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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Not-So-Hidden Schemes

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for April 12, included talk about:

  • Still waiting on the LG
  • McKee’s Saturday climate signing in Newport
  • The big-money RI Foundation
  • The big-money Warwick firefighter overtime
  • Voting bills
  • Providence schools still in a lurch

I’ll be on again Monday, April 19, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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No Cost Projections or Means Identified to Achieve Rhode Island’s Green New Deal

The innocently named “2021 Act on Climate”, H5445, has been ominously rocketing through the General Assembly. It passed the full House on March 23 and the full Senate is scheduled to vote on it this afternoon. If it passes, it will have cleared the General Assembly and presumably be sent straight on to Governor Daniel McKee for his action within seven (ten?) days.

Informally dubbed “Rhode Island’s Green New Deal”, H5445 would mandate the reduction to zero by 2050 of greenhouse gases in Rhode Island – a goal that could only be accomplished by eliminating the use of all fossil fuels and transitioning entirely to renewable energy sources, wind and solar; i.e., from reliable, reasonably priced energy sources to intermittent, exorbitantly expensive ones. More about it here, including why the effective date of substantial implementation would be 2026, not thirty long years from now.

But perhaps we are missing something. Have proponents of the bill answered the critically important question about cost of implementation?

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: RI’s Con-Game Government

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 29, included talk about:

  • The Lt. Gov. final 5
  • Climate change politics
  • Kate Coyne McCoy’s threat to “moderate” Dems
  • Cranston’s new far-left Republican
  • Can the log-jam of Providence’s school system be broken up?
  • Were we wrong to doubt Mattiello as the firewall?

I’ll be on again Monday, April 5, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Tell Governor McKee To Veto Rhode Island’s Version Of The Green New Deal!

Take action now! Add your voice to the many thousands who have asked Governor Dan McKee to live up to his promises as an advocate for the small business community, to take decisive action to relieve businesses of excessive green mandates and to ensure our state’s long-term viability by VETOING Rhode Island’s Green New Deal.

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Rhody Reporter: Axe the Act – H5445

The Rhody Reporter is flabbergasted at the scope of a wildly progressive bill just passed by the RI legislature. It would cede all legislative and executive prerogative on RI carbon emissions to an unelected state commission. Mark Zaccaria explains en route to asking everyone to call the governor and beg for a veto!

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Bad Bills and Employment Theater

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 22, included talk about:

  • Bad environmental legislation
  • Bad firearms legislation
  • Bad voting legislation
  • A telling Newsmakers interview
  • No confidence in the teachers’ union
  • A phony lieutenant governor top 10

I’ll be on again Monday, March 29, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Say NO to Radical Energy Scheme Rocketing Through The General Assembly

A full on assault against the average Rhode Island family is rocketing through the General Assembly. The Ocean State is quickly moving to put our own version of the Green New Deal into law. We need you to take action immediately to voice your opposition to it, before it is too late. Click here now to say NO to this far-left radical scheme from the land of make-believe.

This, along with the TCI Gas Tax, will paralyze our state. As we struggle to recover from the pandemic, it should be inconceivable that state lawmakers would choose NOW to consider an additional 30-40 cents per gallon gas tax increase or impose a radical, prohibitively expensive energy scheme.

Yet, the price of gasoline could soon rise (even more than it already has) if a new stealth carbon-tax scheme – the TCI Gas Tax – is implemented … a move that would necessarily increase costs on families and business, driving more people out of our state. The House of Representatives will vote on House Bill 5445 this Tuesday. This version of the state’s green new deal has already passed the RI Senate.

Even if you have contacted lawmakers already, we need you to take action again to oppose RI’s Green New Deal: Click here to contact lawmakers to say NO to the TCI Gas Tax and H5445, Rhode Island’s Green New Deal!

The simple form, once completed, will automatically send an email to the Governor and to legislative leaders telling them to reject the regional gasoline cap-and-trade scheme and RI’s Green New Deal.

Tell them today that you stand against these radical energy schemes. Thank you for taking action, and remember that your voice counts.

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House Vote Tuesday – Would Inflict Extremest Global Warming Measure on RI

On Tuesday, the Rhode Island House will be voting on H5445A. It would mandate the reduction to zero of greenhouse gases in Rhode Island. While the deadline in the bill is 2050, the real deadline is five years from now, at which point, the lawsuits can start. From the bill:

The Rhode Island attorney general, any Rhode Island resident and any Rhode Island corporation, company, organization, nonprofit or other Rhode Island legal entity or organization registered with the Rhode Island secretary of state may bring a civil action to enforce this chapter.

Click here, courtesy UpriseRI, for the case in favor of the bill.

