The Pope, Climate Change And VW

While Pope Francis shuttled around during his historic visit to the U.S. in a Fiat, he shared the news cycle with Volkswagen.

The pope made headlines with his calls for action on climate change. USA Today touted: “Obama, Pope Francis praise each other on climate change.” In his September 23 speech from the White House lawn, the Pope addressed President Obama, saying: “I find it encouraging that you are introducing an initiative for reducing air pollution.”

The core of the entire climate change agenda is the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, which proponents like to call “air pollution.”

The drive to cut CO2 emissions is at the root of Volkswagen’s unprecedented scandal.

With nonstop coverage of the papal activities, the Volkswagen story was likely overlooked by most Americans. But it is not going away.

On September 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed the scandal: Europe’s biggest auto maker, with 600,000 employees world-wide and 300,000 in Germany, utilized software on some VW and Audi diesel-powered cars to manipulate the results of routine emissions tests—allowing them to pass strict emissions standards in Europe and the U.S. The “defeat devices” have reportedly been fitted to more than 11 million vehicles since 2008, and may cost Volkswagen up to $18 billion in fines in the U.S. alone. Owners of the impacted vehicles will need to have a heretofore unavailable “fix” installed and may have to provide a “proof of correction certificate” in order to renew their registration and will suffer “loss due to the diminished value of the cars.” As a result of the scandal, Volkswagen’s stock price and reputation have both fallen precipitously, and class-action lawsuits are already taking shape. Fund managers have been banned from buying VW’s stocks and bonds. Tens of thousands of new cars may remain unsold. US News stated: “Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges in Germany.”

The question no one seems to be asking is: what would drive Europe’s biggest auto maker to make such a costly decision, to take a risk from which it may be impossible to recover?

While the question isn’t asked, Reuters’ coverage of the story offers the answer: “Diesel engines use less fuel and emit less carbon—blamed for global warming—than standard gasoline engines. But they emit higher levels of toxic gases known as nitrogen oxides.”

In short, the answer is the drive to lower CO2 emissions and the policies that encourage reduction.

If anyone could solve the dilemma, one would expect it to be the Germans, who excel in engineering feats. The reality of achieving the goals, however, is far more difficult than passing the legislation calling for the energy transformation.

Addressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s push for de-carbonization, Bloomberg Business points out: “Merkel has built a reputation as a climate crusader during a decade as Chancellor.” She “has straddled between pushing to reduce global warming while protecting her country’s auto industry.”

Merkel is apparently bumping up against reality. Those tighter emissions standards would have hurt Germany’s auto industry. At last week’s Frankfurt Auto Show, Merkel said: “We have to ensure politically that what’s doable can indeed be translated into law, but what’s not doable mustn’t become European law.”

The VW emissions scandal provides a lesson in the collision of economic and environmental policies that strive to reach goals which are presently technologically unachievable.

The fact that, while waving the flag of environmental virtue advocated by Pope Francis, those with the world’s best engineering at their fingertips used their expertise to develop a work-around should serve as a lesson to policymakers who pass legislation and regulation on ideology rather than reality.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Not All Energy Is Created Equal

On September 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with bipartisan support, advanced legislation to lift the 1970s-era ban on crude-oil exports—which is expected to receive a full floor vote within a matter of weeks.

Ending this obsolete ban would unleash America’s energy producers on the global market, increasing domestic production and creating jobs. Additionally, reports from experts indicate that it will also lower prices at the pump.

Due to President Obama’s threatened veto, getting the Democrats on board may require giving them something they want. Morning Consult recently reported: “Momentum is building in Congress to repeal the antiquated ban on exporting crude oil. Lawmakers and energy industry representatives are talking about other energy policies that could be swapped or combined to achieve that objective. Renewable energy tax credits are part of the equation.”

Those “renewable energy tax credits” are mainly the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Like the oil-export ban, the wind PTC is an archaic policy that has no place in today’s reality of energy abundance.

Passed by Congress in 1992, the PTC costs taxpayers like you and me billions each year. Americans pay for wind twice: first in their tax bills, then in their utility bills. Electricity generated from new wind facilities is between three and four times as expensive as that from existing coal and nuclear power plants, according to a new study from the Institute for Energy Research.

Despite the mountain of evidence against wind energy, this summer, the Senate Finance Committee rushed through a package of expired tax provisions, including the wind PTC. Now, wind lobbyists are looking for a legislative “vehicle” to latch on to, preferably one with bipartisan support, to push through another PTC extension without a fair hearing—which is why they’re eyeing the oil-export bill.

According to The Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said he could consider lifting the ban “only if it’s tied to a permanent extension of the wind and solar tax credits.”

Swapping the PTC for oil exports is a bad deal. Lifting the ban deserves to pass in its own right. But what many don’t realize is that trading the PTC for oil exports is also a Faustian bargain that furthers President Obama’s destructive climate-change agenda.

