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In The News

Moving to Maine to escape high housing prices in New Hampshire

From: The Josiah Bartlett

Two events on opposite ends of the state last week highlighted the central problem with New Hampshire’s housing market.

In Newmarket over the weekend, a group of renters held a demonstration to denounce landlords and protest high rents.

After experiencing a substantial rent increase, one couple said they had to move out of town to find a place where the rent and the quality of the apartment were better matched. 

That place, they said, is New Jersey.

Another protester said she had moved to Maine to find a more reasonable rent.

It’s true that, on average, moving from Rockingham County to Maine will lower one’s rent, as average rents are lower in Maine than in New Hampshire.

Apartmentlist.com puts the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $952 in Maine and $1,329 in New Hampshire.

Home prices are lower in Maine too.

The median home price in New Hampshire is about $430,000. 

In Maine, it’s about $350,000.

Maine and New Hampshire have almost identical populations. Maine has 1.34 million people, and New Hampshire has 1.35 million people.

That’s not enough of a difference to create such huge price variations for housing.

Why would prices be so much lower in Maine?

In a word: Supply.

Maine has 101,000 more housing units than New Hampshire does, according to Census Bureau data.

That’s almost exactly as many housing units as exist in Merrimack and Cheshire Counties combined. 

If New Hampshire had 101,000 more housing units, what do you think the effect would be on home prices and rents?

A few days before the Newmarket protest, residents of Keene demonstrated exactly why New Hampshire is suffering from a severe housing shortage that has driven home prices and rents to record levels.

On Wednesday, Keene’s Planning, Licenses and Development Committee recommended unanimously that the city council send back to committee a proposed zoning ordinance that would allow more housing in the city’s rural district, the Keene Sentinel reported.

The city had proposed reducing the minimum lot size in the rural zone from 5 acres to 2. 

That’s right. The City of Keene has a rural zone with a mandatory minimum lot size of five acres. Within that zone, no house may legally be built on any lot smaller than five acres.

This is exactly the kind of government regulation that reduces the housing supply and raises prices. 

Keene officials wanted to do their part to make it less expensive to build single-family homes in large sections of the city. But about 15 people showed up to oppose the ordinance, with many saying it would change the rural character of the City of Keene. 

Spooked city officials promptly moved to withdraw and rework the proposed ordinance.

Meanwhile, prices continue to rise and pressure continues to build for legislative action. Activists are pushing hard for state laws to pre-empt local zoning ordinances or regulate prices.

If local governments don’t take more decisive action to trim regulations that limit housing supply, state-imposed solutions will come. It’s only a matter of time. 

Montana apprenticeship program growing; schools giving participants a step up

From: KTVH

HELENA — Leaders across Montana have talked about the need to get more people involved in the skilled trades. For Zach Allen, a program at Capital High School gave him a step up toward a career in the trades.

“I just always liked working with my hands,” he said.

Allen says he wasn’t that interested in four-year college, and Capital’s industrial technology classes showed him there was a path forward to a career in another kind of work. After graduating, he tried a plumbing job, then came on with Green Source Electric, headquartered in Townsend.

“Once I started doing electrical, it was something that really sparked my interest,” he said.

Allen is now a registered apprentice – about a year and a half into a four-year program that combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training under an employer’s supervision. Since starting, he’s worked on residential and commercial construction, in places from Helena to Townsend to Big Sky.

Green Source currently has three apprentices, with the first set to complete the program in the next two weeks. Owner Derrick Hedalen says he’s been impressed with Allen’s work.

“We just have a great group of guys, and they all get along and help each other with their schoolwork –and he’s excelling great in his schoolwork, which is the number-one hard block the apprentices run into,” said Hedalen.

Allen will complete his apprenticeship earlier than usual, because he was credited with 600 hours of training and a required math class from the work he did at Capital. An apprentice needs 8,000 hours before they can test to become a “journeyman” – a fully trained worker.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry recognizes Capital’s program as a “pre-apprenticeship.”

“It’s giving students the opportunity to not only go out and see what the trades are like, but at the same time, if they decide to go in with the trades as a career, it will give them quite a bit of a leg up into their apprenticeship program,” said Mark Lillrose, program manager for DLI’s registered apprenticeship program.

