Burning Batteries Pose A Huge Risk To EV Mandates

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: Progressives and the Green Industrial Complex are hell-bent on using your money (state subsidies) to force the public into “green energy” and particularly, electric cars. Instead of what occurred earlier at the turn of the 20th century when gasoline, kerosene, steam, and electric cars competed openly and fairly with each other, our elites want to cram their choices down our throats. But like every other decision, one must be aware of the trade-offs. One trade-off is that EV vehicles are not better for the environment. Another is the electrical grid is not prepared to support the widespread use of EVs. It appears that conversion to EVs favors China in many important ways. And now two other related issues:  The problem of intense and toxic fires and much higher overall insurance cost. Before you get bribed into using an EV, perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the negative trade-offs. Could it be the central planners don’t know any more about the environment than they did about Afghanistan, crime, inflation, and Covid? When the market makes a choice, trade-offs cannot be ignored as they play a key role in cost and consumer choice. Consumers voluntarily make choices and producers voluntarily comply with their wishes. What works can be maintained and that which does not work fails in the voluntary marketplace. This allowance for failure guides the market to correct and cost-effective conclusions. When the government makes the choice, it is one size fits all, backed by state subsidies and coercion. And as for failure, if recent history proves anything, it is that our elites that run our institutions are never held accountable for anything they do.

 

After a Volkswagen Golf (not an electric vehicle) caught fire in the underground car park in Eku-Platz, Germany, the city’s civil engineering department closed the car park for five months. Damages (all eventually paid for by insurance) amounted to 195,000 euros. As a condition for the reopening, however, the insurance company forbade the use of the underground garage by hybrid and electric vehicles.

There were several reasons. Lithium batteries can only be cooled with extinguishing water and continue to burn for several days. The car park’s ceiling is not high enough to pull out burning vehicles with heavy equipment. This means that every other vehicle in the car park, as well as the entire building, remains at risk of a fire or explosion that could have disastrous results. Yet as the fire protection report admitted, nobody had even considered the magnitude of the fire risk from lithium-ion batteries prior to the Golf fire.

The fire risk from electric vehicles is not just a German parking garage problem. Nearly a year ago the National Transportation Safety Board acknowledged that at least half of the nation’s fire departments are not equipped to put out battery-powered car (EV) fires. The NTSB too agreed that lithium-ion batteries burn with extraordinary ferocity; battery fires also release emissions of extremely toxic fluoride gas.

Last November Reuters reported that worldwide acceptance of EVs, despite government mandates and subsidies, is being threatened by a global string of fires from overheated batteries. The article included a list of recalls by major auto manufacturers and what their investigations found.

Hyundai recalled at least 74,000 Kona EVs, after 16 of them caught fire over a 2-year period, to upgrade their battery management systems. Of the first 23,000, Hyundai found 800 vehicles with battery defects requiring replacement of modules said the have a significant risk of an electrical short circuit.

Ford Motor Co. recalled 20,500 European Kuga plug-in hybrid EVs and suspended sales. Ford offered to replace the entire battery pack, identifying the root cause as a battery cell contamination in its supplier’s production process. The setback delayed the U.S. debut of the Escape SUV.

BMW’s recall was limited to about 4,500 plug-in hybrid EVs, admitting that debris may have entered the battery cells during production, which could lead to short-circuiting and a “thermal event.” BMW also recallefficd 26,000 other plug-in hybrids over potential battery problems.

In response to a petition filed pursuant to a class action lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recently probed potential defects in certain Tesla vehicles that could result in non-crash fires. The plaintiffs claim that Tesla limited the battery range of older vehicles via a software update to avoid a costly recall to fix alleged defective batteries.

Capping the list is General Motors, which initially recalled nearly 70,000 Chevy Bolt EVs over fire risks, with the fix limiting battery charges (and thus mileage) to 90 percent capacity. The NHTSA has also investigated why three Bolts caught fire while parked. GM says the problem was traced to a torn anode tab and a folded separator, both of which could occur at the same time and create conditions that could lead to a short in affected cells.

In August, GM announced a second recall of 73,000 more Bolt EVs (every Bolt ever made) to replace new battery modules; the fix could cost GM $1.8 billion. Moreover, GM has decided to idle Bolt production “due to the impact of the global chip shortage.” Meanwhile, GM has recommended that Bolt owners park their vehicles outside and limit battery charges to 90 percent or lower, at least until replacement batteries are ready and service appointments are scheduled.

The problem with this mandate is obvious. Those whose in-home EV charging stations are in their garages cannot exactly park their EVs outside and charge the vehicle at the same time. The same goes for EV chargers now located in underground garages. Moreover, the fixes typically reduce battery charging by at least 10 percent, further shortening the vehicle’s range.

One supposes that some EV owners could just move their charging stations outside, but who leaves a vehicle out in winter cold or summer heat when they have a perfectly good garage? Yet who wants to risk burning down the house to avoid scraping the windshield or putting their tushes on a hot car seat?

Earlier this year Value Penguin reported that auto insurance for EVs is on average about 23 percent more expensive than for an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. This is despite the fact that the average EV is driven far fewer miles a year than ICE vehicles. In California, home to 40 percent of U.S. EVs, drivers average just 5,000 miles per year behind the EV’s steering wheel. For many, the EV is the second (or third) car. But will insurance companies also raise rates for EV owners with in-garage charging stations?