Obama’s sweeping new carbon regulations, known as the “Clean Power Plan”—finalized in August—require states to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions. It does this by shuttering low-cost coal plants and building expensive new wind and solar facilities. The problem: wind and solar are unsustainable without massive taxpayer handouts like the PTC and ITC and market-distorting mandates like state Renewable Portfolio Standards.

The wind PTC is vital to Obama’s carbon regulations. His plan depends on exponential wind growth, and the wind industry depends on government handouts like the PTC to avoid total collapse, let alone grow.

Congress must strip the PTC out of tax extenders and refuse to use wind subsidies as a bargaining chip. The two are totally unrelated. One is a liquid fuel used primarily for transportation. The other is a way to generate electricity, albeit inefficiently, ineffectively and uneconomically. One helps our trade deficit problem and increases revenues as FuelFix reports: “liberalizing crude trade spurs more domestic production, with a resulting boost in government revenue from the activity.” The other is a hidden tax that hurts all Americans.

By rejecting an extension of the wind PTC and lifting the ban on oil exports, Congress would end corporate welfare for wind lobbyists, deal a blow to Obama’s costly carbon regulations, and free America’s entrepreneurs to provide abundant, affordable, and reliable energy for all.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Hidden Emails Reveal A Secret Anti-Fossil Fuel Network

Failing to push its unpopular policies through Congress, the Obama administration has resorted to regulatory overreach—and assembled a campaign to use friendly governors and state attorneys general, in collaboration with pressure groups and ideologically aligned benefactors, to advance the agenda.

Now-disgraced former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s aide, Dan Carol—“a former Democratic opposition researcher”— hatched a climate-change scheme that received an enthusiastic response from the White House and its allies. Carol, according to a new report from Energy and Environment Legal Institute, left his public position “after appearing to have too closely intertwined government and the tax-payer dependent ‘clean energy’ industry with interest group lobbies.”

The goal of what was originally called “Dan’s concept” was to bring about a “coalescence of private financial and ideological interests with public offices to advance the officeholders’ agenda and political aspiration”—more specifically, “to bring the Obama Administration’s plans to reality and to protect them.”

This was done, according to emails obtained through federal and state open record laws, “through a coordinated campaign of parallel advocacy to support close coordination of public offices” and involved a “political operation with outside staff funded by some of the biggest names in left-liberal foundation giving,” including, according to the emails, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, the Rockefeller Brothers, and the Hewlett Foundation. The first emails in the scandal began in mid-2013.

Kitzhaber wasn’t the only governor involved—he’s just the only one, so far, to resign. Many Democrat governors and their staff supported the scheme. You’d expect that California’s Jerry Brown or Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe are part of the plan—called, among other names, the Governors Climate Compact—as they are avid supporters of the president’s climate-change initiatives. What is surprising is Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s “quiet engagement.” He decried Obama’s Clean Power Plan (final rule announced on August 3, 2015), as being “disastrous” for Kentucky. Yet, emails show him as part of the “core group of governors quietly working to promote the climate agenda.”

The amount of coordination involved in the multi-state plan is shocking. The amount of money involved is staggering. And, as the 55-page report points out, this collection of emails is in no way complete.

The E and E Legal report was of particular interest to me in that it followed the theme of my extensive coverage of Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal. Many of the same names, with which I’d become familiar, popped up over and over again.

It also caught my attention because a little more than a month ago, the Huffington Post published a story claiming that groups like mine were part of a “secret network of fossil fuel and utility backed groups working to stop clean energy.” Calling me—along with others—out by name, the author states: “The strategy of creating and funding many different organizations and front groups provides an artificial chorus of voices united behind eliminating or weakening renewable energy laws.” The author concludes that the attacks “are the result of coordinated, national campaigns orchestrated by utilities and fossil fuel companies through their trade associations and front groups.”

Oh, how I wish we were that well coordinated and funded. If we were, I would have written this column last week when the E and E Legal report was released–instead of receiving the information from someone who forwarded it to me.

If this small—but organized and well funded—group pushing Obama’s agenda were allowed to run rampant, without the roadblocks and little pockets of opposition (such as my group) erected though public education and exposure of the facts (such as this E and E legal report), it is scary to think where America would be today.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The Agency That Contaminated The Animas River Is About To Start Regulating Water That May Be In Your Backyard

Unless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change on August 28—giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard. Even, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.”

Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from beginning to enforce the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), which represents a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

WOTUS was published in the Federal Register on June 29 and will become effective on August 28.

The CWA used to apply to “navigable waters,” which now, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently said: “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”

While the word “navigable” hasn’t been removed from CWA—as that would require an act of Congress—the EPA has expanded that definition to include any water that has a “significant nexus” with navigable waters. Regarding the final rule, Paxton explains: it “is so broad and open to interpretation that everything from ditches and dry creek beds, to gullies, to isolated ponds formed after a big rain could be considered a ‘water of the United States.’”