Lillrose says around ten schools across Montana are now doing this type of pre-apprenticeship program.

Capital teacher Tom Kain says students learn welding, drafting, carpentry and other skills. They also get an introduction to more specialized work that the school isn’t equipped to teach full-time, like plumbing, electrical and heating and air conditioning.

“They leave our program knowing basic skills – they can read a tape measure, they can run tools – and that’s half the battle, is being able to read a tape measure and safely operate saws, drills, whatever you need to do to get the job done in your trade,” Kain said.

Capital High Shop

Jonathon Ambarian
Capital High School’s shop, where students do work that can be transferred as credit in Montana’s Registered Apprenticeship program.

Kain said Allen is the first of his students to take the credit for his work at Capital into the apprenticeship program. He said, as they work to show students what’s possible if they enter the trades, that success is going to help demonstrate it.

“We have more kids climbing through the program, and we can use him as a good example of why,” he said.

Allen says he’s glad he made the decision to pursue trades education, and that he’s excited to be on the path to a good-paying career without having to take on debt.

“I definitely have a lot of my friends that graduated this year; I pushed them toward that,” he said. “They weren’t sure if they wanted to go to college, and so going into an apprenticeship or a trade job was my number-one suggestion for them.”

Montana leaders say the state’s registered apprenticeship program is growing strongly. DLI says the number of new apprentices has been growing for years: 183 in 2018, 286 in 2019, 381 in 2020 and 631 in 2021. They say they recorded 515 new apprentices and 41 new employer sponsors just in the first half of 2022.

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s administration has given much of the credit for the latest increase to a new state rule change. Previously, two journeymen needed to oversee each additional apprentice a business brought on. Last year, though, the administration announced plans to change that ratio, so one journeyman could supervise two apprentices. Leaders said in a statement that many of this year’s new apprentices and employer sponsors joined after the change took effect.

Gianforte called the old ratio “unnecessary red tape” that was limiting employers who wanted to offer more apprenticeships. At the first meeting of his new housing task force last month, he touted the new rule as an important step for the construction industries – particularly with the continuing demand for new home construction.

“These reforms help open the pipeline for more workers, and with more carpenters and plumbers and electricians, we can build more homes,” he said. “But there’s more we need to do.”

Hedalen says Green Source worked on more than 40 homes in the Helena area last year – around double what they had done in previous years. He said he’s seen a big increase in the number of people wanting to become apprentices, and he believes that shows the importance of the rule change.

“I would put an ad out for a journeyman electrician or master, and I would get ten apprentice applications to maybe one journeyman application,” he said. “Before the ratio change, we were maxed out, so we weren’t able to take a high school graduate or take anyone on – we needed two more journeymen to have one more apprentice. So I think the ratio rule change helps a lot of small businesses.”

But not everyone working with apprentices supported the change. Leaders with Montana’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Centers expressed opposition, saying it could affect the quality of training – and possibly safety.

Bob Warren, an instructor with the Montana Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center in Helena, says they’ve been seeing strong growth in their program for seven years – and that’s continued even as they maintained a ratio of two journeymen to each apprentice.

“If we’ve got 500 new apprentices, that’s great, but let’s see where we’re at in two to three years,” he said. “Let’s see what the completion rate of all those people are – because work is good right now, but being from the construction trade in the last 23 years, I know it’s feast or famine. So what happens when work inevitably slows down? Are we going to be able to push all those people through? And if they aren’t pushed through, what’s going to happen to them?”

Warren also questioned whether DLI would have sufficient staff to handle enforcement, especially if the number of apprentices continues to grow so quickly.

“It was hard enough to get enforcement before prior to this change,” he said. “I imagine that’s just going to exacerbate the problem even more.”

Let’s Free Workers to Pursue Their American Dream

From: Goldwater Institute

This Labor Day, we celebrate the dignity of workers past and present and how their pursuit of happiness has contributed to the American success story. But today, the government is putting up barriers to millions of workers’ American Dream by tying up workers in endless red tape that prevents them from exercising their right to earn a living.

That’s why it’s so important to free Americans to work—especially amid economic turmoil, with inflation skyrocketing and the nation staring down the face of a looming recession. And it’s why the Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work reform gets government out of the way and empowers people to shape their own destinies in the career path of their choice.

