He’s CRAAZY for solar energy.

Another sign of renewables going mainstream.




Not just banning words. Banning thought.

Silencing Science Tracker:

On January 17, 2018, the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Lamar Smith, and the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment, Andy Biggs, requested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) investigate possible violations of anti-lobbying rules by Dr. Linda Birnbaum, the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

In a letter to HHS, Representatives Smith and Biggs expressed concern about an article co-authored by Dr. Birnbaum, in PLOS Biology. The article discussed seven peer-reviewed studies of federal toxics regulation which, according to Dr. Birnbaum and her co-authored, showed that “existing US regulations have not kept pace with scientific advances showing that widely used chemicals cause serious health problems at levels previously assumed to be safe.” They went on to state: “Closing the gap between evidence and policy will require that engaged citizens, both scientists and nonscientists, work to ensure our government officials pass health-protective policies based on the best available scientific evidence.”

According to Representatives Smith and Biggs,  by “encourag[ing] citizens to petition government officials” for policy changes, Birnbaum may be violating anti-lobbying rules. They request that HHS “analyze these concerns to determine whether it is appropriate to launch a full scale review of the situation.” They also request that HHS provide the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology with copies of “all documents and communications regarding the PLOS collection of articles” so it can conduct its own review.


REPUBLICANS ON THE House Science Committee are accusing Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, of lobbying. In letters sent to the Inspector General and acting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Reps. Lamar Smith and Andy Biggs wrote that they were “conducting oversight” of Birnbaum’s activity in response to a editorial she wrote in a scientific journal.

Birnbaum’s editorial, which the journal PLOS Biology published in December, addressed the gaps in the regulation of toxic chemicals. Though there are more than 85,000 chemicals approved for use in commerce, she noted in the piece, “U.S. policy has not accounted for evidence that chemicals in widespread use can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, damage reproductive systems, and harm developing brains at low levels of exposure once believed to be harmless.”

Birnbaum called for more research on the risks posed by chemicals and, in the sentence that the representatives appear to consider lobbying, noted that “closing the gap between evidence and policy will require that engaged citizens — both scientists and non-scientists — work to ensure that our government officials pass health-protective policies based on the best available scientific evidence.”

A toxicologist who has headed NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program since 2009, Birnbaum received no funding for writing the editorial, as she notes in the piece, nor does she recommend any specific policy, piece of legislation, or action in it beyond being engaged citizens.

Nevertheless, Biggs and Smith, who have both received money from Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other companies that have a financial interest in limiting research on the environmental effects of chemicals, noted that their “committee suspects this activity may be a violation of the anti-lobbying act.” The two Republican members of Congress also called on the DHHS Inspector General to analyze their concerns so that he might “launch a full-scale review of the situation.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists’s Andrew Rosenberg dismissed the representatives’ letters as “codswallop.” Read the rest of this entry »


A relative mourned next to the body of a polio vaccination worker who was killed by gunmen in Quetta, Pakistan, on Thursday. Arshad Butt/Associated Press

As our own home grown Taliban thrives under an anti-science administration, might be a useful exercise to ponder where it leads.

When you reflect that anti-vaccination shibboleths have made their way into Republican Presidential debates in the USA, you see the problem.


Two polio vaccinators — a mother-daughter team — were shot dead in Pakistan on Thursday, the first time in two years that the polio eradication drive had been shaken by assassinations.

While tragic, the killings in Baluchistan Province will not seriously disrupt Pakistan’s eradication drive, said one of its leaders.

“We are very close to winning the battle,” said Aziz Memon, a textile executive who heads Rotary International’s local polio vaccination efforts.

Last year, Pakistan had only eight confirmed cases of polio paralysis; four years ago, the nation had 306.

The only other country with continuing transmission of polio is Afghanistan, which had 14 cases last year, most of them in provinces adjoining Pakistan and among Pashtuns, the predominant ethnic group in border areas.

Two years ago, the blast of a suicide bomber near a polio center in Quetta, the province’s main city, killed a local official and 13 police officers assigned to guard vaccination teams. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The vaccinators, a 38-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter, were each shot in the head by motorcycle-riding assassins, the Pakistani authorities said. Mr. Memon said he would go to Quetta to console and compensate the widower, a truck driver with six other children. In the past, Rotary has given the families of murdered vaccinators thousands of dollars.

India has it’s own analog of the Republican Party.


