Ghana, stuck with the wind 6

The American Dictator (yes, he’s the one we mean) is doing his utmost to keep Africa in poverty and despair.

Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, writes today at Townhall:

I see Africa as a … partner with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children,” President Obama declared in Ghana last July.

However, three months later, the President signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30% over the next ten years. The order undermines the ability of Sub-Saharan African nations to achieve energy, economic and human rights progress. 

Ghana is trying to build a 130-MW gas-fired power plant, to bring electricity’s blessings to more of its people, schools, hospitals and businesses. Today, almost half of Ghanaians never have access to electricity, or get it only a few hours a week, leaving their futures bleak.

Most people in Ghana are forced to cook and heat with wood, crop wastes or dung, says Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Imani (Hope) Center for Policy and Education, in Accra. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes blindness, asthma and severe lung infections that kill a million women and young children every year. Countless more Africans die from intestinal diseases caused by eating unrefrigerated, spoiled food.

But when Ghana turned to its United States “partner” and asked OPIC to support the $185-million project, OPIC refused to finance even part of it – thus adding as much as 20% to its financing cost. Repeated across Africa, these extra costs for meeting “climate change prevention” policies will threaten numerous projects, and prolong poverty and disease for millions.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million people, 80% of whom live on less than $2.50 per day. Over 700 million people – twice the population of the USA and Canada combined – rarely or never have access to the lifesaving, prosperity-creating benefits of electricity …

Even in South Africa, the most advanced nation in this region, 25% of the populace still has no electricity. Pervasively insufficient electrical power has meant frequent brownouts that have hampered factory output and forced gold and diamond mines to shut down, because of risks that miners would suffocate in darkness deep underground. The country also suffers from maternal mortality rates 36 times higher than in the US, and tuberculosis rates 237 times higher.

And yet President Obama told his Ghanaian audience last July that Africa is gravely “threatened” by global warming, which he argues “will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops,” leading to more famine and conflict. Africa, he says, can “increase access to power, while skipping – leapfrogging – the dirtier phase of development,” by using its “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy.

The President made these remarks before the scandalous “Climategate” emails were made public, and headline-grabbing claims about melting glaciers, burning Amazon rainforests and disappearing African agriculture were shown to be mere speculation and exaggeration from climate activists

Literally thousands of scientists disagree with claims that we face an imminent manmade global warming disaster, or that warming is connected to disease or harvests. Africa has faced drought, famine and disease since before Biblical times, and armed conflict is far more likely where a lack of electricity perpetuates poverty, scarcity and dashed hopes.

Wind and solar power are too costly, intermittent and land-intensive to meet the needs of emerging economies

That is why rapidly-developing nations like China and India are building power plants at the rate of one per week… Nearly all this electricity must be based on coal.

Wind power is constrained by high cost and limited reliability. Nuclear energy faces major cost and political obstacles. To electrify India in the absence of coal, the country would have to find 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, build 250 nuclear power plants, or construct the equivalent of 450 Hoover Dams, Penn State University professor Frank Clemente calculates. Those alternatives are unrealistic.

Blessed with abundant supplies of coal, South Africa has applied for a World Bank loan to continue building its 4,800-megawatt Medupi power plant. The Medupi plant would be equipped with the latest in “supercritical clean coal,” pollution control and “carbon capture” technologies. However, the project and loan have run into a buzz saw of opposition, led by the Center for American Progress, Africa Action, Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club. These radical groups claim to champion justice and better health for Africa, but oppose the very technologies that would make that possible…

The proposed Ghana and South Africa power plants already leapfrog dirtier development phases, by providing state-of-the-art pollution control technology. The energy alternatives President Obama envisions would do little to address the desperate crises that threaten Africans’ health, welfare and lives.

China and India are showing Africa the way forward. Those of us in already developed countries should support Africa’s aspirations – and help it address real health and environmental problems, by using affordable, dependable energy that truly is the lifeblood of modern societies, and the key to a better future for children everywhere.

