Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ohio Employer's Law Blog Daily Update

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 831-0042, ext. 140 or jhyman@meyersroman.com

Editor's Note: I know Jon personally and have followed his work for some time.  I think it's time to make the Ohio Employer's Law Blog a regular feature of Paradigms and Demographics.

Supreme Court ruling on EEOC conciliation obligations is a Pyrrhic victory for employers  -  One question that employers always ask upon receipt of an EEOC charge of discrimination is, “How does this process work?” After the EEOC concludes its investigation, it has two basic options. It can conclude that no reasonable cause exists that the employer violated Title VII and dismiss the charge (leaving the employee to file his or her own lawsuit in federal court within 90 days), or conclude that reasonable cause does exist (again leaving the employee to file his or her own lawsuit, or instituting a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf).

Before the EEOC can file its own discrimination lawsuit against an employer, Title VII requires that the agency “endeavor to eliminate [the] alleged unlawful employment practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” What happens, however, if the EEOC fails to conciliate? What is scope of the EEOC’s conciliation obligation? And does a failure act as a bar to any subsequent lawsuit filed by the EEOC?

These were the question the Supreme Court considered in Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC [pdf]. This is what the Court unanimously concluded:

1.   Courts have authority to review whether the EEOC has fulfilled its Title VII duty to attempt conciliation.

2.   The statute only requires the EEOC to notify the employer of the claim and give the employer an opportunity to discuss the matter. Such notice must describe what the employer has done and identify the employees (or class of employees) that have suffered. The EEOC then must try to engage the employer in a discussion to provide the employer a chance to remedy the allegedly discriminatory practice. Title VII does not, however, require a good-faith negotiation.

3.   The appropriate scope of judicial review of the EEOC’s conciliation activities is narrow, enforcing only the EEOC’s statutory obligation to give the employer notice and an opportunity to achieve voluntary compliance. A sworn affidavit from the EEOC stating that it has performed these obligations should suffice to show that it has met the conciliation requirement.

4.   Should a court conclude (based on “concrete evidence” presented by the employer) that the EEOC did not provide the employer the requisite information about the charge or attempt to engage in a discussion about conciliating the claim, the appropriate remedy is to stay the proceedings and issue an order requiring the EEOC to undertake the mandated conciliation efforts. Dismissal of the lawsuit is not warranted in these circumstances.

Technically speaking, you can chalk this case up as a victory for employers, albeit a narrow one. The Supreme Court refused to hold that Title VII imposes a duty on the EEOC to negotiation in good faith, and that the agency satisfies its obligation to conciliate merely by providing notice and an opportunity to discuss. Moreover, a failure to conciliate doesn’t serve as a jurisdictional bar to litigation, but merely results in the EEOC being told to “try again, this time with meaning.”

If nothing else, this case sends a strong message that courts favor resolution, not litigation.

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An Ironic Drought In California

Victor Davis Hanson | Apr 30, 2015

http://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2015/04/30/an-ironic-drought-in-california-n1992114/page/full

The present four-year California drought is not novel -- even if President Barack Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown have blamed it on man-made climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California droughts are both age-old and common. Predictable California dry spells -- like those of 1929-34, 1976-77 and 1987-92 -- more likely result from poorly understood but temporary changes in atmospheric pressures and ocean temperatures.

What is new is that the state has never had 40 million residents during a drought -- well over 10 million more than during the last dry spell in the early 1990s. Much of the growth is due to massive and recent immigration.......Whatever one's view on immigration, it is ironic to encourage millions of newcomers to settle in the state without first making commensurately liberal investments for them in water supplies and infrastructure.

Sharp rises in population still would not have mattered much had state authorities just followed their forbearers' advice to continually increase water storage.  Environmentalists counter that existing dams and reservoirs have already tapped out the state's potential to transfer water from the wet areas, where 75 percent of the snow and rain fall, to the dry regions, where 75 percent of the population prefers to reside.

But that analysis is incomplete......To Read More....
 
My Take - If this sort of thing had to happen somewhere - I'm glad it's happening in California. If any state ever deserved it - It's California. If any governor ever deserved this crisis - It's Jerry Brown. This is the outcome of irrational, misanthropic and morally defective leftist/green thinking and policies.  Policies activists want the whole world to adopt.  Is there anyone out there besides me that thinks that to be green or a leftist is actually a diagnosis for insanity?

MSNBC Police Brutality Experts Are Incredible

April 30, 2015 by Ann Coulter 1 Comment

It’s beginning to look as if the Democratic Party can’t whip African-Americans into an anti-white frenzy to turn out on Election Day, and then say, “OK, thanks, guys! That’s all we need.”  How else do liberals explain the upsurge in racial unrest since Obama became president? Why would white racism — their view — latent for the previous 15 years, burst forth meteorically just as the country elected its first black president?

