7 Feb 2010, 2:19pm
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At Least 2 Dead, 7 Hurt in Connecticut Blast

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and JOSEPH BERGER, NY Times, February 7, 2010 [here]

A massive gas explosion Sunday rocked a power plant under construction in Middletown, Conn., where more than 50 people were working, setting off tremors that were felt miles away. Early reports indicated that at least two people were killed and 12 injured, according to authorities.

Al Santostefano, the Middletown deputy fire marshal, said the explosion, at about 11:25 a.,m., occurred as workers at the nearly completed Kleen Energy Systems generating plant were trying to suck natural gas out of the plant’s pipes, a procedure known as a “blow down.” He said the explosion and the resulting fire was contained to a single building known as the Power Block. …

State Representative Matt Lesser, who represents a district adjacent to the plant site and lives a little over a mile from it , said he was enjoying a morning cup of coffee when he felt his apartment building shake. …

The 620-megawatt plant on the Connecticut River was to have been both gas- and oil-fired. According to a report about the project’s financing, construction began in February 2008 and was scheduled to be completed this November.

Mr. Lesser said the project was being built on the top of a hill on an old feldspar quarry. He said that the facility was due to go into operation this spring and that tests were being conducted in preparation for that. Mr. Lesser added that the cost of the project — which he said had been delayed “due to a number of regulatory hurdles” — was about $1 billion. … [more]

RFK, Jr. 15 months ago: Global warming means no snow or cold in DC

By David Freddoso, Washington Examiner, 12/21/09 [here]

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who flies around on private planes so as to tell larger numbers of people how they must live their lives in order to save the planet, wrote a column last year on the lack of winter weather in Washington, D.C.

In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

… [more, with a snowstorm of comments]

6 Feb 2010, 11:59pm
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The global warming guerrillas

by Matt Ridley, The Spectator, Wednesday, 3rd February 2010 [here]

Journalists are wont to moan that the slow death of newspapers will mean a disastrous loss of investigative reporting. The web is all very well, they say, but who will pay for the tenacious sniffing newshounds to flush out the real story? ‘Climategate’ proves the opposite to be true. It was amateur bloggers who scented the exaggerations, distortions and corruptions in the climate establishment; whereas newspaper reporters, even after the scandal broke, played poodle to their sources.

It was not Private Eye, or the BBC or the News of the World, but a retired electrical engineer in Northampton, David Holland, whose freedom-of-information requests caused the Climategate scientists to break the law, according to the Information Commissioner. By contrast, it has so far attracted little attention that the leaked emails of Climategate include messages from reporters obsequiously seeking ammunition against the sceptics. Other emails have shown reporters meekly changing headlines to suit green activists, or being threatened with ostracism for even reporting the existence of a sceptical angle: ‘Your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists,’ one normally alarmist reporter was told last year when he slipped briefly off message. ‘I sense that you are about to experience the “Big Cutoff” from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.’

So used are greens to sycophancy in the television studios that when they occasionally encounter even slightly hard questions they are outraged. Peter Sissons of the BBC: ‘I pointed out to [Caroline Lucas of the Green party] that the climate didn’t seem to be playing ball at the moment. We were having a particularly cold winter, even though carbon emissions were increasing. Indeed, there had been no warming for ten years, contradicting all the alarming computer predictions… Miss Lucas told me angrily that it was disgraceful that the BBC — the BBC! — should be giving any kind of publicity to those sort of views.’ …

Contrast [that] with wattsupwiththat.com, a site founded in November 2006 by a former Californian television weather forecaster named Anthony Watts. Dedicated at first to getting people to photograph weather stations to discover how poorly sited many of them are, the site has metamorphosed from a gathering place for lonely nutters to a three-million-hits-per-month online newspaper on climate full of fascinating articles by physicists, geologists, economists and statisticians. … [more]

6 Feb 2010, 11:57pm
Latest Fire News
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Most evacuations called off after LA-area mudslide

By THOMAS WATKINS, AP, Yahoo News [here]

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (AP) — Thunderous mudslides damaged dozens of homes, swept away cars and pushed furniture into the streets of the foothills north of Los Angeles on Saturday as intense winter rain poured down mountains denuded by a summer wildfire.

No injuries were reported but residents and emergency responders were caught off guard by the unpredicted ferocity of the storm, which damaged more than 40 homes and dozens of vehicles.