Currently, around one in four Americans is required to obtain a license just to do their job—a government permission slip to work in a certain career. These government-imposed barriers exist for a wide range of professions: barbers, plumbers, real estate agents, sign language interpreters, florists, landscapers, coaches, interior designers, and many others. And when a licensed professional moves from one state to the next, they are often forced to go through the costly and time-consuming licensing process all over again—no matter how qualified they are. This is particularly burdensome for members of the military and their families, who move every two to three years while on active duty and are forced to go through the government licensing process every single time.

But under Breaking Down Barriers to Work, a new arrival to a state is eligible to receive a license to practice their profession, so long as the applicant has held a license in good standing for at least one year and was required to complete testing or training requirements in the initiating state. It’s all about streamlining the licensing process for everyone: State licensing boards don’t have to devote unnecessary time to comparing education or training requirements across all 50 states, and applicants are no longer required to jump through hoops just to continue a career they were already doing safely and productively elsewhere.

Breaking Down Barriers to Work has been garnering bipartisan support in states across the country, because it’s a reform that’s simply common sense. The Goldwater Institute first enacted it in Arizona in 2019, and since then, the Goldwater Institute has passed the reform in more than 20 states—including three just in the first half of 2022 alone.

In the states where Breaking Down Barriers is on the books, it’s having real results, empowering thousands and thousands of people to exercise their right to earn a living. So far, nearly 5,000 workers have already benefited from the law in Arizona alone. And the best is yet to come, with one study projecting that by 2030, the reform will increase Arizona’s employment by at least 15,991 workers, raise the state’s population by at least 44,376 people, and grow the state’s Gross Domestic Product by at least $1.5 billion.

This Labor Day, we should keep the dignity of American workers in mind—and in particular, how we can ensure that Americans are free to make a living in the careers they want and need. Breaking Down Barriers is a needed reform to free Americans to work—and to pursue their own American Dream.

You can find out more about Goldwater’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work Reform here.

Delaware unemployment rate ticks up in August

From: Delaware Business Times

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate rose 10 basis points in August after five months of minimal decline, as the First State bested the national trend only slightly, according to state officials.

August also saw job gains of 1,900 add to nearly 7,000 jobs created since February – although those figures are not seasonally adjusted, accounting for the discrepancy in the rise of the overall rate – and Delaware added 100 more jobseekers to continue pushing its record-high labor force over half a million, according to the monthly report released Friday morning.

The labor force captures not only workers and those receiving unemployment benefits, but also those in search of work who aren’t receiving assistance. As workers stop seeking work, for a variety of reasons ranging from retirement to child care needs, they are no longer counted as being unemployed in the state.

Delaware’s July unemployment rate rose to 4.5%, but was still significantly higher than the national average, which also rose 20 points to 3.7%.

Delaware ranked tied for 47th in unemployment rate among states in August, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It has fallen behind New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, which ranked 36th, 43rd and 44th at 4%, 4.2% and 4.3%, respectively. Minnesota had the lowest rate of 1.9%, while New Mexico and Alaska tied for the highest at 4.7%.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 23,200 unemployed last month, an increase of 100 people over June.

The official monthly unemployment figure is created by looking at continuous unemployment insurance claims as well as a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of residents on their employment status. It tracks not only those receiving benefits, but also those who are ineligible, such as terminated employees, those who have resigned and the self-employed, who only became eligible for assistance under a special federal program established under the CARES Act.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in July, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.6%, 5.7% and 3.9%, respectively – although those statistics aren’t seasonally adjusted. Wilmington and Dover, the state’s two most populous cities, have seen an even greater impact in job losses, where 6.8% and 7.2% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came in government, which added 1,000 jobs last month, followed by education and health, which added 600 jobs; the transportation, trade and utilities sector, which added 300; leisure and hospitality, which added 200; and the professional and business services sector, which added 100.

Leading the job losses was construction, which lost a total of 200 jobs, followed by the information sector, which lost 100.

Earn It to Get It: Breaking the Cycle of Dependency Through Work

From: The Foundation for Government Accountability

Far too many Americans are trapped in a cycle of welfare dependencyand it’s by design. Decades of bad government policies have staged the latest war—the “war on work.”