Did we elect this bumbling incompetent, then suddenly remember that we’re racists?

I have an explanation! It’s subtly alluded to in the title of my book, “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama.” What’s theirs?

I’ve tried looking on Salon, which is like a liberal website from IFC’s “Portlandia” (typical headline: “Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy”), but Salon shows no interest in exploring why white racism has suddenly exploded under Obama……. Qualification to become an MSNBC expert analyst: Be dropped on your head a lot as a child……To Read More…..

Baltimore as a Democrat City

April 30, 2015 by John Perazzo 1 Comment

Whenever there’s a crisis in America, Barack Obama is quick to demonstrate what a monstrously destructive individual he is. The riots in Baltimore are no exception, as we already hear President “Johnny One-Note” chanting the only song he’s ever known. It goes like this:

“A racist, uncaring, greed-driven America has turned its back on the poor, suffering black children of Baltimore and many other cities for decades, depriving them of the help, the funding, and the attention that they so desperately they need and deserve—and thus do we now reap the whirlwind of their long-festering, wholly justified rage.”

That, in a nutshell, is exactly what Barack Obama believes.

But because he’s a calculating and deceitful Radical-in-Chief, Obama takes pains to phrase things in ways that won’t offend the sensibilities of wealthy white liberal donors who dutifully view him as some type of soaring intellect, rather than as the rabble-rousing, myopic ideologue that he is. So instead, he feeds us endless portions of tripe....“Baltimore deserves the Third-World profile it has developed because it has expanses of crumbling, crime-riddled neighborhoods populated by low-income renters, an absent middle class, and just a few enclaves of high-income gentry near the Inner Harbor or in suburbs.".....In 1967, however, this prosperity began to vanish when Baltimore’s city government was taken over by a string of Democratic mayors who have continuously held power ever since, and have turned much of the city into a grim wasteland....... To Read More....

 

Just Another Race Riot

Posted by Alan Caruba @Warning Signs


When you’ve lived over seven decades in America, the news about another race riot is really not news. It’s just another race riot.

The latest is Baltimore and the theme for this one is police violence against an unarmed black youth. This was the theme of the Ferguson, Missouri riots last year and has been a fairly common theme since the arrival of the new century fifteen years ago. Such events included riots in Cincinnati in 2001, the Oakland riots in 2009, and the two most recent.

A December 2014 article in Real Clear Politics by Jack Kelly put the statistics in perspective. “Young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than are young white males, Pro Publica said. But because more than two-thirds of police officers are white and blacks commit about half of violent crimes, it stands to reason most police shootings would involve a white cop and a black suspect.”

Largely unreported is that “Black cops shot black suspects at essentially the same rate as white cops…”

For those of us outside of the black community and living in safe suburban zones surrounding our cities, the riots might as well be taking place on Mars. Why anyone would, as is often the case, destroy their own neighborhood, loot and burn down businesses (often black-owned) defies an answer.

Because riots offer television news dramatic images of violence and destruction, one can depend on coverage for a long as it lasts. Being photographed looting or engaging in violence against police and others seems to be one of the “perks” of rioting. Baltimore’s riot dominated the news on every channel Monday evening to the point one might conclude that nothing else of any importance was occurring anywhere in the world. The earthquake devastation in Nepal had to fight for the very few minutes of coverage it received.

It is astonishing to recall that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to lead many civil rights marches with so little violence, but it was the years concurrent with and following the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965 that saw large riots such as several in 1964 in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York. There were three just in New Jersey that year.

Having achieved the goals of the civil rights movement, historic federal laws, one might have concluded that rioting was no longer needed to call attention to the ills of the post-civil rights era.

You would have been wrong. The one that got national attention was in the Watts area of Los Angeles in 1965. The pattern continued with riots in 1966 and 1967. In April and May 1968 after Dr. King was assassinated, there were riots in 125 cities. The 1980s and 1990’s had their share of riots.

Just add Baltimore’s Freddie Gray’s name to the list of those who died either during an arrest or in police custody, sparking a riot. In the past the public generally backed the police, but now they are being depicted as undisciplined killers. The reality is that the police are the thin line of defense between us and the criminals whose job is theirs to arrest and detain. That occurs all the time. Police have more reasons to act in their own defense in a week than most of us will have in a lifetime.

As we learned from Ferguson, the original allegations against the police officer were totally false. Let it also be said that is not the only reason riots have occurred. A lot of them just seem to reflect feelings of alienation, anger, and dissatisfaction that bubble below the surface in black urban enclaves. Nothing is likely to change that.