Some 540 homes were eventually evacuated at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains after heavy rains overflowed debris basins, carried away cement barricades and filled houses with mud and rocks.

Another 300 homes to the east in Sierra Madre were evacuated for much of the day, but residents were told they could return home Saturday night when another wave of rain proved tame. Flash flood warnings for foothill areas also were called off.

Some residents of La Canada Flintridge complained they were not told to get out until the brunt of the damage was done — unlike during heavy rains last month when officials repeatedly warned foothill communities to be on alert.

The pre-dawn mud flow damaged at least 43 homes, and nine have been declared uninhabitable. … [more]

6 Feb 2010, 11:56pm
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Ancient hominids may have been seafarers

Hand axes excavated on Crete suggest hominids made sea crossings to go ‘out of Africa’

By Bruce Bower, Science News, Vol.177 #3 (p. 14), January 30th, 2010 [here]

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Human ancestors that left Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago to see the rest of the world were no landlubbers. Stone hand axes unearthed on the Mediterranean island of Crete indicate that an ancient Homo species — perhaps Homo erectus — had used rafts or other seagoing vessels to cross from northern Africa to Europe via at least some of the larger islands in between, says archaeologist Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island.

Several hundred double-edged cutting implements discovered at nine sites in southwestern Crete date to at least 130,000 years ago and probably much earlier, Strasser reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Archaeology. Many of these finds closely resemble hand axes fashioned in Africa about 800,000 years ago by H. erectus, he says. H. erectus had spread from Africa to parts of Asia and Europe by at least that time.

Until now, the oldest known human settlements on Crete dated to around 9,000 years ago. Traditional theories hold that early farming groups in southern Europe and the Middle East first navigated vessels to Crete and other Mediterranean islands at that time.

“We’re just going to have to accept that, as soon as hominids left Africa, they were long-distance seafarers and rapidly spread all over the place,” Strasser says. The traditional view has been that hominids (specifically, H. erectus) left Africa via land routes that ran from the Middle East to Europe and Asia. Other researchers have controversially suggested that H. erectus navigated rafts across short stretches of sea in Indonesia around 800,000 years ago and that Neandertals crossed the Strait of Gibraltar perhaps 60,000 years ago. … [more]

6 Feb 2010, 3:57pm
Latest Climate News
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And now for Africagate

by Dr. Richard North, EU Referendum, February 07, 2010 [here]

Following an investigation by this blog (and with the story also told in The Sunday Times), another major “mistake” in the IPCC’s benchmark Fourth Assessment Report has emerged.

Similar in effect to the erroneous “2035″ claim – the year the IPCC claimed that Himalayan glaciers were going to melt – in this instance we find that the IPCC has wrongly claimed that in some African countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent by 2020.

At best, this is a wild exaggeration, unsupported by any scientific research, referenced only to a report produced by a Canadian advocacy group, written by an obscure Moroccan academic who specialises in carbon trading, citing references which do not support his claims.

Unlike the glacier claim, which was confined to a section of the technical Working Group II report, this “50 percent by 2020″ claim forms part of the key Synthesis Report, the production of which was the personal responsibility of the chair of the IPCC, Dr R K Pachauri. It has been repeated by him in many public fora. He, therefore, bears a personal responsibility for the error.

In this lengthy post, we examine the nature and background of this latest debacle, which is now under investigation by IPCC scientists and officials. … [more]

For a view on the alleged effects of alleged global warming on the Sahara at complete odds with the IPCC, see:

Sahara Desert Greening Due to Climate Change?

James Owen, National Geographic News, July 31, 2009 [here]

Desertification, drought, and despair—that’s what global warming has in store for much of Africa. Or so we hear.

Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent.

Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall.

If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities.

This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago. … [more]

6 Feb 2010, 1:47pm
Latest Climate News
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Systemic Failure: Invasion of the Drama Queens

by Donna Laframboise, No Frakking Consensus, Feb. 6, 2010 [here]

I love the boys over at Climate-Resistance.org because they’re big-picture thinkers. Their analysis emphasizes the ethical, philosophical, and political aspects of the climate discussion.

This week they’ve been saying that replacing Rajendra Pachauri as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won’t solve our problems. Personally, I think he needs to go. But it’s true we’d be having a totally different discussion had numerous parties not failed us.

