How Dumb Are The Europeans? Phasing Out Gasoline Powered Cars

The big wave sweeping Europe at the moment is the movement to phase out gasoline powered cars (and diesel cars too) in favor of electric cars.  It's all part of the goal of achieving "zero emissions" -- whatever that means.  Do these people have any idea that electricity generation also involves "emissions," albeit at a more remote location?  OK, it is possible to generate "zero emissions" electricity with nuclear reactors, but they're phasing those out too.  Wind and solar?  They don't work, at least not to power an electric grid on their own.  And how exactly is solar power going to make any contribution at all to reducing emissions from automobiles when everybody wants to recharge their electric cars in the middle of the night, when solar produces nothing?

As usual with these things, it was Germany that got the ball rolling.  Last October its Bundesrat (upper legislative chamber) passed a resolution to allow only "emissions free" vehicles on the road after 2030 -- with taxpayer subsidies, of course, to strong-arm the people into going along.  From Dezeen, October 10, 2016:

The country's Bundesrat, or Federal Council, passed a resolution late last week to only approve emission-free cars for use on the roads by 2030.  This would effectively phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines . . . in 14 years' time. . . .  The Bundesrat resolution . . . calls for the "stimulation of emission-free mobility", which could come in the form of buying incentives similar to those already in place in many countries.

Now just this month things have really taken off.  On July 6 France announced a "range of initiatives" intended to get rid of gasoline and diesel powered cars by 2040.  From CNN, July 6:

The new French government wants to end sales of gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 as it fights global warming.  After that date, automakers will only be allowed to sell cars that run on electricity or other cleaner power. Hybrid cars will also be permitted. . . .  The government outlined a range of initiatives to help reach its goal, including support for the development of alternative fuels such as electricity and hydrogen. It's also planning to finance new infrastructure for charging electric cars.

And a few short weeks later, it was the UK jumping on the bandwagon.  From CNN, July 26:

Britain will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of a bid to clean up the country's air.  The decision to phase out the internal combustion engine heralds a new era of low-emission technologies with major implications for the auto industry, society and the environment.   "We can't carry on with diesel and petrol cars," U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove told the BBC on Wednesday. "There is no alternative to embracing new technology."

Nor is the wave confined to the government sector.  Over in the seemingly private sector, Volvo moved to be the first automobile company to demonstrate its superior kowtowing sensabilities.  From The Verge, July 5:

Volvo just announced plans to phase out gas-only car production by 2019, at which time all new Volvos will either be fully electric or electric hybrids.

The two obvious questions to ask are (1) How much will this cost consumers and taxpayers? and (2) Given that most electricity comes from the same fossil fuels that power combustion-engine cars, how much if any emissions will actually be saved?

Since this is Europe, you can be sure that no one is addressing question number one.  The costs will be paid from the infinite pile of free government money, and will be deeply buried and hidden so that nobody will be able to figure out how much he or she is bearing.  But question number two is actually getting some attention.  Some annoying garden party skunk decided to address the issue of whether electric cars actually save any emissions in a recent article in Issues in Science and Technology, titled "Electric Vehicles: Climate Saviors, or Not?"   No Tricks Zone gives the article a write-up on July 27.   And what is the answer?  The answer is that use of electric vehicles "effectively does nothing" to reduce emissions.  From No Tricks Zone:

According to a new paper published in the journal Issues in Science and Technology entitled “Electric Vehicles: Climate Saviors, Or Not?”, driving an electric vehicle (EV) rather than a conventional petroleum-powered vehicle effectively does nothing to reduce global-scale CO2 emissions.  This is because charging EVs on electricity grids that rely heavily on fossil fuel energy sources (coal) increases CO2 emissions.

The obvious problem is that most of the power on most of the world's electric grids comes from fossil fuels.  Yes, if you happen to be using your electric car in France, which gets much of its electricity from nuclear sources, you can have a teensy effect on world emissions.  (That is, until the French phase out their nuclear reactors, something about which there has been much talk of late.)  And then there are countries like China (twenty times the population of France!) and Japan that get most of their electricity from coal:

[C]harging EVs on electricity grids that rely heavily on fossil fuel energy sources (coal) increases CO2 emissions.  In coal-reliant countries like China and Japan, owning and driving EVs contribute significantly more to CO2 emissions than using petroleum-powered vehicles.

