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Shellenberger: Biden Is Failing The World

Shellenberger: Biden Is Failing The World

Authored by Michael Shellenberg via Substack,

The world desperately needs energy and yet President…



Shellenberger: Biden Is Failing The World

Authored by Michael Shellenberg via Substack,

The world desperately needs energy and yet President Joe Biden is preventing sufficient quantities of oil and gas from being produced...

Below is the written transcript of the above video. Additional slides and graphs are in the video.

Many people in the U.S. are still unaware of just how dire the situation is in Europe. They have started logging their old-growth forests for wood fuel to stay warm during the winter. You can see in a tweet that just came out today from somebody in Denmark that “people are stealing each other's wood pellets and their wood briquettes as soon as they're delivered.” To make matters worse, “There's constant reports of cars having their tanks drilled and their gas stolen.” Remember, it's not even winter yet. Winter's actually over 72 days away. So this is a very serious situation.

You can see that in Poland people are actually burning trash to stay warm. Burning trash in your fireplace creates toxic smoke. It's hazardous. The government's considering handing out masks so people can breathe more safely when they're outdoors.

Recall that natural gas is the reason the United States reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the world. Carbon emissions have been on the decline globally, in large measure, because of the transition from coal to gas. Natural gas is something that most reasonable people agree is a superior fuel to coal. Natural gas is the reason the United States reduced its emissions by 22% between 2005 and 2020, which is five percentage points more than the United States had agreed to reduce our emissions under cap and trade legislation, which nearly passed Congress in 2010 and under the UN Paris Climate Agreement.

The above is a graph that was produced by Matthew Yglesias, a well-known progressive blogger. He tweets it out whenever somebody points out that President Biden isn't doing all he can to expand oil and gas production. It's accurate. It does show that oil production increased on a daily average under Biden from under Trump. But it's deeply misleading. You have to remember that under Trump, the Coronavirus pandemic, for several months, massively slashed oil production.

You can see from the below chart of the EIA data on crude oil production that we still haven't gotten back to where we were before the pandemic. Now consider how the need is much greater for US oil now that Europe and the United States are rejecting Russian oil.

The United States is the biggest liquified natural gas exporter, it’s true. But it takes five years to bring online new LNG capacity in the United States.

So all of the new LNG that's come online during Biden's presidency was due to past presidents.

And Biden has leased less land than any President since World War II. It's a shockingly small amount of land: 130,000 acres as opposed to seven million acres under Obama, four million acres under Trump, during the first 19 months of their administrations.

It’s a huge reduction in the amount of land being leased.

You can see that in some particular cases, like a very large oil and gas sale in Alaska, the Department of Interior claimed there wasn't any industry interest in the lease. This turned out not to be the case. The Senator from Alaska, Lisa Markowski said, “I can say with full certainty based on conversations as recently as last night, that Alaska's industry does have an interest in lease sales and the Cook Inlet to claim otherwise is simply false, not to mention stunningly shortsighted.”

People point out the oil and gas industry does have many thousands of leases, and that's true, but there's a high degree of uncertainty about whether the leases they have will produce oil and gas at levels that make sense economically to produce from.

So increasing oil and gas leasing at a time of an energy crisis in Europe seems like a no-brainer, but the Biden administration is not doing that. In fact, it's been preventing the expansion of gas in many other ways.

You can see the Biden administration denied a request to have a formaldehyde regulation exempted. All else being equal, you'd wanna reduce that pollution. But I think a little bit of formaldehyde is gonna be a less toxic airborne event than having people breathing toxic wood and plastic smoke in Europe. The right thing to do, in terms of aiding our allies, would be to wave that regulation. But the Biden administration refused.

You can see that the Biden administration is actively considering forgoing all new offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific. It may do no offshore leases at all for oil and gas.

