Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vermont's environmental left turns on a "renewable energy" project

This morning Vermont Public Radio reported on the Lowell Mountain wind project.  The developer,  Green Mountain Power, wants to move the permitting process along faster because it needs to build the four hundred foot towers before federal subsidies run out at the end of 2012.  Surprise!  Wind power is not feasible without massive taxpayer subsidies.  But Vermont officials have made it clear they are not going to move quickly.  For years, Vermont's environmental community  has pushed "renewable energy" like wind and solar.  Now that a large wind farm is being developed, Vermont Natural Resources Council, all too predictably, has "concerns" about the environmental impact of the project.  The leftist environmental community does not really want green energy like nuclear and wind power.  It wants us all to reduce energy use---a goal that if achieved would result in massive regulation of "everything we our personal and private lives", as Governor Shumlin has proclaimed.   So, with the assistance of the State's bureaucracy, VNRC is going to slow down the process.  GMP is no longer the environmental darling developing a politically correct project;  it will be forced to go through the process like other supplicants to Vermont's environmental bureaucracy.  The VPR story also revealed the Agency of Natural Resource's attitude towards development it does not favor:  "Don't rush us. We don't care about the economics of your project.  We will go at our own pace, with no regard for your needs."  ANR  bureaucrats, who receive their paychecks every other week without fail, reveal their disdain for those who risk their capital to build developments that would create private sector jobs.  Environmental concerns can be resolved by a bureaucracy which helps applicants meet environmental permit requirements.  Not Vermont's ANR.  Their  imperious attitude towards applicants has been a feature of the agency for decades.  The pace of permitting is slow because the bureaucracy  is slow.  Other states have figured out how to process environmental permits that meet environmental concerns far faster than Vermont.  In New Hampshire, major projects are permitted in 30 days, and New Hampshire is hardly an environmental wasteland. In Vermont, the same project would take years.   So GMP has learned that its favored project is no longer favored, and like other developers, it will likely lose massive amounts of money trying to chase a Vermont environmental permit before it loses its shirt when wind power is no longer subsidized.   It may be amusing to watch environmentalists betray a renewable energy project after pushing the renewable energy agenda for years, but the not so amusing fact is that Vermont  taxpayers and ratepayers will ultimately pay for this debacle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What a Chief Executive can do in six months

This from the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal  wouldn't it be great if we could have a Governor like this in Vermont? 

"When Ohio Gov. John Kasich took office in January, the state faced a $7.7 billion budget deficit. Last month, he signed into law a $55.8 billion budget that cut income taxes and property taxes and eliminated the death tax.
In a meeting with Journal editors last week, the Republican governor described this and other reforms that he has completed in his first six months in office. Ohio has lifted the cap on the number of charter schools that can be opened in the state. It has privatized five prisons and fundamentally changed its criminal sentencing practices so that those guilty of minor offences can now serve their time in community facilities. Someone "who didn't pay child support isn't put in a cell next to a murderer," said Mr. Kasich. This transition stresses rehabilitation for the criminals and cuts costs for the taxpayers.
Then new governor has also simplified the state's warren of regulations. For example, he has made the process of acquiring an Environment Protection Agency permit more efficient, and the number of pending permits has decreased by 75% since December 2010. He has also streamlined agencies such as the state Department of Taxation, which has cut its backlog of tax disputes to 6,900 from 17,500 cases in three months."

NPR's predictable leftward bias

Every morning,the predictability of NPR stories is dreadfully boring.  This morning, NPR's story on Republican's  "so-called"  "cut cap and balance" was to say it had "deeper cuts than Paul Ryan's budget", and then quoted Presidential press secretary who said it was "duck, dodge and dismantle".  No quote from the Republican sponsors. No mention of the fact that the Democrats, unlike the Republicans, have dodged their responsibilities by utterly failing to pass a budget; and, unlike Republicans, have utterly failed to introduce a debt ceiling bill;  no mention of the fact that the President has dodged his responsibilities by utterly failing to provide specifics in his debt ceiling talks. The other day, NPR reported that Republicans "claimed" the President walked out of the debt ceiling talks, but that Democrats "said" it did not happen--when in fact it did.  So NPR listeners are left with the idea, promoted by the President, and predictably babbled by NPR, that Republicans' positions are not legitimate or reasonable;  that the President is being the reasonable grownup,  when the opposite is true.

Then it had a story about a family who couldn't afford $25.00 in birth control, and as a result, had a baby--what a horrible result!--and therefore taxpayers should be funding birth control.  Those of us who work with people below the poverty level every day know that they can afford $25.00 a month for birth control.  But never mind. NPR continues its campaign to let us all know about all the terrible things that will happen when the government cuts spending. 

