Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Are climate alarmists trying to keep Africa in bondage?

Is Africa in an emissions arm lock?
First World industrialized nations are trying to prevent African development
Dr Kelvin Kemm
The latest world environment and climate change conference (COP-18) is taking place in Doha, Qatar. One of the prime issues under discussion is the attempt to force countries all over the world to adopt binding agreements to limit “carbon emissions.”
The term “carbon emissions” really refers to emissions of carbon dioxide gas – but “carbon” and “carbon dioxide” are two totally different things. Carbon is a solid (think coal and charcoal) and the central building block of hydrocarbons, whereas carbon dioxide is the gas that all humans and animals exhale and all plants require to grow. Without carbon dioxide, all life on Earth would cease.
It is thus not just silly to talk of “carbon emissions.” It is also simplistic and grossly inaccurate – except when referring to carbon particulate matter released during the combustions of wood, dung, hydrocarbons and other carbon-based materials. Saying “carbon emissions” also reflects the appalling lack of scientific knowledge so prevalent today. But never mind.
The real issue is that some people insist that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is leading to an increased greenhouse effect, which in turn is leading to dangerous global warming.
However, the graph of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last century fails to match the graph of measured temperature increases. In fact, average global temperatures have been essentially stable for 16 years, even as the carbon dioxide (CO2) level has continued to rise.
Henrik Svensmark and other scientists have shown that global temperature is much more accurately correlated to observed sunspot activity. Sunspots reflect solar activity, specifically the sun’s magnetic field, that affects the quantity of cosmic rays entering Earth’s atmosphere from outer space. That in turn is linked to the proposition that particles in the cosmic rays cause clouds to form, and varying cloud cover on earth has a great influence on global temperatures.
Fewer cosmic rays mean fewer clouds, more sunlight reaching the Earth, and a warmer planet. More cosmic rays mean more clouds, more reflected sunlight, and a cooler planet.
Indeed, historical sunspot records correlate quite well with warming and cooling trends on Earth, whereas carbon dioxide and climate trends do not correlate well – except in one respect. Warm periods are typically followed several centuries later by rising CO2 levels, as carbon dioxide is released from warming ocean waters, increasing terrestrial plant growth. Cooling periods eventually bring colder oceans, which absorb and retain greater amounts of CO2 – and less plant growth.
Thus the CO2 argument for global warming is very much in doubt – whereas there is a very viable, and more plausible, alternative.
However, CO2 is largely produced by automobiles and electricity generating power stations, which burn the fossil fuels so loathed by Deep Ecology environmentalists. That makes these energy, transportation and economic development sources the target of “carbon emission” reduction schemes.
I was a delegate at COP-17 in Durban, South Africa in 2011. As a scientist and resident of Africa, I walked around the Africa pavilion, discussing these issues and gauging the opinions of many people from African countries. To put it bluntly, the African representatives were not happy.
Their general feeling was that the First World is trying to push Africa around, bully African countries into accepting its opinions and, even worse, adopting its supposed “solutions.”
The “solutions” include moving away from fossil fuels and implementing supposed alternatives like wind, solar and biofuel power. Africans were unhappy about this. They still are. They can intuitively see that large scale wind or solar power is not practical – and biofuels mean devoting scarce cropland, water and fertilizer to growing energy crops, instead of using the crops for food. What Africa needs now is abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuel, which means producing more of the Earth’s still abundant oil, coal and natural gas.
It is all well and good if highly variable, expensive wind power makes up ten percent or less of an already industrialized nation’s enormous electricity supply. If it varies significantly, or fails entirely, even on the hottest and coldest days (as it is prone to do), the loss of ten percent is not a disaster.
But First World countries have been telling poor African countries to base their futures on wind power as major portions of their national supplies.
What this implies is that, if the wind power fails, whole sections of a country can grind to a halt. “Oh, no problem,” say climate campaigners. “Just install a smart grid and longer transmission lines, so that when wind is blowing somewhere in the country the smart grid will do all the fancy switching, to make sure electricity flows to critical functions.” In theory, maybe.
But meanwhile, in the real world, in August 2012, industrialized Germany’s wind power was under-performing to such a degree that the country decided it must open a new 2,200-megawatt coal-fired power station near Cologne – and announced the immediate construction of 23 more!
Moreover, installing a smart grid assumes that the country concerned wants to develop a major complex national grid – and has the money to do so – or has one already. Bad assumption.
Africa is huge. In fact, Africa is larger than China, the United States, Europe and India added together. So it’s a mistake to assume African countries will want to implement major national grids, following European historical examples – or will be able to, or will have the vast financial and technical resources to do so, or will have the highway or rail capability to transport all the necessary components to construct thousands of miles of transmission lines.
Even in the USA, the electricity system in the state of Texas is not connected to the rest of the country, and the issue of building thousands of miles of new transmission lines and smart grids is generating controversy and serious funding questions.
In South Africa we already run major power lines, for example from Pretoria to Cape Town, which is the same distance as Rome to London. We need to ask:
Is it wise to keep doing this, or should smaller independent grids be developed as well? If compulsory carbon emissions come into force, will this limit African economic growth and African electricity and transportation expansion?
Should Africans be told to “stay in harmony with the land” – and thus remain impoverished and wracked by disease and premature death – by continuing to live in an underdeveloped state, because a dominant First World bloc believes its climate alarmism is correct, suppresses alternative evidence, and is more than willing to impose its views on the poorest, most politically powerless countries? 
The promised billions in climate change “mitigation” and “reparation” dollars have not materialised yet, and are unlikely to appear any time soon. Even worse, the energy, emission and economic growth restrictions embodied in the proposed climate agreements would prevent factories and businesses from blossoming, perpetuate poverty, limit household lighting and refrigeration, and impede human rights progress on our continent.
Africa should resist the psychological and “moral” (actually immoral) pressure being exerted on it to agree to binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Any such agreement would place African countries at the mercy of bullying First World countries, put them in a crippling emissions arm lock, and bring no health, environmental or other benefits to Africa. 
Dr. Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa. He is a member of the International Board of Advisors of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), based in Washington, DC ( and received the prestigious Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why do "some scientists" insist on using inaccurate data?

As a South African scientist and consultant who follows climate change and other environmental issues very closely, Dr. Kelvin Kemm always has unique perspectives to share with readers around the world who might otherwise receive only a western, first world or environmentalist viewpoint. His article today provides another timely analysis of environment and climate change issues, just as the UN global warming conference gets underway in Doha, Qatar.

As Dr. Kemm notes, far too much of what passes as science on climate change, melting polar ice caps and related issues is far removed from actual science. It thus provides a harmful, almost “Alice in Wonderland” parallel universe “reality” that ill serves our decisions on the most important energy, environmental and economic public policy issues of the day.
Paul Driessen
Senior policy advisor, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)

Alice in Wonderland science
Our energy and environment deserve better – in South Africa and Qatar
Kelvin Kemm
A few weeks ago, perhaps as a prologue to the “global warming disaster” convention in Doha, Qatar, South Africa’s Department of Environment Affairs took out a full-page advertisement in our country’s newspapers, promoting National Marine Week.
The ad showed a map of the Antarctic continent, from above the pole, surrounded by the vast blue Southern Ocean. It also promoted South Africa’s new Antarctic research vessel, SA Agulhas II.
The advertisement’s text mentioned the massive Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is responsible for distributing vital nutrients to the world’s oceans. It noted that the truly massive quantities of phytoplankton found in the ocean are vital marine building blocks in ocean processes. All that is true, and I certainly applaud efforts to protect the environment and promote National Marine Week and our country’s research efforts.
But then, sadly, the ad’s discussion of physics content went off the rails. Referring to phytoplankton, it said “these microscopic creatures also use carbon to create energy.” Wrong!
The most basic law of thermodynamics says energy is neither created nor destroyed, but merely converted from one form to another. The only way to “create” energy is via a nuclear process, whereby matter is converted to energy in a nuclear reaction, as Einstein famously postulated over a century ago. Nuclear processes operate outside the laws of thermodynamics, but there is certainly no nuclear process going on in phytoplankton.
I could have lived with that slip up in the physics. But it got worse – much worse. The ad went on to blame global warming for upsetting the phytoplankton. In a declaration straight out of Alice in Wonderland, it asserted: “The increase in surface temperature over Antarctica from climate change is having a catastrophic knock-on effect, depleting phytoplankton stocks, melting the Antarctic ice sheet and causing an alarming reduction in all marine life.”
First, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no “alarming reduction in all marine life.” None of my colleagues are aware of it. Second, the surface temperature over Antarctica is not increasing.
In fact, a new record has just been attained. Antarctic sea ice has just reached an all-time record for total acreage. Day 265 of the year 2012 set an all time record, and then on day 266 that record was broken. The days 265 to 270 were the six highest Antarctic sea ice extent days of all time.
The environment department then compounded these errors by committing the unforgivable scientific sin of claiming a supposed increase in surface air temperature over Antarctica “is having a catastrophic knock-on effect” – then providing no evidence to back up its assertion and not telling readers what the alleged knock-on effect is.
I cannot even begin to imagine how this knock-on is supposed to alter the Circumpolar Current, which in turn is somehow supposed to affect the “energy creation” capabilities of phytoplankton. Come off it, folks.
There is so much good Antarctic science to be proud of – and, for that matter, really fine South African scientific achievements in the Antarctic to brag about. That the DEA would feel compelled to celebrate National Maritime Week by resorting to phytoplankton scares supposedly related to nonexistent Antarctic heating is beyond mystifying.
Meanwhile, over the last few months, newspaper stories have told of reduced sea ice extent at our planet’s other pole, the Arctic. Terms like “alarming rate” of ice depletion were bandied about casually. Yes, there were reductions in Arctic sea ice cover.
However, on September 18, a video posted by NASA on its website showed that a large and long lasting Arctic cyclone “wreaked havoc on the Arctic sea ice cover,” by “breaking up sea ice.” The unusual reduction in Arctic sea ice cover was due to high winds – not to any warming of the Arctic or global warming in general. NASA’s belated analysis demonstrated that a large section of ice north of the Chukchi Sea was cut off by the churning storm, broken up and pushed south into warmer waters, where it melted.
The storm also broke up other ice, accelerating drifting and melting elsewhere. Reuters finally reported that “NASA says a powerful cyclone formed off the coast of Alaska in early August and moved toward the centre of the Arctic Ocean, weakening the already thin sea ice as it went.”
NASA noted that this was an “uncommon event” and that there have been only about eight storms of similar strength during August in 34 years of satellite records. However, a major storm every four years is not all that “uncommon.” Paul A. Newman, Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, added that such wind disturbances produce many effects and can also lift warmer water from the depths of the Arctic Ocean up to the surface to accelerate melting.
For some reason – probably having to do with its regular promotion of “dangerous manmade global warming” claims – the storm story was barely mentioned in the mainstream popular media. By contrast, the “alarming ice cover reduction” narrative was covered extensively.
Now jump back in time five years, to December 12, 2007. On that date Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein distributed an article that stated: “An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer – a sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One scientist even speculated that summer sea ice could be gone in five years.” 
Well, five years have come and gone. Borenstein was dead wrong. Does anyone suppose the AP will now publish an apology, admitting that its “science writer” was on thin ice when he made this outlandish statement, and saying he should not have tried to scare the public like that?
Perhaps the answer can be found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
“There's no use trying,” Alice said. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Especially with the Doha climate change confab in full swing, taxpayers, newspaper readers – and anyone dreaming of a better life through reliable, affordable energy – deserves more honest reporting and more science-based energy and environmental policies than they have been getting.
Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa. He is a member of the International Board of Advisors of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), based in Washington, DC ( Dr. Kemm received the prestigious Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Let's pressure our bureaucrats to PROVIDE jobs, not KILL them

Washington Must Not Kill America's Energy RevolutionBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth
November 13, 2012

The International Energy Agency has announced that America will displace Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020. So it's time to take a look at federal regulations that could stand in the way.

America has reserves to be practically self-sufficient, according to the Paris-based IEA, but will environmental interests prevent hydrofracturing, the new technique being used to produce oil and natural gas?

Oil and gas clearly bring benefits. North Dakota's 3 percent unemployment rate is low due to insatiable demand for jobs, not only in energy, but in associated economic activity, such as housing, restaurants, movie theaters -- you name it.

Pennsylvania produces more than 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year. It has more than 2,000 wells in the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that stretches north into New York and south into West Virginia. Those wells have given the Keystone State an added $11.2 billion in economic activity a year and tens of thousands of jobs.

However, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and other states may have to slow down.

Until now, each state has set its own hydrofracturing rules. But regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Energy, among others, are due out in the coming months. They may take the decision-making power away from states and give it to the federal government.

What is hydraulic fracturing, and why is it so controversial? Also known as fracking, it is a method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations and packed sand. Wells are drilled 4,000 to 5,000 feet below the surface, and then sometimes curve to drill horizontally. Fluids are then pushed into the well to make them extractable.

