Despite ongoing controversy over the federal government’s scandalous loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt Solyndra, a $25 billion green-car loan fund has managed to avoid the congressional guillotine. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which was established during the Bush years and began dispensing funds during the Obama administration, is designed to provide debt capital to the auto industry and assist manufacturers in retooling facilities and equipment and improving fuel economy for vehicles manufactured in the United States.
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama vowed to "break our dependence on oil" and pledged that the United States would "become the first country to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015." Considering the ATVM loan program and consumer offerings such as Cash for Clunkers, the President’s proclamation is not a market goal, but a government goal, and as he perceives it, such a target is only achievable through government-sponsored loans and subsidies.
The ATVM program has become a hot target for conservatives, but Senate Republicans choked legislative efforts from House Republicans to shave the $25 billion program by $1.5 billion to help avert a government shutdown and outweigh new spending for disaster relief.
Republican Representative Darrell Issa has been portrayed by the media as being one of the more fiscally conservative members of the House. A recent revelation contradicts that portrayal, as it has been discovered that Issa has been trying to redirect federal money for green jobs in his own district in California.
In January of 2010, Issa sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking for his support on a federal loan for an electric car maker. The letter read, “Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Moters will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district.”
The letter surfaced after Issa was harshly critical of the Obama administration for its crony capitalism on behalf of two companies: Solyndra and Lightsquared. With Solyndra, there have been high-profile hearings on the $535 million federal loan guarantee to the California solar power company that declared bankruptcy last month. In the case of LightSquared, House Armed Services Committee Republicans are expressing support for an "aggressive investigation" into why the company received regulatory approvals from the FCC despite well-documented concerns that its planned satellite-terrestrial broadband network would interfere with GPS — including national security.
As the Solyndra bankruptcy debacle begins to unwind, President Obama and political leaders will find that an increasingly bright light is shone on the federal government’s mischievous administration of green energy loans and subsidies. William Yeatman, energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — a think tank promoting free markets and limited government — testified at a House Water and Power Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday on a contentious loan program orchestrated by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy.
Packaged in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus plan — the $3.25 billion WAPA loan was authorized to finance various energy projects relating to renewable energy generation. Naturally, the solar technology manufacturer Solyndra, and its controversial bankruptcy, recent FBI raid, and special-interest scandal that left taxpayers on the hook for $535 million, has brought into question the financial viability of taxpayer-funded investments in green energy.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the TRAIN Act, which calls for establishing a committee to analyze the economic impact of recent regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Representatives John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced the bill in May. "TRAIN" is short for the bill's imposing title, "Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011."
"Taxpayers deserve an honest accounting how much EPA's regulations are costing our economy and hurting American consumers," declared Sullivan. "[T]he EPA's regulatory train wreck is killing our economy and costing American jobs."
The bill includes an amendment to delay EPA's Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology) and new transport rules which set unprecedented emissions standards on large institutions. It forces EPA's rules to wait six months after completion of the TRAIN Act analysis.
Regardless of global temperatures, fewer people are dying from extreme weather events, according to a new study published by the libertarian think tank Reason Foundation. Its research revealed the global weather-related death rate has declined by 98 percent since the 1920s. Deaths from severe weather now contribute only 0.07 percent to global mortality.
The authors analyzed more than a century of data and chronicled deaths caused by extreme weather worldwide between 1900 and 2010. They found the most dangerous decade to be 1920 to 1929 when 241 deaths per million people in the world occurred annually. That number declined to 208 in the 1930s and reached an astounding low at 5.4 deaths per million per year from 2000 to 2010. They noted the impressiveness of these statistics "in spite of a four-fold rise in population and much more complete reporting of such events." The discovery led them to title their report Wealth and Safety: The Amazing Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather in an Era of Global Warming, 1900-2010.