You have to be a bit of a drama queen to interpret a few degrees increase in temperature over the span of a century as a catastrophe. The fact that this mindset has been adopted by so many people means the failure has been systemic.

Let’s look at those who are now tainted by their support for the outrageously flawed 2007 IPCC climate report:

The United Nations, the wicked stepmother of this sad story. The IPCC is a United Nations creation. But it has no conflict-of-interest guidelines. It has no checks-and-balances to prevent its hijacking by special interests. It is also exempt from the sort of Freedom of Information provisions now commonplace in democratic nations. In other words, it lacks accountability and is structurally a disaster.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee, which devalued its most precious resource. The Nobel committee bestowed its seal of approval jointly on the IPCC and Al Gore - even though there are significant discrepancies between what the IPCC says will happen and what Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, dramatically implies. Now that the government of India has established its own climate body, and the government of the Netherlands says the IPCC got basic facts wrong (regarding the percentage of its country that falls below sea level), the Nobel prize has never seemed more tarnished.

NASA, supposedly a purveyor of scientifically-sound info. Until late January of this year, NASA parroted on its website the absurd IPCC claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by the 2030s. According to Jeffrey Kargel, at the University of Arizona, this statement “was just so wrong it wasn’t worth discussing.” Surely the question needs to be asked: if NASA is clueless about such matters, why should we pay attention to anything it says about climate change going forward? … [more]

6 Feb 2010, 1:13am
Latest Climate News
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Disclosing the Real Risks on Climate Change

by Paul Driessen. Townhall.com, February 6, 2010 [here]

We are not weighing in on the climate debate. We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace or due to what causes, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Shapiro insisted on announcing the SEC’s new “interpretive guidance” on climate change.

The Commission’s two Republican members objected that the Obama Administration was using the Commission to promote its global warming and renewable energy agenda (along with the EPA, NASA, Defense and Interior Departments and others). It’s true, but irrelevant. …

Investors certainly do have a “fundamental right to know” which companies are well positioned to address future crises and opportunities, and which are not – as we are frequently reminded by activist investor groups like Institutional Shareholder Services and CALPERS. However, these groups want to use the SEC decision to drive cap-and-trade laws and “endangerment” rulings forward, and drive hydrocarbon use and users into oblivion.

Many companies have been cowed into going along with this agenda. They seek to gain “a seat at the negotiating table,” curry favorable PR through “greenwashing” and “green-nosing,” protect themselves against lawsuits over CO2 emissions and global warming, or profit from renewable energy mandates, subsidies and stimulus grants.

But the “right to know” extends far beyond the activists’ narrow agenda. Indeed the lesson may be that this SEC guidance offers a tremendous opportunity for any company or investor wise enough to seize it. For the new guidance does not say companies must disclose only alleged risks from climate change.

It says they should also address impacts from legislation, regulation, international accords and their effects on business trends. This creates valuable opportunities for educating investors, customers, employees and voters about climate change issues. …

Carbon emissions trading on the Chicago Climate Exchange began at $1 per metric ton in January 2004. Prices then fluctuated wildly, reaching a $7 peak value in May 2008, before crashing to $0.10 in October 2009. Speculators who entered the carbon market on 5/30/08 lost 98.6% of their investment.

Investors have right to know all of this. That’s where the SEC guidance offers vital opportunities for intelligent investors and socially responsible companies. They should carefully consider how to comply with the Commission’s ruling in the areas it has identified. …

It is becoming increasingly clear that the real risks to businesses, investors, employees, and low-income, minority and elderly families are not due to climate change. They are the result of policies enacted in the name of preventing climate change. The SEC guidance can help identify risks and opportunities – and advise people about them in a timely, accurate, responsible manner. Socially responsible companies will seize the opportunity.

NAFO Urges Congress to Expand Use of Forest Biomass for Biofuels

Changes in the law needed to fully implement the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard

National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), February 5th, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its efforts to include forest biomass as a source of transportation fuels in its final rule implementing the Federal Renewable Fuels Standard, and called upon Congress to fix the flawed definition in the Standard excluding most renewable forest biomass from the program.