Instead, the Biden administration has sought to give sanctions relief to Venezuela in the hopes that Venezuela would produce more oil. And of course, most famously Biden went to Saudi Arabia to ask the Saudis to produce more oil in July. Now, everybody agrees that was a huge foreign policy failure. The Saudis announced they would be cutting production with the rest of OPEC+. The Biden administration’s pressure on the Saudis apparently annoyed them. Now, they've been pushed closer into the arms of Russia. This is a pretty significant setback for the Biden administration.

At the same time Biden was going to Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. Biden administration was refusing to even meet with oil and gas executives. That’s a pretty serious snub when you consider that it’s an industry you want to expand production.

An oil and gas analyst on Twitter criticized a Senator from Wisconsin for suggesting the Democrats are responsible for the lack of refining capacity. He said, “What — do you also blame a political party for a flat tire?”

I pointed out that a single oil refinery outage would have little impact if we had sufficient refinery capacity, and the reason we don't is that politicians, mostly Democrats have used regulations to prevent their construction. When I interviewed executives one said to me, “If you were an oil company, why would you invest hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding refining capacity if you thought the federal government would shut you down in the next few years? The narrative coming out of this administration is absolutely insane.”

So you can see here that refinery capacity was increasing all the way through 2020. It then declined due to the pandemic. And it has not risen since then. When the analyst was asked, why don't we get more refineries? He clearly didn't know. Or at least he said he didn't know. But it's clear the Biden administration has not wanted more refineries.

There was a chance to retrofit a major refinery in the US Virgin Islands. It was a refinery that was older. It needed pretty significant upgrades. It was polluting. But these are machines that can be fixed. Several billion dollars of investment would've fixed it and it goes back many years. This is an article from 2008. It describes how, at that time, the Democrats in the Senate killed a proposal for refinery expansion.

Go back to 2006. The same thing happened. The House was in the hands of the Republicans who passed a piece of legislation to expand refineries. And it was the Democrats who killed it. And, incidentally, they're using the exact same arguments today that they used back then.

More recently, we've seen an attack on expanded natural gas pipeline capacity, including from Pennsylvania to the Northeast, particularly to Boston. The result of not having pipeline capacity is that they've been burning more oil for electricity in New England. In fact, oil-fired power jumped to a four-year high earlier this year. And they've been having to import liquified natural gas to New England rather than just pipe it in, which is significantly cheaper. Probably half as expensive.

Grassroots advocacy and lawsuits have prevented pipelines from being built. You can see there's a strong correlation between the price of natural gas and the ability to get pipelines built. We stop building pipelines and gas gets more expensive. Globally, the impact is that we're gonna return to coal. This is the consequence of stifling oil and gas production.

One could argue that we just need more scarcity in order to accelerate the transition to electric cars. But it's notable that the major figures in this, including President Biden, supporters of President Biden, and representatives of his administration aren't defending a pro-scarcity position. They're instead claiming that they're doing all they can to bring down oil and gas prices and expand production.

I think this data, and the historical chronology, paint a picture that shows that there has, in fact, been a war on natural gas and oil United States and that it is impacting global supplies, and leaving Europe vulnerable.

*  *  *

Subscribe to Michael Shellenberger. Thousands of paid subscribers. Reporting on cities, energy, and the environment.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/10/2022 - 23:40

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Costco Tells Americans the Truth About Inflation and Price Increases

The warehouse club has seen some troubling trends but it’s also trumpeting something positive that most retailers wouldn’t share.



Costco has been a refuge for customers during both the pandemic and during the period when supply chain and inflation issues have driven prices higher. In the worst days of the covid pandemic, the membership-based warehouse club not only had the key household items people needed, it also kept selling them at fair prices.

With inflation -- no matter what the reason for it -- Costco  (COST) - Get Free Report worked aggressively to keep prices down. During that period (and really always) CFO Richard Galanti talked about how his company leaned on vendors to provide better prices while sometimes also eating some of the increase rather than passing it onto customers.

DON'T MISS: Why You May Not Want to Fly Southwest Airlines

That wasn't an altruistic move. Costco plays the long game, and it focuses on doing whatever is needed to keep its members happy in order to keep them renewing their memberships.

