My posts of May 27 and of June 17 have taken note of the tremendous excitement being felt in New York now that our newly-fully-progressive-controlled state legislature has finally tightened up the rent regulation system to make sure that a select group of Manhattan millionaires can keep their way-below-market regulated rents for life. Take that, evil Republicans! But believe it or not, the excitement emanating from the great rent regulation “victory” is nothing compared to the fervor now being generated by the latest bill, just passed yesterday by the state legislature. You can get a sense of the ecstasy from the all-caps New York Times headline appearing over its lead story in this morning’s edition: “BIG CLIMATE PLAN SETS UP NEW YORK AS GLOBAL LEADER.” (The headline in the online version of the story is different, although the story is the same.)
Yes, finally (now that those evil Republicans are gone from their former majority in the state Senate) New York is getting serious on “climate.” And not just a little serious. It is going to become the climate’s “global leader.” What exactly does that entail?
The [Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act] requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower by 2030 and shift entirely to carbon-free power a decade later.
[T]he . . . Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If the state manages to hit those targets, it would effectively create a so-called net-zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others seeking to slow the pace of global warming.
Before getting into the subject of whether there is any reality to this at all, we ought perhaps to have a review of the last time the New York Times declared a world “climate leader.” That would be back in March 2017, when Pravda in a big front-page spread awarded the mantle of “climate leader” to none other than the country of China. March 2017 was, of course, shortly after Donald Trump had assumed the U.S. presidency, and he had just announced that he was not going to follow the “climate” policies of his predecessor Barack Obama. The headline on the March 29, 2017 Times article was “China Poised to Take Lead on Climate After Trump’s Move to Undo Policies.” In a post a few days later on April 1, after first considering whether the Times article had been an April Fool’s gag, I reluctantly concluded that the Times people really believed that the way of the future was in building thousands of wind turbines and solar panels (and therefore, of course, Trump was an idiot). On the subject of the great wisdom of China in pursuing the wind/solar future, the Times quoted at length from Barbara Finemore of the NRDC:
“They’ve set the direction they intend to go in the next five years,” Barbara Finamore, a senior lawyer and Asia director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, based in New York, said of China. “It’s clear they intend to double down on bringing down their reliance on coal and increasing their use of renewable energy.” “China wants to take over the role of the U.S. as a climate leader, and they’ve baked it into their five-year plans,” she added, referring to the economic development blueprints drawn up by the Chinese government.
On June 6, 2017, in another big front page spread, the Times doubled down on the theme that China was taking control of the wind and solar businesses, and thus beating the pants off a U.S. hobbled by the leadership of the idiot Trump. The headline was “China Looks to Capitalize on Clean Energy as U.S. Retreats.”
Today, these muddy plains [of eastern China] are home to a potent symbol of China’s new ambition: to bypass the United States and cement its dominant role in clean energy.
But then we got to July 2, 2017 — the Sunday of July 4 weekend, July 4 being the following Tuesday. There, on page A-10 (does anybody read page A-10 of the Sunday New York Times in the middle of a four-day July 4 weekend?) we found a story with somewhat different information, headlined “As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants.” I covered the July 2 story in a post of the same date titled “What ‘Climate Leadership’ Really Means — Lots More Coal.” Of course, it turned out that while China was publicly talking up “renewable” energy like wind and solar to fool dopes like reporters from the New York Times, what it was really doing was flooding itself and the world with new coal plants:
China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade. These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. . . . Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord, . . . .
And after that, the idea that China was now the “climate leader” just faded quietly from the pages of the New York Times. Now it’s New York’s turn.
So back to New York, and to today’s Times article. What exactly is New York’s plan to get to 70% zero-emissions electricity by 2030 and 85% zero-emissions energy of all types by 2050? The simple answer is that there is no plan. They are going to create something called a “climate action council” to issue us all orders on how to get there:
The nuts and bolts of how to implement the plan would be left to a 22-person “climate action council” comprising top state officials, covering an array of topics like health, economic development, energy, labor and the environment, and advised by smaller working groups with expertise in everything from land use to forestry. The council would be required to issue recommendations for how to meet the goals in two years, after which the state’s regulatory agencies would issue rules to compel industries and residents to meet the standards outlined in the bill.
Quotes from supporters of this scheme only demonstrate how completely ridiculous it is. Governor Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David made the mistake of opening his mouth:
Alphonso David, the counsel to Mr. Cuomo, said that while the aggressive goals might lead to measures to curb gas-powered cars or inefficient furnaces, there was no knowing how exactly the state would get there. “There’s new technology we are discovering every single day,” said Mr. David. “We may be talking about a very different world in terms of how we think about cars, how we think about airplanes and how we think about gasoline.”
Meanwhile, what’s really happening on the ground? Far and away the most significant thing from the perspective of carbon emissions is that the state is in the process of forcing the closure as early as next year of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which provides about 25% of the electricity for New York City (which would be about 12% of the electricity for the entire state) with zero carbon emissions. To be replaced with what — wind? You must be joking. In fact, the replacement is two gigantic new natural gas plants, one that just opened in Waywayanda in Orange County, and another that is nearing completion in the town of Dover in Dutchess County. Obviously, carbon emissions are going up, not down. I can assure you that they will never, ever build enough wind turbines or solar panels to obviate even these two huge natural gas plants.
And for the non-electricity part of energy usage — everything from cars, to airplanes, to home heating, to agriculture, to all of industry? They don’t have any clue whatsoever. Do you think that this “climate action council” is really going to issue an edict that all airlines using Kennedy airport must suddenly fly zero-emissions airplanes starting tomorrow? Sorry, no more air travel to or from New York until somebody invents the wind-powered airplane. It’s completely delusional. Equally delusional is that these guys would suddenly order massive swaths of agriculture and industry to shut down, along with all their jobs.
The only real question is how fast and how badly this is all going to fail. As readers here know, I am actually rooting for them to impose some of these edicts and their associated costs on the New York voting public. Only through that process will this nonsense finally be stopped.