In the Golden State, embattled Governor Gavin Newsom a year ago issued an executive order that would ban the sale of ICE vehicles buy 2035, with enforcement left to state agencies. One problem with this mandate is that the California Air Resources Board may be able to implement rulemaking to ban ICE sales, but CARB has no authority over vehicle registration and no authority to set registration fees to make ICE vehicles more expensive.

President Joe Biden, too, has talked tough about a nationwide mandate for EVs, but he, too, may be in deep trouble with voters over a number of other issues. As more and more people learn that their EVs pose a fire risk by manufacturers telling them to park their EVs outside, it seems quite possible that voters will soon sour on any politician who mandates inconvenient outdoor charging to avoid the risk of setting their homes on fire.

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This article was published on September 10, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

Bombs Away !! A Razor Thin Congressional Democrat Majority Is About to Transform and Break America and Must Be Stopped: Here’s How

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

The U.S. House and Senate Democrats are attempting to ram through 10,000 pages of transformational legislation with a Senate reconciliation vote (50 + VP) and a House vote that has a 5 vote Democrat majority (smallest in past century). THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO MANDATE FOR THIS. It is our belief that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer know their majorities are at great risk in November 2022 and with the disastrous record of President Biden thus far (Afghanistan, foreign policy, Covid, southern border, inflation, economy, energy, etc., etc.), they are desperate to cement their goal of permanent Democrat power with an entitlement state that cannot be reversed and irrevocably alters America and our individual sovereignty. Enormous increases in federal debt, crushing  tax burdens for all citizens, severe inflation beyond what is now occurring and economic stagnation are just some of the very predictable near and long term results. This progressive, socialistic legislation will cement this Democrat dream. It is the centerpiece of a Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez socialist conquest of America. IT MUST BE STOPPED.

The TAKE ACTION box below addresses this assault on Americans in greater detail. Be assured that the majority of U.S. citizens do not want this legislation. Please refer to the paragraphs in the TAKE ACTION link below. How can we stop this assault on American families, their values, individual liberty, citizenship, energy, small business, and future opportunity and economic growth for future generations? We must inform our U.S. Representatives and Senators that it is absolutely unacceptable to do this. We suggest the following themes in short emails easily sent (please cut and paste the messages below) to legislators from the TAKE ACTION link below. The email portals and phone numbers for the Arizona U.S. Representatives and Senators Sinema and Kelly (up for reelection in 2022) are there. It takes only a few minutes to inform them how you, your families, your neighbors and so many you know are against this perverse effort to transform America. Please do not hesitate – we are moving toward this cliff very quickly. Senator Sinema may (??) stay strong and not vote for it. Senator Manchin from West Virginia has said no to this but he has caved in the past – he should be contacted and strongly reminded his state is a deep red state and his constituents are vehemently against this. Senator Kelly is facing election in 14 months – his vulnerability is essential to point out. All U.S. Representatives face election every two years – make it clear that they are all at significant risk.

Here are four suggested messages for each of the following groups – 1. Senators Sinema and Manchin, 2. Senator Kelly, 3. AZ Democrat Representatives (5) and 4. AZ Republican Representatives (4). Please move on this – repetitively and forcefully make your voices heard and felt as often as possible. If this disaster is foisted on the nation, there is little chance to turn it back – entitlements are never removed. Ergo – BOMBS AWAY. Let it rip and do not relent in informing  them until this assault on every American and our great Republic is stopped.

(1) Senator Sinema (or Manchin),

Dear Senator Sinema (or Manchin),

I ask that you reject the pending legislation in the Senate that is moving toward a reconciliation vote (50 + the Vice-President). It is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejectedif this ‘budget’ reconciliation bill becomes law, every current issue or crisis in America will be worsened (debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

You have publicly stated your objections to this attempt to transform America with a single party vote with its huge expansion of the federal government, vastly more crushing debt and taxes on all, yes all, citizens. You are in an historic moment and I implore you to vote no on this legislation. You represent Arizonans (or West Virginians) but your vote greatly impacts all American citizens. The majority of your constituents are polling strongly against this legislation and its intended purpose. Please stay strong and vote no on what is clearly Bernie Sander’s vision of  America’s future.

(2) Senator Kelly:

Dear Senator Kelly,

You are at an historic moment in this nation’s history. As a new freshman Senator with an impending election, you have the ability to determine the outcome of the reconciliation bill being pushed through the Senate. Arizonans know that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejected – if this ‘budget’ bill becomes law, every current issue and crisis in America will be worsened (massive debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, crushing taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

November 2022 is less than 14 months away. This legislation will determine the outcome of next year’s election despite multiple issues of great distress for the American people. I implore you to reject Senator Schumer’s (and Senator Bernie Sander’s) legislative attempt to transform America to one-party rule and vote no on what should never be passed without bipartisan support for all constituents of our Republic.

(3) Democrat U.S. Representatives (AZ):

Dear Representative …..,

As an Arizonan and American, I implore you to vote no on the pending 10,000 page (yes, 10,000 pages!) legislation in the U.S. House that will be subjected to a Senate reconciliation vote (50 + the Vice President) to pass. You know very well, as Speaker Pelosi does, that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future. Intellectual honesty demands that it be rejected – if this ‘budget’ bill becomes law, every current issue and crisis in America will be worsened (massive debt, energy, strong inflation, immigration, crushing taxes, healthcare, etc.) and the blame will be on the party that forced it into being – you and your party.

