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Energy Tag

When his second term comes to its inevitable conclusion, the final list of President Obama's policy failures will be ponderous. And few items on this list will place higher than his "Green Energy Initiatives." One of his gandest schemes involved backing Solyndra LLC, a solar-panel maker. Presidential aides pressured White House budget officials to complete a review of a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee to the firm, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection. Now comes news of a failure 5-times larger. Late last year, another Obama-based green energy company was poised for bankruptcy:

Hillary Clinton is apparently planning to continue President Obama's war on coal if elected. She said as much at a CNN town hall event on Sunday night. The Daily Wire reports:
Hillary Pledges To Put Coal Miners Out Of Business Promising to kill the coal industry and its jobs via regulation and taxation if elected President, Hillary Clinton called for economic revitalization via the creation of an industry for “clean renewable energy" as a substitute. Speaking at the CNN-hosted Democratic town hall event in Columbus, Ohio, Clinton sanctioned the narrative of anthropogenic global warming in calling for the cessation of consumption of fossil fuels.

Yet another Obama administration initiative was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was a far-reaching effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA). If implemented, the CPP would have closed hundreds of coal-fired plants across the country and increased the production of wind and solar power, which are significantly more expensive to produce. The CPP was challenged in  court by energy companies, industry groups, and a coalition of 29 states, led by West Virginia. The litigants filed multiple applications for a stay, which would block the CPP from being implemented while the case proceeded.

Hitting the "pause" button

A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously voted to deny the stay last month, and it was appealed to the Supreme Court, which, in a 5-4 ruling with the liberal Justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) voting against, agreed to grant the stay. A stay is best understood as hitting the "pause" button, and not the final step in the litigation, but it does prevent the CPP from being implemented while the case proceeds.

This week California's State Treasurer Johnny Chiang announced that the Golden State's finances are completely tarnished:
State Treasurer John Chiang unveiled a new open data website today, providing important details about $1.5 trillion in debt issued by state and local government entities as part of his ongoing efforts to promote transparency in government. The site, debtwatch.treasurer.ca.gov, makes it easier for taxpayers to track proposed and issued debt, cost of issuance, and bond and tax election results. “The state and its local governments have borrowed more than $1.5 trillion from Wall Street over the past three decades to build roads, schools, and other critical public works,” said Chiang. “Bonds are not free money and, indeed, obligate the public to repay them through higher taxes and fees. DebtWatch aspires to empower Californians to hold government accountable for its borrowing decisions.”
Meanwhile, our state's Chief Executive seems to have added to that debt, after requesting a state deparment complete a gas and oil survey of his property at taxpayer expense.
Gov. Jerry Brown last year directed state oil and gas regulators to research, map and report back on any mining and oil drilling history and "potential for future oil and gas activity" at the Brown family's private land in Northern California, state records show.

A new report suggests the United States power grid is vulnerable to an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack and that should scare the hell out of you. When it comes to the cost of American lives, an attack like this would make 9/11 look small. If a large portion of the United States was deprived of electricity for a significant amount of time, millions would die of starvation, a lack of access to modern medical care and the collapse of law and order. Daniel Wiser reports at the Washington Free Beacon:
Report: United States Increasingly Vulnerable to Potentially Catastrophic EMP Attack The threat of a devastating electromagnetic pulse attack on the United States is increasing just as American infrastructure has become more vulnerable, according to a new report.

Back in 2008, Obama suggested that it would be necessary to bankrupt the coal industry in his efforts to establish "green" energy alternatives—he wanted to "take coal off the table as an ideological matter." Here's the clip: The Daily Caller has a partial transcript of the above interview:
In 2008, Obama said his energy policies would “bankrupt” anyone who wants to build a coal plant. “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board.

Two pieces of green-energy legislation have been derailed by the California legislature, much to Governor Jerry Brown's consternation. Senate Bill 350, which would have given one of the most draconian state agencies in the nation epic powers to cut fuel consumption, and a gas tax supposedly for road repair, have gone down to defeat...at least temporarily.
In a major setback for Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate agenda, the governor and legislative leaders on Wednesday abandoned an effort to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030. The announcement followed weeks of lobbying by oil companies and resistance not only from Republicans, but moderate Democrats in the Assembly.

Some classic cable news was created this weekend when CNN's Jake Tapper asked Sarah Palin what role she thought she could fill in a Donald Trump administration. Palin volunteered for the role of energy secretary but said that she'd close down the department. Even the Washington Post took notice. Vanessa Williams reported:
Sarah Palin would like to be energy secretary — but not for long Sarah Palin thinks she would make a great secretary of the U.S. Energy Department because as a former governor of Alaska she knows a thing or two about "oil and gas and minerals." But she would not stay in the job for long if Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidency and asked her to serve. The businessman and reality TV show star has said that he would "love" to have Palin in his administration "because she really is somebody that knows what’s happening. And she’s a special person." Palin, during an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," said: "I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby ... And if I were head of that, I would get rid of it. And I would let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their space."

