Environment


Yesterday in the mail I received a letter in the mail from my local natural gas utility asking me to help the environment by adding carbon offsets to my plan.

wg_logo_02The letter reminded me that while natural gas is one of the cleanest sources of energy, it still creates some greenhouse gas emissions.  So to help celebrate Earth Day, the utility encouraged me to counterbalance the environmental impact of my use of natural gas and to sign up for the WGES Carbon Offsets Plus program.

Now while I have no problem is trying to do my part to save the environment- I recycle for example, this feel good program isn’t free.

Just as with just about every “save the environment” program or scheme- I pay about $200 for the privilege of mandatory recycling, there is a cost.  Washington Gas wants me to cough up 15 cents per therm, which they estimate would cost less than $1 a day to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  If they were a responsible business shouldn’t they be doing that already instead of trying to guilt their customers into coughing up more money?

How about telling me, how I reduce my energy use?  Oh, wait that would mean reduced revenues and profits for the utility, which they don’t want, while trying to be environmental do-gooders.

While Washington Gas has been able to con enough customers into buying more than 70,000 carbon offsets to date,  they won’t be getting any additional money out of me for this charade.

Read the letter here: WGES

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FishbowlDC  reports that actress Drew Barrymore swooped into DC last week to promote her new movie, “Big Miracle” where she plays a devout environmentalist, which is supposed to be in real life.

The operative words are supposed to be.  Fishbowl  noted that Barrymore flew into town  using a private airfield at Washington Dulles airport along with three friends and her fiancé.

It’s tough being green.

Looks like a case of do as I say, not do as I do.

In case you missed the new commercial from the NRSC about Obama’s energy plan here it is.

Obama and the Democrats don’t care how much it costs consumers they are determined to foist their green energy plans on all of us.

Nothing like seeing Obama being hoisted by his own petard.

Last night the Montgomery County (MD) County Council passed a 5-cent bag tax that they hope will help save the environment at the expense of residents’ wallets.

The tax comes on the heels of a similar measure passed last year in the District of Columbia which has reduced overall bag use but has come at a cost to the local economy according to a study by the Beacon Hill Institute and Americans for Tax Reform.

According to the study, the bag tax will result in the elimination of more than 100 local jobs and precipitate a $5.64 million decline in aggregate disposable income this year alone.

That in turn will create a sales tax revenue loss of $108,340 and a reduction in investment of $602,000 most of it in the retail sector.

The District which had expected the tax to generate $3.5 million in revenue received just $2 million in the first year as shoppers either used reusable bags or did without them altogether.

Yet the tax disproportionally affects the people who can least afford it.  D.C. residents with cars can stash reusable bags in their vehicles or carry a few items from the store to their car without a bag but that isn’t the case with those that rely on public transportation.

Residents who live in the economically deprived areas of the city are far less likely to own a reusable bag or feel like they can afford to buy one and therefore have little choice but to pay the bag tax.

And even though I don’t drink, I just can’t see patrons carrying a reusable bag into the liquor store to buy a bottle of Jack.  Maybe I’m wrong here but it’s hard to envision someone sitting in a park taking a swig from a bottle that’s in a reusable bag.

Maybe someone can manufacture a single serve size reusable bag.

Another problem with the bags is that they get dirty very fast.

At a time when hand sanitizers are ubiquitous in public places researchers found that reusable bags are “seldom if ever washed,” and found that almost all bags tested had large amounts of bacteria turning them in effect into moving Petri dishes.

This should come as no surprise to those that use the bags as they often carry far more than just basic groceries throughout the week.

And when was the last time you washed your reusable bag?

As a Montgomery County resident I will be minimally affected by the new tax as I do most of my shopping at the warehouse stores where boxes are the norm for packing groceries and other purchases but I will miss the occasional bag which serves as a trash can liner or an easy way to carry lunch to work.

But what about those that are already pinched by a sluggish economy and job market?  Also I know of at least one low price grocery store that already charges 5 cents to customers who want a bag to carry their purchases.  Are they now going to charge 10 cents?