But aren't wind and solar power becoming ever bigger factors on the world's electricity grids?  Actually, that's all meaningless show.  The truth is the opposite:

The problem for CO2 mitigation and EV advocates is that fossil fuel-powered electricity grids are far more prevalent across the world.  And this will continue to be the case as “1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries“, which will “expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent” (New York Times, July, 2017).

So what's the bottom line?  "Negligible 4.9% Emissions Difference Between EVs And Petroleum Vehicles."  At a deeply hidden cost of some tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.

But of course there is that frisson of excitement that the bureaucrat feels when exercising the raw power to order the people to pay $5000 or $10,000 more for each car to achieve absolutely nothing.

A Beautiful Night On The Greenwich Village Waterfront

On Wednesday evening about 8 PM, I took a walk down to the Greenwich Village waterfront, and went out on the Charles Street pier.  It was a beautiful night.  The sun had just set.

Looking Northeast, you can see the excellent park along the water, with multiple new condos just behind it (as well as the very large subsidized Westbeth project).  The building with a spire lit up in white at the center is the Empire State Building.  It's about 2 miles away.  It seems much closer in person than it does in this photograph.  The cranes at the left are part of the new Hudson Yards construction project in the West 30s, about 1.5 miles away.

Looking South, you can see some of the towers of the Financial District, again about 1.5 miles away.  The big one in the middle is the new One World Trade Center.  Just to its right, only about half as tall but very brightly lit, is the headquarters of Goldman Sachs.

Looking West, you see the waterfront of Hoboken, New Jersey.  The Hudson River (actually an estuary rather than a river) is well more than a mile wide at this point.  Again, Hoboken seems much closer in person than it does in the photo.  The brightly lit clock tower is the Hoboken Terminal of NJ Transit.  Check out the crescent moon in the upper left!

Next time you are in New York, I highly recommend a walk in this area.  When you get tired, there are many good restaurants a couple of blocks inland.

In Government, Failure Is The Way To Get Yourself More Money

I have noted previously on many occasions the remarkable extent to which total failure by a bureaucracy is actually the main strategy used to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers and thereby grow the agency.  See for example my Poverty tag.  For today's subject, consider the state of public transit in New York.

It's seemingly been a bad few months for New York's MTA, operator of the subway system and also of two of the three commuter railroads.  (The third commuter railroad, NJ Transit, is run by the state of New Jersey.)  Here is a timeline of some of the problems from DNAInfo.  In most years there are no train derailments at all, but this year it's been one after the next.  Going back to the beginning of the year, on January 4, a Long Island Rail Road train blew through the end of the line and crashed into the Brooklyn terminal, injuring dozens.  On March 24 a train derailed going over the switches in Penn Station, and then another train did the same on April 3, and yet another one on July 6.  (These were Amtrak and NJ Transit trains, but the derailments screwed things up for the MTA's Long Island Rail Road as well, since it shares Penn Station.)  On the subway, there was a big derailment of an A train in Harlem on June 27, again with dozens of injuries; and then a derailment of a Q train in Brooklyn on July 21.  A derailment generally shuts down the line or station affected for at least a day, and often multiple days; so these are major events.  Outside of the derailments, subway delays have seen a big increase this year over the recent past.  And then on July 10, Amtrak began a major round of repairs at Penn Station, causing diversion to more remote terminals of many LIRR trains that normally would come into Manhattan.

Needless to say, all of this chaos has brought an outcry that the situation needs to be fixed.  And, this being progressive New York, everybody can agree on how to fix things:  They need more money!

Governor Cuomo -- the guy who appoints the MTA Board members, and thus looks to be on the wrong end of the political firestorm -- has now brought back former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota to resume the job.  (Lhota's previous tenure in 2011-12, although relatively brief, was widely regarded as a success.)  On Tuesday Lhota came up with his so-called "rescue plan."  Here is the New York Times report on the plan.  You won't be surprised to learn that the basic idea is more money, more money, and more money.