Nowhere in that article or anywhere has there been offered any science or evidence that this most drastic of measures would have any impact whatsoever on global warming nor has there been remotely adequate disclosure about the ludicrous cost of bringing it about (converting every house and building in the state to electric-only heating and AC) or the impact on our power supply of changing the grid over from a reliable, constant fuel source to an unreliable, intermittent one (routine rolling blackouts) while simultaneously adding enormous demand to it or the impact (sky-rocket) on residents’ and businesses’ electric bills of being compelled to purchase power only from renewable energy sources.

In the presumably deliberate absence of this information, accordingly, combined with our observation of the experience of other states who converted even a small portion of their grid to renewables, we can assume the worst on all of those fronts.

If you, like so many of us, do not think this is a good idea, feel free to share your concerns with your state representative before Tuesday.

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Center Calls on McKee to Withdraw R.I. from Raimondo’s TCI Gas Tax Scheme

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity calls on the newly sworn-in Governor of Rhode Island, Daniel McKee, to officially withdraw the Ocean State from the regional gasoline cap-and-trade scheme, known as the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).

“For years as Lieutenant Governor, Dan McKee expressed verbal support for the small business community. Now is the time for the Governor to take action and to separate himself from his predecessor’s anti-business policies. The Governor should immediately put to rest any notion that his administration will impose a job-killing, budget-destroying gasoline tax on businesses and families who are struggling to recover from the pandemic,” commented Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Today, our Center calls on the Governor to take executive action to formally withdraw Rhode Island from the TCI compact.”

In December, former Governor Gina Raimondo signed-on Rhode Island, just one of three states to do so, to the TCI Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). Implementation of TCI would lead to a significant increase in automobile and diesel gasoline prices, while also systematically limiting regional supplies of vehicle fuel.

In calling on Governor McKee to eschew the costly TCI gas tax, the Center points to research and polling that shows why TCI is poor public policy:

  • Rhode Islanders are not “bad guys” that should be punished for driving their vehicles, as one gov’t official in Mass. expressed
  • The regressive TCI gas tax would disproportionately harm low-income families
  • The high economic costs and job losses would further hamper our state’s faltering economy, with virtually no environmental benefit in return
  • An overwhelming majority of polled Ocean Staters do not support TCI, once they understand the high costs
  • A TCI gas tax would make our state even less competitive, by weakening our already worst-in-the-nation business climate

Later this week, the Center will announce a public campaign to petition the Governor and state legislative leaders to reject the TCI compact.

More information about the proposed TCI gas tax can be found on the Center’s TCI webpage: RIFreedom.org/NoTCItax. The Center is one of over two-dozen organizations in the northeast working cooperatively to defeat TCI in their respective states.

[This is a public statement released by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity today.]

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Redhanded: Radical Environmentalists Want to “Break Your Will” To Pass TCI

The shocking words they admit they can’t say publicly… were just made public. They say, if YOU heat your homes or drive passenger cars, YOU are the “bad guys.”

Whether it is “you,” “the person up the street,” or “the senior on fixed income”… the radical environmentalists who support TCI say it is you who they want to “turn the screws on” and “point the finger at,” so they can “break your will” to force you to “stop emitting.”

See the alarming video of the MA Undersecretary for Climate Change talking about the abusive TCI scheme: https://youtu.be/muxVGmgykA4

Learn more by clicking here now to read about how the TCI Gas Tax is bad for Rhode Island families.

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Green on the Grid:  Texas is a Huge Red Flag

Count me among those somewhat surprised to learn that the electric grid of the State of Texas, perhaps best known for oil production (and proud of it), incorporates wind turbines in its electric grid. In fact,

… wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of energy in Texas, accounting for 23% of state power supplies last year

But as you have probably seen, this “green energy” source has turned into a big Achilles heel for Texas’ electric grid in the cold front that has descended on that state and much of the country. As of yesterday,

Frozen wind turbines have caused almost half of Texas’s wind generation capacity to go offline in the midst of an “unprecedented storm”.

The Lone Star state is under a state of emergency after freezing conditions swept the region, causing dangerously icy roads and leaving nearly 3 million people without power.

Update: frozen wind turbines led to a drop in Texas’ wind power from thirty one gigawatts to six and there are currently 3.4 million power outages. The situation is getting worse, not better.

Texas, and other states, has resorted to rolling blackouts. In below-freezing temperatures, this is literally a life-threatening situation for states like Texas which rely on electricity for heat (and lots of other critical activities).

A small but vocal group of advocates, promoted by many gauzy-eyed members of the mainstream media, have for years been pushing to transition to green energy away from fossil fuel.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Outgoing and Incoming

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for February 8, included talk about:

  • The Center’s poll on TCI
  • The outgoing governor’s farewell (but I won’t get out) address
  • The progressive legislator’s privilege
  • The incoming governor’s well-meaning bungles

I’ll be on again Monday, February 15, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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TCI Gas Tax: Hurting Families While Accomplishing Little

One doesn’t have to be a climate-change skeptic to wonder why our elected officials would pursue an agreement that hands over some of their authority in order to impose a significant burden on the people they represent for a small benefit to others… all just as Rhode Islanders struggle to regain their feet from the COVID lockdown that the same governor imposed through executive order.