Rather than charge twice as much for a bag they will probably just raise prices to compensate for the loss of income which hurts everybody.

The new tax won’t affect the County Council members very much as they collect their $94,000 salaries and whip out their dirty reusable bags but it will hit the pocketbooks of already overburdened taxpayers as they try to make ends meet and live the American Dream.

Less than two weeks ago Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires the state to obtain one-third of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal power by 2020.

Currently the state’s three largest investor owned utilities generate 18% of its power from renewable sources according to the California Public Utilities Commission which is just short of the 20% target the state set for them.  But since they made a good faith effort to achieve the goal they weren’t penalized for failing to meet the state mandate.

Efforts in other states to push renewable energy have not worked out as planned.  In Maryland despite an overwhelming majority in the state legislature Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley couldn’t get his wind farm initiative passed because of concerns about how much it would cost consumers.

One state study in California showed that the new law would cost utilities 7% than coal or natural gas use and that cost will probably be passed on to consumers.

But there is an out.  If the costs of moving the energy are deemed excessive the utilities won’t be forced to meet the new targets and this likely to happen more than the PUC envisioned.

Ratepayers have already taken it on the chin as an analysis of renewable energy contracts under the old law showed that a whopping 59% exceeded market prices. But they were helping the environment.

Backers of the law claim that it will generate 100,000 new jobs in the state but we have heard this son before.  In Massachusetts Evergreen Solar announced earlier this year that they would be closing a plant in Devens due to competition from China leaving the state holding the bag on $58 million in incentives they gave the company to set up shop.  That’s a loss of 800 jobs in a job starved state.

Environmentalists are under the illusion that going green will always generate net job growth but they often forget that the higher costs of doing so actually stunt job growth in the long run as companies affected by higher energy costs trim overhead to make up the difference.

Gov. Brown may have scored major points with environmentalists by signing the law but he should have been focusing on how he was going to plug the state’s $26 million budget gap rather than increase the economic burden on cash-strapped residents.

Much of the U.S. got hammered in January with record snowstorms and low temperatures that so far haven’t abated in February.  This has sparked even more debate about global warming. 

AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi weighs in with his view.

It was  40 years ago that experts and the mainstream media were calling for a global Ice Age.

Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs (CFL)  are going to become the defacto lighting standard across America starting next year when the first stage of the incandescent bulb phaseout begins.

But despite environemtalists claims that the bulbs are also goo for the environment that isn’t necessarily the case according Jason Cochran of Walletpop.com on his appearnce on The Early Show.

Watch the video here.

Cochran gave a balanced presentation about the benefits and drawbacks of the various types of bulbs and to his credit when the interviewer claimed that CFL”s were more environmnetally friendly pointed out that they contain a small amount of  mercury which oresents a potential hazad should the bulb break.

In addition to the mercury problem the bulbs are not manufactured uniformly.  According to a 2009 report by the United States Agency for International Development a survey of 300 plus Chinese manufacturers of CFL bulbs only 40 %  meet the national standards.  There is also no regulation of bulb exports and 70% of the Chinese bulbs are exported creating an uneven playing field for the consumer.

I have use these bulbs in my home and the initial promise of  a 10 year life turned out to be an outright lie.  Now manufactures claim an average life of 6.3 years but that must be under optimal conditions like that of how car manufacturers determine gas mileage because I haven’t seen anywhere near that for most of my bulbs.  They also conveniently forget to inform the consumer that they are worthless when lights are constantly being tunred on and off. That action reduces the life to less than two years based on my experience.

LED’s are probably the way to go in the long run. They remain cool to the touch, bright and energy efficient.  The only problem as Cochran points out is that they cost a lot more than either a incandescent  or CFL. 

But why do we need the government interfering with our choices when it comes to lighting our homes and making a mockery of the free market system this country relies on?

We don’t but like many other things reality doesn’t matter much in the environmentalist

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