Paul Krugman in the New York Times (from email – link when available):

It’s hard to feel any sympathy for Trish Regan, the Fox News host who was fired after a rant in which she called the coronavirus “yet another attempt to impeach the president.” We may never know how many Fox viewers became gravely ill or died because they ignored social distancing in response to people like Regan, who told them that the pandemic was a politically motivated hoax. But the number was surely significant.

The twist in the Regan story, however, is that what she said wasn’t significantly different from what her whole network had been saying for weeks. Her career-killing mistake wasn’t saying something false and evil, it was her timing. She apparently missed the abrupt turn in the party line by a few hours.

For Regan’s rant came just after Fox and right-wing media in general suddenly changed their line from “the pandemic is a liberal hoax” to “everyone must unify behind our great leader in his heroic struggle against the Chinese virus.” And for some reason Regan didn’t get the memo.

Actually, Regan wasn’t the only person who didn’t get the memo. A number of people on the religious right are still sticking with the virus-as-hoax story, notably Jerry Falwell Jr., who defied public health experts by reopening Liberty University — and promptly created his own personal virus hot spot. But most leading figures on the right have swerved on command.

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Trailer: Greenland

March 31, 2020

Uncanny timing on this.

The same day the President switched to a new, graver tone on COVID-19.

Seems appropriate, and this is a great vocal version I’ve not heard before.

For those that believe windmills cause cancer, and up until last week, were convinced that Corona virus was a hoax, it’s a great moment to double up on health scams, and maybe even make some quick cash?

Local Anti-Wind activist in Michigan writes:

If the stated goal is to “flatten” the curve (as opposed to eradication of the virus), we have to abandon the black-and-white thinking, and embrace shades of grey. We cannot any longer claim that masks “are not effective”.

“What if a however partial protection afforded by leaky surgical or even self-made masks reduces transmission probability to an extent that is similar to that of the recommended (equally imperfect) distancing by more than 6 feet from each other or “not touching your face”?

Want to “possibly” make the mask a bit more effective? There is absolutely “no proof” that this will work, but you could pray the mask lightly, VERY lightly with “THIEVES spray” a Young Living Oil product. No proof like I said, but it’s just an idea.

People who use essential oils regularly will know what I am talking about.




The 30 year war on science has made believing in science a tribal identity signifier.

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EnergyWire:

New York’s historic decision to require workers to live at facilities operating the state’s power grid during the novel coronavirus pandemic may be a test case for the rest of the nation.

For the first time, the grid operator has asked more than three dozen workers to live 24 hours, seven days a week at two control centers in the suburbs of Albany, N.Y.

As part of a multilayer plan to ensure the state’s power remains flowing, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) says two crews can live at the sites in East Greenbush and Guilderland, N.Y., indefinitely. In the rare case that both operating rooms become infected at the same time, the local utilities — Consolidated Edison Inc. and National Grid PLC — would help operate the grid.

“We have never done this before. We drilled for this stuff, we’ve had plans in place for different types of sequestration,” Richard Dewey, NYISO’s chief executive officer, told E&E News. “This is pretty unprecedented in our history.”

The crisis has rippled throughout the Empire State’s economy and Legislature, shuttering businesses and prompting a delay of the state’s presidential primary that was scheduled for next month. It’s also thrown the state’s climate goals into peril by delaying Cuomo’s proposal to overhaul permitting for renewable projects.

As the virus spreads, other U.S. grid operators say they are preparing for and monitoring New York’s experience. NYISO shares information with other U.S. and Canadian grid operators, all of which have gone through similar steps to prepare, Dewey said.

“We are the first grid operator to actually put the plan in motion, to move the operators on-site, and that’s primarily because of the very high rate of infection that New York state is seeing, where it’s much higher than in other parts of the country,” Dewey said. “People are trying to gather information from us about what we did, what worked, what we think didn’t work, sort of a lessons learned, so to the extent to this pandemic spreads more drastically across the country and they’ve got to take similar steps, they put those plans in place, as well.”

One of those grid operators is PJM Interconnection, which operates the grid in 13 Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. PJM officials on their first weekly coronavirus briefing Friday outlined steps it’s taking to respond, including transitioning control room workers to two 12-hour shifts, cleaning work stations before and after each shift, and dedicating building entrances for control room operators and established “staging centers” to eliminate person-to-person handoffs between shifts. PJM said it’s prepared to leave the pandemic response plans in place into the summer months if necessary.

PJM is also asking workers to self-quarantine at home when they’re not on shift and encouraging them to conduct temperature checks before coming to work. Like NYISO, PJM is also making plans for sequestration of control room operators — or living on-site — if doing so becomes necessary.

In New York, Jon Sawyer, the manager of grid operations at NYISO, has been living on-site at the NYISO control center in East Greenbush since March 23. He is living alongside both skilled grid workers and individuals responsible for ensuring the site has heat, light and prepared meals.

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And Corona virus not helping.

Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:

“The fracking sector as a whole has been struggling mightily throughout the decade to register positive free cash flow but for those based in Appalachia, the numbers have been even more dismal,” said IEEFA financial analyst and briefing note co-author Kathy Hipple.

Negative cash flows for the full year, at $466 million, actually represented the decade’s best performance for these companies. Yet only two of the eight firms in the IEEFA sample, Cabot Oil and Gas and EQT, were cash flow positive for the year. Five of the eight companies—Antero Resources, CNX, Chesapeake, Gulfport, and Range Resources—reported negative cash each year throughout the decade. Southwestern’s cash flow was negative in nine of the 10 years, including 2019.

“The paradox for the fracking sector is that the oil and gas production bonanza has been a cash flow bust,” said IEEFA energy finance analyst Clark Williams-Derry. “Q4 2019 was no exception.”    