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TCI: The Next Step in Government by Fiat

The governor gave herself unprecedented power to make us do and not do things for our own good (from her perspective) with COVID-19, and there was never any reason to believe she would restrict that philosophy to the pandemic if she could get away with pushing the envelope. Well… she’s pushing the envelope.

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Time for Government to Pop the Superficial and Focus on What’s Important

Being in the car less, recently, I’ve fallen behind on podcast listening, so the episode of Changing Gears to which I listened while working out last night was a few weeks old.  The guys were explaining the various reasons (having to do with materials, labor, and politics) that Rhode Island’s roads don’t last.

Not long afterwards, I was back at the computer and thinking (again) how far Internet technology has come in the past year… when the power went out.  All the Zooming, podcasting, on-demand streaming, and other innovations that this viral crisis has made so critical to basic life fell of the table of social organization in an instant.  On a clear night, the flow of electricity just stopped.

Growing up, I don’t remember ever losing power when the weather didn’t provide an obvious explanation, and it seems to be becoming more common in recent years.  Every time it happens, I can hear a few more generators running, as my neighborhood adapts to this new reality over time.

While the world has been substantially shut down, I’ve also been catching up on reading legislation that managed to receive floor votes.  Here’s one to ban disposable plastic shopping bags, and I note the news today that San Francisco has now banned reusable shopping bags to prevent spread of COVID-19.  Another bill that didn’t manage to get a vote in the innocent days before the pandemic (House, Senate) would have criminalized the intentional release of balloons into the air.

Yes, while a virus was spreading around the planet bringing death and economic ruin, Rhode Island legislators were pondering a bill titled “Relating to Health and Safety – Balloons.”

Whether we’re talking about the roads or the power grid or the budgetary desperation we’re hearing from our elected officials, the message ought to be clear:  Rhode Island has to get back to basics.  Stop worrying about balloons.  Stop micromanaging the economy.  Stop confiscating tax money from people in order to fund superfluous things or pet projects.

This crisis is illustrating the necessity of government for a variety of functions, but it is also proving the need for government to do those critical things well.  And that means focusing on them, including a halt to the drain of taxpayer money to things that just shouldn’t be priorities.  Both basic government functions and private-sector activity are more important.

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Casimiro and Vella-Wilkinson on Pending Legislation

Guests: Julie Casimiro, State Representative, H-D 31, rep-Casimiro@rilegislature.gov
Camille Vella-Wilkinson, State Representative, H-D 21, rep-vella-wilkinson@rilegislature.gov
Host: Richard August
Topic: Vaping and other pending legislation
Host: Richard August Time: 60 minutes
Representatives Casimiro and Vella-Wilkinson discuss a broad range of pending legislation and other matters, which have their concern. Topics include vaping legislation; a veteran joint oversight committee; pharmacist having birth control prescription authority; reproductive health; firearm legislation; climate control; out of school time learning; early parole for young rehabilitated offenders; military sexual assault trauma; and more. Other matters include the need for a constitutional convention; line item veto; minimum wage; and candidate endorsements.

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Promising the World to Sell the Policy

A couple things should be observed about the claims of RI Department of Environmental Management Deputy Director Terrence Gray on State of the State, recently.

Mr. Gray was on the show to talk about the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).  That’s a proposed regional organization that our state government wants to permit to tax gasoline to create a slush fund for projects that can fit under the “green” umbrella.

The definition of the “tax” is the first observation that must be made.  At one point, Mr. Gray insists that TCI is not a new gas tax, but then he proceeds to describe the mechanism by which the tax is implemented.  It reminds me of an old Remi song about cap-and-trade schemes:

It sounds like cap and trade is a tax we pay then
No sir, cap and trade is just a regulation

See tax is when there’s money spent
this is just a fee to the government

With TCI, the new regional government artificially limits gasoline production and distribution, forcing companies to bid for “allowances.”  The profit from these bids goes to government.  It’s a tax.

Which brings us to the spending part of the equation.  The other important observation one can make from Mr. Gray’s commentary is that he tried to sell the new tax on a wide variety of great things that could be done with the money, when obviously, it can’t go to everything.  So, when convenient, he’ll talk about spending it on public transportation… or charging stations for private cars… or some sort of dividend or fund to offset the new costs for residents.  Until there’s a written plan, it’s possible to say that the money will do any number of wonderful things.

If we look to the spending of the similar Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which covers energy production with a regional cap-and-trade scheme, we can get some sense of what actually happens.  Maybe early on the money is used to offset something in the costs to average Rhode Islanders, but inevitably, the funds drift toward government, whether solar for municipalities, buses for RIPTA, or similar programs.