November 2022 is less than 14 months away. This legislation will determine the outcome of next year’s election despite multiple issues of great distress for the American people. I implore you to reject Speaker Pelosi’s and Senator Schumer’s (and Senator Bernie Sander’s) legislative attempt to transform America to one-party rule and vote no on what should never be passed without bipartisan support for all constituents of our Republic.

(4) Republican U.S. Representatives (AZ):

Dear Representative …..,

We know that the 10,000 page House bill that will be treated as a reconciliation bill in the Senate (50 + the Vice President) will get absolutely no Republican votes. I thank you for that. Arizonans know that it is not a true reconciliation process but rather transformational legislation that has absolutely no bipartisan support and intended to produce one-party rule in America, truly an un-American legislative goal. As we move through the Covid pandemic of the past 18 months and recover the nation’s economy and some semblance of normal American life, passing this legislation will not benefit the nation, your constituents or our children’s future.

I humbly implore you to publicly and forcefully call this egregious legislative attempt what it is – an attempt by a leftist dominated Democrat Party desperate to transform the nation to a progressive, socialist ruling class and one-party dominance. It is un-American, it is wrong and it is against everything this Republic with its founding principles is about.

The battle is now joined, the polling is not with the Democrats and despite your minority status, it is time to shout out the truth loud and clear to the public, to every U.S. House and Senate member and to the media – this is a Bernie Sander’s socialist assault on the nation and its citizens that will diminish our liberty, our people and our children’s future. Stand strong, be loud and clear and please influence every Democrat House member who is not radical – if this process becomes law, it will be disastrous  for their party and for each of them in 14 very short months but with incalculable and permanent damage to our nation and its future.

Phony Math: Democrats $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill Is Actually More Like $5 Trillion

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

True accounting shows many programs expire in 3 years, nearly doubling actual costs

Politicians are notorious for fudging numbers to keep from being held accountable by the people who hired them—us!

John Steele Gordon, a business and economic historian, gives a good reminder in The Wall Street Journal about these accounting gimmicks happening today over the so-called “reconciliation bill”.

“Congressional rules require that spending bills project their cost over 10 years. But the $3.5 trillion “social infrastructure” bill now before Congress calls for several of its most expensive programs (such as Medicare expansion) to lapse after three years. But everyone knows that such programs, once enacted, are politically untouchable and will be made permanent. The actual projected cost of the bill is probably north of $5 trillion.” 

The Committee For A Responsible Budget also gives more context:

“To fit $5 trillion to $5.5 trillion worth of spending and tax breaks into a $3.5 trillion budget, background documents to reporters explain that “the duration of each program’s enactment will be determined based on scoring and Committee input.”  In other words, tax credits and spending programs will be set to expire at some point before the end of the decade, in the hope that future lawmakers will extend these programs. While some provisions could also be scaled down or otherwise adjusted, these premature expirations appear to be a key source of cost reduction.

This budget gimmick, which would obscure the true cost of the legislation and put program beneficiaries at risk, was rightly criticized in 2017 when used for some of the 2017 tax cuts. It would be unwise and irresponsible to use arbitrary expirations and sunsets to obscure the true cost of this legislation.”

It’s easy to lose sense of how massive something is when we’re discussing such huge numbers. But the National Taxpayers Union divided up this and calculated it, saying the “spending amounts to $24,252 per U.S. taxpayer ($3.5 trillion divided by 144.3 million taxpayers in 2018, the latest year for which IRS data is available).”

I’ll do a rough calculation here and do the calculation for the $5 trillion divided by 144.3 million taxpayers—that amounts to $34,650 per taxpayer. And that’s on top of the enormous burden we already have.

The Web site USDebtClock.org has a running tally of our existing national debt, here’s a depressing snapshot from today:

We can’t afford to keep squandering our future—that’s how empires collapse.

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This article was published on September 14, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the Independent Women’s Forum

Bank of Japan Ends its Massive QE that Started When Abenomics Became Economic Religion of Japan

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the largest central banks ends QE. End of an era for Japan: Large-scale money printing was one of the three official legs of Abenomics.

In terms of the absolute mountain of assets the Bank of Japan purchased over the years, it is one of the top three QE monsters, along with the Fed and the ECB. In relationship to GDP, the BoJ’s total assets are #2, behind the tiny Swiss National Bank, which runs the unique racket of using the overhyped strength of the Swiss franc to print large amounts of it and buy securities denominated in foreign currencies, including large amounts of US stocks; but it’s not buying securities denominated in Swiss francs.

Total assets on the BoJ’s balance sheet generally decline every third month as large amounts of long-term bonds mature and are redeemed, which is when the BoJ gets its money back, and the bonds come off the balance sheet. For this reason, we look at the three-month moving average of the increases in total assets.

As of its balance sheet through August 31, the three-month moving average of total assets increased by an average of only ¥690 billion ($6.3 billion) per month, the smallest increase since 2012, before Abenomics became the economic religion of the land. This marks the end of Abenomics QE:

The BoJ’s blistering QE binge started with “Abenomics,” the economic religion imposed on the land in 2013 under Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister from September 2012 to September 2020. One of the three official legs of Abenomics was massive amounts of money printing. It culminated with the huge burst in the spring of 2020. But all that is now history.