The bear’s paws on the golden tap 3

Ralph Peters writes in the New York Post on the confrontation with Iran:

For Moscow, this crisis isn’t about Tehran’s acquisition of nukes. It’s about Russia’s acquisition of a stranglehold on global energy markets. Putin’s playing with fire — but he’s sure we’ll be the ones burned. As for the Obama administration’s desperate (and stunningly naive) hope that economic sanctions can deter President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and his fellow thugs-for-Allah from pursuing nuclear weapons, forget it….

The current crisis is a win-win-win for Putin. But before laying out his plan, let’s run the numbers:

The Persian Gulf’s littoral states hold over 60 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 40 percent of the natural gas. Russia has “just” 10 percent of the oil reserves and 35 percent of the world’s natural gas.

Do the math: Iran and its neighbors, along with Russia, own two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves and 70 percent of the natural gas. …

This is one macro-region for energy, the zone of ultimate control. Putin gets it, even if we don’t. Here’s Czar Vladimir’s strategic trifecta:

For now, Russia profits wonderfully from its trade, both legal and illicit, with Iran, while the West talks itself to death. Life is good.

But life could get even better: If Iran’s nuclear quest isn’t blocked, a nuclear arsenal will give Iran de facto control of all Persian Gulf oil. Putin envisions a Moscow-Tehran axis, an energy cartel that dramatically increases the value of his oil and gas — the only economic props keeping the corpse of Russia upright.

If Israel’s driven to a forlorn-hope attack on Iran’s nuke program, Iran will respond by striking Gulf Arab oil fields and facilities, while closing the Strait of Hormuz. The US military will be in it, like it or not. Oil and gas prices will soar unimaginably — and the bear will have its paws on the golden tap.

So the worst outcome for Putin — more of the same — is still good. A bad outcome for everybody else is even better in Putin’s strategy to renew Russia’s superpower status.

Why on earth would this guy help us stop Iran? When he hates us, anyway? (It isn’t you, Barack. It’s just business.)

For all his viciousness, Putin’s a serious strategist. We don’t have any high-level strategists. Not one. On either side of the Potomac.

In his first decade on the throne, Czar Vladimir focused on addicting Europe to Russian gas, while moving successfully to exert control over as many pipelines as possible. That was the constructive decade.

The second decade in the reign of Vladimir I is the energy-cartel-building phase. This will be the confrontational phase. Energy’s the only real power Putin has, so he’s maximizing it.

It’s no accident that a strategic triangle has emerged between Moscow, Tehran and Caracas — home of the great Latin mischief-lover, Hugo Chavez, who thrives on his own nation’s petro-wealth.

For us, the Iran crisis is about peace. For Putin, it’s about power. Yet the self-deluding Obama administration really believes that Moscow’s going to support us. After our president gave away our only serious bargaining chip, the missile-defense system promised to our European allies.

Putin thinks in 10-year-plans. We can’t think past the next congressional roll-call vote.

The Obama administration’s primary legacy to the world is going to be a nuclear-armed Iran.

In energy policy, ideology trumps common sense 0

 Two articles in Investor’s Business Daily show how wrong-headed the governing Democrats’ energy policy is:  

The first is about the inadequacy of wind and solar sources and their disproportionate costs:

Solar and wind together provide less than half of 1% of our electricity. Hydropower provides 7%, natural gas and nuclear about 20% each, and coal about half. Incredibly, a possible $50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power was stripped from the stimulus in the committee conference process.

Just how renewable are renewable sources of energy? Although silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen, it makes relatively inefficient cells that struggle to compete with electricity generated from fossil fuels. Silicon solar cells convert only 25% of light energy received to electricity.

More advanced solar cells that can achieve efficiencies of 40% or more use the metal iridium. But it constitutes just 0.25 parts per million of the earth’s crust, and there’s only a 10-year supply left. Alternatives may be found, but that’s not solar power’s only problem.