So, as Baltimore cleans up the mess left behind by the latest riot, be assured that another is right around the corner somewhere. There is a core of law-breakers and angry blacks for whom virtually anything is excuse enough for a riot.

We had to pass through a Civil War to resolve the race-based ills of that era. Americans elected the first black American as President in 2008, but his race has not reduced riots during his time in office.

The lesson that we can draw from this is that, if you put enough people together in close proximity in a city where there is both wealth and poverty, where there are economic disparities between whites and blacks, you need only wait a while for the next riot.

Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vaitcan Heavies Silence 'Climate Heretics' at UN Papal Summit in Rome

Posted by JAMES DELINGPOLE @ BREITBART

VATICAN CITY – Papal heavies shut down an awkward question at a Vatican press conference today when a journalist asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon his views on climate sceptics.

Marc Morano, covering the Vatican climate conference for Climate Depot, asked Ban Ki-Moon whether he had a message for the Heartland Institute delegation of scientists who have flown to Rome to urge the Pope to reconsider his ill-advised position climate change.

But before he could finish the conference hosts interrupted to ask which organisation he worked for, then directed the microphone to a more tame questioner, while a security guard came over to mutter in Morano’s ear “You have to control yourself or you will be escorted out of here.”

Morano, together with Christopher Monckton (one of the Heartland delegation) and your correspondent, only narrowly made it into the carefully stage-managed conference where – as known climate sceptics – they were apparently not welcome.

“Ah. So you made it in here?” said a somewhat surprised looking member of the Vatican press team to Morano, when he realised that he had bypassed the Vatican’s security and infiltrated the press pack who had come to cover the conference.

As luck would have it, a heaven-sent shower of torrential rain had created such chaos that security wasn’t as tight as it might have been.

However, the three sceptics (Morano, Monckton, Delingpole) were watched very carefully throughout the proceedings lest they attempt to ruffle the feathers of key speakers Ban Ki-Moon, left-wing economist Jeffrey Sachs and Cardinal Turkson, the Ghanaian priest who has been co-ordinating the Vatican’s position on “climate change.”

In the end, Secretary-General Ban did answer a similar question, albeit one expressed more delicately by a journalist from the Catholic media, when he was asked what his views were on those members of the Catholic community who had reservations about the Pope’s position on climate change.

Perhaps this was a response to Ban’s rather bold and very moot declaration that “Religion and science are united on the need for action on climate.”

“I don’t think faith leaders should be scientists,” said Ban, in reply to the question. “I’m not a scientist. What I want is their moral authority. Business leaders and all civil society is on board [with the mission to combat climate change]. Now we want faith leaders. Then we can make it happen.”
 
Secretary-General Ban clearly didn’t need the help from the papal security. As he smoothly demonstrated – as later when he deftly swerved a question about “overpopulation” and whether his previously expressed views that Africa should keep its population down clashed with the Catholic doctrine on contraception – he’s more than capable of squishing inconvenient truths himself.

Republican Senators and the Battered Wife Syndrome

April 27, 2015 by Bruce Thornton 46 Comments

For 6 years Barack Obama in word and deed has battered the Constitution and slapped around the Republicans. Abetted by his Luca Brasi, Harry Reid, he has run roughshod over the separation of powers and his own oath to the highest law in the land. He has responded to Republicans’ complaints about his executive arrogance and unlawful policies with naked contempt and partisan calumny. With his minions in the press and the Democratic Party, he has vilified conservatives as racist warmongers and plutocrats indifferent to the plight of the poor. But instead of fighting back in kind, some Republicans have bent over backwards just to get along, a capitulation disguised as “bipartisanship.”....... George Mason, arguing against the idea that the Senate should originate money bills, said, “Should the [Senate] have the power of giving away the people’s money, they might soon forget the Source from whence they received it. We might soon have an aristocracy.” Benjamin Franklin agreed: “It was always of importance that the people should know who had disposed of their money, and how it was disposed of.” Whether by an oligarchic Senate or an imperial president, the unbalancing of the Constitutional order could be prevented simply by cutting off the government’s money.…..To Read More….

Savages With Cell Phones

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog 8 Comments
 
Race riots usually begin with criminality and end with criminality. They're protests by criminals on behalf of a dead criminal.

The stores with smashed windows aren't the means to express outrage, but the end. The purpose of criminality is criminality. The police exist so that stores can remain unrobbed and random pedestrians can remain unbeaten. The protests express opposition to that policy by robbing stores and assaulting random white people.

The police were never the problem. The looters and rioters were.