The authority’s chairman, Joseph J. Lhota, outlined a sweeping set of fixes that he vowed would turn around steadily deteriorating service. The plan included at least 30 separate measures to address the major problems plaguing the system, including antiquated signals and subway fires, and called for hiring 2,700 new workers. . . .  The improvements come with a steep bill — about $450 million in operating costs and $380 million in capital investment — and Mr. Lhota called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to help fund the plan.     

The genius of this is that, in the crisis of the moment, with derailments and delays constantly in the news, nobody stops to ask why the vast sums of money they were already getting were not sufficient to maintain the system.  Is the current budget being used effectively?  This question is just too crude to be asked in the middle of such a crisis.  Certainly, the politicians are unanimous in their view that this is not the time to start blaming the inefficiency of the unionized work force, but rather is an opportunity to hit up the taxpayers.  From E.J. McMahon in the New York Post on June 26:

Amid all the finger-pointing over who’s to blame for the subway “summer of hell,” New York’s leading politicians at least agree on this much: The transit system needs more money. 

But of course the big problem in New York is that the current budget is not being used effectively at all.  Getting a handle on just how ineffective the spending is is not easy, but I can give a few data points.  In a post back in November 2014, titled "MTA Reinvention Commission Misses The Elephant In The Room," I pointed to data collected by Alon Levy of Pedestrian Observations that New York's construction costs for transit projects were in the range of five to ten times those of major international cities (like London and Paris) for comparable projects.  Levy points to union work rules and benefits (not so much base pay) as the main reason for the differential.  

Are operations and maintenance in the New York transit system subject to the same level of inefficiency?  Well, consider just the part we can see.  In the world of automobiles, many innovators are approaching the goal of perfecting the self-driving automobile, with all the myriad complexities that that entails.  If automobiles no longer need a driver, surely subway trains do not either.  Yet on every subway train we have not one but two workers operating it -- and a subway train runs on a fixed route that is completely pre-determined from one end to the other.  Is anybody even considering automating this function on the subway?  Not that I have heard of.  Similarly, thousands of subway workers make change in stations for pay plus benefits approaching $100,000 per year on average.  These people seem to be on the way to getting phased out -- in a process that is taking decades.

In today's New York Post, Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute points out that over the past decade or so the MTA has gotten its hands on several new sources of revenue (dedicated taxes); and essentially all of the money has gone into increased pension and benefits for the work force, with no or minimal improvements in service or maintenance:

So what is the MTA spending its money on?  The biggest culprit in skyrocketing costs is employee benefits.  Consider that in 1985, retirement and health benefits for New York City Transit personnel cost $1.2 billion in today's dollars.  Today, they cost nearly $3.1 billion annually. . . .  This increase in benefit costs alone consumes all the additional revenue that the MTA takes in from the payroll tax the Legislature implemented in 2009.  Should the Legislature enact a new tax, ever-increasing benefits likely will consume that, too.

And as of now, the strategy of getting more money to compensate for failure, and then diverting the money to totally non-productive purposes, continues to work.  The problem is that some day someone will wake up and realize that we can't afford this any more.  

The New Face Of The Democratic Party?

A good one-sentence summary of the current American political divide is this:  Republicans think that Democrats are wrong, but Democrats think that Republicans are evil.  I mean, if you believe that all human problems -- poverty, racism, inadequate healthcare, income inequality, whatever -- can be solved, and that the world can be perfected, by another government program and some more spending and coercion, then who could be so evil as to stand in the way?  And, if our opponents are evil, shouldn't we be angry?  Really angry?  We just need someone to articulate and channel that anger to rev up the voters, say, the way Hugo Chavez did so successfully in Venezuela.

Which brings me to the current wave sweeping over the Democratic Party:  Maxine Waters 2020!










Maybe 2020 seems like a long way off to you, but in this game you can never start too early to test the waters (no pun intended).  And for these purposes, "testing the waters" means making a few visits to New Hampshire.  So you won't be surprised to learn that Maxine was in New Durham, New Hampshire this past weekend, making a speech at a local Democratic Party event.

Do you know much about Ms. Waters?  She is the 13-term Congresswoman representing a district in mostly-poor South Central Los Angeles, during some of which time she has also headed the Congressional Black Caucus.  She is famous for uncontrolled outbursts of rage on the House floor.  Recently, she has been a leading voice stridently calling for the impeachment of President Trump.  (For what?  Really, does it matter?)  