Hydrofracturing techniques have been known since the 1940s but have recently become more widespread, and therefore more controversial, as the long, upward trend of oil prices has made shale formations more profitable. Environmentalists do not like hydrofracturing because they are concerned about water contamination. Wells pass through clean-water aquifers, and many fear that chemicals used in hydrofracturing jobs will be released into the earth and contaminate aquifers.

Another concern is disposal of water used in drilling. Typically, 25 percent of water is recycled back to the surface. Many skeptics worry that this water is dumped directly into rivers and streams, or that lined pits used to hold recycled water contaminate soil. Or, accidents involving trucks carrying recycled water could cause irrevocable environmental damage.

Further, the 75 percent of hydrofracked water that remains underground worries people because of possible contamination of aquifers.

Lastly, water usage itself is a point of contention. The critics point out that hydrofracturing jobs deplete large amounts of water, with large jobs using 4 million to 5 million gallons.

Some of these worries, while conscientious, are misguided. Natural gas deposits, at 4,000 to 5,000 feet below ground, are well below the 500-to-700-foot depth of water tables. Dense shale rock lies between the two strata. The rare but well-published cases of water table contamination occurred due to poor casing jobs or improper drilling techniques, and were immediately prosecuted by the government authorities.

Wastewater from the hydrofracturing process is trucked away or piped to Environmental Protection Agency-certified treatment facilities. Until then, companies store it in steel or earthen-lined pits, with steel pits providing the most protection. Some water is recycled and used again for other drilling operations. Flowback from hydrofracturing fluids has never contaminated an underground aquifer or aboveground water source.

Each state should decide what is best for its residents. The New American Energy Revolution is here, and Washington should stay out of the way.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Not only does Ethanol cost jobs, but it "is ramping up survival costs for poor..."

It's time for Obama to say goodbye to Ethanol mandate!



 CHURCHVILLE, VA—If President Obama still cares about more U.S. jobs and high food costs he can now immediately gain on both.. An economist in Indianapolis just calculated that the U.S. is losing a million jobs this year—along with $30 billion in economic growth—because we shifted too much of our corn into ethanol. Tom Elam says direct employment in the food industry would have produced three times as many jobs processing and marketing meat as making ethanol from the same corn. Elam calculates the foregone jobs at 941,000. That doesn’t even count the myriad of jobs that would have been needed to support the newly employed one million Americans.

Based on recent history, U.S. consumers got less meat and milk than they would have liked. Consumer spending on these items has veered sharply down from its historic trend since President Bush radically raised the nation’s ethanol mandate in 2007. Elam predicts these problems will only get worse. The  EPA‘s approval of 15 percent ethanol in gasoline will likely push corn fuel use up faster than corn yields are rising.

Without the ethanol mandate, U.S. feed exports would increase (a job creator). Also, our cost of driving would come down even as the prices of pork chops, broilers, and steak came back within the reach of stressed-out US food buyers.  

No need to worry about Green protests on this one. The environmental groups have turned against the “renewable” fuel they once supported. Ethanol does little to reduce U.S. greenhouse emissions, but diverting  grain from to fuel is ramping up survival costs for the poor across the world.

Naomi Klein, a best-selling “green” author from Canada, says climate change is not a big issue to the left. Rather, “ideology is the main factor in whether we believe in climate change. If you have an egalitarian and communitarian worldview, and you tend toward a belief system of pooling resources and helping the less advantaged then you believe in climate change.” But there has obviously been no warming trend on the planet for 15 years, and the U.S. unemployment problem is now center stage. Especially for the lower income workers who are prominent in food processing and transport..

 Grain farmers are bidding up the prices of their own cropland to twice the 2006 levels—cleverly raising their own production costs for the future. Meanwhile the more numerous livestock farmers risk bankruptcy due to redoubled feed costs. Congress is urgently studying a further bailout of dairy farmers, who can no longer afford to feed their cows.  But the nation’s debt limit is looming.

Even after this drought-stricken corn-growing season, the EPA has refused to suspend the ethanol mandate. The EPA has apparently feared perceived failure of a “green fuel” program on President Obama’s watch. A word from the President could set Lisa Jackson’s mind at rest, and create those additional jobs in short order.