It's a model that has worked spectacularly well, according to Galanti.

"In terms of renewal rates, at third quarter end, our US and Canada renewal rate was 92.6%, and our worldwide rate came in at 90.5%. These figures are the same all-time high renewal rates that were achieved in the second quarter, just 12 weeks ago here," he said during the company's third-quarter earnings call.

Galanti, however, did report some news that suggests that significant problems remain in the economy.

Costco has done an incredibly good job at holding onto members.

Image source: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Costco Does See Some Economic Weakness

When people worry about the economy, they sometimes trade down when it comes to retailers. Walmart executives (WMT) - Get Free Report, for example, have talked about seeing more customers that earn six figures shopping in their stores.

Costco has always had a diverse customer base, but one weakness in its business may be a warning sign for its rivals like Target (TGT) - Get Free Report, Best Buy (BBY) - Get Free Report, and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report. Galanti broke down some of the numbers during the call.

"Traffic or shopping frequency remains pretty good, increasing 4.8% worldwide and 3.5% in the U.S. during the quarter," he shared.

People shopped more, but they were also spending less, according to the CFO.

"Our average daily transaction or ticket was down 4.2% worldwide and down 3.5% in the U.S., impacted, in large part, from weakness in bigger-ticket nonfood discretionary items," he shared.

Now, not buying a new TV, jewelry, or other big-ticket items could just be a sign that consumers are being cautious. But, if they're not buying those items at Costco (generally the lowest-cost option) that does not bode well for other retailers.

Galanti laid out the numbers as well as how they broke down between digital and warehouse.

"You saw in the release that e-commerce was a minus 10% sales decline on a comp basis," he said. "As I discussed on our second quarter call and in our monthly sales recordings, in Q3, big-ticket discretionary departments, notably majors, home furnishings, small electrics, jewelry, and hardware, were down about 20% in e-com and made up 55% of e-com sales. These same departments were down about 17% in warehouse, but they only make up 8% in warehouse sales."

Costco's CFO Also Had Good News For Shoppers

Galanti has been very open about sharing information about the prices Costco has seen from vendors. He has shared in the past, for example, that the chain does not pass on gas price increases as fast as they happen nor does it lower prices as quick as they sometimes fall.

In the most recent call, he shared some very good news on inflation (that also puts pressure on Target, Walmart, and Amazon to lower prices).

"A few comments on inflation. Inflation continues to abate somewhat. If you go back a year ago to the fourth quarter of '22 last summer, we had estimated that year-over-year inflation at the time was up 8%. And by Q1 and Q2, it was down to 6% and 7% and then 5% and 6%," he shared. "In this quarter, we're estimating the year-over-year inflation in the 3% to 4% range."

The CFO also explained that he sees prices dropping on some very key consumer staples.

"We continue to see improvements in many items, notably food items like nuts, eggs and meat, as well as items that include, as part of their components, commodities like steel and resins on the nonfood side," he added.


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Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after…



Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after Mayor Eric Adams on Friday signed off on a ban that will affect not only employment, but also housing and access to public accommodations -- a term that encompasses most businesses. 

We're in safe company using the word "fat," as champions of the cause refer to themselves as "fat activists." With the mayor's signature, two more categories -- both weight and height -- are added to New York City's list of protected personal attributes, which already included race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. 

As Mayor Adams signs the law, self-described (and everyone else-described) fat activist Tigress Osborn consumes more than her share of the backdrop (James Messerschmidt for NY Post)

Embracing one of 2023's innumerable strains of Orwellian brainwashing, Adams declared, "Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy. I think that’s a misnomer that we’re really dispelling.”

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say obesity is an invitation to a host of maladies, including to high blood pressure Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, many types of cancer, mental illness and difficulty with physical functioning. 

“Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat," said Councilmember Shaun Abreu, who introduced the measure. "People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it," said Abreu. "Worse yet, millions are taught to hate their bodies." 

