The $1.5-trillion Climate Crisis industry is not about to go quiet into that dark night, or to strut but an hour upon the stage, to then be heard no more. In these desperate times, it is unleashing even more sound and fury, and assaulting new targets, in a frantic effort to expand its heavily subsidized global empire.
The Donald Trump administration and Scott Pruitt EPA continue to emphasize fossil fuels, job creation and economic growth, and deemphasize the Obama obsession with climate change. News headlines hail the shale revolution’s new world order, a huge oil discovery in Alaska and declining OPEC clout. As German industries head to foreign shores and 330,000 Deutsch households cannot afford electricity due to soaring prices, its Chancellery Minister announced to thundering applause that Germany would no longer pursue its unilateral climate, CO2-reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.
Britain and Australia are also second-guessing their wind, solar, biofuel and climate commitments. China, India and a hundred other emerging economies continue to build more coal-fueled power plants, expand vehicle fleets, and import more oil and gas, to modernize and improve living standards. The future of the Paris climate semi-treaty and Global Climate Fund wealth redistribution scheme are increasingly in doubt.
That’s why, as the July 2017 G20 economic summit in Hamburg, Germany draws near, the Climate Cabal is in overdrive. Alarmist scientists, politicians, activists, industrialists and financiers are ramping up their rhetoric about the massive, imminent climate crisis allegedly facing our planet, unless we slash our carbon dioxide emissions, by keeping centuries of oil, gas and coal reserves locked up in the ground.
That means companies that own those reserves, finance or insure fossil fuel projects, or hold investment interests in those reserves or projects will end up with trillions of dollars in “stranded assets” – energy that will be made permanently off limits, once the world has shifted to a totally “decarbonized” global economy. In fact, selling off holdings in fossil fuel enterprises will not be nearly enough. “The freed-up assets must be redirected to more sustainable businesses.”
At least that is the view of AXA Insurance climate and sustainability director Christian Thimann – who also serves as vice-chair of the international Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure. He intends to harness the FSB’s significant power and influence to advance his ideologies and investments – doing so in league with an unbelievable army of like-minded interests, all of whom have enormous political and financial stakes in the outcome of this global policy battle.
Among them are UBS Financial Services and the $5-trillion BlackRock global financial management firm, which now has an index fund for people and organizations that want to divest from companies that BlackRock, AXA and the Cabal have targeted with their anti-carbon campaigns. The tax-exempt anti-carbon pressure group Natural Resources Defense Council has put $70 million into the fund.
Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg – having given millions to tax-exempt anti-fossil fuel agitator groups – is now chairman of the FSB’s Climate Financial Disclosure Task Force. Not surprisingly, it is allied with the state attorneys general who spearheaded the nasty campaign to silence and punish energy companies and think tanks that dared to question the “97% consensus” on manmade climate chaos.
Also onboard are state and city comptroller and treasurer offices (CA, CT, NY, PA, RI, VT), various state and city employee pension funds, the Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk, and numerous radical environmentalist groups like the Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, notes E&E Legal senior fellow Chris Horner.
They will all “profit off environmental policies that they advocate with very close friends in government,” while “amassing wealth in large part through government contracts,” Horner observes – adding that his organization will “work aggressively to reveal the unethical actions” of every party involved.
The unethical behavior begins with claims about climate cataclysms that are not happening in the real world. Dangerous, unprecedented, runaway warming is not occurring. Seas are rising at seven inches a century, not 20 feet. Hurricanes and tornadoes, floods and droughts have not increased in frequency or intensity. There is no proof that manmade CO2 drives climate change or that it will be catastrophic.
Equally deceptive are claims that the technologies and business interests advocated by the FSB, Climate Cabal and their political comrades are in any way “sustainable.” As any rational analysis demonstrates, the metals and other raw materials required, human rights affected, cropland, habitat, wildlife and human health impacts involved, and massive taxpayer and consumer subsidies needed for wind and solar power, ethanol, biodiesel, wood pellets, anaerobic digesters and other “renewable” energy schemes make one thing absolutely clear: the entire sustainability concept is politicized, agenda-driven and unsustainable.
All these inconvenient truths notwithstanding, the FSB has announced that it is going to establish protocols that will supposedly improve the financial sector’s ability to “incorporate climate-related issues in financial reporting” and “enable stakeholders to understand concentrations of carbon-related assets in the financial sector and the financial system’s exposures to climate-related risks.”
