Tag Archives: EPA

Let The Gas Loose

The price of oil is basically the same the world over. This is because fleets of ships and miles of pipelines transport oil from where it is plentiful to where it is needed (although a Carter era law bans the export of US oil). The only difference in oil price is due to its varying quality and the cost to transport it. Not so for natural gas. In the US, gas costs around $4 per MMBtu (million BTU, about a million cubic feet). In England, the price is $8, and in Japan, the price is $16. Why wouldn’t someone liquefy US gas, ship it to Japan and sell it for a profit? Of course because the government basically outlaws the practice.

The DOE and other authorities do authorize limited gas exports, but they are nowhere near enough to right the world pricing imbalance. Why should exports ever be limited, especially considering the US’s notorious trade deficit? Politics as usual.

Leftist politicians like Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) want to outlaw the exportation of all energy. While saying they want the oil and gas to benefit the US, they really want control over the factors of production (hint: that is communism). Contrary to Menendez’s caucus, a free market sends efficient signals to energy producers and consumers. Banning trade has two inevitable results – wealth destruction and war.

The Obama administration is basically outlawing coal electricity, and contrary to enviro hype, the only technology capable of picking up the slack of the many retiring coal plants is gas. Wind and solar are pleasant fairy tales, but when renewable mandates hit the pavement, they are paid for with gas.

Outlawing coal, as is surely going to happen in June, can only work if gas is cheap, really cheap. Coal is a stable cost input for electricity, while gas has until recently been volatile. Enviros are in the tricky position of hating coal, hating fracking, hating drilling, and somehow often blaming everyone but themselves when energy prices spike.

If gas exports were unlimited, as the export of any civilian private property should be, foreign gas prices would fall more than US prices would rise, but US gas could rise perhaps 50%. If so, electricity would increase by about 30% depending on the simultaneous shutdown of coal plants. However, lifting of the de facto drilling ban on federal land and various fracking bans around the US would counter these pressures.

Even if the climate is warming, and the evidence is mixed, climate change should not be a religion wherein supplicants must accept the whole nut of enviro orthodoxy. There is no reason to believe outlawing US coal is going to stop or even slow global warming, and there certainly is no reason to believe the cost of outlawing coal is worth any environmental benefits. The only way to stop global warming within the largely artificial enviro construct is to keep China and the developing world in abject poverty.

So, let the gas loose on the world. Let electricity prices explode due to radical environmental policies such as drilling bans, fracking bans, and coal bans. Expose the folly of claims that wind and solar can replace coal. Force a complacent public to realize coal is a pillar of the US economy, and return environmental concerns to their proper framework, which is a balance between cost and benefit. Leftist enviros have lured many people into fool’s paradise wherein there are no costs or consequences to radical policies. It is time to grow up.

Fracking Fantasies

Environmentalists have taken aim at a common natural gas extraction technique called Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking. The enviros claim that Fracking will contaminate ground water or even cause earthquakes because it involves injecting water, sand, and some chemicals into bedrock to increase natural gas supplies. Not only are these claims specious (Fracking occurs well below the water table), the enviros are revisiting a long history of hypocrisy since the only way to obtain their renewable energy goal is through Fracking.

States like Wyoming and Texas are now requiring thorough disclosure of Fracking chemicals. France has banned the practice outright. Agitprop movies like Gasland seek to demonize the technology that has turned an expensive, price volatile commodity into a near limitless resource. Even if everything the enviros say about Fracking is true, they still want the US to shift toward natural gas for most of its energy needs, and that requires Fracking. As usual, the enviro dirty laundry is showing.

At least 23 states have renewable energy laws that purport to require 15% to 30% of all electricity to come from renewable energy sources. But wind power provides less than 2% of the nation’s electricity and solar nearly zero. How do these states hope to go from 2% to 30%? The answer is a political sleight of hand called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. A RPS does not actually require a massive and impractical investment in solar and wind generation, it requires the overall CO2 emissions of a utility to mirror a hypothetical portfolio of renewable energy sources (assuming such technologies actually worked as advertised).

