Alex Epstein , CONTRIBUTOR
As originally published by Forbes
To make intelligent decisions about the future of energy, we need to think big-picture—to look carefully at the benefits and costs to human life of every course of action. Unfortunately, in today’s energy debate we are taught, with politically incorrect forms of energy such as fossil fuels, to only look at the negative picture—often highly exaggerated or taken out of context.
There are at least four common fallacies used to discourage big-picture thinking and breed opposition to fossil fuels. These are things to be on the lookout for when you follow the cultural debate; they are everywhere, and all four are used to attack what might be the most important technology of our generation: shale energy aka “fracking.”
1. The Abuse-Use Fallacy
The largest fossil fuel controversy today, besides the broader climate change issue, is fracking—shorthand for hydraulic fracturing—one of several key technologies for getting oil and gas out of dense shale rock, resources that exist in enormous quantities but had previously been inaccessible at low cost.
Fracking has gotten attention, not primarily because of the productivity revolution it has created, but because of concerns about groundwater contamination. The leading source of this view is celebrity filmmaker Josh Fox’s Gasland (so-called) documentaries on HBO. Looking at how these movies have affected public opinion is an instructive exercise. Both Gasland movies follow a similar three-part formula. First, Fox tells a sad story about a family undergoing a problem, usually with their drinking water. “When we turn on the tap, the water reeks of hydrocarbons and chemicals,” says John Fenton of Pavillion, Wyoming. Then Fox blames it on the oil and gas industry’s use of fracking—without exploring any alternative explanations, such as the fact that methane and other substances often naturally seep into groundwater. This is the false-attribution fallacy, which I’ll discuss in a minute.
Even if Fox’s examples were true, it would be illegitimate of him to conclude what he concludes today and what “fracktivists” demand—that fracking, and really all oil and gas drilling, should be illegal, as if any technology that can be misused should be outlawed.
Any technology can be abused. As we have seen, people are dying right now because of bad practices in the wind turbine production chain. It is irrational to say that because a technology or practice can be abused, it ought not be used.
I call this the abuse-use fallacy. It is a blueprint for opposing any technology. For example, Fox could make Carland, which could show car crashes and then blame all of them on “Big Auto.” Then he could argue that because car crashes are possible, we don’t need cars. In fact, Fox could make a far more alarming movie than Gasland based on supposedly risk-free solar and wind technology. Imagine a scene at a rare-earth mine in a movie called Wasteland.
Defenders of fracking often point out that the “abusers” Fox cites are false attributions—the next fallacy we’ll discuss. But the pattern of argument would be wrong even if Fox wasn’t fabricating particular abuses; individual abuses do not prove that an entire technology should not be used—they prove it should not be abused.
The abuse-use fallacy is deadly because it can be used to attack anything a group opposes. As citizens, we hate to see even one coal mine accident, one spill of hazardous liquids, or one example of industry corruption, but we must use that feeling to advocate for proper laws and best practices, not to drive us to outlaw crucial technologies.
Read the full Alex Epstein article HERE!
reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/12/15
It’s been five years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and released 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists are highlighting the disaster by pointing to the 800,000 birds that have died because of the spill in the five years since the disaster, but activists have been eerily silent about the fact that way more birds have been killed by wind turbines — a supposedly “eco-friendly” energy source.
The liberal blog Mother Jones reports that 800,000 birds have been killed and the Pelican population in the Gulf has decreased 12 percent. While the 2010 Gulf spill was indeed a horrible disaster, the number of birds that died pales in comparison the number killed in the last five years due to wind turbines.
A 2013 study found that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed every year by wind turbines — a figure 30 percent higher than the federal government estimated in 2009. These deaths have likely increased as wind power capacity increases across the country.
Since then, U.S. companies have only installed more wind power thanks to a now-expired tax credit for wind energy. The American Wind Energy Association said there was nearly 66 gigawatts of installed wind capacity in the U.S. as of 2014 — 17 times higher than wind capacity in 2001.
