Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

State department: not building the Keystone XL pipeline could increase greenhouse gas emissions

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Not building the 875-mile Keystone XL Pipeline could result in the release of up to 42 percent more greenhouse gases than would be released by building it, according to the State Department.

Not building the pipeline “is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the [Canadian] oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department noted in a long-awaited environmental report released January 31st.

But the “No Build” option is likely to result in an increased number of oil spills, six more deaths annually, and up to 42 percent higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the State Department concluded.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Bakken oil fields of Montana and South Dakota before connecting to an existing pipeline in Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project will create an estimated 42,100 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

This report follows last week’s report showing that the pipeline would have no major environmental impact.

Excerpt:

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists’ hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.

The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada’s minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.

Now the State Department is one of the most liberal departments in the government. Unfortunately, this has not appeased the great climate science experts in Hollywood, who donate so much money to Democrat election campaigns. So long as the money keeps flowing from the high school drop-out celebrities, don’t expect this pipeline to get built. For the Democrats, it’s all about staying in power.

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Scientists go to Antarctic to prove global warming, get trapped in ice

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

In an event chock-full of bitterly cold irony, perhaps even Al Gore has noticed that multiple icebreakers couldn’t free a boat stuck in Antarctic ice that global warming was supposed to have melted.

Few of the media reports on the plight of the Russian-flagged research vessel MV Akademik Schokalskiy have noted the irony of a ship full of climate scientists getting stuck in an Antarctic ice sheet so thick that early attempts at breaking through the ice to free them were failures.

“We’re stuck in our own experiment,” the Australasian Antarctic Expedition said in a statement. “We came to Antarctica to study how one of the biggest icebergs in the world has altered the system by trapping ice. We … are now ourselves trapped by ice surrounding our ship.”

In a statement only climate-change die-hards could make, the group said, “Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up.”

A Chinese icebreaker was unable to reach the ship, and another vessel, the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, got within 10 nautical miles of the stranded ship but couldn’t see it through a driving blizzard and had to turn back to open water, Fox News reported.

A makeshift helicopter pad on the ice sheet was being readied for a helicopter rescue.

[...]Expedition leader Chris Turney, a professor of climate change at Australia’s University of New South Wales, dismissed the irony of their situation, claiming the ice they were trapped in was old ice likely formed from an iceberg that broke away years ago, and proves nothing.

The rest of the article contains a brief listing of the facts on global warming and ice extents:

Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record-large extent for a second straight year.

A review of the Icesat satellite data from 1992 to 2008 showed a net gain in ice mass in Antarctica — not a decline.

In 2013, the ice reached 19.51 million square kilometers, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center website.

That number topped the record-high level set in 2012 of 19.48 million square kilometers. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition has now found itself trapped in some of that ice as its leaders try to explain away the ice’s presence.

Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, a professor of geology at Western Washington University, points out that the East Antarctic sheet, which contains about 90% of the world’s fresh water, is not melting, but expanding.

That, together with the 16 years of no significant warming, should be enough to finish off the global warming hypothesis. It would be nice if the government had to refund all the money to the taxpayers that they spend on this ridiculous enviro-mythology, but somehow, I think that the money is gone for good. The only way to stop government waste on pseudo-science is to shrink government.

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Undercover video: Obamacare navigators tell applicants to lie and defraud taxpayers

Secret agent James O’Keefe is once again doing the work that the liberal media won’t do.

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt:

Lie and defraud taxpayers – that’s what Obamacare “navigators” are telling some Americans trying to sign up for health insurance.

James O’Keefe, whose Project Veritas helped expose ACORN with an undercover investigation, has a new video focusing on Obamacare “navigators” in Texas, who received grants to provide in-person assistance to Americans signing up for Obamacare.

For example, a navigator told an undercover Project Veritas Investigator that he did not have to quit smoking to lower his health insurance premiums—she said that all he had to do was lie.

“You lie because your premiums will be higher,” said an Obamacare navigator assistant at the NUL Irving Community Center. She also admitted that she always lies on her forms.

A Project Veritas investigator also posed as a college student asking for help filling out his insurance forms. He told the navigator that he is employed by his university but also performs side jobs like cutting hair and cleaning houses. He admitted that he never included his income from side jobs when filing taxes.