However, a temporary suspension of the ethanol mandate is unlikely to work. Temporary moves are discounted by business, as the President found with his stimulus spending. The President should now lift the ethanol mandate as a waste of taxpayer money, a drag on blue-collar job creation—and a threat to many thousands of livestock farmers. To add insult to injury, ethanol is expensive to make and has 35 % fewer BTU’s per gallon. Additionally, a 15% blend will melt fuel lines and burn valves in many cars. Who will pay for the repairs?


Thomas Elam, Ethanol Production: Economic Impact on Meat and Poultry Consumption, Value and Jobs, FarmEcon LLC, Indianapolis, In., Oct 30, 2012. (Dr Elam is a highly experienced agricultural economist who has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Outlook and Situation Board and held responsible jobs in agribusiness.)

“Interview with Naomi Klein,” Common Dreams, Feb. 29, 2012.

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to or visit us at

Monday, November 12, 2012

Time for the rest of the country to emulate Michigan

The state's voters overwhelmingly said there is no "public desire" for renewables
Michigan’s insane 25x25 proposition: A postmortem
Why Michigan voters wisely rejected the crazy idea of 25% electricity from renewables by 2025
Kevon Martis
The Michigan Energy-Michigan Jobs (MEMJ) Proposal 3 – its 25 by 25 gambit – would have forced Michigan taxpayers and ratepayers to produce 25 percent of the Wolverine State’s electricity via expensive, unreliable, parasitic wind and solar projects by 2025.
The misguided program has now been laid to rest by the wisdom of Michigan’s voters. What can we learn by autopsying its corpse?
This initiative was hardly local. It was driven by out-of-state pressure groups like the Sierra Club that were backed by the League of Conservation Voters, natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, and a number of deep-pocketed elites. MEMJ itself was funded largely by the Green Tech Action Fund of San Francisco; the Natural Resources Defense Fund of New York, whose president is multi-millionaire Frances Beinecke; and San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.
These carpetbagger activists placed a bull’s-eye on Michigan ratepayers with Proposal 3. Sierra Club was blunt: “If successful, the [Michigan] 25x25 initiative will send an important signal to the nation that public desire to move toward green energy remains strong.”
The grassroots activists who defeated this proposal had no billionaire largesse to draw upon. They were united under the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition, a bipartisan renewable energy consumers watchdog group dependent on small contributions to support its work and committed to advancing sensible science-based energy policies and free market land use policies.
Compelled by the principle that industrial renewable energy schemes like Proposal 3 bring far more benefit to their invisible corporate cronies than to the environment, IICC members traveled the state on their own dime to speak out, protest, educate and inform. Their reward was sweet: they took their message of science-based energy policy to the people, who responded at the ballot box, soundly defeating Proposal 3 by 64-36 percent.
Using Sierra’s own test, Michigan ratepayers have shouted there is no such “public desire.”
In fact, there is widespread opposition to mandating forest-denuding biomass and massively expensive solar. But the hottest conflict focused on industrial wind. Michigan wind projects have lost at the ballot box virtually every time they have been put to the vote in a fair manner – and by similar margins.
At the township level, opposition to wind cronyism is just as strong. In Lenawee County, Riga Township rejected wind-friendly zoning by 64-36 percent. Two more Lenawee Townships followed suit. In Huron County, Lake Township removed a wind friendly ordinance by a similar 61-39 percent. And in Clinton County townships are intent on adopting police power regulations for wind energy installations, in defiance of too-permissive county level zoning.
This opposition is strongly bipartisan. Proposal 3 and its miles of wind turbines were opposed by both the free market Americans for Prosperity and Michael Moore movie producer Jeff Gibbs. 
The ballot box evidence is clear. Michigan ratepayers from left to right are emphatic that there is no “desire” for mandated and subsidized industrial wind projects, in their backyard or anywhere in the State.
The push for Prop 3 also broke the big utilities’ code of silence on wind inefficacy. MEMJ unwittingly exposed CMS Energy’s duplicity on this issue – observing that CMS praised its new Ludington area wind plant for furnishing “reliable and affordable energy,” even as its public relations surrogate Care for Michigan was calling wind “expensive and unreliable.” Unfortunately for MEMJ, the Care for Michigan version was the truth.
Opponents of renewable energy have long pointed out that wind energy is parasitic – totally dependent on fossil fuels for backup power, with every megawatt of wind power supported by a megawatt of redundant coal or natural gas generating plants. So wind cannot possibly or meaningfully reduce emissions.
But the utilities stood silent. Their beloved existing 10 percent renewable mandate, PA295, restored their monopoly status and guaranteed them nice profits, in exchange for a small number of renewable projects. They were not interested in biting the legislative hand that was (and is) feeding them.
But Prop 3 brought all stick and no carrot for the utilities. They could no longer remain silent. Out came the truth. Wind cannot replace fossil fuel plants. Wind is not getting inexorably cheaper, but is far more expensive than current generation and, minus the huge hidden subsidies, more expensive than new coal. Wind cannot increase employment without costing employment in other industries that get stuck with soaring electricity bills. Wind energy cannot liberate us from foreign oil or from out-of-state coal imports.
What then did our autopsy discover? Michigan renewable energy mandates – including PA295 – are doomed. Because of gluttonous overreach, they will die by their own hand. Politicians need not fear public reprisal for opposing and repealing renewable energy mandates. It is now safe for lawmakers to acknowledge and act on the fact that renewables mandates like PA 295 are of no benefit to ratepayers, employers or employees, and are of dubious benefit to the environment.
Through the failure of Proposal 3, Michigan wind has been dissected and eviscerated by public opinion. The sooner our elected officials zip the death bag shut and send the corpse out for burial, the sooner Michigan can protect its rural areas from needless industrialization and our energy intensive industries from rising electricity costs that compromise their competitive edge.
Other states, and our federal government, should take note.
Kevon Martis is Senior Policy Analyst for the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition ( in Blissfield, Michigan.Its