“As wind energy continues to expand, there is urgent need to improve fatality monitoring methods, especially in the implementation of detection trials, which should be more realistically incorporated into routine monitoring,” Smallwood reported in 2013.
In the time since the 2010 BP oil spill, some 2.9 million birds have been killed by wind turbines, using Smallwood’s figures, compared to only 800,000 that have been killed by the oil spill — the oil spill deaths are based on figures compiled by the news site Climate Desk. It should also be noted that wind turbines routinely kill federally protected birds and eagles.
Read the full article HERE!
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/9/15
How much land should the government own? Most Westerners don’t give it much thought, but stoically accept the reality that government owns almost all of the land around us. But in the nation’s capital there is a serious debate underway about it, for the first time in a century.
When I headed the Colorado Department of Natural Resources a decade ago, we faced a major funding hurdle — together with most other states — over an obscure public land program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It was created 50 years ago to dedicate some of the federal taxes from oil and gas leases to “recreational opportunities.” The fund has generated $16 billion over the years for federal land acquisition, and for grants to states for outdoor recreation facilities. Over time, federal land acquisition became far more important to the government. The original promise was that 60 percent would be for state projects, but last year more than 80 percent went for federal land purchases. The split has often been even worse for states, and in some years states have received nothing at all.
The LWCF expired in September, and there is an intriguing standoff in Congress, not about whether it should be reauthorized for several more years, but about whether to cancel it altogether. It is ironic that one of the most popular of all federal funding programs — because it funds things people actually want — is the subject of such heated debate. But LWCF is really just the excuse that triggered a festering argument. Just below the surface lie two prickly issues that have been smoldering for years.
First, the government owns 635 million acres of land, almost a third of the United States, nearly all of it in the West, and much of it underlain with energy and other vital resources. That includes 250 million acres of BLM land, 193 million acres of national forests, 84 million acres of national parks, and 150 million acres of national wildlife refuges.
More than 110 million acres of those lands are designated wilderness, not including all sorts of other management designations that prevent various uses of public lands — often without congressional approval. For example, the Fish and Wildlife Service manages 540 wildlife refuges, but also 38 wetland management districts and 36,000 “waterfowl production areas.” There are Research Natural Areas, Cultural Resource Sites, Historic Sites, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Natural Landmarks, National Trails, National Marine Sanctuaries, Estuarine Sanctuaries, Biosphere Reserves, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserves, and Wetlands of International Importance.
Second, the government cannot manage the land it already owns, so many leaders question whether it still makes sense to buy more. The 2015 budget calls for purchase of 160 more parcels of land. Yet the Interior Department has a $20 billion backlog of deferred maintenance on land it already has. The Park Service estimates that nine of every 10 miles of park roads are crumbling, along with unsafe bridges and 6,500 miles of trails needing repairs. And more than 70 million acres of catastrophic fires attest to the utter failure of national forest management over the past decade.
The environmental lobby wants Congress to reauthorize LWCF to the tune of $900 million per year (triple the 2015 amount), but that seems unlikely at the moment. Some of those groups make at least part of their living off the program, by the way, buying land and then reselling it to the government at premium prices. But convincing Congress to simply renew a major land acquisition program — without at least some reform — is not only improbable, but unwise.
My own impression is that Congress ought to make the promise of funding important state projects a permanent part of the law, and perhaps use any federal portion to address the maintenance backlog.
A thinly-veiled part of this dispute is the political divide over whether government ownership is the only way, or even the best way, to preserve important landscapes. Beyond the obvious policy implications of government owning all the land, there is simply not enough money in the entire treasury to preserve all the remaining open space by buying it all.
Nevertheless, faced with a choice between better partnerships with landowners, or more federal land acquisition, the federal system invariably chooses the latter. I advised the congressional committee examining this issue that buying land just for the sake of public ownership was never the goal of LWCF. Taking care of lands the public already owns should come ahead of buying more.
