George Osborne and the Budget of Meh

Osborne is not stupid…

From George Osborne’s Budget speech:

Renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain’s energy mix – but I will always be alert to the costs we are asking families and businesses to bear.

Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment was established by the previous Government.

It is cumbersome, bureaucratic and imposes unnecessary cost on business.

So we will seek major savings in the administrative cost of the Commitment for business.

If those cannot be found, I will bring forward proposals this autumn to replace the revenues with an alternative environmental tax.

Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years.

And so my RHF the Energy Secretary will set out our new gas generation strategy in the autumn to secure investment.

I also want to that ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea.

We are today introducing a major package of tax changes to achieve this.

We will end the uncertainty over decommissioning tax relief that has hung over the industry for years by entering into a contractual approach.

We are also introducing new allowances including a £3 billion new field allowance for large and deep fields to open up West of Shetland, the last area of the basin left to be developed.

A huge boost for investment in the North Sea.

If this is the best Gideon can do it’s no wonder the markets have responded with a yawn of supreme indifference. This isn’t a Budget for growth. It isn’t a Budget for the squeezed middle. It’s a Budget of meh.

Osborne is not stupid. (At least not totally so). He knows damned well that renewables are a hopeless waste of space and money. He also knows as the second bit intimates that Britain’s abundant shale gas supplies are by far our best hope for a secure, clean, cheap energy future.

Unfortunately, he faces at least two major problems. One of them is the Guardian/green/Lib-Dem/BBC nexus, which is being given carte blanche to continue with its mendacious, junk-science claims that “fracking” and shale gas production represent some kind of major environmental threat. Last night’s lamentably misleading coverage of the issue last night on BBC Newsnight was a case in point. Nick Grealy, explains here why it was so bad.

The other problem is that though in private Osborne can sound as red-meat a conservative as Maggie Thatcher in her prime he entirely lacks her cojones.

It really, really, really isn’t difficult explaining why renewables are a disaster area and why shale gas and nuclear are our only hope of keeping the lights on and the economy alive. If Osborne needs a few tips may I recommend an excellent book. No, not Watermelons though obviously I highly recommend that one too. I mean Power Politics by Michael J Economides and Peter C Glover. A good starting point might be the section headed Ten Fracking Things Everyone Should Know. And then maybe The Myth of Viable, Industrial-Scale Renewable Energy.

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Frogs, scorpions, greens, lies… | James Delingpole

June 29, 2011

Thanks to the miracles of modern technology etc this post comes to you courtesy of an American Airlines flight 30,000 odd feet over the US on my journey to the Soviet Socialist Republic of California. I’m going there to address some of the few remaining sane people there who haven’t yet been driven out by the state’s bonkers fiscal and regulatory regime, or been driven to destitution by measures to protect the Snail Darter de nos jours – an obscure fish called the California Delta Smelt.

I’ll try to keep this a short post because laptops play havoc with my neck. And because of where I’m headed, I thought I’d pay tribute in this one to LA resident Phelim McAleer co-author – with Ann McElhinney – of the Not Evil Just Wrong documentary debunking CAGW.

McAleer is kind of the anti-Michael Moore: using similar guerilla video techniques but against the liberal-left rather than in support of it.

His most recent coup was to ambush Josh Fox the documentary-maker responsible for an eco-propaganda movie called Gasland, whose key scene is the one where a man in Colorado turns on his tap, strikes a match, and – lo! – it catches fire. We are invited by the film to believe that this is an unfortunate side-effect of the shale gas process known as “fracking.” It is visual short hand for: shale gas is evil. Problem is, the scene is misleading in the extreme.

You’ll find a pretty good summary of the story here (ow my neck)

Last week, well-known Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer showed up to a screening of Gasland in Chicago with a couple of straightforward questions for the film’s star, Josh Fox.

In particular, McAleer was interested in Josh’s take on the by-now famous scene in Gasland of Mike Markham lighting his faucet on fire – you remember the one, right? It’s the scene that enabled Fox to sell his film to HBO in the first place. But it’s also one that has been debunked – flatly and frequently – by regulators in Colorado. Heck, these guys even went so far as to issue an official document on official state letterhead tearing the film to shreds, citing Josh’s distorted representation of the Markham well as exhibit A.

So all McAleer wanted to know is whether Fox is aware of the substance of those rebuttals. Is aware that the vertical shaft of Markham’s water well “penetrated at least four different coal beds” before making contact with potable water. Is aware that a 1976 report from the Colorado Division of Water Resources cites “troublesome amounts” of “hydrogen sulfide, methane, iron, fluoride and sodium” in local water wells in this area, well before oil and gas development commenced. That kind of stuff.

Fox’s response? Sure, he’s aware of all that evidence – how can he not be? So why didn’t he include mention of it anywhere in his film? “I don’t care about the report from 1976,” Fox replied. “There are reports from 1936 that people say they can light their water on fire in New York State. But that [has] no bearing on this situation. At all.” According to Josh, the fact that methane was present in water long before oil and gas activity is “not relevant” to the question at hand.

It also reports on the equally significant aftermath which is that, rather than fess up to his – ahem – error, Fox got his lawyers on the case and did his damnedest to keep footage of McAleer’s ambush off the internet.

And the question I want to ask here is: Why? It’s a “why” that applies equally well to almost everything to do with the modern environmental movement. Why, if the science is so “settled” and the case for putting the global economy on a war footing to “combat climate change” so strong, do they keep needing to tweak and exaggerate their message?

Why, as Greenpeace’s former head Gerd Leipold once famously excused  his organisation when it was caught out telling porkie pies on the extent of the Greenland ice sheet melt, do they have to “emotionalise the issue”? After all, surely if the issue is really what they say it is it wouldn’t need “emotionalising” with spin and lies and exaggeration and disingenuous camera footage: it would be plain for all to see and we’d all do something about it.

Let me answer my rhetorical question. In almost every case the facts simply do not support the Green movement’s extravagant claims. When, for example, the Prince of Wales jets in with his entourage to Rio to announce that we have 100 months to save the world from Climate Change, he is talking out of his princely posterior. If no action whatsoever were to be taken to deal with “climate change”, does anyone honestly believe that in 83 months time (if my adding up is correct) the world would not be functioning as well as ever? (Better in fact, because there’d be fewer wind farms and fewer eco-regulations hampering the global economic recovery).

Just recently, in case you missed the good news, carbon prices have tanked on the European exchange: (H/T GWPF)

EU carbon prices have slumped 15% in one week, as a slew of bearish news took its toll on the markets. “It’s just been carnage these last few days,” said a trader at an investment bank in London. “There has been a huge amount of liquidation from funds, banks and utilities.” Mark Lewis, a Paris-based analyst at Deutsche Bank, said he does not expect emissions in the ETS to ever return to their 2008 levels of 2.12 billion tCO2e

And there’s a reason for that: you can fool the public some of the time and you can fool the media an awful lot of the time but what you can’t do for very long is fool the markets. Markets deal, ultimately, with reality. The environmental movement is a religion which deals with anything but.

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