The pandemic is largely behind us, and life is essentially back to normal—but the public health emergency persists, which means work requirements for programs like food stamps remain suspended. Welfare programs disincentivize work and, throughout the pandemic, ended up paying more in benefits than many jobs. Now, unsurprisingly, businesses across the U.S. are struggling to fill open positions—with a record-breaking more than 10 million jobs unfilled in 2022—and Americans are struggling.

Work is empowering. It gives a person a sense of accomplishment and independence, and it brings opportunities. One Missouri organization is helping empower individuals to move from welfare to work to pursue fulfilling work and live self-sufficient lives.

In the summer of 2000 James and Marsha Whitford opened Watered Gardens, a non-government-funded ministry dedicated to empowering individuals to break the cycle of dependency by leading them to a path to self-sufficiency. The Joplin, Missouri organization offers programs and guidance to low-income individuals to help them be part of their own solution and lead them away from the unemployment line and into the workforce.

Whitford first found his calling to help others working as a physical therapist. While working with patients to gain mobility, he found that if he did not challenge them to work to improve, it was difficult for them to move forward.

James found that what his patients needed then was not so different from what struggling individuals need now—the encouragement and resources to break free from the cycle of dependency through work. “It’s so exciting to see people take a step away from dependency and into flourishing life,” Whitford says.

Empowering others through work

James and Marsha’s vision to empower others to become contributors to their own upward mobility has proven successful. Watered Gardens has helped many individuals find purpose through work by helping them gain the skills necessary to succeed through training programs, relationship building, and an “earn it to get it” mindset.

Here’s what staff and other individuals at Watered Gardens have to say about the cycle of dependency and the value of work…

Work is the textbook solution for escaping dependency.

“Challenge folks… incorporate, exchange, incorporate work. If we don’t do that, then they’ll never develop what is necessary to escape… poverty.”  –James Whitford, co-founder

Welfare programs do not create opportunities.

“The government robs you of the choices and the opportunities that you should have if you’re caring for yourself… Not contributing impacts me mentally, so I feel certain that for folks who don’t have that as part of their life, that has to be a key component to how they feel about themselves, about their value, and their worth.” –Beth Zimmerman, Director of Care Coordinator

Welfare programs employ classic bait-and-hook tactics.

“To get help with housing, you’ve got to sign up for food stamps first… and it becomes a little bit of a hook.” -Doug Gamble, Outreach Center Director

Welfare disguises itself as a safety net.

“I’m a generational welfare recipient… I was on government assistance… so I had all this stuff… It was my security net, but I didn’t know that I was capable of employment.” –Jocelyn Brisson, Shelter Director

Welfare and dependency can become a way of life.

“I never realized that I could be somebody. I now have the opportunity to study, to grow, to learn, and how to build healthy relationships.” -Tony Sutton, Forge Student

Escaping the cycle of dependency can be difficult.

“I didn’t think that I’d be able to hold a full-time job ever again, and then four weeks ago, I got my first full-time job cleaning houses… I get to go back and be a functioning adult that has self-worth and value again. That is an amazing feeling.”  -Misty, Watered Gardens participant

Through organizations like Watered Gardens Ministries, low-income individuals and families can find purpose through compassion, work, and a sense of responsibility.

To learn more about how welfare reforms can help Americans break the cycle of dependency and experience the power of work, visit our Welfare Reforms page.

 

Pennsylvania’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Relies on Faulty Data – Why RGGI is a “solution in search of a problem”

From: CO2 Coalition

The Governor and other officials have relied heavily on the state’s Climate Action Plans and specifically on the 2018 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan3 in order to support their claims of current and future devastating impacts of continued CO2-driven warming. Assertions in the Climate Action Plan are refuted by the analysis of Gregory Wrightstone, Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition and an expert reviewer for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report (IPCC – AR6).

Because of DEP’s flawed climatic analysis, the agency’s predictions of drought, flooding and other extreme weather events have no scientific basis.

