Tag Archives: Energy

Supreme Court rules against EPA’s job-killing tax on electricity

Atmospheric temperature measurements though April 2015
Atmospheric temperature measurements though April 2015

If you have to pay your own electricity bill out of your own earnings, then I have some good news for you.

The Daily Signal has the story.

Excerpt:

Today, the Supreme Court in Michigan v. EPA held that the Environmental Protection Agency improperly ignored costs when it decided to regulate hazardous air pollutants from power plants. The court, in this 5-4 opinion, struck down this extremely costly rule, known as Utility MACT or Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).

Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, which applies to power plants, the EPA administrator shall regulate if the regulation is found to be “appropriate and necessary.” According to the EPA, they didn’t have to consider cost when deciding to regulate, even though the statute specifically says that the regulation has to be “appropriate.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, explained, “[a]gainst the backdrop of this established administrative practice [consideration of cost], it is unreasonable to read an instruction to an administrative agency to determine whether ‘regulation is appropriate and necessary’ as an invitation to ignore costs.”

The EPA was going to ignore an astonishing amount of costs. The EPA estimated the costs to be $9.6 billion annually. This compared to benefits of $4 million to $6 million annually. As pointed out by Scalia, “[t]he costs to power plants were thus between 1,600 and 2,400 times as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants.” As the court succinctly explained, “[n]o regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”

Unfortunately, energy prices are still going to go up, and jobs are still going to be lost as a result of previous EPA regulations.

The Stream says:

While this is a major legal win for the coal industry, it may have come too late. Power plant operators have already slated to retire 13 gigawatts of coal-fired power by the end of this year. Coal plant owners also must ready themselves to comply with upcoming ozone and greenhouse gas regulations.

Well, it’s been a rough week, but we have to take our victories where we can. A win’s a win. Hopefully, the next President will abolish the EPA and the Department of Energy entirely, so that those clowns have to get real jobs doing something useful for a change.

Germany is further along the green energy road, how is it working for them?

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy
Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

This is from National Review, and I think it’s important for the young people to know, because they are the ones who think that green energy is a moral imperative that has no downside.

Look:

According to EU data, Germany’s average residential electricity rate is 29.8 cents per kilowatt hour. This is approximately double the 14.2 cents and 15.9 cents per kWh paid by residents of Germany’s neighbors Poland and France, respectively, and almost two and a half times the U.S. average of 12 cents per kWh. Germany’s industrial electricity rate of 16 cents per kWh is also much higher than France’s 9.6 cents or Poland’s 8.3 cents. The average German per capita electricity consumption is 0.8 kilowatts. At a composite rate of 24 cents per kWh, this works out to a yearly bill of $1,700 per person, experienced either directly in utility bills or indirectly through increased costs of goods and services. The median householdincome in Germany is $33,000, so if we assume an average of two people per household, the electricity cost would amount to more than 10 percent of available income. And that is for the median-income household. The amount of electricity that people need does not scale in proportion to their paychecks. For the rich, $1,700 per year in electric bills might be a pittance, or at most a nuisance. But for the poor who are just scraping by, such a burden is simply brutal.

The trouble with solar and wind power is that they are not consistent:

So, what has the German government accomplished for “the Earth” in exchange for the severe harm it has inflicted on the nation’s poorer citizens? It is claimed that Germany has replaced 30 percent of its electricity with renewable energy. If all you look at is capacity, that might appear to be true. Germany has a total installed capacity of 172 gigawatts (GW), and 65 GW of that is based on renewables. But neither wind nor solar power obtains an around-the-clock average of anything close to full capacity. Rather, these methods of electricity generation typically average at best about 20 percent of their full rated power. Thus Germany’s nominal 65 GW of solar and wind generation capacity is worth about as much as 13 GW capacity in conventional power plants. Of the 614,000 GW hours that Germany generated in 2014, 56,000 GWh came from wind and 35,000 GWh from solar, for an actual combined average power of 10.4 GW, or 14.8 percent of all electricity generated. About half of this, or 5.2 GW, has been developed since 2005.

