSP’s activities reduce the number of ravens that he is able to observe during his birdwatching, and how NWSP’s aerial hunting practices reduce his chances of seeing coyotes.”

The circuit court judges deemed this deprivation of seeing predators in the wild rises to the level of constituting damages under their criteria: “To establish standing, a plaintiff must show that ‘(1) he or she has suffered an injury in fact that is concrete and particularized, and actual or imminent; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable court decision.’”

No mention was made of reduced profitability to ranchers due to a reduced number of surviving calves and lambs.

After the ruling, The Associated Press quoted Bethany Cotton, wildlife director for WildEarth Guardians, as saying, “For example, peer-reviewed science shows that indiscriminate killing of coyotes triggers a biological response that actually leads to an increase in the coyote population,” adding that a better way to protect sage grouse from coyotes — and their eggs from ravens — is to enforce livestock grazing standards that prevent overgrazing that eliminates grass and sage brush the birds need for cover.

Which, of course, is ridiculous and entirely a fantasy on both arguments.

We hope Judge Du can find some way to uphold her original dismissal of the case on grounds that can skirt this new-found right to walk in the wild and watch coyotes attack. Sounds like fodder for a reality TV show.

A version of this editorial appeared this past week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

EPA moving forward with Clean Water Plan in states that did not successfully sue

What moxie.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced that it is implementing its Clean Water Plan even though a federal judge in North Dakota on Thursday enjoined it from doing so. The EPA said it will enforce its new rule in all the states except those 13 that are a party to the suit. Nevada is a party.

U.S. District Court of North Dakota Chief Judge Ralph Erickson ordered a temporary injunction, saying:

In exercising its power to grant a preliminary injunction, the court must balance the harms to the parties to the litigation while “pay[ing] particular regard for the public consequences.” For the court to grant an injunction, the moving party must establish that the entry of the relief would serve public interest.

On balance, the harms favor the States. The risk of irreparable harm to the States is both imminent and likely. More importantly delaying the Rule will cause the Agencies no appreciable harm. Delaying implementation to allow a full and final resolution on the merits is in the best interests of the public.

The court acknowledges that implementation of the Rule will provide a benefit to an important public interest, both in providing some protection to the waters of the United States and because it would provide increased certainty as to what constitutes jurisdictional waters as some people will be categorically removed from the definition of waters of the United States (for example owners of an intermittent wetland 4,001 feet away from an established tributary). The benefit of that increased certainty would extend to a finite and relatively small percentage of the public. A far broader segment of the public would benefit from the preliminary injunction because it would ensure that federal agencies do not extend their power beyond the express delegation from Congress. A balancing of the harms and analysis of the public interest reveals that the risk of harm to the States is great and the burden on the Agencies is slight. On the whole, the greater public interest favors issuance of the preliminary injunction.

The judge did not say his ruling applied only to those state’s that were involved in the case before. He also questioned the scientific validity of the agency’s so-called scientific basis and called it arbitrary.

He complained of being hampered by a lack of full documentation from EPA, but said what records he did have access to revealed “a process that is inexplicable, arbitrary, and devoid of a reasoned process.”

Tennessee farm that would be affected by EPA rule.

“The Rule asserts jurisdiction over waters that are remote and intermittent waters,” the judge wrote. “No evidence actually points to how these intermittent and remote wetlands have any nexus to a navigable-in-fact water. The standard of arbitrary and capricious is met because the Agencies have failed to establish a ‘rational connection between the facts found’ and the Rule as it will be promulgated.”

In all 30 states have sued to block the rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S., but have lost in other jurisdictions.

“Today’s preliminary injunction, as requested by Nevada and other states, reasserts the principle that the EPA cannot issue lawless mandates,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt on Thursday. “This important order, at a minimum, delays implementation of an unwise, unjustifiable and burdensome rule, and protects Nevada’s landowners, farmers and developers from job losses and increased energy prices, until the final rule can be comprehensively fought in court. I will continue to defend our jobs and families from overreach by the federal government.”

In addition to Nevada, the case out of North Dakota included Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming,

The House has passed a bill to block the water rule, and a Senate committee has passed a bill that would force the EPA to rewrite it. The president has vowed to veto any such bill.