The counterculture has not changed dramatically since the 70's, but it has tossed aside any appearance of idealism. The new counterculture draws in two groups, disaffected upper middle class white youth and lower class black youth. Their goals are purely materialistic, looted iPods and government subsidies for housing, education and anything else they can think of.

Divestment is the common denominator. Neither the white leftist nor the lower-class black rioter is invested in his society. The white rioter is a globalist, the black rioter is an outsider. Neither are invested in the city and country they are busy trashing.

These are the children of the welfare state with little in common except a rejection of the commercial way of life. Neither the entitled white university brat or the posturing ghetto teenager has any interest in working. The businesses they smash are an alien thing to them. Small businessmen do not go about smashing stores. The people who do think of commodities as something they trick or intimidate others into giving to them. And that covers everyone from municipal unions to thugs driving around BMW's.

This lawless materialism is the essence of the welfare state. "Loot as much as you can, or someone else will." If you don't grab government benefits or sneakers in store windows, someone else will. The rich are grabbing, the pols are grabbing-- time to queue up and loot your share. Communism made this way of thinking so commonplace that all of Russia became one black market. And we are not far behind.

What kind of people behave this way? Those who have come to think of wealth as an infinite pile from which everyone grabs as much as they can. This is where the ethos of the socialist left and hip-hop comes together. Obama gleefully spending millions on himself and trillions on national giveaways for his donors and supporters is the most obnoxious fusion of this phenomenon.

The angry rioter is a sacred figure in the progressive pantheon of social justice. The shirtless men in bandanas carting away cell phones are so outraged by injustice that they are willing to take to the streets and do what progressive hipsters taking social justice selfies of themselves in souvenir t-shirts plastered with the face of the latest victim of “white supremacism” can only dream about.

The race riot isn’t a bubbling stew of outrage out of which wounded souls emerge to cry out for justice. It’s a complicated criminal conspiracy in which the perpetrators rarely suffer any consequences.

The rioters aren’t outraged, they’re usually bored young men, frustrated and lacking in empathy. Many of them have gang ties or a criminal record stretching back to kindergarten.

They’re the same people who commit crimes in any other non-outraged context.

The rest are there to get some attention while providing them with protective coloration. 9 out of 10 people screaming frenziedly while holding up “Black Lives Matter” signs would eagerly scream and hold up “Justin Bieber 4 President” or “Baltimore Loves the KKK” signs if it got them positive attention and a shot at being on television.

Technological savvy melded with barbaric behavior, the 21st century mobile devotee turned raider is a wake up call in more ways than one. These are not mere race riots, they are the self-organization of the end of our civilization.

The classic raid has come to the cities of West, its hallmarks are not frustration but careful planning, followed by a violent rush. They are the reemergence of an old way of life that most people think died with the Vikings.

The law banished the raider back into the dim pages of history, but law depended on a civilization which is now collapsing. Police officers need the support of the public to hold the line. And the left has now openly reverted to its pro-criminal advocacy while elements of the right, particularly those funded by the Koch Brothers, advocate for criminals.

The traditional raider saw himself as part of an outside group. The modern raider has global identities that are at odds with the country he lives in. When he joins a raiding party, it is as a member of one of those groups looting a society whose welfare is of no interest to him.

The left's motives for rebelling are different than those of minority looters. But the end result is similar enough. A disregard for the civilization becomes a disregard for its laws. And that leaves self-interest as the only hedge against anarchy. But what interest do people who do not work for a living have in preserving the businesses of others? None at all. As far as they are concerned, smash a store, it will collect the insurance, and reopen, or another will open up in its place. And even if it doesn't, then so what? It's not "our businesses" anyway.

The commercial tribalism of the rapper who conflates casual violence and criminality with honor follows a pattern of glorifying crime that predates and postdates race, its ubiquity dating back centuries, from the highwayman to the 1920's bank robber, and is almost as socially disruptive and even more contagious.

The narrative is the same. Its idealism and honor covers up the blatant materialism and greed that its lawbreaking enables. And the message is also the same. Civilization's end.

The return of the raider as an instant message enabled gang is a phenomenon at odds with progress. It is a warning that darker times are returning, that while everyone may pack phones that have more processing power in one inch than a room of computers did 30 years ago, the march of progress is moving backward.

But the real purpose of a riot isn’t to benefit the rioters. It’s to benefit those who incite the riot. The rioters and looters react in response to riot-friendly conditions created from above. If you build the political infrastructure for a riot, the rioters and looters will come.

The #BlackLivesMatter riots are the product of a new generation of Sharptons, ambitious activists feeding hate, of the New Black Panther Party’s obsession with becoming relevant, of the ragged hipster ends of Occupy Wall Street drifting from occupation to occupation, of Muslim agents dreaming of turning African-Americans into a fifth column and of Obama’s clumsy efforts to keep on playing community organizer by feeding racial grievances and then pretending to rise above them.

