Wyoming Liberty Group

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The State of the Disunion

The President's State of the Union Address had some whoppers, as others have noted. It did have some things that are true and worth noting. Here for you consideration, a few comments on just the environmental aspects.

Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.

Really? As I have already noted, citing the US Energy Information Administration, coal, natural gas and nuclear power all cost less than wind or solar and will for the next 30 years.

On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, …

Um, only after subsidies, which those same Americans pay for in taxes. Like any form of crony capitalism, those subsidies distort markets, causing malinvestments and job losses – like Solyndra.

… and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.

True as far as it goes. As the Washington Post noted, “Workers in solar assembly earn $18 per hour. These figures are, indeed, higher than the median hourly wage for all occupations as of the most recent figures in May 2014, at $17.09. (However, the median hourly wage for employees in the mining industry — including coal mining — is also higher than the median hourly wage for all jobs — at $48.54.)”

We should also note that solar assembly is concentrated in California, which has a high cost of living. Wyoming mines some 40% of the nation's coal, and has a much lower cost of living.

In other words, your average miner will have to take a $30/hour pay cut and pay California taxes to take part in Mr. Obama's shiny bright future. Social engineering at its best.

The speech as officially posted includes an amusing graph.


It purports to show a correlation between CO2 concentration and the average temperature. It covers the period from roughly 1880 to 2015. Yeah, right. Let's take a look at the period from roughly 1998 to 2016: no discernible increase in the planet's temperature. Yet this is the period during which almost a third of man made CO2 so far was released into the atmosphere.

Alternatively, let's pick another range of data. Patrick Moore informs us that “we can see that temperature has risen at a steady slow rate in Central England since 1700 while human CO2 emissions were not relevant until 1850 and then began an exponential rise after 1950. This is not indicative of a direct causal relationship between the two. After freezing over regularly during the Little Ice Age the River Thames froze for the last time in 1814, as the Earth moved into what might be called the Modern Warm Period.

So this graph is a fine example of cherry picking your data to show the results you want. But what did you expect: this is politics, not science.

Finally, a statement with which we can agree:

Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.

True enough, even with the bad grammar. But with absolutely no thanks to Mr. Obama, the EPA or any other part of the federal government or the environmental alarmists. Low gasoline prices, low petroleum prices, and low natural gas prices are all due to something the NIMBYs and other alarmist oppose vociferously: fracking. So thanks go to the oil and gas fracking industries, not Mr. Obama.

And as anyone who lives in Wyoming can tell you, it is not an unalloyed benefit, as rig counts have plummeted and oil and gas exploration crews scramble to find other employment. But that only shows that markets work.

The irony is that Mr. Obama did not set out to give us lower energy prices. This is the man who famously said, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” But if the Clean Power Plan survives very long into the next administration, he will get his wish.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017
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