While the Fed has set the stage to begin tapering its asset purchases later this year, and while the ECB is ogling the Fed for inspiration, the Bank of Japan, without making a lot of hoopla, has already cut its asset purchases to the bone.

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Continue reading this article, published September 7, 2021 at Wolf Street.

The Future of American Cars Is Not All-Electric

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Environmental elites like to cast their creeds as unshakeable and their doctrines as inevitable. Take these three: The Earth is only getting hotter, human survival depends upon radical lifestyle changes, and governments are taking action on the climate whether we like it or not.

Or this: America will slowly phase out all oil, natural gas, and coal energy for wind turbines and solar panels—and, for a handful of brave dissidents, nuclear power plants. In this carbon-free future, everyone will drive an electric car powered by alternative energy sources. There’s no room for alternatives or debate, only submission to the wisdom of the climatistas. It’s the inexorable march of progress—right?

Don’t be so sure.

Not Enough “Green” Electricity

In August, the Biden administration announced its goal to have zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs) account for 50 percent of all cars sold by 2030, mirroring “green” California’s decision a year ago to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035.

EVs currently make up about 2.5 percent of the U.S. automobile market and are rapidly growing, with Tesla leading the pack. With nowhere to go but up, one would think that a government mandate would be a godsend for car manufacturers. So why is Toyota—maker of the famous hybrid Prius and the world’s largest car manufacturer—lobbying against the plan?

Left-wing observers have explained away the company’s lobbying campaign as an effort to stall stiff competition from full-electric vehicle manufacturers. Toyota’s hybrids use both gasoline and electricity, and Toyota has been slow to break into the full-electric vehicle market. After all, company spokesmen say the manufacturer wholeheartedly believes in an all-electric future.

There’s a simpler explanation: There isn’t enough “green” electricity to power that vision.

The average EV consumes 30 kilowatt-hours (kw/h) to travel 100 miles, which Pew Charitable Trusts notes is “the same amount of electricity an average American home uses each day to run appliances, computers, lights and heating and air conditioning.” That is extra electricity required from the grid—not produced by your traditional fuel-burning car—that must be produced from another resource. But from which energy source?

The U.S. electric grid gets 86 percent of its power from sources deemed unacceptable to the environmental Left: natural gas (40 percent), coal (19 percent), hydropower from dams (7.3 percent), and—horror of horrors—nuclear energy (20 percent). The widely acclaimed alternatives—wind (8.4 percent), solar (2.3 percent), and geothermal (0.4 percent)—make up just 11.1 percent of the country’s electricity generation.

Even if eco-activists got past their revulsion for nuclear energy, that still leaves the nation with a huge electricity deficit that wind turbines and solar panels hooked up to lithium batteries simply cannot fill. Not only would mining the tons of metals and minerals required to build them by the thousands create a genuine ecological disaster and possibly a “permanent” lithium shortage by 2025, it would doom the electric grid almost the minute the sun dips or the wind stops blowing.

“Green” Energy’s Gas Problem

Unlike natural gas, solar and wind generate power intermittently, not continuously, so they need to be backed up by a reliable energy source—almost invariably natural gas. Every wind turbine and solar panel built means pumping more natural gas to ensure a steady supply of electricity. In an honest world, we’d call wind and solar “supplemental” sources, not “alternatives.”

Little wonder that so many Big Oil companies are rapidly becoming Big Gas producers while boasting about their commitments to fighting climate change—global warming is great for business. “Climapocalypse” rhetoric from professional activists creates a powerful incentive for government regulation by “selfless” politicians, whose legislation is favorably shaped by well-funded industry lobbyists.

What Toyota and other sober minds see is a twofold problem: the Biden administration’s proposal to convert traditional cars to EVs to stop global warming is effectively a proposal to massively expand nationwide electricity production—an unlikely outcome made impossible when “green energy” mandates are added to the mix. That’s a bet that they’re not willing to take, especially when eco-activists are now demanding bans on low-carbon natural gas.

A Dim Future

But as RealClearEnergy editor Jude Clemente points out, even if environmental fundamentalists got their way, oil will continue to be critical to fueling airplanes, heavy trucks, petrochemicals, and even the production of wind and solar technologies—with no viable alternative in sight. What will change is the average American’s access to cheap and abundant electricity.

We already have an example in Germany, writes Clemente, where climate change policies have made electricity a “luxury good” for citizens of the industrial powerhouse–turned–Green Man of Europe and a cold snap in February left some 30,000 solar panels and wind turbines frozen over and utterly worthless for the shivering Germans who rely on them.

In December 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned the world that “electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified.” If all that extra electricity must come from so-called alternatives, we’re in for a nightmare. Francis Menton has calculated the cost of powering just California’s power needs with solar panels (the state’s strategy to meet its EV mandate) at his blog, Manhattan Contrarion:

If 180 days per year have less production than usage, and the average shortfall of production on each of those days is 300 GWH, then you will need 54,000 GWH worth of batteries (180 x 300). At $200 per KWH, that will run you around $10+ trillion. This would be about triple the annual GDP of the state of California [emphasis added].