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fracking Releases Natural Gas! Wind Energy Cannot Live Without Natural Gas!

Huh? Read CARE favorite Paul Driessen to find out the TRUTH about hydraulic fracturing.

Fractured fairy tales
Greens hate natural gas and fracking, but costly, parasitic wind energy can’t live without it
Paul Driessen
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have boosted shale gas production from zero a few years ago to 10% of all US energy supplies in 2012, observes energy analyst Daniel Yergin. Fracking has also increased US oil production 25% since 2008 – almost all on state and private lands, and in the face of more federal land and resource withdrawals, permitting delays and declining public land production.
In the process, the fracking revolution created 1.7 million jobs in oil fields, equipment manufacturing, legal and information technology services, and other sectors. It will generate over $60 billion this year in state and federal tax and royalty revenues, reduce America’s oil import bill by $75 billion, and save us $100 billion in imported liquefied natural gas, concludes a new IMF Global Insight analysis.
A resurgent American petroleum industry could add “as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020, and increase the US gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent,” says Citigroup’s “Energy 2020” report. Fracking is bringing new jobs and revenues to states underlain by shale deposits, and could give our nation over a century of hydrocarbon energy that will keep prices low for fuel and petrochemical feed stocks.
That means more manufacturing and other jobs for millions of graduates and unemployed workers, and new prosperity for the “Rust Belt” and other areas. “Plunging natural gas prices have turned the US into one of the most profitable places in the world to make chemicals and fertilizer,” says the Wall Street Journal. It’s also “slashed costs for makers of energy-intensive products such as aluminum, steel and glass.”
It could make North America energy independent and even a net exporter of natural gas. In fact, this amazing new technology could turn the United States into the world’s #1 oil producer within just a few more years.
For people still concerned about “catastrophic manmade global warming” (despite 16 years of stable global temperatures), unconventional gas also provides a way to cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40% using clean-burning fuel that costs a third less than oil on a per BTU basis, notes Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg. The USA’s CO2 emissions are now at their lowest levels in 20 years, because of natural gas, a sluggish economy, and the retirement of 100-200 coal-fired power plants due to an EPA regulatory onslaught that is based heavily on agenda-driven, slipshod and even fraudulent and illegal science.
Logic and common sense would engender unprecedented public, political and even environmentalist support for hydraulic fracturing and expanded oil and gas production. Indeed, that is Governor Romney’s perspective and policy. Unfortunately, Team Obama remains largely opposed to domestic drilling, fixated on “renewable” energy, despite having already wasted some $97 billion on wind, solar and algae projects – and poised to unleash a boxcar of new EPA and BLM rules designed to usurp state control and restrict or hyper-regulate fracking on federal, state and private lands alike, win or lose on November 6.
Team Obama justifies its stance by citing public anxiety over fracking. It fails to mention that this anxiety has been nurtured and orchestrated by a host of environmental pressure groups whose existence, monetary sustenance and political power depend on a steady stream of new eco-hobgoblins. Their fractured fairy tales about this game-changing energy technology would be as funny as the Rocky and Bullwinkle tales, if the economic, employment, national security and environmental consequences weren’t so serious.
Hydraulic fracturing devastates their mantra that we are running out of oil and gas. It annihilates their incessant assertions that hydrocarbons are the energy of the past, and renewables are the future. In reality, wind and solar cannot live with cheap natural gas (because they cannot possibly compete with it) and cannot live without it (because they only work 20% of the time and need gas as constant backup power).  
Consequently, the anti-fracking factions have concocted a hodgepodge of eco-scares, each one more absurd and indefensible than the last.