Greg Walcher is president of the Natural Resources Group and author of “Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back.” He is a Western Slope native.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 11/7/15
I am so honored that many of my aspiring writer friends have come to me seeking sound advice on how to write and maintain a blog.
This is ReaganGirl’s primer for blogging basics:
First, what is a blog? Well, it’s not something that shoots out of your mouth during a coughing fit. It’s not Dutch footwear. BLOG really means different things to different people. When Liberals are spewing their fabricated, psychedelic hooha along the information superhighway, it stands for Bestial Licentious Obama Gangsters. But now that Conservatives have mastered the light-speed autobahn of propaganda, BLOG stands for Bashing Liberal Ogres for God.
Make them interesting and controversial. Use catch terms like SHOCK, ZOMBIES, NAKED, TRAGEDY, DISASTER, SEX, LAWN GNOMES, TWERKING, HYSTERICS, APOCALYPSE, and every other graphic, politically-incorrect word that comes to mind
Tags: Use tags to target certain types of readers.
Tags are keywords you place into your blog so that search engines will identify your posts and apply them to internet searches so people can find awesome crap on their computers. One technique is to group tags in such a way that they capture high traffic searches. For example:
Topics and Categories: Attract lots of suckers.
Your category titles should be a clue to the content of each different post. One category per post is usually enough. However, it is okay to pair your topic title, ie, politics, celebrities, lifestyle, parenting, fitness, recipes, with one of the highly popular categories; zombies, unnatural sex, world’s ugliest dog, mud wrestling, vampires, cannibalism. For example,
Edit carefully, spelling errors can kill you.
This passage is an example of poor grammar and factual inaccuracy.
Edit carefully, examine your facts, and make spell check your best friend. The following is an example of good grammar and factual veracity:
Credibility is everything.
Finally, sell a unique, one-of-a-kind product.
As you formulate your public persona, reject the hackneyed labels that already exist on the internet. Internet readers are already saturated with blogs like these:
WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Park System has proposed updating 36-year-old regulations regarding oil and gas operations on its public lands. Monday’s action follows on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling at the end of September to delay a similar Bureau of Land Management action.
The NPS proposal includes rules for surface and groundwater contamination, fracking waste water disposal, disruption of wildlife, visitor hazards such as hyrogen sulfide gas, and views being spoiled by manmade items such as light pollution from operations’ burning “excess” natural gas, among other subjects.
Under the rule, the 60 percent of operations previously exempt from NPS oil and gas rules because they were “grandfathered” in when the rules were written, would no longer be exempt.
Both agencies are under the umbrella of the Department of Interior. In mid-March, Interior’s Secretary Sally Jewell announced the department’s intentions to support the Obama Administration’s ambitious clean energy and climate change reform agenda, and referenced both the recently stalled BLM action and the NPS proposed action.
“We will release a final rule related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands. The rule will include measures to protect our nation’s groundwater, requiring operators to construct sound wells, to disclose the chemicals they use, and to safely recover and handle fluids used in the process,” she said of the BLM rule, then continued “I’m talking about places at the doorstep of Utah’s national parks, North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park or the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Not only should we actively avoid damaging special or sensitive places, but we should also permanently protect some areas for their conservation values. Future generations of Americans deserve to enjoy those incredible places, just like we do,”
The NPS proposal would apply to 534 non-federal oil and gas operations on a total of 12 NPS sites, and would address issues such as surface contamination, leaks, spills, odors, noise, disruption of wildlife migration routes, adverse effects on sensitive species, archaeological damage from blasting, and visitor safety hazards such as hydrogen sulfide gas, and explosions and fires from leaking oil and gas. Specific regulations concerning fracking impacts to water quality and waste water disposal are included in the proposal. Also of concern are impacts to the visitor experience, such as “viewshed” intrusions by roads, traffic, pipelines and drilling, and night sky intrusion from artificial lights and gas flares.