None of this is to claim EVs have no place on America’s future highways. As Edward Ring writes in American Greatness, electric motors have much to recommend them, such as a simpler design and better horsepower than internal combustion engines, lower maintenance requirements, and longer lifespans. Electric cars will undoubtedly continue to make up some portion of the vehicle fleet for the foreseeable future, even if their growth may leave the U.S. more dependent on foreign energy supplies and not prove to be as much of a spur to innovation as experts once believed, according to my colleague Michael Watson.

Rather, we shouldn’t allow the Left to warp our decisions about the future of the nation’s electric grid with their blind ideology disguised as science—there’s too much at stake.

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This article was published on September 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research Center.

End of Federal Unemployment Raises Questions About Fraud, Joblessness

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Federal unemployment benefits ended over the holiday weekend, raising questions about how the payments’ expiration will affect the job market and whether Congress will renew the benefits.

Congress passed the $300 weekly unemployment payments as a remedy to joblessness during the COVID pandemic when government restrictions forced the layoffs of millions of Americans, but critics have since said the federal benefits are contributing to an economic quandary: elevated unemployment alongside widespread job availability.

In fact, recent U.S. employment data showed more open jobs than workers to fill them. Those employment concerns, along with evidence of widespread fraud in the system, have made the unemployment program a harder sell in Congress.

So far, President Joe Biden has not pushed for a renewal of the federal benefits. While some progressive Democrats have called for legislation making the payments permanent, as of now it seems unlikely.

Now that the benefits have expired, some experts predict that unemployment will decrease.

“The latest job report tells us what many Americans already know: the American economy is being held back by federal unemployment bonuses and expansions that are paying people more to stay home than work,” said Hayden Dublois, an expert at the Foundation for Government Accountability. “States that have ended participation in federal enhanced unemployment programs and bonuses have seen new hires increase, the number of work registrants spike, both unemployment claims and spending decline, and economic activity skyrocket. The American economic recovery has been stagnated by policymakers’ unwillingness to end these bonuses up until this point – but, with enhanced benefits expiring … labor markets will finally have a chance to rebound. It’s long past time to get America back to work.”

The August jobs report released last week showed nonfarm jobs increased by only 235,000, less than a third of the 720,000 new jobs predicted by Dow Jones economic experts. Experts pointed to this most recent job report, another disappointing one for the year, and put the blame squarely at the feet of the federal unemployment payments.

“The exact size of [Unemployment insurance’s] effect on labor supply and the social benefits of UI are impossible to know (and they likely change according to context), but there is broad consensus that increased UI benefits discourage some workers’ return to employment,” wrote Michael Farren, an expert at the Mercatus Center.

“The concern that the federal expansions to UI reduce the likelihood that workers will return to employment is based on the understanding that unconditional monetary grants to unemployed workers tend to raise their reservation wage – the compensation level necessary for the worker to take a job,” Farren added. “UI programs are typically designed to mitigate this potential effect by replacing only a portion of workers’ preunemployment income (up to some income limit). However, the additional weekly benefits provided by FPUC (as well as the American Rescue Plan’s exemption of $10,200 of UI benefits from federal income tax) means that many low-wage workers saw no decrease in their weekly income (and some even saw an increase).”

Meanwhile, unemployment fraud has become a major source of concern among lawmakers as more and more cases arise of criminals siphoning off funds.

The Department of Justice released details about another case of unemployment fraud Tuesday. Virginia man Johnny Hobbs, along with other coconspirators, allegedly filed false claims for unemployment benefits totaling nearly $800,000.

“Conspirators submitted claims for various individuals who were known to be ineligible to receive pandemic unemployment benefits by making materially false representations,” the Department of Justice said. “Hobbs pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government of the United States and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 10, 2021 and faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.”

Hobbs’ case is just the latest of many instances of fraudulent abuse of the system, something that has been criticized by lawmakers in both parties.

Most recently, Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office calling for an investigation into the level of fraud and how it occurred.

Those members, who estimate the fraud totaled between $89 billion and $400 billion, call it the “greatest theft of American tax dollars in our nation’s history.”

“It is concerning that responsibility for determining how much fraud has occurred lies scattered throughout a web of bureaucracies,” the letter read. “The scattering of responsibilities suggests that Congress will be ill equipped to have adequate information to assess future unemployment insurance responses to large economic shocks; and, at the same time, ensure they are not plagued by gaping security holes that allow fraudsters an open window to use to unlawfully obtained taxpayer funds.”

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This article was published on September 7, 2021 and is reproduced courtesy of The Center Square.

 

Arizona Officials React to Biden Vaccination Announcement

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

President Joe Biden’s Thursday announcement of broad new COVID-19 vaccination requirements has some Arizona officials cheering and others settling in for a fight.

Biden announced a vaccination requirement for employees of any business with more than 100 people, something that’s estimated to be a vaccine requirement for 100 million people. Another estimated 80 million workers who refuse would be subjected to regular testing.

“While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact, we’re in a tough stretch and it could last a while,” Biden said in a speech Thursday afternoon.

Fines for a violation would reportedly be $14,000 per instance.

In addition, Biden announced he would require any federal employee under the executive branch’s umbrella to be required to be inoculated. The same goes for employees of any company that accepts federal contracts.

This marks Biden’s latest attempt at a governmental response to rising infections nationwide largely due to the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Even though more than 200 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, nearly 80 million of those eligible have abstained.

Gov. Doug Ducey responded to the new rule Thursday, promising to fight Biden’s “dictatorial approach” to governing.