Burning tap water. Yes, you can ignite methane at your kitchen faucet, if your well was drilled through gas-bearing rock formations and was not properly cemented and sealed to keep gas out. (Eternal Flame Falls in New York’s Chestnut Ridge Park is one example of natural methane leakage.) But fracturing zones are thousands of feet below groundwater supplies; production wells use cement and steel casing that extends hundreds of feet below the surface; and sensitive instruments monitor downhole activity, to ensure that valuable gas does not escape into near-surface formations or the atmosphere.
Groundwater contamination. Fracking fluids are 99.5% water and sand. The other 0.5% is made up of chemicals that fight bacterial growth, keep sand particles suspended in the liquid and improve production. The vast majority used today are found in household items that Americans use safely every day – including cheese, beer, canned fish, dairy desserts, shampoo and cosmetic products. New fluids like those developed by FamilyJoule and Halliburton represent the new kinds of entirely nontoxic and biodegradable chemicals that almost all drillers are now using.
Steadily improving technologies, techniques and regulations minimize risks even further. For instance, heavy plastic liners are now commonplace under drilling rigs, storage tanks and containment pits. Along with modern drilling and well casing methods, they help make the likelihood of chemical or salt contamination of groundwater a minuscule fraction of what is posed by winter salting of icy roads.
Wastewater and water depletion. In addition to changing the composition of fracking fluids (and making that information readily available online), to address concerns about water use and wastewater disposal, drilling companies increasingly recycle the water they use. Devon and other companies have recycled hundreds of millions of gallons, and some 90% of water produced in the Marcellus shale region of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia is now reused. Moreover, the amount of water used in fracking is far less than what is required to grow corn and process it into ethanol.
Earthquakes. Fracturing rocks does cause cracking that can be measured with ultra-sensitive equipment. But these micro-seismic events measure around 0.8 on the Richter Scale, about what is caused by a car passing by. Even loaded dump trucks register only a 3 (the minimum that can be felt by humans), and property damage does not begin until level 5. Deep injection of water for geothermal energy development or enhanced oil recovery operations (or to dispose of petroleum, municipal or industrial wastewater) has caused detectable seismic activity; however, of more than 800,000 injection wells nationwide, only about 40 were actually felt at the surface. Rules and practices increasingly address these injection well issues.
Fracking regulations. State and local regulation and cooperation with industry, constant refinements and improvements in rules and practices, and accommodation to public concerns about water, drilling and fracking fluids, road congestion, community impacts and other issues have been ongoing for decades. That is part of the reason that 2.5 million instances of fracking worldwide (over 1 million in the USA) since 1949 have not caused any serious harm. That’s a safety record any industry would envy.
Unfortunately, environmentalist fractured fairy tales cost us energy, jobs, revenue and prosperity – for no ecological benefit. The ultimate irony is Europe, where Big Green opposition to fracking and nuclear power is ushering in a coal-burning renaissance. Germany and other central EU countries will be building 10,600 megawatts of new coal-fired electrical power plants during the next four years!
Meanwhile, green power mandates have already pushed Germany’s electricity prices to the second highest in Europe (32 cents per kWh, compared to an average of 10 cents in the USA) – and the average German household faces another big rate hike over the next year. Countless jobs are also at risk.
America has the world’s largest reserves of oil, gas and coal. We need access to these deposits, under rational regulations that reflect reality, instead of eco-fairy tales. We need people in the White House, Congress and government bureaucracies who can distinguish between fact and fiction, understand how to produce real energy, jobs and revenues, and don’t have an agenda to “fundamentally transform” our nation.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death