David P. Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO, said, “The EPA has taken positive steps to enable forest owners to participate in the renewable transportation fuel market. Unfortunately, the agency’s hands are tied under a statutory definition of biomass disqualifying as much as 90% of our nation’s private forests from contributing. This policy forfeits the carbon benefits of transportation fuels made from renewable forest biomass, which reduce carbon emissions by over ninety percent compared to gasoline.” … [more]

Federal agency denies endangered species protections for tiny pika

By The Associated Press, Oregon Live, February 04, 2010, [here]

SALT LAKE CITY — Climate change might be hurting some populations of the American pika, a relative of the rabbit, but not enough to warrant endangered species protection for the tiny mountain-dwelling animal, according to a decision released Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted a copy of its decision on a federal Web site stating that while some pika populations in the West are declining, others are not, so it would not extend Endangered Species Act protections.

If they had been allowed, the pika would have been the first animal in the continental United States listed because of the effects of global warming.

Although potentially vulnerable to climate change in some parts of its range, pikas will have enough high-elevation habitat to survive, the agency said.

“We acknowledge there is going to be some decline at some locations, but the pika is widespread enough, across a range of habitat, that it appears it would not threaten the long-term survival and existence of the species,” Larry Crist, supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Utah, said Thursday afternoon.

Greg Loarie, an Earthjustice attorney who worked on lawsuits pressing for protections for the pika, said science clearly points toward dramatic reductions in pika populations in the coming decades because of warming temperatures.

“To conclude this species is not threatened by climate change strikes me as an impossible gamble,” Loarie said. … [more]

No Greg, it’s common sense. The “science” you are relying on is claptrap.

5 Feb 2010, 11:13pm
Latest Climate News
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Critics: Emissions Bill Would Cripple Businesses

KOAT-7 News, February 5, 2010, [here]

SANTA FE, N.M. — Critics of legislation that would lay the groundwork in New Mexico for a future regional or federal cap-and-trade program are pleading with state lawmakers not to pass the measure.

They contend it would cripple businesses, shutter the state’s coal-fired power plants and lead to expensive utility bills for residents.

Officials with the New Mexico Environment Department and supporters of the measure dismissed the concerns during a hearing Friday before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They say the bill would not establish any cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

The legislation would allow state regulators to establish rules for early emissions reduction credits and voluntary offsets in preparation for a cap-and-trade program. It would also require emissions reporting for electricity imported to New Mexico.

5 Feb 2010, 11:07pm
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Too Little, Too Late on Renewable Energy Subsidies

The Rogue Pundit, Feb. 5, 2010 [here]

Most of the job creation under Governor Kulongoski has come via government spending, mandates, and subsidies. Meanwhile, Oregon is hemorrhaging the types of jobs needed to pay for those subsidies. But now that enough Democrats finally realize that energy subsidies are significantly cutting into government union jobs, it’s time to cut start curbing the subsidies [here].

Big wind energy projects no longer need state incentives, Gov. Ted Kulongoski said today, as lawmakers explored a plan to rein in the soaring costs of Oregon’s tax breaks for green energy.

At a meeting with newspaper editors from across the state, Kulongoski said the $11 million in state tax credits routinely given to 10 megawatt-plus wind farms has “run its course.”

“Do they need the state to subsidize them? No,” Kulongoski said.

They never did, and he knows it. Investing in wind and solar power raises the cost of energy, which slows the economy and causes a net decrease in jobs. The critical metric is not job creation but whether more jobs are created than destroyed. Why do so many politicians project ignorance of such basic economics? Here in Oregon, the reasons tend to be catastrophism and careerism.

- The governor and a few allies pushed the program because they’ve fallen for the exaggerations surrounding climate change. They’re so concerned that they’re willing to waste our money but rarely to change their own carbon-wasting lifestyles. Hypocrites.

- Many others supported the program because appearing green-and receiving green from those seeking subsidies-could help get them and keep them elected. Meanwhile, how many government employees who’ve been involved with the subsidies in any way now have jobs with companies that have benefited from the subsidies?

Politicians and other government employees who put careerism ahead of public service deserve to join the ranks of the unemployed. Politicians who approve spending plans which don’t place caps on things like subsidies are fiscally irresponsible and deserve to be unemployed. … [more]

5 Feb 2010, 11:00pm
Latest Forest News
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Rehberg wants wilderness ‘phase-in’

Plan addresses concerns that logging would be delayed in current Tester bill

By Jim Mann, Daily Inter Lake, February 5, 2010 [here]

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., is calling for a measure that would phase in wilderness designations as forest stewardship projects are accomplished through legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Rehberg has posted on his Web site comments gathered during 22 meetings held across the state in recent weeks, all focused on Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

An “overriding concern” at the meetings, Rehberg said, is that the bill’s wilderness designations would be immediate, “while there is no assurance that stewardship components would not be infinitely delayed by litigation.”