“Joe Biden has failed us on COVID. He ran for office on a promise to ‘shut down the virus.’ He has failed on this, much as he has failed on the border crisis and in Afghanistan. So now, President Biden’s plan is to shut down freedom,” Ducey said in a statement. “These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back.”

Arizona’s two U.S. Senators were largely quiet on the announcement. Neither office was immediately available to respond to a request for comment, but Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, tweeted, “Arizona – if you haven’t already, today is a great day to get vaccinated.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego applauded the move.

“This is the critical action we need to appropriately fight this virus,” she said Thursday afternoon. “It’s great to see strong leadership at a time when others have prioritized politics over science. Safety for every resident has & remains my top priority – this requirement will allow us to protect & save lives.”

Like others, Attorney General Mark Brnovich questioned the legality of the order.

President Biden is now taking federal overreach to unheard-of levels by dictating vaccine mandates for all private companies with over 100 people, federal contractors, and healthcare providers receiving federal dollars,” the Republican tweeted. “I am reviewing his outrageous actions and will take all legal recourse to defend our state’s sovereignty and the rights of Arizonans to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, a conservative Republican from Gilbert, called Biden’s requirements an assault on individuals’ freedoms and livelihoods.

“We must fight this,” he said Thursday.

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This article was published on September 9, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The CenterSquare.

World’s Dirtiest Cities List Raises Issue: Why Don’t Politicians Call Out China?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: We remain skeptical that so-called greenhouse gases are causing the earth’s temperature to rise. Even if so, there are cheaper, less intrusive ways of dealing with the issues emanating from minor changes in temperature than the arrogant schemes of central planners, who can’t even govern our major cities, but yet insist they are qualified to change the entire climate of the earth. That said, the following article makes a trenchant point. Accepting the greenhouse hypothesis for the sake of argument, the US is doing well in reducing emissions and the real offender is China. Yet environmental groups and Democrat politicians give the Chinese a pass on the whole issue and demand more and more extreme measures be placed on us when all that means little if China continues to emit and pollute.

 

Ponder this: A new tally of global cities’ emissions finds that the top 25 are responsible for 52% of the planet’s urban greenhouse gas emissions. Twenty-three of those are in China.

New York City is the first American city to appear, at No. 26. Out of the top 75, just four other American cities are listed – San Diego, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles – all of them ranked 41 or higher. In other words, the U.S. – including each of our major cities – is outperforming the world when it comes to emissions.

All this data begs a question of our elected leaders who say we have to do more for our environment, banking on the fact that many Americans hear “environment” and think only locally, as in their state or nation. The fact is that the environment – including carbon emission – is global, so what we do here matters but what happens globally matters as much, if not more.

Unless we can use our U.S. innovation and leadership to spur other nations to make meaningful progress, then global environmental improvement will not happen. This is an indisputable fact.

What we in the U.S. have been doing for the global environment is working, but trying to do more without the help of other nations will only hurt our economy and make life harder for families and small businesses – especially those in inner cities, on fixed incomes or at or below the poverty level. Many have heard about environmental justice; well, energy justice is real and it has far-reaching consequences.

Without a doubt, the U.S. must maintain its progress, which includes reducing emissions by more than any other nation for the last two decades – even as our record energy output made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.

There are those who argue, as they always do, that “we must do more” to show American environmental leadership to the rest of the world. For one, we could start by touting our current successes, and not self-flagellate to please a narrow world-view that starts with blaming America and relies heavily on socialist principles.

We are already leading the world in terms of environmental regulations and controls, and again, we’ve – by far – reduced our emissions more than any country year after year for more than 20 years. By 2025, we will be more than two-thirds of the way to reaching our targeted emissions reduction of 28% from 2005 levels under the Paris Climate Agreement, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Part of that is owing to the good work we’ve done in our cities to reduce emissions.

Contrast this with the facts about China, which recently won plaudits from many in the “we must do more” crowd for promising to stop increasing emissions before 2030. While we’re cutting our emissions, China’s pollution by then will have surged an estimated 14%-25%. On top of that, China’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 exceeded those of the entire developed world.

Say that again: more than the entire developed world.

Those are facts, undisputed by even the most hardcore anti-business zealot masquerading as an environmentalist.

When facts don’t add up, you can count on activists and allied political figures to turn to fear as a sales tactic. Just look at the about-face on natural gas. After talking up natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” the big-money environmental lobby turned on it and, struggling to find a plausible reason for the 180-degree turn, warned of calamity over methane. The obvious solution, they posited in a fact-free manner, was stopping natural gas production and transportation.

Natural gas is in large part responsible for our emissions reductions, as is our more recent and growing wind and solar power deployment. All of this ought to be applauded, not derided. It’s all good for our families, small businesses and farmers, and our economy. Energy is fundamental to a modern life, and it is essential to a healthy economy and population.

Yet the “we must do more” gang is silent on China’s rapidly increasing emissions. This comes while the U.S. continues to rapidly reduce our emission – including carbon, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and many, many more.

However, the U.S. anti-energy activists are not so silent when it comes to asking the American government to go easy on China.

More than 50 environmental groups recently sent a letter urging President Biden to be less aggressive toward Beijing, because it could risk Chinese cooperation. The groups, with no apparent sense of irony, wrote that doing so would build a “global economy that works for everyday working people.”