Those who gain from unleashing chaos and violence are not the powerless, but the powerful. Sharpton rose to his important role as Obama’s liaison on a trail of bodies. Someone operating here hopes to be the next Sharpton. Meanwhile Obama is playing a perverse fusion of Sharpton and MLK, amping up a bad situation and then telling blacks and whites that they need to rise above it.

As always, the ringleader tries to keep his hands clean while convincing the establishment that he can turn the violence on or off any time he wants to.

Obama exploits the riots he cultivated for his own political ends. The looter at the top is not through looting yet.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Calbuco Volcano

Calbuco volcano, Chile @SegHumana

A Letter to Dr. Oz from a PhD Microbiologist

Posted @ The American Council of Science and Health on by admin

Today we give a mega-shoutout to Alex Berezow over at RealClearScience for his brilliant letter to Dr.Oz.

Berezow’s letter is arguably the clearest and most convincing piece written about the entire affair. He demonstrates that Oz is not only the quintessential hypocrite, but is so lacking of the ability to offer a scientific rebuttal to any criticism about him that his “response” is nothing but a series of amateurish attacks—some of which are both wrong and amateurish—against those who dared to question whether he still belonged on the faculty at Columbia University.

Some of our favorite quotes:

“While I understand your desire to defend your reputation, your rebuttal failed to address any of the scientific and ethical concerns raised in the letter. Instead, your statement was full of ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies. Such a rejoinder is not what I would expect from somebody claiming to be a scientist (as you do), but far more typical of a person who has been thoroughly defeated in a scientific debate.”

“In fact, your response reminds me of the sort of outburst one regularly hears from anti-vaxxers, anti-GMOers, climate change deniers, and the like.

(Editor's Note:  It amazes me someone can be so clear on everything except climate change.  On this he's on clearly muddled. RK)

On smearing Dr. Henry Miller’s (the originator of the letter) credentials:

“Furthermore, on your TV show, you sent your ‘investigative journalist’ out to smear Dr. Miller’s reputation. Nowhere in the segment did she seriously discuss Dr. Miller’s credentials, such as him being the Founding Director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. That makes Dr. Miller perhaps the nation’s #1 expert on GMOs and biotech regulation.”

On his smearing of ACSH: “Let’s also set aside the fact that combating chemophobia and pseudoscience, which is what ACSH does, is necessary because of people like you. And, let’s set aside the fact that, as a non-profit, ACSH has to raise money from somebody, and industry is just as good as anybody else.”

Also: “I would like to focus on the fact that you take money from companies, too, such as Walmart, IcyHot, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”

And our favorite: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with making lots of money. But, how is your criticism of ACSH’s finances anything other than pure, unadulterated hypocrisy??”

Berezow closes with the following: “That decision, to put integrity first, almost certainly won’t earn me much fame or fortune. But, injecting science and reason into public debates allows ‘America’s Microbiologist’ (if I may) to sleep with a clear conscience.” Ouch.

ACSH’S Dr. Josh Bloom, a frequent (and somewhat obnoxious) critic of Oz says, “While most people were focusing on Oz’s quack products, whether he should remain at Columbia, and the benefits (or lack thereof) or ‘alternative medicine,’ Berezow spent considerable time researching who the ‘real’ Oz is, and it isn’t pretty.”

——————————————————————————————————

Other Oz Tidbits

A group of 1,300 doctors was polled, and Oz does not fare well: Fifty seven percent said that Oz should resign. Four percent said that he should have his medical license revoked.

And just to be extra thorough, 22 percent said he should resign AND have his license revoked.

This left a modest 18 percent of doctors who said that Oz should do nothing and they respected him as a doctor.

You might want to try to find out if any of the 18 percent are in your insurance plan, and then scroll down a bit.

And it gets worse. You do not want to be on the wrong side of John Oliver. It won’t be pretty.

“Not pretty” doesn’t even do justice to what Oliver had to say about Oz. One could make a reasonable argument that it violated the Geneva Convention, but it sure was fun to watch.

Don’t miss it.