“Mrs. Dorothy,” an Obamacare navigator at the National Urban League, told him that he is supposed to file a percentage of that income, but she added, “Don’t get yourself in trouble by declaring it now.”

She told him to file only what the government can see.

“Because if you show more than that then you open yourself up to an audit,” she said. “Because the IRS will be – has access to this information. Because that’s how they determine what your eligibility is for the [HHS] grants.”

Lakisha Williams, a navigator in Dorothy’s office listening in on the conversation, said to act as though it never happened. “Never report it,” she said.

These examples show that Obamacare navigators are encouraging applicants to lie and defraud the government to get access to more taxpayer money. As if that weren’t bad enough, Heritage’s Chris Jacobs has warned that navigators could pose a security risk.

Jacobs wrote, “Because their job involves helping Americans figure out their insurance options, navigators will often have access to sensitive personal information—bank accounts, Social Security numbers, insurance identification, and more. Yet navigators will not be required to undergo background checks, and the process for filing complaints about unscrupulous navigators remains unclear at best.”

In fact, even convicted felons are eligible to be Obamacare “navigators”. I think that this is just Obama paying off all of the “community organizers” who helped get him elected. Recall that Obama has connections to the radical leftist ACORN organization, and they were exposed for voter fraud. So this isn’t surprising at all. Obama is also connected to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, and they have also been exposed for urging people to commit crimes. This is not even to get started on Obama’s campaign fundraisers who got rewarded with tax dollars for green energy companies that later went bankrupt.

UPDATE: Republicans move fast to call for a halt to these Obamacare “navigators”, based on the video above.

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Obama administration decides to exempt Obamacare from fraud prevention rules

From the radically left-wing New York Times, of all places.

Excerpt:

The Affordable Care Act is the biggest new health care program in decades, but the Obama administration has ruled that neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low-income people are “federal health care programs.”

The surprise decision, disclosed last week, exempts subsidized health insurance from a law that bans rebates, kickbacks, bribes and certain other financial arrangements in federal health programs, stripping law enforcement of a powerful tool used to fight fraud in other health care programs, like Medicare.

The main purpose of the anti-kickback law, as described by federal courts in scores of Medicare cases, is to protect patients and taxpayers against the undue influence of money on medical decisions.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed her interpretation of the law in a letter to Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who had asked her views. She did not explain the legal rationale for her decision, which followed a spirited debate within the administration.

It’s all exempt from oversight laws:

Most of the buyers are expected to be eligible for subsidies to make insurance more affordable. The subsidies, paid directly to insurers from the United States Treasury, start in January and are expected to total more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

Ms. Sebelius said the Health and Human Services Department “does not consider” the subsidies to be federal health care programs. She reached the same conclusion with respect to federal and state exchanges, built with federal money, and with respect to “federally funded consumer assistance programs,” including the counselors, known as navigators, who help people shop for insurance and enroll in coverage through the exchanges.

What could go wrong? What could go wrong if the government hires “federal consumer assistants” like ACORN workers and other “community organizers” in order to administer federal subsidies? I think it will be fine. It will all work out great.

Oh, wait. I suppose that it’s possible that something like this might happen:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spent almost $29 million to cover Medicare Part D prescription drugs for 4,139 individuals “unlawfully present” in the U.S. and thus ineligible to receive federal health care benefits, according to an audit by Daniel Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health & Human Services.

[...]CMS “inappropriately accepted 279,056 PDE [prescription drug event] records with unallowable gross drug costs totaling $28,990,718” between 2009 and 2011, Levinson reported. Total federal expenditures under Medicare Part D during that same two-year time period came to $227 billion.

Medicare Parts A and B cover hospitalization, skilled nursing care, doctor visits, and other medical services and supplies. The IG previously reported in January that CMS had also paid $91.6 million to health care providers to cover 2,600 ineligible illegal aliens.

Now failure like this could never take place in the private sector, because companies would go out of business. But in the government, they just borrow a trillion or two more from your children and call it even. That’s why we should never let the government get involved in things that are best handled by free trades between buyers and multiple sellers who must compete with each other. Health care is not something you hand off to a monopoly. At least, not if you expect transparency, affordability and quality.