Two projects in development will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels. At noon on a cloudless day they are designed to produce 800 megawatts of electricity, about as much as one large coal-fired plant. But actual production will likely be one-third that, and at uncompetitive rates.

The Energy Administration reported in early 2008 that government subsidies, before the stimulus bill, amounted to $24.34 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for solar and $23.37 per MWh for wind.

Continued subsidies for inefficient energy sources at the expense of reliable and abundant sources will only drive up energy costs and the national debt, while making it harder for the energy-starved American economy to recover.

The second explains how opposition to efficient and cost-effective nuclear power is based not on science but on prejudice:

During a campaign forum in Las Vegas last year, then-candidate Obama commented as follows on the site designed to safely store spent fuel from America’s 104 operating commercial nuclear reactors: "I will end the notion of Yucca Mountain because it has not been based on the sort of sound science that can assure the people of Nevada that they’re going to be safe."

Now-President Obama has kept his promise by virtually zeroing out Yucca’s budget in 2010, leaving only enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to handle current licensing requests. House and Senate Democrats have already cut funding for the remainder of fiscal 2009 to a paltry $288 million, the lowest in recent years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada and is a longtime Yucca opponent, is ecstatic. The budget cut is "a critical first step toward fulfilling his promise to end the Yucca Mountain project," Reid said in a statement. "President Obama recognizes that the proposed dump threatens the health and safety of Nevadans and millions of Americans."

Yucca Mountain is not a "dump," and it is not unsafe. Situated about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, it is quite possibly the safest, most geologically stable and most studied place on the planet.

The Department of Energy has long studied the rock at the planned repository, assessing how the repository would perform over tens of thousands of years. After 20 years and $9 billion, DOE has found Yucca Mountain to be quite stable and safe.

The DOE Web site says that after two decades "of carefully planned and reviewed scientific fieldwork, the Department of Energy has found that a repository at Yucca Mountain brings together the location, natural barriers and design elements most likely to protect the health and safety of the public, including those Americans living in the immediate vicinity, now and long into the future."

Reid may not want it in his back yard, but he doesn’t mind keeping America’s nuclear waste where it is right now — in everybody else’s back yard. Vast numbers of spent nuclear fuel rods are now stored at more than 130 above-ground facilities in 39 states. About 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of these existing sites.

We need the jobs nuclear power can provide, and we need the energy. The Energy Information Agency projects that by 2030 U.S. electricity demand will increase by 45%. Since nuclear power currently supplies 20%, the U.S. will need to have 35 additional nuclear power plants just to meet future demand.

Nuclear power is "green" energy, and the jobs it creates and supports are "green" jobs. Had America’s nuclear reactors not been operating, about 48 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 19 million tons of nitrogen oxide and 8.7 trillion (with a "t") tons of carbon dioxide would have been emitted since 1995, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The opposition to nuclear power in general and Yucca Mountain in particular is more ideological than scientific. References to storing "waste" at a "dump" are totally false. As we have noted, the French long ago achieved energy independence by relying on nuclear energy for most of their power needs. But they also lead the world in processing this "waste" to create even more energy.

Jack Spencer, research fellow for nuclear energy policy at the Thomas A. Rowe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, says the "waste" to be stored at Yucca has enough energy to power every U.S. household for a dozen years. Since beginning operations, France’s La Hague plant has safely processed more than 23,000 tons of used fuel — enough to power France for 14 years.

The U.S. pioneered the technology to recapture that energy decades ago, then banned its commercial use in 1977. An energy plan that does not involve continued and even increased use of nuclear power is no plan at all.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, February 28, 2009

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Russia’s power over Europe 0

 Europe has allowed itself to become dependent on Russia for energy. To put themselves in such a position was folly beyond comprehension, and the Europeans only now beginning to realize it.  From Front Page Magazine:

Growing prosperous and confident on energy proceeds, Russia became increasingly assertive. It did not take the Kremlin long to figure out that it could use natural gas as a powerful lever. The idea is simple, but very effective: Friendly countries receive discounts, the less compliant are charged a premium, and troublemakers risk having their supplies cut off.