A full 69% of American adults are overweight or obese, but our woke overlords would have us believe the real "public health threat" is a nice restaurant that doesn't want Two-Ton Tessie working the reception desk, or a landlord who's leary of a 400-pound man breaking a toilet seat or collapsing a porch.  

The enticingly-named Tigress Osborn, who chairs the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York's ban "will ripple across the globe" -- perhaps something like what would happen if the hefty Smith College Africana Studies graduate were dropped into a swimming pool.  

Councilmember Shaun Abreu said he gained 40 pounds during the pandemic lockdowns and noticed people treated him differently

The New York Times reports that witnesses who testified as the measure was under consideration included "a student at New York University said that desks in classrooms were too small for her [and] a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera [who] said she had faced body shaming and pressure to develop an eating disorder." 

Some have dared to speak out against the measure. “This is another mandate where enforcement will be primarily through litigation, which imposes a burden on employers, regulators and the courts,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, speaking in April. 

Implicitly putting the weight ordinance in the same category as Brown vs Board of Education, Abrue said, “Today is a monumental advancement for civil rights, size freedom and body positivity and while our laws are only now catching up to our culture, it is a victory that I hope will cause more cities, states and one day the federal government to follow suit.” 

Taking effect in six months, the law has an exemption for employers "needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions" -- but "only where required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations or where the Commission on Human Rights permits such considerations because height or weight may prevent a person from performing essential requirements of a job." 

We pray there's a federal exemption for employers of strippers and lap dancers. 

Think we're joking? We remind you that the chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is named "Tigress" -- and this is her Twitter profile banner photo:

via Tigress @iofthetigress
Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 15:30

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‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans…



'Kevin Caved': McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans have been outright rejecting the debt ceiling deal which raises it by roughly $4 trillion for two years, doesn't provide sticking points sought by the GOP.

In short, Kevin caved according to his detractors.

Some Democrats aren't exactly pleased either.

"None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Fox News Sunday. "That's not a surprise, given that we're now in the minority. But the obvious point here, and the speaker didn't say this, the reason it may have some traction with some Democrats is that it's a very small bill."

*  *  *

After President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck a Saturday night deal to raise the debt ceiling, several Republicans outright rejected it before it could even be codified into a bill.

Here's what's in it;

  • The deal raises the debt ceiling by roughly $4 trillion for two years, and is consistent with the structure of budget deals struck in 2015, 2018 and 2019 which simultaneously raised the debt limit.
  • According to a GOP one-pager on the deal, it includes a rollback of non-defense discretionary spending to FY2022 levels, while capping topline federal spending to 1% annual growth for six years.
  • After 2025 there are no budget caps, only "non-enforceable appropriations targets."
  • Defense spending would be in-line with what Biden requested in his 2024 budget proposal - roughly $900 billion.
  • The deal fully funds medical care for veterans, including the Toxic Exposure Fund through the bipartisan PACT Act.
  • The agreement increases the age for which food stamp recipients must seek work to be eligible, from 49 to 54, but also includes reforms to expand who is eligible.
  • Claws back "tens of billions" in unspent COVID-19 funds
  • Cuts IRS funding 'without nixing the full $80 billion' approved last year. According to the GOP, the deal will "nix the total FY23 staffing funding request for new IRS agents."
  • The deal includes energy permitting reform demanded by Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • No new taxes, according to McCarthy.

Here's McCarthy acting like it's not DOA:

Yet, Republicans who demanded deep cuts aren't having it.

"A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase?" tweeted Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). "With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact?"

"Hard pass. Hold the line."

"Hold the line... No swamp deals," tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)

"A $4 TRILLION debt ceiling increase?! That's what the Speaker's negotiators are going to bring back to us?" tweeted Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). "Moving the issue of unsustainable debt beyond the presidential election, even though 60% of Americans are with the GOP on it?"

Rep. Keith Self tweeted a letter from 34 fellow House GOP members who are committing to "#HoldTheLine for America" against the deal.

"Nothing like partying like it’s 1996. Good grief," tweeted Russ Vought, President of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump OMB director.

In short:

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 11:30

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