Then it had a story about how HIV retroviral drugs have increased the life expectancy of Ugandans.  It mentioned that the drugs became widely available in 2004, but never mentioned it was President Bush whose Pepfar program made possible for those drugs to be available to Ugandans.  Of course not. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Dodd-Frank's Unintended Africa

The Dodd-Frank bill is hurting our own economy in the name of "better oversight" of our financial services industry, but even I wouldn't have expected that it is also hurting the poorest among Africa's population.  According to today's Wall Street Journal, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank bill requires that anyone purchasing tin, tantalum, and tungsten in the Congo or neighboring countries must certify that the purchase is not supporting African atrocities.  If they cannot do so, companies must include the statement in their annual reports that their products "may be funding African atrocities".  The result is that sales of these materials in Africa has dropped 70% putting small time miners and an untold number of other Africans out of work while the atricities continue unabated.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yes Vermont Yankee: Lowell Mountain Wind Turbine Facility in Vermont: A Guest Post by Willem Post

Yes Vermont Yankee: Lowell Mountain Wind Turbine Facility in Vermont: A Guest Post by Willem Post

Sheffield Monsters

I was driving back to the office from Orleans Superior Court the other day, and as I was driving out of Barton up the long hill toward Wheelock and Sheffield,  I drew in my breath, startled.  Ahead of me, where the Sheffield hills were usually a summer green wilderness, monsters had appeared.  They looked like they were lumbering over the hills dwarfing by ten times the spruces, cedars and white pine,  their half a football field long arms ready to swoop up the cars traveling south up Sheffield Heights.   The Sheffield wind towers, over 400 feet tall, gave me the creeps.

Worse yet, these "renewable energy" ogres are  so inefficient that they  must be subsidized heavily by the taxpayers and ratepayers.  Wind farms cannot generate electricity at a profit on their own; so the long suffering taxpayers must cough up money for this latest political fad  Why?  Because it is politically popular to be in favor of "renewable energy", and wind energy not so incidentally helps politicians'  lobbyist friends to get some easy money from Uncle Sam and the State of Vermont instead of doing the hard work of making a profit by providing a product or service at a competitive price that the public wants and needs.  Its a win-win for politicians and a lose-lose for taxpayers and ratepayers.

Recently  VPR broadcast one of its nearly daily press releases from our Congressional delegation  touting their support for eliminating ethanol subsidies.  Ethanol used to be the latest "renewable energy" fad; and Senator Leahy, who recently bragged about eliminating tax subsidies for ethanol voted for those same subsidies  in years past.  VPR of course, did not note that hypocrisy.  Ethanol has been subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of  six billion dollars a year; with the demand for ethanol raising prices for corn up 17% in 2011 alone.

Vermont's ACT 250, which is supposed to regulate development, fails when politically powerful interests support projects like wind power.  In Hardwick, the building of a cell tower 180 feet tall has been blocked for a decade under the pretense that it violates Criterion 8 of the Act which requires the project not to "have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area ...[or] aesthetics..."  Vermont courts have interpreted that requirement to mean that the project should be "in harmony with its surroundings".

Monster wind towers on Sheffield Heights are not in harmony with their surroundings.  But never mind. Powerful politicians and powerful lobbyists trump taxpayers, rate payers,  and small town residents every time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Civic versus Moral Responsibilities

On Sunday our pastor, Brian Foreman, gave a message on our duties to help other people. Jesus taught that each of us has a personal responsibility to help people in need. That responsibility is distinct and completely apart from the government. Paying taxes so the government and therefore other taxpaying people can do the caring for us does not cut it. Brian made an excellent explanation of the distinction between civic and moral or Christian duties towards others. Here's the link to his message:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The narcisissm of our Commander in Chief

President Obama repeatedly refers in his speeches to himself and his family.  It has become quite tiresome.  Here is a comparison of two speeches by two very different Presidents concerning the capture of high value targets.  It neatly demonstrates Pres. Obama's narcissism and President Bush's graciousness: * Hat tip to George Coppenrath for sending this in an email

George W. Bush speech after capture of Saddam Hussein:
The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq .
The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many
dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.

Barack  Obama speech, Sunday, May 1, 2011:
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as I continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information
about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan

VPR: Bernie Sander's taxpayer funded radio station

VPR is at it it is nearly every day.  Today, they had a "story" about Sanders support for "raising revenue"--a Democrat talking point for raising taxes dutifully parroted by VPR.  Sanders stated we needed to have "shared sacrifice" --another talking point for raising taxes on the "rich",  who pay far more than their fair share of taxes than other segments of the population.  Sanders of course was not talking about the 49% of Americans who pay no income tax at all--and VPR would never ever question Sanders' hypocrisy on that issue.   Instead it also quoted a "professor",  who of course praised Sanders.  And of course there is absolutely no opposing view broadcast by VPR.  Sanders bashed Republicans, but VPR would never ever ask any Republican to rebut Sanders.  VPR does not even consider asking Pat McDonald,  Vermont Republican Chair, for comment.  When Sanders wants to promote himself, all he needs to do is call up VPR.   Taxpayers should not be funding this station.