Germany used to have safe, clean nuclear power with zero emissions, but they got rid of it:

However, in 2011 Germany had 20 GW of capacity in nuclear power plants, producing more than twice as much electricity as wind and solar do currently, at less than half the cost, with no carbon emissions whatsoever. But, using the rather improbable threat of a Fukushima-like tsunami as a pretext, the nation’s elites decided to shut them down; 8.3 GW have already been eliminated.

Thus, over the past decade, the total amount of carbon-free power that Germany has produced under its oppressive green-energy policy has actually decreased by 3 GW.

This makes me think of what happened to the wind farms in the UK during cold weather – they had to keep spinning using power from the main grid, to keep themselves from freezing! What a disaster. Green energy is just not ready for prime time. The more the government pushes it, the more the cost of electricity rises. Not good for the poor. Does anyone care how these “feel good” policies of the rich left affect the poorest people?

Socialist party wins majority in Canada’s most conservative province

Orange = NDP, Green = Wildrose, Blue = Conservative
Orange = NDP, Green = Wildrose, Blue = Conservative

This article from Reuters explains what happened.

It says:

The left-wing New Democrats won election in the Canadian province of Alberta on Tuesday, ending the 44-year run by the Progressive Conservatives amid promises to review oversight of the oil and gas sector in the home of Canada’s oil sands.

At the end of a month-long campaign, the New Democratic Party (NDP), which has never held more than 16 seats in the 87-seat provincial legislature, will lead a majority government. It held a commanding lead in early results, leading or elected in 54 seats at 9 p.m. local time while the Conservatives were ahead in just 13, according to CBC TV.

The NDP is expected to be far less accommodative to the Western Canadian province’s powerful energy industry.

NDP Premier-elect Rachel Notley has proposed reduced support for pipeline export projects and a review of oil and gas royalties in the resource-rich province, and energy shares on Canadian stock markets are expected to react negatively to her party’s victory.

The NDP had promised to hike corporate tax rates by two percentage points to 12 percent if elected, but its promise to review the amount of royalty payments due the province from oil and gas production made some investors nervous.

Alberta’s oil sands are the largest source of U.S. oil imports.

The Conservatives had won 12 straight elections, but support for rookie Premier Jim Prentice plunged during the campaign and right-wing voters split support between the Conservatives and the younger, more conservative Wildrose Party, which appeared on track to be the official opposition.

The Alberta “Progressive Conservatives” are almost as leftist as the NDP. The only real conservatives in Alberta are the Wildrose.

This Canadian Press looks at specific NDP policies:

The NDP have won a majority in Alberta. What could Alberta look like moving forward? Leader Rachel Notley campaigned on having the wealthy pay more to fund better health care and education. Here’s a look at some of the party’s key platform planks:

— A Resource Owners’ Rights Commission to review the royalties oil companies pay to the province with any amount earned above the current rates going into savings.

— A boost in the corporate tax rate to 12 per cent from 10 per cent and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 and hour by 2018.

— More tax brackets on high earners than the Tories are proposing: A 12 per cent tax rate on income between $125,000 to $150,000; 13 per cent on income between $150,000 to $200,000; 14 per cent between $200,000 and $300,000 and 15 per cent over $300,000. The NDP also plans to roll back the Tory health levy.

— The creation of 2,000 long-term care spaces over four years.

— A ban both corporate and union donations to political parties.

That last one looks like a conservative policy, since big corporations and unions are both leftist. So there’s a silver lining to this cloud. I’m sorry for my Canadian friends who will have to live with this, but the mistake was made last election, when they chose the Progressive Conservatives over Wildrose. One thing is for sure, Alberta supplies a lot of our oil here, so this NDP win will raise oil prices, and it’s going to put pressure on American families. Maybe we should be drilling for our own oil?

William Lane Craig debates Lawrence Krauss in Melbourne, Australia: Does God Exist?

Here is the video from the third debate from Dr. William Lane Craig’s speaking tour in Australia.