Translated into plain English, this means the FSB will help pressure groups with a political/financial stake in the outcome to identify, target, stigmatize, harass and intimidate any entities that they deem are too involved in fossil fuels or insufficiently invested in renewable energy and sustainable businesses. It plans to work with the above-identified activists to secure “voluntary disclosures” and other compliance.
In practice, this means relying less on the federal government and more on friendly international, state and local governing bodies, agitator groups, organizations like the Climate Accountability Scorecard, and the so-called “Equator Principles” that financial institutions “should follow” in energy investing. Their primary targets for these “name and shame” campaigns will likely include the World Bank, private banks, insurance providers, institutional investors and their advisors, pension funds and universities.
The California Insurance Commission has helpfully launched a Climate Risk Carbon Initiative, a searchable database that will make it easy for attack groups to develop target hit lists. A primary tactic will be accusing targets of having inadequate “plans on climate change preparedness and sustainability,” to justify efforts to damage stock portfolio values and demand defunding or divestment.
Meanwhile, major financial and debt issues are growing for numerous nations, states and cities. The FSB and Climate Cabal want us to ignore them, focus on climate change – and have the G20 do likewise.
Even though it is already overly complex, the current financial reporting system works. It deals with real, measurable, familiar risks, and helps countries address and overcome those risks. Politicizing the system, and forcing it to refocus on conjectural, exaggerated and fabricated climate and sustainability risks would upend the entire international energy, insurance and financial system. It would bring disastrous results for jobs and families – but no climate, environmental or sustainability benefits. And it would do absolutely nothing about the unreliable energy, health risks, environmental impacts, child labor and other problems embedded in the renewable and sustainable schemes the Cabal promotes so passionately, and deceitfully.
But the rewards of this FSB/Climate Cabal deceit are enormous – incomprehensible to normal people. Says Thimann: “Over the next 15 years, an estimated $93 trillion will be needed for investments in low-carbon infrastructure.” That’s five times the size of the entire 2015 US economy!
Perhaps worst of all, these FSB and other government officials, unelected bureaucrats, industrialists, and tax-exempt pressure groups are colluding to enrich and empower themselves … and fundamentally transform the global economy – to our detriment, and especially the detriment of the world’s poorest families – using our taxpayer, consumer, and investment, retirement, insurance and pension fund money!
Congress, the Trump administration and responsible state officials need to investigate, terminate and punish this deception, self-dealing, extortion, and incalculable harm to businesses, workers and families that rely on reliable, affordable carbon-based energy (and will for decades to come).
TITUSVILLE — A $6 billion petrochemical plant to be built near Pittsburgh over the next five years will produce more than the polyethylene building blocks for the plastics industry here and worldwide.
It will also produce jobs, a new market for existing businesses, spinoff businesses and cheaper raw materials in the region.
That was the message Wednesday at a sold-out forum on potential regional impacts of the Shell ethane "cracker" plant being built along the Ohio River to process natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. The daylong event at Titusville's Cross Creek Resort attracted almost 400 business, economic development, education and government leaders.
"That shows the kind of interest that's out there," said Dan Weaver, president and executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, major sponsor of the event.
Rightly so, said Denise Brinley, a specialist in strategic industry initiatives for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
"This is the greatest generational economic development we've seen in Pennsylvania, maybe ever," Brinley said.
Jobs: On board and in the fleet
There will be 6,000 construction jobs at the Shell plant and 600 permanent jobs once it's operational in 2021 or 2022, according to company projections.
There's better news.
The plant will be like an aircraft carrier with a fleet of other businesses in its wake, said Dan Borné, retired president of the Louisiana Chemical Association. Borné and other southwestern Louisiana business, education and development leaders addressed local counterparts at Wednesday's forum. Two ethane cracker plants are under construction in that state.
"There will be 8.3 jobs somewhere else for one job at the Shell plant," Borné said.
Jobs at the plant will be particularly prized, he said.
Pay at cracker plants averages $100,000, and that wage is expected to increase by the time the western Pennsylvania cracker comes online, Borné said.
Minimum requirement for plant jobs: five years of relevant experience.
"If you want to work at the cracker plant when it opens, you need to start right now," said Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki, president of two campuses of the Community College of Allegheny County. The community college primarily plans to train students for jobs to gain the experience necessary to move on to the cracker, she said.
Joining the fleet: Subcontractors and vendors
The Shell plant will be built by Bechtel, a San Francisco-based firm that's one of a few in the world able to build megaprojects valued at more than $1 billion, said R.B. Smith, vice president of business and workforce development for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.