So Rehberg is proposing a wilderness “phase-in” that would time wilderness designations with active management of other federal lands that the bill addresses.

“While I appreciate the buy-in from the partnerships that helped draft the bill, this legislation affects all Montanans who deserve the right to be heard,” Rehberg said in a press release. “In addition to some other fixes, an incremental phase-in would help ensure logging isn’t bogged down by lawsuits after new wilderness areas are designated.”

But Tester is not so receptive to what he calls a “trigger” provision for wilderness designations.

Responding to an inquiry on the senator’s position, spokesman Aaron Murphy provided this statement: “The loggers who support this bill know trigger language won’t fly in Congress. Jon wants a practical bill that can pass Congress and become law, so folks can back to work in the woods. He’s considered this idea and many other, and he looks forward to discussing them with Congressman Rehberg.” … [more]

Note: Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson who adds, “Language deception from stem to stern…”

5 Feb 2010, 12:47am
Latest Wildlife News
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Multiple livestock attacks prompt removal of predators

By Nick Gevock, The Montana Standard, 02/02/2010 [here]

State wildlife officials have authorized another Big Hole Valley wolf pack to be wiped out after it repeatedly attacked cattle west of Wisdom.

Officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks moved to have the remaining one or two members of the Bender Pack to be killed by federal trappers. Last week trappers confirmed that the pack had killed a calf on a private ranch west of Wisdom.

The pack had already attacked and killed a calf on a different ranch nearby earlier in the month, prompting FWP to authorize that one wolf be removed. Trappers did that but the pack again got into trouble.

“This is the second confirmed depredation and it’s consisted of two different ranches,” said Nathan Lance, FWP wolf biologist in Butte.

The Bender pack formed last year when a wolf from the Bitterroot migrated into the Big Hole Valley and met up with a wolf from the Sapphire Mountains, Lance said. Hunters killed two wolves from the pack this season in Montana’s first ever statewide wolf hunt.

In addition, trappers killed one wolf from the pack in early December when the wolves were caught harassing cattle. Lance said the final decision to wipe out the pack came after the standard, incremental approach to dealing with problem wolves proved ineffective.

Corruption, collusion, or legal thievery

By Henry Lamb, Canada Free press, Tuesday, February 2, 2010 [here]

In 2008, the Forest Service issued a land use plan that environmental organizations didn’t like. The Earthjustice Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of four environmental groups. The suit took 15 months. The bill to the federal government from Earthjustice was $279,711.40. The Western Environmental Law Center filed another lawsuit challenging the same land use plan. They represented 15 environmental groups and sent the government a bill for $199,830.65. These two outfits claim that seven attorneys spent more than 930 hours (working full time, that’s 116 days), at rates between $300 and $650 per hour.

That’s good work if you can get it.

Think that’s bad? Read on.

In September of last year, the Wildearth Guardians sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency, asking the court to prohibit FEMA from issuing flood insurance to private citizens on 52,535 structures that may lie within the range of an endangered species. The group could not sue individual land owners unless they could prove that the structure caused the death or “harm” to any endangered species. This suit is designed to block the use of privately owned land, and to collect a handsome fee from the government for doing it.

The government keeps no record of these “environmental” lawsuits. Payments, however, are made from a single budget line item called the “Judgment Fund.” The Budd-Falen Law firm in Cheyenne, Wyoming has done a yeoman’s job in researching payments made from this fund to environmental organizations. They include:

2003 10,595 payments made Total paid: $1, 081,328,420
2004 8,161 payments made Total paid: $800,450,029
2005 7,794 payments made Total paid: $1,074,131,007
2006 8.736 Payments made Total Paid: $697,968,132
2007 6,595 Payments made Total paid: 1,062,387,142

During these five years, tax dollars have funded environmental groups to the tune of $4.7 billion dollars in attorney fees alone. Another $1.6 million was paid between 2003 and 2005 from the Equal Access to Justice Act. These funds come directly from the agency that loses the suit. This doesn’t begin to include all the direct grants and contracts that are awarded to dozens of environmental groups.

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