Format:

  • William Lane Craig (15 min)
  • Lawrence Krauss (15 min, but was actually 21:40)
  • Moderated discussion
  • Question and answer

Dr. Graham Oppy, the moderator, is a well-known atheist philosopher. He let Dr. Krauss speak for 21 minutes and 40 seconds, which is why my summary of Krauss is so long.

The video:

Summary

After careful consideration, I decided not to be snarky at all in this summary. What you read below is what happened. There may be some small mistakes, but I will fix those if people tell me about them. I also included some quotes and timestamps for the more striking things that Dr. Krauss said.

The debate itself starts at 4:50 with Dr. Craig’s opening speech. He does use slides to show the structure of his arguments.

Dr. Craig’s opening speech. (4:50)

  1. The kalam cosmological argument:
    • God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe
    • The Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem supports the absolute beginning of the universe
    • Even if our universe is part of a multiverse, the multiverse itself would have to have an absolute beginning
    • Speculative cosmologies try to challenge the Big Bang theory, but none of them – even if true – can establish that the past is eternal
    • Only two types of things could explain the origin of spece, time, matter and energy – either abstract objects or minds
    • Abstract objects do not cause effects, but minds do cause effects (we do it ourselves)
    • A mind is the best explanation for the origin of the universe
  2. The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics:
    • The underlying structure of nature is mathematical – mathematics is applicable to nature
    • Mathematical objects can either be abstract objects or useful fiction
    • Either way, there is no reason to expect that nature should be linked to abstract objects or fictions
    • But a divine mind that wants humans to understand nature is a better explanation for what we see
  3. The cosmic fine-tuning for the existence of intelligent life
    • There are two kinds of finely-tuned initial conditions: 1) cosmological constants and 2) quantities
    • These constants and quantities have to be set within a narrow range in order to permit intelligent life
    • There are three explanations for this observation: law, chance or design
    • Law is rejected because they are put in at the beginning or matter – they don’t emerge from matter
    • Chance must be rejected, because they odds are just too long unless you appeal to a world-ensemble
    • We do not observe what the world ensemble hypothesis predicts that we should observe
    • Design is the best explanation for finely-tuned constants and quantities
  4. The existence of objective moral values and duties
    • Our experience of morality (values and duties) is that it is objectively real and incumbent on us
    • When someone goes into a classroom and shoots at innocent children, that is objectively wrong
    • On naturalism, moral values and moral duties do not exist – they are conventional and variable by time and place
    • The best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties is that God exists
  5. The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus
    • There are three widely-accepted facts that are best explained by the resurrection hypothesis
    • 1) the empty tomb, 2) the post-mortem appearances, 3) the early church’s belief in the resurrection
    • Naturalistic attempts to explain these 3 boilerplate facts fail
    • The best explanation of the 3 minimal facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead
  6. The immediate experience of God
    • Belief in God is a “properly basic” belief – rational even without arguments because of experience of God

Dr. Krauss’ opening speech. (21:12)

Slides: (1234567891011121314)