Publishers of the Times World Atlas are under fire for exaggerating ice loss in Greenland and are "urgently reviewing" their newest map of that country. HarperCollins claims the latest edition of its atlas, published September 15, depicts the world "at its most fragile," but scientists say it shows a dream world. One expert told Reuters the atlas suggests Greenland's massive ice sheets are shrinking at a rate that "could easily be 20 times too fast and might well be 50 times too fast."
HarperCollins admitted it erased 15 percent of Greenland's ice cover from its previous 2007 atlas, an amount Elizabeth Morris of Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute said "would lead to a sea level rise of 1 metre," according to Varsity. She and six colleagues wrote a letter to the publisher calling the mistake "implausible" and "stupid." Glaciologist Poul Christofferson also signed the letter and told Reuters that "a sizable portion of the area mapped as ice-free in the Atlas is clearly still ice-covered."
After days of media hype, NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) fell into the Pacific Ocean without — it would seem — having harmed so much as the proverbial fly. The satellite had orbited Earth for 20 years without receiving much public attention. Launched by the space shuttle Discovery in 1991, UARS had quietly gone about its work until its inevitable, inexorable descent hurtled the six-ton satellite into the public spotlight at the very hour of its death.
UARS’ function was to study the ozone layer of Earth’s atmosphere. The satellite’s mission was only supposed to last for three years, but — with a longevity strikingly similar to that of NASA’s Mars landers — UARS continued to function over a decade after the conclusion of its scheduled mission. When the Bush administration reduced funding for the Earth Science Enterprise, the UARS was officially decommissioned, and the satellite was dropped from its higher orbit in December 2005. It was this final burn that led to the UARS’ fall from space nearly six years later.
According to press reports, the satellite harmlessly dropped into the Pacific Ocean. FoxNews noted:
The government of Uganda and the“carbon credits” firm New Forests Company — accredited by the United Nations and largely financed by the World Bank and the European Union — are under intense public pressure after evidence emerged that over 20,000 poor Ugandan farmers were brutally evicted from their lands in order for the U.K.-based company to plant trees. The atrocities, publicized in a September 22 report by the non-profit aid group Oxfam, have made headlines around the world.
Under the guise of saving the environment from global warming and climate change, armed enforcers reportedly burned locals’ houses to the ground — along with at least one child who was inside his home when it was set ablaze. The goon squads also reportedly terrorized and beat the residents, threatening to murder anyone who resisted.
“We were beaten by soldiers. They beat my husband and put him in jail,” Naiki Apanabang, who obtained her family’s land in recognition of her grandfather’s military service, told Oxfam investigators. “The eviction was very violent.” Apanabang and her eight children no longer have enough food to eat — let alone money for schooling.
In the Republican presidential debate last evening, some of the candidates passionately stated that the Environmental Protection Agency should be eliminated. It’s a position that sounds strange to some ears. As a respondent in a Fox News focus group said after the debate, and this is a paraphrase, “This all sounds good when you fixate on the minutia, but we can’t just end the EPA.”
This attitude is no surprise. The one exception to the law that it’s easier to destroy than create is big government programs and bureaucracies. Once they’re the status quo and people become accustomed to their existence, folks just cannot imagine how they could live without them. But is it really true that we’d get a visit from the Smog Monster if the EPA went extinct? And does it really advance the good on balance? Let’s examine the matter.
Funny, isn't it? Whenever we see Republicans pinning a tale of profligate spending on the Democratic donkeys, we find the Grand Old Party with its elephant trunks buried deep in the same money trough. Republicans both in and out of Congress have been quite vocal in lambasting the Obama administration over a Department of Energy guarantee for a $535 million loan to Solyndra, Inc., a California company producing solar panels.
The loan, approved the under the President's $790 billion economic stimulus program two years ago, was praised by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as the kind of investment in clean, green energy that will create jobs and keep America a leader in the global marketplace. But early this month, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, leaving Uncle Sam and the U.S. Taxpayers on the hook for roughly $528 million. The company is now under investigation by the both the FBI and the U.S. Congress.