A RPS solution usually contains a token amount of wind and solar credits, along with advertising encouraging consumers to conserve, but the bulk of the results come from replacing coal plants with natural gas turbines. The unadvertised reality of a RPS is that it is nothing more than shifting from coal to natural gas. Renewable energy? Hardly, but natural gas contains hydrogen atoms that when burned release H2O, not CO2. By its nature, natural gas releases less CO2 per unit of energy, so the bottom line of replacing coal with natural gas resembles an investment in renewable energy. Also, natural gas turbines produce fewer secondary pollutants than coal, a nice plus given the EPA’s regulations regarding mercury and particulates.

So, renewable energy has next to nothing to do with wind and solar and is mostly replacing coal with natural gas. What is the problem? Well, prior to Fracking, natural gas was a limited and expensive commodity with a highly volatile price. Shifting electricity generation to natural gas would more than double the price of powering people’s homes. The only way to achieve a RPS is to ensure a vast and stable supply of natural gas, and currently Fracking is the only practical way to do that.

The same enviros that demanded the shift from coal want to shut down domestic natural gas production. The old line about conservation, living simply, and other collectivist garbage cannot withstand the fact that the US economy needs energy to function. Be it coal or natural gas, something must be extracted from the ground, and it must be burned. But enviros do not care about reality because they are never held accountable for their positions; they are just ‘for the planet,’ not for regular people powering their homes. The Old Time Media will never point out the enviro hypocrisy of both demanding more natural gas energy and outlawing its production, but the enviro’s Fracking fantasy seeks to hobble the US way of life nonetheless.

A Real Croc At The EPA

During the Christmas media lull, the EPA announced that it had fined a Colorado company $230,000 for improperly distributing pesticides. The EPA is tasked with ensuring that people are safe from dangerous chemicals and pollution, so a company that ignores the importance of pesticide regulations should be punished, right? Well, in this instance, the ‘pesticide’ is a pair of rubber clogs impregnated with silver to reduce foot odor. Anyone who fears the consequences of a government shutdown should be able to relax knowing that when the EPA is on the job, it spends its time prosecuting rubber shoes.

Silver, Copper and other metals have long been known to retard the growth of bacteria, such as the ones that make shoes smell. Hospital door handles are often made of copper and some socks are woven with a few silver threads to take advantage of its antimicrobial properties. Crocs took advantage of this well-established property by mixing silver into its rubber shoes and promoting them as anti-microbial. That, of course, is a federal crime.

The EPA is authorized to regulate pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, but the Law’s text does not contain the word shoe, rubber, or silver. Indeed, the text of the act clearly regulates an antimicrobial pesticide as some form of chemical because it regularly refers to those who would dilute and apply the pesticide in the prevention of spreading disease, not those who would wear rubber shoes. There is no mention of using metals to retard microbe growth at all.

The EPA claims that Crocs broke the Law because they advertised their shoes as antimicrobial and such claims made their shoes pesticides by law. The Law says no such thing; the EPA invented this standard out of thin air. According to the EPA, Crocs should have submitted their shoes for testing and then label them as pesticides with usage and safety instructions (i.e. wear a maximum of one shoe per foot). Remember, this is because they contained silver, as in the stuff earrings are made of.

The EPA stated that Crocs also failed to prove the efficacy of their shoes as a pesticide. The Antimicrobial Division – yes there is one – at the EPA tests and certifies pesticides to ensure that they kill dangerous pathogens in places like hospitals and food factories, not to what extent a rubber shoe stinks less when impregnated with silver. The EPA, of course, has not defined what standards an effective shoe must meet, so it is merely grandstanding to the press by claiming to enforce the efficacy of Crocs’s shoes. Since investigating false and misleading product claims usually falls to the FDA and the FTC, the EPA has entered a brave new world of shoe stink regulation.

The Law also limits fines to $5,000 per offense, or perhaps $10,000 per pair of shoes. Crocs is a successful company and can easily afford to pay $230,000, but that money could just as easily go to hiring a few new employees or expanding their international marketing effort. The EPA, in contradiction of the Law, extracted as much money as it could with the sole effect harming a shoe company. Tellingly, the EPA is not demanding that Crocs remove the silver from their shoes; there is nothing unsafe about Crocs shoes, just a failure to submit to federal control.

The next time an Old Time Media troll asks how the Federal Government budget can be cut without harming the US, remember that the EPA finds time to harass shoe companies under the theory that their products are unlicensed pesticides. Everyone who worked on that case easily can be let go. Also, when the EPA makes its illegal CO2 regulation power grab, remember that it is a capricious, law flouting, beast that puts its own power interests far above the real safety of the People.