We applaud their notion of supporting working people. But attempting to force the United States to curtail its affordable and reliable sources of energy is not supporting working people. It is harming them and taking away energy that ought to be the right of every American and indeed, everyone in the world.

If we want a forecast of the future as advocated for by activists, let’s look at our recent history. Barely eight months since a new presidential administration took over, we have seen what constraining American energy production does, through a moratorium on federal energy leases and the shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline. Just look at the higher gas prices, lost jobs, proposed tax increases, and rising inflation and try not to have a flashback to the 1970s.

American families, farmers, and small businesses all benefit from safe, abundant, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy. Without energy, we face job losses, economic opportunities and, in some cases, the loss of life when energy is needed but not there.

Government policies ought to start with the principle of delivering energy reliably and affordably to homes and businesses. The policies advanced by elected leaders who are expecting Americans to get used to going without energy – think planned blackouts due to inadequate energy supply – or to pay more for it when they need it most are wrong.

When political leaders tell us we must ban certain energy sources to meet our emissions reduction goals, we should ask them why. Ask them about what they are doing about other countries, before they ask us to send our electrical grid backwards to the reliability and affordability levels experienced in the developing world.

Americans should demand reliable, affordable and environmentally superior energy. We must accept nothing less, and tell our leaders we are watching what is happening in the rest of the world.

We cannot meet our global environmental goals unless others follow America’s lead, not the other way around.

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This article was published on September 9, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

Woke Companies Must Wakeup On ESG

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Growing numbers of companies, banks, universities and investment houses are adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards and disclosure rules. They’re pressured to do so by activists, legislators and regulators. Many expect to get rich via taxpayer-subsidized “renewable” energy projects.

Nearly all hope to “greenwash” their reputations, by claiming they’ll “make the world a better place,” by reducing fossil fuel emissions, and thus planetary temperatures and extreme weather events.

They recently got a boost from the US House of Representatives. It voted 215-214 party-line to pass a bill supporting Securities and Exchange Commission plans to impose new ESG rules requiring publicly traded companies to disclose “climate risks” allegedly caused by oil, gas and coal production and use. Some think the SEC might now give greater scrutiny to ESG climate claims and misconduct, but that seems unlikely.

Regardless, woke organizations need to wake up to climate, renewable energy and ESG realities.

The ever-more-hysterical climate and weather claims have been roundly debunked by Dr. Roy Spencer, Gregory Wrightstone, Marc Morano, Steven Koonin and others. But what’s truly outrageous about ESG is the way it studiously ignores the massive, widespread damage inflicted by pseudo-renewable energy.

Wind and sunlight certainly are clean, renewable and sustainable. But harnessing their highly dispersed, unpredictable, weather-dependent energy to meet humanity’s huge and growing energy needs absolutely is not. That requires lands and raw materials that are anything but renewable – using fuels and processes that are absolutely not clean, green, ecological or sustainable. Because they fail to recognize this, ESG programs are dishonest, even fraudulent – and must be reformed, investigated or scrapped.

Wind, solar and battery land and raw material requirements are astronomical. Onshore wind turbines require nine times more metals and minerals per megawatt than a modern combined-cycle gas power plant. One onshore 3-MW turbine foundation needs 600 cubic yards (1,500 tons) of concrete, plus rebar.

Offshore wind requires 14 times more materials per MW. Just the 2,100 850-foot-tall offshore turbines (30,000 megawatts) that President Biden wants to install by 2030 would require 110,000 tons of copper, plus millions of tons of steel, aluminum, fiberglass, cobalt, rare earth metals and other materials.

At an average of 0.44% copper in ore deposits worldwide, the copper alone would require mining and processing 25 million tons of ore, after removing 40 million tons of overburden to reach the ore bodies!

Add in materials for solar panels, more onshore and offshore wind turbines, backup battery systems, electric vehicles, transmission lines, and all-electric home heating and cooking systems – to run the entire USA, Europe and world – and the “green energy transformation” would require hundreds of billions of tons of metals, minerals and plastics, trillions of tons of ores, trillions of tons of overburden, and thousands of mines, processing plants and factories. Nearly all these operations employ fossil fuels.

America’s laws and attitudes make mining in the United States nearly impossible, even to support ESG-certified “green” energy facilities. That means most mining and processing will be done in Africa, Asia and Latin America, increasingly by Chinese companies. The manufacturing is done increasingly in China, which is why that country is building more coal-fired power plants every month.

Pseudo-clean-energy activities utilize hazardous chemicals and release toxic pollutants. They require vast volumes of water, often in the world’s most water-deprived regions. They cause acid mine drainage, create mountains of waste rock, and often result in vast “lakes” of toxic chemicals from refining the ores. Most are conducted under almost nonexistent pollution control, mined-land reclamation, endangered species, workplace safety, child and slave labor, and fair wage rules.

Cobalt mining already involves 40,000 African children, as young as four! Many Chinese solar panels are made with Uighur forced labor. ESG “green” aspirations would multiply this slavery many times over.

These travesties occur overseas – out of sight and out of mind – letting ESG activists and profiteers make incessant false claims that fossil fuel replacement energy is clean and virtuous. But when wind, solar and battery facilities are installed, adverse consequences will reverberate across the United States.