Those may or may not be worthwhile projects, but one suspects it would be a harder sell if it were made clear that TCI is, yes, just another tax to fund government activities, which ought to be funded already if they’re good ideas, given the amount we already pay for government.

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Q & A On TCI, The Transportation & Climate Initiative

Q. What is TCI?

The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a multi-state regional agreement designed to drive up the price of motor fuel (gasoline and on-road diesel). As a regressive tax, the TCI Gas Tax will disproportionately harm low-income families, especially those who live some distance from commercial centers or their workplace.

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State of the State: Terrence Gray on TCI

Guest: Terrence Gray, Deputy Director, RI Dept. Environment Management, dem.ri.gov
Host: John Carlevale Time: 30 minutes
TCI is a multi-state effort of transportation, energy and environmental agencies to work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through fees. The model is a “cap and invest” approach which Gray explains will generate revenue which will be invested in more environmentally friendly systems to cut greenhouse gasses. The challenging question is: Will these fees levied at the petroleum produces increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel?

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We’re Backing The TCI Gas Tax Proponents Into a Corner

It is not by accident that the proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is losing support among many of the states it has targeted… to the point where some proponents are considering a Plan-B.

Last week, I traveled to Boston to meet with other organizations from east coast states who oppose TCI, a regional compact targeting 12 states and Washington DC that seeks to impose a 5 to 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, with the intent of forcing Rhode Island to drive less often and into more costly and less convenient electric vehicles and public transportation options.

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Anti-TCI Gas Tax Coalition Meets

The first observation that a conservative might make upon reading Chris Lisinski’s State House News Service article on a press conference of groups opposing the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) gas tax is the skewed perspective.  According to Lisinski, conservatives’ expressing their view on an issue “deepened tensions between the think tanks who hosted it and environmental groups.”  When environmental groups hold similar events, are they ever described as “deepening tensions” with people who disagree with them?

Still, hearing from folks on the other side is always valuable:

One of those individuals, Environmental League of Massachusetts President Elizabeth Henry, told the News Service that she did not intend to ask any questions but hoped to hear a clear alternative for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from TCI opponents. She said that hope went unfulfilled.

“We have a statutory obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050,” she said, referring to the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 that sets an emissions reduction target. “Climate change mitigation is statutorily mandated, and if not TCI, then what? I’m open to hearing it, but I feel like we have a really great solution in TCI.”

As Rhode Island’s governor attempts to impose the absurd goal of 100% renewable energy supply in her state by 2030, we should consider what Henry is making of this “statutory obligation.”  If it can’t be met without imposing overly restrictive burdens on the people of the state, then remove it.  Presumably, one is supposed to bow in the face of “statutory obligations,” but the reality is that the obligations are only statutory.  They can be changed easily with another statute.

Thus does the Left like to box a democracy in, to make it seem as if the people have no choice.  In this case, TCI is an attempt to hide the choices that have been made, as one of the TCI-opponents explains:

“Why are they doing this through this interstate compact? Why don’t you just raise the gas tax by 17 cents? The infrastructure is already in place to collect the tax, you wouldn’t have to hire any more bureaucrats to do it,” said Rob Roper, president of the Ethan Allen Institute in Vermont. “The reason they’re doing it through this convoluted, expensive means is because it’s a CYA program for politicians who don’t want to be seen as raising a tax.”

Supporters of this sort of environmental policy take intricate steps to make it seem as if the public has no choice and then to make it difficult to find accountability when they don’t like the choices that have been made.

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Executive Order of Priorities

Of course, an executive order like the one that Rhode Island Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo just released, saying that Rhode Island will be 100% reliant on “renewable energy” by 2030, is subject to all the usual political caveats.  Most notably, she’ll be long out of office by the time that date rolls around, and even by the time any imposed restrictions start to really bite.

Reading the press release, however, something else jumps out:

Governor Gina M. Raimondo today signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade. Her executive order directs the state’s Office of Energy Resources to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this bold, but achievable goal.

“When we meet this goal, Rhode Island will be the first state in America to be powered by 100% renewable electricity,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We’re already leading the fight against climate change, but we have to take increasingly aggressive action if we want to avoid catastrophe. As governor of a coastal state and mom to two teenagers, I’m fully committed to protecting the beauty of our state and our way of life for future generations.”

Where’s the executive order that 100% of Rhode Island students will graduate from high school… and with performance at grade level?  Where’s the executive order that everybody who wants a job will have one?

Now, I’m not actually asking for executive orders on these issues, because I think they’d be a foolish approach to policy, but the governor’s global-warming order is foolish for the same reasons.  It does, however, show her priorities, and one suspects her perpetually bad approval ratings are evidence that Rhode Islanders don’t share them.