There is no more perfect embodiment than Maxine Waters of completely unhinged rage at anyone who dares to suggest that all human problems cannot be solved right this nanosecond by more government spending.  Her other specialty is playing the race card to deflect any and all criticism from herself.  Things she does not specialize in are (1) knowing what she is talking about, and (2) making any sense whatsoever.  There are many "top ten" lists out there of various people's favorite Maxine Waters quotes.  I'll give you just a few examples (from a list put together by Human Events in 2011):

  • On her seemingly bottomless anger (1989): “I have a right to my anger, and I don’t want anybody telling me I shouldn’t be, that it’s not nice to be, and that something’s wrong with me because I get angry.”
  • On "outrageous" behavior by people attending a Tea Party rally (April 2010 -- just after passage of Obamacare):  "I just watched-the Republicans were out there-they were having a great time.   They were laughing, they were waving the American flag, they were egging them on, and I thought that was outrageous behavior.   I really did."  
  • Interrogating oil company executives at a Congressional hearing (2008): “Guess what this liberal would be all about?   This liberal would be about socializing … uh, umm.   … Would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies.”
  • On the great success of Fannie Mae under the leadership of Franklin Raines (2004): “We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Frank Raines.”  (Raines left Fannie Mae at the end of 2004.  He and his top coterie of execs walked away with some $90 million in bonuses during their last years.  In 2008, Fannie Mae collapsed.  ProPublica puts the taxpayer cost of the Fannie/Freddie bailout at $187 billion.)
  • On the riots (in her district) following the Rodney King incident (1992): “If you call it a riot, it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason.   I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable.   So I call it a rebellion.”  
  • On how public policy gets made in America (1993): “Policy, for the most part, has been made by white people in America, not by people of color.   And they have tended to take care of those things that they think are important."

You could go on with this literally as long as you want.  Then there is the question of Waters' $4.5 million house in the affluent Vermont Knolls section of LA (outside her district -- although, to be fair to her, it was in her district prior to the most recent re-districting).  How do you afford that on a Congressional salary of $174,000 per year?  Plenty of people have asked (for example, TruePundit here), but Waters won't say.

All of which brings me to the last page of the Sunday New York Times Magazine from a couple of days ago, where this prime piece of journalistic real estate was fully given over to an interview of Ms. Waters by Ana Marie Cox.  In a surefire indication that this "Waters 2020!" thing is real, this interview was one of the most ridiculous collection of softballs since Hillary Clinton passed from the scene.  For example, there was this exchange on the house controversy (question in bold):

Tucker Carlson went after you recently: He used some very loaded language about your home, which he implied you could not afford on a government salary. I own several properties. The way he talked about it is: What right does an African-American woman have to do well? He doesn’t know anything about my investments, about the house that I’ve lived in for 25, 30 years. This idea of ‘‘how could she afford that?’’ is racist, and I just dismiss it.   

No follow up on that, of course.  Hey, this is Pravda!  Here are a couple of other examples of the tough, tough questions faced by Waters from the Times:

Recently you’ve found internet fame after some of your public appearances went viral. Why do you think you’ve become so popular with young people?

How does it feel to be a meme?

Meanwhile, some conservatives are also starting to realize that there is a lot to be said for a Waters candidacy.  For example, Michelle Malkin come out just yesterday with a video, proclaiming that she is heading up a new committee, Conservatives for Maxine Waters for President.  Key quote:

“As chairman of Conservative for Maxine Waters for president, I pledge to do my best to spotlight Mad Max’s long record of coddling gang members and using her office to enrich herself and her family. . . .  There you have it in a nutshell, liberalism in living color,” Malkin said. “Corruption, cronyism and cashing in for friends and family while your constituents and taxpayers get screwed.”

By the way, Waters is soon to be 79.  She makes Bernie Sanders look young!

Official Announcement Of New Supplemental Petition To EPA

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post describing new research results once again eviscerating EPA's CO2 "Endangerment Finding," this time on the grounds that the supposed "record warming" that underlies the Finding is no more than an artifact of fraudulently altered temperature data.  If you somehow still doubt that our government has fraudulently altered temperature data in order to give credence to the global warming scam, kindly read my fifteen part series on that subject at this link.