  1. Religious pluralism I
    • There have been lots of different gods created by people through history
    • We’ve gotten rid of all of them by understanding how the universe works by doing science
    • Religion is just stories, and the stories are inconsistent with how the universe works
  2. Progress of naturalistic science I
    • Newtonian physics refutes the idea that angels push planets around
    • Darwinian evolution refutes design arguments, including the one that Dr. Craig presented (24:10)
    • Biochemistry hasn’t explained how life originated, but we will have the solution soon
    • Physics shows us that matter can be created and destroyed without need a God
    • Physics shows us that universes can be created and destroyed “no problem”
  3. Religious pluralism II
    • Since we have been able to disprove all the gods we’ve invented, why hang on to the last one
    • It’s unlikely that the God that Dr. Craig presented exists, because we disproved all the others he didn’t present
  4. Hiddenness of God
    • There is a complete lack of evidence for the other 999 gods, so how likely is it that the God Dr. Craig presented exists
  5. Religious pluralism III
    • There are inconsistencies between various religions, so therefore there can be no religion that is right
  6. Progress of naturalistic science II
    • Peasants had a very low level of knowledge about the world and they believed in God
    • But our level of knowledge has increased over time, so we shouldn’t believe in God now
    • Peasants thought that the Earth orbited the Sun, but this is now known to be false
    • The Scriptures said that the Earth orbited the Sun, but now we know that’s false from science
  7. Christianity plagiarizes from other religions I
    • There is nothing new or special about Jesus
    • He’s just as unpleasant as all the other gods
    • Everything particular to Jesus occurs in other religions
  8. Catholics are inconsistent about what they believe
    • I’ll bet most Catholics don’t really believe in transubstantiation
    • I’ll bet most Catholics don’t really believe in the virgin birth
  9. The resurrection is copied from many other religions
    • Dionysus, Osiris, etc.
  10. There is no evidence for the resurrection
    • The stories about Jesus were written “decades or hundreds of years after the fact”
    • The stories are inconsistent with each other
    • Dr. Craig tells me that historical Jesus scholars all accept that the resurrection happened
    • That’s like saying that all alien abductions experts agree that alien abductions happened
    • It’s unreasonable to think that the resurrection happened because no one saw it happen
    • I accept that people reported on appearances, but hallucination theory can explain that
  11. The timeline for the creation and incarnation are all wrong
    • The creation, planet formation, hominids, incarnation, etc. all take place in the wrong times
    • If God knew what he was doing, he would done everything at better times to be more efficient
  12. David Hume’s argument against miracles is sound
    • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – nothing wrong with this argument
    • Miracles are really just coincidences
    • Catholic apparitions at Lourdes disprove the historical argument that Dr. Craig made for the resurrection
  13. God is petty and jealous
    • God shouldn’t demand that we trust him, esteem him and consider his character when we make decisions
    • The atoning death of Jesus for the sins of the world also makes no sense
  14. Belief is based on geography
    • What you believe is clearly correlated with where you are born
    • There is even an Islamic clone of Dr. Craig who “uses the exact same arguments” that he does to prove Islam
    • Belief in God is decreasing in the Internet-accessible world
  15. Science can develop morals without God
    • Reason is able to guide our actions to be moral
    • Morality evolves over time, so there is no objective morality
    • Catholicism teaches things that are immoral
    • Some things are prohibited by biological revulsion, such as incest
    • But if a brother and sister have sex using condoms “is that morally wrong? I can’t say it is frankly” (37:24)
  16. Dr. Craig is irrational
    • “I came here convinced based on my past interactions and his writing that Dr. Craig was a dishonest Charlatan”
    • “Any argument that validates God is reasonable to him”
    • “And any argument against it is not only unreasonable but wrong and worth distorting”
    • “Because it must be wrong – he’s decided the answer in advance”
  17. Dr. Craig is immoral
    • Dr. Craig thinks it is OK for God to command that Canaanite children are killed
    • “So in fact if they were Canaanite children in that schoolroom that he talked about then it would be OK”
    • It’s not reasonable to justify genocide in that way, but Dr. Craig is willing to go to those lengths
  18. The cause of the origin of the space time universe need not be God
    • Dr. Craig says that if there is an explanation for the origin or space, time, matter and energy it must be God
    • But it could just as easily be turtles or Zeus
  19. Dr. Craig misrepresents the Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem
    • Alexander Vilenkin wrote me an e-mail that says that the theorem doesn’t work in all cases
    • “Dr. Craig is so convinced that these arguments must be true that he won’t listen to the fact that they’re not”
  20. Darwinian evolution explains the fine-tuning
    • “Life was fine tuned – we got rid of it with Darwin”
    • Mutation and natural selection explain the cosmic fine-tuning argument that Dr. Craig presented
  21. Suboptimal design disproves the fine-tuning argument
    • “We get back aches” therefore “This argument that [the universe] is fine-tuned for life is nonsense”
  22. William Lane Craig can be proven to exhibit homosexual behavior using logical arguments
    • Look, you can construct arguments that are clearly wrong
    • Premise 1: “All mammals exhibit homosexual behavior”
    • Premise 2: “William Lane Craig is a mammal”
    • Seems to be saying that logical arguments can prove false things “it’s nonsense”
  23. Dr. Craig distorted a podcast that some group made on pain receptors
    • Dr. Craig’s faith is so strong that it causes him to distort what this group said

Discussion: (44:35)

I will not be summarizing everything that was said, just a few main points.