 

The last option especially causes cold shivers in Europe’s capitals given how vulnerable they are to such blackmail. To give an idea, Germany’s imports from Russia account for 43 percent of the country’s natural gas consumption. The figure is 70 percent in Greece and the Czech Republic, 60 percent in Austria, 83 percent in Lithuania, 46 percent in Poland, and 100 percent in Finland.

 

Three years ago Russia showed how serious it is about wielding its gas stick. On January 1, 2006, following months of bickering, the Kremlin suddenly cut off supplies to Ukraine. Since Ukraine is one of the world’s foremost consumers of natural gas of which a substantial portion was coming from Russia, the supply interruption in the middle of winter portended a national disaster. Even though the valves were reopened three days later, the episode sent a chilling message: “If you cross us, we will leave you out in the cold.”

 

Europe’s politicians got the point. The prospect of cutoffs and subsequent heat and electricity shortages looms like a nightmare in their minds. If they should be so afflicted in the middle of a winter, there is little chance they could politically survive the anger of their populations.

 

The situation is likely to grow worse in the years ahead. Should the EU continue in its misguided energy policies – chasing after inefficient renewable energy such as wind power – their dependence on Russian natural gas will only increase in the future. A recent paper by The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies offered a bleak prognosis:

 

“Looking 25 years out, it is estimated that 80% of the EU’s natural gas will be imported, with Russia providing up to 60%, equating to one fifth of the overall EU energy mix coming from Russia in the form of pipeline natural gas.”

 

The Europeans’ cravenness at the Nice summit can thus largely be explained in terms of their dependence on Russian energy. Hard hit by the financial and economic crises, an energy squeeze is the last thing they need. With winter approaching, they know all too well that cutoffs would have devastating consequences. Conscious of its power, Moscow is making high demands even though it would rightly deserve the opprobrium normally reserved for international pariahs. Sadly, its EU “partners” have not choice but to go along, their initial indignation over Georgia discarded for the sake of energy security and political expediency.

 

The EU’s humiliation should serve as a warning to us. Energy is the lifeblood of modern nations, and countries are not really free as long as they depend on others for their crucial needs. If we fail to make ourselves energy independent, somewhere along the line we will end up just like the Europeans: weak, spineless and pathetic. Like them we will have our strings pulled by some wayward regime, and we will have no choice but to march to the tune of its drumbeat.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

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Russia’s power over Europe 1

 Europe has allowed itself to become dependent on Russia for energy. To put themselves in such a position was folly beyond comprehension, and the Europeans are only now beginning to realize it.  From Front Page Magazine:

Growing prosperous and confident on energy proceeds, Russia became increasingly assertive. It did not take the Kremlin long to figure out that it could use natural gas as a powerful lever. The idea is simple, but very effective: Friendly countries receive discounts, the less compliant are charged a premium, and troublemakers risk having their supplies cut off. The last option especially causes cold shivers in Europe’s capitals given how vulnerable they are to such blackmail. To give an idea, Germany’s imports from Russia account for 43 percent of the country’s natural gas consumption. The figure is 70 percent in Greece and the Czech Republic, 60 percent in Austria, 83 percent in Lithuania, 46 percent in Poland, and 100 percent in Finland.Three years ago Russia showed how serious it is about wielding its gas stick. On January 1, 2006, following months of bickering, the Kremlin suddenly cut off supplies to Ukraine. Since Ukraine is one of the world’s foremost consumers of natural gas of which a substantial portion was coming from Russia, the supply interruption in the middle of winter portended a national disaster. Even though the valves were reopened three days later, the episode sent a chilling message: “If you cross us, we will leave you out in the cold.” Europe’s politicians got the point. The prospect of cutoffs and subsequent heat and electricity shortages looms like a nightmare in their minds. If they should be so afflicted in the middle of a winter, there is little chance they could politically survive the anger of their populations. The situation is likely to grow worse in the years ahead. Should the EU continue in its misguided energy policies – chasing after inefficient renewable energy such as wind power – their dependence on Russian natural gas will only increase in the future. A recent paper by The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies offered a bleak prognosis: “Looking 25 years out, it is estimated that 80% of the EU’s natural gas will be imported, with Russia providing up to 60%, equating to one fifth of the overall EU energy mix coming from Russia in the form of pipeline natural gas.”The Europeans’ cravenness at the Nice summit can thus largely be explained in terms of their dependence on Russian energy. Hard hit by the financial and economic crises, an energy squeeze is the last thing they need. With winter approaching, they know all too well that cutoffs would have devastating consequences. Conscious of its power, Moscow is making high demands even though it would rightly deserve the opprobrium normally reserved for international pariahs. Sadly, its EU “partners” have not choice but to go along, their initial indignation over Georgia discarded for the sake of energy security and political expediency.