Flooding

DEP’s projection of increased flooding is contradicted by data from the Ohio, Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers that show a decline in the size of flood crests in the last 100 years even though the average precipitation has increased by three inches. Although Governor Wolf makes much of Susquehanna River flooding in 2018, that event ranks 31st in the list of greatest floods at Harrisburg and only slightly more than half of the magnitude of the 1972 flood from Tropical Storm Agnes. The IPCC says it “can discern no connection between a modest increase in temperature and any change in flooding worldwide.”

Droughts

A DEP projection of more drought is unsubstantiated by data showing decreasing aridity in Pennsylvania over the last century while the climate warmed slightly during the period.

Heat Waves

A DEP projection of more heat waves is contrary to data showing a peak in the country’s hot weather occurring in the 1920s and 1930s before CO2 levels began increasing following World War II.

Health Risks from Pollution

DEP’s projection of health risks from air and water pollution are inconsistent with data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showing double-digit percentage decreases in pollution. Air and water today are cleaner than in more than 100 years and getting cleaner every year. According to the EPA, nationally, concentrations of air pollutants have dropped significantly since 1990.

Flooding in Southeastern Pennsylvania from Rising Sea Level

According to DEP’s Climate Assessment, Delaware River Basin communities (including Philadelphia) can expect more frequent flooding and associated disruptions due to sea-level rise that presumably is caused by anthropogenic warming. Fortunately, historical data suggest that is unlikely.

Global sea levels have been rising for over 200 years, long before humans began adding prodigious amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere in the mid-20th century, and oceans are likely to continue to rise whether RGGI is adopted or rejected. Having successfully already adapted to possibly as much as two feet of sea-level rise over the last two centuries, Philadelphia — with modern technology and capabilities — can expect to easily adapt to the projected six to eight inches of rise between now and 2100.

Agricultural Damage

DEP predicts damage to Pennsylvania agriculture, but actual data shows improvements in farm production. Pennsylvania is no different than most of the rest of the globe, which is benefiting from a moderate rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and natural warming. Over the last 50 years there have been increases in the length of growing seasons and crop production and an overall greening of Earth.

RGGI’s Flawed Use of Climate and CO2-Emission Models

Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, Senior Fellow for the CO2 Coalition and Competitive Enterprise Institute and Past President of the American Association of State Climatologists, found that all but one of 102 computer models used in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) Climate Action Plan “failed dramatically” in representing how the climate behaved in the past. He suggested that it would have been preferable for the state to have used the one model that more accurately reflected past climatic conditions than to have averaged the results of all 102 irrespective of their accuracy.

In addition, the Pennsylvania analysis uses a CO2-emission model that assumes an unrealistic increase in the use of coal that exceeds some estimates of the quantity of recoverable coal reserves. Correcting for the state’s reliance on flawed analyses reduces the predicted warming by 2050 to less than two degrees Fahrenheit from the state’s projection of 5.4 degrees.

Even if Pennsylvania were to reduce its emissions from electricity to zero, Dr. Michaels says any reduction in temperature or in sea-level rise would be too small to measure.
The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan report, which serves as the basis for Governor Wolf’s RGGI proposal, needs to be dramatically revised, and should no longer be used as the basis for any policy proposals in its present form, concludes Dr. Michaels.

RGGI’s Flawed Economics

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to enter RGGI will be economically damaging and provide no environmental benefits, according to a June 2021 analysis by David T. Stevenson, Director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the Delaware-based Caesar Rodney Institute. The findings are consistent with what Mr. Stevenson found in a 2018 peer-reviewed report published by the Cato Institute.

Mr. Stevenson’s recent analysis says the Wolf administration’s 2020 “Pennsylvania RGGI Modeling Report” predicts economic and environmental benefits on the basis of flawed assumptions. For example, emission reductions are likely overstated in the modeling report because Pennsylvania reductions in fossil fuel use will most likely be replaced by fossil fuel power plants in other states as electric generation and demand from energy-intensive manufacturing shift away from Pennsylvania.

“The assumptions used in the report are flawed as are the forecasted outcomes,” said Mr. Stevenson, author of more than 100 analytic reports. “Using information learned from the decade-old RGGI program it is clear emissions will not be reduced globally, electric rates will rise, and there will be billions of dollars of economic damage if Pennsylvania joins RGGI.”