Today, my excellent client, the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council, has issued its official announcement that it has submitted a new petition to the EPA -- actually, the Second Supplement to its already existing Petition -- demanding that EPA rescind the Endangerment Finding because it has been invalidated by the new results.

The full text of our Press Release follows:

Electricity Consumers File New Study in Their Call for EPA to Reopen its Endangerment Finding

Key Points:

  1. Just Released, new research findings demonstrate that adjustments by government agencies to the global average surface temperature (GAST) record render that record totally inconsistent with published credible temperature data sets and useless for any policy purpose.

  2. The new results invalidate the claims based on GAST data of “record warming” in recent years, and thereby also invalidate the so-called “lines of evidence” on which EPA claimed to base its 2009 CO2 Endangerment Finding.

  3. If the Endangerment Finding is not vacated, whether the current administration likes it or not, it is certain that electric utility, automotive and many other industries will face ongoing EPA CO2 regulation.

  4. This scientifically illiterate regulation will raise U.S. energy prices thereby reducing economic growth and jobs.

July 24, 2017

The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council announces that on July 6, 2017 it filed with EPA a Second Supplement to the Council’s January 20, 2017 Petition asking the Agency to reconsider the scientifically invalid Endangerment Finding on which all Obama-era greenhouse gas regulations are based. The Second Supplement to Petition may be found at: secondsupplementtopetitionfinal.pdf

The Council’s original Petition
(see petitionforreconsiderationof-ef-final-1.pdf) and First Supplement to Petition (see
 demonstrated that the Endangerment Finding is nothing more than assumptions that have each been disproved by the most relevant empirical evidence from the real world. The original Petition was substantially based on a major peer-reviewed 2016 scientific paper by James Wallace, John Christy and Joseph D’Aleo (Wallace 2016) that analyzed the best available temperature data sets and “failed to find that the steadily rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 critically important tropical and global temperature time series data sets analyzed.” The full text of Wallace 2016 may be found at: sc-2016-data-ths-paper-ex-sum-090516v2.pdf .

The First Supplement to Petition was substantially based on a new April 2017 peer reviewed scientific paper, also from the same authors (Wallace 2017A). Wallace 2017A can be found
at: report-second-editionfinal041717-1.pdf . Wallace 2017A concluded that once impacts of natural factors such as solar, volcanic and ENSO activity are accounted for, there is no “natural factor adjusted” warming remaining to be attributed to rising atmospheric CO2 levels.

The Second Supplement to the Petition now relies on a third new major peer reviewed scientific paper from James Wallace, Joseph D’Aleo and Craig Idso, published in June 2017 (Wallace 2017B). Wallace 2017B analyzes the GAST data issued by U.S. agencies NASA and NOAA, as well as British group Hadley CRU. In this research report past changes in the previously reported historical data are quantified. It was found that each new version of GAST has nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history. And, this result was nearly always accomplished by each entity systematically removing the previously existing cyclical temperature pattern. This was true for all three entities providing GAST data measurement, NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU.

The Second Supplement to Petition states:

Adjustments that impart an ever-steeper upward trend in the data by removing the natural cyclical temperature patterns present in the data deprive the GAST products from NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU of the credibility required for policymaking or climate modeling, particularly when they are relied on to drive trillions of dollars in expenditures.

The invalidation of the adjusted GAST data knocks yet another essential pillar out from under the lines of evidence that are the claimed foundation of the Endangerment Finding. As the Second Supplement to Petition states:

It is therefore inescapable that if the official GAST data from NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU are invalid, then both the “basic physical understanding” of climate and the climate models will also be invalid.

The scientific invalidity of the Endangerment Finding becomes more blindingly obvious and undeniable with each day’s accumulation of reliable empirical data. It is time for an honest and rigorous scientific re-evaluation of this Obama-era political document. The nation has been taken down a tragically foolish path of pointless regulations and wasteful mal-investments to “solve” a problem which does not actually exist. Our leaders must summon the courage to acknowledge the truth and act accordingly.

The Council brought its Petition because the Obama-era greenhouse gas regulations threaten, as President Obama himself conceded, to make the price of electricity “skyrocket.” All Americans will benefit from a new era where the cheapest sources of energy can also compete and prevail in the marketplace.

Media Contacts:

Francis Menton
Law Office of Francis Menton

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