The EU’s humiliation should serve as a warning to us. Energy is the lifeblood of modern nations, and countries are not really free as long as they depend on others for their crucial needs. If we fail to make ourselves energy independent, somewhere along the line we will end up just like the Europeans: weak, spineless and pathetic. Like them we will have our strings pulled by some wayward regime, and we will have no choice but to march to the tune of its drumbeat. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

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The importance of Alaska 1

 In relation to the issues of energy and national security, Alaska is right now the most important state in the US, not only for America but also for its allies in Europe and the Far East. In this consideration alone, Palin is an excellent choice of McCain’s to be his running-mate. 

 Investor’s Business Daily explains:  

Palin knows energy. She’s already figured out how to deliver energy to the U.S. without Congress — by championing state legislation to create a 1,712-mile natural gas pipeline across Canada to the U.S.

It was a major feat, negotiating with the Canadian government, educating lawmakers and getting the public behind her. In a decade, the $30 billion project will ship 4.5 million cubic feet of gas a day from the North Slope to Houston’s air conditioners, Iowa’s farm machines and Boston’s winter furnaces.

There’s little doubt this is the kind of leadership the U.S. needs. Not only will getting serious about Alaska help the economy, it will also help our allies in Europe and the Far East whose economies are severely battered by high energy prices and who are seeing some of the most direct threats from the petrotyrants.

John McCain’s pick of Palin shows he’s serious about energy — and about securing America’s future. Congress mustn’t ignore Alaska any longer. Petrotyranny is moving beyond economics and becoming a national security issue. Alaska is a big part of the answer.

 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 3, 2008

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Pelosi’s ignorance doing untold harm 0

 Nancy Pelosi does not know that natural gas has to be drilled for. 

Power Line reports and comments:

So it’s beyond dispute: Nancy Pelosi really does not understand that natural gas is a fossil fuel. This is truly shocking. Pelosi is one of the principal people responsible for setting the nation’s energy policy. In the House of Representatives, she has blocked exploration and development of natural gas resources as well as other fossil fuels, thereby raising the price of gasoline at the pump and energy costs across the board. And she has wielded this immense power while being ignorant of the most basic facts about energy. She is not qualified to carry on an intelligent conversation about energy, let alone set the nation’s energy policy.

The folks at the Institute for Energy Research have prepared a primer on energy for Mrs. Pelosi’s benefit:

Natural gas is colorless, odorless fossil fuel that is prized for its cleanliness and its many uses – including energy. It is produced in much the same way as oil – by drilling for it – and is often produced in conjunction with oil.

Pelosi’s ignorance is deadly; she says she is a big booster of natural gas, but she literally fails to understand that to get natural gas we have to drill for it, onshore and off. Hence this exchange yesterday:

BROKAW: Sounds like we’re going to have offshore drilling.

PELOSI: No, no, no.

 

Nancy Pelosi’s ignorance is costing every American money, impairing our economy, depriving us of untold hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs, and endangering our national security. One wonders how long voters will be willing to put up with Democratic control of Congress.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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