“Oil rigs are visible from several parts of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and natural gas flaring has punctured what was once one of the darkest night skies in the entire park system. Evidence suggests that the concentrated drilling operations in the Pinedale area south of Grand Teton National Park are associated with regional ozone problems in Grand Teton’s gateway, with pollution recorded at levels that cause respiratory problems,” Nicholas Lund, manager of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Landscape Conservation Program, said in the group’s response to the proposal.
The BLM final rule, published shortly after Secretary Jewell’s announcement, came under immediate fire from the oil and gas industry, as well as from the states of Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado.
The legal issue cited in the Sept. 30 injunction by the U.S. District Court of Wyoming that delayed implementation of the BLM’s rule revolves around the federal agency’s authority to regulate these industries on state lands.
“We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our request to first hear the merits of our case before this final federal rule goes into effect. [The] decision is consistent with IPAA’s position that BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are, and have for 60 years been, in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing,” Independent Petroleum Association of America’s President Barry Russell said in response to the ruling.
The NPS proposed rule closely follows the BLM regulation, but the parks agency took pains to emphasize the basis of its authority to do so, citing the NPS Organic Act, in which Congress mandated the agency “promote and regulate the use of the National Park System by means and measures that conform to the fundamental purpose of the system units, which purpose is to conserve the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wild life in the system units and to provide for the enjoyment of the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wild life in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” including the authority to put forth regulations “necessary or proper for the use and management of system units,” according to the action.
Comments on the proposal are due Dec. 28.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 10/27/15
Like everyone with a shred of human kindness, I’m worried about the survival of tigers. They’re legitimately endangered, that’s clear, and the reasons listed for their declining numbers are many; loss of habitat, poaching, and deadly interactions with humans. But what people are not talking about is why tiger habitat is lost, why humans have encroached further into the forests and swamps tigers traditionally call home, or why they’re killed for their body parts.
Tiger advocates, seemingly well-intended, take in hundreds of millions in donations each year by casting humans and human progress as the key villains threatening these wondrous big cats. The simplistic portrayal of conditions encroaching on tigers’ survival as; bad man vs good tiger, or evil human development vs pristine tiger habitat, is a formula that works to bring in the big bucks. But actually thinking about why, despite decades of heartrending media campaigns and countless millions of dollars, tiger populations, until recently, were plummeting to near extinction, is a different matter. And the answer to the question of tiger survival is not one bleeding-heart environmental non-profits want to talk about.
In 2010 India’s tiger populations began to stabilize, and have rebounded modestly since then. What has changed in India in recent years to cause this? Has the human population of India declined, opening up habitats where it once encroached? Not so much. India has undergone an economic transformation in recent years, and currently has one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It’s not a decrease in human population or a reversal in human progress that is giving tigers a glimpse of hope, but industrial and economic advances in this Asian democracy.
India now produces automobiles, fossil fuels, and is emerging as a world leader in hi-tech companies, banking and consumer goods. So why isn’t the tiger completely extinct considering the boom in India’s economic activity–including energy production and manufacturing–and a human population that holds an upward trend? Because democracy, industrialization and free-market economic activities are good for species that require special protections and care from humans. India’s tiger management practices were updated, farming practices are undergoing modernization, using new technologies and better plant strains that require less acreage and water.
Despite benefits from growing economies in the Indian subcontinent, and modern industrial practices in farming and manufacturing, tigers in all parts of Asia are still swimming in dire straits because of poaching. Poachers kill tigers, especially breeding-age males, for their fur, glands, testicles, and other body parts which are marketed as folk remedies for everything from curing disease to enhancing virility.
It may take more than free-market economics and industrial progress to stem the threat poaching poses to tigers in Asia. A good dose of Western culture may be the answer. Think of it this way; “folk remedies” are often founded in superstition where voids exist in the understanding of objective scientific fact. Scientific processes; hypothesis, research, testing, patient trials, bring us the pharmaceuticals that treat illness, reverse the ravages of disease, and make impotent men virile. Western medicine is based in reason. Western civilization is based reason as well. So long as superstitions linger in backward civilizations whose thinking is lagging behind industrial modernization, things like tiger poaching for body parts to make folk remedies will linger.