The segment from 52:18 to 57:12 about the Vilenkin e-mail on the BVG theorem is a must-see. Krauss is standing up and gesticulating while Craig is calmly trying to quote a paper by Vilenkin that shows that Krauss is misrepresenting Vilenkin. Krauss constantly interrupts him. After a while, when Craig exposes him as having misrepresented Vilenkin and gets him to admit that all current eternal models of the universe are probably wrong, he quietens down and can’t even look at Craig in the face.

Cosmological argument:

  • Craig: The e-mail says any universe that is expanding, on average, requires a beginning
  • Craig: There are two models – Aguirre & Gratton and Carroll & Chen – where there is a period of contraction before the expansion
  • Craig: The two models are the ones cited in the e-mail that Dr. Krauss showed
  • Craig: In the very paper by Vilenkin that I cited, he says that both of those models don’t work
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) Vilenkin said that they have to make an assumption about entropy that they have no rationale for
  • (as Craig starts to talk Krauss makes an exaggerated, disrespectful gesture and sits down in a huff)
  • Craig: Yes, an unwarranted assumption means that they don’t have EVIDENCE for their theories being correct
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “All the evidence suggests that the universe had a beginning but WE DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!” (raising his voice)
  • Craig: I’m not saying that we know that the universe had a beginning with certainty
  • Craig: I am saying that the beginning of the universe is more probably true than false based on the evidence we have
  • Craig: And you  agree with me about that – you think the universe had a beginning
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) (Unintelligible)
  • Moderator: One at a time
  • Craig: In your Vilenkin e-mail slide, at the end of the paragraph where the two models are mentioned that Vilenkin specifically shows…
  • (I am guessing that Craig is going to ask why so much of what Vilenkin wrote has been cut out of the e-mail that Krauss showed)
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) Because it was technical…
  • Moderator: Lawrence! Hang on a sec!
  • Craig: He specifically shows that these models are not past eternal, and that they require a beginning just like the others…
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) We can do the math if you want
  • Craig: Now wait. I couldn’t help notice that there on your slide there was a series of ellipsis points indicating missing text…
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “Yeah, because it was technical!”
  • Craig: “I wonder what you deleted from the original letter”
  • Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “I just told you!”
  • Craig: “Now wait. Could it have been something like this:  (reads a quote from Vilenkin) ‘You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time. This sounds as if there is nothing wrong with having contraction prior to expansion. But the problem is that a contracting universe is highly unstable. Small perturbations would cause it to develop all sorts of messy singularities, so it would never make it to the expanding phase.’
  • Craig: “That’s Vilenkin.”
  • Krauss: “In this paper, that’s absolutely right”
  • Krauss: But it’s ok for theories to assume things that we know are wrong – they are still good theories – it’s unknown
  • (Craig turns away and looks through his papers)
  • Craig: “Isn’t it true that the only viable quantum gravity models on order today involve a beginning – have a finite past?”
  • Krauss: “No”
  • Craig: “Well, can you give us one then”
  • Krauss: (talks about a variety of possible eternal models) “In my experience in science, all of them are probably wrong”
  • Krauss: “You know most theories are wrong, which is why, you know, it’s hard”
  • Craig: “Right”

I noticed that a huge number of atheist web sites are taking the Vilenkin quote that Krauss used out of context, like this one and this one. There are probably a lot more of them like that, which I think is interesting. That’s why we have these debates, I guess. To set the record straight about who accuses people of being dishonest, and who is actually dishonest.