Southern Africa Looks To Prosper From Rich Coal Resource

Benny Peiser's Global Warming Policy Foundation Reports:
Matt Ridley: Africa Needs To Be Rich – Rather Than Green

One of the most energy-starved regions on the planet, southern Africa, is gearing up to build a fleet of more than a dozen coal plants to eliminate rolling power cuts. South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are all in the process of putting together agreements with independent contractors to build coal-fuelled thermal electric plants. If there’s one thing that southern Africa has plenty of, it’s coal. According to the Southern Africa Development Community’s master plan for energy, proven coal reserves are about 32 billion tonnes of economically recoverable reserves; the estimated total resources are more than ten times that figure. --Gavin du Venage, The National, 25 April 2015

Without abundant fuel and power, prosperity is impossible: workers cannot amplify their productivity, doctors cannot preserve vaccines, students cannot learn after dark, goods cannot get to market. Nearly 700 million Africans rely mainly on wood or dung to cook and heat with, and 600 million have no access to electric light. As the International Energy Agency recently put it in a recent report, “increasing access to modern forms of energy is crucial to unlocking faster economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa”. Yet the greens want Africans to hold back on the cheapest form of power: fossil fuels. --Matt Ridley, The Times, 27 April 2015


You’ve got to hand it to Alan Rusbridger: he’s a great contrarian indicator. The editor of The Guardian launched his valedictory campaign to demand divestment from fossil fuels with a wrap-around promotion and the paper’s full moral force. The usually left-wing Guardian was going out of its way to help the plutocrats make money, a job usually reserved for us here at the FT. Investors should have listened, thanked Mr Rusbridger, and done the exact opposite. It turned out he was a perfect contrarian indicator. He picked a six-year bottom in the US benchmark oil price, West Texas Intermediate. He lit a carbon-based bonfire under crude prices: WTI’s now up 30 per cent, the biggest rally over such a short period since 2009 (and before that, 2002). --James Mackintosh, Financial Times, 27 April 2015

If the [fossil fuel] divestment campaign succeeds, the example of tobacco shows the likely effect. As a sector it’s been shunned by many investors for a long, long time, while demand from addicts around the world has held up nicely. As a result, tobacco shares have been the best-performing investment over the past century for those willing to buy in (the same applies to lots of “sin” stocks: a higher cost of capital implies a higher return for those who supply the capital). --James Mackintosh, Financial Times, 27 April 2015


The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe. "We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market." Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest. --Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph, 27 April 2015

It is a bad time to be in the renewable energy industry

Posted by Marita Noon @ Brietbart News

2015 may go down in the books as the year support for renewable energy died—and we are only a few months in. Policy adjustments—whether for electricity generation or transportation fuels—are in the works on both the state and federal levels.

While the public is generally positive about the idea of renewable energy, the reality of years-long policy implementation that offers it special favors has changed public opinions. An October 2014 report in Oklahoma’s Enid News titled: “Wind worries?: A decade after welcoming wind farms, states reconsider,” offers this insightful summary:

“A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace, envisioning a bright future for an industry that would offer cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for large landowners, especially in rural areas with few other economic prospects. To ensure the opportunity didn’t slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks. But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms.”

But, it isn’t just wind energy that has fallen from favor. 2015 state and federal legislation reflects the “reconsider” prediction. Likewise “powerful” lobbyists are resisting the proposed reforms.

Oklahoma is just one state in what has become a new trend.

About a decade ago, when more than half of the states enacted strict Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), Oklahoma, and a few other states, agreed to voluntary targets. Now, nearly one-third of those states are reconsidering the legislation that sounded so good in a different energy era. Back then, it was widely believed that there was an energy shortage and “dealing with global warming” was a higher public priority.

“Roughly 30 bills relating to the Oklahoma wind industry have been filed in the state legislature in the 2015 session, including at least one targeting the tax breaks and others attempting to alter regulatory policies,” reports Fox News. On April 16, the Oklahoma House voted, 78-3, to eliminate the wind energy tax credit. The measure now moves to the Senate, which will review a companion bill introduced by Senator Mike Mazzei—it is expected to pass and will likely be headed to Governor Mary Fallin soon.

Oklahoma isn’t the first state to reconsider its renewable energy policies. That distinction goes to Ohio, which in May 2014, passed legislation that paused the state’s RPS for two years. Governor Kasich signed it in June. Meanwhile, according to Eli Miller, the Ohio State Director for Americans for Prosperity: “the economic well-being of our working families and businesses can be factored in before moving forward.” The International Business Times projects that the two years a commission has to study will lead to a “permanent reduction.”

Earlier this year, West Virginia became the first state to repeal its RPS. With unanimous support in the Senate and a 95-4 vote in the House, renewable energy supporters are dismayed. Calling it “pure political theater and probably a flop,” Nick Lawton, Staff Attorney at the Green Energy Institute dismisses the move: “West Virginia’s withdrawal of its weak renewable energy policy is unlikely to significantly change that state’s energy markets.” Nancy Guthrie, one of the four Democrats who voted “No,” did so because she believes “we are running out of coal, it’s that simple”—which is, of course, totally incorrect.