The company does much of its own construction and partners with companies that it has worked with previously, Smith said. But there will be opportunities for regional businesses to work on plant construction and provide needed materials, supplies and services, he said.
The bible for doing business with Bechtel is its online manual for suppliers, Smith said.
You need to put together the mass needed to gain the attention of these megacompanies," he said.
Helping local businesses do that or forming a coalition to represent them is a necessary next step, said John Krahe, senior vice president of the Erie-based Manufacturer & Business Association. Krahe attended Wednesday's forum.
"The big take-away is that we need to coordinate our efforts so that not each mom and pop shop is contacting these two big entities," Krahe said.
Small businesses: Catering to new customers
The main opportunity for small businesses will be selling to the people who build the plant and later work there, Smith said.
Understanding that those people will be new customers with new needs and desires will be crucial, he said.
"You may need to change your products or find new products," he said.
Convenience for customers will also be key.
"Time will be more valuable than money to these consumers," Smith said. "They'll be buying online and looking for home delivery. Use technology in marketing to them. Vibrant, active social media won't be optional."
The long game: It's not over until it's over
The Shell plant one day might not be the only cracker in the region, Brinley said.
Preliminary findings of a study now looking at the supply of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shales and the viability of other cracker plants in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia show that the region could support four more ethane crackers to "crack apart" and process liquid natural gas.
"That's a 'wow' moment," Brinley said.
And fitting, given the region's history, Weaver said.
"We launched the oil industry here 158 years ago. Those people went on and taught the world how to drill an oil well," he said.
This new type of oil and gas industry could be just as significant for western Pennsylvania, Krahe said.
"I think it's an opportunity like we haven't seen for quite some time," he said.
A federal judge dealt the latest blow to the planned Constitution Pipeline when he rejected the builder’s argument that it would be injured by having to obtain certain state permits to construct the natural gas pipeline from Northeast Pennsylvania to New York State.
Judge Norman Mordue of the Northern District of New York said the Constitution Pipeline Company failed to show injury from the permit requirements on water crossings, excavations and related activities, even though the state has yet to decide whether to issue them.
“Constitution has not plausibly pleaded injury in fact … it has not pleaded either actual injury or a threatened injury,” the judge wrote in a 15-page opinion issued Thursday. “Constitution merely alleges possible future injury.”
He said the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not refused to issue the permits. Rather, he said, the state has simply not acted on them, and so the company could not argue that it had been injured by the lack of permits.
“A finding of injury to Constitution arising from NYSDEC’s inaction would be based on a speculative chain of possibilities that may never occur,” the judge wrote.
The company had asked the court to support its contention that it didn’t have to obtain the permits, arguing that as a “public utility” project, it pre-empted local regulations.
The judge granted a motion to dismiss brought by New York State, which in April 2016 denied a water-quality permit to the 125-mile project, halting preparations for construction. The company, a joint venture between the Williams Companies and Cabot Oil & Gas, is separately fighting the state’s action in an appeals court.
The ruling is another setback for the project which drew criticism from pipeline opponents when it began clearing trees on some parcels of private land in Pennsylvania after winning eminent domain battles in the courts.
Affected landowners included the Holleran family of New Milford Township, Susquehanna County, which in March 2016 lost several acres of maple trees to a felling crew guarded by heavily armed federal marshals.
Lynda Farrell, executive director of the Pennsylvania-based Pipeline Safety Coalition, said the pipeline may yet be saved if Williams wins its appeal over water permits, but the latest ruling doesn’t bode well for the project.
“I can’t say Constitution is dead, but they sure are floundering,” she said.
By arguing that it shouldn’t have to obtain the permits, Williams is trying to get out of its obligations, using “alternative logic that can be used to bypass what was established as a sound regulatory reason for halting the project,” Farrell said.
Christopher Stockton, a spokesman for Williams, said the company is disappointed by the ruling but it does not affect its water-permit appeal, on which it expects a decision as early as the second quarter of this year.
The company expects the pipeline to begin operations as early as the second quarter of 2018, assuming that legal challenges are “promptly and satisfactorily concluded,” Stockton said. “We remain firmly committed to obtaining the necessary permits and moving forward with this critical energy infrastructure project,” he said.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, welcomed the ruling, which he said builds on New York State’s decision in 2014 to ban fracking for natural gas.
“We applaud the federal court for upholding the Clean Water Act and Gov. Cuomo’s denial of the Constitution Pipeline,” Tittel said in a statement. “In a big victory for the environment, this decision has sided with clean water, the environment, and against dirty fracking pipelines.”