Mr. Stevenson projects tax losses of $282 million from the economic damage to exceed the $261 million in estimated receipts from the sale of emission allowances. The losses break down as follows: $92 million in corporate income taxes, $102 million in personal income taxes and $88 million in utility gross receipts taxes.

According to the 2018 Stevenson report, RGGI had no effect on carbon dioxide reductions — nor any supposed health benefits when other factors are considered: the effects of regulatory and market forces and the quantity of emissions exported to other states by the importation of power into RGGI states.

The conclusions of the Stevenson report include the following:

  • RGGI does not lower global emissions. Any cuts in Pennsylvania will likely show up in other nearby states as electric demand is expected to remain constant across the region.
    Pennsylvania — now a large exporter of electricity — could lose as much as $2 billion a year in electricity sales to other states at a cost of 1,400 jobs in electric generation.
    Lost coal and natural gas production could total $1.1 billion a year at a cost of 3,500 jobs a year.
  • Based on the experience of RGGI states, higher electricity prices from Gov. Wolf’s carbon tax could result in a loss of approximately 17,000 jobs in the energy intensive manufacturing sector.
  • Total loss to the Pennsylvania economy from the state’s participation in RGGI could be as high as $7.7 billion a year and more than 22,000 jobs, with the economic loss between 2022 and 2030 over $50 billion.
  • There would be a net loss in tax revenue as the estimated $261 million generated by the sale of RGGI emission allowances would be more than offset by $282 million lost in lower collections of the corporate income tax, personal income tax and utility gross receipts tax.

 

Consequences of The Quest for Zero Carbon

From: Thomas Jefferson Institute For Public Policy

Virginians may be finally waking up to the consequences of the headlong rush to adopt utopian energy policies under our previous governor. The issues are getting more attention than ever before, and now people need to realize all the issues are really just one issue.

  • A California regulatory board’s decision to ban new gasoline vehicle sales by 2035 is finally being widely reported as binding on Virginia. This has angered many but was actually old news.  Under a 2021 Virginia law, our Air Pollution Control Board had already imposed the future sales restrictions, and it was some new amendments that sparked the news coverage.   Various political leaders have now promised to stop it but a bill to reverse it died in the 2022 General Assembly when Democrats rallied to save the mandate.
  • Our dominant electric utility has finally acknowledged that its planned $10 billion offshore wind facility is a gigantic financial risk and is now refusing to build it unless the State Corporation Commission (SCC) places 100 percent of the construction and performance risk on its customers.  Dominion Energy Virginia knows many things about this proposal it has not told us.
  • Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) is trying to remove Virginia from an interstate compact that mandates a carbon tax on electricity, imposed under former Governor Ralph Northam (D).  Advocates for the tax are pushing back and will fight, delay and likely sue to preserve the tax, which costs Virginians $300 million per year at current levels and will continue to rise.  Without explanation, the Governor did not keep his initial promise to promulgate an emergency regulation that could remove it quickly, so the tax lingers.
  • Governor Youngkin has opened the process for developing a revised statewide energy plan document, a political process to produce what in the past has been merely a political document.  The public comment portal has already become an ideological showcase. Northam’s 2018 plan had no engineering or economic detail.  It simply praised the legislative efforts to erase fossil fuels which had been adopted to that point and outlined the next steps his administration would take (couched as recommendations.)

Legislation also signed by Northam demands that the Youngkin plan now address far more issues in that plan than Virginia has addressed to date, issues not raised in the 2018 document.   He is required to produce a plan:

that identifies actions over a 10-year period…to achieve, no later than 2045, a net-zero carbon energy economy for all sectors, including the electricity, transportation, building, agricultural, and industrial sectors.

That instruction is not highlighted on the website about the new planning process, which merely mentions “environmental stewardship.”  Yet if the plan fails to chase net-zero to the satisfaction of those who claim carbon dioxide is an existential threat (rather than just plant food), expect additional litigation.

That state law is the common thread running through all pending issues, and also wraps around the rising energy prices for your home and car and business.

The Virginia General Assembly, during the short period of total Democratic control, voted narrowly to bind the state to California’s aggressive effort to remove gasoline and diesel vehicles.  It did so in line with that overarching policy imposed by the code, and that mandate is what needs to be examined, debated and considered for repeal along with the auto regulations.