Fine-tuning:

  • Krauss tried to argue that he had explained the fine-tuning with the Higgs particle, but Dr. Craig said that only applied to the cosmological constant, not all the other examples of fine-tuning. Krauss said that it wasn’t impressive that this universe permitted life and that “It would have been much more surprising if we evolved in a universe in which we couldn’t live”. Krauss argued the fine-tuning was only for “Life like us”. But Dr. Craig explained that the fine-tuning is what allows us to have the basics of any kind of life, like slow-burning stars, chemical diversity, etc. – things that are required for basic minimal life functions in any living system. Craig said that he was working with the current physical laws of this universe (F = ma, etc.) and that he was looking at what changed if we changed those even slightly. Krauss tried to say that if he changed things like the mass of particles then the strength of forces would change. (But the forces aren’t laws!) Krauss argued that the cosmological constant would be even better for life if it was zero, and Craig said that the life permitting range did include zero, but that the range of life-permitting values was narrow.

Jesus’ existence:

  • Craig reponded to the mystery religions charge, the charge that the evidence for the minimal facts is too late/too weak, the charge that grief visions explained the evidence better, and Hume’s argument against miracles. Craig brought up the early creed from 1 Cor 15:3-7 and explained to Krauss that it was 5 years after the events, and that Jewish standards of oral transmission were strong enough to ensure that the creed was reliable, and most of the eyewitnesses would still have been alive.

Audience Q and A: (1:21:09)

The first topic is the grounding of morality. Krauss agrees that there is no objective morality and no objective moral oughts. He also said that that standards of behavior are arbitrary, and that they change over time and they are adopted for promoting social order. Dr. Craig pressed the point that science itself would collapse without ethical values. It assumes them, but cannot ground them.

The next topic was free will. Krauss is a determinist. Craig asked him how he could reconcile moral responsibility with determinism.

The next topic was the effectiveness of mathematics. Krauss didn’t have an explanation for it and didn’t think it needed one. Then they got into whether the Genesis has been verified by science and whether it is meant to be taken literally.

The next topic was whether philosophy makes any progress. Craig gave the example of verificationism being rejected as too narrow, and self-refuting. Krauss: “I’m going to come to the defense of philosophy for the first time”. Craig: “That’s amazing!” Krauss said that science provides new knowledge. Craig said there were some things that could be known apart from science.

New study: EPA carbon emission regulations eliminate 586,000 manufacturing jobs

Why don’t we build anything in America any more?

Well, we do build many things, but if the question is changed to “why aren’t we building more?” then the answer is that the costs of building things in America are much higher than building them elsewhere. One reason is that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Another reason is that we pass regulations that make it expensive to make anything here.

Here is a report from the Daily Signal about a new study by the Heritage Foundation.

They write:

A new study predicts that more than a half million manufacturing jobs will be eliminated from the U.S. economy as a result of the Obama administration’s proposed regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

“Every state would experience overwhelming negative impacts as a result of these regulations, but especially those with higher-than-average employment in manufacturing and mining,” said Nick Loris, a co-author of study, which was completed by energy experts at The Heritage Foundation—the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

The researchers projected how many manufacturing jobs would be eliminated in each state and congressional district as a consequence of the carbon plan, which is the centerpiece of President Obama’s effort to combat climate change.

The results show that 34 states would lose three to four percent of manufacturing jobs by 2023, and nine other states would lose more.

In Ohio alone, 31,747 jobs would be lost.

The study predicts that the Midwest would be hit the hardest, with Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin losing more than 20,000 jobs each.

[…]The analysis comes just months before the Environmental Protection Agency is set to finalize its carbon regulations covering new, existing and modified/reconstructed power plants by mid summer of 2015.

Heritage’s study looked at the totality of the Obama administration’s efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions—from motor vehicles and power plants, both new and existing.

The EPA’s plan forces states to cut power-industry emissions by 30 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels.

We have to save the planet!!!1!!

Meanwhile, in Boston:

It's global warming! The EPA must save us!
It’s global warming! The EPA must save us!

So, the next time anyone asks you why we don’t build anything anymore, tell them it’s because they voted for Democrats, and how this resulted in higher taxes and more burdensome regulations. Higher taxes and more regulation causes companies to close down here at home and move elsewhere, or they just scale back here and expand elsewhere. Democrats cause American jobs to go overseas, raising the unemployment rate. That’s why our labor force participation hasn’t been this low for decades. It’s basic economics.