On an annual basis, U.S. benchmark gas prices peaked in 2008, at $8.86/MMBtu. But prices have dropped dramatically since then, falling to just $2.56/MMBtu on average in 2019,  and well below $2.00 more recently.

For a brief period in March 2020, some Appalachian-focused gas producers saw their stock prices improve, even as stocks for other oil and gas companies plummeted. This bounce was propelled by an emerging narrative that lower oil prices would curtail drilling in the Permian, translating into reduced gas production from the U.S.’s most prolific shale basin. This comparative improvement in some Appalachian producers’ stock performance lost steam by late March, as natural gas prices continued to decline along with the price of oil, hitting $1.60/MMBtu. 

“We expect gas prices to remain depressed for the foreseeable future and add to that decreased demand from the coronavirus pandemic and that spells continuing distress for producers in Appalachia,” said IEEFA’s director of finance Tom Sanzillo.

Bruce Robertson for Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:

GLOBALLY, RENEWABLE ENERGY IS THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF POWER GENERATION. Increasingly, it will be more so. It is a matter of time. In China, this will happen as soon as 2027. In Australia it’s already the case. Wind and solar are already cheaper, even unsubsidised.

Inside the industry, gas executives see very little demand for their product beyond 30 years from now. The proposed Burrup project in Western Australia has a 50 year life. The Northern Territory fracking projects have a minimum 30 year life. But for both, it’s unlikely they will see their 30 year life out.

Prior to covid-19, the gas industry saw increasing demand for their product, even if only within the 30-year projected life span. It will take a long while for all of us to crawl out of the economic effects this virus will heave. It will last for years.

Then there is another issue: there’s an oversupply of gas. The global gas glut will not resolve now until about 2030. It was previously projected to resolve by 2025. So why would any gas company look to build new gas now?

THE LARGEST COST OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IS THE FINANCING. Running a solar plant, for instance, costs very little. In our current climate, financing costs are declining for renewables as interest rates fall, while financing costs for fossil fuels are going up. This is because the debt markets have lost patience. They are downgrading the debt of oil and gas companies.

Currently, the U.S. fracking industry is experiencing a flood of bankruptcies, and soon, some US$86 billion dollars of debt will be due. This will be very difficult for the industry to manage. When enough fracking companies go broke in the U.S., this will force prices back up, at which point gas will become uneconomic to produce.

Whether prices are low or high, it is not good for the fracking industry. Too low and they can’t make money, and too high and they lose market share to renewables.

Origin’s Kyalla fracking project in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin was pulled this week. It is not, however, just the virus that is stopping them.

Origin, via a consortium, have already invested $25 billion dollars at Gladstone LNG plants in Queensland. They need more gas to put through these plants. If they stop supplying those plants, they go bankrupt.

THE GAS INDUSTRY HAS BEEN GIVEN A FREE RIDE TO CONTINUE FOR SOME YEARS NOW, but they are pulling out because they don’t have the money to continue.

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Remaining Koch brother, even with one foot in the grave, still reaching out to keep Americans from following best science and health practice to socially distance in what is clearly a global crisis.

They are truly merchants of Death.

Intellectualist:

Americans for Prosperity, founded and funded by Charles Koch, has blasted shelter-in-place orders in several states.

Libertarian billionaire Charles Koch is actively fighting during the coronavirus crisis engulfing the United States and the world — but rather than fighting against the virus’ spread, his group is pushing for businesses to stay open and an end to shelter-in-place orders.

Americans for Prosperity, which Koch founded and funds, released a statement last week urging businesses to remain open, The Intercept reported, as states across the U.S. began shutting down nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

“Rather than blanket shutdowns, the government should allow businesses to continue to adapt and innovate to produce the goods and services Americans need, while continuing to do everything they can to protect the public health,” Emily Seidel, chief executive of AFP, wrote in a press release.

AFP is speaking out at the state level as well, according to the report: “Some of the group’s state chapters have taken a similar tone. AFP Pennsylvania’s state director, as well as a regional director with the group, have taken to Twitter to lambast shelter-in-place policies.”

And when Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order that closed down Michigan’s fitness centers, nail salons, amusement parks, casinos, and other nonessential businesses, AFP’s Michigan chapter slammed the move.

“All businesses are essential — to the people who own them, the people who work in them, and the communities they serve,” Annie Patnaude, the Michigan state director for AFP, said in response to the order.

But public health officials have maintained that such measures are necessary if the country hopes to avoid overwhelming its hospital systems with coronavirus patients.

“Experts around the country have called for shelter-in-place policies for nonessential businesses, arguing that social isolation can drastically curb the spread of the coronavirus,” The Intercept noted. “Slowing the pandemic, they say, can save lives by lowering the demand for medical supplies and limited hospital beds.”

Andy Dessler took some of his social distancing time to critique a recent slide set by climate denier Roy Spencer.

Worth your time, and if you have not seen Andy and others tear into Spencer, and his partner John Christy’s, dodgy science record.

Rolling Stone:

Bob Dylan, who hasn’t released an original song since 2012’s Tempest,unexpectedly dropped a previously unheard, nearly 17-minute-long new track, “Murder Most Foul,” late Thursday night.

Dylan didn’t say exactly when the song was recorded, but his delicate vocal delivery resembles the way he’s been singing in his live shows in the past couple of years. “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” Dylan said in a statement. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.”

This dizzying, utterly extraordinary song — as allusive as it is elusive — starts off seeming like it might be a straightforward recounting of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but expands into an impressionistic, elegiac, increasingly apocalyptic journey through what feels like the entire Sixties (complete with references to the Who’s Tommy, Woodstock, and Altamont) and then perhaps all of 20th-century America, especially its music.