The Virginia General Assembly, during that same short period, voted to require Dominion to propose the offshore wind installation, a risky expense that would never be considered reasonable and prudent otherwise, as the SCC itself has implied.  Again, the justification is compliance with that net-zero policy demand, based on claims that failure to act is a path toward some onrushing climate catastrophe.

The carbon tax under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is justified as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions but has the added attraction of raising dollars that politicians can then dole out with ribbon cuttings and press releases.  If Virginia were to reverse the underlying policy and decide a net zero economy is neither possible nor desirable, RGGI is clearly just another tax and spend regime.

The debate as Virginia approaches its next round of legislative elections in November 2023, should be about that net zero statutory mandate and the evidentiary claims behind it.  The offshore wind boondoggle, the abdication of sovereignty to California, and the RGGI tax are all trunks growing off that one taproot.

If the root remains embedded, if that law remains on the books, then what has been going on in the electricity and transportation sectors will expand into mandatory building code restrictions and the elimination of natural gas, heating oil and propane as common fuels. The net-zero vision for agriculture includes the elimination of many fertilizers and limits on production of livestock.  If you doubt that, read about what is going on in Sri Lanka and The Netherlands.

Imagine Delaware with no in-state electric power generation

From: Caesar Rodney Institute

Delaware generated 78% of its electricity in-state a decade ago, but it will likely be down to 33% this year.  By 2023 it may be close to zero!  That means lost jobs, lost state and local tax revenues, higher electric rates, and possibly lower power reliability for Delaware. The demand for electricity hasn’t changed, so what is happening?

A hidden tax is driving the change.

In 2009 power companies had to start buying allowances to emit carbon dioxide for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which passed on as a hidden cost added to electric bills.  At first, the allowances only cost a few dollars per ton. The electricity wholesale prices were higher than today. However, the latest auction price was $13 a ton. That means Delaware natural gas power plants have to bid 20% to 30% higher than average to cover the tax, so they lose the bid and don’t generate power.

Delaware’s lone emitting coal-powered plant in Millsboro must bid 40% to 60% higher in prices as it emits twice as much per unit of power as natural gas. NRG Company has announced a plan to close the facility next year. It only operates about 15% of the time and can’t cover the overhead.

The graph below shows how generation goes down at natural gas-fired power plants as allowance prices rise with a very high correlation of 0.83 (0 is no correlation, and +/- 1 is perfect correlation). The trend shows generation may go to zero if allowance prices rise to $16 a ton, which could happen as early as 2023. The RGGI organization forecasts prices as high as $24 a ton by 2030. How long before those natural gas-fired facilities close?

PicDave.Electric..png

Now you might think closing carbon dioxide emitting power plants is a good thing.

However, generation simply shifts to power plants from other states that emit as much or more carbon dioxide, especially when long-distance electric transmission losses are considered (0.43 tons/MWh compared to 0.48). Delaware has the second highest rate of transmission losses at 11%.

Perhaps you prefer wind and solar power?

Did you know Delaware has been mandating wind and solar power in addition to providing subsidies for both for over a decade? In 2021, the mandate required 21% power from wind and solar, increasing to 40% by 2035. So far, 90% of the wind and solar mandate is being met with out-of-state generation, with only 2% of electric demand met by in-state solar. At night, when it’s cloudy, and in winter, when solar power drops 40% compared to summer, reliable power is needed for backup.

Rooftop solar and offshore wind are three to four times as expensive as utility-scale solar and existing natural gas and coal-fired power plants. Importing power adds cost to cover the greater transmission distances and congestion at key transmission sub-stations.

The loss of in-state electric power generation could lower Delaware’s GDP by $250 million a year in lost electric generation and natural gas sales compared to 2016. Well-paying jobs at the power plants would be lost, and reduced GDP has secondary impacts on the economy. Local power plants are needed to maintain voltage stability for reliability, and longer transmission lines could face more likely storm damage and outages.

Delaware has not considered the cost of its renewable power mandate or RGGI.

It’s time for Delaware to join Virginia in pulling out of RGGI. Some might argue the revenue the state receives from the sale of the RGGI allowances is too important to give up. There won’t be any revenue if all the power plants close.