Last month the Texas Senate voted to end its RPS and another program that, according to the Star Telegram, “helped fuel the state’s years-long surge in wind energy production.” The bill now moves to the House State Affairs Committee. It is expected to pass the House and be signed by Governor Greg Abbott. While Texas is known for its leadership in wind energy, the termination of the RPS will impact the solar industry as well. Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association, states: “Increasing uncertainty for our industry raises the cost of doing business in the state.”

Coming up, Kansas, North Carolina, and Michigan have legislation that revisits the states’ favorable renewable energy policies.

New Mexico and Colorado had bills to repeal or revise the RPS that passed in one chamber, but not in the other.

While Louisiana doesn’t have an RPS, it does have generous tax credits for solar panel installations that have exploded the cost to the state’s taxpayers. The credits were originally expected to cost the state $500,000 a year. In 2014 the payouts ballooned to $63.5 according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. Repealing or revising the policy is a key priority in the current legislative session.

“Taxpayer support for wind energy is also losing momentum in Congress,” says Fox News. It points out: “Capitol Hill lawmakers at the end of last year did not extend the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). And in March, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), failed to rally support behind an amendment that would have put a five-year extension on the PTC.”

It is not just wind energy that has lost favor in Congress. The Ethanol mandates—known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—are being re-examined, too.

On January 16, 2015, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the “Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015.”

More recently, a “former Obama economic adviser” issued a report that calls for changes to the 10-year-old RFS. Harvard University Professor Jim Stock served on the Council of Economic Advisers in 2013 and 2014. The Hill states: “His report comes at a time of growing angst among lawmakers, regulators and the industry over the future of the RFS, which mandates fuel refiners blend a certain volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their traditional gasoline and diesel supplies.” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) supports the sentiment calling Stock’s report: “a key voice to a growing chorus of people who say the policy isn’t working.” It continues: “The report adds to a growing body of politicians and experts who are questioning the law’s effectiveness amid regulatory uncertainty and lower prices.”

Hawaii, uniquely, has its own ethanol mandate, but it, too, is coming under attack. KHON states: “Nine years after a major change at the gas pump was forced on Hawaii drivers, many are now calling it a failed experiment and want it gone.”

In both the case of Hawaii and the federal government, lawmakers are looking toward advanced biofuels that don’t raise food costs. However, the Environmental Protection Agency—tasked with implementing the RFS—has repeatedly waived or reduced the cellulosic biofuel requirements because, despite more than $126 billion invested since 2003, the industry has yet to produce commercially viable quantities of fuel.

Addressing dwindling investment in biofuels and growing skepticism, The Economist, on April 18, says: “Campaigners generally find it easier to fulminate against those which damage the environment or food security than to explain exactly how they ought to be grown.” It concludes: “Whether such bright ideas can be commercialised at scale is a different question. Some companies, indeed, are starting to give up. Several algae-to-fuel ventures in America are switching to the manufacture of high-value chemicals instead. Sunlight is a great source of energy. Biology may not be the best way of storing it.”

And this doesn’t include the public’s failure to embrace higher-priced electric cars—even with tens of thousands of dollars of subsidies and tax credits.

Looking at all the policy reviews, the trend is clear. As Watchdog.org, in a report titled: “Why repealing the renewable energy mandates is good for the economy,” concludes: “The best policy for the states is to leave energy consumption decisions to consumers in the market rather than legislate them.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

A message for Pope Francis

It’s not climate change – but energy restrictions based on climate fears – that threaten the poor

Paul Driessen

Pope Francis plans to deliver an encyclical on climate change this summer. To pave the way and outline the Pope’s positions, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a workshop on the topic, April 28 in Rome. The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Heartland Institute will be there.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, director of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and an author of the draft encyclical, says the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that “our planet is getting warmer.” Christians have a duty to help the poor, “irrespective of the causes of climate change,” and address what Pope Francis apparently believes is an imminent climate crisis. The encyclical will likely present global warming as “a critical moral issue” and increase pressure for a new climate treaty.

That raises serious questions, which I have addressed in many articles – and which prompted Dr. E. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to write an open letter to Pope Francis. The articles and letter reflect our years of studying climate change assertions and realities, and the ways climate-related restrictions on energy harm poor families far more than climate change will.

At the most fundamental level, too many IPCC reports and the apparent new papal position represent the rejection of Judeo-Christianity’s illustrious tradition of scientific inquiry, which has brought monumental improvements to our understanding of nature and creation – and to humanity’s once “nasty, brutish and short” lives on this planet. As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman explained, we begin with a guess about a law of nature. Then we compute the consequences that would result if our hypothesis is correct – and compare actual observations, evidence and experimental data to the predicted consequences.