Apparently, there is no economy-crushing law the state of California won't consider. The latest in legislative insanity comes from Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, and is entitled Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB 350). Ultimately, should it pass, it will give one of the most aggressive state agencies in the nation the power to impose "fees" and ration gas.
De Leon’s SB 350 is ultimately a gasoline-rationing act. The bill gives the California Air Resources Board free rein to enact a mandatory 50 percent gasoline and diesel fuel restriction (8 billion gallons annually) by the year 2030. To meet the mandate, the state air resources board will be able to ration gas, place mobility restrictions on state residents, place surcharges on family mini-vans, trucks and SUVs, and even monitor individuals’ fuel consumption records. You have to wonder how these mandates and restrictions will affect not only the state’s economy but its people. ...Californians need to know and act to protect themselves from the devastating effects of this bill on their lives. The California Air Resources Board [CARB], an unelected group of bureaucrats, will be given full authority to meet the restriction mandate in any way its members see fit with no oversight permitted by our elected representatives.

Via AP:
Legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an initial Senate hurdle Monday, a victory for newly empowered Republicans angling for a quick veto showdown with President Barack Obama. The bipartisan 63-32 vote was 3 more than the 60 required, and well above the level the highly controversial measure ever gained in recent years when Democrats controlled the Senate.... But with more than enough votes at their command, Republican and Democratic supporters said they hoped the legislation could win final approval and be sent to the White House by the end of next week. "President Obama has every reason to sign the jobs and infrastructure bill that we will pass," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He noted that the Nebraska Supreme Court had recently rejected a legal challenge brought by opponents, an obstacle the White House had cited.
While this vote was important, backers of the pipeline will need to hold the line when it times to voting to close debate. That's when the arm-twisting by the White House will get real. But with 60 cosponsors, there may not be much the White House can do to avoid having to issue a veto. National Journal reports there are not currently enough votes to override a veto, but the open amendment process might help in that regard:

The Obama administration has made no effort to hide its disdain for the coal industry, so this report from John Ruberry of Marathon Pundit shouldn't surprise anyone:
War on Coal: Mine closings in Kentucky kill 670 jobs On Monday Patriot Coal Corporation closed two western Kentucky mines. On New Year's Eve the company announced the mines will be closed. The effects will be felt beyond Kentucky, as a Republican member of Illinois' Saline County Board, Joe Jackson, points out. From the Southern Illinoisan:
Jackson said the negative impact on Saline County is from regulations placed on coal mines by the government. "We know that those places wouldn't be closing if it wasn't for (President) Obama and the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the regulations on burning coal,” he said. State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said while the shutdown does affect residents in his area, he is not sure how many people were impacted.
Professor Jacobson addressed Obama's disregard for the constitution and his efforts to hamper the coal industry in his recent column for USA Today:

It's tough up here in NY's flyover country, that enormous expanse that starts in the Catskill mountains north of New York City, and runs north towards the Adirondack Mountains through the State Government City (Albany), westward for hundreds of miles along the "Southern Tier" past Elmira and Corning, then up to Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, which are shadows of their former selves. There are bubbles of prosperity, mostly college towns like Ithaca, but beyond the bubble, it's tough. And depressing. This is beautiful country and countryside, but it has been bleeding population and jobs for decades. Just as used to be the case in the area of Pennsylvania just across the Southern Tier border, less than an hour south of Ithaca. Upstate NY Map Fracking changed all that for the Pennsylvania flyover country. As in many other places around the country, fracking turned around what James Carville once referred to as the Alabama part of Pennsylvania. There were high hopes along the Southern Tier. The prospect that the years-long fracking moratorium would be lifted resulted in large cash payments for mineral rights to farmers and others in this region. Those hopes are dead. As a doorknob. Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks:

Over the summer I covered the Argentine government’s default on its debts owed to U.S. hedge funds—its second default in just 13 years. Now fellow Latin American socialist paradise Venezuela is gearing up for a default of its own, as precipitously falling oil prices have decimated the country’s budget and will continue to pressure its currency reserves. Since mid-June, crude oil prices have declined by more than 30%, with West Texas Intermediate (the benchmark measure for North American oil) dipping to $60.55/barrel before ultimately settling at a 5-year low of $61.54/barrel on Wednesday. A CNBC report on the prospect of a Venezuelan default cited a Capital Economics report stating that a default could be expected by next September or October when $5 billion in debt payments come due. Only an upswing of oil prices to somewhere around $121/barrel would allow Venezuela to balance its budget, according to some estimates. But with OPEC recently slashing its 2015 production levels to a 12-year low in response to decreasing estimated global oil demand and increasing supply via U.S. shale production, a significant oil price increase in the short-term seems highly unlikely. Bloomberg reports that the implied probability of default---derived from complex financial formulas---in the next five years stands at 93%, the highest in the world. Meanwhile, low oil prices translate into low oil revenues for PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company, which means the Venezuelan government will have to dip into dwindling reserves to service debt payments. Ratings agency Moody’s estimates that the country’s non-gold reserves are less than $7 billion, with only half of that “freely available and usable.” How is it that the country with the largest proven oil reserves—more than 297 billion barrels—sports an economy in such shambles? There are many reasons, but a few stand out:

We have written many times before about Obama's obsession with wind power, despite the huge massacre of migratory bird populations, questionable technology, and doubtful economics. Via Tim Blair (h/t Iowahawk) come this poinent video of a German windmill falling down, and a description of the techincally...

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