The Virginia Public Utility Commission recently looked at the cost of moving to just 60% wind and solar power by 2035 and found electric prices would rise 60%. Using alternative assumptions, electric bills might actually more than double. Virginia’s Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin will likely review the law calling for that much wind and solar power. He has already announced he will withdraw from RGGI, which could save almost $60 a year on residential electric bills.

The 10 most polluted states in the US

From: The Hill

(NEXSTAR) — How clean are the air and water in your state?

Using 2021 data, U.S. News and World Reports’ feature on the “Best States” has ranked U.S. states on several metrics, including economics, education and health care. The listing also measures natural environment, which is based on a state’s air/water quality and pollution levels.

Pollution was determined based on air and water emissions from industry and utilities, and overall measures to long-term human health effects, using information from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Below are the most polluted (no. 50-40) and least polluted (no. 10-1) in U.S. News’ Pollution Rankings.

States with the worst pollution

50. Louisiana

49. Nevada

48. Indiana

47. Delaware

46. Utah

45. Ohio

44. Oregon

43. Tennessee

42. Illinois

41. Alabama

40. Texas

Louisiana ranks dead last, coming in as the most-polluted state in the U.S., according to EPA information.

A January 2022 study by Tulane University found very high incidences of cancer in Louisiana, the second-highest in the U.S. At least 85 cancer cases per year in the state were due to exposure to high levels of air pollution, the study found. Authors included data for neighborhoods in an area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which is locally known as “Cancer Alley.”

The state of Nevada ranks as the second-most polluted state, according to EPA information. Just last year, Nevada ranked among the “unhealthiest” states for air quality in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report.

At that time, Melissa Ramos, manager of the Nevada ALA’s Clean Air Advocacy, said the Classic Car loophole was partly to blame for the state’s high emissions. Under the state’s Classic Vehicle Insurance policies, vehicles bearing certain license plates are exempt from emissions testing. Some tightening of the laws on classic vehicles is coming Jan. 1, 2023, however.

The least polluted states

10. Idaho

9. Colorado

8. Maine

7. Rhode Island

6. California

5. Wyoming

4. New Mexico

3. South Dakota

2. New Hampshire

1. Vermont

The state of Vermont is aware of its relatively good bill of health.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources writes that “Vermont’s air quality is considered to be among the best in the nation.” The agency notes, however, that Vermont’s air is not pollutant-free.

Interesting: Even though California ranks sixth among the least polluted states, many of its cities rank among America’s most polluted. Research from the American Lung Association ranked cities by ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution, and short-term particle pollution. California areas that ranked in the ALA’s top 10 most polluted cities in all three pollution categories include Los Angeles-Long Beach, Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera-Hanford, and Sacramento-Roseville.

Pollutants

Six common air pollutants identified and regulated by the EPA are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also called “particulate matter”), and sulfur oxides. Other air pollutants include asbestos, fuel oils and kerosene, and benzene.

 

RANKING THE STATES ON FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Every state except Idaho and Michigan requires its elected officials and other significant policymakers to submit annual public financial disclosures. In Massachusetts, these disclosure forms are called Statements of Financial Interest (“SFIs”). Such disclosures are an essential tool for the public and press to protect against the potential intrusion of conflicts of interest into public policymaking.

Pioneer developed this data application to compare how states make these financial disclosures public.  The goal of this project is to encourage the public to demand that their states institute practices that will lead to greater transparency.  We applaud the nine highly-transparent states with perfect scores: Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia.

Pioneer ranked each state based on attributes weighted as follows:

Attribute: Weight
Proof of Identification of Requestor Not Required 30%
Agency Not Required to Notify Filer of Requestor’s Name 30%
Posted Online 10%
Posted Online and Free Open to View Without Establishing Account 10%
Requestor’s Name and/or Personal Information Not Required 10%
Filer Must Submit Disclosures Electronically 5%
Electronically Searchable Disclosure Form Available 5%
TOTAL 100%

We used a color scale to compare state scores with dark green being highly transparent and red meaning inadequate public access. You can hover over each state to view the detail of the scoring

The data is as of April 2019. Pioneer Institute intends to update this data annually.