Hundreds of millions of acres of scenic, wildlife habitat and coastal areas would be impacted; millions of birds, bats, tortoises and other wildlife displaced, maimed and killed. And when their short productive lives are finished, billions of turbine blades, solar panels and batteries will be sent to gigantic landfills, because they cannot be recycled; their toxic metals and chemicals could leach out into soils, streams and groundwater. The same will happen in Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Even on windy days, Mr. Biden’s 2,100 monstrous offshore turbines won’t meet New York State peak summertime electricity needs. Meeting just US coastal city needs would require tens of thousands of turbines. Dredge-and-fill operations associated with installing them would smother mollusks and other benthic species. Vibration noises would harm whale and porpoise navigation and communication. Their mere presence would create major safety issues for aircraft and fishing, naval and commercial vessels.

A single industrial solar facility near Fredericksburg, Virginia required clearcutting thousands of acres of forest habitat. Dominion Energy is planning solar facilities on Virginia acreage totaling one-fourth of Delaware. Solar installations proposed for the American Southwest would blanket millions of acres of desert habitats. Wind and solar operations would threaten or eradicate dozens of bird and other species that environmentalists have utilized for decades to stop drilling, fracking and pipeline projects.

Connecting far-flung wind, solar and battery installations to industrial centers and urban areas would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – and still more steel, copper and concrete. Battery fires have already destroyed electric vehicles and homes. Imagine huge warehouses filled with thousands of battery modules erupting into enormous, uncontrollable conflagrations.

Biodiesel projects have already destroyed important orangutan habitats, and thousands of acres of US hardwood forest habitats have been turned into wood pellets for Britain’s Drax Power Plant.

Threatened, endangered, migratory and marine species must be protected – wherever mining, processing and manufacturing take place, and wherever “renewable” energy installations are contemplated. Human health impacts from infrasound and light flicker must guide decisions on how close to homes and businesses wind turbines may be installed.

Reformed ESG rules – call them Environment and Human Rights (EHR) principles – must require that all these issues are addressed for every wind, solar, battery, transmission and biofuel proposal.

People must know in advance how many turbines, panels, batteries and power lines are contemplated; how many tons of metals, minerals, concrete and plastics they will require; where those materials will come from; under what environmental, pollution, safety, wage and child labor standards. Companies and government agencies must certify that supply chains are free from child or slave labor.

Project-specific, comprehensive and cumulative US and global environmental studies must be conducted before any projects are approved, and must include regular, independent reviews of bird, bat, reptile, whale, porpoise and other wildlife displacements, injuries and deaths. Project studies must fully assess all environmental, human health, human rights and other impacts worldwide, and must not be fast-tracked.

These reality-based EHR principles will help ensure that any “green future” is founded on ethical standards that address all human and ecological consequences, and actually do make the world a better place. They can also help guide SEC investigations and prosecutions for ESG misconduct and fraud – and help spur much-needed mining in the United States, to reduce our reliance on China, Russia, Taliban Afghanistan and other adversarial countries for critical and strategic minerals.

*****

This article was published on September 6, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

We Must Free Americans to Work

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Established as a federal holiday in the late 1800s, Labor Day marks how American workers have contributed to the country’s successes. It is a holiday to celebrate the dignity of workers—but respecting the dignity of workers demands that we respect the choices they make regarding their careers. But too often, government stands in the way of those choices, tying workers up in unnecessary red tape that prevents them from doing the work they want to do.

That’s why we must free Americans to work. The Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work law cuts that red tape and makes it easier for Americans to work in the career of their choice.

At present, around one in four Americans is required to obtain a license in order to be able to do their job—a government permission slip to work in a certain career. These government-imposed barriers exist for a wide range of professions: barbers, plumbers, real estate agents, sign language interpreters, florists, landscapers, coaches, interior designers, and many others. No matter how qualified someone is, Americans must re-apply for permission to work when they move to a new state.

But under Breaking Down Barriers to Work, a new resident of a state is eligible to receive a license to practice their profession, so long as the applicant has held a license in good standing for at least one year and was required to complete testing or training requirements in the initiating state. It’s all about streamlining the licensing process for everyone: State licensing boards don’t have to devote unnecessary time to comparing education or training requirements across all 50 states, and applicants are no longer required to jump through hoops just to continue a career they were already doing safely and productively elsewhere.

Breaking Down Barriers to Work is particularly beneficial for low-income workers—those least able to afford the time and money needed to get re-licensed each time an opportunity across state lines comes up. Having to meet a state’s licensing requirements upon moving there hampers low-income Americans’ ability to take advantage of a job opportunity that arises in another state—in some cases, it may simply be a bridge too far. But Breaking Down Barriers can make it more possible for such a worker to seize an opportunity that comes their way.

Breaking Down Barriers to Work has been garnering bipartisan support in states across the country, because it’s a reform that’s simply common sense. Since Arizona passed Goldwater’s law back in 2019, several states have followed suit: To date, 16 additional states have passed our reform, and you can look for additional states to take up this law in their next legislative session.

And in the states where Breaking Down Barriers is on the books, it’s having real results. So far, nearly 4,000 workers have already benefited from the law in Arizona alone.

This Labor Day, we should keep the dignity of American workers in mind—and in particular, how we can ensure that Americans are free to make a living in the careers they want and need. Breaking Down Barriers is a needed reform to free Americans to work.

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This article was published on September 6, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the Goldwater Institute.