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Solar energy firm leaves behind toxic mess after wasting millions in stimulus funding

Dad sent me this article about the Democrat energy policy from Fox News.

Excerpt:

A Colorado-based solar company that got hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees before going belly-up didn’t just empty taxpayers’ wallets – it left behind a toxic mess of carcinogens, broken glass and contaminated water, according to a new report.

The Abound Solar plant, which got $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. Now its Longmont, Colo., facility sits unoccupied, its 37,000 square feet littered with hazardous waste, broken glass and contaminated water. The Northern Colorado Business Report estimates it will cost up to $3.7 million to clean and repair the building so it can again be leased.

“As lawyers, regulators, bankruptcy officials and the landlord spar over the case, the building lies in disrepair, too contaminated to lease,” the report stated.

[...]One of the hazards is the presence of cadmium, a cancer-causing agent that is used to produce the film on the solar panels, the report said.

[...]“If a coal, oil or gas company pulled something like that the EPA would send out SWAT teams and the U.S. Marshals to track down the offenders, bankrupt or not,” the center said in a report of its own.

President Obama touted Abound in a July 3, 2010 announcement of a $2 billion “investment” in green energy projects.

Here’s another trustworthy promise from Dear Leader:

“The second company is Abound Solar Manufacturing, which will manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs,” Obama said. “A Colorado plant is already underway, and an Indiana plant will be built in what’s now an empty Chrysler factory. When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.”

But less than two years later, the company laid off half of its 400 workers, and then, in the summer of 2012, filed for bankruptcy. It became the third clean-energy company to seek bankruptcy protection after receiving a loan from the Energy Department under the economic stimulus law. California solar panel maker Solyndra and Beacon Power, a Massachusetts energy-storage firm, also declared bankruptcy. Solyndra received a $528 million federal loan, while Beacon Power got a $43 million loan guarantee.

Why did Abound Solar get these loans? Because they had connections in the Democrat Party – that’s why.

Excerpt:

Abound Solar further claims $260 million in private investments, part of which came from billionaire medical heiress Pat Stryker’s Bohemian Companies.  This is where the story gets interesting.

Thanks to Independence Institute investigative reporter Todd Shepherd, we still have access to the Web page that lists Bohemian as an investor even though it does not appear on the company’s current Web site. The exact amount that Stryker has given is not public at this time.

[...]Forbes lists medical heiress and founder of Bohemian Companies/Foundation Pat Stryker as number 331 of its top “400 Richest People in America.” Worth $1.3 billion, the Fort Collins resident could single-handedly fund Abound Solar and still be well above the poverty line.

While some of her fortune has gone to Abound Solar, she also has chosen to donate more than $2.2 million (probably a low figure) to Democrats and their causes over the last several election cycles. Beneficiaries include Barack Obama, one-term Congresswoman and Fort Collins resident Betsy Markey, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he successfully ran for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

The Washington Examiner published e-mails showing that the White House was directly involved in granting loans.

Excerpt:

Previously undisclosed emails made public today by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee describe multiple instances of White House pressure on career Department of Energy officials to speed up approval of government loans to clean energy firms like Solyndra and Abound Solar.

President Obama is described in one of the emails as having personally approved “moving it ahead,” thus reversing a prior decision by DOE career officials not to extend $2 billion in tax-funded help to AREVA, a French nuclear power company, on an Idaho project.

[...]In another email made public today by the House panel, Silver instructed McCrea to tell a Treasury Department official of White House support for DOE help to Abound Solar.

“You better let him know that WH wants to move Abound forward. Policy will have to wait unless they have a specific policy problem with abound,” Silver said in the June 25, 2010, email.

Abound Solar is a Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer that had used $68 million of a $400 million DOE loan guarantee before filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Obama had to pay back his friends who got him elected. He used YOUR MONEY and YOUR CHILDREN’S MONEY to do it. Doesn’t that cause you any alarm? And this was done under the rubric of “stimulating” the economy.

You can see a list of other Obama administration green energy failures here.

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