Saying that Viagara– and the science and reason that have gone into its development–could save the tiger from extinction is not unreasonable. Modern medical practices which supplant superstition and folk medicine, along with industrialization, modern technology, democratic governments, and free markets, enhance human life in countless ways. In a time when industry is cleaner, more efficient, and more cognizant of its impact on animals and the environment than ever before, species, such as the tiger, are endangered not by a human progress, but by the absence of it.
by Marjorie Haun 10/22/15
In a case of serendipitous happenstance, the details of which we cannot disclose, Reagangirl.com has obtained a list of questions prepared by CNN whose moderators will confront the Democrats at tonight’s debate. Below are the incisive and heavy-hitting inquiries you can expect from CNN.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the complete order in which the questions will be posed to Lincoln Chafee, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, or Hillary Clinton, but here they are:
And finally, to close out the night with the question that has been on Americans’ minds for the last 7 years…
15. If you could be a Disney princess, which one would you be?
God bless the Democrats and their paid marketing wing, the media.
posted by Marjorie Haun 10/13/15
October 10, 2015
Since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) passed in 1973, only a 2% of listed species have been successfully recovered, due in part to abuse of the statute. Environmental groups overload the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) with listing petitions and then sue FWS for missing deadlines, which diverts resources away from actual species recovery and into litigation and bureaucratic process.
In 2011, two serial litigants, WildEarth Guardians (WEG) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reached settlement agreements with the Department of the Interior (DOI) on a combined 878 species. DOI’s justification for entering into the closed-door settlement agreement that excluded the public, elected officials, states, localities, and other stakeholders was to limit future listing petitions and litigation. If so, the result should have been a decline in petitions and lawsuits, but the reality is the opposite.
Using legal and FWS databases, Western Energy Alliance conducted an analysis of petitions and lawsuits filed since the huge settlements were reached in 2011 and discovered that:
Sue the government, get favorable settlement agreements, shut out the public, yet keep suing if 100% of your demands aren’t met. Sue-and-settle: a good deal for environmental activists, a bad deal for the American taxpayer, jobs, the economy and endangered species.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 10/10/15
by Alex Epstein
The fossil fuel industry, as the leading and most misunderstood energy industry, has an obligation and self-interest in educating its employees and the public about energy, yet does a miserable job at it.
From kindergarten through high school through Ph.D. programs, all of us are taught that fossil fuel use is fundamentally immoral—a self-destructive addiction that’s destroying our planet, or at best a necessary evil that we have to get rid of as soon as possible, even if that (unfortunately) means a few more decades.
But where are we taught that there is a moral case for fossil fuels—an argument that, big picture, fossil fuel technology makes our planet a progressively better place to live, as its benefits to human life, including our environment, far, far outweigh its risks and side-effects? Where are we taught that fossil fuels are not a self-destructive addiction to get off of, but a healthy choice that billions of people need more of?
As a culture, almost nowhere.
This means that the fossil fuel industry has to pick up a lot of the slack—especially in teaching its employees. This is starting to happen, but not enough.
One question I ask CEOs is: “When you bring in new employees for training, what do you train them in?” The answers I get are usually safety, company culture, administrative procedures, and so on.
Then I ask: “What about training employees in the value of what they do—the full impact it has on human life?” Usually the answer is that they do none, or maybe an hour or two.
An hour or two.
So we have employees who have spent a lifetime with our culture telling them what they do is not valuable, is unsustainable, is destructive, and we are only giving them an hour or two on why the career we are asking them to devote their lives to may not be as immoral as they’ve been taught?
How does this affect employee motivation? It leads to many people, particularly among those who weren’t born in the industry, as thinking of their work as “just a job”—something they do because it’s the most money they can get.
Read the rest of the article HERE!
Reposted by Marjorie Haun 10/7/15