The CWA’s single word, “navigable,” has, for decades, been contentious with those who want to expand government control and limit industrial activity such as oil-and-gas development, mining, ranching, and farming. Former Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) fought hard to have the word “navigable” removed from the CWA and to expand its control to any waters. Despite repeated bites at the apple, prior Congresses refused to pass his legislation.

A July 28, 2015 letter signed by officials from 31 states, sent to the EPA and the ACOE requesting a minimum nine-month extension of the WOTUS effective date, states: “the new regulation will also have a significant impact on agricultural, homebuilding, oil and gas and mining operations as they try to navigate between established state regulatory programs and the EPA’s and ACOE’s new burdensome and conflicting federal requirements.”

On August 11, thirteen states—including oil-and-gas “heavyweights,” as Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) calls them, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico—became the latest to ask a federal judge to block the controversial rule from taking effect. The states have asked for a hearing on the motion during the week of August 24. NGI states: “The oil and gas industry is opposed to the regulations because they believe it could stifle development.” A statement from the Independent Petroleum Association of America supports this assertion: “The 297-page rulemaking would require a federal permit for any activity that results in a discharge into any body of water covered by the new definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ including small streams and wetlands.”

In addition to the 31 states, on July 2, a coalition of a dozen industry groups—from agriculture to manufacturers to mining—filed a complaint against the EPA and ACOE over the WOTUS rule.

The goal of the litigations is to delay or defeat the regulations before they go into effect.

Apparently, the EPA—which allowed millions of gallons of toxic waste to spill into the Animas River—believes the agency can do a better job of protecting waterways, streams and wetlands than the states. A wide majority of states and industries disagree. The coalition hopes the lawsuits will overturn the rule and prove that the EPA has, again, gone beyond its jurisdiction with this expansion of regulatory authority.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Obama’s Clean Power Plan: Solar Companies Win, Taxpayers Lose

The solar industry is jubilant over the Clean Power Plan, released August 3. That same day, however, some other news reminded the public of what happens when government policy mandates and incentivizes a favored energy source: Taxpayer dollars are gobbled up, and investors lose out.

“The fundamental objective of the Clean Power Plan,” according to Solar Industry Magazine, “is the phasing out of coal-fired power plants in favor of low- or zero-emission sources…” It does this through three “building blocks,” one of which is: “increase electricity generation from non-emitting renewable sources, such as solar and wind.”

Solar proponent’s excitement is palpable; however, it is surprising how shameless they are about sucking the government teat while bemoaning the low price of natural gas. contributor Lyndsey Gilpin states: “in all its 1,560 pages, the Clean Power Plan doesn’t directly address the actual deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It does, however, give states and utilities an incentive to create and enhance mechanisms that will increase deployment of solar.” (Italics added)

The International Business Times coverage acknowledges that subsidies and regulation are driving the “uptick” in solar deployment. It states: “exactly how much of an increase will be determined by subsidies …while new regulations encourage families and business to invest in solar power.” Though, as Gilpin points out: “The Clean Power Plan is geared toward centralized utility scale solar, meaning electricity sold to wholesale utility buyers, not end customers.”

One such “utility scale solar” company is Abengoa. The Spanish solar company was the single largest recipient of taxpayer funding through Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill—$2.8 billion—but has been beset with corruption and allegations that it routinely violates U.S. immigration, environmental, and workplace safety laws. The company is currently under investigation by U.S. Customs and Immigration Service and the Department of Labor.

In November 2014, Abengoa bonds were “hammered on accounting concerns,” Reuters reported. “The company has so many different buckets of debt and management has cleverly used this to report reductions in reported net leverage.”

In another November account, Reuters explains: “Abengoa, an engineering company that expanded massively into renewables, has been struggling with a heavy debt burden since a decade-long economic boom in Spain ended abruptly in 2008.” It must have seen Obama’s push for solar as the answer to its problems. It moved into the U.S. with its hand out and high-profile players—such as former Vice President Al Gore and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson—on its team.

I’ve written extensively on Abengoa, as a part of my “Obama’s green-energy, crony-corruption” series, and done a detailed report published by The Daily Caller. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when headlines announced, once again, that Abengoa shares “plunged.”

Bloomberg reports that the August 3 drop—75.70 percent from its high on September 3, 2014–is because the “company’s plan to shore up capital failed to reassure investors that it can stop burning cash.”

A former human resources director at one of Abengoa’s subsidiaries, who served as my “deep throat” in my earlier reporting, said: “What I came to realize, and it took me a while because I didn’t want to realize it, is that they understood. They knew the law. They didn’t care. I really came to believe that they’re so politically connected that it’s just hubris and arrogance.”

So, when you hear the solar power proponents chirping about regulations that encourage investment in solar, incentives to help families, and mechanisms to increase deployment, remember that they are taking our tax dollars and giving them to companies like Abengoa that get the funding because of connections. They win, while we lose.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth