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Jason Isaac: ERCOT’s Phantom Reserve Margins Spell Trouble for Summertime

Texas is often held up as an example by wind advocates of the free market choosing wind. These talking points may appear to be persuasive, but there are three main problems with this logic. Wind in Texas is still driven largely by federal subsidies. These subsidies allow wind turbine operators to make money even if the price of electricity is negative. Texas families and businesses were forced to pay $7 billion to build a transmission line from the windy panhandle to the populated areas of the state, amounting to another giant subsidy. Texas came very close to blackouts last summer,...

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Metro Democrats Take Aim At Minnesota’s Mining Industry (Again)

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who represents St. Paul, has once again taken aim at Minnesota's mining industry by inserting language into a federal spending bill that would prevent federal agencies from reviewing mine plans within the Rainy River Watershed and Superior National Forest during the 2021 fiscal year. The measure is a transparent attack on the mine plan proposed by Twin Metals Minnesota, but it would also prevent federal agencies from moving ahead with permitting any iron ore mines, or even gravel quarries, that might seek federal approval to operate a mine. According to the Duluth News Tribune: "None of the funds appropriated or...

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Northeast Minnesota Has Lost 10,500 Tourism-Related Jobs Since March 16th

Mining opponents in Minnesota often argue that instead of developing some of the largest undeveloped deposits of copper and nickel in the world, Northeastern Minnesotans should instead focus on creating jobs in the tourism industry. Unfortunately, this is an argument for widespread unemployment in the era of COVID-19, because according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED), the Northeast economic planning region has seen 10,500 job losses in sectors of the economy that are the most related to the tourism industry, including food and beverage service workers, retail sales workers, cooks and food preparation workers, and other service...

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Conservative Energy Policies Can Help Young People, Low-Income, and Minority Households Far More Than Liberal Ones

Liberal renewable energy advocacy groups like Fresh Energy and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) have devoted significant resources to the concepts of energy equity and fighting for environmental justice, which are supposedly designed to help low-income families, many of whom are minorities. However, by advocating for policies that make energy more expensive, these groups are hurting the people they are supposedly trying to help. Conservatives can do far more good, for far more people, by strongly advocating for free-market policies that keep energy costs low for everyone. Energy Burdened Households According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the energy...

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Biden’s New Energy Plan Is Terrible

On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden released his updated plan for energy, which calls for expanding renewable energy mandates to meet a 100 percent carbon-free electric grid by 2035, spending billions of dollars on wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage, an ill-conceived plan to make the entire fleet of school buses electric, a dedication to money-losing energy efficiency projects, subsidizing electric vehicles (EVs), and using taxpayer dollars to build EV charging stations. A child's Christmas list to Santa Claus is more realistic than this plan, but it is necessary for us to take a look at...

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Costs of Energy Efficiency Investments Are Double Household’s Energy Savings, Study Including Former Obama Economic Advisor Concludes

Presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, recently released his Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations, a document spanning 110 pages and covering issues like "combating the climate crisis and pursuing environmental justice." To accomplish this task, they state: "We will address barriers and increase funding for programs that enable energy efficiency improvements for low-income families in urban and rural areas, including through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Rural Utilities Service." However, a recent study that included Michael Greenstone, who served as Chief Economist for President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, has found that the costs of energy efficiency expenditures under the Weatherization Assistance Program cost...

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Biden-Sanders Unity Plan for An All-Electric School Bus Fleet is a Terrible Idea

A recent document called the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations calls for transitioning the entire fleet of 500,000 school buses in the United States, to American-made, zero-emission alternatives within five years. However, converting the entire school bus fleet from a mostly diesel-fueled fleet to electric buses is a terrible idea. The Worst of Both Worlds: Electric Buses are More Expensive, Less Useful As we have discussed many times in the past, electric vehicles are simply more expensive and less useful than their gasoline and diesel powered counterparts, and the same is true for school buses. According to Bellweather Education Partners, a national nonprofit organization...

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Second lawsuit filed against MN AG Ellison over secret dealings, refusal to release records

Keith Ellison's latest lawsuit against American energy produces seems to have run aground due to concerns that the Attorney General's office is using two attorneys, privately financed by a group established by Michael Bloomberg, to do their dirty work. As I wrote shortly after the lawsuit was announced, the most likely outcome is a giant waste of taxpayer resources, but I'd encourage you to read the press release below to learn more about the lawsuit. ST. PAUL, MN – For the second time in recent months, the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C. (GAO) filed suit against Minnesota Attorney...

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California Will Use Diesel This Summer (and Imports) To Keep The Lights On

California is often thought of as a leader on environmental issues by moderates and liberals who sincerely want what’s best for the planet. However, there is a growing realization among environmental activists, like Michael Shellenberger, that attempts by California to add more wind and solar onto its grid are not only having adverse consequences for California’s economy, but also its environment....

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Air Quality Was Worse During COVID Shutdown Despite Far Fewer Cars on the Road, Data Shows

In some heavily polluted parts of the world like China and India, the economic shutdowns that resulted from attempts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus resulted in cleaner air. However, in Minnesota, the air was actually less clean during Governor Walz's shutdown than the previous five-year average. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) air quality was actually worse in Hennepin County during the COVID-19 shutdown even though traffic volumes were down around 40 percent. The first graph shows air quality data from March 16, 2020 through June 10, 2020....

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