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Weekly John Locke Foundation research division newsletter focusing on environmental issues.

The newsletter highlights relevant analysis done by the JLF and other think tanks as well as items in the news.

1.  North Carolina GA may be moving in right direction on Renewable Portfolio Standard

In 2007 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation, commonly referred to as SB 3, which forces utility customers to buy expensive electricity generated from so called renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The bill mandates that there be a 12.5 percent reduction in electricity generation from traditional sources like coal, natural gas, and nuclear. At least 7.5 percent of that reduction needs to come in the form of a switch to renewables, while 5 percent can come from behavior modification schemes devised by the electric companies to get people to reduce their electricity consumption. All of this is currently being phased in with a target date for full implementation by 2021.

It should be noted that this was passed almost unanimously with the support of both political parties, and it was done with not a single dollar’s worth of benefits from the program ever being quantified. Apparently, it was somehow supposed to reduce global warming, but in fact, North Carolina could generate all of its electricity from wind and solar power and it would never be noticed in global temperatures. For the citizens of North Carolina, or at least those who are not part of the special interest groups who generate this power, it is all cost and no benefit.

Here we are five years later and it looks like at least some of the members of NC’s legislature are beginning to realize how silly an idea this was. The Triangle Business Journal is reporting that there is an effort possibly being mounted to at least scale back the program. Of course complete repeal would make the most sense. It is reported that Rep. Mike Hager, who chairs the House Public Utilities Committee, is looking at proposals. According to an article in the Triangle Business Journal, which devotes most of its space to representing the views of special interest lobbyists for the wind and solar industries, which in large part owe their existence to this and similar programs in other states:

Hager… may propose freezing the total somewhere between 3 percent and the full 12.5 percent. Hager said he’s getting feedback from members of both parties and that he’s open to other options that limit costs to ratepayers, whose electricity bills include a line item for funding utilities’ use of renewable energy.

The John Locke Foundation has consistently opposed this program and, for the last several years, has argued for its total repeal. In 2009, the JLF commissioned the only cost benefit analysis assessing the worthiness of the program, and it found that it is costing the state thousands of jobs and the Treasury tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. As noted, the social benefits are zero.

We are happy that the new legislature may be taking a second look at this purely special interest legislation. We continue our hope they will ultimately go all the way and abolish it completely.

2.  16 years and what do you get? A lot of days day older and no global warming yet.

The graph below, published by CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) showing the most recent global temperature data from the UK’s Met Office — the IPCC’s favorite keepers of temperature data — shows no warming trend starting in 1997. Note that there have been several high points and low points since then but not an upward trend.

As noted by Lord Christopher Monckton:

The equations of classical physics do not require the arrow of time to flow only forward. However, observation indicates this is what always happens. So tomorrow’s predicted warming that has not happened today cannot have caused yesterday’s superstorms, now, can it?

That means They can’t even get away with claiming that tropical storm Sandy and other recent extreme-weather happenings were All Our Fault. After more than a decade and a half without any global warming at all, one does not need to be a climate scientist to know that global warming cannot have been to blame.

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