Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fear of Synthetic Chemicals

Two recently published books are at opposite poles regarding the risks imposed by the addition of synthetic chemicals into our environment.  One book is “Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants” by Carl Cranor.  The title speaks for its side in the argument.  The other book is “Scared to Death: How Chemophobia Threatens Public Health” a multi-author book edited by Jon Entine.

The arguments in Legally Poisoned center on the view that Americans are unwilling guinea pigs exposed to thousands of toxic synthetic chemicals and that more than 200 “toxicants” show up in the body when testing for these chemicals.   Continue reading


There are many asteroids out there and NASA’s Deep Space Network tries to keep track of those that will pass near the Earth.  They are reporting that asteroid 2005 YU55 will fly by at 0.85 lunar distances.  Which is another way of saying it will be closer to us than the moon (1.0 lunar distance).  It is pretty big too, at 400 feet in diameter.  It was discovered in 2005 (note the identification of this asteroid begins with 2005) by Tucson’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

It will be so close that NASA spokesman says:

Yeomans said that with new radar capabilities at Goldstone in California — part of NASA’s Deep Space Network — there is a good chance of obtaining radar imaging of 2005 YU55 down to the 5-meter resolution level. Doing so, he said, would mean obtaining higher spatial resolution of the object than that attained by recent spacecraft flyby missions.

“So we like to think of this opportunity as a close flyby mission with Earth as the spacecraft,” Yeomans told “When combined with ground-based optical and near-infrared observations, the radar data should provide a fairly complete picture of one of the larger potentially hazardous asteroids,” he said.

More about this flyby is available on the Fox News posting which you can read by clicking here.

There is an interesting site that daily posts the upcoming near Earth fly bys and can be seen by clicking here.


Obama Wants Supreme Court To Throw Out Case Against Utilities

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups as well as several States.  This group is asking the Court to force power plants in 20 states to reduce their CO2 emissions.  The Obama Administration is siding with the power companies asking that the EPA throw out the lawsuit.  Obama on the side of the Utility companies you ask with a stunned look on your face.  Well, they are but not because they don’t want to cut CO2 emissions.  They are arguing that the Supremes should not set the regulations, but rather that should be left to the EPA which has not yet written them.  They say that the Court should not meddle in the powers given to the Executive Branch of which, as you know, the EPA is a member.

Laurence Tribe, lib lawyer extraordinaire, is supporting the Administration in their quest to get the Supremes to drop the case.  In his letter to the Boston Globe he says:

“Congress, through the Clean Air Act and other measures, has empowered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases, and that agency has begun to do so, prodded by a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Massachusetts when the state sued the EPA to compel it to take up the problem. The courts should reject the political and administrative roles that would be thrust upon them by litigants dissatisfied with Congress’s decision to entrust the EPA with this challenging mission — or by those dissatisfied with the efforts of the president and the State Department to engage in the international diplomacy required to cope with an obviously international problem.” (underlines are my emphasis)

Give me a break.  The  previous Congress thought it necessary that it write legislation to manage CO2 but could not get a bill to pass. And that was with a Democrat majority in both houses and the Presidency!!!   How does that translate into “…Congress’s decision to entrust the EPA”????  Today, neither the House nor Senate could muster a bill with 50% voting for regulation of CO2.

NOW, Tribe thinks the Supreme’s activities on this topic are a “dangerous perversion of the judicial process and would likely retard efforts to grapple with climate change…..”  It was A-ok to do it in the Massachusetts versus the EPA when it resulted in the Supremes making that horrible decision in Mass.’s favor. Do I smell hypocrisy?

I believe there are two reasons Obama, supported by Tribe, don’t want the Supremes involved any more:

  • Fear that the Supremes will somehow try to make up for their previous error by narrowing the EPA’s power to regulate
  • Hundreds of lawsuits await the EPA if they follow through with their intended path of focusing on the “big polluters–hence Utilities and automobiles” and ignoring everything else.  Folks say that the EPA can’t be selective—- picking and choosing whom they are going to regulate— but rather like with other “pollutants” they must regulate all sources. All the hospitals, the high schools, the office building down the street, your house, etc.  The EPA  doesn’t want anyone to tell them what to regulate.  A decision by the Supremes to set emission limits on these utilities would open the gate for the lawsuits.
UPDATE 19 APRIL 2011  Seems the Supremes are likely to side with Obama. See this posting.

Real Wind Power Data—Disappointing Performance

It is difficult to get comprehensive data on wind farm performance as it is shielded from view by “protection of competitive data” or by contract terms.  A new study bearing comprehensive data from Scotland confirms what skeptics have been saying about windfarm performance. This new study is perhaps the most comprehensive since the Bentek Energy(an energy analytics firm) study of Colorado and Texas windfarms.

Stuart Young Consulting with support from the JOHN MUIR TRUST (emphasis mine, to highlight that this study was commissioned by a green NGO) has released a report studying the ability of wind power to make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy supply. It concludes that the average power output of wind turbines across Scotland is well below the rates often claimed by industry and government.

This report examined 5 common claims by the wind industry and the Scottish Government.   The five claims are in RED with the actual result in BLACK:

1. ‘Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year’ In fact, the average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.

2. ‘The wind is always blowing somewhere’ On 124 separate occasions from November 2008 to December 2010, the total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW (a fraction of the 450MW expected from a capacity in excess of 1600 MW). These periods of low wind lasted an average of 4.5 hours.

3. ‘Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.’ Actually, low wind occurred every six days throughout the 26-month study period. The report finds that the average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.

4. ‘The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.’ At each of the four highest peak demand points of 2010, wind output was extremely low at 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.

5. ‘Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.’ The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.

The final claim about “pumped storage” varies with the area where the windfarms are located.  In the US, an area such as the Great Plains, where wind availability is favorable to siting of windfarms, has little to no pumped storage hydro capacity available.   Availability in most other areas is either used or would be difficult to develop as environmental groups object to the use of dams.  Further there is a loss of efficiency when the windpower electricity is used to pump water to some higher elevation and then recovered in hydroelectric turbines.

The author of the report said:

It was a surprise to find out just how disappointingly wind turbines perform in a supposedly wind-ridden country like Scotland. Based on the data, for one third of the time wind output is less than 10% of capacity, compared to the 30% that is commonly claimed.

At the end of the period studied, the connected capacity of wind power was over 2500MW so the expectation is that the wind network will produce, on average, 750MW of energy. In fact, it’s delivering far less than everyone’s expectations. The total wind capacity metered now is 3226MW but at 3a.m. on Monday 28th March, the total output was 9MW.

To see the John Muir Trust posting in more detail, click here

For further information on the Bentex study mentioned at the begining of this posting click here.