If the hypothesis and predictions are borne out by the observations, we have a new rule. But if the hypothesis “disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong,” Feynman says. That is honest, genuine science.

Alarmist climate science is precisely the opposite. That distorted version of science began with the hypothesis that carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels cause global warming. It served as the basis for computer models that assume rising CO2 and GHG levels will cause planetary temperatures and sea levels to soar, and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts to increase in number and intensity. The models predicted many such “scenarios” over the coming decades.

But Earth stopped warming 18 years ago; no major hurricane hit the USA for a record 9-1/2 years; seas are rising at barely seven inches per century; and even IPCC experts agree that long-term trends in weather disasters are not out of historic norms and are not attributable to human causes. The CO2-driven global warming disaster hypothesis and models do not reflect reality and are obviously wrong.

So alarmists began talking about “climate change,” blaming extreme weather events on human emissions and manipulating temperature data. They say terrible things are happening at unprecedented levels, when they are not. Worst, they say we must slash hydrocarbon energy use that has brought once unimaginable health, prosperity, living standards and life spans to billions of people, after countless millennia of crushing poverty, malnutrition, disease, and death before age 40. Fossil fuels still represent 85% of the world’s energy – and they are essential if the rest of humanity is to catch up and improve their lives.

Denying humanity the use of still bountiful hydrocarbon energy is thus not simply wrong. It is immoral – and lethal. This is the real reason that climate change is a critical moral issue. No one has a right to tell the world’s poor they cannot use fossil fuels to improve their lives, or to tell others they must reduce their living standards, based on speculation and unfounded fears about a manmade climate crisis.

As Dr. Beisner notes, “Alongside good science in our approach to climate policy must be two preferential options: for humanity and, among humanity, for the poor.” This does not mean pitting humanity against nature, any more than to pit the poor against the rich. It means any effort to protect the environment must be centered on scientific truth and human well-being, and in particular the well-being of the poor, because they are more vulnerable, and less able to protect themselves. Climate alarmism does not do that.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating energy poverty – over 830 million because of coal. China connected 99% of its population to the grid and increased its steel production eight times over, mostly with coal, energy analyst Roger Bezdek points out.

Abundant, reliable, affordable motor fuels and electricity empower people and support mobility, modern agriculture, homes and hospitals, computers and communications, lights and refrigerators, job creation, life and study after sundown, indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, less disease and longer lives. In conjunction with property rights and entrepreneurship, protected by laws enforced by limited, responsive, responsible governments, fossil fuels will continue transforming lives and nations the world over.

They will also enable people to respond and adapt to future climate changes and extreme weather events, floods and droughts, heat waves, new “little ice ages” and other disasters, natural or manmade. More plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would enhance wildlife habitats and food production.

However, 1.3 billion people (the population of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe combined) still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and four million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and safe food.

Imposing fossil fuel restrictions and renewable energy mandates – in the name of stabilizing planetary climate that has never been stable – would perpetuate Third World poverty, disease and death. In developed nations, it would reduce living standards, affect everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do – and cause thousands to die during cold winters, because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

It would be a needless tragedy – an unconscionable crime against humanity – if the world implemented policies to protect the world’s still impoverished and energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate dangers decades from now, by perpetuating poverty and disease, and killing millions tomorrow.

Just eight years ago, Pope Benedict XVI warned that any proposed “solutions” to global warming and climate change must be based on solid evidence, and not on computer models, unsupported assertions and dubious ideology. He suggested that concerns about man-made emissions melting ice caps and causing waves of unprecedented disasters were little more than fear-mongering. He argued that ecological concerns must be balanced against the needs of current and future generations of people.

Pope Francis apparently does not share his predecessor’s view about climate change fears. However, if he is truly committed to advancing science, the poor and creation, he should reject climate chaos claims unless and until alarmists can provide solid evidence to back up their assertions and models.

He should recognize that the issue is not global warming or climate change. It is whether human actions now dominate climate and weather fluctuations that have been common throughout Earth and human history – and whether those actions will cause dangerous or catastrophic changes in the future. Science-based answers to these questions are essential if we are to forecast future climate and weather accurately – and safeguard poor families, modern living standards and environmental quality.

Dr. Beisner has posted his letter to Pope Francis, for others to endorse this commonsense approach.

It is unwise and unjust to adopt policies requiring reduced use of fossil fuels, unless it can be conclusively shown that doing so will stabilize Earth’ fickle climate and prevent future climate disasters, Dr. Beisner concludes. “Such policies would condemn hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings to ongoing poverty.” We therefore respectfully ask Pope Francis to advise the world’s leaders to reject those policies.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.