NEW DELHI—A new front has opened in the war on science in India. On Friday, India’s minister for higher education, Satyapal Singh, took aim at the theory of evolution. Calling himself “a responsible man of science,” Singh, a chemist, suggested that Darwin’s theory is “scientifically wrong” and “needs to change” in school and university curricula. In remarks on the sidelines of a conference in Aurangabad, in central India, Singh further noted that “nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ok, no surprise the Putin puppets, coal worshippers and wind baggers in the Trump administration have levied a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels.
While I don’t blame vampires for resisting being dragged into the sunlight, think about it this way guys, at least you’ll be free of those chains.

There’s a lot of handwringing going on, but remember, solar modules – imports of which are now subject to the a 30% tariff – represent only a fraction of the total cost of installing solar panels.

A little perspective in order, which I found on this twitter thread from Ramez Naam.

Ramez Naam on Twitter:

Trump today imposed 30% tariffs on silicon solar panels imported into the US. This is dumb and avaricious, and will hurt the solar industry in the US. But, at most, it’s a temporary speed-bump. Here’s why.

So, big picture, the unstoppable renewable revolution has a succinct reply to the fossil fuel troglodytes.

We already know Mexico is not going to pay for it.



President Donald Trump’s effort to put coal miners back to work stumbled in most coal producing states last year, even as overall employment in the downtrodden sector grew modestly, according to preliminary government data obtained by Reuters.

Trump made reviving the coal industry, and the declining communities that depend upon its jobs, a central tenet in his presidential campaign and has rolled back Obama-era environmental regulations to give the industry a boost.

But the effort has had little impact on domestic demand for coal so far, with U.S. utilities still shutting coal-fired power plants and shifting to cheaper natural gas – moving toward a lower carbon future despite the direction the White House is plotting under Trump.

Unreleased full-year coal employment data from the Mining Health and Safety Administration shows total U.S. coal mining jobs grew by 771 to 54,819 during Trump’s first year in office, led by Central Appalachian states like West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania – where coal companies have opened a handful of new mining areas for shipment overseas.

“You know, West Virginia is doing fantastically well,” Trump told Reuters in an interview this week about the state, which gained 1,345 coal jobs last year, according to the data. “It’s great coal.”

But the industry also lost jobs in other Appalachian states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland; the western Powder River Basin states Montana and Wyoming; as well as in several other states like Indiana, New Mexico, and Texas.


The bright spots in the industry in 2017 came amid a big surge in demand for shipments from overseas, said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

“We have seen production rise this past year by more than six percent and exports rise five-fold over the previous year,” he told Reuters.

”Honest people can differ over how much credit the president deserves for this revival and how much credit belongs to market forces,“ he added. ”To those of us closest to the coal industry, there is little question that the administration’s regulatory reset … has made a decisive difference.”

Washington Post:

Trump claims West Virginia is exporting “clean coal” to China. But this is wrong for two reasons. One, in 2015 and 2016, West Virginia exported virtually no coal to China. Two, there is no such thing as “clean coal.” Electricity-generating plants can mitigate some of the effects of burning coal by capturing carbon dioxide and burying it, but that doesn’t make the coal itself cleaner. And more important, the bulk of the exports of coal to China involve metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, not generate electricity.

Read the rest of this entry »


RenewEconomy (Australia):

UK-based billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is looking to buy equipment from and use part of the old Holden factory in South Australia to create an electric vehicle production line in what would be a remarkable transformation of Australia’s car industry and economy.

Gupta, whose GFG Alliance last year bought the OneSteel business in Australia with a view to powering the Whyalla and other steelworks with renewable energy and storage, has the backing of the South Australia government, keen to support what it sees as the “inevitable” transition to EVs.

The proposal to buy the disused GM assets would be a partial reprise of the Tesla story in California, which used an old factory in Fremont, once jointly owned by GM and Toyota, to launch its Tesla Model S electric vehicle.

Any EV production plant at GM’s former operations in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide, would likely source steel from Gupta’s newly acquired steel operations, and use renewable energy supplied by its newly merged SIMEC Zen energy business.

Gupta has insisted that supplying the Whyalla steelworks with renewable energy – solar, pumped hydro, battery storage and demand management – is critical to reverse its fortunes of the ageing Whyalla steelworks and make it profitable.

The plan is a direct rebuttal of claims that renewable energy would be the death of manufacturing and energy intensive businesses in Australia. Numerous big energy users are now turning to wind and solar to slash their electricity costs.

Gupta intends to take the same model to his even more energy intensive operations in Victoria and NSW, which he also bought as part of the OneSteel package.

Gupta has teamed up with Zen Energy, now SIMEC Zen, to provide electricity to the South Australia government pending the construction of the new solar tower and storage facility in Port Augusta. SIMEC Zen’s contribution will be renewable once its new solar plants and storage are built.


Read the rest of this entry »